American Samizdat Guernica
Saturday, January 24, 2004
"Meanwhile, a week after President Bush's State of the Union address, his approval rating has fallen to 50 percent from 54 percent in the last Newsweek Poll (1/8-9/04). Yet, a 52-percent majority of registered voters says it would not like to see him re-elected to a second term. Only 44 percent say they would like to see him re-elected, a four-point drop from the last Newsweek Poll. (Of that, 37% strongly want to see him re-elected, and 47% strongly do not). However, a large majority of voters (78%) says that it is very likely (40%) or somewhat likely (38%) that Bush will in fact be re- elected to a second term in office. Only 10 percent believe it is not too likely or not at all likely (10%)."
Looking for that silver lining:
Wars 'useful', says US army chief
Army Chief of Staff General Peter Schoomaker:
"There is a huge silver lining in this cloud," he said.

"War is a tremendous focus... Now we have this focusing opportunity, and we have the fact that [terrorists] have actually attacked our homeland, which gives it some oomph."

He said it was no use having an army that did nothing but train.

Let me get this straight. Pete is over here in the Pentagon while we have 150,000 troops in war zones? I wonder how much they agree with him?

Just one more "bring 'em on" moment.

You may have heard the flap about Michael Moore saying he'd like to see Clark and Bush debate; He'd call it "The General vs The Deserter. (Scroll down offered Moore link for the David Broder WaPo story)
Here's a piece of the transcript of the NH debate where this was mentioned featuring Peter Jennings and Mr Clark...
PJ: Let me ask you something you mentioned then because since this question and answer in which you and Mr. Moore was involved, you've had a chance to look at the facts. Do you still feel comfortable with the fact that someone should be standing up in your president, in your presence and calling the president of the United States a deserter?

WC: To be honest with you, I did not look at the facts Peter. That's Michael Moore's opinion; he's entitled to say that, I've seen, he's not the only person who's said that. I've not followed up on those facts, and frankly it's not relevant to me and why I'm in this campaign.

Michael Moore has compiled an extensive documentation on George AWOL Bush You might want to send a link to the Clark campaign.
For a bunch of quotes showing the present Administration flip-flopping on the reality of Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological (non)weapons stop here. Remind everyone you can about the slippery, war mongering Neocons. The absent weapons were the reason Iraq was attacked so hastily. And the reason our soldiers are dying there.
The annotated Richard Perle:
U.N. Should Change -- or U.S. Should Quit
The world body's rules prevent America from answering threats.
An LA Times guest commentary by our Neocon friends, Richard Perle and David Frum, resident fellows of the American Enterprise Institute and coauthors of the Armagedon instruction manual, "An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror" (which I commented on here).

You've really got to hand it to these guys. They are consistent. They've been calling for our exit from the UN since before Ronald Reagan. But the "tooth fairy"?

The United Nations is the tooth fairy of American politics: Few adults believe in it, but it's generally regarded as a harmless story to amuse the children. Since 9/11, however, the U.N. has ceased to be harmless, and the Democratic presidential candidates' enthusiasm for it has ceased to be amusing.
And then they throw down the gauntlet:
The United Nations has emerged at best as irrelevant to the terrorist threat that most concerns us, and at worst as an obstacle to our winning the war on terrorism. It must be reformed. And if it cannot be reformed, the United States should give serious consideration to withdrawal.

The U.N. has become an obstacle to our national security because it purports to set legal limits on the United States' ability to defend itself. If these limits ever made sense at all, they do not make sense now.

Wait a minute, Richard. They don't make sense now? Isn't that code for post-9/11? But you never wanted us in the UN ... ever!

But allow me to digress. I attributed this to Perle, because Frum probably wrote the article (and the book -- he was a speechwriter for the Chimp), but the ideas all belong to Richard "Prince of Darkness" Perle, who is a consultant to Rummy and, let's not forget, a very rich arms broker. No conflict of interest there, is there, Dick?

But there's more:

The trouble is that the U.N. defines aggression in outdated ways. For the U.N., "aggression" means invasion across national borders. Send Nazi shock troops into Poland -- that's aggression. Give sanctuary to thousands of anti-American murderers, as the Taliban did in Afghanistan, that's not aggression.
You're confusing me, Dick. As I recall, the UN wasn't standing in our way on Afghanistan. And how many countries joined us? Nah. It would be easier to count the number of countries that didn't. A bit of revisionist history there, Dick.
In other words, under U.N. rules, the U.S. is obliged to let terrorists strike first before retaliating -- and might even be prohibited from striking second.
Come on, Dick. The UN listened to your case on Iraq, and you just didn't make it. Remember? The WMDs? And now you're blaming them because you couldn't make your case? Well, Dick, where the hell are they? You know. The WMDs?
We need new rules recognizing that harboring terrorists is just as much an act of aggression as an invasion and that those who are targeted by terrorists have an inherent right to defend themselves, preemptively if necessary.

Of course, it won't be easy to persuade the U.N. to adopt these changes.

Well, of course not, Dick. You shot your credibility on the WMD issue. 15,000 people dead, and you want another chance?

And finally:

In a little more than a decade, our world has been transformed, first by the fall of the Soviet Union and then the events of 9/11. Everything has changed -- except for the U.N. It remains an invention of a vanished era, designed to solve vanished problems.
Uh, Dick? You mean countries can't invade other countries in a pre-emptive fashion anymore? Weren't you watching last March?

Listen up, Dick. You too, Dave. Spend a little time brushing up on your composition skills. Otherwise, you just might end up getting published in the LA Times and looking STUPID.

Oil and politics make an intoxicating cocktail ­ addictive, but with deadly consequences. It has always been so.

Just look at the events of the past three decades: the rise of OPEC in the early 1970s and its spectacular initial success in setting global oil prices; the 1973 Arab oil embargo that shook Western economies to the core; last year’s US-led invasion of Iraq, a country that happens to possess the world’s second-largest oil reserves, after Saudi Arabia. Not to mention the often repeated call by neoconservatives in America to “occupy” Arab oil countries.

Just a few weeks ago: the arrest of Russian oil tycoon Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky, head of the Yukos energy firm, when he “defied” a Kremlin directive by trying to sell a major stake of his firm to ExxonMobil.

To understand the meaning of the Kremlin’s move against Yukos, it is important to appreciate that ExxonMobil is one of the world’s two largest corporations, along with General Electric, and the biggest of all oil companies. It is therefore a major player in American politics.

The bottom line in all these episodes is the same: Oil is the one strategic commodity of the world that governments, from superpowers to minor states, will never allow to be free of political control.

Big boys play rough.
Globalism, corporatism, imperialism, neoconism; the goal's all the same, and you ain't part of it. Arundhati Roy of The Nation declares war against the New American Century.
In the great cities of Europe and America, where a few years ago these things would only have been whispered, now people are openly talking about the good side of imperialism and the need for a strong empire to police an unruly world. The new missionaries want order at the cost of justice. Discipline at the cost of dignity. And ascendancy at any price. Occasionally some of us are invited to "debate" the issue on "neutral" platforms provided by the corporate media. Debating imperialism is a bit like debating the pros and cons of rape. What can we say? That we really miss it? ...

This brutal blueprint has been used over and over again across Latin America, in Africa and in Central and Southeast Asia. It has cost millions of lives. It goes without saying that every war Empire wages becomes a Just War. This, in large part, is due to the role of the corporate media. It's important to understand that the corporate media don't just support the neoliberal project. They are the neoliberal project. This is not a moral position they have chosen to take; it's structural. It's intrinsic to the economics of how the mass media work.

A lengthy look at what your life will be like in the New American Century, ... if you live long enough.
In many places across George Bush's America, you may be losing your ability to exercise your lawful First Amendment rights of speech and assembly. Increasingly, some police departments, the FBI, and the Secret Service are engaging in the criminalization--or, at the very least, the marginalization--of dissent.
The Progressive takes a look at the problem, and it's probably worse than you think. The account of the Miami FTAA protests is especially chilling.
A New Target
So what did you expect? John Edwards does a surprizing second in Iowa and pulls into the lead in New Hampshire polls, and BAM! the Mighty Wurlitzer kicks in it's slander machine. Try this title from The Weekly Standard: Two-Face John Edwards is a Clinton-style golden boy.

So what is the Standard's problem? It seems that Edwards hasn't named his campaign contributors. Well, wait a minute. All of that is reported quarterly by law. So Edwards waits until then? So does Bush.

But, oh no, it must be those evil trial lawyers sending Edwards money. Well duh? He was one. You might expect them to like his candidacy.

I'll tell you. If this is the best that Bill Kristol's boys can do against Edwards, they should save their typespace. I would have been ashamed to put my name on such a shabby article.

Friday, January 23, 2004
The Chicago Sun-Times pipes in.
But the Pentagon is standing by the system, which could get its first test Feb. 3 in South Carolina. ...

So far, seven states have signed on to the experimental system: Arkansas, Florida, Hawaii, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah and Washington.

Making Votes Count:
The Perils of Online Voting
A New York Times editorial:
Internet voting has been viewed as a possible cure for some of the ills that afflict the mechanics of American democracy. Recently, the technology has seemed to move ahead of any serious consideration of whether it is actually a good idea to allow home computer owners to choose a president in the same way they order bath towels online or send e-mail to their relatives. But now there are grave questions about whether even the technology makes sense.

Four computer scientists brought in by the Pentagon to analyze a plan for Internet voting by the military issued a blistering report this week, concluding that the program should be halted. These four are the only members of a 10-member advisory committee to issue a report on the program. Their findings make it clear that the potential for hackers to steal votes or otherwise subvert elections electronically is too high. Congress should suspend the program.

The intentions behind the Pentagon's plan, the Secure Electronic Registration and Voting Experiment, are laudable. Military personnel overseas, and other Americans abroad, face obstacles to registering and voting. The new program would ease the way by allowing them to use any computer hooked up to the Internet. This year, it would be limited to voters abroad who are from one of 50 counties in seven states, but it could eventually be used by all of the estimated six million American voters overseas.

But the advantages of the Pentagon's Internet voting system would be far outweighed by the dangers it would pose. The report makes it clear that the possibilities for compromising the secrecy of the ballot, voting multiple times and carrying out vote theft on a large scale would be limited only by the imagination and skill of would-be saboteurs. Viruses could be written that would lodge on voters' computers and change their votes. Internet service providers, or even foreign governments that control network access, could interfere with votes before they reached their destination.

This week's report — which was written by respected scientists, including Aviel Rubin, an associate professor of computer science at Johns Hopkins University — is not the first to call Internet voting into question. A March 2001 study conducted by the Internet Policy Institute and financed by the National Science Foundation found that Internet systems like the Pentagon's "pose significant risk to the integrity of the voting process."

There is every reason to believe that if federal elections can be tampered with, they will be, particularly when a single hacker, working alone, might be able to use an online voting system to steal a presidential election. The authors of this week's report concede that there is no way of knowing how likely it is that the Pentagon's voting system would be compromised. What is clear, however, is that until the vulnerabilities they identified are eliminated, the risks are too great.

But they're still missing the point: Keep the military out of the voting business.
While the corporation has the rights and responsibilities of ”a legal person”, its owners and shareholders are not liable for its actions. Moreover, the film explains, a corporation's directors are legally required to do what is best for the company, regardless of the harm created.

What kind of person would a corporation be? A clinical psychopath, answers the documentary, which is now playing in four Canadian theatres.

Now this is what Democracy is about. A mix of people with different ideals sharing their perspective, in a forum where all get a chance to speak. When I say "different ideals" I mean it- in attendence were 2 Republican candidates for President, one who lead us in prayer. There was a Pat Buchanan supporter complete with confederate flag. A woman who claimed the use birth control pills is tantamount to having an abortion. The majority well informed, caring conscious Progressives. And all were heard, not heckled, not ridiculed. Folks with opposing points of view politely aired their say. A lively New England Town Hall Meeting in the spirit of that august tradition.

The evening started out with a presentation of Symbolman's "An Army of One" flash animation. This compelling video is being shown on TV commercials across the Granite State. I'd urge you to give it a look. The one minute TV version is a touch different; you'll get the tenor of their thought though from this internet piece. It was good to meet Symbolman, as another humble internet activist it was reinforcing to talk for a bit.

The centerpiece of this occasion was a screening of 'Uncovered: the whole truth about the Iraq war" ( Get this important DVD) by Robert Greenwald. You need to see this film, to purchase it and get copies circulating to everyone you know. Everyone. It is a damning expose` of the Neocon rush to war, very well done, the hypocrisy of the current Administration laid out for all to see. MoveOn and The Center for American Progress should be applauded for promoting this audio-visual monument to the truth of why our soldiers are dying in Iraq. And how lies wrest Democracy from the honest Americans that make up the majority of our nation.

I got to meet Stranger of Blah3, he too is associated with Take Back The Media and has been a blogging ally since I first started. He plays a serious sinuous strident strat too, if you didn't know. He rocked sweet playing his song "Den of Thieves" in a room where Democracy breathed. Later he played again, another cut from his upcoming CD.

CNN claims Mr Bush is running unopposed, but a viable Republican is running against George W. Bush. From hearing him speak I have to admit I admire the guy, despite his party affiliation. John Buchanan is his name, you may know him as the gentleman that outed the Bush family as Hitler supporters in America's oldest newspaper, The New Hampshire Gazette. Other newspapers in America have not touched the story in over 60 years. I talked with Buchanan, he has offered the story out widely.

Iona Bigga Yacht introduced the Billionaires For Bush video entry to the MoveOn "Bush in 30 seconds"contest "Leave No Billionaire Behind". F. Scott Fitzgerald was right, the rich are different from us, they have more money. And as the lovely Ms Bigga Yacht demonstrated, much cooler accents and diction than "We the People".

James, a lively guy from added to the festivities, offering us "Chicken Hawk-In-Chief World Domination Tour" hoodies- warm hoodies to counter the New Hampshire night deep in its single digit arctic blast. Much appreciated! Earlier this good man was marching in cadence to an accompanying video in an AWOL jumpsuit and helmet- and rubber George Bush mask. Working hard to get the message out. He was featured in a video with (I'm guessing) actors that looked like Mr Cheney and Mr Powell just rolling with corporate dough. What a hoot!

People to People TV was filming the action. This was not your usual "talking heads" manipulated media happening; it was real people coming together, making Democracy alive.

Meetings like this are what America is all about.

Links Fixed

Remember, always, when dealing with the Bushes: Follow the money, not the mouthing.Chris Floyd:
To carry out this choice bit of war profiteering, Halliburton hooked up with Altanmia Marketing of Kuwait. Altanmia was given exclusive rights to ship Kuwaiti gasoline to Iraq -- "even though it had no prior experience transporting fuel," U.S. Congressional investigators report. So what is the firm's actual expertise? Investments, real estate -- and acting as "representative agents for companies trading in military and nuclear, biological and chemical equipment," The Wall Street Journal reports.

In other words, Halliburton's new partner traffics in the essential elements of WMD -- the very stuff whose spread and sale the United States is ostensibly dedicated to stopping around the world. Ostensibly. But as always with the Bushists, the rhetoric of "security" is a thin rag to cover their unquenchable thirst for state-supported brigandage.

"Remember, always, when dealing with the Bushes: Follow the money, not the mouthing."
Thursday, January 22, 2004
The problem has always been what President Eisenhower loosely called “the military-industrial complex.” That is, if the USA comes to terms with all the rogue states of the world who were aligned with Moscow or Beijing in the Cold War, there would no enemies to guard against or to defeat if they were deemed imminent threats. Public support for defense spending would dry up and the Pentagon would wind up living on crumbs, as it was in the 1930's.
Jude's article points to My Secret Talks With Libya, And Why They Went Nowhere by Gary Hart (remember him?), in which hart documents his own negotiations with Libya in 1992. The Libyan government wanted a lifting of our sanctions against them and a normalization of relations, and were willing to put "everything will be on the table" simply for an assurance that this process would commence in an honest fashion.

This was not to be however. Bush, Sr. refused all solicitations by the Libyan government. Hart questions why:

I anticipate (sic) obvious questions in response to these facts. Why me? The only plausible explanation is that I had publicly condemned (based largely on my experience on the Church committee, which revealed previous assassination plots) President Reagan's attempt to assassinate Gaddafi by long-range bomber in 1986. Was I singled out? Not really; others had been approached. Do I believe the offer was rejected because the Swiss would demand jurisdiction over the bombers in the 40 feet between airplanes? Not in the least. Was the offer rejected because the intermediary was a Democrat? The first Bush administration will have to respond to that question.
And he concludes:
This account suggests, and strongly so, only one thing: We might have brought the Pan Am bombers to justice, and quite possibly have moved Libya out of its renegade status, much sooner than we have. At the very least it calls into serious question the assertion that Libya changed direction as a result of our preemptive invasion of Iraq.
A new $22 million system to allow soldiers and other Americans overseas to vote via the Internet is inherently insecure and should be abandoned, according to members of a panel of computer security experts asked by the government to review the program.
And you thought Diebold was a problem? This system is nonsense ten times over.

Let's look at some potential and actual problems:

  • Technical:
    • Viruses can easily corrupt voting computers and servers, possibly rendering them inoperable. If this were not detected and corrected in advance, voters may be denied the opportunity to vote. Even if these could be detected in advance, there is no guarantee that skilled personnel will be available to correct the problem.
    • Viruses can easily corrupt the voting computers and servers in a manner that misrecords or deliberately alters the votes cast. These viruses can also be programmed to delete themselves once voting was completed.
    • Even viruses that do not attack the voting computers and servers themselves can cause the communications lines that carry their messages to become overloaded, thereby denying voters the opportunity to vote.
    • Soldiers stationed in areas subject to power failures could be denied the opportunity to vote by such a failure.
    • Systems such as Carnivour could easily intercept and even change internet votes

  • Practical:
    • It is the responsibility of each voting supervisor to verify the eligibility of every person casting a vote to actually be eligible to cast a vote in their district. Military write-in voting offers at least a cursory opportunity for the voting supervisor to just that. The system being implemented by the military will simply forward vote totals to the various districts. Voting supervisors will thus be placed in the position of accepting a mere vote count without any possibility of verifying that individuals are eligible.
    • Voting supervisors will be unable to inspect the voting computers being used to insure that they meet local standards.
    • Paper trails and systems audits will be impossible for voting supervisors.

  • Political:
    • Most troublesome is the fact that this system essentially militarizes a portion of our voting system, bring it under direct control of the military. Inspection by elected officials and/or their appointees will be impossible. The military simply should not be a part of our voting process beyond their current role of providing all soldiers the opportunity to vote.
    • This system is being suggested as a "pilot test" of a future national voting system. This would have the potential of bringing the majority of our voting system under military control. Since the military is effectively under the control of the Executive, the Executive could literally order the military to tamper with the vote.
Of course, this is simply what I've thought up in an hour, and I'm sure that there are more reasons that to reject internet (and especially military control of) voting. It is simply a bad idea. Just because a technological solution can be found for something is not a justification for the implementation of that solution.

This article also appears at Black Box Notes.

Friedman argues from a Pro-Globalization, Pro-Zionism perspective, but he believes that American policy in regards to Israel is insane and contrary to American and Israeli interests. Here is an excerpt of his perspective:

et's not mince words. American policy today towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is insane.

Can anyone look at what is happening - Palestinians, gripped by a collective madness, committing suicide, and Israelis, under a leadership completely adrift, building more settlements so fanatical Jews can live in the heart of Palestinian-populated areas - and not conclude the following:

That these two nations are locked in an utterly self-destructive vicious cycle that threatens Israel's long-term viability, poisons America's image in the Middle East, undermines any hope for a Palestinian state and weakens pro-American Arab moderates.

The Bush team, backed by certain conservative Jewish and Christian activist groups, believes that the correct policy is to do nothing. Well, that is my definition of insane. Israel must get out of the West Bank and Gaza Strip as soon as possible and evacuate most of the settlements. Otherwise, the Jewish state is in peril. The United States should be forcing it.

The Bush team rightly speaks of bringing justice to Iraq. It rightly denounces Palestinian suicide madness. But it says nothing about the injustice of the Israeli land grab in the West Bank. The Bush team has not persuaded Israel to give up one settlement in three years. To think that America can practise that sort of hypocrisy and win the war of ideas in the Arab-Muslim world is a truly dangerous fantasy.

The Anuak have lived for centuries in a verdant western region of Ethiopia. There are active gold pits and oil reserves on the Anuak’s ancestral land, resources the Ethiopian government covets. Over the past decade the Anuak have pressed the factional government in Addis Ababa for a share in the projected development of these resources and have been answered in political subjugation, physical beatings and now the government-led pogrom.

It is a small genocide compared to those of the Turks, Jews, Cambodians, Tutsis and Bosnian Muslims, but it has all the markings of a state-sponsored attempt to extinguish an entire race.

Over the past decade some 20,000 Anuak have fled into refugee camps in northern Kenya (primarily the Ifo camp), and into southern Sudan. Until December 13, most of the killings of Anuak were by their ancient tribal enemies, the Nuer, many of whom have resettled on Anuak land as civil war refugees from Sudan. The United Nations runs three refugee camps in western Ethiopia for these refugees, most of whom are Nuer.
by Leilla Matsui

As if we didn't have enough to worry about here on "Terror Firma", the Bushi'ites have now set their unblinking, beady eyes on space, starting with the plan to extend Texas's borders to the moon and moving on to conquering the war planet itself. In the wake of NASA's success with "Spirit", a Mars probing rover now scouring the martian soil for signs of life, Bush has cashed in on the moment with a blank check to cover the future costs of destabilizing the solar system, with the eventual goal of establishing a permanent military presence on Mars. For the evil geniuses plotting Intergalactic Armageddon from their revolving steakhouse headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue, regime change can now be applied to any ravaged and barren "wasteland", particularly ones ill-equipped to defend themselves against their "liberators".

In the month since Saddam Hussein's lice-ridden mug shot became a euphoric symbol of conquest, the Moor's head on the neo-Crusader's victory banner, so to speak, the US has failed to deliver the spectacular, beyond its own failures at least. The way Bush and Co. see it, if US forces could arrange for a dictator to pop out of his remote, well camouflaged "spider hole" on cue, then presumably other hostile life forms could just as easily be coaxed out of a crater and forced to hand over their resources as well.

Meanwhile, closer to home, another "Red Menace" has prompted the Bush administration to take to the unfriendly skies. With China poised to establish a permanent lunar presence after her successful leap forward into orbit late last year, the US is once again going it alone in a race against time to make the galaxy safer for Boeing and Bechtel. It doesn't take a rocket scientist, or a Freudian analyst for that matter, to realize that Bush the Lesser's real target for one-upmanship is no other than George the Elder himself; the cranky old patriarch who spent much of his lifetime being underwhelmed by the achievements of the halfwit who bears most of his name.

Since the first George Bush failed to capture the imagination of Congress in 1989 to the tune of almost $500 billion with his own "vision" of a manned space mission to Mars, the younger Bush has found yet another way to beat the old chickenhawk at his own game. Perhaps, the scriptural lesson here reads as follows: the sissy sins of the panty-waisted father will not be visited upon this particular son-of-a-bitch. Saddam Hussein's head on a platter was the first oedipal act of vengeance against a despised paternal figure by an unworthy boozehound son. Flipping him the bird from space, symbolically at least, will arguably be a moment to cherish, up there with stealing the old veteran's flight suit and prancing around the deck of an aircraft carrier.

If delusions count for anything, then the less senior Bush has "vision" in spades. Most notably, the ability to conjure up a unifying theme of imperiled national security to divert public attention away from more pressing economic concerns. Rallying the population around a flagpole -- and beating dissenters at home and abroad with it -- has so far proved effective in replacing the Bill of Rights with the Patriot Act. Since the phantom menaces in the fictional war on terrorism have outlived their usefulness in terms of whipping up support for an invalid presidency, the administration now needs G.I. Jesus to focus his efforts on looking benevolently sage in front of an artificial celestial backdrop.

If Bush has succeeded in terrifying "aliens" on his own turf, no doubt he'll be able to keep the martians in line with similar tactics like his recently unveiled plan to partially legalize the 10 million or so undocumented workers who've already landed on US soil. Perhaps, he'll try to win over the hearts and minds of his new single-eyed subjects with vague promises of green cards. In exchange for temporary servitude as guest workers on their own planet and exempt from the rights and privileges of earthly citizenship, he can keep labor costs down to a minimum here on Planet Lunch and look "compassionate" at the same time.

And while Americans are busy gazing through the smog towards the no longer visible heavens, their leaders, ironically enough, are hard at work sealing up their terrestrial borders. Visitors to the US now have to undergo invasive and humiliating procedures not unlike the alien abductees' ordeals at the hands of those coldly efficient, uniformly white beings who overwhelm and probe them with terrifying hi-tech gadgetry. The "alien" theme has always played a significant role in shaping the policy of this pod administration. In only a few short years, they have managed to "alienate" even their closest allies who undoubtedly view the new masters of the universe with a skepticism normally reserved for tentacled invaders from a distant planet.

With a chimp at the pretend helm of the Starship Free-Enterprise, the neo-con administration is steering the nation towards bankruptcy and charting a course of environmental disaster. The Whitehouse's decision to earmark untold billions towards expanding its search for fossil fuel outside the ozone comes just weeks after a scientific study revealed that approximately half a million plant and animal species face extinction here on earth. Around the same time NASA expects to have achieved its goal of planting an American on Mars, Earth will likely resemble the desolate planets on Bush's hit list. If all goes according to plan, future generations won't have to travel far to experience the thrill of discovering phantom evidence of life in a barren and hostile environment.

Leilla Matsui is a freelance writer living in Tokyo, Japan. She can be reached at:

This article previously appeared in Dissident Voice, January 20, 2004

More than 500 pairs of empty Army boots were placed side-by-side in downtown Chicago Wednesday to serve as a reminder of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq.

The black boots, some dusty and dirty from use, were placed on Federal Plaza in front of a posterboard display that listed the names, ages and states of all soldiers killed in the war.

The memorial served as a powerful symbol for visitor Becky Schillo.

‘‘You hear about one or two soldiers being killed, then 500," the 24-year-old said. ‘‘It kind of hits home."

As of Wednesday, 503 U.S. service members have died since the beginning of military operations in Iraq, both from hostile and non-hostile causes, according to the military.

The short answer? Yes. It was going to happen anyways. Exact same schedule. Exact same plan. The only thing that 9/11 changed was that the press was going to cover it.
Wednesday, January 21, 2004
232: Number of American combat deaths in Iraq between May 2003 and January 2004

501: Number of American servicemen to die in Iraq from the beginning of the war - so far

0: Number of American combat deaths in Germany after the Nazi surrender to the Allies in May 1945

0: Number of coffins of dead soldiers returning home from Iraq that the Bush administration has allowed to be photographed

0: Number of funerals or memorials that President Bush has attended for soldiers killed in Iraq

100: Number of fund-raisers attended by Bush or Vice-President Dick Cheney in 2003

13: Number of meetings between Bush and Tony Blair since he became President

10 million: Estimated number of people worldwide who took to the streets in opposition to the invasion of Iraq, setting an all-time record for simultaneous protest

2: Number of nations that Bush has attacked and taken over since coming into the White House

9.2: Average number of American soldiers wounded in Iraq each day since the invasion in March last year

1.6: Average number of American soldiers killed in Iraq per day since hostilities began

16,000: Approximate number of Iraqis killed since the start of war

10,000: Approximate number of Iraqi civilians killed since the beginning of the conflict

$100 billion: Estimated cost of the war in Iraq to American citizens by the end of 2003 [more]
I did my best to gather resources showing that the State of the Union Address was another Bush exercise in "The Big Lie" technique of governance. Remember, "The Big Lie" cannot be utilized effectively without media complicity.
We need to be the media, person to person. My analysis is lengthy. You can see it here.
The U.S. Marine Corps lawyer assigned to defend an Australian terror suspect being held at the Guantanamo naval base in Cuba Wednesday criticized the military tribunal process and said it will not allow a fair trial.

Maj. Michael Mori, who in November was assigned to be the military attorney for David Hicks -- an Australian held at the U.S. military prison in Cuba -- said the system set up by the Pentagon for trials of non-U.S. citizens captured during what U.S. officials call the war on terror was unfair.

"The military commissions will not provide a full and fair trial," Mori told a news conference. "The commission process has been created and controlled by those with a vested interest only in convictions."

"Fairness is extremely important in all cases, particularly those that have commanded such international attention and will have international impact," he said.
WASHINGTON - A House committee recommended legislation Wednesday that would provide for fast special elections if a terrorist attack killed or incapacitated many House members.

The measure would require expedited elections under "extraordinary circumstances" when the speaker of the House announces that vacancies in the 435-member chamber exceed 100.

The bill stipulates that parties choose candidates within 10 days of that announcement and that state elections be held within 45 days.

The legislation has also been approved by the House Administration Committee and now goes to the full House for consideration.

Pardon me, but can someone tell me why this is necessary? If more than 100 members of the House are suddenly dead, why in hell do we need a full House in 45 days to do anything? Like we are going to be worried about proportional representation a month and a half after a terrorit attack that kills over 100 representatives? Just pass the war resolution, and leave the rest of anything off the table until we all get our heads back on. Whatever else needs to be done can be fully handled through the martial law that would most certainly be declared.

Pardon me if I smell a rat.

This article previously appeared on Black Box Notes.

Black people get crappy health care. You can read that in lots of places. But the one place you won't read about it is in a new study of racial disparities in health care released by the federal government.

George Bush doesn't want you to know. And so Health and Human Services didn't tell you.

George Bush didn't want you to know about the quality of asbestos-tainted air at Ground Zero after 9/11. And so the Environmental Protection Agency didn't tell you.

George Bush doesn't want you to know that there is no link between abortion and breast cancer. And so the National Cancer Institute won't tell you that anymore.

George Bush doesn't want you to know that there is no link between education about condom use and increased sexual activity. And so the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention won't tell you you that anymore.

SOTUHere's what George Bush wants you to know.

Some people lie by omission. Some people lie by comission.

George Bush is good at both.

If Iraqis ever see Saddam Hussein on trial, they want his former American allies shackled beside him.

"Saddam should not be the only one who is put on trial. The Americans backed him when he was killing Iraqis so they should be prosecuted," said Ali Mahdi, a builder.
Interactive State of the Union Crossword Puzzle
In honor of George W. Bush's 2004 State of the Union Address, I'm pleased to present my first interactive crossword puzzle:
State of Disunion crossword puzzle.
Tuesday, January 20, 2004
The better State of the Union:
The Democratic Response
The text of the Democratic response to President Bush State of the Union speech, delivered by House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota.
Daschle: "When I was driving around South Dakota this summer, I met a nurse in Sioux Falls who has cancer. She told me that she couldn't afford the $1,500 a month her drugs cost. She told me that she was going to die, that she was a lost cause. But, she said, we must solve this problem; don't turn more people into lost causes."
Bush still doesn't get it.
After the Election, Of course
No, he didn't bother to mention this in the State of the Union speech, but of course, when he asked for the last $87 billion for the Iraq War, he did mention how long that money would last. A simple check of the calendar back then would have easily shown that he was planning to come back right after the election for another dip at the empty well.
Selling Public Policy as a Commodity
I cannot over-sell this article, whose alternate subtitle (over at CounterPunch) is "How a Theology of 'Free Markets' Destroyed the Party and Brought Calamity to the Nation", is probably more to the point of the theme of this article as it moves towards its final single-sentence conclusion. Absolutely must reading.
Why Dean's Iowa showing doesn't matter
... and might even be a blessing
From a comment by Chad Robinson to a Billmon post on this:
You know what the truth of the matter is? Dean was not going to fix all of our problems and bring forth a paradise of Heaven on Earth repleat with a choir of angels and dewy sunlight pouring over the endless fields of ambrosia and groves of whatever would look most picturesque. Wasn't going to happen. If elected, his job is to reverse specific policy decisions implemented by the current administration and their supporters in Congress... that's it. That's all any of us want him for. Clark, Edwards or Kerry can do exactly the same if they win.
This really is it in a nutshell. Stop the bleeding. Stop the craziness. The rest of that stuff about Heaven on Earth? Well, we'll get to that, ... but first things first. And the first thing is cleaning up the mess.

So if you're for Dean, stay with him. Someone else? Stay with him. This whole thing has just begun.

On the good side:
  • More media: Spending more on the primary means spending less on the general election, BUT, there is a LOT of free publicity coming with all of this media attention, and a tight primary will create a lot more of it than one that is decided early.

  • Less media: Up until now, the press has been on a feeding frenzy against Dean, supposedly because of his front-runner status. With Dean's third place showing, any attempts by them to continue this will show their efforts to be personal instead of professional. Further, they can't simply transfer their venom to Kerry because Clark and Lieberman are now in the race and have good head starts in New Hampshire.
So, yes, Karl Rove may have scheduled the State of the Union to take the focus off the Democratic candidates, but he's now only going to have that advantage for a single day. With a tight five-way race in New Hampshire, exepect a lot of Democrats on TV this week telling the country how they can make it better. And not only that:
  • Less Karl Rove: Rove now has the same problem that the media has. If he keeps going after Dean, it will be totally obvious that Dean is who he fears most. On the other hand, if goes after others but leaves some of them out, he'll be sending an equally clear message of who he doesn't fear. And if he goes after no one, well then we'll just have the nightly news to ourselves for a week!
So if you're a Deaniac, cheer up. Iowa might prove to be the best thing thatever happened to him. And no matter who you support, a tight race could be the best thing that could happen to the Democrats.
This is a quick video from Reuters of Palestinians rushing to save their few belongings from their home which is being demolished by Israeli attack-Bulldozers. Home demolitions are a war crime, and thousands have been performed in the past 3 years, but you will not see this video on your evening news. Video is the first in the list.
Monday, January 19, 2004
The weekend after September 11, George Bush's former Treasury secretary, Paul O'Neill, sat in a leather armchair at Camp David, the presidential retreat, devouring a pile of intelligence documents on al-Qaeda handed out by the CIA boss, George Tenet.

A two-day crisis meeting of Mr Bush's senior advisers had finally wound up. The President had gone to bed.

Across the room, the National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice, was singing hymns, accompanied on the piano by the Christian fundamentalist Attorney-General, John Ashcroft.

Leafing through the CIA documents, Mr O'Neill was astonished to read plans for covert assassinations around the globe designed to remove opponents of the US Government. The plans had virtually no civilian checks and balances.

"What I was thinking is, 'I hope the President really reads this carefully', Mr O'Neill said. "It's kind of his job. You can't forfeit this much responsibility to unelected individuals. But I knew he wouldn't."

(via digby)
"History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people."--Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

On this official holiday honoring the late advocate of "We the People" Martin Luther King I'd like to tickle your memory about Dick Cheney.

Dick Cheney voted against a resolution that advocated the freeing of Nelson Mandela and recognition of the African National Congress back in 1986 under President Reagan. He stated that it was "common knowledge" that the ANC was a "terrorist organization" while defending his vote on a network television show in 2000, although the vote was 245 to 177 in favor of the resolution, putting the lie to that Cheney statement. Although a majority of those voting were for the resolution it needed to be a two-thirds vote to overturn a veto imposed by then President Reagan.

Oddly enough as this well endnoted (linked) letter from Henry Waxman to Donald Rumsfeld dated April 30, 2003 shows the Halliburton Corporation under Mr Cheney's helm had no compunctions about doing business with terrorist nations.

I'll leave you with a current quote from Dick Cheney:
"Am I the evil genius in the corner that nobody ever sees come out of his hole?" he said. "It's a nice way to operate, actually."

also linked three pieces down

Uncredited I'd guess the above was a Karl Rove quotation. Go figure.

im-tv offers a good resource "Documenting the Halliburton / Cheney Crimes and Controversies" to learn more.
"How Dick Cheney and USA-Engage Subvert Democracy At Home And Abroad" gives the larger picture of Mr Cheney and his actions as Halliburton's CEO around the world
Learn more about Dick Cheney.

Don't be silent, get the truth into light. Democracy starts with us.

Gems from Avedon at The Sideshow ~
  • Why the Bible Belt supports Bush's big-dollar marriage push: This is just too funny. Avedon quotes extensively from a Newsday article that takes note of the fact that conservative Christians have a much higher divorce rate than atheists and agnostics. Avedon's cut is funny enough, but the original will have you rolling.

    As Avedon concludes however, it's not nice to laugh at other people's troubles, but maybe they should stop marrying their cousins?

  • Why I'm not a libertarian (Just scroll down from the above link): I'm not a libertarian, but as Avedon points out, it easy for many of us liberals to find common cause with those who are and visa-versa; there is a shared commitment to individual rights. Avedon offers some quite worthwhile comments on her feelings on this, but the bulk of this article is long excepts from a 1997 article by Seth Finkelstein called Libertarianism Makes You Stupid. While I think the article title is a bit overblown (there are some libertarians out there doing seriously good writing), this article is perhaps the best deconstruction of the flaws of libertarianism that I've seen to date. I won't get into its line of argument here, but if you're ever arguing political philosophy with a Libertarian, you'll want to have this article bookmarked. There is a definite reason why Avedon has kept it handy for so long.

  • Not from Avedon, but worthwhile in light of the Libertarian article above. Libertarianism is regarded as quite conservative and quite to the right of center. Even its adherents acknowledge that it is well to the right of mainstream conservatism (as opposed to the "New Right", ... which most Libertarians detest, by the way). So how to explain the newly-emerging bond between Liberals and Libertarians? After all, they are almost polar opposites on the scale.

    In fact, it is the scale itself that is the probem. By it's one-dimensional nature, you can only be left of center or right of center, and nuance is excluded. Enter The Political Compass.

    What the political compass does is add a second dimension to one's political orientation. I won't explain that here because the site starts out with a test to place the visitor on this two-dimensional scale, and they don't want the test results to be prejudiced by foreknowledge of what they are trying to measure. That said however, I found it pretty much nailed my view of myself, and though a few personal friends complained about their scores, I found those scores to be pretty much in line with how I viewed their politics.

    Anyways, the test is fun, and you'll be placed among a chart of major political personalities. (For the record, I'm really close to the Dalai Lama.) If you haven't taken this test yet, go ahead, have some fun.

    [Note: If you've taken the test before, they've added a new chart with all of the Presidential hopefuls on it.]

"What's wrong with my image?" Cheney asks with a laugh. He contends that he operates in public when it serves the administration's agenda, and in private when that is more effective.

"Am I the evil genius in the corner that nobody ever sees come out of his hole?" he asks. "It's a nice way to operate, actually."
Sunday, January 18, 2004
Just wonderful ... Freaking wonderful ...
Al-Qaeda launches online terrorist manual
Al-Qaeda has issued a chilling new call to arms to recruits who remain undetected by security agencies. In a terrorist manual published on the internet, Osama bin Laden says: "After Iraq and Afghanistan will come the Crusader invasion of Saudi Arabia. All fighters all over the world must be ready." ...

It is directed at new volunteers who are 'below the radar' of counter-terrorist authorities and who cannot break cover to undergo formal training in terrorist techniques. Like bin Laden, Zawahiri is quoted in the publication, called 'The Base of the Vanguard'. Other writers encourage the use of weapons of mass destruction.

Actually, I really don't understand why they bothered. Terrorist manuals are all over the internet already. Check out a few ads that support this one:

Bush voters, I presume.
All of the doors are locked and no one in the store has a key. Firedoors are sometimes even chained shut. Even when they aren't, employees are told that if they use them and there is no fire, they will be fired. Broken bones, asthma and even heart attack; wait until someone with a key shows up. One employee has even died.
"That's certainly not something Wal-Mart would condone."
You know, I'm getting very tired of this crap. Wal-Mart doesn't need to condone this. It is their corporate culture, and this is set at the highest levels. Top managers always want to say, "Well, I didn't tell them to do that." Perhaps not, but you set the expectations upon your subordinates; expectations that could not be met unless they did that.

We need to get this jerk out of the White House and Ashcroft out of Justice. They simply will not accept responsibility for their inactions.

Boy do I love it when libertarians take off after the Bush administration. And one of my favorite libertarian writers is of course Karen Kwiatkowski, the now retired Lt. Col. who spent a year or so watching the Neocons make an end run around the CIA with their Office of Special Plans. Kwiatkowski's target today is Neocon Max Boot, recently famous for saying that any liberal who used the word "Neocons" was instantly guilty of being anti-Semetic.
Max also thinks it is crazy that a few people – maybe even only Paul Wolfowitz – with only a few impoverished thinktanks behind them (AEI, PNAC, the Olin, Bradley and Smith-Richardson Foundations) can create and control American foreign policy. He says neocons have been "relatively influential" only because their arguments are so good, not their connections. That’s probably why Dick Cheney placed so many previously connected thinktank guys in key positions at the Pentagon, within his own office, and in parts of the State Department so as to more easily roll those who weren’t convinced of the wisdom of those good neo-con arguments. ...

Max also denies that neocons are unilateralists, or Manichean simpletons who cherish the idea of noble lies and the stealthy practice of electoral politics by other means. Well, of course they aren’t unilateralist or Manichean–if you are with them, then you are certainly not against them.

This is a great article with a lot of good links. Check out White Man's Burden especially. It's back from early last April when US forces were stalled outside of Baghdad, but it's a great example of how Neocons think under pressure.
Darn!   Katherine Harris has dropped out of the 2004 US Senate race from Florida. I hate people who rig elections, but I would have swallowed my conscience to rig one against her!
Let’s not mince words. Were Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. alive today, he would be at risk for being imprisoned indefinitely, without charges or access to legal counsel, as an “enemy combatant.”

He would be decried, by powerful figures inside and outside government, as at worst a domestic terrorist, at best a publicity-seeking menace whose criticisms of America gave comfort to our unseen enemies.

King would not have the opportunity to engage in repeated nonviolent civil disobediences. Media would be quickly bored by the spectacles; a nation accustomed to police violence against protesters yawns at the tanks, rubber bullets, chemical weapons, and “preventative” arrests now commonly used against those who employ the same tactics King himself once used. The felony charges against King would put him away for years -- if he were allowed to stand trial at all. [more]

She was an anonymous junior official toiling away with 4,500 other mathematicians, code-breakers and linguists at the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in Cheltenham.

But now Katharine Gun, an unassuming 29-year-old translator, is set to become a transatlantic cause célèbre as the focus of a star-studded solidarity drive that brings together Hollywood actor-director Sean Penn and senior figures from the US media and civil rights movement, including the Reverend Jesse Jackson.

Gun appears in court tomorrow accused of breaching the Official Secrets Act by allegedly leaking details of a secret US 'dirty tricks' operation to spy on UN Security Council members in the run-up to war in Iraq last year. If found guilty, she faces two years in prison. She is an unlikely heroine and those who have met her say she would have been happy to remain in the shadows, had she not seen evidence in black and white that her Government was being asked to co-operate in an illegal operation. [more]
Guess we should have known:

Vice President Dick Cheney and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia spent part of last week duck hunting together at a private camp in south Louisiana, just three weeks after the Supreme Court agreed to take up an appeal by the vice president in lawsuits over his handling of the administration's energy task force.

Although Scalia and Cheney are avid hunters and longtime friends, several experts in legal ethics questioned the timing of their trip and said it raises doubts about Scalia's ability to judge the case impartially.

But Scalia rejected that concern Friday, saying, "I do not think my impartiality could reasonably be questioned."

Wonder if they went hunting together back in the fall of 2000?

Not really sure what the ramifications would be if Scalia removed himself from the case. With 8 judges you still need 5 for a majority ruling. But perhaps the hearings proceed differently without Scalia around? Regardless this sort of back room sleaze that Cheney specializes in needs a lot more light shining its way.

O'Neill makes it clear that not only was Bush set on Iraq war from the beginning but also giving tremendous tax breaks to the rich and Cheney was pushing him hard both ways from the start and shutting down anyone who opposed these policies

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