Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Letter to Ed Schultz on Russia-Saddam link

Ed Schultz is carried on the same station here in LA that carries Air America. At first, he seemed suspiciously like a DLC shill to me, but he has pretty consistently beat on the Democrats for sitting on their hands, especially when they failed to back the Feingold censure resolution.

That's what made his scare-mongering on Russia passing intel about our invasion plans to Saddam all the more troubling.

Here's my letter to him:

From: Professor Smartass
Subject: on Russia and Iraq
Date: March 27, 2006 11:49:43 PM PST
To: wendyjoschultz@yahoo.com


I heard your comments on Russia passing information to Iraq before the Iraq War and having penetrated our military to get that information.

While I agree we should be alarmed that our military intelligence has been breached, it doesn't necessarily mean that Russia is a threat to us or plans to re-ignite the Cold War.

Russia's military spending is a fraction of ours, and they don't have the equipment, money, or manpower to reach beyond their own backyard.

But Iraq is their backyard.

They would be foolish not to be concerned about us invading Iraq just as it would be foolish for us to ignore the Chinese invading Mexico or Nicaragua or Guatemala. The Russian might also have read the neocons more closely than we have including Zbigniew Brzezinski's Grand Chessboard that says if we control the oil spigot in the Middle East, we can control the growth of our potential competitors.

That might be why a while back Russia, China, and several other Central Asian countries asked us when we were going to leave Iraq and Afghanistan.

A lot of Americans might be stupid enough to believe Bush is over there to fight terrorism, stop the spread of WMDs, or plant democracy, but the Russians can't afford to be that naive.

And if Bush attacks Iran, the only thing stopping a World War will be Russia and China acting with more restraint than Bush.

Ed, you have to stop talking about what we are doing over there in the fairy tale terms that the Bushies have imposed.

Do yourself a favor and read this Pulitzer Prize winning history of oil, THE PRIZE by Daniel Yergin (a guy who now works with Papa Bush at the Carlyle Group ironically) before you say one more word about what we are doing in Iraq.

I called you up once to discuss how oil factored into this war, and I couldn't tell from your response if it had never occurred to you or if you just didn't want to talk about it.

But we cannot stop unnecessary and costly wars until we are honest about why we get into them.

Bush spreading democracy like child molestor posing as Santa Claus

Another rationale for the war in Iraq bites the dust.

Bush is telling the Iraqis who to appoint prime minister rather than let them work it out for themselves. Given the consequences of our ambassador's interference the Iraqis mention, it's hard to imagine them doing a worse job on their own.

It is also worth mentioning that the death squads ambassador is worrying about were recommended by Donald Rumsfeld as the "Salvador Option," referring to the death squads in El Salvador in the 80s that the Reagan administration didn't acknowledge were US backed at the time.

The Bush administration saying they are trying to spread democracy is like a child molester dressing up like Santa Claus. Then when kids report him to the police (in this case Democrats and the press), they scratch their heads and wonder why kids don't like Santa anymore, and if today's kids are really equipped to deal with Santa instead going to arrest the molester.

They want to control the oil and a base to seize or intimidate other oil countries. Everything else is just the Santa suit and if we talk about how kids react to Santa, it's like putting more kids on his lap then wondering why the come home crying, bleeding, and scarred for life.


The New York Times

March 28, 2006
Shiites Say U.S. Is Pressuring Iraqi Leader to Step Aside

Ambassador Khalilzad said that President Bush "doesn't want, doesn't support, doesn't accept" Mr. Jaafari to be the next prime minister, according to Mr. Taki, an aide to Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, the head of the Shiite bloc. It was the first "clear and direct message" from the Americans on the issue of the nominee for prime minister, Mr. Taki said. A spokeswoman for the American embassy declined to comment directly on what Ambassador Khalilzad discussed in his meeting on Saturday, though she confirmed the ambassador did see Mr. Hakim.


A spokesman for Mr. Jaafari said the prime minister had heard of the message through officials in his party, and accused the Americans of trying to subvert Iraqi sovereignty and weaken the Shiite ranks.

"How can they do this?" said Haider al-Ubady, the spokesman. "An ambassador telling a sovereign country what to do is unacceptable."

"The perception is very strong among certain Shia parties that the U.S., led by Khalilzad, is trying to unseat Jaafari," he added.


In recent months, Ambassador Khalilzad has championed Sunni Arab inclusion in the next government while criticizing the way the Shiites have run some parts of the current government, especially the security forces. As bodies pile up in the streets, perhaps the work of uniformed death squads, the ambassador has forcefully demanded that the Shiites disband their militias, especially the Mahdi Army, run by Mr. Sadr. That has caused friction between the Shiites and the Americans.

Last month, Mr. Hakim said the ambassador's anti-Shiite stand had contributed to the insurgent bombing of the golden-domed Askariya Shrine in Samarra, which houses the tombs of two Shiite imams.

Mr. Ubady, the prime minister's spokesman, said "it's been seen by the Shia that the post" of American ambassador, "which is now being held by Zalmay Khalilzad, is helping terrorists."



PALESTINIAN ON HOROWITZ LIST: Israel doesn't drive US Arab policy

Joseph Massad of Columbia University has been a consistent target of AIPAC and the Horowitz academic police, so I'd be curious to see their reaction to this piece.

He argues what I suspect is true--Israel is hardly the mouse that has conned the lion of successive generations of American leaders to act against our national interests, but instead serves as our "bad cop" in the region, with just enough distance between us that we can claim we can't control them.

Ironically, if this is the case, Israel faces a severe risk: as soon as they no longer serve our purposes, we can turn on them just as we did Saddam, Noriega, and any number of other clients.

I suspect the recent Harvard article on AIPAC is part of a shift like that. "Yes, we screwed up in Iraq, but the Jews made us do it," seems to be the implication.


March 25 / 26, 2006

It's US Policy That Inflames the Arab World

Blaming the Israel Lobby



The underlying argument has been simple and has been told time and again by Washington's regime allies in the Arab world, pro-US liberal and Arab intellectuals, conservative and liberal US intellectuals and former politicians, and even leftist Arab and American activists who support Palestinian rights, namely, that absent the pro- Israel lobby, America would at worst no longer contribute to the oppression of Arabs and Palestinians and at best it would be the Arabs' and the Palestinians' best ally and friend.


Let me start with the premise of the argument, namely its effect of shifting the blame for US policies from the United States onto Israel and its US lobby. According to this logic, it is not the United States that should be held directly responsible for all its imperial policies in the Arab world and the Middle East at large since World War II, rather it is Israel and its lobby who have pushed it to launch policies that are detrimental to its own national interest and are only beneficial to Israel. Establishing and supporting Arab and other Middle East dictatorships, arming and training their militaries, setting up their secret police apparatuses and training them in effective torture methods and counter-insurgency to be used against their own citizens should be blamed, according to the logic of these studies, on Israel and its US lobby.


The United States has had a consistent policy since World War II of fighting all regimes across the Third World who insist on controlling their national resources, whether it be land, oil, or other valuable minerals. This extends from Iran in 1953 to Guatemala in 1954 to the rest of Latin America all the way to present-day Venezuela. Africa has fared much worse in the last four decades, as have many countries in Asia. Why would the United States support nationalist regimes in the Arab world who would nationalise natural resources and stop their pillage by American capital absent the pro-Israel lobby also remains a mystery unexplained by these studies. Finally, the United States government has opposed and overthrown or tried to overthrow any regime that seeks real and tangible independence in the Third World and is especially galled by those regimes that pursue such policies through democratic elections.

The overthrow of regimes from Arbenz to Goulart to Mossadegh and Allende and the ongoing attempts to overthrow Chavez are prominent examples, as is the overthrow of nationalist regimes like Sukarno's and Nkrumah's. The terror unleashed on populations who challenged the US-installed friendly regimes from El Salvador and Nicaragua to Zaire to Chile and Indonesia resulted in the killing of hundreds of thousands, if not millions by repressive police and militaries trained for these important tasks by the US. This is aside from direct US invasions of South East Asian and Central American countries that killed untold millions for decades.

Why would the US and its repressive agencies stop invading Arab countries, or stop supporting the repressive police forces of dictatorial Arab regimes and why would the US stop setting up shadow governments inside its embassies in Arab capitals to run these countries' affairs (in some cases the US shadow government runs the Arab country in question down to the smallest detail with the Arab government in question reduced to executing orders) if the pro-Israel lobby did not exist is never broached by these studies let alone explained.



Thursday, March 23, 2006

BBC's Greg Palast: Iraq War to cap OIL production

While the Bushies bent over backwards to say the Iraq War wasn't about oil, a couple of their surrogates like neocon Tom Friedman and religious nut Pat Robertson, directly said invading Iraq would mean cheap, plentiful oil for average Americans.

Thomas Friedman in New York Times said the best case scenario was breaking the back of OPEC by increasing Iraq's production, and could lead to oil as cheap as $6 a barrel:

Depending on how the war went, that impact could be very bad and lead to a sharp spike in oil prices, like $60-a-barrel oil. But -- wait a minute -- it could also be very good, and lead to $6-a-barrel oil that would weaken OPEC and, maybe, also weaken the Arab autocrats who depend on high oil prices to finance their illegitimate regimes and buy off opponents.

He also said if the war went badly, he said there might be an embargo and it could go as high as $60. He was half right. There was no embargo, but oil is over $60 a barrel today.

To people who didn't quite buy the terror/WMD bullshit, this was like a second layer of lies: we'll get cheap oil that keeps our economy and Hummers humming. That has a certain realpolitik appeal.

But Palast has torn away even that fig leaf. As sanctions were coming off, the oil companies wanted to keep Iraq from pumping more, which would have knocked down prices as hurt profits. We are paying our tax dollars and soldiers lives to ensure that oil companies can charge us more.

If we had a real democracy, you'd here some Democrats talking about this.

I won't hold my breath.


The Guardian
Monday, March 20, 2006
by Greg Palast

"It's about oil," Robert Ebel told me. Who is Ebel? Formerly the CIA's top oil analyst, he was sent by the Pentagon, about a month before the invasion, to a secret confab in London with Saddam's former oil minister to finalize the plans for "liberating" Iraq's oil industry. In London, Bush's emissary Ebel also instructed Ibrahim Bahr al-Ulum, the man the Pentagon would choose as post-OIF oil minister for Iraq, on the correct method of disposing Iraq's crude.

And what did the USA want Iraq to do with Iraq's oil? The answer will surprise many of you: and it is uglier, more twisted, devilish and devious than anything imagined by the most conspiracy-addicted blogger. The answer can be found in a 323-page plan for Iraq's oil secretly drafted by the State Department. Our team got a hold of a copy; how, doesn't matter. The key thing is what's inside this thick Bush diktat: a directive to Iraqis to maintain a state oil company that will "enhance its relationship with OPEC."

Enhance its relationship with OPEC??? How strange: the government of the United States ordering Iraq to support the very OPEC oil cartel which is strangling our nation with outrageously high prices for crude.

Specifically, the system ordered up by the Bush cabal would keep a lid on Iraq's oil production -- limiting Iraq's oil pumping to the tight quota set by Saudi Arabia and the OPEC cartel.

You must keep in mind who paid for George's ranch and Dick's bunker: Big Oil. And Big Oil -- and their buck-buddies, the Saudis -- don't make money from pumping more oil, but from pumping less of it. The lower the supply, the higher the price.

It's Economics 101. The oil industry is run by a cartel, OPEC, and what economists call an "oligopoly" -- a tiny handful of operators who make more money when there's less oil, not more of it. So, every time the "insurgents" blow up a pipeline in Basra, every time Mad Mahmoud in Tehran threatens to cut supply, the price of oil leaps. And Dick and George just love it.

Dick and George didn't want more oil from Iraq, they wanted less. I know some of you, no matter what I write, insist that our President and his Veep are on the hunt for more crude so you can cheaply fill your family Hummer; that somehow, these two oil-patch babies are concerned that the price of gas in the USA is bumping up to $3 a gallon.

Not so, gentle souls. Three bucks a gallon in the States (and a quid a litre in Britain) means colossal profits for Big Oil, and that makes Dick's ticker go pitty-pat with joy. The top oily-gopolists, the five largest oil companies, pulled in $113 billion in profit in 2005 -- compared to a piddly $34 billion in 2002 before Operation Iraqi Liberation. In other words, it's been a good war for Big Oil.

As per Plan Bush, Bahr Al-Ulum became Iraq's occupation oil minister; the conquered nation "enhanced its relationship with OPEC;" and the price of oil, from Clinton peace-time to Bush war-time, shot up 317%.



public relations

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Bush running Sopranos scam with our tax dollars

Since Congress raised the debt ceiling to $9 TRillion, it's time to recap the "bust out" scam the Republicans are running with the help of many Democrats.

I have passed this on to friends who don't follow politics very closely, and they instantly understood the application to our politics.

Essentially, the mob gets a foothold in a business, runs up huge debts, sells everything, pockets the cash, then leaves the original business owner with the hollowed out shell of the business.

This has been our bipartisan foreign policy, called neoliberalism, for the last several decades. One of the guys who would set up the deals wrote a book about it called CONFESSIONS OF AN ECONOMIC HIT MAN.

What he would do is go to the leaders of Third World countries and make them this offer: If they took out gigantic loans their country could never repay, and use the money to buy construction projects from certain American companies like Halliburton and Bechtel, the leader himself would become fabulously wealthy. If he refused, we would support his political opponents. If that failed, we would support a coup. If that failed, we would kill him. If that failed, we would invade his country. Saddam was one of the few to require the full treatment in modern history. Once the deal was set up, and it was clear the country couldn't repay the loans, then we demand that they give up control of some natural resource, privatize and sell off essential services like electricity, phones, and even water for bargain basement prices, and of course enter these free trade agreements which make it difficult to impossible for countries to set their own labor and environmental standards.

This system has worked so well overseas, that the Republicans seem to be doing it to the United States right now. The debts Bush is running up aren't the result of poor planning, but of design. He is running a bust out, using our country to give tax cuts, defense, and rebuilding contracts to the very wealthy and charging it to our collective credit card. Iraq is clearly part of this. Even if the war went well, the benefits would flow to the few, not to the average American who is paying for whole thing.

We have already seen the results of the second half of the scam here in California with the privatization of our electricity: rolling blackouts to extort more money from the state and individual ratepayers. Things have gone even worse in places that have privatized water.

But as Tony Soprano says at the end of this piece, this is who they are, this is what they do.


United Scatinos of America
by Steven Hart

One of the things that redeemed the second season of "The Sopranos," which had gone all wobbly after a good start, was the unblinkingly cruel subplot about David Scatino, a boyhood friend of mobster Tony Soprano, who talks his way into one of Tony’s high-stakes poker games and almost instantly buries himself under an unpayable mountain of debts. It quickly turns out that Tony knew about Scatino’s compulsive gambling problem, but let him into the game anyway because Scatino and his wife own a successful sporting-goods store.

What follows is more frightening than any monster movie. After siphoning out Scatino’s bank account (including his son’s college fund), Tony and his cronies gorge themselves on the store’s credit lines, buying up easily resold big-ticket merchandise and leaving the store awash in hundreds of thousands of dollars in bills. The business dissolves into bankruptcy, taking with it Scatino’s marriage (his wife divorces him), his family (his son, cheated out of an Ivy League future, hates him) and a good portion of his sanity. In the end, as he prepares to embark on his new life as a drifter and day-laborer, Scatino asks Tony why he let him destroy himself. After all, haven’t they known each other since childhood? Tony replies with the story of the frog and the scorpion. "This is what I am," Tony says. "This is what I do."

What we’ve just seen is a variation on an old con called a bust-out. Usually it involves con men offering to buy a business, making a partial payment to gain access to the firm’s credit and name, and then hollowing out the company’s finances by running up the existing credit lines and opening new ones, all of which are maxed out to buy electronic gear and anything else that can be resold quickly at a fraction of its value. For the con men involved in the bust-out, it’s all gravy. The phony buyer –- usually a shell company with no discernible assets -– defaults and the business reverts to its original owner, by which time the once-thriving firm has been turned into a rotting hulk ready to have its bones picked clean by creditors.

The Bush family has often been referred to as the WASP version of the Corleones, but the Soprano clan makes for a much better comparison. At its best, "The Sopranos" is an acid mockery of the phony gravitas of the three "Godfather" movies. Where Michael Corleone is heroically evil, an international player who consorts with statesmen and the Vatican before succumbing to his tragic flaw, Tony Soprano is a sewer rat engaged in the grubby business of preying on human weakness and fear -– when his fall comes, it will be tragic only to himself. Until then, however, he’s going to make as much money as he can for himself and his buddies, and leave the rest of the world holding the bill.

I'm not just using hyperbole here. I do think that when honest historians assess the Bush administration, they will find it more useful to treat George II and his Republican cronies as a criminal organization rather than a political party. The best tool for analyzing Bush's policies is not historiography, but the procedures used by federal agents as they pursue a RICO investigation into a mobbed-up business.


This is what they are. This is what they do. Didn't they tell you?


Insane tax cuts for the wealthy. Delusion military ventures abroad. From the minute the Bushies took power, their biggest concern has been to break open the cash registers, empty the shelves and open the bank vaults. Stewardship is a joke to them. What we are witnessing may very well be the biggest bust-out in human history.

And if you, good citizen, are wondering where you fit into this picture, just cast your mind back to the last episode of the second season of "The Sopranos." One of the closing shots shows us David Scatino in an empty parking lot, tying some gear to the top of his car as he prepares to leave his ruined life behind him. He wanted to play poker with the big boys, so you can say he brought his troubles on himself. A majority of Americans voted for Bush in at least one of the last two elections, so you can say we brought this on ourselves. In Scatino's case, human weakness created a business opportunity for Tony Soprano. America's weakness created a business opportunity for the Republicans. With the national press at a historic low ebb, the Democratic Party flat on its back and the airwaves humming with wingnut propaganda, the pickings couldn't be any richer.

They saw their chance and they took it. That's what they are. That's what they do.

(Posted by Steven Hart, 8/2/05)


Friday, March 17, 2006

Right wing review of V FOR VENDETTA says why we should ALL see it

For some reason, the Bushies are worried that people will think V FOR VENDETTA is about their retard king.

From the review, it sounds like a very thinly disguised roman a clef about post-9/11 America, and how 9/11 happened. She actually made me want to see the movie more.

I hope this movie makes a hell of a lot of money and discomfits the Bushies more than the last Star Wars movie.

MAJOR SPOILER in this column reposted at Freerepublic.com:


March 08, 2006

"V" for Propaganda

By Debbie Schlussel

Then, there's the government. It's run by a religious Christian zealot. But not just any Christian zealot.

No. Chancellor Sutler is the supreme evil Christian. In order to get elected, he and the Bill O'Reilly-esque character (remember, before he became a cable host, he was a pharmaceutical CEO and made billions) arranged for hundreds of Brits to die from chemically poisoned water. The government said that terrorists did it, a story which became accepted fact and the conventional wisdom in media coverage. The fear that ensued garnered Sutler the chance to rule England, along with the Marshal law powers the English parliament gave him.

It's no coincidence that the symbol used for his government is some sort of Cross-come-Swastika combo. Not offended yet?

Under religious Christian zealot Sutler, gays are rounded up, imprisoned, tortured, and executed. Ditto for any dissidents, any left-wing activists, anyone who dares speak out against or flout the Chancellor's actions. Tell that to the ACLU, which seems to be running legal policy in our country, these days, and its partner in crime, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the wealthiest "public interest" group in the U.S., to the tune of hundreds of millions. We don't see any prospect of them being rounded up by the government anytime soon, unfortunately.

Under the religious Christian Chancellor, "unjust" Gitmo-style military tribunals and absurd NSA-style wiretapping is going on at every corner. Throughout the movie, we are shown vans of law enforcement personnel listening in to every home. As if that's what NSA wiretapping was about. It isn't, but "V" drills it into you the way the ACLU wants you to see it: every conversation in every kitchen, etc., secretly being listened in on and laughed at by guys in sweaty, rumpled shirts and ties.



VIDEO: Daily Show transforms Paul Hackett into a Dickless Democrat

This is painfully dead on. They take Paul Hackett, get advice from a Democratic consultant (I hope to God he isn't a real guy who gets work) and transform him into a bland, inoffensive, forgetable candidate.

At one point, the consultant says "An advantage we have right now is an opponent who keeps messing up," and the correspondent said, "Yeah, I was being mugged by a bum the other day, beating me with a bottle, and instead of fighting back, I was going to wait and see if he accidentally hit himself. Sure enough, he did." That about sums up what the "rope a dope," "keep your powder dry," or whatever the fuck you want to call it dumbass strategy looks like to the rest of us. We are getting mugged and Democrats think they will win because people because people will notice the mugging more than them doing nothing about it.

Whatever his flaws are, when you see Paul Hackett speak, you get the sense there's a person there, and he feels strongly enough about what he says that he will probably actually do it.

A lot of other Dems stick to such bland platitudes that you can't tell if they are pursuing them or not.


public relations


This is a real ad.

What's amazing about this is it doesn't mention one single issue that will put food on the table for average Americans, but takes time to hit gays, the pledge of allegiance, blacks(using a mugshot of Jesse Jackson), terrorism, and illegal immigrants. After a Twilight Zone presentation of all the evils the GOP sees in the world, it ends with a call to return to the Leave It to Beaver world.

The guy who put this up had to pull it because he got too much flak, but the effort shows a media and pop culture savvy that Democrats could weild even more effectively if they did it with substantive issues instead of having some old fart in a tie talking to an audience or just a camera.

Well worth a watch.

WINDOWS MEDIA: http://movies.crooksandliars.com/twilight.wmv

QUICKTIME: http://movies.crooksandliars.com/twilight.mov

public relations

Monday, March 13, 2006

Actor George Clooney says what Democrats can't seem to

Clooney says Democrats are lying when they said they were misled about Iraq, a country whose military we had destroyed 80% of in the first Gulf War, and whose airspace we patrolled enforcing "no fly zones" right up to the second invasion.

George is exactly right, but he left out one other reason many Democrats got behind an obvious lie, for the same reason all republicans did: profit.

The war is like local politics writ large with the Chamber of Commerce seeing it as a way to "socialize risk and privatize profits."

Dick Cheney & Halliburton are most obvious about doing this, but he is far from alone, and not in entirely Republican company.

Unfortunately, one of our own Democratic senators here in California, Dianne Fienstein, falls into this category. Her husband got rebuilding contracts in Iraq.

The Democrats are still our best hope of setting this country right, but it can't be done until a firewall is built to keep the profit motive from influencing their thinking.

As Upton Sinclair said, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."


George Clooney

I Am a Liberal. There, I Said It!

Too many people run away from the label. They whisper it like you'd whisper "I'm a Nazi." Like it's dirty word. But turn away from saying "I'm a liberal" and it's like you're turning away from saying that blacks should be allowed to sit in the front of the bus, that women should be able to vote and get paid the same as a man, that McCarthy was wrong, that Vietnam was a mistake.


The fear of been criticized can be paralyzing. Just look at the way so many Democrats caved in the run up to the war. In 2003, a lot of us were saying, where is the link between Saddam and bin Laden? What does Iraq have to do with 9/11? We knew it was bullshit. Which is why it drives me crazy to hear all these Democrats saying, "We were misled." It makes me want to shout, "Fuck you, you weren't misled. You were afraid of being called unpatriotic."

Bottom line: it's not merely our right to question our government, it's our duty. Whatever the consequences. We can't demand freedom of speech then turn around and say, But please don't say bad things about us. You gotta be a grown up and take your hits.



Thursday, March 09, 2006

Quick list of neocon thinkers deserting Bush on Iraq

This is a list of their quotes showing they've soured on the Iraq project.

The grandfather of conservative pundits, William F. Buckley, has left which probably isn't a surprise to older folks who remember old school conservatives who showed some respect for facts and didn't instead rely on intimidation, manufactured evidence, and buying exclusive access to the media megaphone.

Remarkably, this contains Richard Perle, one of the top spokesmen for the neocon foreign policy even before Bush was president and an aggressive salesman for the Iraq War.

Some are now saying the sort of half criticisms Democrats were saying in the 2004 election: If we had done it differently it could have worked. But I'm not sure how you can kill a lot of people, build bases to occupy their country for decades, take their oil at gunpoint, and then make then say thank you.

You would think this is the kind of thing that would make it safe for Democrats to oppose the war, but they are still leaving it to a handful like John Murtha or John Conyers who go out on a limb only for the rest of the Democrats to either condemn them as speaking only for themselves, or more likely just leave them twisting in the wind alone.

We need an opposition party that actually opposes.

This is short but worth a glance.


9 March 2006 08:42

NeoCon allies desert Bush over Iraq

These are the right-wing intellectuals who demanded George Bush invade Iraq. Now they admit they got it wrong. Are you listening, Mr President?
Published: 09 March 2006


'One can't doubt the objective in Iraq has failed ... Iraqi animosities have proved uncontainable by an army of 130,000 Americans. Different plans have to be made. And the kernel here is the acknowledgement of defeat.'


'By invading Iraq, the Bush administration created a self-fulfilling prophecy: Iraq has now replaced Afghanistan as a magnet, a training ground and an operational base for jihadists, with plenty of American targets to shoot at.'


'The military campaign and its political aftermath were both passionately debated within the Bush administration. It got the war right and the aftermath wrong We should have understood that we needed Iraqi partners.'


'The world has learnt a tough lesson, and it has been a lot tougher for those tens of thousands of dead, innocent Iraqis ... than for a few humiliated pundits. The correct response is not more spin but a sense of shame and sorrow.'


'Almost three years after the invasion, it is still not certain whether, or in what sense, Iraq is a nation. And after two elections and a referendum on the constitution, Iraq barely has a government.'

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

KRUGMAN: Bush only cares for Haves and Have Mores, outsourcing to India words show


Feeling No Pain

The New York Times
March 6, 2006


Why doesn't Mr. Bush get any economic respect? I think it's because most Americans sense, correctly, that he doesn't care about people like them. We're living in a time when many Americans are feeling economically insecure, but a tiny elite has been growing incredibly rich. And Mr. Bush's problem is that he identifies so totally with the lucky, wealthy few that in unscripted settings he can't manage even a few sentences of empathy with ordinary Americans. He doesn't feel your pain, and it shows.


The fact is that we're living in a time when most Americans are seeing little if any benefit from overall income growth, because their share of the economic pie is falling. Between 1979 and 2003, according to a recent research paper published by the I.R.S., the share of overall income received by the bottom 80 percent of taxpayers fell from 50 percent to barely over 40 percent. The main winners from this upward redistribution of income were a tiny, wealthy elite: more than half the income share lost by the bottom 80 percent was gained by just one-fourth of 1 percent of the population, people with incomes of at least $750,000 in 2003.

And those fortunate few are the only people Mr. Bush seems to care about. Look at what he had to offer after asserting, in effect, that workers get outsourced because they don't have the right education: lower taxes, deregulation and fewer lawsuits. Funny, that doesn't sound like "pro-growth" policy to me. Instead, it sounds like a wish list for wealthy individuals and big corporations.

Mr. Bush once joked that his base consisted of the "haves and the have-mores." But it wasn't much of a joke. His remarks in India show that he really can't imagine what it's like not to be a member of a privileged economic elite.



Tuesday, March 07, 2006

FOLLOW UP: political websites troops blocked from visiting

Wonkette, who posted the original story, has done two follow ups. One clarification from the military is that the blocking is only done on WORK computers. Recreational use ones are blocked.

That sounds reasonable until you see a list of which sites that are blocked and which aren't.

Al Franken IS blocked.

Rush Limbaugh is NOT blocked.

Which of those two said that torture at Abu Ghraib was merely the troops blowing off steam with the equivalent of fraternity pranks, and said a naked Iraqi was covered in shit in one photo because those people have different ideas about hygiene?

In short, which condoned war crimes?

A soldier sent this list of sites he tried to visit from his work computer.

The bright side is this could become a hobby for the troops--finding which sites Rummy, Cheney, and Rove don't want them to see (Bush can't read himself, so he'd have nothing to contribute).


Our Boys Need Gossip!

[soldier's email]

Unfortunately anonomizers don't work out here (never have). Anyway, I had a few minutes today and thought I'd look and see what else was banned on the Marine web here. I think the results speak for themselves:



Monday, March 06, 2006

Bush v. Clinton impeachment poll chart

From the Wall Street Journal :

Another Iraq scare story proved BS: Saddam training hijackers

I remember seeing this on 60 Minutes and this article discusses its coverage on Frontline, which is otherwise pretty good.

Turns out this is about as real as the Iraqis dumping premie babies in Kuwaiti to steal incubators in the first Gulf War. In that case, the whole story was fabricated by the PR firm Hill & Knowlton and delivered by the Kuwaiti ambassador's daughter posing as an eyewitness.

The list of these fabrications for the current war is pretty long and getting longer, from Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman, to the staged toppling of Saddam's statue, to finding Saddam in his spider hole.

Some people still think it is unreasonable to suspect that the Bushies might have staged bigger events, but a recently released Downing Street Memo said Bush even wanted to fake Saddam shooting down a UN plane over Iraq as provocation to start the war.

If this piece of what they are doing doesn't enter the public consciousness. we will be vulnerable to attitude adjustments through staged events, up to and including acts of war and terrorism.


Another Iraq story gets debunked

By Dave Zweifel

In November 2001, just two months after the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, two high-profile U.S. journalists Chris Hedges of the New York Times and Christopher Buchanan of PBS' "Frontline" were ushered to a meeting in a Beirut hotel with a man identified as Jamal al-Ghurairy, an Iraqi lieutenant general who had fled Saddam Hussein.

The high-ranking Iraqi military officer claimed he had witnessed terrorist training camps in Iraq where Islamic militants learned how to hijack airplanes. About 40 foreign nationals were based there at any given time, he said.

"We were training these people to attack installations important to the United States,"
he told the journalists at the meeting arranged by the Iraqi National Congress.


"The story of Saddam training foreign fighters to hijack airplanes was instrumental in building the case to invade Iraq," a detailed report in the March-April issue says. "But it turns out that the Iraqi general who told the story to the New York Times and 'Frontline' was a complete fake a low-ranking former soldier whom Ahmed Chalabi's aides had coached to deceive the media."

The Mother Jones investigator, Jack Fairweather, was even able to track down a Lt. Gen. Ghurairy in Iraq. He interviewed him in Fallujah and this Ghurairy said he had never left Iraq, nor had he ever spoken to the U.S. journalists.

According to the magazine, the Ghurairy tale was one of 108 stories the Iraqi National Congress and Chalabi, who was exiled from Iraq, planted in the American and British media between October 2001 and May 2002. Chalabi is the figure on whom the Bush administration relied for much of the Iraqi intelligence about weapons of mass destruction and Saddam's supposed connection with the 9/11 terrorists.



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Saturday, March 04, 2006

Israeli Anti-Semitic Cartoon Contest

I can't explain this any better than the guy who put up the website:


  • A Danish paper publishes a cartoon that mocks Muslims.

  • An Iranian paper responds with a Holocaust cartoons contest

  • Now a group of Israelis announce their own anti-Semitic cartoons contest!


Suppose you have this fat kid in class.

Everybody’s making jokes on him for his fat ass.

Now let’s see what he can do:

If he cries or runs or shies away, they’ll just make more jokes on him and he’ll feel worse.

Or, he can say stuff like: “yeah, I’m so fat when I swum in da sea the whales started singing ‘we are family‘”

If he takes it easy and jokes on himself, nothing’s gonna hurt him, cause he already said it himself, see?

It can become a source of pride, like for example: “Oh yeah, but I’m so fat I can date two girls without them knowing about each other"


If something is holy, it means we can’t joke about it. If we can’t joke about it, how will we see it has become wrong?

Some people say the atrocities which people performed in the Holocaust were so unthinkable and inhumane it’s as if the Holocaust has happened on another planet.

I don’t subscribe to that point of view. Because I think it’s important to remember that these were people doing stuff to other people, and this means the Holocaust could happen again.

And you know what - IT HAS HAPPENED AGAIN. More than once in the past 60 years.

Want an example? 1994, in Rwanda, a country in Africa, The majority, the Hutus, massacred the Tutsis, the minority. They killed an unknown number of people, take your pick, somewhere between 800,000-1,200,000 people.

So what if they had no gas chambers, it doesn’t matter. What matters is this was a racially based genocide. Just like the Holocaust.

The world watched. Nobody did much. A couple of aid agencies and stuff.

Who cares? It’s just some poor black people in the third world.

So, you think we’ve learned anything by making the Holocaust this unique, never before, never again thing?

I think not.

click to see larger

(this one is most offensive to me.)

An homage to the Danish cartoon
that started the whole brouhaha.


Troops blocked from websites & email critical of Bush

A Marine sent this email to Wonkette, one of the major bloggers, saying her site was blocked as offensive as are other websites and even email critical of the government. Apparently, this is done openly, and troops can ask for specific sites to be unblocked by a network administrator.

This is the first I've heard of this. It needs verification and broader exposure, but given the Bushies obsession with media control and censorship and the recent poll showing that 72% of the troops think we should leave Iraq within a year, this is likely true.

When you join the military, you do give up certain of your civil rights, but you shouldn't be blocked from thinking for yourself.

I have had a similar problem with emails bouncing from Yahoo, which this Marine also mentions. This would probably be a good time to check out gmail or one of the other free services.

Every once in a while I almost believe the Bushies are serious about spreading democracy until something like this comes up and reminds me they want democracy the way a hunter wants a moose--with its head hanging on their wall.

You might ask your congressman and senators about this:




Folks, our fighting boys need your help. Here's the email we received today from one of them:

Just to let you know, the US Marines have blocked access to “Wonkette” along with numerous other sites such as personal email (i.e. Yahoo, AT&T, Hotmail, etc), blogs that don't agree with the government point of view, personal websites, and some news organizatons. This has taken effect as of the beginning of February. I have no problem with them blocking porn sites (after all it is a government network), but cutting off access to our email and possibly-not-toeing-the-government-line websites is a bit much.

Initially all web blocking was done locally at the hub sites in Iraq. If you wanted a site “unblocked” you just had to email the local administrator with a reason (like, “I'd like to read my email, please.”), and if it wasn't porn or offensive, they'd allow it. Now, all blocking is done by desk-weenies at the USMC Network Operations Center in Quantico, VA, who really don't care if we get our email (or gossip) out here, as they get to go to happy hour after working 9 to 5 and go home to a nice clean, warm home with a real bed! (Sorry, I'm a little peeved.)



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