Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Bush Gang: "A veritable juggernaut of competence."

By the estimable Jack Riddler: "The awesome competence of the Bush regime" (a post buried in a DU forum):

Those who call the Bush mob "incompetent" make a fatal error. On some unconscious level, they seem to think that these criminals somehow share any of the goals of decent human beings, and have therefore "failed" to produce good results. But that, of course is the idea that motivates the Bush crime family: to produce evil results that happen to enrich their own class.

The situation in Iraq for example is not the result of "incompetence." It is all according to plan, which was to destroy that nation.

Over and over we see the awesome competence of the Bush regime in accomplishing their radical plans - at every stage very much thanks to the enablers who run the Democratic Party, and who have smoothed the way for the Bush mob in each of their following accomplishments:

*Stealing Election 2000.
*Trillion dollar giveaway to the rich, intentionally plunging the country into deficit.
*9/11. Exactly as desired.
*Stealing a sum specified as "2.3 trillion dollars" from Pentagon assets.
*Repealing the Bill of Rights in the USA PATRIOT Act.
*Getting dozens of other countries to pass their own PATRIOT acts.
*Invading Afghanistan. Exactly as planned, years in advance.
*Funnelling trillions more legally into the Pentagon.
*Establishing a Homeland Gestapo.
*Instituting Rule by Fear, color-coded no less.
*Railroading the idiot Congress into approving the war in Iraq.
*Accepting the assassination of Wellstone by whatever lower-level operative delivered it.
*Stealing Election 2002.
*Establishing "Total Information Awareness" and getting away with it, even after departure of Poindexter.
*Invading Iraq. Killing untold thousands.
*Getting the Iraqis into a civil war, with the intent of making sure that country never recovers.
*Covering up 9/11.
*Using 9/11 as an election device and excuse for everything.
*Stealing Election 2004.
*Using Katrina as the opportunity to empty out New Orleans and test out long-standing "civil disturbance" doctrines.
*Pushing through two right-wing Supreme Court appointments without a filibuster.
*Rewiring Americans overnight to believe Iran is now the enemy.

Wow! What a list! A veritable juggernaut of competence.

The Bush mob (almost) always get what they want, and the Democratic "leadership" (almost) always helps them when it counts. Yes, they had to take a loss on the first attempt to steal the entire Social Security fund, but there are many opportunities yet to come.

Yes, it's all at a time of awesome crisis to US-based capitalism, so much of it looks jerry-rigged but so what? It's not like the Bush mob invented the crisis of capitalism. So far, they're getting away with a particular plan to thrive in that crisis, by plundering everything, whether nailed down or not.

Competent at what they do, which is what they've always done: pillage and plunder.

And those who call them "incompetent" sadly serve to excuse and enable their crimes.

Jack Riddler follows up with two further posts in the same thread:
But you reminded me of something BIG I forgot: Enabling the Wall Street plunder of America. 9/11 and its hysteria (and the destruction of the SEC at Building 7) successfully distracted away from 200 plus ongoing securities fraud cases. In the end, we get an Enron trial and a few other high-profile trials, but think of all those who got away to plunder more later...

Those who attack the Bush regime as "incompetent" because of the horrors it has wrought are in effect excusing criminal behavior as merely stupid behavior. It matters not whether they are competent or incompetent; they are criminal, that's what matters.

Not Alone

There was a Zogby poll in New York. The question asked was, do you believe the government had advance knowledge of the attacks and consciously let them happen? Forty-nine percent in New York City said yes. I believe it was 43% statewide. That is a pretty remarkable figure. In this country there has not been a poll that asked, do you believe the government actually planned and orchestrated the attacks? The question has been raised in Europe and Canada and has gotten to somewhere around 20%. It would be interesting to have such a poll in the United States.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Towards a Renaissance of Citizens' Balls

David Rees: Get Your War On, January 9 2006 (click on comic to view)

Paul Donovan in The Observer, October 5 2003:

"The willingness of journalists to accept the establishment's view of the events of, and after, 9/11 is truly staggering."

Newsweek wonders what would happen if the public ever found out. Well, maybe they should try actually helping the public to find out, instead of burying their revelations on the sixth page of a six-page article. Maybe they should send a few of their own reporters to Florida, for instance, where Mohammed Atta's ex-girlfriend has much to tell us about his hard-partying lifestyle and his German and Austrian friends. Maybe they should ask themselves, and us, a few simple questions about Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his bizarre conduct on The Day That Changed Everything. Maybe they should tell us about the long-planned hijack wargames on September 11, carried out under the command of Richard Cheney and/or General Ralph Eberhart. All of this information is available in the public domain, and has been for some time; so maybe Newsweek - and CNN and the Observer and the BBC and the NYT - should think about actually reporting it, instead of continuing to hide it.

MASCAL Contingency Planning Exercise, November 3, 2000

Then it wouldn't be quite so easy for quite so many people to continue pretending they hadn't found out anything at all. And if we all stopped ignoring the obvious so assiduously, then the War on Terror wouldn't have a leg to stand on. In truth, it never has had.

Do we have to be as old as Howard Zinn or as wealthy as Gore Vidal before we can bring ourselves to speak out about this in public? No. The Bush Gang's complicity in the crimes of 9/11 is by now an open secret. It is the one issue that clearly frightens them, and not for no reason. And if there is a faster way to stop the ongoing and worsening War on Terror than to demand a full, open and independent investigation of the 9/11 crimes, I've yet to hear it.

It was, very obviously, an inside job, and they are still exploiting it mercilessly as a casus belli for Endless War. Therefore: Towards a mass campaign. Towards the impeachment of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and at least a dozen others. Towards a Renaissance of Citizens' Balls.

Nothing else will work.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

War On Blogging

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was warmly greeted at the recent meeting of the Council on Foreign Relations. The CFR is the hand-picked assemblage of western elites from big-energy, corporate media, high-finance and the weapons industry. These are the 4,000 or so members of the American ruling class who determine the shape of policy and ensure that the management of the global economic system remains in the hands of U.S. bluebloods.

As the Pentagon’s chief-coordinator, Rumsfeld enjoys a prominent place among American mandarins. He is the caretaker of their most prized possession; the high-tech, taxpayer-funded, laser-guided war machine. The US Military is the crown-jewel of the American empire; a fully-operational security apparatus for the protection of pilfered resources and the ongoing subjugation of the developing world.

Rumsfeld’s speech alerted his audience to the threats facing America in the new century.

He opined: “We meet today in the 6th year in what promises to be a long struggle against an enemy that in many ways is unlike any our country has ever faced. And, in this war, some of the most critical battles may not be in the mountains in Afghanistan or in the streets of Iraq, but in newsrooms—in places like New York, London, Cairo, and elsewhere.”

“New York”?“Our enemies have skillfully adapted to fighting wars in today’s media age, but for the most part our country has not”.

Huh? Does Rummy mean those grainy, poorly-produced videos of Bin Laden and co.?

“Consider that the violent extremists have established ‘media relations committees’—and have proven to be highly-successful at manipulating opinion-elites. They plan to design their headline-grabbing attacks using every means of communications to intimidate and break the collective will of free people”.

What gibberish.

It’s foolish to mention “intimidating and breaking the collective will of free people” without entering Abu Ghraib, Guantanomo and Falluja into the discussion. Rumsfeld is just griping about the disgrace he’s heaped on America’s reputation by his refusal to conform to even minimal standards of decency. Instead, he insists that America’s declining stature in the world is the result of a hostile media and “skillful enemies”; in other words, anyone with a computer keyboard and a rudimentary sense of moral judgment.

(Our enemies) “know that communications transcend borders…and that a single news story , handled skillfully, can be as damaging to our cause and as helpful to theirs, as any other method of military attack”.

If the Pentagon is really so worried about “bad press coverage” why not close down the torture-chambers and withdrawal from Iraq? Instead, Rumsfeld is making the case for a preemptive-assault on free speech.

“The growing number of media outlets in many parts of the world….too often serve to inflame and distort, rather than explain and inform. And while Al Qaida and extremist movements have utilized this forum for many years, and have successfully poisoned the Muslim public’s view of the West, we have barely even begun to compete in reaching their audiences.”

“Inflame and distort”?

What distortion? Do cameras distort the photos of abused prisoners, desperate people, or decimated cities?

Rumsfeld’s analysis borders on the delusional. Al Qaida doesn’t have a well-oiled propaganda mechanism that provides a steady stream of fabrications to whip the public into a frenzy. That’s the American media’s assignment. And, they haven’t “poisoned Muslim public opinion” against us. That has been entirely the doing of the Pentagon warlords and their White House compatriots.

“The standard US government public affairs operation was designed primarily …to be reactive rather than proactive…Government, however, is beginning to adapt”

“Proactive news”? In other words, propaganda.

Rumsfeld confirms his dedication to propaganda by defending the bogus stories that were printed in Iraqi newspapers by Pentagon contractors. (We) “sought non-traditional means to provide accurate information to the Iraqi people in the face of an aggressive campaign of disinformation….This has been deemed inappropriate—for examples the allegations of ‘buying news’”.

A brazen defense of intentionally planted lies; how low can we sink?

This has had a “chilling effect for those who are asked to serve in the military public affairs field.”

Is it really that difficult to print the truth?

Rumsfeld boasts of the vast changes in “communications planning” taking place at the Pentagon.

A “public affairs” strategy is at the heart of the new paradigm, replete with “rapid response” teams to address the nagging issues of bombed-out wedding parties, starving prisoners, and devastated cities. No problem is so great that it can’t be papered-over by a public relations team trained in the black-art of deception, obfuscation, and slight-of-hand. Trickery now tops the list of military priorities.

“US Central Command has launched an online communications effort that includes electronic news updates and a links campaign that has resulted in several hundred blogs receiving and publishing CENTCOM content.

”The military plans to develop the “institutional capability” to respond to critical news coverage within the same news cycle and to develop a comprehensive scheme for infiltrating the internet.

The Pentagon’s strategy for taking over the internet and controlling the free flow of information has already been chronicled in a recently declassified report, “The Information Operations Roadmap”; is a window into the minds of those who see free speech as dangerous as an “enemy weapons-system”.

The Pentagon is aiming for “full spectrum dominance” of the Internet. Their objective is to manipulate public perceptions, quash competing points of view, and perpetuate a narrative of American generosity and good-will.

Rumsfeld’s comments are intended to awaken his constituents to the massive information war that is being waged to transform the Internet into the progeny of the MSM; a reliable partner for the dissemination of establishment-friendly news.

The Associated Press reported recently that the US government conducted a massive simulated attack on the Internet called “Cyber-Storm”. The wargame was designed, among other things, to “respond to misinformation campaigns and activist calls by internet bloggers, online diarists whose ‘Web logs” include political rantings and musings about current events”.

Before Bush took office, “political rantings and musings about current events” were protected under the 1st amendment.

No more.

The War Department is planning to insert itself into every area of the Internet from blogs to chat rooms, from leftist web sites to editorial commentary. Their rapid response team will be on hair-trigger alert to dispute any tidbit of information that challenges the official storyline.

We can expect to encounter, as the BBC notes, “psychological operations (that) try to manipulate the thoughts and the beliefs of the enemy (as well as) computer network specialists who seek to destroy enemy networks.

”The enemy, of course, is anyone who refuses to accept their servile role in the new world order or who disrupts the smooth-operation of the Bush police-state.

The resolve to foreclose on free speech has never been greater. As for Rumsfeld’s devotees at the CFR, the problem of savaging civil liberties is never seriously raised. After all, these are the primary beneficiaries of Washington’s global resource-war; should it matter that other people’s freedom is sacrificed to perpetuate the fundamental institutions of class and privilege?

Rumsfeld is right. The only way to prevail on the information-battlefield is to “take no prisoners”; police the Internet, uproot the troublemakers and activists who provide the truth, and “catapult the propaganda” (Bush) from every bullhorn and web site across the virtual-universe. Free speech is a luxury we cannot afford if it threatens to undermine the basic platforms of western white rule.

As Rumsfeld said, “We are fighting a battle where the survival of our free way of life is at stake.”

Indeed, it is.
************* Mike Whitney

The War on Humanity

Business Week reports that the disparity between the “shop floor and the executive suite” is at an all-time high. In 1980, CEOs made 42 times the average blue-collar worker. By 1990, this disparity rose to 85 times, and by the year 2000 the disparity between worker and CEO climbed to 531 times as much.

What are the statistics in the fifth year of the War on Terror (which is a struggle for Our Values) ?

Friday, February 24, 2006

This Charming Man is a Potential Terrorist Sympathiser

The flower-brandishing "melancholic warbler" was questioned by FBI and Special Branch. Now why would they do that, if not to scare everyone shitless? In the farcically unlikely event that they did worry about him being a BinLadenite, they could have found out very easily by tailing him or by tapping his phone. So why this high-profile questioning of a high-profile English dandy? They must have known he was bound to talk about it; he didn't call himself Big Mouth for nothing.

And why did they bother to bully a low-profile English actor, who had had the temerity to play an exonerated terrorist suspect in a film? Why the Big Fist? Why the free publicity?

The message - through them, to us - is surely clear: Be afraid. Be very afraid. And don't get ideas above your station.

The Dictatorship: Daring, Diligent and Deft

AMY GOODMAN: We're going to go to an excerpt of that movie in just a minute, but I want to ask you about, right now, what journalists are facing in Iraq, just learning about the Al Arabiya reporter, thirty-year-old woman, her two crew, cameraman and soundman, who were just killed. Jill Carroll remains kidnapped.

DANNY SCHECHTER: Yeah. I mean, this is one of our demands also, to release not only kidnapped journalists, but journalists who have been jailed by U.S. authorities without any charges being filed against them, without any information being provided about why they're being arrested, no due process whatsoever. The International Federation of Journalists has raised this issue. It’s an issue that we all should take seriously, because it’s the fight for the right to know. It's the fight for information, and the journalists on the front line are in a very dangerous situation, more journalists dead in Iraq than in the entire Vietnam War, and this is something we have to take seriously. The woman who just died from Al Arabiya was an Al Jazeera correspondent before that, you know, a very brave reporter, very popular reporter, and for her to be killed, and we don’t know who’s doing this. You know, this is --

AMY GOODMAN: Atwar Bahjat, she was just heading into Samarra.

DANNY SCHECHTER: Yeah, we don’t know who’s behind all this. You know, there are hit squads --

AMY GOODMAN: And in that case, the reports were that those that killed her shouted out, “We want the correspondent, the correspondent!” She was Iraqi, herself, from a Sunni Shia family.

DANNY SCHECHTER: So, they basically want to keep us in the dark about what's happening in Iraq. That’s why the coverage has – you know, it’s become “when it bleeds it leads.” There's very little analysis and background and context being offered that helps people get a perspective about the complete failure of the U.S. intervention there.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And, Danny, as somebody who has been monitoring this coverage now on a regular basis, your sense, has there been any impact or change in any of the corporate media as a result of how badly the war has gone?

DANNY SCHECHTER: Well, I think because, as public opinion has shifted against the war, media doesn't want to alienate what customers it has left, so they want to try to appear to be a little bit more balanced. When people like John Murtha speak out, they can’t ignore it. So there has been some shift in the media coverage, but basically they have been locked into, you know, justifying this intervention. First, they justified the invasion. Now they're saying, “Well, withdrawal can't work.” You know, they're raising a blizzard of questions about why nothing can be done about the situation.

AMY GOODMAN: Danny, we want to turn for a few minutes to your film. It's called W.M.D.: Weapons of Mass Deception.

    ARI FLEISCHER: The President will address the nation at 10:15.

    PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH: My fellow citizens, at this hour, American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger.

    ABC NEWS OFFICE, Amman, Jordan: The level of protection would be minimal, and if I were a news president or news executive right now, I would be pulling my people out.

    DANNY SCHECHTER: When the war had finally begun, the networks began pulling their reporters out of Baghdad. Peter Arnett was in the Iraqi capital with a National Geographic documentary team. He decided to stay.

    PETER ARNETT: Covering wars are a dangerous business. You can die, and those companies feel responsible for their people in harm's way. They sometimes order them out.

    ABC NEWS OFFICE, Amman, Jordan: I think there is something to be said for staying. However, from a news executive standpoint, the risks are enormous.

    PETER ARNETT: I sort of have a genetic tic that allows me to go into dangerous areas without too much concern.

    ROBERT YOUHNG PELTON: The interesting thing was that the American military were trying to intimidate these journalists. They were saying, you know, “You are going to be a target” and everything, and the journalists were working overtime to say, “Look, we’re here. This is our coordinates. Don't fire,” and everybody knew that journalists were at these hotels. That’s why they were at these hotels. It was also known that if you are going to have shock and awe, you need somebody to record it. I mean, the one thing that they left out was that they needed the media to fight this war. The war was set up to be filmed and recorded by the media, so there was this bizarre, symbiotic relationship.

    DAN RATHER: CBS’s David Martin at the Pentagon is following the planning and has the latest on a possible timeline.

    DANNY SCHECHTER: To promote its war, the Pentagon made media management a priority. Their strategy was sophisticated, clever and almost always covert. Few media outlets exposed it. Most participated willingly for their own political and economic reasons. Pentagon strategy went beyond traditional P.R., using marketing strategies and perception management. Administration officials likened their war planning to a product rollout. It was all to guarantee there would be only one storyline in the media and in the minds of Americans: theirs. A Pentagon advisor told me it was intentional. They knew that TV networks prefer storytelling to sloganizing. Their storyline became a master narrative, defining Iraq as the problem and U.S. military intervention as the only solution. Traditionally, propaganda is targeted at the enemy. In this war, it was smoothly infiltrated into the news, aimed at American and global public opinion.

    DONALD RUMSFELD: There are “known knowns,” there are things we know that we know. There are “known unknowns,” that is to say, there are things that we now know we don't know, but there are also “unknown unknowns.” There are things we do not know we don't know.

    GEN. TOMMY FRANKS: This platform is not a platform for propaganda. This is a platform for truth.

    DANNY SCHECHTER: In his war plan, Tommy Franks, the U.S. military commander, described the press, once known as the “fourth estate” as the “fourth front.” He knew that a supportive media was essential for victory, and he cultivated one.

    GEN. TOMMY FRANKS: This will be a campaign unlike any other in history.

    DANNY SCHECHTER: The Pentagon focused on winning the media war, leaking their plan to reporters they could trust.

    GREG KELLY, FOX News Embed: We knew the plan, and I think the military benefited as far as positive coverage during the war because we knew what the plan was. So we reported that things basically were on plan, or we weren't worried when we got delayed two or three days, because we knew overall it was very successful.

    DANNY SCHECHTER: Earlier, when the media pressed for access, Franks's team came up with the idea of embedding reporters, a former corporate P.R. professional turned Pentagon official ran the program.

    VICTORIA CLARKE: One of the things we did -- it wasn't rocket science, but it was hard work -- we took the same kind of planning and training and discipline that you put into military operations and put it into this aspect of the military operations, and Rumsfeld and Myers, being enlightened guys, had included people like me in the war planning from the very earliest stages.

    JOHN STAUBER: Victoria Clarke got major networks and news organizations to sign a 12-page contract agreeing to certain ground rules that actually kept the Department of Defense public affairs people in the driver's seat. And you got reporters in with these young, idealistic troops who really believed all the spin of what was going on -- we were going to liberate Iraq -- that the reporters would, overall, identify with the troops, and their reporting would be very positive.

    BRITISH SOLDIER: When we get there, if any sort of incident happens, please keep calm and remain on the bus. We will deal with the situation, no matter what it is, as swiftly as possible.

- DemocracyNow

"Chaos" in Samarra: Good for whom?

FOX News screen-grab courtesy of Crooks and Liars

Lenin's Tomb has a very good discussion of this; see also the comments thread. Chabert links to some newsworthy first-hand reports from Iraq.

These reports - which include brave eyewitness accounts of activity by US personnel at the mosque all night - naturally remain unmentioned by the BBC, which reports, with a straight face, that the US, Britain and Australia will be very sad about having to stay a little longer in the world's second most oil-rich country.

That "chaos", eh? Just keeps on coming.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Tagged (4)

Four Jobs I've Had in My Life:

1. Landscaper
2. Carpenter
3. Grocery Bagger
4. Temp

Four Movies I have watched more than once:

1. Brazil
2. Coffee and Cigarettes
3. Happy Gilmore
4. Trainspotting

Four places I've lived:

1. Cambridge, England
2. Edinburgh, Scotland
3. Chicago, US
4. A rut, variably

(Four TV shows I can bear to watch)

1. Ali G
2. Angel
3. Aquateen Hunger Force
4. The Simpsons

Four Places I Have Never Been But Want To Go

1. Madrid
2. Paris
3. Buenos Aires
4. Chabert's house

Four Guilty Pleasure Websites:

1. Long Sunday
2. The Valve
3. Kingdom of Loathing
4. Amazon.com
There's many more I don't feel guilty about.

Four Foods I can't stand and why

1. Sea food - smells bad, often looks like bugs
2. Steak - I'm vegetarian, blood is gross
3. Sausage - I'm vegetarian and am sorely tempted by the smell of sausage
4. Rice cakes - what's the point?

Monday, February 20, 2006

NEWSWEEK: CHENEY LIED AND THE 9/11 COMMISSION COVERED FOR HIM ("If the public ever found out...")

None of the 9/11 Commission staffers "believed Cheney's version of events"

... Around 9:35 on the morning of 9/11, Cheney was lifted off his feet by the Secret Service and hustled into the White House bunker. Cheney testified to the 9/11 Commission that he spoke with President Bush before giving an order to shoot down a hijacked civilian airliner that appeared headed toward Washington. (The plane was United Flight 93, which crashed in a Pennsylvania field after a brave revolt by the passengers.) But a source close to the commission, who declined to be identified revealing sensitive information, says that none of the staffers who worked on this aspect of the investigation believed Cheney's version of events.

A draft of the report conveyed their skepticism. But when top White House officials, including chief of staff Andy Card and the then White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, reviewed the draft, they became extremely agitated. After a prolonged battle, the report was toned down. The factual narrative, closely read, offers no evidence that Cheney sought initial authorization from the president. The point is not a small one. Legally, Cheney was required to get permission from his commander in chief, who was traveling (but reachable) at the time. If the public ever found out that Cheney gave the order on his own, it would have strongly fed the view that he was the real power behind the throne.

- via Rose Siding at DU (discussed here)

Reminder: Cheney and Bush had refused to testify to the 9/11 Commission until they were permitted to do so

- together
- in closed session
- without taking oath.

And Philip Zelikow, the man who headed that Commission, was a long-term collaborator with the Bush Gang, and had co-authored a book with one of the star witnesses, National Security Advisor "Condi" Rice. Not only that: Zelikow was himself a star witness at the "investigation" he headed. It is no wonder that four World Trade Center widows argued passionately - and in vain - that he was unfit to head the Commission.

Yet again: Nothing to see here. Move on.

Permanent? Bases? Iraq?


Recently, Oliver Poole, a British reporter, visited another of the American "super-bases," the still-under-construction al-Asad Airbase (Football and pizza point to US staying for long haul). He observes, of "the biggest Marine camp in western Anbar province," that "this stretch of desert increasingly resembles a slice of US suburbia." In addition to the requisite Subway and pizza outlets, there is a football field, a Hertz rent-a-car office, a swimming pool, and a movie theater showing the latest flicks. Al-Asad is so large -- such bases may cover 15-20 square miles -- that it has two bus routes and, if not traffic lights, at least red stop signs at all intersections.

There are at least four such "super-bases" in Iraq, none of which have anything to do with "withdrawal" from that country. Quite the contrary, these bases are being constructed as little American islands of eternal order in an anarchic sea. Whatever top administration officials and military commanders say -- and they always deny that we seek "permanent" bases in Iraq -– facts-on-the-ground speak with another voice entirely. These bases practically scream "permanency."

Unfortunately, there's a problem here. American reporters adhere to a simple rule: The words "permanent," "bases," and "Iraq" should never be placed in the same sentence, not even in the same paragraph; in fact, not even in the same news report. While a LexisNexis search of the last 90 days of press coverage of Iraq produced a number of examples of the use of those three words in the British press, the only U.S. examples that could be found occurred when 80% of Iraqis (obviously somewhat unhinged by their difficult lives) insisted in a poll that the United States might indeed desire to establish bases and remain permanently in their country; or when "no" or "not" was added to the mix via any American official denial.

An Endless Unrehearsed Intellectual Adventure

"We in the West were born into a world that reflects the legacy of Socrates and the agora (...) We aim, in Michael Oakeshott’s words, to live amid the conversation — 'an endless unrehearsed intellectual adventure in which, in imagination, we enter a variety of modes of understanding the world and ourselves and are not disconcerted by the differences or dismayed by the inconclusiveness of it all.' We believe in progress and in personal growth. By swimming in this flurry of perspectives, by facing unpleasant facts, we try to come closer and closer to understanding (...) Our mind-set is progressive and rational. Your mind-set is pre-Enlightenment and mythological. You fundamentalists have turned yourselves into a superpower of dysfunction, demanding our attention week after week. But it is hard to intimidate people forever into silence, to bottle up the conversation, to lock the world into an epic war only you want."
- David Brooks (via; via)


Sunday, February 19, 2006

The first time as tragedy, the second time at such a scale that the mind boggles.

"the Great Powers may proclaim their respect for law at every opportunity, but they will not allow anyone but themselves to decide what the law is in concrete cases."
- Carl Schmitt, Die Kernfrage des Volkerbundes, page 54. Quoted in The Nomos of the Earth, page 14.

The Sorrows of a Young Conspiracy Theorist

From Counterpunch; Werther with some remarks about 9/11 they don't want you to make:

More dispositive than these speculations, however, are the very real connections between Washington and Islamic jihadists in the Balkans throughout the 1990s. The report hints at this relationship by mentioning the presence of charity fronts of bin Laden's "network" in Zagreb and Sarajevo. In fact, the U.S. government engaged in a massive covert operation to infiltrate Islamic fighters, many of them veterans of the Afghan war, into the Balkans for the purpose of undermining the Milosevic government. The "arms embargo," enforced by the U.S. military, was a cover for this activity (i.e., using military force to keep prying eyes from seeing what was going on). A key Washington fixer for the Muslim government of Bosnia was the law firm of Feith and Zell. Yes, Douglas Feith, one of the principal conspirators involved in launching the Iraq war under the banner of opposing Islamic terrorism, was a proponent of introducing Islamic terrorists into South Eastern Europe.

But what about Occam's Razor?

[W]hy does the U.S. government hive so firmly to the notion of a long, drawn-out, indeterminate war, when Occam's Razor would suggest the desirability of presenting a clear-cut victory within the span of imagination of the average impatient American--a couple of years at most? Or is endless war the point?

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Friday, February 17, 2006

And The Winner Is...Columbia!


David Horowitz’s “101 Most Dangerous Academics in America”

Arcadia University
Warren Haffar

Ball State University
George Wolfe

Baylor University
Marc Ellis

Boston University
Howard Zinn

Brandeis University
Gordon Fellman
Dessima Williams

Brooklyn College
Priya Parmar
Timothy Shortell

Cal State University, Fresno
Sasan Fayazmanesh

California State University, Long Beach
Ron (Maulana) Karenga

City University of New York
Stanley Aronowitz
Bell Hooks
Leonard Jeffries
Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick

Columbia University
Lisa Anderson
Gil Anidjar
Hamid Dabashi
Nicholas De Genova
Eric Foner
Todd Gitlin
Manning Marable
Joseph Massad
Victor Navasky

Cornell University
Matthew Evangelista

De Paul University
Norman Finkelstein
Aminah Beverly McCloud

Duke University
Miriam Cooke
Frederic Jameson

Earlham College
Caroline Higgins

Emory University
Kathleen Cleaver

Foothill College
Leighton Armitage

Georgetown University
David Cole
John Esposito
Yvonne Haddad
Mari Matsuda

Holy Cross University
Jerry Lembcke

Kent State University
Patrick Coy

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Noam Chomsky

Metropolitan State College, Denver
Oneida Meranto

Montclair State University
Grover Furr

New York University
Derrick Bell

North Carolina University
Gregory Dawes

Northeastern University
M. Shahid Alam
Elizabeth M. Brumfiel
Bernardine Dohrn

Occidental College
Tom Hayden

Penn State University
Michael Berube
Sam Richards

Princeton University
Richard Falk

Purdue University
Harry Targ

Rochester Institute of Technology
Thomas Castellano

Rutgers University
H. Bruce Franklin
Michael Warner

Rutgers University, Stony Brook
Amiri Baraka

San Francisco State University
Anatole Anton

Saint Xavier University
Peter Kirstein

Stanford University
Joel Beinin
Paul Ehrlich

State University of New York, Binghamton
Ali al-Mazrui

State University of New York, Buffalo
James Holstun

State University of New York, Stony Brook
Michael Schwartz

Syracuse University
Greg Thomas

Temple University
Melissa Gilbert
Lewis Gordon

Texas A&M University
Joe Feagin

Truman State University
Marc Becker

University of California, Berkely
Hamid Algar
Hatem Bazian
Orville Schell

University of California, Irvine
Mark Le Vine

University of California, Los Angeles
Vinay Lal

University of California, Riverside
Armando Navarro

University of California, Santa Cruz
Bettina Aptheker
Angela Davis

University of Cincinnati
Marvin Berlowitz

University of Colorado, Boulder
Ward Churchill
Alison Jaggar
Emma Perez

University of Dayton
Mark Ensalaco

University of Denver
Dean Saitta

University of Hawaii, Manoa
Haunani-Kay Trask

University of Illinois, Chicago
Bill Ayers

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Robert McChesney

University of Kentucky
Ihsan Bagby

University of Michigan
Juan Cole

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Gayle Rubin

University of Northern Colorado
Robert Dunkley

University of Oregon, Eugene
John Bellamy Foster

University of Pennsylvania
Regina Austin
Mary Frances Berry
Michael Eric Dyson

University of Rhode Island
Michael Vocino

University of South Florida
Sami al-Arian

University of Southern California
Laurie Brand

University of Texas, Arlington
Jose Angel Gutierrez

University of Texas, Austin
Dana Cloud, Robert Jensen

University of Washington
David Barash

Villanova University
Rick Eckstein
Suzanne Toton

Western Washington University
Larry Estrada

Pool Party

Jeb Sprague.

More from Hell

Salon has even more photos from Abu Graibh, if anyone can still stand it. One of them appeaars to feature a boy no older than twelve or thirteen.

Discussed on this thread.

Bush's 9/11 telephone logs don't exist

Just one of the many astonishing details dug up and preserved by the heroic Paul Thompson at the Center for Cooperative Research:

This is from the 9/11 press conference on 6/17/04. As they used to say on Saturday Night Live, "How conveeeeenient":

Q. Is it possible that Vice President Cheney issued the shoot down order prior to conferring with President Bush?

MR. KEAN: Well, the testimony we have is from the president and from the vice president and from Condi [sic] Rice, who says she overheard part of that phone call. The phone logs don't exist, because they evidently got so fouled up in communications that the phone logs have nothing. [sic] So that's the evidence we have.

MR. HAMILTON: There's no documentary evidence here. And the only evidence you have is the statement of the president and the vice president, which was that the president gave the order to shoot down.

Sounds to me like Rice, Cheney, and Bush are covering each other's asses by lying and withholding evidence. Even though it was said at a press conference, the only newspaper deeming it worth reporting was the New York Daily News, giving it a brief mention:


Thursday, February 16, 2006

Dis(re)membering The News Show

I'm Shocked! SHOCKED! There are death squads in this country!

Free From Law

There exists a shadowy Government with its own Air Force, its own Navy, its own fundraising mechanism, and the ability to pursue its own ideas of the national interest, free from all checks and balances, and free from the law itself.
-- Sen. Inouye during Iran-contra hearings, 1987

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


1. Is the the Bush Gang telling the truth about 9/11?

2. If so, where's the evidence?

3. If not, why are we pissing about this way, four-and-a-half-years later?

Here's what everyone pretends to believe (because it costs nothing).

Is it credible, what we pretend to believe? Also: Is it efficaciously anti-war? Do the answers to these questions have any consequences? (The answer is yes; this is why the questions remain routinely unanswered. Nobody wants to be first.)

Straight answers from fellow-Qlipothians would be particularly welcome.

The Fear Racket /Religion


Rumsfeld and Cheney wanted Americans to believe there was something nefarious going on, something we should be very afraid of. To this end, they convinced President Ford to appoint a commission including their old friend Paul Wolfowitz to prove that the Soviets were up to no good.

Wolfowitz's group, known as "Team B," came to the conclusion that the Soviets had developed several terrifying new weapons of mass destruction, featuring a nuclear-armed submarine fleet that used a sonar system that didn't depend on sound and was, thus, undetectable with our current technology. It could - within a matter of months - be off the coast of New York City with a nuclear warhead.

Although Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld's assertions of this powerful new Soviet WMD was unproven - they said the lack of proof proved the "undetectable" sub existed - they nonetheless used their charges to push for dramatic escalations in military spending to selected defense contractors, a process that continued through the Reagan administration.

Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz helped re-organized a group - The Committee on the Present Danger - to promote their worldview. The Committee produced documentaries, publications, and provided guests for national talk shows and news reports. They worked hard to whip up fear and encourage increases in defense spending, particularly for sophisticated weapons systems offered by the defense contractors for whom many of these same men would later become lobbyists.

And they succeeded in recreating an atmosphere of fear in the United States, and making themselves and their defense contractor friends richer than most of the kingdoms of the world.

Trillions of dollars and years later, it was proven that they had been wrong all along, and the CIA had been right. Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Wolfowitz lied to America in the 1970s about Soviet WMDs and the Soviet super-sub technology.

Not only do we now know that the Soviets didn't have any new and impressive WMDs, but we also now know that the Soviets were, in fact, decaying from within, ripe for collapse any time, regardless of what the US did - just as the CIA (and anybody who visited Soviet states - as I had - during that time could easily predict). The Soviet economic and political system wasn't working, and their military was disintegrating.

But the Cold War was good for business, and good for the political power of its advocates, from Rumsfeld to Wolfowitz to Cheney who have all become rich in part because of the arms industry.

Today, making Americans terrified with their so-called "War On Terror" is the same strategy, run for many of the same reasons, by the same people. And by hyping it - and then invading Iraq to bring it into fruition - we may well be bringing into reality forces that previously existed only on the margins and with very little power to harm us.

Most recently we've learned from former CIA National Intelligence Officer for the Middle East and South Asia Paul Pillar that, just like in the 1970s, the CIA disagreed in 2002 with Rumsfeld and Cheney about an WMD threat - this time posed by Iraq - even as Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Wolfowitz were telling America how afraid we should be of an eminent "mushroom cloud."

We've seen this movie before. The last time, it cost our nation hundreds of billions of dollars, vastly enriched the cronies of these men, and ultimately helped bring Ronald Reagan to power. This time they've added on top of their crony enrichment program the burden of over 2200 dead American servicemen and women, tens of thousands wounded, as many as a hundred thousand dead Iraqis, and a level of worldwide instability not seen since the run-up to World War Two.

When Hilary Clinton recently noted that the only political card Republicans are any longer capable of playing is the card of fear, she was spot-on right. They're now even running radio and TV commercials designed to terrorize our children ("Do you have a plan for a terrorist attack?"), the modern reincarnation of "Duck and Cover."

Now that former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge has confessed that many of the terror alerts that continually popped up during the 2004 election campaign were, as USA Today noted on 10 May 2005, based on "flimsy evidence" or were done over his objection at the insistence of "administration officials," it's increasingly clear that the Bush administration itself is the source of much of the "be afraid!" terror inflicted on US citizens over the past 5 years.

Punch And Judy

David Miller on the value of pseudodissent to pseudonews.

Evil Deeds Will Rise

..but, too late.

WASHINGTON - Military and intelligence officers told spellbound lawmakers Tuesday that their careers had been ruined by superiors because they refused to lie about Able Danger, Abu Ghraib and other national security controversies.

Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, wearing a crisp olive Army uniform with the Bronze Star and other awards, delivered his first public testimony about his central role in Able Danger, a Pentagon computer data-mining program set up long before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to infiltrate the al-Qaeda terrorist network.

Shaffer told a House Government Reform subcommittee that he and other intelligence officers and contractors working on the top-secret program code-named "Able Danger" had identified Mohammed Atta, ringleader of the Sept. 11 attacks, but were prevented from passing their findings to the FBI.

"I became a whistleblower not out of choice, but out of necessity," Shaffer said. "Many of us have a personal commitment to ... going forward to expose the truth and wrongdoing of government officials who - before and after the 9/11 attacks - failed to do their job."

Shaffer contradicted recent statements by Philip Zelikow, former executive director of the Sept. 11 commission, who denied having met with Shaffer and other Able Danger operatives in Afghanistan in October 2003.

"I did meet with him," Shaffer said. "I have the business card he gave me. I find it hard to believe that he could not remember meeting me."

An Invitation

From Reading Between:

The most interesting and pleasurable book I've read over the last year is David Graeber's Toward an Anthropological Theory of Value: The False Coin of our own Dreams. David Graeber is a brilliant anthropologist, also an anarchist and activist, and his book is one of those where 100 ideas spin off every page. It includes lucid critiques of postmodernism, discussion of gift economies, a really interesting perspective on Marx (which caused me to spend the summer reading Das Kapital), a theory of social creativity, and countless lively anthropological examples. I'm still mulling over a small aside he made on the meaning of men's and women's fashion.

I'd like to invite you to read some David Graeber with me. I'll send a free copy of the book to anyone who wants one -- just write to me with your mailing address.

. . .

Step One: Copies of a book are sent to whoever wants to read them (see above).

Step Two: We find a way to talk to one another.

The first tool I'm adding to the project is a discussion forum. All readers and interested parties are invited to join in the conversation. Whatever we make of Reading Between is something we will make together.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Israel has de facto annexed the Jordan Valley

"In the Jordan Valley, the eastern strip of the West Bank, Israel has instituted a regime of permits and harsh restrictions on the movement of Palestinians. These actions have, in effect, served to annex the area to Israel . This is the essential finding of research recently conducted by B'Tselem.

As a rule, the army forbids the entry of Palestinians to the Jordan Valley. Only Palestinians listed as residents of the area are allowed to enter. (...) Israel initially planned to construct an eastern barrier to separate the Jordan Valley from the rest of the West Bank . These plans were abandoned following international criticism of the route of the Separation Barrier as a whole, and the High Court of Justice's decision of June 2004. It is now apparent that what Israel was unable to achieve by a separation barrier is being realized through other means."

Evading Peace

Finkelstein: Come 1981, as pressure builds on Israel to reach a diplomatic settlement in the Israel-Palestine conflict, they decide to invade Lebanon in order to crush the P.L.O., because the P.L.O. was on record supporting a two-state settlement. As Dr. Ben-Ami's colleague, Avner Yaniv, put it in a very excellent book, Dilemmas of Security, he said, “The main problem for Israel was,” and now I’m quoting him, "the P.L.O.'s peace offensive. They wanted a two-state settlement. Israel did not.” And so Israel decides to crush the P.L.O. in Lebanon. It successfully did so. The P.L.O. goes into exile.

Come 1987, Palestinians in the Occupied Territories despair of any possibility of international intervention, and they enter into a revolt -- the Palestinian Intifada -- basically nonviolent civilian revolt by the Palestinians. And the revolt proves to be remarkably successful for maybe the first couple of years. Come 1990, Iraq invades Kuwait. The P.L.O. supports, ambiguously, but I think we fairly can say, and I agree with Dr. Ben-Ami on this, they lend support to Iraq. The war ends, Iraq defeated, and all the Gulf states cut off all of their money to the P.L.O. The P.L.O. Is going down the tubes.

Along comes Israel with a clever idea. Mr. Rabin says, ‘Let's throw Arafat a life preserver, but on condition.’ And Dr. Ben-Ami puts it excellently, that “the P.L.O. will be Israel's subcontractor and collaborator in the Occupied Territories,” and I’m quoting Dr. Ben-Ami, "in order to suppress the genuinely democratic tendencies of the Palestinians." (more)


The feminine, when it ceases to be the domestic organisation of security and fear, goes furthest in the termination of all cowardice.

- Alain Badiou

If this is true, it may have something to do with humility.

Tagged (3)

Four Jobs I've Had in My Life:

1. Factory labourer
2. Van Driver
3. Hotel dishwasher
4. College lecturer

Four Movies I have watched more than once:

1. Matewan
2. The Producers
3. Rollerball
4. Monty Python's Life of Brian

Four places I've lived:

1. Kingsbury, London
2. Baggot Street, Dublin
3. Dorset Square, London
4. Sale, Manchester

(Four TV shows I can bear to watch)

1. Curb Your Enthusiasm
2. Podge & Rodge
3. Malcolm in the Middle
4. Match of the Day (if the Villa have won)

Four Places I Have Never Been But Want To Go

1. Madrid
2. Berlin
3. Melbourne
4. The Camargue

Four Guilty Pleasure Websites:

1. Le Colonel Chabert
2. McManus
3. Manuel Stimulation
4. Long Sunday

Four Foods I can't stand and why

1. Prawns - from cleaning out half-eaten prawn cocktails as a hotel dishwasher.
2. Mussels - sea tumours.
3. Peus de Porc - a bag of fat in sludge
4: Squid - see 2

The Art Of Governing Ineptly

George Monbiot:

Friday's flotation of Qinetiq raised the value of the shareholding acquired by Carlyle, the US investment firm, by around 840%. Carlyle, whose board is graced, among other eminences, by former prime minister John Major, bought its stake at auction in 2002 when the stockmarket had floundered. It paid £42m for a 31% share, which at close of play on Friday was worth around £351m. Last week, it flogged over half its shares. Its chairman, who paid £129,000 for his stake in the company, is now worth £27m, and its chief executive £22m.

As it was with the four directors of Rover (who walked off with £40m), it is hard to see what they did to deserve it. As Lord Drayson's Labour predecessor, Lord Gilbert, pointed out: "All the value was built up by public servants using public money. I consider it a complete outrage ... a scandal." In a letter to the Daily Telegraph on Saturday, the former managing director of the Defence Research Agency - the government body that was split up and turned into Qinetiq - described the profits as "greed of the highest order": the two men, he said, had captured the benefits of decades of work by its scientists and engineers.

Lord Drayson's boss, the defence secretary John Reid, claimed that the company is worth so much "because of the value that has been added there" by Carlyle's management. "This is precisely why [we] brought them in." But if the government knew that Carlyle would make so much money, why did it allow the company to buy its stake so cheaply? If it didn't know, then why should we take its counterfactual accountancy seriously? In fact, in 2002 the government was warned by Lord Gilbert and Lord Moonie, who was defence procurement minister when Carlyle bought its stake, that the taxpayer was being shortchanged. Moonie says he was overruled by the Treasury. The government went in with its eyes wide open.

One could argue that much of Qinetiq's value was added not by the brilliance of its directors, or even of its engineers and scientists, but by a huge contract with the Ministry of Defence, signed on the very day (February 28 2003) that Carlyle paid for its stake. The "Long-Term Partnering Agreement", under which Qinetiq manages the government's firing ranges, is worth £5.6bn over 25 years. In fact, with a contract such as this, any one of us could have bought that 31% stake without having to open our wallets: you could borrow the money, at cheap rates, against your guaranteed future income. Carlyle admits that it underwrote part of the capital by refinancing its revenues on the basis of the contract. The Guardian has also reported that Qinetiq might have left behind some potential liabilities during the flotation: the government may have to carry the costs of cleaning up some land it has been using.

To anyone who has studied the private finance initiative, this story - of guaranteed assets and reduced liabilities - will be familiar. Qinetiq's sale carries fewer public dangers than the part-privatisation of our schools, hospitals and whatever else remains of the public sector, as the potential liabilities are much smaller, and the impact of the possible misdrafting of the long-term contract less consequential. But it seems clear that these generous provisions fattened up the company for privatisation. As Lord Gilbert says: "The MoD was taken like a lamb to the slaughter."

The ball is not the commonweal. The ball is the public treasury and these "bungling, hamhanded" officials never drop it.

Monday, February 13, 2006

"The Universal Adversary"

William Pfaff: A 'long war' designed to perpetuate itself

The U.S. Defense Department and the White House have decided that the United States is now conducting "the Long War" rather than what previously was known as the War against Terror, then as the Global Struggle against Violent Extremism, and briefly - as one revealing Pentagon study described it - a war against "the Universal Adversary."

President George W. Bush said in his State of the Union address last month that the aim of his administration is to defeat radical Islam. This was a preposterous statement. [...] What originally was to be a matter of quick and exemplary revenge, with lightning attacks and acclaimed victories, has now become, we are told, the long war whose end cannot be foreseen. The citizen is implicitly told to expect the current suspension of constitutional norms, disregard for justice, and defiance of presidential power limits as traditionally construed, to continue indefinitely. We are in a new age, America's leaders say. The Democratic opposition seems to agree. What started as the war against terror, proclaimed by the president to Congress in the aftermath of the 2001 attacks, has undergone a metamorphosis...

Oops, sorry guys, we fucked up...

A nation of Stan Laurels, mysteriously failing to heed predictions of Katrina catastrophe, making whoopsies, boom-booms and slip-ups all over the place. A banana peel artfully laid out at every step:

Federal, state and local officials all failed to anticipate the devastation threatened by Hurricane Katrina and then were slow to react when the storm overwhelmed New Orleans levees, said a draft report by a special House committee investigating Katrina.

``At every level -- individual, corporate, philanthropic and governmental -- we failed to meet the challenge,'' the draft said. ``Our report is a litany of mistakes, misjudgments, lapses and absurdities all cascading together, blinding us to what was coming and hobbling any collective effort to respond.'' (Bloomberg)

Whoops! Oopie! Sorrreeeee! Never saw it coming! Pratfall! How'd that happen? D'oh! Butterfingers! Gosh darn it!

Some day we will all look back on this and laugh.


BBC: US government 'failed' on Katrina

"'If 9/11 was a failure of imagination, then Katrina was a failure of initiative,' the report's summary states."

If the Queen had balls, she'd be the King.

This photo was taken on October 24, 2000

If they could get away with that, and they could, then they can get away with anything, and they will. They are doing so already. It is no accident that the Katrina report's closing summary includes that routinely straight-faced allusion to the administration's good-hearted, all-too-trusting dopiness on 9/11.

A failure of imagination? A failure of initiative? Is anyone still laughing at this Keystone Kops routine?

The Dreams Of Reason

From (brownfemipower):

Marshallese women suffer silently and differently from the men who were exposed to radiation. Our culture and religion teaches us that reproductive abnormalities are a sign that women have been unfaithful. For this reason, many of my friends keep quiet about the strange births they have had. In privacy, they give birth, not to children as we like to think of them, but to things we could only describe as "octopuses," "apples," "turtles" and other things in our experience. We do not have Marshallese words for these kinds of babies, because they were never born before the radiation came.

Women on Rongelap, Likiep, Ailuk and other atolls in the Marshall Islands have given birth to these "monster babies." Many of these women are from atolls the foreign officials have told us were not affected by radiation. We know otherwise, because the health problems are similar to ours. One woman on Likiep gave birth to a child with two heads. Her cat also gave birth to a kitten with two heads. There is a young girl on Ailuk today with no knees, three toes on each foot and a missing arm.

The most common birth defects on Rongelap and nearby islands have been "jelly fish" babies. These babies are born with no bones in their bodies and with transparent skin. We can see their brains and hearts beating. The babies usually live for a day or two before they stop breathing. Many women die from abnormal pregnancies, and those who survive give birth to what looks like purple grapes that we quickly bury.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Irony Fist

Sedition Investigation Follows Letter to The Editor:

Laura Berg is a clinical nurse specialist at the VA Medical Center in Albuquerque, where she has worked for 15 years.

Shortly after Katrina, she wrote a letter to the editor of the weekly paper the Alibi criticizing the Bush Administration.

After the paper published the letter in its September 15-21 issue, VA administrators seized her computer, alleged that she had written the letter on that computer, and accused her of “sedition.”

Here’s what her letter said.

“I am furious with the tragically misplaced priorities and criminal negligence of this government,” it began. “The Katrina tragedy in the U.S. shows that the emperor has no clothes!” She mentioned that she was “a VA nurse” working with returning vets. “The public has no sense of the additional devastating human and financial costs of post-traumatic stress disorder,” she wrote, and she worried about the hundreds of thousands of additional cases that might result from Katrina and the Iraq War.

“Bush, Cheney, Chertoff, Brown, and Rice should be tried for criminal negligence,” she wrote. “This country needs to get out of Iraq now and return to our original vision and priorities of caring for land and people and resources rather than killing for oil. . . . We need to wake up and get real here, and act forcefully to remove a government administration playing games of smoke and mirrors and vicious deceit.

Otherwise, many more of us will be facing living hell in these times.”

After her computer was seized, Berg wrote a memo to her bosses seeking information and an explanation.

Mel Hooker, chief of the human resources management service at the Albuquerque VA, wrote Berg back on November 9 and acknowledged that “your personal computer files did not contain the editorial letter written to the editor of the weekly Alibi.”

But rather than apologize, he leveled the sedition charge: “The Agency is bound by law to investigate and pursue any act which potentially represents sedition,” he said. “In your letter . . . you declared yourself ‘as a VA nurse’ and publicly declared the Government which employs you to have ‘tragically misplaced priorities and criminal negligence’ and advocated, ‘act forcefully to remove a government administration playing games of smoke and mirrors and vicious deceit.’ ”

Berg, who is not talking to the press, is “scared for her job” and “pretty emotionally distressed,” says Peter Simonson, executive director of the ACLU of New Mexico.

“We were shocked to see the word ‘sedition’ used,” Simonson tells The Progressive. “Sedition? That’s like something out of the history books.” (more)
Ms. Berg doesn't know the difference between speaking her mind and abusing the privilege, and taxing the patience, of America. Off to the gulag, I mean The Rights and Responsibility Restoration Center, with nurse Berg.

Terrorfried And Entertrained

Manuel Valenzuela:

To say that televised fantasy bears no resemblance to real human outcomes is an understatement, yet in a fictional war that remains but a fleeting illusion in the minds of the population, becoming more intangible than visible, hardly affecting the daily lives of the majority, the deception works like magic thanks to the blitzkrieg of propaganda sent out through the airwaves. In a sense, the so-called war against America’s enemy becomes a Hollywood production, existing in the conscious of the people but never truly being felt, its puppeteers hiding its reality and its truth, the keepers at the gate filtering what needs to be seen and what does not. Our reality is what they make it to be, after all.

Voiced loudly by America’s paid opinion makers yet hardly seen, the struggle against our new enemy exists as if in a vacuum, yet the citizenry gobbles it up like fast food, devouring what is spoon fed them, believing, like they have been trained to do since birth, that this Hollywood movie is a frightening reality, yet, as always, will invariably end with good defeating evil, and America killing our enemy. Never mind that we are more likely to be struck by lightning than killed by a bomb or act of terrorism.

Such is the power of movies and television and newscasts that from an insignificant group of terrorists, concerned mostly with expelling America from their lands and toppling American sponsored despots, a giant evildoer can be created, mutating from our hired freedom fighters of times past to the dreaded terrorists of today, mutating from friend to enemy, possessing super human strength and powers, seemingly dying and being reborn, capable of destroying the mightiest nation the world has ever seen.

These fictions, of course, were pure deception, yet inside the minds of average Americans they are as real, and as serious, as any threat America has ever confronted. For the Establishment has wished it so, knowing that having enemies translates into power, control and vast sums of wealth for themselves, all at the expense of the masses who can be easily steered any direction they are needed to take. American society has been, for the last century, conditioned to exist in a state of anxiety and fear, not of internal factors, which are much more dangerous, but of the external enemy that seemingly arises like a phoenix from the ashes of those previous ones now discarded, their usefulness having died out, reborn to become the new barbarians at the gates.

America’s tomorrow will be made to confront the same Madison Avenue marketing techniques that have for too long now steered the population in the direction of control through fear of enemies, both real and concocted. For the corporatists and elite wishing to retain the power, wealth and control of the nation, the population must always have conditioned and ingrained inside them the fear of bogeymen and the uncertainty of violence. The masses must be made to believe that external enemies, both alien and clandestine, are a menace and threat to destroy their way of life and the very foundation of the nation they inhabit.

It is the fear, anxiety and insecurity of man that blinds thinking and births subservience to power, making of us primates desiring the comfort and security of our masters. (more)

Tagged (2)

Four Jobs I've Had in My Life:

1. Usher / Cook (depending on how busy the cinema was)
2. Journalist for a small Catholic newspaper
3. Factotum in a warehouse
4. Porter

Four Movies I have watched more than once:

1. Battle of Algiers
2. Vertigo
3. Michael Collins (not through choice)
4. Last Year in Marienbad (actually no, it was just the once)

Four places I've lived:

1. Liverpool
2. Oxford
3. Belsize Park
4. Soho (ish)

(Four TV shows I can bear to watch)

1. Seinfeld
2. Some obscure satellite programme about what’s going on in London
3. Arena
4. Match of the Day (if Leeds are in the premiership)

Four Places I Have Never Been But Want To Go

1. Naples
2. Lake Como
3. Connemara
4. A spacious apartment with large windows, belonging to me and overlooking Lake Como.

Four Guilty Pleasure Websites:

1. Lenin’s Tomb
2. Wood’s Lot
3. ReadySteadyBook
4. Le Colonel Chabert

Four Foods I can't stand and why

1. volauvents (they’re what my dad would call ‘fartin grub')
2. Deep Fried Pizza
2. spatchcocked raw squid
3. toasted thistles

Saturday, February 11, 2006

you're either with us or against us...

Our spirituality and our responsibilities define our duties. We understand the concept of sovereignty as woven through a fabric that encompasses our spirituality and responsibility. This is a cyclical view of sovereignty, incorporating it into our traditional philosophy and view of our responsibilities. There it differs greatly from the concept of western sovereignty which is based upon absolute power. For us absolute power is in the Creator and the natural order of all living things; not only human beings...Our sovereignty is related to our connections to the earth and is inherent. The idea of a nation did not simply apply to human beings. We call the buffalo, the wolves, the fish, the trees, and all are nations. Each is sovereign, and equal part of the creation, interdependent, interwoven and all related.

Sharon Venne, "The Meaning of Sovereignty," Indigenous Woman 2, no.6 (1999): 27-30

La patrie d’un peuple libre est ouverte à tous les hommes de la terre. (Louis de Saint-Just)

Map of internment camps in Europe (PDF.; via, via)

Friday, February 10, 2006

What's the secret of good comedy?


Defense Spending approaching Cold War high

Does anyone seriously believe that this money is needed is to fight The Muslim Threat To The West?

1. All this week, we've been subjected to the carefully-cultivated cartoon controversy. That Arab Street has not been looking good on TV, has it?

2. In the midst of it all, we had the alleged discovery of Particles of Mass Destruction, somewhere very important. TV reported. Men in expensive suits were evacuated. Tests were carried out. What were the results, though? And where did it happen? In Congress*? Somewhere else? Can anyone remember? What happened to that front-page story? What was it for?

3. Yesterday, we had Bush's urgent (LATEST BREAKING NEWS) live TELEVISED non-revelation of purportedly terrifying non-news about the alleged foiling of an alleged plot to destroy the Library Tower with a bomb in a shoe in a plane in 2003.

So it would appear that everything is going according to plan. But what, exactly, is the plan? And who, exactly, is the US at war with? Because after all: there is no one with an ounce of sanity who really believes there is a serious Muslim Threat To The West.

Is there?

* It was the Capitol building. And guess what? The tests proved negative. So we can all breathe easily, including the Senators who have just renewed the Patriot Act.

Thursday, February 09, 2006


by Le Colonel Chabert

Four Jobs I've Had in My Life:

1. Lumberjack
2. Cocktail Barkeeper
3. Plongeur (I love that word.)
4. Professional Show-Off

Four Movies I Could Watch Over and Over, and Have

1. Anything by Mike Leigh, especially High Hopes, Nuts in May and Naked.
2. Night of the Hunter
3. Das singende, klingende Bäumchen
4. The Ruling Class

Four places I've lived

1. Priesthill
2. Peckham
3. Pyongyang*
4. Prenzlauer Berg

[*this is a lie]

Four TV Shows I Love To Watch (Four TV shows I can bear to watch)

1. The News/Teletubbies
2. The Weather*
3. Space Night, mit Doktor Harald Leschner ("Was ist ein Quantum?")
4. Mythbusters

[*with Jenny "Hips" Harrison]

Four Places I Have Never Been But Want To Go

1. California*
2. Alabama**
3. Hyrynsalmi
4. Peru

[*with flowers in my hair]
[**with a banjo on my knee]

Four Guilty Pleasure Websites:

1. Bogol
2. Emerald Bile
3. Twenty Major
4. BBC

Four Foods I can't stand and why

1. Er...
2. Hm...
3. Wait a minute...
4. Er...

Chaos... chaos... crushing... stampedes... violence... seething...chaos... MAYHEM.

The BBC is talking about Voodoo Island, where people are yearning to cast their votes, but it could as easily be reporting from that notorious Arab Street.

Note the headline: "Eager voters cause chaos in Haiti" . It's the voters - those primitive savages! - who are causing the chaos, and not the organisers who've forced them to walk for miles and wait for hours.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

All Together Now

Vilsack: Opposing wiretapping dangerous for Democrats

Gov. Tom Vilsack said Monday that Democrats risk political backlash if they object to the Bush administration's wiretapping but cannot show that Americans' civil liberties are at risk. The Democratic governor, who is weighing a 2008 presidential bid, said the party will suffer if it continues to be perceived as weaker than Republicans on national security. [...] "If the president broke the law, that's unacceptable. But I think it's debatable whether he did," Vilsack told Des Moines Register editors and reporters."And I think Democrats are falling into a very, very large political trap," he said. "Democrats are not going to win elections until they can reassure people they are going to keep them safe."

Clowns and Acrobats: The Trial of Zacarias Moussaoui

Matthew Davis of the BBC reports from the circus. The title of his article is beyond satire:

Hunt for jury neutral on 9/11 plot

...Trial judge Leonie Brinkema is going to great lengths to find a group of Americans - 12 jurors and six alternates - who can set aside what they know, or think they know, about the case. The main tool in this search is a 50-page, 159-question paper which probes jurors' backgrounds, as well as their religious beliefs, feelings about Arabs and Muslims and their reaction to the 9/11 attacks.

The depth and range of the questions speaks to [sic] the huge impact that the terror strikes have had on the lives of Americans. They include:

- Whether jurors read, speak or understand Arabic, watch Arabic television or read Arabic newspapers, or have contact with Muslims

- If, since 9/11, any of their family members or close friends have been killed in combat in Iraq, Afghanistan or elsewhere in the Middle East

- What opinions they hold about the performance of the FBI at Waco, after 9/11 and on other controversial investigations

- Whether they were in Washington or New York on 9/11, and what impact the attacks had on their lives.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Alpha and the Superbowl

Fans of American football would be well advised to watch the game on TV tonight, rather than heading for Detroit.

Paul Domowitsch in the Philadelphia Daily News:
NFL penny-wise, security-foolish

OVER THE LAST few years, the National Football League has tried to stage a more cost-efficient Super Bowl. But it could be playing with fire in its latest money-saving attempt. The league has cut ties with the nationally respected security firm it has used for the last 29 Super Bowls, California-based Contemporary Services Corporation. It will go a less expensive route this year, hiring three smaller, less-experienced companies to handle security for Super Bowl XL next week in Detroit.

The league sure has picked a strange time to make a security switch of this magnitude, considering that next week's game will be played just a half-mile from an international border (Detroit is across the river from Windsor, Ontario). It also comes just 3 weeks after the latest taped threat of a terrorist attack by Osama bin Laden.

One of the three new companies in charge of security is the Alpha Protection Group (or Alpha Group International), a firm based in Florida (or North Carolina) that doesn't run a website. Apparently, "Alpha handled security for the G-8 Summit in Scotland last summer" , just as the terror attacks took place in London.

Many interesting points are made in that Democratic Underground thread. And as one poster says: If anything nasty does happen tonight, it will have been the most-predicted terror attack in history.

"No Moral Equivalence"