Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Caliphate, Bush's timeline, and the 500 year war.

As a few of you may know, I'm an active duty NCO in the USAF. I don't like to bring that up much, since it might seem that I'm trying to argue from authority rather than making my point through analysis of facts. But in this case, it's a crucial detail to what I'm writing about today.

Yesterday we had an "all hands call" here at Andersen AFB for junior NCOs (E-5 & E-6) to be briefed by the senior enlisted advisor of USSTRATCOM, Command Master Chief William N. Nissen and the senior enlisted advisor of USPACOM, Command Sergeant Major William T. Kinney (USMC) about long term strategy. Cool, I thought. Maybe I might learn something here.

Boy did I, but not the way I expected. The first half with CMCPO Nissen was informative, if a bit dry. He talked about how DoD structure worked in times of war vs. times of peace and what the functions of braches are vs. the functions of combatant commands. It was interesting, but I was getting a bit drowsy toward the end of it.

The second half was a different story. CSM Kinney got up and spoke, and his speech could not have been more blatantly partisan if he'd been wearing a GOP button. He mentioned "uneducated liberals", talked about Democrats as "quitters" and said that the enemy had influenced the election in their favor this past November. He said that people who voted for Democrats were voting from emotion vice intellect and that we needed to "educate" our loved ones back home or people we ran into in the airport about the nature of our enemy. He had a number of doozies, like referring to Saudi Arabia as a "moderate Muslim country", referring to people telling Israel to give up Jerusalem, and stating that the Iraq War is nothing like the Vietnam War because "when we left Vietnam, it ended! This is gonna keep going!" I still don't know what a "state-sponsored country" is, and I snickered out loud when he at his Freudian slip when he said that the terrorists had already gotten rid of a secular government in "Iraq... er, Iran".

He talked about how the Taliban said that we may have all the weapons, but they have all the time. That struck me as obvious, since it's sort of their fucking country and we're going to have to leave some day. Then he went into the Caliphate and how this apparently is the greatest threat to mankind since Nazi Germany. The Caliphate is a pipe dream of some Islamists to form a unified Muslim nation and institute Islamic law over half the eastern hemisphere. Frankly, most of the countries covered are already Muslim nations, and if it gets them to stop blowing each other (and us) up, I'm all for it. But that presumes that these Islamists have the means of carrying their dream out, which they don't. Philosophical views aside, most Muslims (like most Americans) simply want to be left the fuck alone to live their lives and only engage in terrorism under extreme duress or desperation. It hardly seems like the sort of thing around which we should be forming our long-term foreign policy and military strategy.

And how long term is it? Sgt Maj Kinney told us about the "Long War", which is what the Bush Administration now calls the Global War on Terror (GWOT). They've never offered a timeline in the past, but they apparently do have one. Sgt Maj Kinney let it slip with this one:

"We're entering into a 500 year war here, people."

Let that sink in for a bit. It took me almost a day before I said, "Wait, what!?" I initially ignored the remark because so much else of what he said was just complete bullshit, but he said this in the context of talking about how this was going to be a long war that Americans don't have the patience for because it's not the kind of short war that our MTV generation (and Sun Tzu, if you've ever read Art of War; he wrote, "No country has ever profited from protracted warfare." But I digress.) prefer. He was saying that we have to have the "will" to outlast them. On top of that, he's in a very influential position as the senior enlisted advisor for PACOM.

So it's not that the administration doesn't have a timeline. They do. It's just that they don't want to tell anybody what it is:

500 years.

I'm going to write some letters. I suggest you do the same.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Gulfnews: Soldier grins and confesses to rape

Fort Campbell, Kentucky: One of four US soldiers accused of raping a 14-year-old Iraqi girl last spring showed little remorse and even smiled during a confession to charges he conspired to kill her and her family.

Even before the hearing on Wednesday to announce a plea agreement, James P. Barker, 23, slapped hands with other soldiers and grinned as he smoked a cigarette in the rain. A bailiff scolded him.

And when he described for the judge the assault in his own words, he gave vivid details of the rape with a deadpan delivery.

"That's pretty much all I have to say," Barker muttered with a shrug after describing raping the screaming girl. Barker agreed to plead guilty to the charges to avoid the death penalty, his civilian attorney David Sheldon said.

In case you were thinking about looking at the occupation of Iraq from an academic point of view, I submit Exhibit A in my case of how this war is going to impact us for a generation. Think these guys are the only ones who think this way? No, they've dehumanized an entire population to the point that soldiers now think it is not only acceptable to rape a 14 year-old girl and kill her family, but praise-worthy. These guys are every bit as bad as the SS storm troopers in Nazi Germany, and they're all coming home eventually.
I posted on this back on 7 August 2006. You can find that post in my Archives if you want to get a feel for the whirlwind we're about to reap.

And for all you limousine liberals who pooh-pooh my unwillingness to support Democratic candidates who support this occupation as some sort of unreasonable moral purity, I'd like to ask you: do you think that killing people for fun or sport is wrong? That's what we have our soldiers doing over there right now. Do you think that killing people for political or economic gain is wrong? That's why our politicians sent them over there.

If you cannot agree that killing people for no reason is wrong and should be stopped immediately, then I don't know what else to say to you.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


Thanks to for bringing this to our attention:

That is the vote count for Joe Lieberman's Republican opponent Phil Giordano in 2000. It is also the vote count for Joe Lieberman's Democratic opponent Ned Lamont in 2006.

This is really, really fishy. Somebody needs to look into this.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Et tu, James Carville?

Immediately after an historic victory for the Democratic Party in the mid-term elections, Democratic strategist James Carville had his say. You'd think he'd be pleased. You'd be wrong:

Some big name Democrats want to oust DNC Chairman Howard Dean, arguing that his stubborn commitment to the 50-state strategy and his stinginess with funds for House races cost the Democrats several pickup opportunities.

The candidate being floated to replace Dean? Harold Ford.

Says James Carville, one of the anti-Deaniacs, "Suppose Harold Ford became chairman of the DNC? How much more money do you think we could raise? Just think of the difference it could make in one day. Now probably Harold Ford wants to stay in Tennessee. I just appointed myself his campaign manager."

Here are some comments from around the blogosphere:

At Daily Kos:

Dean was elected. If Carville has a master plan to stage a coup against Dean, I'd love to see it. But I doubt the state party chairs who provided Dean's margin of victory are going to get too torn up about the fact that Dean is helping fund their resurgence.

At Monkeyfister:

Look, Schuler, Emmanual, and Carville-- Put your long knives down, and STEP THE FUCK AWAY... We WON... Get it? We SWEPT THE HOUSE AND THE SENATE...

Learn to WORK TOGETHER, DAMMIT. We Democrats and Progressives are sick and fucking tired of this "Liberal Herd of Cats" mentality... Pull your shit together, and stop fucking one another while we're AHEAD... Just fucking ONCE???!!!!??? Can ya just be happy we won because we COOPERATED this time??? Your bullshit does NOTHING but LOSE elections when you act like this.

Let the GOP stab each other... It's NOT for US to do that. Put your fucking EGOs DOWN, STEP AWAY, and work on UNITY you bunch of fuckwipes. How about planning how we ALL can work together BETTER for a 2008 Presidential Victory-- THAT is your fucking job right now-- now stealing the limelight, or stabbing your Brothers and Sisters in the back.

At Blah3:

I don't have a whole lot of time here (I've got an early gig tonight), but I just wanted to say that the suggestion of replacing Howard Dean - the very architect of the 50-state strategy that opened the can of whoop-ass on the Rubber-Stamp Republican Congress - is probably the most bone-headed thing that Carville has ever said.

Yep, he's a genius, all right - right up there with that other super-genius, Karl Rove.

Sit down, James. Your time has come and gone.

Me? I think we need to take a closer look at Mr. Carville.

Carville's dedication to Democratic victory in 2004:

On election night 2004, GOP communications guru Mary Matalin was with Bush and Vice President Cheney and talking with her husband, Democratic strategist James Carville , who was close to -- but not in -- John Kerry 's campaign.

Kerry, Carville told her, was going to challenge 250,000 provisional ballots in Ohio, which could change the result there or tie things up for a long time. Matalin promptly told Cheney, and they met with Bush. The Kerry camp made the announcement shortly thereafter.

What's a little pillow talk between opposing campaign strategists, right? But was he reckless or strategic? We know where his loyalties lie. A few months ago, he wrote an article called "The Power of Hillary" talking up Sen. Hillary Clinton's (D-NY) chances in a Presidential election. Carville speaks glowingly of Sen. Clinton's political savvy, endurance, and belovedness nation-wide. It's not just that he thinks she can win; it's clear that he wants her to run.

What's the common denominator here? If Kerry won in 2004, Clinton is ruled out for 2008. If Kerry won re-election in 2008, then Vice President Edwards would be the hands-down favorite in 2012. Sen. Clinton ain't getting any younger. In the case of Dean, this historic victory gives him the clout to become a king-maker in 2008. It's not that Dean would be biased against Clinton; it's just that he wouldn't be biased for her. So who does he propose? Harold Ford, the Tennessee Democrat who continued the fine DLC tradition of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

But there's more to it than that. Carville's DLC loyalties translate into corporate loyalties. Consider some of his foreign affairs experience:

Venezuela's embattled private sector is banking on the colorful U.S. political consultant James Carville to help oust leftist President Hugo Chavez. The hire may herald an effort by the anti-Chavistas to focus more on the issues than on personality.

According to several individuals with knowledge of the matter, a group of business executives contracted with Mr. Carville this year to craft a strategy that will unify a fractious and frustrated Chavez opposition and resonate with voters in a possible recall referendum. The executives are hoping that Mr. Carvillethe folksy, 59-year-old Democratic Party consultant from Louisiana known as the Ragin' Cajunwill push a variation of his "It's the economy, stupid" theme that helped propel Bill Clinton to victory in 1992. But analysts say Mr. Carville and his clients face a formidable challenge.

Mr. Carville is also rumored to have been involved with the unsuccessful coup against Chavez in 2002, although these rumors may be a misunderstanding of Mr. Carville's support for President Chavez's corporate opponents. Either way, it lines up with the DLC's and Mr. Carville's support of corporations ahead of Democratic principles. Carville has done as much as anybody in America to portray Chavez as a dictator, when he is, in fact a President whose election was monitored by former President Carter and certified as legitimate. President Chavez has a greater claim to legitimacy than President Bush.

Now let's examine Carville's excellent adventures in Bolivia:

Political documentaries don’t come any more shaming than Rachel Boynton’s terrific ‘‘Our Brand is Crisis,’’ a barely straight-faced account of what happened in Bolivia in 2002, when a group of US consultants helped a candidate win the presidency only to see the country slide into near-total chaos.

Globalism extends to the American way of campaigning, it seems, and the hubris of the gringo strategists — earnest ex-Clintonistas employed by James Carville’s Greenberg Carville Shrum group — would be hilarious if human lives and a country’s political will weren’t at stake.

It’s a galling and provocative experience to viewers of any political persuasion, and a reminder to the left of how easily idealism can run amok.

The Carville boys were hired by Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, a.k.a. ‘‘Goni,’’ a patrician Bolivian businessman who served a rough term as Bolivia’s president in the mid-’90s. Goni’s legacy was an unsuccessful program of ‘‘capitalization’’ (i.e., he welcomed foreign investment and watched foreigners get all the jobs).

All hail the free market gods.

Against Goni are Evo Morales, a socialist firebrand who represents the country’s coca growers but who denies he’s a drug lord or a terrorist, and Cochabamba mayor Manfred Reyes Villa, a thoughtful pragmatist with a charismatic head of hair. Villa leads in the polls, so Rosner and company decide he must be taken down.

It’s a measure of the trust filmmaker Boynton built with the Americans that they happily discuss negative campaigning with the cameras rolling — either that, or they’re willfully blind. Management consultant Tal Silverstein insists ‘‘we have to turn [Villa] from a clean candidate to a dirty one,’’ and articles go out fretting about his military experience and digging into his finances. ‘‘Tomorrow they’ll probably say I’m an associate of Osama bin Laden,’’ Villa shrugs in an interview.

Karl Rove could take notes.

Goni wins by the narrowest of margins in a severely split field. He does little for several months (other than plan to ship Bolivia’s natural gas from a port in enemy Chile), then decides to raise taxes. Cut to riots in the streets. Over a hundred people died in the ensuing months, and Goni eventually fled to America. In late 2005, Morales won the presidency with a historic 54 percent of the vote. You could argue that the Carville consultants helped drive Bolivia into his arms, since the centrist Villa would likely have won in 2002 without their intervention.

This begs the question: Carville may know how to win elections, but does he know a thing about good government? The answer is clearly "no". Getting back to Dean, the DNC under his leadership seems to be more interested in building a strong infrastructure than in getting particular Democrats (namely, Hillary) elected President. Carville, on the other hand, would like to put another Clinton in the White House. Not only is he fiercely loyal to them, but it would also put another notch under his belt. But Democrats whose last names are not "Clinton" need to watch out for this little weasel. His loyalty is not to the Democratic Party or to Democratic ideals. His loyalty is to corporate America and the Clintons. He could give a rat's ass if the Democrats won the House and Senate. He wants to use the DNC as a tool to sew up the nomination for Hillary early. That's why he wants Harold Ford in the big seat and not Dean.

That's the conflict. It's not about egos, it's about differing agendas. Anybody who thinks Carville can be trusted at this point needs to look at his history. He's a pit bull for very specific interests; nothing more, nothing less.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Electronic voting machine slays nine?

Democrats are turning away from the problems with electronic voting machines because they happened to win this time around. Not so fast, says Brad Friedman in Computer World.

They didn't check with Bill Ritter, the Colorado gubernatorial candidate, who had to wait almost two hours to vote, or with Sean Kelley, a Denver resident, who said to the Post, "I can't believe I'm in the United States of America," before he gave up and went home without voting after waiting three hours in line when electronic machines broke down. Despite an emergency request, the courts in Colorado refused to allow the city's new consolidated "Election Centers" to remain open for extra hours that night.

Similar problems led to slightly more responsible officials ordering polls to be kept open longer than scheduled in at least eight other states due to voting machine problems.

Everybody, Democrats in particular since they're going to be the ones running the agenda in Congress, need to stay on top of this issue. The solution is easy, of course: a voter verifiable paper receipt and internal paper trail in the voting machine itself. Diebold makes ATMs without these kinds of electronic glitches and with much better accountability than their voting machines do. Why can't they track our votes like they track our money? Our votes are every bit as important.

Now that the Democrats are in Congress, we have the ability to affect real change on this issue. It has been, and this is a matter of public record, the Republicans who have been opposed to paper trails. Why they are opposed to them is a matter of speculation (one could posit that they didn't want to mess with a system that had been working to their advantage, since every "glitch" benefited the Republicans), but they shouldn't be. How hard would it be for a George Soros or Hugo Chavez to come along and finance the hacking of these machines to swing things the Democrats' way (not saying they would, but for the sake of discussion...)?

Paper trail. Insist upon it, especially if your Congress critter is a Democrat. Let's not give the Democrats a pass on this one the way the pro-life movement did regarding the Republicans' inattention on the abortion issue. Legislation mandating a paper trail for these electronic voting machines must be passed within the first 100 days or it will never happen. Arm twist to over-ride a Presidential veto if you have to, although I don't think they will. Once this issue gets brought to the American people, the President will bow to public pressure and accept the paper trails. It just makes sense.

This isn't about Republicans vs. Democrats; this is about the integrity of our democracy. It's an issue Republicans and Democrats should be able to come together on.

Crazy like a fox.

In other news, turns out Howard Dean is crazy like a fox. Who knew?

Nov. 10, 2006 | Only weeks after the Democratic National Committee chose Howard Dean as its
chairman last year, the nasty whispers began to circulate around Washington and among longtime party donors and activists in cities from New York to Los Angeles. "He's going to be a disaster," they muttered. "He can't raise any money. He doesn't know what he's doing. And what does he mean by this crazy 50-state strategy?"

Those early days must have been painful for the former Vermont governor -- still smarting back then from his presidential primary defeat and that endlessly looped "scream" video -- and he endured a barrage of snarks and snipes from the Democratic congressional leadership as well. Unfortunately for Dean, he doesn't play the Washington press corps nearly as well as do rivals like Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., who ran the House Democrats' campaign committee, or Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who performed the same role in the Senate.

But this week, he is enjoying vindication far earlier than he ever expected.

Yes, my friends. Turns out Dean wasn't a disaster. Turns out he exceeded even his supporters expectations. Turning the Democratic party around was supposed to be a large, arduous task requiring at least ten years of building at the ground level. And it probably would have been had Republican leadership not been so disastrous the past two years. George Bush gave Dean's plans a boost. It's too bad so many people had to die along the way. But that's all going to change....

Who's laughing now?

Rumsfeld quits.


Was he going it quit even if the Republicans retained Congress? Possible. The dude is as old as time. He was Secretary of Defense before I was born.

Only the good die young....

Oh, and the Democrats have taken the Senate. What a great day to be an American.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

One month later....

Everything has changed. It's been a month since my last post. That's because I felt I had said everything that I had to say. The important things hadn't become less important in the light of the Mark Foley scandal or John Kerry's ill-advised comments. Those things were a blip on the radar compared to the issues of who we are as a country and who we want to be. Habeas corpus, torture, and aggressive war are still the issues of the day, no matter what anybody might try to tell you.

The choice between the two parties was clear and most aptly described by Noam Chomsky in 2003: hegemony or survival. The Republicans sought American hegemony internationally, at any cost. The Democrats have posited that the survival of our nation is too high a price to pay for short-term global dominance. The American people, increasingly, agree.

This is the dynamic as it has played out. While the American people may not necessarily see it in those terms, that is the clear choice they were offered. Look at the record of the past six years pursuing unbridled hegemony: the most devastating terrorist attack on U.S. soil in history on 11 Sep 01, a follow-up war (still on-going) in Afghanistan that cost tens of thousands of Afghan lives and accomplished none of the stated goals (capture Osama bin Laden, destroy al Qaeda) but plenty of unstated goals (establishing a U.S.-friendly government in Kabul and building a pipeline through their country to pipe natural gas from the Caspian Sea to the Indian Ocean), devastating deficits threatening the ability of our government to remain financially solvent, another war (still on-going) in Iraq whose reasons proved to be false (weapons of mass destruction) and whose real reasons are just now coming to light (oil) and which has cost over 2,800 American lives and 655,000 Iraqi lives (which, taken as a percentage of their population, would be the equivalent of losing 7.89 million Americans; when they say every day is 9/11 in Iraq, they're not kidding), strumming guitar while New Orleans drowned, and finally, posting nuclear secrets in Arabic on government websites in a desperate attempt to justify their ill-conceived and even more poorly planned invasion of Iraq, all so that America could maintain some sort of strategic dominance over friends and enemies alike. To sum up the Republican policies: "For America to remain safe and secure, many Americans and even more foreigners will have to be killed or maimed for dubious and often out-right fallacious reasons."

The Democratic platform has been, essentially, "I'm not with stupid." And that, as it is turning out, seems to be enough.

The Democrats have recaptured the House of Representatives. This is a huge shift in the power structure of Washington, D.C. Instead of House minority leader Nancy Pelosi struggling to get a hearing at all in the Republican-dominated House, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will be working on an even footing with President Bush. Nancy Pelosi will be the most powerful legislator in Washington, and John Conyers, who has been drafting articles of impeachment against President Bush, will be the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

And that says nothing of the Senate, which, as of this writing, is still in play.

What does this mean? It means that President Bush is no longer the undisputed master and commander of our nation. He has to answer to somebody and that, fittingly enough, that someone is a woman. It means accountability, and to Republicans who know that they've been screwing the pooch for the past six years, that's a truly frightening prospect.

What it means for America, though, is that the system works. Even when our nation is at its darkest, the people can still rise up and insist upon change. It means that Americans do care and have a sense of moral outrage over the atrocities of the past six years. Moreover, it means that the old saw, "it's always darkest before dawn", holds true today. For that is where we are now: dawn. The light is not shining at its brightest, but we can see it coming. We are still in relative darkness, but we have finally had the first bitter taste of that horrible illusion:


Despite the great trepidation with which many of us faced today's events, neither the American people nor the voting systems we have in place let us down. The will of the people is being carried out. This is the beginning of the end of our long national nightmare. Now we must insist that Democrats not acquiesce to the Republicans' more unreasonable demands. Now Nancy Pelosi must insist equal footing with President Bush in the national debate. Now the Democrats become a true opposition party in the House of Representatives, opposing President Bush's demands.

Now, more than ever, we must show this President that he is not the emperor of our nation and that he can be told "no". Insist that the Democrats do so. We have won this battle. Now thus begins our war in earnest.


Sunday, October 08, 2006

Gen. Clark: It's not WWIII, unless we make it that way.

It's all good stuff, but skip ahead to 20:50 to get to the REALLY juicy stuff. Stuff about Wolfowitz, the five year plan to overthrow seven governments, and the "clash of civilizations" between the U.S. and the one billion Muslims in the world.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Message received.

From MadSatyrist:

I have concluded that Republicans were correct about one thing in the attempts to impeach Bill Clinton for having a consenual affair while President. The President and the majority party do set the moral tone of the nation.

The recent upswing of perverse sexual attacks culminating in the attack on the Amish school in Pennsylvania, are not by chance. It cannot be chance for this upswing to occur during a national discussion of torture which ended with the passage by Congress of a bill designed to make torture legal under some circumstances, and place the President under immunity from prosecution for ordering such. Sadistic predators are obsessed with such discussion, they gloat over it, drool over it, and the passage of such a bill will have been seen as a signal that their perversions are now acceptable, their fantasies can become realities, and their obsessions are now normal. Congress sent the message, and the response is clearly "Message Received".

And it isn't only in the US. This apparent approval is being heard, and acted on, world wide. Sadistic torture murders are very much on the rise. And now, to my shame, some of them will be legal in the United States.

Other messages have been sent as well. Recently, in Nashville, a woman and an illegal immigrant were convicted of murdering her husband. The immigrant was her sex toy who had been living in a 2 by 8 closet for months. When the husband investigated noises coming from the closet, he jumped out and killed him, probably with the help of the wife. Both have been convicted of murder in the first degree.

What message has the reigning party sent about immigrants, over and over again? They've said very plainly that we should take advantage of illegals, that they are a great resource, and we can use them for things we cannot ask another American to do.

And the response from Nashville was "Message Received".

People, this can't go on. We cannot continue to send such messages as part and parcel of the official policy of the United States, lest our fragile social fabric be torn asunder forever.

The next election will be perhaps the most important of this century, because it represents a chance for America to send a new message, a message clearly stating that we the people find this unacceptable. We cannot continue along these lines, because if we do we fail and fall as a people.

Please, Republicans, Democrats, everyone, send a different message.

It's the most patriotic thing you can do.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

'No pasaran'

"They shall not pass."

"I pushed myself forward and because I was 6ft I could see Mosley. They were surrounded by an even greater army of police. There was to be this great advance of the police force to get the fascists through. Suddenly, the horses' hooves were flying and the horses were falling down because the young kids were throwing marbles."

Thousands of policemen were sandwiched between the Blackshirts and the anti-fascists. The latter were well organised and through a mole learned that the chief of police had told Mosley that his passage into the East End could be made through Cable Street.

"I heard this loudspeaker say 'They are going to Cable Street'," said Prof Fishman. "Suddenly a barricade was erected there and they put an old lorry in the middle of the road and old mattresses. The people up the top of the flats, mainly Irish Catholic women, were throwing rubbish on to the police. We were all side by side. I was moved to tears to see bearded Jews and Irish Catholic dockers standing up to stop Mosley. I shall never forget that as long as I live, how working-class people could get together to oppose the evil of racism.",,1884440,00.html

School shootings.

Violence in schools was sort of a pet issue of mine when I was in high school, because I saw it all around me. Kids were brutally beating up other kids while other kids stood around in a big circle-jerk and watched. I actually wrote an editorial about it in the school newspaper advocating that instead of just standing around with their mouths hanging open, maybe these large groups of people could step in and do something about it. It tapered off, since I think seeing students advocating vigilante action motivated administrators to clamp down on it.

Eleven years later, and I'm hearing about a thwarted shooting plot at my alma mater, Green Bay East High School. I see that the problem, in the long run, hasn't gotten better. It's gotten worse. Why is this? What do we need to be doing differently? Here's another story of a disgruntled student who, tragically, killed his principal before being stopped.

Why is this allowed to happen? Every time one of these students goes over the edge and kills students, teachers, and an occasional principal, you always hear about the warning signs that the kids exhibited that were ignored until it was too late. Suggested solutions generally range from better counseling, cracking down on teasing, and metal detectors. All of these are band-aid approaches. The problem isn't that we aren't acting to prevent the violence in schools. The problem is that we're putting these mentally ill children in the same schools as everyone else, putting them in different classes that only serve to further ostracize them from their peers, and then still subjecting them to the harsh ridicule that inevitably stems from being unique or different. In some cases, these mentally ill children are very fragile and can only take so much. In other cases, they're just sociopaths who see nothing wrong with using violence to solve their problems.

We need to get past the tendency to sugar-coat mental illness in children. A homicidal maniac is a homicidal maniac, whether he's 15 or 51. The notion that we can put these square pegs into the round holes of public education is absurd. So many of these kids are ticking time bombs that need to be defused, but never get the help they need. In most cases, they don't blow up while they're still in school. Instead, they go on to be abusive spouses, abusive parents, criminals, or serial killers. Treatment in early adolescence could prevent a lot of these problems, but instead, we insist on working harder to force conformity on them. Mental illness isn't something that you can beat out of a kid with a "good whuppin' behind the wood shed". They need to be treated, and yes, coddled. They're sick.

How do I know that Eric Hainstock was mentally ill? I don't, but any child whose solution to a little teasing is to grab his dad's guns and gun down the principal clearly doesn't have all of his faculties about him.

And that's another thing: what were this psychopath's parents' doing keeping guns in the house? Did they just not know their kid wasn't right in the head? His peers seemed to.

Rupp described Hainstock as a freshman with few friends who was “just weird in the head.“

“He always used to kid around about bringing things to school and hurting kids,” she said.

Student Ellen Laufenberg said Hainstock was always nice to her but described him as a “problem kid” with “a short fuse.“

I'll tell you the real reason nobody wants to talk about setting up separate schools for mentally ill children: the financial cost. It would cost a lot of money to get these kids the help they need. Nobody wants to acknowledge the human cost of just putting these kids in "special ed". Instead, they say what these kids need is just a good whuppin', when in fact that just exacerbates the problem.

I feel compelled to point out that not all special ed kids are mentally ill. But there are enough of them that are that I feel that they merit a more comprehensive approach.

Do parents feel safe knowing that four eight hours a day, their kids are locked into a brick building that may or may not contain psychopaths who are ready to show up out of the blue and start killing people? I wouldn't want that for my kids. Nobody wins in that situation. Not the normal kids, not the teachers, not the parents, and not the mentally ill kids in need of treatment. It's just short-sighted.

Friday, September 29, 2006

We can still win this in the courts.

The suspension of habeas corpus is blatantly unconstitutional, whether through executive or legislative fiat.

Donate to the ACLU. I just gave money. They're still fighting the good fight, and they have the resources to bring habeas corpus back from the grave through judicial review.

Let's not throw in the towel yet. The system still has a few avenues we can pursue.

We can't not fight. They want us to quit, but the fight's not over yet.

October 5 -- Day of Mass Resistance

Thanks again to pandora...

October 5 - Day of Mass Resistance

On October 5, people everywhere will walk out of school, take off work, and come to the downtowns & townsquares and set out from there, going through the streets and calling on many more to join us - making a powerful statement: "NO! THIS REGIME DOES NOT REPRESENT US! AND WE WILL DRIVE IT OUT!"

Below you can find a growing listing of protests across the country. Check back here for the latest information (updated daily), or contact a local World Can't Wait chapter in your area (see menu to the left).

If there is not a protest organized in your area, head to the downtown or town square at noon on Oct. 5.

Turn your despair into rage.

Turn your broken heart into a fist.

Then go visit my friend Tony at /.

We're talking real-time action, not venting online.

One of us is a nut. Two of us is a conspiracy. Three of us is legion and unstoppable. Won't you join us?

The Senate just voted to end habeas corpus.

This is going to get worse before it gets better. Ready yourselves.

Here's the vote count.

Give my man Monkeyfister a visit. His blog is listed on the right. He's got some important discussions going. We need to seriously consider our options here. Civil disobedience may become necessary if these "people" continue trying to shred our Constitution.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Democracy's last stand.

Bush is seeking to over-turn habeus corpus. As I've said before, it's time. Bush and his people are seeking to establish an authoritarian regime. This is not hyperbole; this is the truth. Nancy Pelosi, in the video below, is can be seen taking a stand for American values.

This nation cannot withstand two more years of an unchecked Bush administration. If the Republicans win in November, our nation is through. Please, for the love of God, don't let this happen to my country.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Oh, this is rich....

Check out the variant covers of Newsweek across the world:

Greg Palast interviews Hugo Chavez

Palast covers some basic points: high prices put Chavez into a position to usurp Saudi Arabia's place as the dominant player in OPEC. That's why they're so peeved with Chavez; he wants to keep Venezuelan petro dollars for Venezuela.

There are only two ways to defeat the rise of Chavez as the New Abdullah of the Americas. First, the unattractive option: Cut the price of oil below $30 a barrel. That would make Chavez’s crude worthless. Or, option two: Kill him.


Q: Your opponents are saying that you are beginning a slow-motion dictatorship. Is that what we are seeing?

Hugo Chavez: They have been saying that for a long time. When they’re short of ideas, any excuse will do as a vehicle for lies. That is totally false. I would like to invite the citizens of Great Britain and the citizens of the U.S. and the citizens of the world to come here and walk freely through the streets of Venezuela, to talk to anyone they want, to watch television, to read the papers. We are building a true democracy, with human rights for everyone, social rights, education, health care, pensions, social security, and jobs.

Q: Some of your opponents are being charged with the crime of taking money from George Bush. Will you send them to jail?

Chavez: It’s not up to me to decide that. We have the institutions that do that. These people have admitted they have received money from the government of the United States. It’s up to the prosecutors to decide what to do, but the truth is that we can’t allow the U.S. to finance the destabilization of our country. What would happen if we financed somebody in the U.S. to destabilize the government of George Bush? They would go to prison, certainly.

Q: How do you respond to Bush’s charge that you are destabilizing the region and interfering in the elections of other Latin American countries?

Chavez: Mr. Bush is an illegitimate President. In Florida, his brother Jeb deleted many black voters from the electoral registers. So this President is the result of a fraud. Not only that, he is also currently applying a dictatorship in the U.S. People can be put in jail without being charged. They tap phones without court orders. They check what books people take out of public libraries. They arrested Cindy Sheehan because of a T-shirt she was wearing demanding the return of the troops from Iraq. They abuse blacks and Latinos. And if we are going to talk about meddling in other countries, then the U.S. is the champion of meddling in other people’s affairs. They invaded Guatemala, they overthrew Salvador Allende, invaded Panama and the Dominican Republic. They were involved in the coup d’etat in Argentina thirty years ago.

Q: Is the U.S. interfering in your elections here?

Chavez: They have interfered for 200 years. They have tried to prevent us from winning the elections, they supported the coup d’etat, they gave millions of dollars to the coup plotters, they supported the media, newspapers, outlaw movements, military intervention, and espionage. But here the empire is finished, and I believe that before the end of this century, it will be finished in the rest of the world. We will see the burial of the empire of the eagle.

Much more at the link. Take a good read, and then look at Noam Chomsky's book, Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance per President Chavez's recomendation.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Green Arrow & Hurricane Katrina

I was debating on whether or not to blog on this here, but I decided that whereas I have about three actual readers, there was no inherent harm in it.

A few years ago, I picked up my childhood addiction to comic books. I rationalize it by telling myself that it's healthier than the adulthood addiction to cigarettes that I gave up last year. A title which has really caught my eye is Green Arrow because of its uncommon social commentary. I didn't catch the allegory at first, but let me give you the run-down:

Star City, Green Arrow's home city, has been devestated by a huge calamnity. The city's plight was largely ignored by the federal government, and the local government's response was to build a huge wall down the middle, separating the desirables from the undesirables. The "have-nots" call their side of the wall "the Glades" (shades of "the Pits" in New Orleans) due to the fact that the wall was constructed in a trench, which filled up with a lot of standing water, which attracted a lot of mosquitoes and created a swamp-like odor.

Green Arrow's alter ego is a multi-millionaire by the name of Oliver Queen. Queen runs for mayor of Star City on the promise to build the city back up and tear the wall down. He won.

Queen is a dyed in the wool liberal. He holds gay weddings outside city hall and withholds sales taxes from the state to put them toward rebuilding the city. His controversial policies result in corporate types putting out a hit on him.

But this exchange in Green Arrow #65 between a right-wing talking head from the "United Freedom Council of Americans for America" named Marc Spillman and the founder of a website called "Bring'" named Jenny Parks (a fairly obvious allusion) on a cable talk show where they debate the merits of Mayor Queen's administration brought home the parallels to me:

Spillman: "My heart goes out to the children who live in that city."
Parks: "Mine too. Their homes were blown up."
Spillman: "I meant the lawless, unpatriotic..."
Parks: "He's trying to--"
Spillman: "...liberal agenda that he just keeps ramming---"
Parks: "It's not a liberal agenda, it's---"
Spillman: "---down the troats of every decent person trying to live in---"
Parks: "WE LEFT THEM THERE TO DIE! Their city was destroyed and fell into ruin and we did nothing! And we continue to do nothing! Those are men, women and children who lived their lives, paid their taxes, and thought that they were living under the protection of this nation."
Spillman: (shifting uncomfortably in his seat)
Parks: "We didn't do anything to help them. He is. The very least we can do is stay out of his way."

Civil War may be addressing the War on Terror, but under the radar, Green Arrow is tackling Bush's response to Katrina. There's also a lot of other stuff going on in the title that makes it good reading. I highly recommend it to any comic book fans.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Coaxing the unwilling.

Thanks to pandora from BCF for pointing this out to me:

While the secretary of defense's long-standing goal of transforming the planet's most powerful military into its highest-tech, most agile, most futuristic fighting force has, in the words of the Washington Post's David Von Drehle, "melted away", the very makeup of the armed forces has been mutating before our collective eyes under the pressure of the war in Iraq. This actual transformation has been reported, but only in scattered articles on the new recruitment landscape in the United States.

Last year, despite NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing), professional bull-riding and Arena Football sponsorships; popular video games that doubled as recruiting tools; television commercials dripping with seductive scenes of military glory; a "joint marketing communications and market research and studies" program actively engaged in measures to target for military service Hispanics, dropouts and those with criminal records; and at least US$16,000 in promotional costs for each soldier it managed to sign up, the US military failed to meet its recruiting goals.

The use of IRR and stop-loss are hurting recruitment numbers more than anything else. Recruiters were able to gloss over the IRR commitment in the past (back in the day when I first enlisted) because it was never used. "World War III" was listed as the circumstance under which I'd get called back under IRR. This is hardly WW III, despite Newt's contention that it is, but we're still pulling people back from IRR. People see that.

I think there are a number of people out there who would be willing to serve in the Army and even go to Iraq as long as they know how long their commitment actually is. IRR being used takes that away, and if they really want to improve recruitment numbers they need to start by doing away with the standard eight year IRR commitment so that people know that they're done when their contact expires.

But the things that trouble me are the recruitment of gang bangers and white supremacists, which I've covered in earlier entries, and the hiring of mercenaries by DynCorp and Blackwater, et al. Here's an article from October of last year in The Nation:

Armed men shuffled in and out of the building as a handful told stories of their past experiences in Iraq. "I worked the security detail of both Bremer and Negroponte," said one of the Blackwater guys, referring to the former head of the US occupation, L. Paul Bremer, and former US Ambassador to Iraq John Negroponte. Another complained, while talking on his cell phone, that he was getting only $350 a day plus his per diem. "When they told me New Orleans, I said, 'What country is that in?'" he said. He wore his company ID around his neck in a case with the phrase Operation Iraqi Freedom printed on it.

My heart swells.

Mercenaries are a natural result of manning shortages in the military. Traditionally though, governments only rely on mercenaries after they've maxed out potential conscripts. This is because the problems associated with mercenaries outweigh the short-term political fall-out from holding a draft. No less an authority than Nicolo Machiavelli writes in The Prince:

Mercenaries and auxiliaries are useless and dangerous; and if one holds his state based on these arms, he will stand neither firm nor safe; for they are disunited, ambitious and without discipline, unfaithful, valiant before friends, cowardly before enemies; they have neither the fear of God nor fidelity to men, and destruction is deferred only so long as the attack is; for in peace one is robbed by them, and in war by the enemy. The fact is, they have no other attraction or reason for keeping the field than a trifle of stipend, which is not sufficient to make them willing to die for you. They are ready enough to be your soldiers whilst you do not make war, but if war comes they take themselves off or run from the foe; which I should have little trouble to prove, for the ruin of Italy has been caused by nothing else than by resting all her hopes for many years on mercenaries, and although they formerly made some display and appeared valiant amongst themselves, yet when the foreigners came they showed what they were.

But apparently this isn't a problem to this crowd. Losing Congress to the Democrats is.

Again, I hate to be redundant, but we've got a lot of chickens waiting to come home to roost. As bad as things are now, they're going to get a lot worse, and they're going to stay that way for the next twenty years. We have no idea what the fall-out from George and Dick's Excellent Adventure in Iraq is going to be, but I'm starting to see some potential troubles already.

This kind of stuff is why I can only blog with some wine in me. Most of the time, I'd just rather not think about it.

A compromise on torture?

(Before I begin, let me emphasize that compromising on torture is like... well, if I need to explain why torture is bad, I think I should consider emigrating from this country.)

President Bush's stalled anti-terrorism agenda edged forward Tuesday, with a rebellious House member rewriting her bill on wiretaps more to his liking and maverick Senate Republicans reopening talks over how to handle detainees.

Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M., offered to substitute her original bill on giving legal status to Bush's warrantless surveillance program with a bill that would grant a key administration request: allow wiretapping on Americans in the event of an "imminent" terrorist attack.


Sen. John Warner, R-Va., said "progress was being made in good faith," while Majority Leader Bill Frist said he hoped to vote on a final measure by the end of next week.

The Senate Armed Services Committee last week approved detainee legislation written by Warner, the panel's chairman, and Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., but opposed by Bush. The White House has said the committee's bill would put an end to the CIA interrogation program.

"See? It's safe to vote for Republicans in the fall. They'll hold Bush to account." This is part of what digby calls the "kabuki dance" between Republican President George Bush and Republican Senator John McCain.

Support among House moderates for the White House proposal on detainees also was faltering. GOP moderates Christopher Shays, R-Conn., and Mike Castle, R-Del., said in a letter to House GOP leaders Tuesday that they support Warner's bill.

Amid the whirl of developments, the prospects for congressional passage of the wiretapping and detainee policies were unclear in the waning week-and-a-half before Congress recesses for the Nov. 7 election. House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said he expects Wilson's bill to come to the floor next week. But even if it passes the House, the Senate must churn through three conflicting pieces of legislation on the same matter.

Where are the Democrats on this issue? Not a single Democrat was cited in this article. You'd think they'd been completely silent. They haven't:

The Senate's top Democrat, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, predicts little momentum on the legislation amid continued Republican disagreement. "The President picked a battle, and he thought it would be with Democrats, but it has been with Republicans. Until they resolve their issues, I do not think there is much that can be done on that," he said.

Um, well, okay. Thanks for that principled stand, Sen. Reid.

In a speech today, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, the Senate's No. 2 Democrat, said praised the four Republicans ``who had the courage to speak'' and who voted with 11 Democrats to pass the alternative detainees-tribunal proposal. ``There is a way for us to protect America and not lose our values,'' Durbin said.

``I hope the administration will re-evaluate'' the legislation and ``move forward with us on a bipartisan basis,'' Durbin said.

Well, I guess the new definition of bi-partisanship in the U.S. is Republicans disagreeing with each other. Welcome to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republicans.

Well, surely Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) has something to say about this issue, and if anybody can find one of his comments on this matter, please let me know. I'd love to see it.

Seriously, why are the Democrats on the sidelines on this issue? The principle that torture is bad is one of the most basic American principles. Why the fuck can't we agree on even that? Why the fuck can't we at least fight against the use of torture by this administration? Why the fuck should we compromise on that point? Have we completely given up?

Fun with Astroturf!

Alan LeClair’s letter in my hometown newspaper smelled a little like Astroturf, so I did a Google search on “President Bush has a clear plan for victory in Iraq that begins with training Iraqi forces”. Nothing gives off that unique aroma quite like freshly fertilized GOP talking points.

Lookee what I found:

In Green Bay, WI….

Tremendous progress is taking place in Iraq

DE PERE — President Bush has a clear plan for victory in Iraq that begins with training Iraqi forces so they can defend their country and fight the terrorists. We are making tremendous progress towards this objective.

Earlier this year, Iraqi forces led the fight in clearing out terrorists during the crucial battle of Tal Afar, with U.S. troops in a supporting role, and every day, Iraqis are taking more control of the situation on the ground.

Withdrawing from Iraq, as some Democrats in Washington propose, would send a dangerous signal to our enemies that we cut and run when the going gets tough.

President Bush is offering a clear strategy to win, not a political quick fix.

Alan LeClair

In Lafeyette, IN….

Positive push for Bush's victory plan

President Bush has a clear plan for victory in Iraq that begins with training Iraqi forces so they can defend their country and fight the terrorists. We are making tremendous progress towards this objective.

Earlier this year, Iraqi forces led the fight in clearing out terrorists during the crucial battle of Tal Afar, with U.S. troops in a supporting role, and every day, Iraqis are taking more control of the situation on the ground.

Withdrawing from Iraq, as some Democrats in Washington propose, would send a dangerous signal to our enemies that we cut and run when the going gets tough. President Bush is offering a clear strategy to win, not a political quick fix.

Carol Galloway

In Lawrence, KS….

President Bush has a clear plan for victory in Iraq that begins with training Iraqi forces so they can defend their country and fight the terrorists. We are making tremendous progress toward this objective.

Earlier this year, Iraqi forces led the fight in clearing out terrorists during the crucial battle of Talafar, with U.S. troops in a supporting role, and every day, Iraqis are taking more control of the situation on the ground. Withdrawing from Iraq, as some Democrats in Washington propose, would send a dangerous signal to our enemies that we cut and run when the going gets tough. President Bush is offering a clear strategy to win, not a political quick fix.

Burwyn Bender,

In San Antonio, TX from a retired Colonel who actually bothered to add a few of his own words so he could “argue from authority”….

I am recently retired from the Army and served two tours of duty during Operation Iraqi Freedom — one in the Sunni Triangle and the other in Baghdad and farther south near Nasiriyah.

I believe President Bush has a clear plan for victory in Iraq that begins with training Iraqi forces so they can defend their country and fight the terrorists.

We are making tremendous progress toward this objective. I met and
worked with many dedicated and brave Iraqi civilians and soldiers. Earlier this year, Iraqi forces led the fight in clearing out terrorists during the crucial battle of Tal Afar, with U.S. troops in a supporting role, and every day, Iraqis are taking more control of the situation on the ground.

Withdrawing from Iraq, as some Democrats propose, would send a dangerous signal to our enemies that we cut and run when the going gets tough. Bush is offering a clear strategy to win, not a political quick fix.

Equally important, withdrawal from Iraq would abandon friends and allies who have staked their lives on helping us achieve a free Iraq. Leaving them to die at the hands of terrorists in anarchy would be immoral and unconscionable.

We must stop partisan bickering and support our president. We must see this war through to a successful conclusion.

—Retired Col. David J. Cohen

Finally, here’s the original source at the GOP website:

President Bush has a clear plan for victory in Iraq that begins with training Iraqi forces so they can defend their country and fight the terrorists. We are making tremendous progress towards this objective. Earlier this year, Iraqi forces led the fight in clearing out terrorists during the crucial battle of Tal Afar, with U.S. troops in a supporting role, and every day, Iraqis are taking more control of the situation on the ground. Withdrawing from Iraq, as some Democrats in Washington propose, would send a dangerous signal to our enemies that we cut and run when the going gets tough. President Bush is offering a clear strategy to win, not a political quick fix.

Honestly, the fact that I was able to spot this just reading the letter tells me a few things:

  1. They do this A LOT.
  2. They need better writers.
Apparently some colonels retire their integrity when they retire from the service. I simply hate when military members, past or present, use their positions in the military to advance a political agenda. Argue based on the merits of your points, not based on whatever perceived authority you think you have.

BTW, here's what a Google search on Col Cohen turned up:

COL David J. Cohen, MD, USA

The content of the article is unimportant. And while the fact that he's a doctor doesn't detract from any of the alleged points he makes in "his" letter, it does put the lie to the fact that he signed his letter as a retired colonel who served in Iraq. He's a doctor, which is a non-combat officer. This is a fact he conveniently excludes from "his" letter. According to the late Col Dave Hackworth's rule about fake vets, a supply troop who says that he served with the 101st Airborne Division but leaves out the fact that he was a supply troop is a fake vet because, through his lie of omission, he leaves people with the impression that he was an airborne ranger. So too does Dr. Cohen leave people with the impression that he had something to do with the logistics and planning of the reconstruction of Iraq, when in fact, he had about as much to do with it as I do and therefore can speak from no more authority on it than I can.

In fact, even if one accuses me of being no better than him by the implication that I'm putting out some sort of partisan screed, I say this: "At least I wrote my partisan screed."

Friday, September 15, 2006

Breaking the law.

From my good friend American Stranger at

Exxon Mobil drops charges against Greg Palast.

Good news from Palast's website:


September, 14, 2006

Forget the orange suit. Exxon Mobil Corporation, which admits it was behind the criminal complaint brought by Homeland Security against me and television producer Matt Pascarella, has informed me that the oil company will no longer push charges that Pascarella and I threatened "critical infrastructure."

The allegedly criminal act, which put us on the wrong side of post-9/11 anti-terror law, was our filming of Exxon's Baton Rouge refinery where, nearby, 1,600 survivors of Hurricane Katrina remain interned behind barbed wire.

I have sworn to Homeland Security that we no longer send our footage to al-Qaeda -- which, in any case, can get a much better view of the refinery and other "critical infrastructure" at Google maps.

Given Exxon's back-down, I hope to confirm with Homeland Security, Baton Rouge, that charges will be dropped today.

Matt and I want to thank you, our readers and viewers, for your extraordinary and heartfelt responses. Public support undoubtedly led Exxon to call off the feds.

Of course, this was never about our tipping off Osama that Louisiana contains oil refineries. This has an awful lot to do with a petroleum giant's sensitivity to unflattering depictions of their plants which are major polluters along Louisiana's notorious "Cancer Alley."

I've learned that, in April last year, Exxon brought a similar Homeland Security charge against Willie Fontenot, an assistant to the Attorney General of Louisiana. Fontenot was guiding a group of environmental studies pupils from Antioch College on a tour of Cancer Alley. Exxon's complaint about the "national security" threat posed by their photos of the company's facility cost Fontenot his job.

The issue is not national security but image security. You can get all the film you want from Exxon of refineries if you'll accept nice, sanitized VPRs (video press releases) of clean smokestacks surrounded by happy herons.

What's dangerous is not that reporters will end up in Guantanamo; the insidious effect of these threats is to keep networks from filming government and corporate filth, incompetence and inhumanity. Besides the Exxon foolishness, our camera crew was also blocked from filming inside the notorious Katrina survivors trailer encampment.

Furthermore earlier that same day, a FEMA contractor had grabbed our camera, in mid-interview, when polite but pointed questions exposed their malfeasance.

As with Exxon, the bar from filming at the refugee camp and in the offices of the government contractor were presented to us as a "Homeland Security" matter.

After the September 11 attacks, CBS Newsman Dan Rather said, "George Bush is the President. …Wherever he wants me to line up, just tell me where."

Reporters who step out of line, who ask uncomfortable questions and film uncomfortable scenes, soon find their careers toasted, as Dan can attest to.

One of George Bush's weirder acts in office (and that's saying a lot) was to move FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, whose main job is to save us from floods and earthquakes, into the control of the Department of Homeland Security. Exxon's refineries, once "pollution source points" scrutinized by government watchdogs, are now "critical infrastructure" protected by federal hounddogs.

As the front lines in the War on Terror expand from Baghdad to Baton Rouge, we find that America has been made secure only against hard news and uncomfortable facts.

Again, our sincere thanks and gratitude for your support. Cakes with files have been consumed.

- Greg Palast, New York


Many of you have asked for copies of the film which threatened national security. In response to your requests, with the permission of LinkTV, we are making "Big Easy to Big Empty: the Untold Story of the Drowning of New Orleans" available on DVD. The disc will also include an interview of reporter Greg Palast by Democracy Now's Amy Goodman plus an excerpt from Palast's bestseller, Armed Madhouse on the topic, "Class War and Hurricane Katrina."

For a copy of the film, I am asking for a modest, tax-deductible donation to our foundation, the Palast Investigative Fund. The fund supports our work and pays our legal fees.

Thanks to everybody who showed Palast some love. He does important work and has done more to expose the criminal acts of this administration than any single person. Now he can focus on the up-coming election and exposing any malfeasance that might (and likely will) pop up with it.

Thanks Greg, for everything you do.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

"Trust me," he says.

"What we're doing is within the law. We had our lawyers look at it."

Lawyers like Alberto Gonzales.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said yesterday that Bush set broad guidelines, rather than dealing with specific techniques. "While we will seek to gather intelligence from al Qaeda terrorists who seek to inflict mass harm on the American people, the president expects that we do so in a way that is consistent with our laws," McClellan said.

White House Counsel Alberto R. Gonzales said in a May 21 interview with The Washington Post: "Anytime a discussion came up about interrogations with the president, . . . the directive was, 'Make sure it is lawful. Make sure it meets all of our obligations under the Constitution, U.S. federal statutes and applicable treaties.' "

An Aug. 1, 2002, memo from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, addressed to Gonzales, said that torturing suspected al Qaeda members abroad "may be justified" and that international laws against torture "may be unconstitutional if applied to interrogation" conducted against suspected terrorists.

This is their definition of "lawful". What we says goes. And Bush stays out of the dirty work of picking and choosing specific "techniques". With a wink and a nod, he says, "Keep it legal, boys," and everybody understands what that means:

"Do what you want, just don't get caught."

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Keith Olbermann spanks Bush

Video courtesy of Crooks and Liars.

The Palast stuff deserves the bulk of our attention, but Olbermann's commentary deserves a tip of the hat.

Sample of Palast's investigative report on "Democracy Now".

Order the full DVD for a $30 donation (consider giving more; this goes toward Palast's legal defense fund) here:

Department of Homeland Security brings charges against Greg Palast.

I've been away for a few weeks, since I've' been having trouble finding motivation to post. This e-mail I received from Greg Palast lit a fire under my ass, though:

September 11, 2006
by Greg Palast

It’s true. It’s weird. It’s nuts. The Department of Homeland Security, after a five-year hunt for Osama, has finally brought charges against… Greg Palast. I kid you not. Send your cakes with files to the Air America wing at Guantanamo.

Though not just yet. Fatherland Security has informed me that television producer Matt Pascarella and I have been charged with unauthorized filming of a “critical national security structure” in Louisiana.

On August 22, for LinkTV and Democracy Now! we videotaped the thousands of Katrina evacuees still held behind a barbed wire in a trailer park encampment a hundred miles from New Orleans. It’s been a year since the hurricane and 73,000 POW’s (Prisoners of W) are still in this aluminum ghetto in the middle of nowhere. One resident, Pamela Lewis said, “It is a prison set-up” — except there are no home furloughs for these inmates because they no longer have homes.


After I assured Detective Pananepinto, “I can swear to you that I’m not part of Al Qaeda,” he confirmed that, “Louisiana is still part of the United States,” subject to the first amendment and he was therefore required to divulge my accuser.

Not surprisingly, it was Exxon Corporation, one of a handful of companies not in love with my investigations. [See “A Well-Designed Disaster: the Untold Story of the Exxon Valdez.”]

So I rang America’s top petroleum pusher-men and asked their media relations honcho in Houston, Marc Boudreaux, a simple question. “Do you want us to go to jail or not? Is it Exxon’s position that reporters should go to jail?” Because, all my dumb-ass jokes aside, that is what’s at stake. And Exxon knew we were journalists because we showed our press credential to the Exxon guards at the refinery entrance.

What's important here is not so much that Palast has been charged, but why he's been charged. The documentary in question strongly demonstrates the Department of Homeland Security's massive failures in the follow-up to Hurricane Katrina. I cannot emphasize this enough: this is all part of a larger picture. The entire priority of our federal government is to protect themselves (and one of their major contributors) from the embarrassment of being exposed for what they are. This is not about security, this is about payback. I have already notified my senators and am now imploring any of you who may be reading this to do the same: this is one of the most outrageous abuses of power I've ever seen. And think: if they feel they can get away with doing this to a high-profile journalist like Palast, what's to stop them from doing it to any one of us. They're sending a message and they're going for broke. They want to shut down all of their critics now, before the Democrats retake Congress.

Now is not the time to sit back and timidly take it. Now is the time to fight back. Demand the same of your senators and congressmen, Democrats and Republicans alike. We cannot afford to become a country when "Homeland Security" means intimidating critics and punishing journalism. If we lose now, we lose forever. Support Greg Palast's legal fund, and demand that your congressmen stop this before it's too late.

The right to film a very public building in a documentary is the very essence of the freedom of the press. They take that away, we live in a sham democracy. I simply cannot let this pass.

Friday, August 25, 2006

US Investigates Alleged Israeli Use of Cluster Bombs in Lebanon

The U.S. State Department said Friday it is investigating whether Israel may have used cluster munitions in Lebanon in violation of agreements with the United States restricting their use. A United Nations agency said earlier this week it has found abundant evidence that Israel used the bombs against Hezbollah guerrillas, some in populated areas of southern Lebanon.

The Bush administration defended Israel's overall military campaign against Hezbollah as an act of national self defense. But officials here acknowledge that an inquiry is under way as to whether the Israelis used U.S.-supplied cluster munitions in civilian areas in violation of unpublished agreements with Washington.


The newspaper said agreements governing Israel's use of U.S. cluster bombs date back to the 1970's when they were first supplied, and are understood to require that they be used only against organized armies in conventional war situations.

I'm sure the U.S. will find that Israel did nothing wrong:

During its air war in Afghanistan, the United States dropped nearly a quarter-million cluster bomblets that killed or injured scores of civilians, especially children, both during and after strikes, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today.


Human Rights Watch found that the United States did not take all feasible precautions to avoid civilian casualties, as required by international humanitarian law, when it used cluster bombs in or near populated areas. U.S. cluster bombs also left an estimated 12,400 explosive duds—de facto antipersonnel landmines—that continue to take civilian lives to this day.

What I find interesting is that they focus on how the use of cluster bombs violated agreements with Washington, as if their use in civilian areas wasn't already prohibited by international law.

But the news isn't all bad:

Annan: Europe will provide over half of peacekeeping force

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today that Europe had agreed to provide more than half of an expanded peacekeeping force for Lebanon, with nearly 7,000 troops, and he hoped the “strong, credible and robust” force would be able to deploy in days, not weeks.

“Europe is providing the backbone of the force,” Annan said after an emergency meeting with EU foreign ministers in Brussels. “We can now begin to put together a credible force,” he said.

He said he asked France – which dramatically increased its pledged contribution to 2,000 troops late yesterday – to lead the force until February 2007.

I'm glad to hear that the U.S. won't be heading this up. We're doing such a bang-up job in Iraq that I'd hate to see anything detract from that. It seems inevitable that something will, though. Whether we want it to or not:

Nearly five years later, it is Mr. Bush’s turn to send a message to Mr. Bashir, by way of the top American diplomat for Africa, who is to meet with Mr. Bashir on Saturday and press him to accept a United Nations peacekeeping force in Darfur to salvage the dying peace agreement that the United States worked hard to arrange.

The message will be blunt, Jendayi Frazer, assistant secretary of state for African Affairs, said in a briefing in Washington today before leaving for Khartoum. Despite Sudanese objections to the peacekeeping force, she said, she expected the Security Council to adopt a resolution authorizing it, and the dispatch of at least some troops, by October 1.

But Ms. Frazer will arrive in a very different Khartoum than the cowed one that sent the message in 2001. The Sudanese capital today is defiant and transformed, a boomtown built on oil money and investments from the Persian Gulf, China and Malaysia, buoyed by a changing geopolitical landscape in which it seems convinced it has little to fear from thumbing its nose at the world’s only superpower.

“They seem to be playing on Washington’s weakness and their relative strength,” said J. Stephen Morrison, director of the Africa program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, whose writings helped shape the Bush administration’s Sudan policy.

The U.S. is completely pinned down with Iraq and Lebanon and related issues; there is a surge of investment capital coming into Khartoum,” Mr. Morrison said. “It looks to me like they are calculating that time is on their side, and they don’t have to compromise. Immediately after 9/11, they came under a serious, credible threat from U.S., but now I think the equation has changed to where the threats are not there and not credible.”

Somewhere that we're actually needed... and all we can do is send emissaries. The reason is right in front of our noses. As long as Bush is President, we won't be leaving Iraq, and as long as we're in Iraq, we won't have the leverage to be a broker for peace in the rest of the world. Our "big stick" doesn't do us much good if we throw it in a fire pit.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Sy Hersh: White House helped plan Israel's war. Are we surprised?

Big, big news coming from the single most influential investigative journalist in America.

The Bush Administration, however, was closely involved in the planning of Israel’s retaliatory attacks. President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney were convinced, current and former intelligence and diplomatic officials told me, that a successful Israeli Air Force bombing campaign against Hezbollah’s heavily fortified underground-missile and command-and-control complexes in Lebanon could ease Israel’s security concerns and also serve as a prelude to a potential American preĆ«mptive attack to destroy Iran’s nuclear installations, some of which are also buried deep underground.

“The big question for our Air Force was how to hit a series of hard targets in Iran successfully,” the former senior intelligence official said. “Who is the closest ally of the U.S. Air Force in its planning? It’s not Congo—it’s Israel. Everybody knows that Iranian engineers have been advising Hezbollah on tunnels and underground gun emplacements. And so the Air Force went to the Israelis with some new tactics and said to them, ‘Let’s concentrate on the bombing and share what we have on Iran and what you have on Lebanon.’ ” The discussions reached the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, he said.

“The Israelis told us it would be a cheap war with many benefits,” a U.S. government consultant with close ties to Israel said. “Why oppose it? We’ll be able to hunt down and bomb missiles, tunnels, and bunkers from the air. It would be a demo for Iran.”

If, knowing what we know now, they still decide to go ahead with a military option against Iran, they’ll be courting disaster. This particular conflict isn’t the U.S. vs. Iran, at least not directly. It’s not even Israel vs. Lebanon. It’s Israel vs. Hezbollah. From a strategic standpoint, Israel’s goal of shutting down Hezbollah’s rockets has been an utter failure. Washington has to recognize this. And, at least, some of them do:

According to Richard Armitage, who served as Deputy Secretary of State in Bush’s first term—and who, in 2002, said that Hezbollah “may be the A team of terrorists”—Israel’s campaign in Lebanon, which has faced unexpected difficulties and widespread criticism, may, in the end, serve as a warning to the White House about Iran. “If the most dominant military force in the region—the Israel Defense Forces—can’t pacify a country like Lebanon, with a population of four million, you should think carefully about taking that template to Iran, with strategic depth and a population of seventy million,” Armitage said. “The only thing that the bombing has achieved so far is to unite the population against the Israelis.”

So it’s not just random blogger CarbonDate seeing these things, it’s their own people who recognize this. If I know these creeps at all, they didn’t have a Plan B for Iran, either. They planned on this strategy working. But it’s not.

The consultant added, “Israel began with Cheney. It wanted to be sure that it had his support and the support of his office and the Middle East desk of the National Security Council.” After that, “persuading Bush was never a problem, and Condi Rice was on board,” the consultant said.

Makes sense. Go to the man in charge.

There’s much, much more at the link. I suggest you click on it and read the whole thing. It’s a real eye-opener.

The White House is denying it, of course:,1,3102351.story?coll=la-news-a_section&ctrack=1&cset=true

WASHINGTON — The White House on Sunday vigorously denied a report in the New Yorker magazine that the Bush administration had worked with Israel to plot military action against Hezbollah as part of a long-term plan to target Iran, a longtime supporter of the Shiite Muslim militant group.

"The piece abounds in fictions," White House Press Secretary Tony Snow said in an e-mailed response to a request for comment. He also assailed reporter Seymour M. Hersh's use of unnamed sources, saying it was "hard to imagine that the story would meet any major news organization's standards for sourcing and verification."

Ha, ha; what, like FOX News, your old employer Tony? Look, if you want to dispute the accuracy of the piece, that’s fine and expected. But seeing Tony Snow assailing the journalistic integrity and professionalism of the guy who broke the story of the Mai Lai massacre and Abu Ghraib is a bit much to stomach.

National security advisor Stephen J. Hadley said in an e-mailed response: "The suggestion that the U.S. and Israel planned and coordinated an attack on Hezbollah — and did so as a prelude to an attack on Iran — is just flat wrong."

“And coordinated.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe the claim was ever made that the U.S. was involved with coordinating the attacks, only planning them. Of course, Hadley knows that. This sort of straw-man denial is SOP for these guys.

Sooner or later they’ll be backed into a corner where they can’t deny that this happened. Then they’ll go from denying it to justifying it, much like they did with the Valerie Plame outing.

More later.