Monday, December 17, 2007

Body Count in Baghdad

Everyone with the faintest knowledge of how the Middle East worked could have predicted it. Anyone who had studied history could have seen it coming. Only the blind, right wing, conservative, cakewalk-and-dancing-in-the-streets crowd were in denial. The killing in Iraq’s streets and the massacres that have taken place in her capital have long since outstripped any of the horrors that Saddam Hussein and his henchmen brought down on that country. Mass murdering was on the agenda with rows of bodies lining the streets, as many as a 100 a day dying in Baghdad alone.

Since the so-called “Surge,” violence has decreased in Iraq as a whole. So why don’t we hear cries of victory from the top brass? According to a Newsweek article, the reason is that violence has not dropped as much as we think:

The problem—and the reason no one from U.S. commander Gen. David Petraeus on down is declaring victory yet—is that those statistics do not tell the whole story. Body hunters like Sowadi, Baghdad residents and local gunmen all say that militias are making more of an effort to disguise their grisly handiwork—burying bodies in shallow graves, dumping them in city sewers. …."Many militia groups just make people disappear,"

Whereas before, militias left the corpses, beheaded and evidently tortured on the open streets, they are now taking pains to bury them in shallow graves, with several new mass graves appearing in various parts of the city.

The sheer number of human lives this senseless war will have destroyed will surely never be known but it will certainly be in the hundreds of thousands by now. Certainly the Neocons who lusted after this war and those who supported the decision to go to war based on what the rest of us knew were lies, will never own up to having been part of the holocaust that Iraq has become.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Flip-Flop

It’s been a long time coming but the International Community in Bali finally humiliated the United States delegation to the Climate conference into an agreement. The reluctant US team fought the agreement for days before capitulating in what was referred to as a flip-flop of never before seen proportions as reported by Yahoo News:

In a day of drama and emotional speeches, nations had berated and booed the U.S. representatives for holding out. A wave of relief swept the room when the United States relented.

Having fought any and every agreement on climate change since the US pulled out of the Kyoto agreement 10 years ago the US delegation took an unprecedented pounding from the committee members of the other nations. Bereft of its usual allies the US stood alone in trying to reject the wording for the agreement which some countries still referred to as too weak and finally, had to cave in as reported by Time Magazine:

In the end, the U.S.'s total isolation was too much for even it to bear. "We've listened very closely to many of our colleagues here during these two weeks, but especially to what has been said in this hall today," said lead American negotiator Paula Dobiansky. "We will go forward and join consensus." Boos turned to cheers, and the deal was essentially sealed.

Toeing The Line

Michael B. Mukasey is toeing the line as expected. Congress’ attempt to investigate the destruction of the CIA tapes showing the waterboarding of prisoners has been blocked by the Justice Department as reported in The Washington Post. Why aren’t we surprised?

Congressional leaders from both parties alleged that Justice is trying to block their investigation and vowed to press ahead with hearings.
"We are stunned that the Justice Department would move to block our investigation," Reps. Silvestre Reyes (D-Tex.) and Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.) said in the statement. "Parallel investigations occur all of the time, and there is no basis upon which the Attorney General can stand in the way of our work."

But there is a basis. It’s called the Bush basis, which is that the demarcation lines between the executive branch and the Justice Department no longer exist. It makes the Justice Department an extended arm of the White House and the Attorney General a lap dog of the President.

As Alberto I-can’t-recall Gonzalez before him, Mukasey is bowing to pressure from the White House to prevent any investigation into this affair.

Bush, who turned the United States into a country that tortures, has also turned it into a country that dissembles the truth on par with the worst of the world’s dictatorships.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Repression Begins At Home

Climate change is not a myth, it is a fact. The only point of contention is whether humans are directly or indirectly affecting it. The fact that the earth’s mean temperature is on the rise and Global Warming is taking place is not questioned by any serious scientist who is not on the payroll of a major oil corporation. It is almost inconceivable that the excess carbon gases that we as humans produce are not having some effect, if not actually creating and accelerating the process.

In a free country, where free speech is touted as being of paramount importance, one would want people to be free of government censure. That is what we express as freedom of speech. In accordance with that, if an expert in his or her particular field expresses an opinion, countries that then either punish the person in question or stifle their opinions are considered repressive.

More directly, governments that prevent people from expressing an opinion are considered to have something to hide in that particular area. So it comes as no surprise to hear that the Bush Administration has been doing just that.

The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has been investigating the White House for the past 16 months. More directly, they’ve been investigating allegations that the Bush Administration has been systematically interfering on a political level with scientific evaluations and expressed opinions on Global Warming.

The accusations range from exerting “unusual control” over public statements of federal scientists on climate change to extensively editing climate change reports.

The evidence before the Committee leads to one inescapable conclusion: the Bush Administration has engaged in a systematic effort to manipulate climate change science and mislead policymakers and the public about the dangers of global warming.

It's worth reading the whole thing. If you're still not scared about what Bush, Cheney and Rice have done to this country after reading this you are probably beyond redemption of any kind.

Monday, December 3, 2007

The Greatest Criminals Known to Man

Which government wishes to govern with fear? Which government wishes through fear, to intimidate its citizens into toeing the line? What type of government would want to cow its citizens into a behavioral pattern?

Why would anyone threaten World War III when they knew it wasn’t on the cards?

"I've told people that if you're interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them (Iran) from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon,"
President Bush, 10/17/2007

Why would anyone threaten war without cause? The answer is someone who avoided military service because of a butt boil:

US Vice President Dick Cheney says Washington considers military action against Iran as a possible solution to Tehran's nuclear standoff.

What does it mean when the drums of war are beaten to the tune of an unconfirmed rumour?

In an interview with the Sunday Times, Bolton said if Tehran does not voluntarily stop its nuclear program, the US has to use force.

That was this morning. This afternoon, the absolute slap in the face for the crippled and morally bankrupt Bush Administration: according to a NIE Report on Iran’s nuclear program, Iran halted work on the development of nuclear weapons FOUR YEARS AGO as reported by Yahoo News!

A new U.S. intelligence report concludes that Iran's nuclear weapons development program has been halted since the fall of 2003 because of international pressure — a stark contrast to the conclusions U.S. spy agencies drew just two years ago.

Is anyone, anyone at all, going to assert that Bush, Bolton and Cheney actually didn’t know this?

It’s unbelievable that they are going to get away with this and it’s unbelievable that there’s a single American citizen with half a brain left, who’s willing to back these bozo’s. With many of us doubting the rumours of Iran's nuclear arsenal, so many still believed that the threat was real because they are driven by fear, blindly hanging on to any piece of news that will confirm that this is the state to be in. It's a political disaster for Israel and a phenomenal, brutal denunciation of the Bush regime's ultimate and continued efforts to sow seeds of hatred and dissent and their willingness to destroy the world for their own ends.

Impeach, impeach, impeach. It’s not too late and it certainly couldn’t come soon enough. Impeach, try, imprison and throw away the key. There is no single greater danger to peace and the good of humanity than these people. They are the epitome of evil and the pinnacle of hypocrisy.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Who'd a Thunk It?

The lack of forethought to the Iraq occupation is staggering. So is the theft from government agencies and public resources apparently, according to a New York Times article. It isn’t like no one expected this – excepting the Bush Administration of course, but the level of theft has progressed to such an extent that it has reached epidemic proportions. Everything from water to pain killing cancer drugs are stolen and offered on the black market.

The Iraqi government is, to all intents and purposes bankrupt, except for the payrolling from the United States coffers. So the result is….yes, you guessed it:

Some American officials estimate that as much as a third of what they spend on Iraqi contracts and grants ends up unaccounted for or stolen, with a portion going to Shiite or Sunni militias.

Iraq now ranks as the world’s third most corrupt country and even as violence is abating, officials are watching the country slip into an unparalleled level of lawlessness. When looting broke out after the initial fall of Baghdad, Donald Rumsfeld, in his eternal wisdom, God bless his soul, said “that is what free people do.” It didn’t occur to the IQ bereft Defense Minister that this was a sign of how things could develop.

Corruption is everywhere – not least in the very administration that brought us the Iraq catastrophe. But that a country overtaken by a power vacuum, steeped in poverty and flooded with money and weapons available only to a select few would not degenerate into the world’s most lawless place never occurred to anyone in the White House.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


The boom’s over. Boom? More like a pop. The artificial high caused by the Bush Administration’s tax decreases coupled with a fortuitous development of markets abroad in which US companies were increasingly vested, gave first the stock exchange a good old heave-ho upwards and with it, the housing market.

Only you can’t build an economy on hot air and promises and soon, the housing bubble burst and the age of “more-people-owning-their-homes-than-ever-before-in-the-USA” as touted by FOX News came to a crashing end. It was followed by an almost 10% correction in the stock market which started just two weeks after Peter Barnes and Jenna Lee also of FOX News fame said:

“We don’t know why everyone’s worried – things are looking great!”

This isn’t about FOX News, but they embody the Bush Administration’s hear, see and speak no evil mentality. Everything is swell all of the time. But it isn’t, as the New York Times reports today:

Credit flowing to American companies is drying up at a pace not seen in decades, threatening the creation of jobs and the expansion of businesses, while intensifying worries that the economy may be headed for recession.

Outstanding commercial and industrial bank loans, and short-term loans are both down by 9% since August. It’s the first time that this source of cash has shrunk so rapidly since – well ever actually, since the Fed started tracking such things back in 1973. Ironically, this development which has alarmed the Fed, caused them to make a statement hinting that interest rates would be cut again in the near future which sent the stock market soaring.

It’s the same sort of superficial nonsense that will cause the spokespersons of this Administration to shrug their shoulders and ask “who’s worried.” But the truth is, we all should be. The consequences of this development will primarily affect small businesses who are already finding it very hard to get a loan form a bank. A year ago banks were throwing money at small companies but those are finding now that they cannot increase their line of credit.

It stops them hiring and stops them from investing and that is a sure sign of bad things to come. All I can do is hope that if the country plunges into a full blown recession, it at least elects a Clinton into the White House in 2008 to clear up the mess that the Republicans have left behind.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Corrupt to the Core

The corruption and disease that has permeated the Bush Administration is so incredibly convoluted and pervasive, that even special prosecutors investigating Bush appointees are being investigated.

Karl Rove’s office was being investigated by Scott Bloch’s bureau amid allegations that the staff of the former used government agencies to elect Republican officials, which is a no-no. Now Bloch himself has come under fire as reported by John Wilke in the Wall Street Journal:

At the same time, Mr. Bloch has himself been under investigation since 2005. At the direction of the White House, the federal Office of Personnel Management's inspector general is looking into claims that Mr. Bloch improperly retaliated against employees and dismissed whistleblower cases without adequate examination.

The real question is: is there a single person left in this corruption addled administration that yet has no mark on them and no skeleton in the closet? Inquiring minds want to know.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Surge is Working - Not.

Euphoria about Iraq is gripping the right. Violence is down as 162,000 now operational troops provide some semblance of security. “The surge is working!” Is the cry. Only it isn’t and the Bush White House knows it.

The original aim of the surge was to provide breathing space for the Iraqi government to come together and begin to legislate. Reducing the violence was not an aim but a means to get there. However despite the encouraging drop in bombings and sectarian attacks, Iraq’s government remains rooted to the spot, frozen and unable to move.

It’s yet another example of the underestimation of the way third world nations function by the American ruling class. Let’s go back a few years, back to the toppling of Iran’s first duly elected Prime Minister. The reason things came to a head was because the British underestimated the Iranians. The Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, which was ostensibly part of the British government, treated Iranians like dirt. The refinery workers earned less than 50cents a day, slept in ramshackle metal tenements cobbled together with no running water and no sanitation let alone electricity. A communiqué at the time by a British Diplomat described Iranians as being motivated by:

“an unabashed dishonesty, fatalistic outlook and indifference to suffering… The ordinary Persian is vain, unprincipled, eager to promise what he knows he is incapable or has no intention of performing, wedded to procrastination, lacking in perseverance and energy but amenable to discipline……although an accomplished liar, he does not expect to be believed….”

Now, being brutally honest, one could probably say that that could be taken as a pretty close description of how many Americans might view Iraqis today. It isn’t because Iranians or Iraqis are like that. It’s because our differences in culture make us see them that way.

At the bottom of this, is a belief that we can outwit them and that they won’t even mind even if they realize they are being outwitted. This outlook cost the AIOC its foothold in Iran. Whilst American companies were viewed at the time as being fair – Aramco was offering Saudi Arabia 50% of it’s profits, the Anglo-Iranian was stuck on 15% of profits from books cooked so that less than $100,000 a year flowed to Iran from His Majesty’s coffers. The result was a revolution and the privatization of Anglo-Iranian under the leadership of Mossadegh. The British were so incensed that they brought about his downfall using the Americans who were coerced into worrying that Iran would fall into Soviet hands.

This little piece of history is vitally important today, because it highlights the fact that we in the West still believe we can nation-build and that we can mold those nations to our liking. Nothing can be further from the truth and today, the evidence is in Iraq where the surge has worked, but it has failed. The Iraqi government will not divest itself of all its resources and hand them over to British and American oil companies just as the Iranians refused to back then.

To counteract this threat, the US is rapidly building military bases on top of oil platforms and fields. It’s truly like a vision of the apocalypse in Mad Max where countries will finally wage battles for the last drops of oil in fortresses defended by the West.

Already, as reported in a New York Times article, the original aim of the surge has already been changed to accommodate the latest developments:

While Bush officials once said they aimed to secure “reconciliation” among Iraq’s deeply divided religious, ethnic and sectarian groups, some officials now refer to their goal as “accommodation.”

So accommodation is the new ‘reconciliation.’ What this means in real terms is that the surge is not working as part of a solution for the country ‘Iraq’, but that it is part of the ongoing catastrophic quagmire that that land has become. Unable to reach consensus on any broad issues let alone details, the Iraqi government will falter and trip until the USA loses patience with Maliki. Desperate they will search for an alternative and like a Jack in the Box, up will pop one of the skeletons that has been plaguing the country for the past 25 years. The end result will be a crippled country, bereft of any income whilst its natural resources are plundered by an insatiable Western metal juggernaut of SUVs and a poverty stricken population with only the knowledge in their hearts that they were robbed. Together, that will most certainly provide the ultimate breeding ground for radicalism and hate towards the West.

Well done Mr. Bush. Your legacy is set to go.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Plame Won't Go Away

That the Bush Administration lies is nothing new. However, that a former Bushie, namely Scott McClellan has come forward in a new book and said: “They lied about Plame and used me to cover it up” is.

In what is sure to be a controversial move, former White House spokesman McClellan says that his statements about the involvement of Rove and Libby in the Plame affair were simply fodder to keep the press wolves at bay. The Raw Story quotes from his new book:

"The most powerful leader in the world had called upon me to speak on his behalf and help restore credibility he lost amid the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq," writes McClellan. "So I stood at the White house briefing room podium in front of the glare of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of the senior-most aides in the White House: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby."


"There was one problem. It was not true," he writes. "I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice President, the President's chief of staff, and the president himself."

This was what George Bush said on February 11, 2004:

"If there’s a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is,”...“If the person has violated law, that person will be taken care of."

Only George already knew and sure enough, he did take care of them. He took care that they were never prosecuted.
Anyone who still supports Bush still care to bleat “where are the lies?”

Monday, November 19, 2007

Backing The Wrong Horse, or 'The Impasse'

Back in 2001, in the wake of the September attacks, those famous words fell: “with us or against us.”

Of course the world was with the USA back then with regards to an anti-terrorist stance, but was divided when it came to what to do about it. Allies had to be found and bullied into compliance. With Afghanistan as the target, Pakistan was an interesting proposition and Musharraf seems to have been told in no uncertain terms, “if you don’t help, we’ll bomb your country back to the stone age.” In fact that is precisely what he was told.

So Musharraf helped. Sort of. It was a decision by the Bush Administration made much like their other decisions: shallow, brash, arrogant and not thought through. Pakistan’s weapons escalation programme which was designed to keep it abreast of India had it developing nuclear weapons back in the 1990s. In fact, Pakistan joined the “Nuclear Club” with the detonation of its first warhead in 1998. So Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld et al, decided that a country with a rife potential for turning radical, peppered with madrassas especially in the North, run by a military dictator and armed with nuclear weapons should be “our friend” and would be immune to the sort of threats and criticism that have, for example been thrown at Iran.

But here’s the problem. Now you have a Pakistan devolving into chaos and possible civil war, populated by Muslims who are not America-friendly, poor and therefore a hotbed for religious fanaticism and possibly harboring Osama Bin Laden and the USA can’t even forcefully impose sanctions to reign it in.

You might ask: “well what would a neocon do?” The answer appears in an article in yesterday’s New York Times. Frederick W. Kagan of the right wing, I’d go so far as to say radical right wing American Enterprise Institute, proposes an invasion of Pakistan – the Neocon solution to all their problems. Now why am I not shocked?

He proposes that the USA invade Pakistan, help sympathizers fight the common enemy, establish bases and secure peace and order whilst we wait for the country to stabilize. Now where have I heard that before? More worrisome is that invasion seems to be the order of the day. Invade Iran, invade Pakistan as if it were possible, but what it mainly does is gnaw away at the bare thread of credibility by which this country still hangs.

The only real conclusion of this mess, which has positioned a real nuclear threat in a virtually untouchable space, whilst concentrating on an Iranian hand-puppet who has nothing, is that Bush and his strategy, not only effed this country up, but he’s managed to eff the world up - an almost intact world he held in his hand on September 12, 2001.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Upcoming Earthquake

2008 will be a stellar year for the Democrats. As of now, not a single Republican candidate has shown that he has the ability to lead anything but a lukewarm campaign and the various scandals, problems and flip-flops surrounding them will sink their ship even before it gets down the slipway.

No one, but no one really takes McCain seriously anymore. Giuliani has sunk himself with his Kerik scandal, the latest being that celebrity book publisher Judith Regan was asked to lie in order to protect Giuliani. Who wants a President who can be impeached before he’s even taken office. Mitt Romney doesn’t really stand a chance and Ron Paul, though in a way I’d love to see him as a front runner won’t make the numbers. Mike Huckabee is coming up fast but his campaign will lose steam when the primaries start. Fred? Fred who? Oh, Fred Thompson. Yawn.

Of course it’s early days yet, but the writing’s on the wall. Bush has made such a dog's dinner of running the country that no Republican candidate necessarily wants to be associated with him whereas traditionally, the most successful candidates always got a boost from the incumbent President. At the same time, the Republican candidates can’t lean too far away from their aggressive chicken hawk stance that they’ve been holding onto for the past five years for fear of being accused of flip-flopping.

It’s going to be a landslide and with all probability, Hillary’s going to make it into the White House. This is great because it’ll almost be like having Bill as President again and it’ll drive the Republicans nuts. Of course the negative side is that Republicans will spend the next eight years trying to impeach her for some imagined offense.

As for the House, there are a number of retirements for various reasons. In all however, 3 Democrats are retiring:

Micaehl McNulty (NY)
Mark Udall (CO)
Tom Allen (ME)

McNulty has simply had enough after 10 (yes ten) terms, whilst Udall and Allen are running for the Senate.

On the Republican side however, we have 16 retirements:

James Saxton (NJ) - retiring aged 64
Heather Wilson (NM) – running for Senate
Jerry Weller (IL) – scandals
Jim Ramstad (MN)
Deborah Pryce (OH)
Rick Renzi (AZ) – scandals
Ralph Regula (OH) – 82 years old
Dennis Hastert (IL) – scandals
Ray LaHood (IL)
Steve Pearce (NM) – running for Senate
David Hobson (OH) – 71
Duncan Hunter (CA) – Running for President
Tom Tancredo (CO) – Running for President
Terry Everett (AL) – 70
Chip Pickering (MS)
Barbara Cubin (WY) – probably being asked to go after threatening to hit a person in a wheelchair

Whilst the democratic seats are pretty safe, the Republican ones are hotly contested. It gets even better (or worse depending on which party one is affiliated with). The DCCC, headed by Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland has $20 million in the bank to help out in tough races for the House, whereas the NRCC, run by Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, has only $2 million in the bank offset by $4 million worth of debts. Cole has already said that he can't help GOP candidates much and is trying to get rich businessmen to fund their own campaigns as candidates, a strategy that historically has had no success.

The only thing standing in the way of the Democrats sweeping away the presidency and making considerable gains in the house are the Democrats themselves. If they don’t rapidly grow a backbone and a decent sized pair of cojones, I can see people turning away from them again by the time elections are up.

United and strong they can make mincemeat out of the GOP which has been left in tatters after eight years of neocon frenzy. I can’t wait.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

When Things Go Bump in the Night

When Turkish helicopter gun-ships fired on villages in Northern Iraq this morning, they certainly weren’t out to defeat the PKK. The attack which occurred on abandoned Kurdish villages came at dawn and it was a distinct ‘up yours’ not only to the Kurds in the North, but to the Bush Administration. It sends a strong signal to Washington that Turkey will defend its interests.

The Bush Administration has maneuvered itself into a similar position with the Kurds and the Turks as it has with the Shia and the Sunni. In short they’ve managed the impossible: to alienate everyone. The US government now officially supports the Kurds in the Northern provinces whilst declaring that the PKK is a terrorist organization. At the same time, the Turks are declared to be best buddies and allies, but are told that attacking Kurdish positions inside Iraq is a no-no.

The Huffington Post, which quotes aTurkish Colonel as its source reports that clashes have been going on for a whole day but that this is the first such strike inside the Iraki border.

This brings up two points:

1. The escalation in the North is the worst possible case scenario in which sporadic fighting in Iraq develops into an all out war between the Turkish forces and the Kurdish Peschmerga. The United States is now in such a position that it is unable to support the Turks and unable to prevent them from invading.

2. The fact that the US Government evidently feels it has the right to invade whomever and wherever they please but are able to dictate the rules to others is not going to sit well in the Middle East. It will increase the feeling that the USA is only focused on its own vested interests.

This latest step is a logical follow up to every single event so far and has been predicted by many people. It remains to be seen how the Bush Administration reacts to the latest developments but if history is anything to go by they’ll manage to eff it up. Stay tuned for an all out war in the North.

Brought to you by the Administration that would never have thunked it.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Tale of Kasim

Kasim Al Safar is a name that is going to haunt the Pentagon for weeks if not months to come. No, he’s not one of Al Qaeda’s number two’s, he also isn’t head of some new, obscure but upcoming terrorist organization. In fact, Al Safar was a friend of the Bush Administration’s and may very well still be a friend of the Pentagon’s.

Not having learned that trusting people is a very different thing in the Middle East than it is here despite their run in with Allawi, the Bush Administration thought long and hard about how to quell the insurgency back in 2004 when it was rapidly gaining speed. Now you’re thinking: they entrusted Al-Safar with making sure that as few weapons as possible got into Iraq, a tactic which may have only slowed the insurgency a little, but which at least would have had some positive effect. You would be wrong.

Bush Administration officials paid Al-Safar large sums of money to import and distribute weapons in Iraq. They were supposed to go to the new police force and the new army. But Al-Safar, bless his soul is a business man so he set up a business selling guns. Quite illegally, but with apparently full knowledge of the Pentagon.

Now you’re thinking: clever! He and the USA could make money from these weapons by selling them to the ‘good guys’ instead of giving them away. Wrong! Kasim sold the weapons to whoever showed up with cash including insurgents that struck at US troops and terrorist PKK members who attacked Turkish troops with the very same guns. You can’t believe it can you? Nor could I. But the whole sordid tale of how the USA lost some 190,000 firearms in Iraq between 2004 and 2006 is in this New York Times article. To quote John Tisdale, a retired Air Force master sergeant who managed an adjacent warehouse:

“This was the craziest thing in the world, they were taking weapons away by the truckload.”

Friday, November 9, 2007

The Torture of Mukasey's Confirmation

Last night George B. Mukasey was unfortunately confirmed as AG to follow in the footsteps of Alberto I-Do-Not-Recall Gonzales, which I am sure he will do diligently. His confirmation sends very much the wrong message to the world about the position of this country on torture and it was a confirmation which was brought about by another spineless show by the democrats who allegedly believe that anyone in Leadership at the Department of Justice was better than no leader at all. I beg to differ, but that is for another time.

I’ve read a lot of material going back and forth about torture and whether waterboarding is torture and whether what the Americans did to Iraqis at Abu Ghraib constituted torture or not and whether it was OK to torture someone if you had an imminent threat. There is an easy way to determine this so I looked up and arranged to have dinner with Dr. Uwe Jacobs, Director of Survivors International, a non profit organization based in San Francsisco.

Survivors International or SI aid victims of torture in a number of ways and to do so, they established a protocol which is designed to determine whether a person has been tortured or not. Their guidelines and protocol for determining the occurrence of torture has been adopted by the United Nations and is effectively a manual for psychologists, doctors and nurses and others around the globe for ascertaining the incidence of torture. In short, Dr. Uwe Jacobs’ opinion on torture is quite categorical and his opinion is that there is not the least smidgen of doubt, that waterboarding leaves deep long lasting psychological scars and quite unquestionably constitutes torture.

The United States Department of Torture, which must exist by now and if it doesn’t, it should, may beg to differ, but they are by far in the minority. Being American doesn’t make one automatically right and the Global View is that waterboarding is torture. To quote Dr. Jacobs:

“It’s insane that there’s a debate about it.”

Then we of course get to the discussion about imminent danger. That is that some say that torture is justified if one believes a person to have information which could save hundreds, maybe thousands of lives. This is a bogus argument which has been confirmed as being erroneous time and time again. Information obtained under duress is not reliable, that’s the bottom line. But even if it were, what then?

Simply put, torture of any kind crosses an ethical boundary which, when crossed, puts one on the same footing as the evil which one is purportedly attempting to prevent. It even sets the precedent which gives others carte blanche to do the same and worse. A society that tortures, for whatever reason, can no longer claim to be civilized. It’s a simple as that and a society that tortures, can also no longer claim the moral high ground nor the distinction of being a victim. A society that tortures becomes oppressor and tyrant.

That is why George B. Mukasey should never have been confirmed as Attorney General of the United States. Someone who cannot distinguish this simple fact should not even be running Saddam Hussein’s Justice Department.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

State of the Nation

George W. Bush, President of the United States and pride of some straggling remains in the Republican Party signed a measure on September 28 2007, to increase the limit on the debt ceiling to $9.815 trillion, representing an increase of over a trillion, more than ten percent. Five weeks later the US debt has reached and breached $9 trillion for the first time.

Reuters reports:
In approving the debt limit increase, Congressional lawmakers said the $850 billion increase should be large enough to allow the government to continue borrowing into 2009

The amazing thing is that Congress and the Senate went right along with it and no one is batting an eyelid. Why? Because the way the Republican leadership has structured the fiscal year and the strains of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are exerting a monumental toll on the US economy. The Democrats are afraid to pull funding because the Democrats are afraid of pretty much everything these days especially of being called unpatriotic.

Of course the picture still looks rosy, the DOW hovering around 14,000 points threatening again to break records and the NASDAQ is climbing new highs daily. But the stock market is not an indicator of national fiscal health. Especially during the recent developments regarding globalization, US companies have really become Chinese companies or Eastern European companies. There are emerging markets all over the world in which you automatically partake if you invest in an American product. The ever weakening dollar is also allowing the US trade deficit to shrink but at what cost?

This well known graph shows how the National debt, which soared under Reagan and Bush 41 actually dropped under Clinton. It is actually possible to reduce the National debt whilst increasing expenditure on health care and education. It actually works if one isn’t busy pandering to one’s friends in the defense industry.

Quo Vadis America? Of course there will be a gaggle of Neocons who adamantly deny that there’s anything wrong and if one listens to FOX News it would appear that everything was right. But it is not and the collapse of the housing bubble should tell us there is more afoot. But this isn’t a country where introspection has any room to grow. It’s a country where the sub-prime disaster is already treated as a minor ache. The financial catastrophe that is still sending shock waves around the globe has been forgotten by many here.

But who are we forgetting? There are still families floundering in the rough seas of foreclosures and evictions, families left with very little on their backs whilst their properties are snapped up for a pittance by the wealthy. Sure it is everyone’s responsibility when they borrow money to know what they are borrowing at how much and from whom. But many people don’t have the necessary education to make them leery of low interest AMRs and do not understand the mechanics of negative amortization. They were suckered in to purchasing expensive real estate by people promising them the moon. They were coerced into making false income statements by agents only intent on selling. An entire real estate bureau was shut down recently here in the Bay Area in California, the heads led off in handcuffs and all the computers confiscated because they convinced low income families to falsify their income statements in order to qualify them. This may seem like a small thing but it points at a bigger picture. A country obsessed with racing ahead and damn the consequences.

But the consequences are the people of this country. They are being trodden on as the gap between rich and poor yawns open again. Everyone who calls themselves a patriot should be concerned about this because America is not the lump of earth upon which we sit, but the people who populate it and under the Bush Administration’s Fiscal Disaster Tour they are the ones who ultimately will have to pay the balance.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Deadliest Year So Far

Yahoo News reports:

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Five U.S. soldiers were killed in two separate roadside bomb attacks in Iraq on Monday, the U.S. military said, making 2007 the deadliest year for U.S. forces in the country.

The Idea behind the Iraq War may have been born out of diverse concepts, a gaggle of politicians all wanting something personal, something for themselves. But with the fourth year coming to a close and about 800 to 900 troops dying each year it's a wonder that anyone still thinks this was worth it.

Of course republicans are trying to hold their breaths until 2009, see no evil, do no evil and hear no evil style, when, in a wheesy explosion of halitosis laden dusty musty air, they'll blame the Democrats for the failure in Iraq. They will do it. Mark my words.

Off Topic - Follow Up

As many of you know, my wife and I have had a bit of a bumpy ride this year with good things and not so good things happening all at once. I always feel that I should share this stuff with my online community as it's part of who I am.

Following my orchiectomy I had a week of rest but was soon fit enough to work again. We more or less got our house ship shape to move in to, the floors got done and most of the trim was finished. The biggest problem is that although the house is larger in square footage than our apartment was, it has only one large closet, whereas our previous abode had four. Closets are great spaces for rubbish and useless items to accumulate and when you move to a new home where these unsightly medicine balls and giant hammock chairs that one’s partner thought at one stage were such a great idea to buy, cannot be stored out of sight, one has a problem. A small one I admit but there you go.

One of the reasons for my lack of posts is also that ComCast screwed up getting us set up with our internet and television connections and in fact, we still don’t have a home phone. I hated the idea of switching to ComCast but it will save us money in the end if their lousy service doesn’t drive me round the bend first.

I started chemo-therapy on Thursday last week and after a day of feeling fine on Friday, I spent the entire day Saturday blowing my cookies although there were no cookies to blow. It got so bad that I ended up in the ER where they filled me up with fluids, gave me an intravenous anti-nausea drug and sent me home, telling me to come back if it should start up again. So far no hair loss to report, although that isn’t something that’s been worrying me: first off I have a lot of it (hair that is) and secondly, it would spare me the expense of a haircut due in December. My next round of chemo is in three weeks and I’m hoping to be better prepared.

With regards to my wife’s pregnancy, it looks like we may lose one of the twins, which does not seem viable to survive, another pretty common IVF occurrence. Its been hard to live with that fact but we are grateful to be pregnant at all so we’re hoping the second baby will survive and be fine.

There’s still a lot of work to be done on the house itself and I have to somehow work in order to keep some kind of income flow going but all in all and considering everything we’ve been through we’re doing well. Not least because of the extraordinary support from our community and friends - even clients - which is quintessentially American in its selflessness. It just wouldn’t happen to the same degree in other countries and we are bother extremely grateful for it.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Bomb Everyone

When you’re in a hole, stop digging. That is excellent advice and someone should really offer it to the Bush Administration who’s latest Brilliant Plan No. 246 is to bomb the Kurds!

The Herald Sun reports:

THE Bush Administration is considering air strikes, including cruise missiles, against the Kurdish rebel group PKK in northern Iraq.

The question is, who will be left in Iraq as a friend when you’ve managed to strip power away from the Sunnis, repeatedly attacked and killed the Shia in raids and finally bomb the only real ally you have with cruise missiles?

In a region that is moving rapidly towards total conflagration after being ignited by the current US Administration in what is possibly the dumbest move in political history, they continue to fan the flames and pour gasoline to feed the fire they started again and again.

The only explanation is that they WANT World War III. If anyone has a better one, please – I’m all ears.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Why Cheney Hates Iran

In a speech to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy in Landsdowne Virginia, Dick Cheney said the following:

The Iranian regime's efforts to destabilize the Middle East and to gain hegemonic power is a matter of record.

That is certainly extraordinary coming from an American politician. That the United States has been attempting to destabilize the Middle East and gain hegemonic power there is not only a matter of record which goes back at least as long as I can remember, but is legendary.

The 1953 CIA led campaign to overthrow Mossadegh, the then democratically elected Iranian Prime Minister is just such a case in point. In fact it was at the behest of the British that the Americans started to poke their noses in their and at the time, the Americans were trusted by the Iranians. It was the British the Iranians could not stand. But ultimately it was the United States that paid Mullahs to openly denounce Mossadegh who, through his insistence and belief in a free press, refused to quash the movement which was completely artificial and which was being conducted by agents paid by the CIA.

The reason for this legendary overthrow was the nationalization of Iran’s oil by Mossadegh. The Shah was installed in his place and there started a reign of terror and brutality which was certainly notable, but no one in the West took notice because it served their purpose.

If anyone sees a parallel with Hugo Chavez privatizing Venezuelan oil and the raised level of invective against him by the State Department then it is not surprising. But let us return to the Middle East because the meddling in South America and the attempts at destabilizing that continent by the United States is well documented as are its hegemonic attempts and plans.

It’s not like we have to go back in history very far to see evidence of attempted manipulation of events in the Mid-East. The Iraq war, overthrow of Saddam Hussein, the Gulf War, events in Lebanon, double dealings with Saudi Arabia, the pressure on Syria. It’s all an attempt to juggle and keep seven or eight spinning knives in the air simultaneously only no one at the State Department has had the intelligence to realize that it isn’t working.

Cheney is effectively calling for a hard line if not all out war against Iran. He sees Iran as the lynchpin to stability in the region. If only Iran fell…… It’s so naïve and devoid of rationale that it’s hard to believe that Cheney was CEO of a company let alone that he’s Vice-President of the United States. But there we have it in Technicolor: Iran should be attacked because it does in the region it occupies what the United States has been trying to do for decades and that’s what really sticks.

Iran is successful at manipulating the forces in the region to its own ends and America has been horrible, embarrassingly unsuccessful. Iran is President Bush’s biggest nightmare because they don’t obey the US State Department. Iran is bad because Muslims and Arabs trust it more than they trust the US and lastly, Iran is the enemy because it does the job of gaining power in the Middle East successfully and without deploying a single soldier – by supporting its neighbors. And that’s why it has to be destroyed.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Of Course it's About The Oil

The problem the right has is that it has to keep shifting positions to stay ahead of it’s own lies. The reason for the invasion of Iraq has always been a chimera, a changing blob of meaningless rhetoric, a series of stuttered answers that make no sense, a bunch of doubtful associations that fell apart at the first prodding by a second rate journalist. Many of us knew the reason: oil. The little word that means so much to every nation, developed or developing, rich or poor represents a colossus amongst the commodities and this country especially, needs a lot of it.

After years of ducking and weaving and hiding behind first Weapons of Mass destruction, then dubious links to Al Qaeda before jumping to “Liberation” as a just cause, the right has been desperate to avoid the word ‘oil’ when talking about Iraq.

So it will probably hurt just a little bit to know that General Abizaid, the guy who was in charge of much of the Iraq war,has been quoted by Think Progress as saying:

“Of course it’s about oil, we can’t really deny that,”

No You can’t. But you could have come clean about it a long time ago and you could have decided that it was not a valid reason for killing some 90,000 Iraqis and displacing another 4 million, not to mention killing almost 4,000 US soldiers.

There isn’t a why and a wherefor nor is there a ‘but’. The four year campaign by the right to paint the Bush Administration as some kind of collection of Mother Teresas who are overly concerned about some Arabs in a country Far, Far Away just dissapeared in a puff of smoke that smells something like rotten eggs. There was only one reason to invade Iraq and that was to secure the oil and the ex General Abizaid has just said it plain as day.

He went on to say:

“Our message to them is: Guys, keep your pumps open, prices low, be nice to the Israelis and you can do whatever you want out back. Osama and 9/11 is the distilled essence that represents everything going on out back.”

Which is pretty much what everyone on the left has been saying since 2003.

I guess it’s time to swift-boat him too.

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Gap

The gap between the rich and the poor in the United States has hit a new record high since the IRS started compiling such data. The Wall Street Journal reports:

The wealthiest 1% of Americans earned 21.2% of all income in 2005, according to new data from the Internal Revenue Service. That is up sharply from 19% in 2004, and surpasses the previous high of 20.8% set in 2000, at the peak of the previous bull market in stocks.

The bottom 50% earned 12.8% of all income, down from 13.4% in 2004 and a bit less than their 13% share in 2000.

Some suggest that the 1920s were the last time the divergence of wealth in this country was so great. In fact the trend has been probably moving in this direction for several decades and so it is not entirely a Neocon fabrication, however the size of the gap has also increased at a record pace in the past five years since the Republicans took the presidency.

Between 2000 and 2005, the median tax filers’ income fell 2% between 2000 and 2005, to $30,881when adjusted for inflation whilst the income level for the top 1% grew 3%, to $364,657.

The remarkable thing is that most of those who claim that the Bush economy was good for them probably lost out in this new distribution of wealth. The economic health of the country however depends on wealth distribution. Ironically, a healthy capitalist economy depends in part upon one of the cornerstones of communism. If a country’s economy degenerates to a point where a few wealthy people effectively own everything and the poor majority own almost nothing, there is a breakdown in the ability to move cash. Everything form the local liquor store to Wal Mart depend on average Joe having moolah in his pocket to spend on frivolous stuff. It depends on average Jane being able to fork out for a bit of extra to put on the dinner table and to buy new shoes. A healthy economy does not thrive on the occasional multi-million dollar yacht sale.
This report is the clearest indicator that ‘trickle down’ does not work. Those who scoff at Europe for its wide ranging social systems and heavy taxing of the wealthier individuals will do well to hold their criticisms. If the Democratic Party cannot change the direction this ship is sailing and by all accounts they probably don’t have the guts to do it, we will be in for a major recession in the not so distant future.

Two weeks ago whilst in San Francisco I saw a Bentley Arnage, worth around $250,000 parked on Union Square in San Francisco and next to it a homeless man holding up a sign saying “please help – hungry.” I’m not suggesting that the Bentley owner should have given him the car or even helped him. I am merely saying that we are seeing signs that are reminiscent of an economy of a Third World country rather than a Western superpower and economically, those countries’ economies are rarely healthy and are not to be envied.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The Forgotten Man

We’ve all heard the story of Khaled El Masri. The Lebanese born German citizen was effectively kidnapped by the CIA whilst vacationing in Macedonia. He was flown to Afghanistan where he was beaten, mistreated and by all accounts abused and tortured. The CIA released him after several months with not so much as an apology. The official stance is “It was a case of mistaken identity.”

Masri has tried hard to get some sort of compensation, some sort of apology for his treatment but to no avail. First, the Germans gave up trying to extradite the 11 CIA agents who captured Masri who is married and has children, then, when his case was taken up by the ACLU, their lawyers were rebuffed and told that trying the case would expose state secrets.

We readily accept that any form of retribution against a fascist or militaristic government in such a case would be a lost cause, but one would have hoped that in a country that professes to be an icon of freedom, cases such as this would warrant people being up in arms about what had happened. One would imagine that Justice would come down hard on the side of the plaintiff. In a country where you can be awarded eight million dollars in compensation for burning yourself with coffee from McDonalds, one would imagine that there would be some sort of ‘making good’ for the giant ‘oops’ perpetrated by representatives of that country’s Secret Services. But that is not the case as David Stout of the Washington Post reports. Masri’s case was denied by the Supreme Court:

The justices’ refusal to take the case of Khaled el-Masri let stand a March 2 ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, Va. That court upheld a 2006 decision by a federal district judge, who dismissed Mr. Masri’s lawsuit on grounds that trying the case could expose state secrets.

There is now nothing this country cannot do to you, which you would be entitled to protest against. In this era of Angst and bedwetting conservatives, this permanent state of fear experienced by the most bigoted amongst us, a man may lose everything including his dignity and he cannot demand that the perpetrators be punished; because now, in today’s Neoconservative America, state secrets are more important than freedom.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Deception by Treason

An absolutely breathtaking piece of news has just surfaced which shows that the Justice Department and in particular, Alberto Gonzalez was actually drawing up a memorandum in 2005, in which the guidelines for interrogating people included subjecting prisoners to painful physical and psychological tactics, including head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures at the same time as Congress was moving to disallow “cruel, inhuman and degrading” treatment.

The Times article claims that the memorandum was kept secret from almost all lawmakers and that it stated that none of C.I.A. interrogation methods violated the standard set by the Congressional motion. However if one remembers correctly, the Deputy Attorney general James B. Comey resigned after repeatedly coming to verbal blows with the White House about, amongst other things, the inexcusable interpretation of the law by the Bush Administration regarding the treatment of prisoners. From the article:

Disagreeing with what he viewed as the opinion’s overreaching legal reasoning, Mr. Comey told colleagues at the department that they would all be “ashamed” when the world eventually learned of it.

To refresh our memories: John Yoo originally penned the first “Torture Memo,” as it became known which basically said it didn’t matter what one did to a prisoner as long as the man was alive at the end of it. Yoo, who was called ‘Dr. Yes’ by none other than John Ashcroft for his willingness to do whatever the Bush Administration requested of him, eventually left the Justice Department after the memo was leaked. The Justice Department under John Ashcroft eventually started bucking and would not simply accept any form of mistreatment of terror suspects without clearly defining the rules. For example, if keeping a prisoner at a very cold temperature was one accepted method and depriving the man also of rest was another, was it permissible also to combine the two?

The United States Supreme Court ruled unequivocally that the Geneva Conventions applied to members of terrorist organizations just as they did to a normal soldier. This led to the Bush Administration admitting to having shipped suspected criminals overseas in what was referred to as “Special rendition” and the CIA stopped its program of waterboarding prisoners. Later however, a new Executive order was signed allowing for so-called “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques.” In normal speak we are talking again about torture.

To counteract the resistance within the Justice Department, Bush needed to have someone in there he could trust. Someone who would toe the line; enter, Alberto Gonzales. Gonzales effectively transformed the Justice Department into a Neocon circus and turned it into a laughing stock. Gonzales and his minions were soon able to press an embattled Comey out of the Justice Department and with Comey gone, they had free reign. Thus they managed by a series of backhanded comments, to present Congress with the impression that there was movement to ban torture whilst simultaneously ensuring the ability of interrogators to continue to use the very techniques that they were pretending to outlaw.

It’s an unfathomable display of disrespect of Congress and the American people and is the absolute epitome of treasonous conduct.

Take Away Women's Right to Vote

No, of course I don’t think it’s a good idea but it gives you a good perspective of how desperate the GOP is. Floundering like a galleon holed by enemy canon, sails shredded by a hurricane of scandals involving anything from embezzlement, through sexual harassment of page boys to tapping feet and waving hands under toilet stall partitions whilst soliciting sex in public, rudder and keel destroyed by a reef of disasters such as Katrina and Iraq, the GOP is gaping wide eyed at a 2008 election that is bound to send most of them into reclusive depressions.

What to do, what to do? Well, our favourite GOP hack Ann Coulter has a solution as reported in today's Raw Story:

"If we took away women's right to vote, we'd never have to worry about another Democrat president. It's kind of a pipe dream, it's a personal fantasy of mine….. women are voting so stupidly, at least single women."

Ann, Ann, Ann…. I knew that somewhere under that horse’s head lurked a misogynistic male cross-dresser. Or is it that you actually are a woman but hate other women who are simply happy being women? Or what is it, pray tell us? Maybe it’s just that you cannot take the frustrations of what has already happened to the GOP in 2006 and what is going to happen to the GOP in 2008 and you’ve blown a fuse?

Repealing women’s right to vote as a solution? I don’t think so. But this is the latest evidence of the Grand Oil Party, chest out, head high, arms flailing and windmilling in panic in an attempt to drag this country back to the Middle Ages where it actually never was; ban abortions, instigate a ‘Christian-Only’ rule for politicians and teachers, insist on “One Nation Under God” in the Pledge of allegiance, denounce evolution in favor of creationism and take away that icon of equality from fully one half of the American people that so many women fought so hard for: their right to vote.

Monday, October 1, 2007

The Next Misstep

Global Politics is something that emerged after World War II. Prior to that, politics defined countries and maybe regions, but in the age of the Empires, it was not so much about global politics as about colonialism. What transpired after World War II was that countries were no longer at liberty to simply invade other countries. The UN had been founded and there was a capability for the Security Council to come together and draw up resolutions which would eventually empower nations to band together and sort out the offender. That never worked in the case of Israel, which has some 60 outstanding resolutions condemning it for various infractions, but it has been brought to bear on several countries more than once and in the end, it is the most effective control we have to prevent one country taking over another.

In this context, if you wanted to invade another country, you had to cook up some obscure tin-foil hat reason for doing so as the Russians did in Afghanistan back in the eighties and the United States did in Vietnam, Panama, Grenada, Iraq and Afghanistan, just to mention a few. The pattern under the Bush Administration, because it is now growing to be a pattern, is to try and instill a sense of fear about the particular country one wants to bomb and to attempt to trigger something in the population tantamount to support for your lunatic plans. This worked wonderfully in Iraq as we saw and there are probably still a few million Americans out there who believe that Saddam Hussein had WMDs and was a threat and was responsible for 9/11.

With respect to Iran, this was the Iranian nuclear threat and the Iranian President, Ahmedinejad obligated by sounding similar to a lunatic whenever he spoke publicly. This was in part because he probably is a little wayward in some of his views and in part because his speeches would be conveniently translated in such a way that he spoke into our ‘listening’ for a madman. When the attempt to portray Iran as a possible nuclear monster failed to frighten the population of the West enough to support a war against Iran, the Neocons turned to the next tactic: Iran has been attacking our troops in Iraq and is creating havoc in Iraq – it’s the reason Iraq isn’t working and it’s the reason why so many Iraqis are dying every day, not to mention US soldiers of course!

Seymour Hersh has penned a new article in the New Yorker outlining this strategy and we may well see the Bush Administration start an Iranian war just in time for the elections next year. Hersh points out how even Petraeus’ testimony to Congress included a lot of anti-Iranian rhetoric. President Bush recently told Ryan Crocker, the American Ambassador to Iraq, that he was planning to hit select targets inside the Iranian border and that Crocker was to tell Iran that they were to stop interfering or face American retribution.

Bush and Cheney are simultaneously mobilizing the CIA to try and find a Casus Belli in Iran:

“They’re moving everybody to the Iran desk,” one recently retired C.I.A. official said. “They’re dragging in a lot of analysts and ramping up everything. It’s just like the fall of 2002”—the months before the invasion of Iraq, when the Iraqi Operations Group became the most important in the agency. He added, “The guys now running the Iranian program have limited direct experience with Iran. In the event of an attack, how will the Iranians react? They will react, and the Administration has not thought it all the way through.”

“Not thought it all the way through.” How unlike the Bush Administration. Really. Because in Iraq they probably thunked it all the way through, but in a wildly imaginative and totally unrealistic scenario involving sweets, flowers and dancing in the streets, followed by rampant democracy. They probably think they’ve thought it through in Iran too but I would wager everything I possess that they are so wrong again.

The problem with the Bush Administration and the Neocons in general is that they misunderstand something fundamental: if you are a relatively small Middle Eastern country and you get hit by a big bad guy like the USA and you haven’t got a chance in hell of coming out of it in one piece by fighting fair and square, you will start to fight dirty. There are a billion Muslims waiting with baited breath to see if America’s attack on Iraq was simply hegemonic or it was a well intended if phenomenally flawed attempt at righting some wrongs. Any attack on Iran would convince them that the United States has just one aim in the Middle East and the world and that is domination.

The Bush Administration would like to pretend that the British are on board with this bellicose attitude but in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. The British have had long standing issues with the Iranians and they are certainly not interested in being their friends. But once again, Europe understands the consequences of a war that could unleash terrorism on a scale we have not seen before because the Islamic world would feel threatened to the core.

Hersh’s article ends with a reference to an attack in Afghanistan on an American C-130. The attackers used an SA-7 missile, similar to some that had been intercepted coming from Iran into the country.

Vincent Cannistraro, a retired C.I.A. officer who has worked closely with his counterparts in Britain, added to the story: “The Brits told me that they were afraid at first to tell us about the incident—in fear that Cheney would use it as a reason to attack Iran.” The intelligence subsequently was forwarded, he said.
The retired four-star general confirmed that British intelligence “was worried” about passing the information along. “The Brits don’t trust the Iranians,” the retired general said, “but they also don’t trust Bush and Cheney.

And nor do I.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Gosh Darn It!

Darth Cheney foiled by his past again!

A video which has surfaced from 1992 shows Cheney utering these immortal words:

"The bottom line question for me was: How many additional American lives is Saddam Hussein worth? The answer: not very damn many."

There goes that argument for invading Iraq I guess. Or else he doesn't consider 4,000 to be that many American lives. Dang! Don't you hate it when there's no easy way out of a conundrum?

Who Are the Bad Guys?

A very disturbing report appeared in today's NYT:

In anguished, eloquent sentences, Sergeant Vela, a member of an elite sniper scout platoon with the First Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, quietly described how his squad leader, Staff Sgt. Michael A. Hensley, cut off the man’s handcuffs, wrestled him to his feet and ordered Sergeant Vela, standing a few feet away, to fire the 9-millimeter service pistol into the detainee’s head.

Of course this is not the norm and of course this is rare. But it happens and it happens often enough to bear thinking about. The article goes on to say that the platoon was exhausted by a military leadership desperate to raise the body count.

Remember when Rummy said "Well, we don't do body counts on other people."

Well actually we do. It's a body count war and it's increasingly become a body count war; 35 insurgents killed here, 65 Taliban killed there.... but no real confirmation, nebulous numbers while those on the ground cry out about civilian dead and the US Army flails around trying to win over a now unwinnable population, mercenaries disguised as security forces that fire into crowds and soldiers who murder innocents at the drop of a hat.

It will, no it has, driven America's standing in the world to a depth that I cannot remember and always the pressure from the top; kill, kill, kill because that's the only answer they have for their own failure.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Splitting

The Senate is feeling warm and fuzzy these days. In a rare show of bipartisanship, the Senate has overwhelmingly endorsed a solution for the mess in Iraq which would result in the country being split into three semi-autonomous regions. The plan, which was developed by Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), was approved with a 75-23 margin as a non-binding resolution.

The Washington Post's Shailagh Murray quotes Biden as saying: "This has genuine bipartisan support,and I think that's a very hopeful sign,"

Woohoo! Hooray! Everything's going to be great in Iraq!

What am I missing here? That American politicians still haven’t understood the nature of the calamity that they’ve created? Surely not?

But that appears to be the case.
Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.), who recently withdrew his support for a plan that was to extend leave for US troops in Iraq after being pressured by the White House calls this idea “the high water mark” for bipartisan efforts in Iraq, after acknowledging that Iraq is a problem that basically cannot be solved militarily. What we are seeing is a bunch, there is no other suitable collective term for Senate lawmakers these days, of Senators who believe that because THEY have found consensus on a point, the Iraqis are going along with it.

The incredible, phenomenal arrogance that these people possess is beyond me. War was declared on a reasonably if not well functioning, autonomous country with a declaration that this war would free its people and now, when that has failed and all those responsible are throwing their hands in the air exclaiming “who’d a thunk it!?” they propose to split the country up. But it isn’t their country to split up!

What happened to “Iraq is a free country now?” What happened to the autonomous Iraq? What happened to Iraqis deciding their own future? That’s been wiped off the table after the abject failure of the American military to secure the country and this decision to split Iraq has one, very strong message which flies in the face of everything General Petraeus told Congress: the surge has failed and has no chance of success.

But what are the consequences of a split Iraq? Splitting Iraq up is the parachute the Republicans have been looking for, but it bodes ill for the region. It's the quick 'just add boiling water' quick-fix. Everything we have learned in the past 80 years tells us that drawing artificial demographic lines is a short term solution which produces a time bomb for the future. There is not a region in the world where a European power marked artificial delineations between states that did not end up in turmoil, civil war and strife down the line and the problems in the Middle East primarily stem from that approach.

So when violent war breaks out between the Sunnis, the Shiites and the Kurds and the Turks, because the United States Congress decided on a whim where to draw imaginary lines to produce three so-called semi-autonomous states whilst patting their fat bellies and belching up their martinis, please don’t say “who’d a thunk it?”

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Off Topic: Orchiectomy

Orchiectomy is the polite medical definition for surgically removing someone's (single) testicle which is what happened to me yesterday as a result of the cancer diagnosis two weeks ago. It appears that they got everything and, apart from having lost a previously treasured body part, I'm recovering nicely. I have to say that I look like a butcher went at me with a meat cleaver. The incision is about five inches long and runs diagonally down from roughly where one might suspect one's appendix might be towards the remaining crown jewels which, I am happy to say were spared and which I am also happy to report continue to function flawlessly in all manner of speaking. All movement is however accompanied by the same level of pain as one would expect from a broadsword stab in the same region so I'm not about to go for a run.

My CT-Scan form last week showed my abdomen clear of tumors apart from two nodules in my lungs which are very small and which I believe will turn out to be nothing problematic, but they will be running tests on those in the coming few days or weeks. I will also be doing a course of radiation or chemo treatment – the doctors haven’t decided which yet.

By the way, they also shaved me 'down there' as part of the procedure, which is what one would expect. It is an interesting experience and I'm sorry to say new to me, but it does have certain interesting advantages which I think would stretch the limits of posting on this blog so I won't. What some of you may not know and others may not want to know is that they also replace the extracted unit with a prosthetic one. One actually only needs one testicle, it seems, to function properly, but two do dress a man better, I have to agree. I did ask if they could replace it with a brass one but that didn't seem to be in the realm of the possible - it just seemed it would have been nice to say "I do'" the next time someone says "you must have balls made of brass!"

In any case, I'm recovering nicely and have a whole boatload of Vicodin to keep me company to keep the pain at bay and, although I haven't taken one yet, I'm about to and I'll drift off to a nice codeine high which should make enough of you jealous to want pre-emptive surgical removal of a testicle just for the drugs.


It appears that things may be worse than they seem. What have you got if you've got a world leader who doesn't know how to pronounce the names of the leaders and the countries that he's supposedly leader of?

In an embarrassment to the White House, a draft of a speech by Bush to the UN was accidentally prematurely released and posted on the UN website along with the cell phone numbers of the speechwriters.

ABC News' Ann Compton and Jennifer Duck report:

Pronunciations for President Bush's friend French President Sarkozy "[sar-KOzee]" appeared in draft #20 on the UN website. Other pronunciations included the Mugabe "[moo-GAHbee] regime" and pronunciations for countries "Kyrgyzstan [KEYRgeez-stan]" and "Mauritania [moor-EH-tain-ee-a]."

Of course, maybe other 'world leaders' had phonetic spellings in their speeches too. Of course this is a minor point and not really half as important as the outrage over a full page advertisement in the NYT.

But it's still sad that we are repetitively faced with the fact that someone with the brain of a sparrow and the education of a small dog can still become leader of the supposed 'free world' and can be the 'decider' about whether thousands and thousands of people are going to die or not.

It just isn't right.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Losing Touch With Reality

In 1985 I made a trip with my father on motorcycles. He on a BMW RS80 and I on a rather shoddier and cheaper, but nonetheless functional Yamaha 650 across the States from Ohio to the West Coast and back again. It was an epic trip and one that I remember well and remember with great fondness, even the sweltering heat of Kansas, the rolling miles of corn above which we couldn’t see it was so high, the scorching dryness of death Valley and even the trip on 80 from Sacramento to Reno where we got bogged down in 15 inches of snow. There were hundreds of beautiful, breathtaking sights on the way which of course included the Grand Canyon and I understood for the first time why some people referred to this part of the world as God’s country. One of my most memorable experiences was the fascinating beauty of Colorado’s Western slope, when one has left the sheer ruggedness of the Rockies. We wound our way down from the Rocky Mountains spending a night at Steamboat Springs and then taking the beautiful highway 131 and then 133 on to the stunning Black Canyon of the Gunnison via little towns called Basalt, Gypsum and Granite. From there we rode on to Durango and the next day we visited Mesa Verde National Park with the spectacular cave dwellings of the Pueblo People.

One would imagine with a natural treasure trove such as this one, every effort would be made to conserve it and who better to do that than “conservatives.” But unfortunately the label is a misnomer in this case. It turns out that the White House, ever greedy for more oil for its buddies has turned this once magnificent corner of the United States and turned it into an industrial junk yard. I can already hear the right wing protests that the area affected is tiny, that the search for resources is necessary to rid us of the evil Middle Eastern monkey we have on our backs who keeps selling us oil, that you can’t really see the oil and gas drilling units or the thousands of trucks which now thunder up Highway 131.

However the local population, mostly stoic conservatives themselves see it differently. Colorado, the epitome of the red state is slowly turning blue as more and more of its populace react angrily to the rape of their once pristine state by the Bush Administration as Karl Vick of the Washington Post reports. Landowners report black sludge and sulfurous odors in their homes. Hydraulic drilling for gas fractures the subterranean rock formations which enclose and contain the drinking water wells and reservoirs for the region.

"I can only speak for myself and I'm a registered Republican, but last year I voted a straight Democratic ticket. First time in my life," said Bob Elderkin, 68, …."The Republicans have kind of lost touch with reality."

We may never know how George Bush managed to get elected a second time, whether by stealing the Ohio vote or whether there just were too many people out there so blinded by so little that they couldn’t see this freight train of horrors upon which the Bush Administration was riding. But this too is to be added onto the growing list of disasters that can be attributed to them and the entire Republican Party. They have managed to destroy some of America’s most sublime scenery, some of its most dazzling landscapes for short term profit and power and they will still defend their actions. I can only hope for a backlash against the Republicans of such magnitude that they finally stop and think about what it is they doing to the country they pretend to be representing.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A day after 9-11

One day after the anniversary of 9-11 is an appropriate opportunity to comment on the grave robber mentality that has become the hallmark of the Bush administration. Six years ago a terrible tragedy catapulted New York and the United States onto every television screen in the world and within an hour of the first plane hitting the World Trade centre, the world was united in condemning the actions of the terrorists who perpetrated this abominable act and the world declared solidarity with the American people. Media attempts to show Palestinians celebrating were quickly shown to have been manipulated, stories of Afghans making victory signs were soon proved untrue. Perhaps for the first time ever, there was a feeling of global unity to stop the horror.

It was indeed the jackpot for Bush. He could have launched a worldwide strategy for keeping the nations of the world united, it could have been the starting point for a real global fight to stop terror, to stop wars and to stop the killing. It was a moment to reach across to those who felt themselves as not belonging to this new age and to show them that we are all in this together. It was a moment to show the world that the United States was about peace and freedom and not about war and hegemony.

Well, he blew his moment.

Bush used up all the goodwill, all the power and all his “political credit” in order to invade Iraq. It was a gamble and it was even well set up. There was an initial half-hearted stab at getting Bin Laden and then the propaganda machine started grinding into action, crushing any and all objections beneath its patriotic tracks as it lumbered across the American Nation carrying its message deep into the heartland: “Iraq and 9-11 are linked.”

That tactic still hasn’t stopped and as Salon’s Gary Kamiya wrote in a piece yesterday, Bush referred to Al-Qaeda 95 times in a speech about Iraq. He’s still at it plugging away at the only card he has left: that which banks on the ignorance of the people to discern between Al-Qaeda that carried out the deadly attacks on September 11, 2001 and Al-Qaeda wannabes in Iraq.

It’s no coincidence that General Petraeus’ report on the progress of the so-called ‘surge’ is brought to us on September 11. It’s no coincidence that Bush and Cheney keep plugging away at the connection that never existed between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. So it comes as no surprise to hear about a new advertisement campaign organized by a group known as Freedom’s Watch, a rag-tag group of wealthy Bush allies amongst who’s founders is former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer. The Washington Post reports that four spots are airing in 60 congressional districts in 20 states and the ads have one aim: to plug the idea of staying the course and to link Iraq with the events that tragically happened six years ago and in order to do so, the Bush Junta of course turns to the epitomy of sacrifice: a wounded American soldier.
The television commercial is grim and gripping:

A soldier who lost both legs in an explosion near Fallujah explains why he thinks U.S. forces need to stay in Iraq.

"They attacked us," he says as the screen turns to an image of the second hijacked airplane heading toward the smoking
World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. "And they will again. They won't stop in Iraq."

Ari Fleischer defends the ads and says it is not misleading to say “they attacked us” whilst showing pictures of Iraq and then talk about Iraq whilst showing pictures of 9-11. Ari Fleischer maintains that “Nine-one-one is a bona fide, legitimate reason to remind people…why we need to win in Iraq.”

The truth is that the group of politicians who nearly fell over themselves to start the war that has turned into the biggest political fiasco in America’s history, the Rumsfelds, the Bushes, the Cheneys and the Wolfowitzes were never concerned about the victims of the World Trade Center disaster. They were concerned with only one thing: getting to the oil and they thought they had it sown up!

They had a cause, they had a crusade and they had a wound they could stick a knife into and twist every time the American people became restless. They could manipulate the logic, fake the intelligence and the stupid population would swallow it – it was a golden opportunity to take Iraq, take Baghdad and funnel the oil into the hands of the US oil conglomerates. So what if we have to give the British a few drops – lets take them on board too. It’ll be a cakewalk and by the time the dust has settled and the war’s over everyone will have forgotten about the half-truths and the deceptions that got us there. There’ll be lots of happy Iraqis, Ahmad Chalabi’ll see to that and when they wave their purple thumbs whilst showering our troops with flowers and sweets the public’ll go nuts – nuts I tell ya. They’ll love it!

Only it didn’t happen that way. The 9-11 story should be about remembering what hate does and remembering the fact that innocent people were killed because others felt they were expendable. Innocent blood was spilled because criminals had no sense of ethics. Innocent children were left without a father or a mother because someone, somewhere, thought they had the God-given right to bring death and destruction onto a people. Instead, Bush, Cheney, Rice, Pearle, Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld used the victims of 9-11 to justify doing the dame thing to another country, another people and this time, leave 100,000 dead and millions homeless because they felt they had the right to do so and for that, they can never, ever be forgiven.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The making of a lie

A Salon article by Sidney Blumenthal states that two CIA operatives have confirmed Tyler Drumheller’s account of the developments between Tenet and Bush with regards to the intelligence received from Naji Sabri, Saddam Hussein’s Foreign Minister. Drumheller stated that Tenet had informed Bush prior to the war in Iraq on the findings of the Naji Sabri debriefings. Sabri had been paid up to $200,000 by the CIA alone and more by French Intelligence to divulge information about Saddam Hussein's WMD programs and had stated categorically that Saddam Hussein may have wanted to have WMDs but that he had none and that Hussein’s engineers had told him that they could build a crude atom bomb in two years if they had fissile material, but they didn’t.

Instead Bush avidly concentrated on the famous agent codenamed “curveball” an alleged chemical engineer who told the CIA and specifically the Bush Administration what they wanted to hear. Drumheller considered ‘curveball’ to be a fake and indeed, it turned out that he wasn’t an engineer at all, but an unemployed taxi driver. Tenet had also told Bush that curveball’s information was at odds with what Sabri had been telling the CIA and that Sabri was considered a highly reliable informant. Bush’s reaction was to call it “the same old thing,” and he disregarded it completely.

The CIA officers in question who had originally written the Sabri memo waited for it to return to them but it never did. Instead a different memo which had been rewritten came to them which put a completely different slant on the Sabri information. One of the CIA agents is quoted as saying:

"Bush didn't give a fuck about the intelligence. He had his mind made up."

And so we went to war on a lie. Game, set and match.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Another "Oops" Moment for Bush

Edmund Andrew’s of the New York Times reports how President Bush is caught in yet another lie. On Monday, excerpts of a new book on Bush were made public in which Bush chastises his Administration and in particular Paul Bremer III for having disbanded Saddam Hussein’s army after the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Bush expresses disappointment and frustration that “policy was not followed,” policy allegedly having been to keep the Iraqi military intact.

“Not so!” says Bremer, who proceeds to supply the NYT with evidence that Bush was well aware of the plans to break up the Iraqi forces and that he agreed to those plans.

A previously undisclosed exchange of letters shows that President Bush was told in advance by his top Iraq envoy in May 2003 of a plan to “dissolve Saddam’s military and intelligence structures,” a plan that the envoy, L. Paul Bremer, said referred to dismantling the Iraqi Army.

Maybe Bush was unaware that ‘military’ and ‘army’ are basically the same thing. Who knows?

Sunday, September 2, 2007

The Mad Hatter's Tea Party

There has been a lot of talk in the media recently about how the USA and possibly the United Kingdom is preparing for an eventual strike against Iran. Whilst war games and strategy concepts are an every day occurrence at military planning facilities, there is a real fear that the rabid Neoconservative leadership would be quite capable of actually effectuating a military strike. They may or may not seek Congress approval and if they do, I suspect that Congress, even with a Democratic majority, will buckle, driven by the Democrats’ absolute terror of being labeled unpatriotic or worse, “girlie men.” They may simply start a short bombing campaign designed to cripple Iran militarily and economically and say they are not actually ‘at war’ and therefore did not need to seek approval from Congress.

President Bush and members of his cabinet have been running the same phrases in reference to Iran as they did with reference to pre-war Iraq, claiming Iran to be “a threat to nations everywhere.” At the same time, more and more so-called “national security experts” from the Pentagon are claiming that there are detailed plans in place to obliterate the Middle Eastern country. Sarah Baxter of the Sunday Times reports:

THE Pentagon has drawn up plans for massive air strikes against 1,200 targets in Iran, designed to annihilate the Iranians’ military capability in three days, according to a national security expert.

The comments were made at The Nixon Center during a meeting organized by The National Interest, a conservative journal. The idea is that Iran will react in the same way whether it is subjected to a protracted bombing campaign, such as a few dozen cruise missiles, or a massive military strike designed to reduce the country to rubble. However there is another point to be made while military strategists exchange ideas about how many bombs to drop where over a chilled martini; if there is a strike it will result in massive civilian deaths. The bigger the strike, the more innocent people will die. The count in Iraq is now beyond 75,000 dead civilians and that only includes the confirmed deaths. The numbers could be much higher. That is the result of war.

Of course Iran will also retaliate and it may retaliate in the only way it can – through terrorism. Iran already does not have the capability of striking back at the full power of a military that has an annual budget higher than the entire Iranian GDP. So it will resort to the only weapon it can – terror. What is the West to do then? Are we to cry foul? Are we to resort to a moral high ground where we claim it is acceptable for us to plan military strikes against countries, to publish these plans, to threaten and insinuate and then to carry out a military campaign which is absolutely sure to result in hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths and conveniently label these “collateral damage” whilst claiming that retaliatory action is not allowed because it doesn’t fit in our concept of fair play?

How did we ever become so delusional that we assume that this will in any way stabilize what has become a very unstable boat ever since the Neocons destroyed the balance in the Middle East by bringing Saddam Hussein’s regime crashing down without so much as a blithe thought about the consequences only now, to turn around and exclaim with a shrug and upturned palms: “Who’d a thunk it?” An attack on Iran will catapult the entire region into an abyss which could threaten to drag most of the world down with it and all for George Bush’s ego because he has to prove that he is not as redundant as he seems or for Cheney’s outlandish plans to secure Middle Eastern oil for the Western oil conglomerates waiting in the wings? It is at best a spurious, self-deceptive concept - at worst, sheer madness.

Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying: "Be good to thy Friend to keep him, to thy enemy to gain him."

How did we stray so far and how did we lose touch with the wisdom of those who's legacy we pretend to defend?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

3 out of 18

That’s about 16% - a failure by any standards. It represents the number of benchmarks the Iraqi government has met since the so-called surge was initiated. Needless to say, the goal was that all eighteen benchmarks would be met by September 15, which is when the report is due. That report however, has now been preemptively leaked to The Washington Post by a government official who was concerned that the conclusions found in the report were so negative that the White House would tamper with the final version. That is what allegedly happened with security assessments in this month's National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq.

Karen DeYoung and Thomas Ricks of the Post quote the report as saying that "While the Baghdad security plan was intended to reduce sectarian violence, U.S. agencies differ on whether such violence has been reduced," it states. While there have been fewer attacks against U.S. forces, it notes, the number of attacks against Iraqi civilians remains unchanged. It also finds that "the capabilities of Iraqi security forces have not improved."

The Report contrasts strongly with almost every positive statement made by the White House with regards to progress in Iraq and contradicts upbeat statements made by the White House and Military spokespersons about the readiness of the newly trained Iraqi troops. In short, The Surge, is a flop.