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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Goodbye. 

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Time to go my compatriots.


Over 200,000 readings

Thousands of visitors.

Thank you all.

Some parting thoughts. I appreciate the loyal visitors I have had these last few years. It has been almost three years and we started this just to have a dialogue inside a culture that watched the media dissolve and become cheerleaders. Trajan dropped off years ago but we are still friends and both agree that a long, painful and slow recovery from W will begin one day. Though this isn’t the end of his destructive reign, I think the point has been reached where most people realize he is just a pathetic fucking liar, a coward and dry drunk.

I did the best I could to carry on alone and keep your attention. I looked for the best articles I could find and on occasion I wrote an essay. I spent a lot of time in the Kossack community and became one of the top 100 diarists last year.

But realistically this blog will do little to change the world. It was just an outlet to say how much I hated the facists who shit on our flag and our Constitution.

From time to time I will revisit here and write something. Perhaps one day I will simply shut it down.

That said, Godspeed.

For now.

Judah Maccabee

White House Chief of Staff 

resigns

Monday, March 27, 2006

Delta Force Founder Comes Out Against Iraq War 

You have to love it when combat veterans come out against the war. Add this to the growing list of US Military experts, people who did not avoid military service, people who can’t stand silently anymore, speak up.

This fellow though, is special. This is from Eric Haney, the guy who started the first Special Operations Unit known as Delta Force.



Q: What's your assessment of the war in Iraq?

A: Utter debacle. But it had to be from the very first. The reasons were wrong. The reasons of this administration for taking this nation to war were not what they stated. (Army Gen.) Tommy Franks was brow-beaten and ... pursued warfare that he knew strategically was wrong in the long term. That's why he retired immediately afterward. His own staff could tell him what was going to happen afterward.

We have fomented civil war in Iraq. We have probably fomented internecine war in the Muslim world between the Shias and the Sunnis, and I think Bush may well have started the third world war, all for their own personal policies.




Please enjoy, and if you like to share, recommend. Link and more on the flip.


David Kronke, TV critic from dailynews.com, does a little journalism here. Actually this is a lot more journalism than we see in some US news networks.- and this from a TV critic.

Q: What is the cost to our country?

A: For the first thing, our credibility is utterly zero. So we destroyed whatever credibility we had. ... And I say "we," because the American public went along with this. They voted for a second Bush administration out of fear, so fear is what they're going to have from now on.

Our military is completely consumed, so were there a real threat - thankfully, there is no real threat to the U.S. in the world, but were there one, we couldn't confront it. Right now, that may not be a bad thing, because that keeps Bush from trying something with Iran or with Venezuela.

The harm that has been done is irreparable. There are more than 2,000 American kids that have been killed. Tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis have been killed ñ which no one in the U.S. really cares about those people, do they? I never hear anybody lament that fact. It has been a horror, and this administration has worked overtime to divert the American public's attention from it. Their lies are coming home to roost now, and it's gonna fall apart. But somebody's gonna have to clear up the aftermath and the harm that it's done just to what America stands for. It may be two or three generations in repairing.

Q: What do you make of the torture debate? Cheney ...

A: (Interrupting) That's Cheney's pursuit. The only reason anyone tortures is because they like to do it. It's about vengeance, it's about revenge, or it's about cover-up. You don't gain intelligence that way. Everyone in the world knows that. It's worse than small-minded, and look what it does.

I've argued this on Bill O'Reilly and other Fox News shows. I ask, who would you want to pay to be a torturer? Do you want someone that the American public pays to torture? He's an employee of yours. It's worse than ridiculous. It's criminal; it's utterly criminal. This administration has been masters of diverting attention away from real issues and debating the silly. Debating what constitutes torture: Mistreatment of helpless people in your power is torture, period. And (I'm saying this as) a man who has been involved in the most pointed of our activities. I know it, and all of my mates know it. You don't do it. It's an act of cowardice. I hear apologists for torture say, "Well, they do it to us." Which is a ludicrous argument. ... The Saddam Husseins of the world are not our teachers. Christ almighty, we wrote a Constitution saying what's legal and what we believed in. Now we're going to throw it away.

Q: As someone who repeatedly put your life on the line, did some of the most hair-raising things to protect your country, and to see your country behave this way, that must be ...

A: It's pretty galling. But ultimately I believe in the good and the decency of the American people, and they're starting to see what's happening and the lies that have been told. We're seeing this current house of cards start to flutter away. The American people come around. They always do.



Link here: http://www.dailynews.com/entertainment/ci_3641046

Nick Miroff Says 

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(from Huffington Post)

Has Latin America ever had such a unifying figure?

At political rallies, his visage is held aloft as a beacon to regional independence and self-determination. He's helped forge new trade partnerships to spur economic growth and alleviate poverty. And his leadership has fanned a gale-force electoral trend that's sweeping the hemisphere to topple one pro-Washington government after the next.

Who is this grand inductor of Latin American leftism? Venezuelan fireball Hugo Chavez? Blue-collar Brazilian Lula Ignacio da Silva? Bolivia's coca-farmer-cum-president, Evo Morales?

¡Epa! It's George W. Bush, the accidental revolutionary.

Nick Miroff Says 

.

Has Latin America ever had such a unifying figure?

At political rallies, his visage is held aloft as a beacon to regional independence and self-determination. He's helped forge new trade partnerships to spur economic growth and alleviate poverty. And his leadership has fanned a gale-force electoral trend that's sweeping the hemisphere to topple one pro-Washington government after the next.

Who is this grand inductor of Latin American leftism? Venezuelan fireball Hugo Chavez? Blue-collar Brazilian Lula Ignacio da Silva? Bolivia's coca-farmer-cum-president, Evo Morales?

¡Epa! It's George W. Bush, the accidental revolutionary.

Christopher Hitchens Said this in March 2003 

..

"This will be no war -- there will be a fairly brief and ruthless military intervention.... The president will give an order. [The attack] will be rapid, accurate and dazzling.... It will be greeted by the majority of the Iraqi people as an emancipation. And I say, bring it on."

Atrios Says 

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I know this has been said by others and no matter how many times it is restated paste-eaters like Jeff Goldstein will faily to comprehend but I'll give it one more try.

Imagine if 30 people were killed every day by car bombs in US cities. Monday, 30 dead in Denver. Tuesday, 30 dead in San Francisco. Wednesday, 30 dead in Philadelphia. You get the idea.

Now scale that roughly relative to population size. Make that 300 dead per day. Every day. Would the lead story on the evening news be about all the people who weren't blown up that day? No. The country would be completely hysterical.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

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The Rainwater Prophecy
Richard Rainwater made billions by knowing how to PROFIT FROM A CRISIS. Now he foresees the biggest one yet.
(FORTUNE Magazine)


By OLIVER RYAN
December 26, 2005

(FORTUNE Magazine) – Richard Rainwater doesn't want to sound like a kook. But he's about as worried as a happily married guy with more than $2 billion and a home in Pebble Beach can get. Americans are "in the kind of trouble people shouldn't find themselves in," he says. He's just wary about being the one to sound the alarm.

Rainwater is something of a behind-the-scenes type--at least as far as alpha-male billionaires go. He counts President Bush as a personal friend but dislikes politics, and frankly, when he gets worked up, he says some pretty far-out things that could easily be taken out of context. Such as: An economic tsunami is about to hit the global economy as the world runs out of oil. Or a coalition of communist and Islamic states may decide to stop selling their precious crude to Americans any day now. Or food shortages may soon hit the U.S. Or he read on a blog last night that there's this one gargantuan chunk of ice sitting on a precipice in Antarctica that, if it falls off, will raise sea levels worldwide by two feet--and it's getting closer to the edge.... And then he'll interrupt himself: "Look, I'm not predicting anything," he'll say. "That's when you get a little kooky-sounding."

Rainwater is no crackpot. But you don't get to be a multibillionaire investor--one who's more than doubled his net worth in a decade--through incremental gains on little stock trades. You have to push way past conventional thinking, test the boundaries of chaos, see events in a bigger context. You have to look at all the scenarios, from "A to friggin' Z," as he says, and not be afraid to focus on Z. Only when you've vacuumed up as much information as possible and you know the world is at a major inflection point do you put a hell of a lot of money behind your conviction.

Such insights have allowed Rainwater to turn moments of cataclysm into gigantic paydays before. In the mid-1990s he saw panic selling in Houston real estate and bought some 15 million square feet; now the properties are selling for three times his purchase price. In the late '90s, when oil seemed plentiful and its price had fallen to the low teens, he bet hundreds of millions--by investing in oil stocks and futures--that it would rise. A billion dollars later, that move is still paying off. "Most people invest and then sit around worrying what the next blowup will be," he says. "I do the opposite. I wait for the blowup, then invest."

The next blowup, however, looms so large that it scares and confuses him. For the past few months he's been holed up in hard-core research mode--reading books, academic studies, and, yes, blogs. Every morning he rises before dawn at one of his houses in Texas or South Carolina or California (he actually owns a piece of Pebble Beach Resorts) and spends four or five hours reading sites like LifeAftertheOilCrash.net or DieOff.org, obsessively following links and sifting through data. How worried is he? He has some $500 million of his $2.5 billion fortune in cash, more than ever before. "I'm long oil and I'm liquid," he says. "I've put myself in a position that if the end of the world came tomorrow I'd kind of be prepared." He's also ready to move fast if he spots an opening.

His instincts tell him that another enormous moneymaking opportunity is about to present itself, what he calls a "slow pitch down the middle." But, at 61, wealthier and happier than ever before, Rainwater finds himself reacting differently this time. He's focused more on staying rich than on getting richer. But there's something else too: a sort of billionaire-style civic duty he feels to get a conversation started. Why couldn't energy prices skyrocket, with grave repercussions, not just economic but political? As industry analysts debate whether the world's oil production is destined to decline, the prospect makes him itchy.

"This is a nonrecurring event," he says. "The 100-year flood in Houston real estate was one, the ability to buy oil and gas really cheap was another, and now there's the opportunity to do something based on a shortage of natural resources. Can you make money? Well, yeah. One way is to just stay long domestic oil. But there may be something more important than making money. This is the first scenario I've seen where I question the survivability of mankind. I don't want the world to wake up one day and say, 'How come some doofus billionaire in Texas made all this money by being aware of this, and why didn't someone tell us?'"

***

It feels like the last place you'd go looking for a rich man. Lake City, S.C., is a town of 6,500 in the low country two hours northwest of Charleston. Once the bustling home to small, independent tobacco farmers, now it's mostly a collection of abandoned gas stations, roadside churches, and fading brick walls with TRUST JESUS painted on them in big black letters. Unemployment hovers around 10% and would be worse if the Taiwanese plastics manufacturer Nan Ya hadn't opened up a sprawling factory on the edge of town.

Rainwater spends a lot of time in Lake City because of his wife, Darla Moore. A former star in bankruptcy financing at Chemical Bank who was once dubbed the "toughest babe in business" by FORTUNE, Moore, 51, grew up here. Her grandfather was one of the small tobacco farmers. Nowadays she lives on her grandparents' old farm. (Moore and Rainwater also own a lavish home in Charleston.) Rainwater calls Lake City the "middle of bum-fuck nowhere." But the truth is he's got everything he needs here: cable TV, a telephone, an automatic coffeemaker, a decent golf course up the road, and a fast Internet connection.

Measured against the languid pace of the surroundings, Rainwater's usual surplus of physical energy seems even more pronounced in Lake City. Tall, tan, and sturdily built, he has a hard time sitting still. He's run four marathons and offers that, when he was 40, he unexpectedly set the record in his age group on something called a "modified Balke protocol" treadmill test, a measure of the body's efficiency in absorbing oxygen. Rainwater bounces around the farm in shorts, a polo shirt, and a baseball cap, maintaining a running dialogue with Moore (whom he calls "Precious"), his staff, and anyone else who happens to be within earshot or on his speed dial. "He's maternal," says Moore. "And I'm paternal."

In the ongoing Richard and Darla show, Moore supplies the dry one-liners to his constant chatter. Lately she's been affectionately calling him "Dr. Doom." But she's not dismissing his concerns. Or harboring any illusions that she can talk him out of making a big investment once he settles on a theme. As president of Rainwater Inc. in the '90s, she was his partner in his last two big bets. And though she's at a stage in life where she might prefer to simplify her affairs rather than go off on another wild ride, she knows that soon he'll have to act. "We've been married for 15 years," she says. "This is the third time I've seen this. The massive intake of information has been complete. Now he's agonizing. We're in what I refer to as the raving mode--the latter stages of rave. This is the refinement stage. Then we're going to make decisions."

"It's not raving," he says. "I promise I am not a kook."

"You're kooking out a little. But I've seen the process before. I saw you go from zero to 100 miles per hour in real estate."

"And you saw me get into oil ten years ago," he says, then protests, "But I'm on the edge of being so old that it doesn't matter anymore. I've won the heavyweight championship before. Instead of taking one more swing, maybe I should just retire a winner." Moore's not buying it. "Buckwheat," she says, using her nickname for him, "There's not a chance in a million you won't swing. He can't not. It's the nature of the animal."

***

"Rainwater," the voice on the phone announces. "Now, type L-A-T-O-C into Yahoo, and scroll down to the seventh item." Rainwater doesn't use e-mail. Rather, he uses rapid-fire phone calls to spread the gospel he discovers every morning on the web. One day it might be the decline of arable land in Malaysia. The next it could be the Olduvai theory of per capita energy consumption. "L-A-T-O-C" stands for LifeAfterTheOilCrash.net, a blog edited by Matt Savinar, 27, of Santa Rosa, Calif. (which Rainwater calls "a hotbed for survivalist types"), who was on his way to being a lawyer when his side project began climbing up Google's rankings. The site is now the No. 2 result of a search on "oil." Savinar keeps a running diary of all manner of news and information relating to "peak oil," a once-wonkish geological debate that has recently crossed over not only to late-night talk shows but even onto the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.

"Peak oil" theorists posit that global production is at or near its historic ceiling and will begin a long, inexorable decline. They worry that America is not ready for the downturn, for skyrocketing prices and even shortages. Savinar's site's opening line is, "Civilization as we know it is coming to an end." Rainwater has been checking it every morning since September, when his personal anxiety alert level moved to orange. "I can almost pinpoint the date," says Moore. "It was right after he read that book."

In August a friend gave Rainwater a copy of The Long Emergency, a dystopic view of the future written by ex-Rolling Stone writer James Kunstler, otherwise known for his passionate dislike of suburbia. Taking peak oil as a given, Kunstler argues that Americans have been "sleepwalking" through the end of a "100-year fossil fuel fiesta." The problem, he points out, is not that the world will run out of oil tomorrow, but rather that the lack of growth in oil production will wreak havoc on a global economic system predicated on perpetual expansion. Kunstler's "long emergency" is a decidedly unpleasant interval during which the world--and Americans in particular--must adapt to a post-oil regime of scarce energy and economic stagnation, a time of likely wars and the disappearance of all-American things like Wal-Mart and cul-de-sac homes 45 minutes by minivan from the office.

Rainwater doesn't completely buy into Kunstler's doom and gloom. "It's the Z scenario," he says. But at the same time, he worries that Kunstler isn't wrong enough, and he's been buying extra copies of the book and passing them around to the many titans of capitalism who are his protégés. It's not the first doomsday book in Rainwater's life: His big bet on oil in the late '90s was kicked off by a work called Beyond the Limits, the sequel to a '70s sensation called The Limits of Growth. Written by three professors armed with an MIT-bred computer called World3, the Limits books projected that, left unchecked, human population would, within 100 years, overshoot the capacity of the planet to serve up sufficient vitamins and minerals--let alone absorb all the waste and pollution--to keep everyone healthy. Rainwater took the book to heart. "Right after I read it, I said, 'They've figured it out, I'm going to follow this thing.' "

His ensuing oil bet was only the latest triumph for the grandson of a Lebanese immigrant (on his mother's side) who, according to family lore, picked up his last name from a Cherokee ancestor. His mother had worked at J.C. Penney to put him and his brother through the University of Texas. In 1970, after a short stint at Goldman Sachs, he joined Stanford Business School pal Sid Bass in managing the Bass family money in Fort Worth. Over the next decade and a half, he helped turn the family's modest $50 million fortune into one worth upwards of $5 billion.

In the process Rainwater's investing style emerged: analytically rigorous but opportunistic and Texas-sized in its audacity. He'd buy public companies or private. He'd use futures and leverage, sometimes 20 to 1. He even started companies. If he thought an idea was right, he put capital behind it. With the Basses, he resurrected the likes of Disney--recruiting Michael Eisner to be CEO--and bet early on cellphones. Later, when he went out on his own in 1986, his office drew a who's who of hard-charging capitalists to Fort Worth. In the heyday of Rainwater Inc., Eddie Lampert, the hedge fund tycoon turned head of Sears Holdings, had a desk, as did Daniel Stern, now of $3 billion Reservoir Capital. Ken Hersh, who has compounded money at 31% annually for 17 years at Natural Gas Partners, started there. With Rick Scott, Rainwater founded Columbia Healthcare, which merged with HCA and became the country's biggest for-profit hospital company (Scott was later forced out as CEO amid a federal fraud investigation). Even George W. Bush kept an office, when he and Rainwater were putting together the Texas Rangers stadium deal.

***

On a Tuesday afternoon in mid-November, Rainwater and Moore are holding court in the 14th-floor conference room of Reservoir Capital in Midtown Manhattan, where he camps out when he's in New York (he has money invested with the fund). He has gathered Reservoir's Stern, Goldman alum and Crestview Partners co-founder Barry Volpert, and a couple of guests, and he is expounding on the implications of the peak-oil theory: "I believe in Hubbert's Peak. I came out of Texas. I watched oil fields reach peak and go over, and I've watched how people would do all they could, put whatever amount of money into the field, and they couldn't do anything about it."

In the 1940s and 1950s, a Shell geologist named M. King Hubbert observed that the production from any given oil field follows a bell curve, with annual volumes increasing until half the oil in the field is depleted, and declining thereafter. Basically, the bottom oil is harder to extract. King reasoned that production from all U.S. fields would follow a similar curve and predicted in 1956 that total U.S. oil production would peak in the early 1970s. His analysis caused a furor and was widely disparaged, but proved correct. "Hubbert's Peak" entered the lexicon of oil analysis--one of the great geological I-told-you-so's. Forty-nine years later, a growing number of noted geologists and industry analysts suggest that the global oil supply may now be topping out, a claim that has been met by skepticism from yet other geologists and economists who say higher prices will spawn both more discovery and improved recovery from existing fields.

Rainwater sides with the imminent peak crowd, and can rattle off facts to back up his argument. "In 1988 there were 15 million barrels a day of shut-in production"--meaning surplus that could be tapped--"and the world was using about 55 million barrels of oil. Today the world is using over 80 million, and there's no shut-in production left. We've used it up, through the combination of depletion and growth." In other words, the spigot can't be opened any wider.

What concerns him most is the conflict that he thinks an oil shortage will precipitate. What happens when people get blindsided by prices rocketing past any level they have contemplated--especially when you factor in other challenges America faces? "We've got a lot of things going on simultaneously," he says. "The world as we know it is unwinding with respect to Social Security, pensions, Medicare. We're going to have dramatically increased taxes in the U.S. I believe we're going into a world where there's going to be more hostility. More people are going to be asking, 'Why did God do this to us?' Whatever God they worship. Alfred Sloan said it a long time ago at General Motors, that we're giving these things during good times. What happens in bad times? We're going to have to take them back, and then everybody will riot.' And he's right."

***

Part of Rainwater's routine when he's down on the farm is to go for gizzards at Allison's, a no-frills truck stop up the road. Driving in a red BMW SUV on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, he points out who lives where: the local doctor, the Taiwanese Nan Ya workers. He chokes up momentarily passing the home of a woman who worked at the farm, whose son has just returned from serving in Iraq. The sheer incongruity of his wealth in Lake City is not lost on him. But at Allison's he seems right at home, lathering the deep-fried gizzards with hot sauce and self-serving a large coffee which he spices at the hot chocolate machine.

Back on the farm that night, he and Moore discuss future projects with their landscaper, Jenks Farmer, over a glass of wine. Farmer, who has a master's in horticulture and lives on the property, maintains Moore's extensive gardens, including vegetable beds that produce all year round. That morning Rainwater had been surfing the web, researching greenhouses in his quest to further ensure a steady flow of food through the winter. At his prodding, Moore has installed an emergency generator and 500-gallon storage tanks for diesel fuel and water. When Rainwater says that he's thinking about opening a for-profit survivability center, it's not entirely clear that he's joking.

Later in the night Rainwater returns to musing on how different his lot is from the residents of Lake City. And then, returning to the debate in his head, he gets a serious look on his face and says: "This is going to get a little religious. I ask why I was blessed with this insightfulness. Everyone who has achieved something, scientists, ballplayers, thinks they were given their talent for a reason. Why me? Was I given this insightfulness at this particular time? Or was I just given this insightfulness?" He pauses. "I just want people to look out. 'Cause it could be bad." FEEDBACK oryan@fortunemail.com

Worry
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A Soldier Speaks



"I never hear that because we all here know the good news stories are bullshit and do not really affect the mission in any way. It's like this thing we keep saying here about all the new people we've recruited for the iraqi police. It leaves out the fact that my platoon was in a 40 minute gun fight with the iraqi police. So you recruited more of them ... awesome! I am sure that will make everything better. Also, they don't do ANYTHING. They don't even leave their building, and that is not an exaggeration. They don't. So what good is a billion-man police force that doesn't do anything? Also, they get almost no training. They tried to stand up some kind of mentoring initiative here using the guardsmen that are civilian cops, but it so far has fallen through. They will get set up to be killed, as is already suspected of the THREE SVBIEDs that have hit their station. Inside jobs, all. During our fight with them, we picked up the police chief (who was riding in a car that was shooting at a coalition vehicle -- an M1A1. You know how that story ends) and he was with a guy (who it turned out was his nephew) who had this radical islamic terrorist literature on him. It would be a joke if it weren't costing our lives.

"the iraqi army is making progress and we're handing over more and more to them everyday." Complete bullshit. What's the good news in the fact that all their logistics, medical, engineering, staff function, etc. is being done by us? ALL OF IT. And PS, they're not being trained on any of the other shit, either, except a broken medical training program.

You can clearly see by reading the news how much it matters that X number of people have power now. The bottom line is, the overwhelming majority of people live in fear. We can do NOTHING to help them. We don't have anywhere near the manpower, and our actions are too severely restricted. Good thing 2500 people died for this.

What are the good news stories? I would love to hear them. Spare me the heart warming tales of a single family or school or neighborhood that was helped. Operation Iraqi Freedom is, at this point, an abject failure. This is the most dangerous place on earth and it's getting worse, not better.

Also, you have to consider that our definition of good news is not the iraqi definition of good news. These people are not americans. Culturally, they do not respect or appreciate the same things we do. "Our neighborhood has power now! It's about time, infidels. What about the water?" "Hey, thanks for the medicine for our clinic! I'm still totally supporting the insurgency, but at least i can provide them better medical care now." Giving them shit does not win their allegiance. They don't think, "wow, I was wrong about americans." It just gives them shit.

The "we don't hear good news from Iraq" mindset is one that is totally ignorant of Iraqi culture. There is no good news. There's a bunch of people getting handed shit, and it doesn't change a single thing."

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Hello 902nd Military Intelligence Group 


Thursday, March 23, 2006

out fishing 

back on sunday

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

How to spot a baby conservative 

Link: http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1142722231554&call_pageid=970599119419

Toronto Star





Remember the whiny, insecure kid in nursery school, the one who always thought everyone was out to get him, and was always running to the teacher with complaints? Chances are he grew up to be a conservative.

At least, he did if he was one of 95 kids from the Berkeley area that social scientists have been tracking for the last 20 years. The confident, resilient, self-reliant kids mostly grew up to be liberals.

The study from the Journal of Research Into Personality isn't going to make the UC Berkeley professor who published it any friends on the right. Similar conclusions a few years ago from another academic saw him excoriated on right-wing blogs, and even led to a Congressional investigation into his research funding.

But the new results are worth a look. In the 1960s Jack Block and his wife and fellow professor Jeanne Block (now deceased) began tracking more than 100 nursery school kids as part of a general study of personality. The kids' personalities were rated at the time by teachers and assistants who had known them for months. There's no reason to think political bias skewed the ratings * the investigators were not looking at political orientation back then. Even if they had been, it's unlikely that 3- and 4-year-olds would have had much idea about their political leanings.

A few decades later, Block followed up with more surveys, looking again at personality, and this time at politics, too. The whiny kids tended to grow up conservative, and turned into rigid young adults who hewed closely to traditional gender roles and were uncomfortable with ambiguity.

The confident kids turned out liberal and were still hanging loose, turning into bright, non-conforming adults with wide interests. The girls were still outgoing, but the young men tended to turn a little introspective.

Block admits in his paper that liberal Berkeley is not representative of the whole country. But within his sample, he says, the results hold. He reasons that insecure kids look for the reassurance provided by tradition and authority, and find it in conservative politics. The more confident kids are eager to explore alternatives to the way things are, and find liberal politics more congenial.

In a society that values self-confidence and out-goingness, it's a mostly flattering picture for liberals. It also runs contrary to the American stereotype of wimpy liberals and strong conservatives.

Of course, if you're studying the psychology of politics, you shouldn't be surprised to get a political reaction. Similar work by John T. Jost of Stanford and colleagues in 2003 drew a political backlash. The researchers reviewed 44 years worth of studies into the psychology of conservatism, and concluded that people who are dogmatic, fearful, intolerant of ambiguity and uncertainty, and who crave order and structure are more likely to gravitate to conservatism. Critics branded it the "conservatives are crazy" study and accused the authors of a political bias.

Jost welcomed the new study, saying it lends support to his conclusions. But Jeff Greenberg, a social psychologist at the University of Arizona who was critical of Jost's study, was less impressed.
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Nobody knows what will transpire between now and November and how much intensity each party's voters will have, but as of now, Democrats have a pronounced intensity advantage and enough of one to probably outweigh the GOP organizational edge.

Good news

------

The charge that the administration is all thumbs is gaining steam and it's not coming from just die-hard Democrats. I think of it as the nondenominational argument, one that stretches across the political spectrum. Its resonance explains the polls showing independents and even some Republicans losing heart. Debates about whether we should be in Iraq have given way to doubts about whether we can recover from our blunders. As the body count mounts, and as the tales and pictures of horror multiply, the doubts grow.

While Bush now concedes those doubts and has begun to confront them more directly, Cheney adds to them every time he opens his pie hole. On Sunday, asked on CBS about his claim three years ago that "we will be greeted as liberators" and one last year that the insurgency was in its "last throes," he insisted both claims were accurate and blamed the media for distorting the facts. Echoes of Vietnam there - right down to spreading B.S. and blaming the messenger for the odor. He should just put a sock in it.

Now they figure this out

Jane Smiley Has Help For those who just Discovered W is an asshat 

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Bruce Bartlett, The Cato Institute, Andrew Sullivan, George Packer, William F. Buckley, Sandra Day O'Connor, Republican voters in Indiana and all the rest of you newly-minted dissenters from Bush's faith-based reality seem, right now, to be glorying in your outrage, which is always a pleasure and feels, at the time, as if it is having an effect, but those of us who have been anti-Bush from day 1 (defined as the day after the stolen 2000 election) have a few pointers for you that should make your transition more realistic.

1. Bush doesn't know you disagree with him. Nothing about you makes you of interest to George W. Bush once you no longer agree with and support him. No degree of relationship (father, mother, etc.), no longstanding friendly intercourse (Jack Abramoff), no degree of expertise (Brent Scowcroft), no essential importance (Tony Blair, American voters) makes any difference. There is nothing you have to
offer that makes Bush want to know you once you have come to disagree with him. Your opinions and feelings now exist in a world entirely external to the mind of George W. Bush. You are now just one of those "polls" that he pays no attention to. When you were on his side, you thought that showed "integrity" on his part. It doesn't. It shows an absolute inability to learn from experience.

2. Bush doesn't care whether you disagree with him. As a man who has dispensed with the reality-based world, and is entirely protected by his handlers from feeling the effects of that world, he is indifferent to what you now think is real. Is the Iraq war a failure and a quagmire? Bush doesn't care. Is global warming beginning to affect us right now? So what. Have all of his policies with regard to Iran been misguided and counter-productive? He never thinks about it. You know that Katrina tape in which Bush never asked a question? It doesn't matter how much you know or how passionately you feel or, most importantly, what degree of disintegration you see around you, he's not going to ask you a question. You and your ideas are dead to him. You cannot change his mind. Nine percent of polled Americans would agree with attacking Iran right now. To George Bush, that will be a mandate, if and when he feels like doing it, because...

3. Bush does what he feels like doing and he deeply resents being told, even politely, that he ought to do anything else. This is called a "sense of entitlement". Bush is a man who has never been anywhere and never done anything, and yet he has been flattered and cajoled into being president of the United States through his connections, all of whom thought they could use him for their own purposes. He has a surface charm that appeals to a certain type of American man, and he has used that charm to claim all sorts of perks, and then to fail at everything he has ever done. He did not complete his flight training, he failed at oil investing, he was a front man and a glad-hander as a baseball owner. As the Governor of Texas, he originated one educational program that turned out to be a debacle; as the President of the US, his policies have constituted one screw-up after another. You have stuck with him through all of this, made excuses for him, bailed him out. From his point of view, he is perfectly entitled by his own experience to a sense of entitlement. Why would he ever feel the need to reciprocate? He's never had to before this.

4. President Bush is your creation. When the US Supreme Court humiliated itself in 2000 by handing the presidency to Bush even though two of the justices (Scalia and Thomas) had open conflicts of interest, you did not object. When the Bush administration adopted an "Anything but Clinton" policy that resulted in ignoring and dismissing all warnings of possible terrorist attacks on US soil, you went along with and made excuses for Bush. When the Bush administration allowed the corrupt Enron corporation to swindle California ratepayers and taxpayers in a last ditch effort to balance their books in 2001, you laughed at the Californians and ignored the links between Enron and the administration. When it was evident that the evidence for the war in Iraq was cooked and that State Department experts on the Middle East were not behind the war and so it was going to be run as an exercise in incompetence, you continued to attack those who were against the war in vicious terms and to defend policies that simply could not work. On intelligent design, global warming, doctoring of scientific results to reflect ideology, corporate tax giveaways, the K Street project, the illegal redistricting of Texas, torture at Gitmo and Abu Ghraib, the Terry Schiavo fiasco, and the cronyism that led to the destruction of New Orleans you have failed to speak out with integrity or honesty, preferring power to truth at every turn. Bush does what he wants because you have let him.

5. Tyranny is your creation. What we have today is the natural and inevitable outcome of ideas and policies you have promoted for the last generation. I once knew a guy who was still a Marxist in 1980. Whenever I asked him why Communism had failed in Russia and China, he said "Mistakes were made". He could not believe that Marxism itself was at fault, just as you cannot believe that the ideology of the unregulated free market has created the world we live in today. You are tempted to say: "Mistakes have been made", but in fact, psychologically and sociologically, no mistakes have been made. The unregulated free market has operated to produce a government in its own image. In an unregulated free market, for example, cheating is merely another sort of advantage that, supposedly, market forces might eventually "shake out" of the system. Of course, anyone with common sense understands that cheaters do damage that sometimes cannot be repaired before they are "shaken out", but according to the principles of the unregulated free market, the victims of that sort of damage are just out of luck and the damage that happens to them is just a sort of "culling". It is no accident that our government is full of cheaters--they learned how to profit from cheating when they were working in corporations that were using bribes, perks, and secret connections to cheat their customers of good products, their neighbors of healthy environmental conditions, their workers of workplace safety and decent paychecks. It was only when the corporations began cheating their shareholders that any of you squealed, but you should know from your own experience that the unregulated free market as a "level playing field" was the biggest laugh of the 20th century. No successful company in the history of capitalism has ever favored open competition. When you folks pretended, in the eighties, that you weren't using the ideology of the free market to cover your own manipulations of the playing field to your own advantage, you may have suckered yourselves, and even lots of American workers, but observers of capitalism since Adam Smith could have told you it wasn't going to work.

And then there was the way you used racism and religious intolerance to gain and hold onto power. Nixon was cynical about it--taking the party of Lincoln and reaching out to disaffected southern racists, drumming up a backlash against the Civil Rights movement for the sake of votes, but none of you has been any less vicious. Racism might have died an unlamented death in this country, but you kept it alive with phrases like "welfare queen" and your resistance to affirmative action and taxation for programs to help people in our country with nothing, or very little. You opted not to take the moral high ground and recognize that the whole nation would be better off without racism, but rather to increase class divisions and racial divisions for the sake of your own comfort, pleasure, and profit. You have used religion in exactly the same way. Instead of strongly defending the constitutional separation of church and state, you have encouraged radical fundamentalist sects to believe that they can take power in the US and mold our secular government to their own image, and get rich doing it. The US could have become a moderating force in what seems now to be an inevitable battle among the three monotheistic Abrahamic religions, but you have made that impossible by flattering and empowering our own violent and intolerant Christian right.

You have created an imperium, heedless of the most basic wisdom of the Founding Fathers--that at the very least, no man is competent enough or far-seeing enough to rule imperially. Checks and balances were instituted by Madison, Jefferson, Franklin, and the rest of them not because of some abstract distrust of power, but because they had witnessed the screw-ups and idiocies of unchecked power. You yourselves have demonstrated the failures of unchecked power--in an effort to achieve it, you have repeatedly contravened the expressed wishes of most Americans, who favor a moderate foreign policy, reasonable domestic programs, a goverrnment that works, environmental preservation, women's rights to contraception, abortion, and a level playing field. Somehow you thought you could mold the imperium to reflect your wishes, but guess what--that's what an imperium is--one man rule. If you fear the madness of King George, you have no recourse if you've given up the checks and balances that you inherited and that were meant to protect you.

Your ideas and your policies have promoted selfishness, greed, short-term solutions, bullying, and pain for others. You have looked in the faces of children and denied the existence of a "common good". You have disdained and denied the idea of "altruism". At one time, our bureaucracy was full of people who had gone into government service or scientific research for altruistic reasons--I knew, because I knew some of them. You have driven them out and replaced them with vindictive ignoramuses. You have lied over and over about your motives, for example, making laws that hurt people and calling it "originalist interpretations of the Constitution" (conveniently ignoring the Ninth Amendment). You have increased the powers of corporations at the expense of every other sector in the nation and actively defied any sort of regulation that would require these corporations to treat our world with care and respect. You have made economic growth your deity, and in doing so, you have accelerated the power of the corporations to destroy the atmosphere, the oceans, the ice caps, the rainforests, and the climate. You have produced CEOs in charge of lots of resources and lots of people who have no more sense of reciprocity or connection or responsibility than George W. Bush.

Now you are fleeing him, but it's only because he's got the earmarks of a loser. Your problem is that you don't know why he's losing. You think he's made mistakes. But no. He's losing because the ideas that you taught him and demonstrated for him are bad ideas, self-destructive ideas, and even suicidal ideas. And they are immoral ideas. You should be ashamed of yourselves because not only have your ideas not worked to make the world a better place, they were inhumane and cruel to begin with, and they have served to cultivate and excuse the inhumane and cruel character traits of those who profess them.

6. As Bad as Bush is, Cheney is Worse.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

What she said 

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Shame

georgia10


I am ashamed. I am ashamed of this President. Aren't you? After watching his press conference today, a sense of shame overtook me. I'm ashamed that he took to the podium today as if he emptied out a container of laughing gas. I'm ashamed of a President who has the temerity to laugh when asked a question about war. I'm ashamed of the whores of the fourth estate who care more about having the honor of being the butt of one of the President's jokes than about exposing the truth to the American people. I'm ashamed that millions of my fellow Americans are so scared and so desperate for leadership that they believe the President's bullshit.

I am ashamed. I'm ashamed of this President, this megalomaniac hellbent on leaving his assprint on the map of the Middle East, no matter how much destruction is wrought and no matter how much blood flows in the streets of lands that never threatened us. I'm ashamed that when I see the American flag waiving, images of flag-draped coffins flash in my mind. I'm ashamed of Freedom's MarchTM. Ashamed when I see villages reduced to rubble. Ashamed when I see the tiny little corpses. God, they're so painfully tiny--lined up in a row, little angels wrapped in colorful blankets that starkly contrast against their gray-tinged faces. Ashamed when I see wailing Iraqis slam their hands against plain, unvarnished coffins, over and over, asking "Why? Is this democracy? Why?" When I see those image of funerals, of broken families, I want to crawl into my TV, I want to go to them and grab their slumped shoulders and scream "I'm sorry, good god, I'm so sorry. I want to leave, I want us to leave, believe me. But they won't listen...No one listens anymore."

I'm ashamed that the word "massacre" is even uttered in connection with our actions in Iraq. I'm ashamed it's not just one massacre that is alleged, but two. I'm ashamed it's gotten to the point that I can't even tell this little voice inside of me to shut up, that little voice that says maybe, just maybe it could be true. That the impossible may be plausible. Before this war, I would have rejected such claims outright. But that voice of plausibility is the consequence of those black hoods. It's the consequence of those leashes, those snarling dogs. It's the consequence of those detainees chained to bedframes. Of naked pyramids. Of forced sex acts. Of beatings and blood-streaked floors.

I am ashamed. Ashamed that Justice is no longer blindfolded, but gagged. Ashamed that in America, in AMERICA, I can only protest in "free speech zones" the size of postage stamps. Ashamed that by the time I'll take my oath as an officer of the court to support the Constitution, I'll be swearing to uphold a tattered document that has managed to survive over 200 years only to be shredded by this President in less than eight.

I am ashamed. Ashamed that in America, I see bearded men panhandling in the street, holding cardboard signs that read "U.S. Vet, can't work, need food. God bless." Ashamed that somewhere, in our America, a grandmother is sitting alone at her kitchen table, crumpled bills clutched in her thin hands, agonizing over the choice before her: medicine for her pain, or food to keep on living. Ashamed that there is a child who will go to sleep tonight on a cot in an orphanage, with no one to read him a story, no one to stroke his hair and kiss him goodnight, because the American Taliban thinks gay Americans can't love, can't parent, can't provide.

I am ashamed of my fellow Americans. Ashamed that they haven't flooded the streets. Ashamed they care more about Brangelina than the Bill of Rights. Ashamed that they're seemingly ok with the subtle but steady transformation from democracy to dictatorship. Ashamed that they are so gullible.

I am ashamed of myself. For not having the courage or the strength to do anything else but sit here and blog. I write. I protest. I vote. And yet, I'm impotent. Stuck in a unrelenting cycle of hope and despair and hope and despair. What a curse it is to be 23 and want to change the world. What a curse to be so disillusioned so early in life. What a curse to want to change a world that will not change...that cannot change? That cannot change as long as we sit and wait for others to change it. That cannot change as long as our elected Democrats refuse to take a principled stand. That cannot change until they--until we--appreciate the gravity of the situation before us: we are losing America.

This is not America. I refuse to accept it. America doesn't torture. America doesn't jail people incommunicado for years. America doesn't sit idly by as an entire people are exterminated in Darfur. America doesn't stifle science. America doesn't conduct massive, secret spying on innocent citizens. America doesn't believe the individual is an annoyance, an impediment to supreme government power. This isn't the greatest democracy on earth. This isn't the nation that pioneered human rights. This isn't the America that leads the world, that leads humanity towards a greater good. No, I refuse to accept this America of shame. This is not my America. It is an America perverted by Republican stewardship. A nation that under GOP rule has abandoned its founding ideals of freedom, liberty, and justice for all. True Americans--coast to coast, young and old--now bow their heads silently in collective shame for a nation that has lost its way.

Here's What A Real Military Leader Says 

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A Top-Down Review for the Pentagon
By PAUL D. EATON

Fox Island, Wash.

DURING World War II, American soldiers en route to Britain before D-Day were given a pamphlet on how to behave while awaiting the invasion. The most important quote in it was this: "It is impolite to criticize your host; it is militarily stupid to criticize your allies."

By that rule, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is not competent to lead our armed forces. First, his failure to build coalitions with our allies from what he dismissively called "old Europe" has imposed far greater demands and risks on our soldiers in Iraq than necessary. Second, he alienated his allies in our own military, ignoring the advice of seasoned officers and denying subordinates any chance for input.

In sum, he has shown himself incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically, and is far more than anyone else responsible for what has happened to our important mission in Iraq. Mr. Rumsfeld must step down.

In the five years Mr. Rumsfeld has presided over the Pentagon, I have seen a climate of groupthink become dominant and a growing reluctance by experienced military men and civilians to challenge the notions of the senior leadership.

I thought we had a glimmer of hope last November when Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, faced off with Mr. Rumsfeld on the question of how our soldiers should react if they witnessed illegal treatment of prisoners by Iraqi authorities. (General Pace's view was that our soldiers should intervene, while Mr. Rumsfeld's position was that they should simply report the incident to superiors.)

Unfortunately, the general subsequently backed down and supported the secretary's call to have the rules clarified, giving the impression that our senior man in uniform is just as intimidated by Secretary Rumsfeld as was his predecessor, Gen. Richard Myers.

Mr. Rumsfeld has put the Pentagon at the mercy of his ego, his cold warrior's view of the world and his unrealistic confidence in technology to replace manpower. As a result, the Army finds itself severely undermanned — cut to 10 active divisions but asked by the administration to support a foreign policy that requires at least 12 or 14.

Only Gen. Eric Shinseki, the Army chief of staff when President Bush was elected, had the courage to challenge the downsizing plans. So Mr. Rumsfeld retaliated by naming General Shinseki's successor more than a year before his scheduled retirement, effectively undercutting his authority. The rest of the senior brass got the message, and nobody has complained since.

Now the Pentagon's new Quadrennial Defense Review shows that Mr. Rumsfeld also fails to understand the nature of protracted counterinsurgency warfare in Iraq and the demands it places on ground forces. The document, amazingly, does not call for enlarging the Army; rather, it increases only our Special Operations forces, by a token 15 percent, maybe 1,500 troops.

Mr. Rumsfeld has also failed in terms of operations in Iraq. He rejected the so-called Powell Doctrine of overwhelming force and sent just enough tech-enhanced troops to complete what we called Phase III of the war — ground combat against the uniformed Iraqis. He ignored competent advisers like Gen. Anthony Zinni and others who predicted that the Iraqi Army and security forces might melt away after the state apparatus self-destructed, leading to chaos.

It is all too clear that General Shinseki was right: several hundred thousand men would have made a big difference then, as we began Phase IV, or country reconstruction. There was never a question that we would make quick work of the Iraqi Army.

The true professional always looks to the "What's next?" phase. Unfortunately, the supreme commander, Gen. Tommy Franks, either didn't heed that rule or succumbed to Secretary Rumsfeld's bullying. We won't know which until some bright historian writes the true story of Mr. Rumsfeld and the generals he took to war, an Iraq version of the Vietnam War classic "Dereliction of Duty" by H. R. McMaster.

Last, you don't expect a secretary of defense to be criticized for tactical ineptness. Normally, tactics are the domain of the soldier on the ground. But in this case we all felt what L. Paul Bremer, the former viceroy in Iraq, has called the "8,000-mile screwdriver" reaching from the Pentagon. Commanders in the field had their discretionary financing for things like rebuilding hospitals and providing police uniforms randomly cut; money to pay Iraqi construction firms to build barracks was withheld; contracts we made for purchasing military equipment for the new Iraqi Army were rewritten back in Washington.

Donald Rumsfeld demands more than loyalty. He wants fealty. And he has hired men who give it. Consider the new secretary of the Army, Francis Harvey, who when faced with the compelling need to increase the service's size has refused to do so. He is instead relying on the shell game of hiring civilians to do jobs that had previously been done by soldiers, and thus keeping the force strength static on paper. This tactic may help for a bit, but it will likely fall apart in the next budget cycle, with those positions swiftly eliminated.

So, what to do?

First, President Bush should accept the offer to resign that Mr. Rumsfeld says he has tendered more than once, and hire a man who will listen to and support the magnificent soldiers on the ground. Perhaps a proven Democrat like Senator Joseph Lieberman could repair fissures that have arisen both between parties and between uniformed men and the Pentagon big shots.

More vital in the longer term, Congress must assert itself. Too much power has shifted to the executive branch, not just in terms of waging war but also in planning the military of the future. Congress should remember it still has the power of the purse; it should call our generals, colonels, captains and sergeants to testify frequently, so that their opinions and needs are known to the men they lead. Then when they are asked if they have enough troops — and no soldier has ever had enough of anything, more is always better — the reply is public.

Our most important, and sometimes most severe, judges are our subordinates. That is a fact I discovered early in my military career. It is, unfortunately, a lesson Donald Rumsfeld seems incapable of learning.

Paul D. Eaton, a retired Army major general, was in charge of training the Iraqi military from 2003 to 2004.




A Real Military Hero

So many lies 

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The other night Jon Stewart showed a clip of Bush telling an audience that we had evidence that Iran had been making IED bomb components for Iraqis to use against our troops.

In a clip that followed, the Senior Reuters White House Correspondent asked Rumsfeld and General Pace if they had any evidence that Iran was making bomb components. Rummy looked at Peter Pace, Pace looked at Rummyn and turned towards the reporter and he answered: "I do not."

Yesterday in Cleveland, someone phrased a simple question- something like: You gave us three reasons to invade, WMDS, Saddams involvement in 9/11, and that Saddam had bought yellowcake from Niger. None of those turned out ot be true.

Bush interrupted and said: No, that's a misperception, I never actually said that....

Turns out he said exactly those things in the 2003 state of the union speech.




Here's my point.

Bush is a liar. A bald-faced, unrepentant liar.

Keep that in mind tghe next time a pollster asks you if you would enjoy having a beer with him. Our illegitimate president is a liar.

That's a fact that no one can dispute.

Monday, March 20, 2006

asshats 

Oy

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Iraqi police have accused U.S. troops of executing 11 people, including a 75-year-old woman and a 6-month-old infant, in the aftermath of a raid Wednesday on a house about 60 miles north of Baghdad.

--

Anyone who hoped that the third anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq would inspire the country’s leading newspapers to finally editorialize for a radical change in the White House’s war policy has to be disappointed, again. From this evidence, the editorial boards of The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, the Knight Ridder collective, and others appear to be as clueless about what to do as are Mr. Bush and Mr. Rumsfeld.

From Editor and Publisher

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On the third anniversary of the US invasion in Iraq, the United States is still fighting an enemy it barely knows. Washington relies on crude, broad-brush identifications -- Saddamists, Islamofascists, and the like. Rather than analyze the armed opposition's strategy and objectives, it assumes them. Rather than listen to what the insurgents say, it dismisses it. All of which is mystifying and, of far greater importance, self-defeating.

From Crisis Groups
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The Strange Case of the Dead Girl in Joe Scarborough’s Office.

Posted: 2003-08-21 10:56

I started this thread because there appears to be a general lack of information about the death of Lori Kaye Klausutis, an aide to then-GOP Congressman Joe Scarborough, who now makes his living on MSNBC accusing Democrats of doing bad things.

On the morning of July 20, 2001, Lori Klausutis was found dead in Congressman Scarborough's Fort Walton Beach office. Scarborough, who had announced a month before her death that he was leaving Congress "to spend more time with his family," was "unavailable for comment" following her death. Female employee found dead in Scarborough's district office

His reticence was not shared by the medical examiner, Michael Berkland, who announced to reporters within a day after the body was discovered it was his "understanding" that Klausutis "had prior health problems." These prior problems likely did not include a skull fracture, however -- which was the immediate cause of her death. Autopsy shows aide died of fatal head injury (Note: Berkland's curious professional history is described in more detail below)

The local police chief, Steve Hogue, initially denied that there were any signs of trauma to Klausutis' body, a claim that medical examiner Berkland later said was a well-intentioned lie meant to prevent people from questioning how she died: "The last thing we wanted to do was answer 40 questions about a head injury." Those questions might have included queries about who had been the last person to see Lori Klausutis alive. According to the police report, lights were seen on in the office where Klausutis was found about three hours before her body was discovered. The security guard who patrolled the office complex, however, said the doors were locked and the lights out.

Although acknowledging that Klausutis was killed by a blow to the head, Berkland claimed that she suffered from a previously-undiagnosed heart condition that he "thought" caused an arrhythmia that cut off the flow of blood to her brain. Diagnosing this condition required a microscopic examination of her heart and brain tissue, according to Berkland. When this arrhythmia occurred, she passed out and suffered the fatal blow as she fell to the floor. Heart condition led to aide's death

Contrary to Berkland's initial claim that Klausutis was in poor health, she was in fact "a healthy, vivacious young woman" who ran in marathons and was an active member of her community -- according to members of her family, as later acknowledged by her boss, Congressman Scarborough. Lori Klausutis, July 27, 2001 column by Joe Scarborough (Note: Scarborough apparently participated in spreading initial reports that Klausutis was in poor health. For this and a few words about Congressman Scarborough's ... interesting ... worldview see the paragraphs that follow)

Klausutis was consistently described as vivacious and outgoing, and earned the nickname "Little Mary Sunshine." But the day of her death, she appeared nervous, according to a mail carrier who saw her, and said she was not feeling well but did not elaborate. Aide found dead had said she felt ill

Scarborough's resignation, announced just months after he was sworn in for his fourth term in Congress, was something of a surprise. Report: Florida congressman to resign Scarborough was recently divorced, and there were rumors that he was involved with a staffer in one of his offices. Klausutis was married and her husband was assigned to the nearby Air Force base.

Remarkably, coming at about the same time as the media furor over Democratic Congressman Gary Condit's relationship with intern Chandra Levy (who was missing, but not then known to be dead), there was little published speculation about Klausutis' death. This despite the fact that Scarborough's aides, and apparently Scarborough himself, were the ones who authored the initial claims that she was in ill health: he was cited as telling reporter Anna Dobbin of ABC affiliate WEAR that Klausutis had a history of strokes and epilepsy. His office later denied that he made such a claim. Special Report: "Never Bound by the Truth"

This lack of curiousity was made all the more remarkable by the circumstances surrounding Klausutis' autopsy. The coroner, Michael Berkland, began his career in Missouri, where he was fired as a medical examiner in 1996. His medical license was revoked in 1999 by Missouri for "unethical conduct and knowingly making a false statement" in several autopsy reports written for the Show-Me State ... including false claims regarding handling of brain tissue from several decedents. Associate medical examiner suspended in licensing flap

Berkland contended that the revocation was "politically motivated," and indeed, politics may have played a part in this story ... though not the way Berkland meant. After Missouri took his license, he was suspended in his new job in Florida. His future employment was, apparently, not entirely secure; but his boss, Dr. Gary Cumberland, was a frequent contributor to Scarborough's political campaigns and was so enthusiastic about the Congressman that he may have violated federal election law. Did Dr. Gary Cumberland break campaign donation laws?

Protecting the boss' favorite politician may have been a good call back when the memory of the revocation and suspension were still fresh; but ultimately, Berkland's incompetence was still his undoing. He was fired last month for violating Florida law by failing to complete "dozens of autopsy reports in 2001 and 2002." MEDICAL EXAMINER DISMISSED

There was, of course, no media circus as there would have been were Scarborough a Democrat, and he remains the darling of the American right, no doubt because of his remarkable message of brotherhood and cameraderie for his fellow Americans -- except for those he dubbed "evil" in the wake of 9/11:

Quote:Over the past decade, American leaders have wasted precious resources fighting civil wars in Kosovo and Bosnia.

America’s policy was, in effect, to keep killing Christians until such time they turned over their homes, businesses and government buildings to Muslims. And after the United States had killed enough Christians in Yugoslavia, Muslims were allowed to take control of Bosnia and Kosovo. Now, because of past U.S. support of Muslim factions, groups like the KLA have been empowered to spread their religious revolution to neighboring Montenegro. Some war against Islam, huh?

Don’t bog down pacifists with such details. Just give them a sign and a catchy anti-American phrase. They’ll do the rest.

But make no mistake of it. What they are doing is providing comfort to an evil conspiracy.

That in itself makes them evil.

Comforting the enemy, Oct 5, 2001 column by Joe Scarborough Or perhaps it's his fabulous sense of humor, noted by radio host Don Imus:

Quote:"Don't be afraid to be funny, because you are funny. I asked you why you aren't in Congress. You said that you had sex with the intern and then you had to kill her." To which Scarborough laughed, "Yeah, ha, ha ha, well, what are you gonna do?"

Scarborough Laughs About Dead Staffer

Helluva guy, that Joe Scarborough.

????!!!!!! 

.

Oy

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Iraqi police have accused U.S. troops of executing 11 people, including a 75-year-old woman and a 6-month-old infant, in the aftermath of a raid Wednesday on a house about 60 miles north of Baghdad.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

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People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.

George Orwell

" " 

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Mexican President Vicente Fox announced that they have discovered oil under the Gulf of Mexico. In a related story, President Bush accused Mexico of having weapons of mass destruction.

--Jay leno

"Lies gets halfway around the world before truth has a chance to get its pants on."
--Winston Churchill

"A half truth is a whole lie."
-- Yiddish Proverb

"It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong."
-- Voltaire

As we know, Christ came down to earth to instruct us in the ways in which we must limit our sexual expression.

--Chris Durang

Saturday, March 18, 2006

John Marshall Says 

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"Alas, another case of White House employees impersonating Secret Service agents. (Remember, something similar happened last year in Denver.) Actually, in this case apparently they were impersonating Secret Service agents impersonating FOX News journalists. No, I'm actually not kidding about this. Perhaps it just would have been better to say they were White House employees rather than journos working for FOX News since it's pretty much the same difference."

Bill Robinson Says 

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So what does all this have to do with the media charade that passes for journalism these days? Well, besides the obvious fact that more reporters should be covering Houston, which is starting to feel like the epicenter of evil (ABC could lease Enron's old offices), this tale also makes clear that it is incumbent upon those of us who read and watch the news to look deeper, not to accept these glib scare pieces at face value. And, by the way, what the hell is the link between bird flu propaganda and a Houston plastic surgeon with an Iraq agenda?
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It adds to the picture of harsh interrogation practices at American military prisons in Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, as well as at secret Central Intelligence Agency detention centers around the world.


----



In a court filing late Friday night, Libby's legal team said that in June and July 2003, the status of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame was at most a peripheral issue to "the finger-pointing that went on within the executive branch about who was to blame" for the failure to find weapons of mass destruction.

When will this nightmare be over? 

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A federal appeals court ruled on Friday that the state of Tennessee can issue "Choose Life" license plates, the Associated Press reported.

The antiabortion license plates had been thrown out by a lower court, after abortion-rights groups complained that the state refused to issue "Choose Choice" plates. "Although this exercise of government one-sideness with respect to a very contentious political issue may be ill-advised, we are unable to conclude that the Tennessee statute contravenes the First Amendment," said Judge John Rogers of the
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I'm afraid it would. This is something to be very concerned about. These are not trival matters. We've seen a sort of broad-based assault on basic Constitutional rights in our country since 9/11. We have a President who ordered electronic surveillance by the NSA without warrants in something that constitutes a federal crime. Congress isn't even holding serious hearings on that. So we have a system that has checks & balances but none of them seem to be working. At the same time, as we noted earlier, we have an attack on the Judiciary itself, all of this should present a picture of concern for any American."


-George Washington Law School Professor, Jonathon Turley

Friday, March 17, 2006

USA TODAY POLL 

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Six in 10 in the poll, taken Friday through Sunday, say the war has had a negative effect on the nation.


- so 4 in 10 think this is good?

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Surprised? 

.


"His strong points as a president were being seen as personally credible, as a strong leader. That has all but disappeared," said Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center, whose latest independent poll found a dramatic decline in Bush's credibility.

A majority of Americans, 56 percent, believe Bush is "out of touch," the poll found. When asked for a one-word description of Bush, the most frequent response was "incompetent," followed by "good," "idiot" and "liar." In February 2005, the most frequent reply was "honest."

"The transformation from being seen as honest to being seen as incompetent is an extraordinary indicator of how far he has fallen," Kohut said.
"Tommy Franks and the coalition forces have demonstrated the old axiom that boldness on the battlefield produces swift and relatively bloodless victory. The three-week romp through Iraq has utterly shattered skeptics' complaints."

-Tony Snow,
April 2003
Fox News

--

"Now that the war in Iraq is all but over, should the people in Hollywood who opposed the president admit they were wrong?"

-Alan Colmes
April 2003
Fox News

--

One of the more extraordinary suggestions is that a low yield, perhaps tactical, nuclear weapon will be exploded some distance out from a US port. Death and destruction will be minimized, but fear and hysteria will be maximized. Americans will be told that the ship bearing the weapon was discovered and intercepted just in time, thanks to Bush’s illegal spying program, and that Iran is to blame. A more powerful wave of fear and outrage will again bind the American people to Bush, and the US media will not report the rest of the world’s doubts of the explanation.




-Craid Roberts Says

Senator Harkin Says 

.



We have a President who likes to break things. He has broken the federal budget, running up $3 trillion in new debt. He has broken the Geneva Conventions, giving the green light to torture. He has repeatedly broken promises – and broken faith – with the American people. And now, worst of all, he has broken the law.

In brazen violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), he ordered the National Security Agency to conduct warrantless wiretaps of American citizens. And, despite getting caught red-handed, he refuses to stop.

Let's be clear: No American – and that must include the President – is above the law. And if we fail to hold Bush to account, then he will be confirmed in his conviction that he can pick and choose among the laws he wants to obey. This is profoundly dangerous to our democracy.

So it is time for Congress to stand up and say enough! That's why, this week, Senator Russ Feingold proposed a resolution to censure George W. Bush for breaking the FISA law. And that's why I fully support this resolution of censure.

Nothing is more important to me than the security of our country. Of course, we need to be listening to the terrorists' conversations. And sometimes there is not time to get a warrant. That's why the FISA law allows the President, when necessary, to wiretap first, and obtain a warrant afterward. But that's not acceptable to this above-the-law President. He rejects the idea that he should have to obtain a warrant before or after wiretapping.

We have an out-of-control President whose arrogant and, now, illegal behavior is running our country into the ditch. It's time to rein him in. And a fine place to start is by passing this resolution of censure. I hope that Senator Feingold's measure will be brought to the floor. And when it is, I will proudly vote yes.

David Brooks Says 

.



That's true in general, and it's true in spades in Donald Rumsfeld's Pentagon. "Cobra II" makes Rumsfeld and Franks each seem like Barry Bonds: a formerly intimidating figure who now just seems pathetic. Those two were contemptuous of the armchair generals and the TV kibitzers. But at the crucial moment in their lives, they got things wrong, and the pundits often got things right.
.


My God Republicans are dumasses.


I mean is there any clearer explanation for how completely useless and dangerous Republicans are than to see 73% of them still approve of this poseur in the White House?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

$43 Trillion Dollars 

.



According to the GAO, it would take real double-digit growth over the next 75 years to pay off our current debt--an impossible task, considering that the growth rate during the 1990s boom years averaged just 3.2 percent.

Robert Scheer on Bush's Fantasy World 

.

What is he thinking? On a day when Shiite vigilantes conducted hangings in Sadr City in reprisal for the killing of scores of their co-religionists in a market bombing, President Bush continued to insist that progress in Iraq justified staying the course.

"By their response over the past two weeks, Iraqis have shown the world that they want a future of freedom and peace," he said Monday.
"We're helping Iraqis build a strong democracy so that old resentments will be eased and the insurgency marginalized."

Contrast that fantasy with the same day's harsh news: "In Sadr City, the Shiite section in Baghdad where the terrorist suspects were executed, government forces vanished," reported the New York Times. "The streets are ruled by aggressive teenagers with shiny soccer jerseys and machine guns. They set up roadblocks and poke their heads into cars and detain whomever they want. Mosques blare warnings on loudspeakers for American troops to stay out. Increasingly, the Americans have been doing just that."

The next day, 87 corpses, all male, were found scattered throughout the city, shot or strangled after being bound and blindfolded. This, in turn, was in apparent reprisal for a series of bombings on Sunday targeting Shiite civilians which killed 58 and wounded 300, according to Iraq's Health Ministry.

Of course, the drip-drip of American troop deaths continues, as Lance Cpl. Bunny Long, 22, of Modesto, Calif., will be coming home in a flag-draped casket after being killed Friday by a suicide, vehicle-borne, IED.

If such constant mayhem is taken as a sign of progress, three years after the U.S. invasion, then Bush surely will be thrilled by what the future holds. The British, on the other hand, have seen the handwriting on the wall and once again have begun to flee an imperial disappointment in Mesopotamia, announcing they are reducing their forces by 10 percent. Clearly, London has grasped what Bush cannot: The three-year occupation by Western armies is an incitement to guerrilla violence, not an impediment.

Of course, Bush would have us believe this expanding civil war is the work of insidious foreigners rather than of competing agendas arising from within an Iraq society long stunted by colonialism and dictatorship. It does not occur to him that he is the foreigner who the majority of Iraqis hold responsible for the country's despair, and whose occupation immeasurably strengthens the hand of extremists on all sides. Bush's neoconservative Svengalis apparently failed to alert him to the possibility that religious, ethnic and nationalist sentiments might trump his plans for a Western-imposed "democracy," subservient to U.S. interests. Or that U.S.-engineered elections would be won by allies and disciples of the radical Shiite government in the "evil axis" capital of Tehran.

Such bright contradictions were on display in Bush's latest strategically bankrupt "plan" for victory: Spending $3.3 billion to fight the improvised explosive devices (IEDs) Bush now claims Iran is smuggling into Iraq -- to the very Shiite forces that won the U.S.-engineered election and are positioned to form the first real post-Hussein government. The IEDs, mentioned a whopping 26 times in the speech, have obviously come to replace that nonexistent WMD threat as the centerpiece of Bush's Iraq policy. We will stop them, he says, by bumping anti-IED-related spending by a factor of 22, from %$150 million in 2004 to $3.3 billion. "We're putting the best minds in America to work on this effort," Bush said.

Why not put a few of them to work on figuring how to extract the U.S. military from Iraq instead? After all, that is where all the IEDs happen to be exploding.

But, of course, this alternative, to stop making U.S. troops targets in the midst of a raging civil war in a Muslim country that the United States has no business occupying, was summarily dismissed by our president.

"[M]y decisions on troop levels will be made based upon the conditions on the ground and on the recommendations of our military commanders, not artificial timetables set by politicians here in Washington, D.C.," he said.

Has the president never read our Constitution, which mandates civilian control over the military? Does he not grasp that he is himself a Washington politician? How can you effectively sell democracy to the world when you mock it so contemptuously at home?

You can't. Not until the public and its representatives force this administration to change its disastrous course can we begin to restore international respect for the American political system that Bush has so masterfully subverted.

What is he thinking? On a day when Shiite vigilantes conducted hangings in Sadr City in reprisal for the killing of scores of their co-religionists in a market bombing, President Bush continued to insist that progress in Iraq justified staying the course.

"By their response over the past two weeks, Iraqis have shown the world that they want a future of freedom and peace," he said Monday.
"We're helping Iraqis build a strong democracy so that old resentments will be eased and the insurgency marginalized."

Contrast that fantasy with the same day's harsh news: "In Sadr City, the Shiite section in Baghdad where the terrorist suspects were executed, government forces vanished," reported the New York Times. "The streets are ruled by aggressive teenagers with shiny soccer jerseys and machine guns. They set up roadblocks and poke their heads into cars and detain whomever they want. Mosques blare warnings on loudspeakers for American troops to stay out. Increasingly, the Americans have been doing just that."

The next day, 87 corpses, all male, were found scattered throughout the city, shot or strangled after being bound and blindfolded. This, in turn, was in apparent reprisal for a series of bombings on Sunday targeting Shiite civilians which killed 58 and wounded 300, according to Iraq's Health Ministry.

Of course, the drip-drip of American troop deaths continues, as Lance Cpl. Bunny Long, 22, of Modesto, Calif., will be coming home in a flag-draped casket after being killed Friday by a suicide, vehicle-borne, IED.

If such constant mayhem is taken as a sign of progress, three years after the U.S. invasion, then Bush surely will be thrilled by what the future holds. The British, on the other hand, have seen the handwriting on the wall and once again have begun to flee an imperial disappointment in Mesopotamia, announcing they are reducing their forces by 10 percent. Clearly, London has grasped what Bush cannot: The three-year occupation by Western armies is an incitement to guerrilla violence, not an impediment.

Of course, Bush would have us believe this expanding civil war is the work of insidious foreigners rather than of competing agendas arising from within an Iraq society long stunted by colonialism and dictatorship. It does not occur to him that he is the foreigner who the majority of Iraqis hold responsible for the country's despair, and whose occupation immeasurably strengthens the hand of extremists on all sides. Bush's neoconservative Svengalis apparently failed to alert him to the possibility that religious, ethnic and nationalist sentiments might trump his plans for a Western-imposed "democracy," subservient to U.S. interests. Or that U.S.-engineered elections would be won by allies and disciples of the radical Shiite government in the "evil axis" capital of Tehran.

Such bright contradictions were on display in Bush's latest strategically bankrupt "plan" for victory: Spending $3.3 billion to fight the improvised explosive devices (IEDs) Bush now claims Iran is smuggling into Iraq -- to the very Shiite forces that won the U.S.-engineered election and are positioned to form the first real post-Hussein government. The IEDs, mentioned a whopping 26 times in the speech, have obviously come to replace that nonexistent WMD threat as the centerpiece of Bush's Iraq policy. We will stop them, he says, by bumping anti-IED-related spending by a factor of 22, from %$150 million in 2004 to $3.3 billion. "We're putting the best minds in America to work on this effort," Bush said.

Why not put a few of them to work on figuring how to extract the U.S. military from Iraq instead? After all, that is where all the IEDs happen to be exploding.

But, of course, this alternative, to stop making U.S. troops targets in the midst of a raging civil war in a Muslim country that the United States has no business occupying, was summarily dismissed by our president.

"[M]y decisions on troop levels will be made based upon the conditions on the ground and on the recommendations of our military commanders, not artificial timetables set by politicians here in Washington, D.C.," he said.

Has the president never read our Constitution, which mandates civilian control over the military? Does he not grasp that he is himself a Washington politician? How can you effectively sell democracy to the world when you mock it so contemptuously at home?

You can't. Not until the public and its representatives force this administration to change its disastrous course can we begin to restore international respect for the American political system that Bush has so masterfully subverted.

Robert Scheer is editor of truthdig.com

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Retreat? 

.


Piecing together four completely disparate news items, I think I can prove that there is either going to be a small, token troop draw down for the mid term elections - something like a small brigade level drawdown.

Or this is an exercise just to test a new way to extract our assets out of theatre.

There is a plan for it, and it will be harder than you can imagine for reasons you might not have thought of. It has to do with the M1A2 main battle tank. It has to do with the introduction of four AC-130 Spectre Gunships into Iraq. And it has to do with a single line in an article that hit me literally in the middle of the night.

More on the flip.

About a month after the invasion, the US established some 60 forward operations area inside occupied Iraq. After 14 months of insurgency, the US Army began closing some of the posts and consolidating them to cut down on patrols and deaths. By about 14 months ago, most US combat assets operated out of 6 main outposts including the Green Zone.

These days most of our injuries come from Improvised Explosive Devices that are so deadly, every single combat area patrol out of the Green Zone, or some other forward area, becomes a death trap. What this means is that heavy armoured vehicles inside Iraq are compound away until they are rotated out in a convoy. Crews end up praying that they can avoid IEDs. Sometimes the IEDs are on the same roads we have already cleared a million times. The result is that for all of our reconnaissance and unmanned vehicles, we cannot stop insurgents from cutting off our outposts until they resemble Fort Apache.

So the question is, how are we going to drive a thousand vehicles out of Iraq if we do not have control of the road between Baghdad Airport and the Green Zone- which is less than ten miles?

The US uses about 350 heavy tanks and about 150 lighter M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles per heavy division.

So if you take the Army 4th ID up North, Army 3rd ID in Al Anbar province, and 3rd Marines also in Al Anbar, and the British force in the south you have about 1300 heavy armoured vehicles in combat theatre. Anyone remember how these tanks and Bradleys and Strykers got there? They were not airlifted in. These were driven from ships to Kuwaiti forward deployment areas on the backs of flatbed trucks. Then they drove into Iraq.

We now know that the insurgents have figured out that they do not have to penetrate the famous side and frontal armour of the Abrams. All you need to do is break a single tread link and you have 140,000 pounds of stuck-in-the-mud. Bradleys and Hummers can all be destroyed easily.


First piece of the puzzle: The American military even plans to build special, more defensible highways here, in its frustrating standoff with the makeshift munitions — "improvised explosive devices" — that Iraqi insurgents field by the hundreds to hobble U.S. road movements in the 3-year-old conflict. Uh...the roads are the topic.





Answer? We are going to have to build our own highways all the way out of the country.

So we will bring some heavy vehicles out of theatre. Why else bring the capabilities to combat engineer your way back out of country that you liberated?

So that brings us a second problem. If we cannot take 8 vehicles to patrol around the city, then how are we going to march an entire division out? Well we probably won’t bring an entire division out. We will probably start brigade by brigade. If we can barely stop the insurgents from replanting IEDs right after we have detonated them, then we need to use aircraft that can see people in the dark while it loiters silently and can lay down enough fire to cover a retreat. We need a weapon that can keep groups of people miles away from a road.


The second piece to the puzzle. The Air Force is moving heavily-armed A-C-130 airplanes back to Iraq, in a bid to find new ways to fight the Iraqi resistance.

An Associated Press reporter saw one of the aircraft after it landed at an Iraqi base. Four of the gunships are expected there.

The airplanes have operated over Iraq before, but from airfields elsewhere in the region. Basing the planes in Iraq will make their travel time much shorter.

The planes' guns helped support the U-S attack on Fallujah in November 2004. On top of their potent firepower, they also offer intelligence-gathering to the battle against insurgent operations -- with sophisticated long-range video, infrared and radar sensors.

The gunships were designed mainly to drop saturated fire on massed troops, and were used to take out North Vietnamese supply convoys.





OK, you select out a brigade and deploy all it’s vehicles to the nearest highway. You begin making a parallel road and move the tanks and Bradleys down that road. The gunships stay in the air at night to cover the retreat. So crews can build new roads out, keep them safe over night, and dash out of the country.

There are only about 30 gunships in our entire arsenal. There are probably about ten AC-130s in Iraq. Is that enough to cover and entire retreating army? Not necessarily. But it might be a good way to coordinate and practice and perfect a retreat.

Final piece to the puzzle: The president made no commitments about withdrawing U.S. troops, but he repeated his general formula that Americans could come home as Iraqis eventually take over the fight. He also used the speech to urge Iraqis to form a unity government three months after parliamentary elections, and he accused Iran of providing explosives to Shiite militias attacking U.S. forces in Iraq.
,

In other words, Bush isn’t ruling it out.


Don’t know if I am right. But I love to play armchair Napolean.

Surprised? 

.





PITTSBURGH – The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Pennsylvania today released new evidence that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is conducting investigations into a political organizations based solely on its anti-war views.

Two documents released today reveal that the FBI investigated gatherings of the Thomas Merton Center for Peace & Justice just because the organization opposed the war in Iraq. Although previously disclosed documents show that the FBI is retaining files on anti-war groups, these documents are the first to show conclusively that the rationale for FBI targeting is the group's opposition to the war.

“It makes no sense that the FBI would be spying on peace activists handing out flyers,” said Jim Kleissler, Executive Director of the Thomas Merton Center for Peace & Justice. “Our members were simply offering leaflets to passersby, legally and peacefully, and now they’re being investigated by a counter–terrorism unit. Something is seriously wrong in how our government determines who and what constitutes terrorism when peace activists find themselves targeted.”

According to the documents released today, the FBI initiated a classified investigation into the activities of the Thomas Merton Center, noting in a November 2002 memo that the center “holds daily leaflet distribution activities in downtown Pittsburgh and is currently focused on its opposition to the potential war on Iraq.” The synopsis of the document is provided to “report results of investigation on Pittsburgh anti-war activities.” The FBI memo points out that the Merton Center “is a left-wing organization advocating, among many political causes, pacifism.”

“All over the country we see the FBI monitoring and keeping files on Americans exercising their First Amendment rights to free expression,” said Mary Catherine Roper, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “These documents show that Americans are not safe from secret government surveillance, even when they are handing out flyers in the town square – an activity clearly protected by the Constitution.”

The documents come to the ACLU as a result of a national campaign to expose domestic spying by the FBI and other government agencies. The ACLU has filed Freedom of Information Act requests in 20 states on behalf of more than 150 organizations and individuals. In response to these requests, the government has released documents that reveal monitoring and infiltration by the FBI and local law enforcement, targeting political, environmental, anti-war and faith-based groups.

“From the FBI to the Pentagon to the National Security Agency this administration has embarked on an unprecedented campaign to spy on innocent Americans,” said Ann Beeson, Associate Legal Director of the national ACLU. “Investigating law-abiding groups and their members simply because of their political views is not only irresponsible, it has a chilling effect on the vibrant tradition of dissent in this country.”

Monday, March 13, 2006

afternoon 

.


The succession of crisis after crisis has taken its toll. Some in the White House sound frazzled. While there are few stories of aides nodding off in meetings, some duck outside during the day so the fresh air will wake them up. "We're all burned out," said one White House official who did not want to be named for fear of angering superiors. "People are just tired."

White House officials are never genuinely away from the job. Tied to their BlackBerrys and cellular telephones, they are often called to duty even during rare vacations. Weekends are often just another workday. Hadley, for one, schedules a full day of meetings every Saturday. Card comes to the White House on days off to go bicycle riding with Bush.

While other professions demand 14-hour days and six- or seven-day weeks, few involve as much consequence, much less the intense scrutiny of the Internet age. A former Bush aide said, "You don't really realize until you're gone" just how exhausting it really is.

they’re wearing down

---


-Americansshould start storing canned tuna and powdered milk under their beds as the prospect of a deadly bird flu outbreak approaches the United States. Ready or not, here it comes.-

Michael Leavitt

Secretary of Health and Human services

Spanish Newspaper says 

.


The Past Few Years Have Seen Tremendous Growth
in the Number of Mexican Law Enforcement Personnel,
Including the Military, But a Paradoxical Deterioration in the
Ability to Reduce the Drugs Trade.

Everywhere, the war against drugs is being lost. I refer at least to South America, Central America, Mexico, the United States and Canada - each country, each region, in its own particular way, with its own particular conditions. But not a single one escapes some of the impact of this crime.

The situation in Mexico is very hard to accurately describe, but if one were to indicate a source of Mexico's state of constant deterioration, the main culprit would be the Vicente Fox government, which has left an indelible mark in its last term. The security forces and their military "auxiliaries" have grown to levels never before seen, and yet the level of creativity, of reinforcements and even the ability sustain a fight seem exhausted.

In considering Mexico, it should be emphasized that based on the telling if tall-tales and denunciations, trust continues to be placed in the supposed effectiveness of "casual" operatives, and so the intelligence being garnered has failed to reach the promised level of accuracy. The National Institute for the War Against Drugs, created in 1993 to focus attention on the roots of this problem, was terminated by the Zedillo Administration [1994-2000].

The Center for Drug Control Planning (Cendro), created 15 years ago for the purpose of obtaining and implementing specialized intelligence exclusively about narco-trafficking, was dismantled by the Zedillo government, and converted into a hybrid organization charged with responding to all federal crimes.

On January 6, 2005, Fox created a cabinet-level Agency of Public Security, over which he himself presides, and in which the attorney general is not included. Nothing of substance has ever been made known about this agency. Federal agencies are working with a total lack of coordination, and even a lack of competence. And the reality of the situation surprises us!


State governors and municipal officials operate in total discord. They have been left with no clear idea of their responsibilities as outlined in the law, but what is worse, even if when they are informed as to what they should do, they are not particularly trustworthy, nor do they know what techniques or methods are necessary to do the job.

The President [Fox] was seen to be satisfied and proud of the fact that the prison system holds some 50,000 indicted or sentenced people whom he calls narco-traffickers. He didn't clarify how many tens of thousands are farmhands for accused opium and marijuana growers, and not the real criminals to whom he likes to refer.

In the Andes, drug production continues to expand; Venezuela and Ecuador remain significant producers. All across Argentina, they export to Europe. Drug production recognizes geographic and climatic conditions, not national borders. The production and shipping of drugs to where they are consumed is determined solely by demand: where there is demand, there will be supply, and demand is rising explosively.

Canada exports domestically-grown marijuana of very high quality. For the entire continent, it is very difficult to overcome this sort of activity while Washington never varies its prohibitionist strategy, a strategy that demands determined cooperation from the rest of the affected countries. What is generated is an enormous pressure cooker, where each country suffers, or will suffer, its own form of Hell.

Colombia, in addition to confronting a never-ending problem, has incorporated unprecedented levels of human rights violations into its battle against drugs. At various times, according to the United Nations, extrajudicial executions have been carried out by law enforcement agents, who then disguise the corpses and place guns in their hands to make them look like combatants.

Among Colombia's principal related crimes are the massive practice of kidnapping, the use of anti-personnel mines, selective murders, massacres, the forced displacement of civilians, and the conscription of children for use as cannon fodder. These are signs of desperation and a loss of control by government forces.

The United States, despite its apparent inclination toward the consumption of synthetic drugs [pharmaceuticals], has not addressed the demand for other sorts of drugs. They have begun to argue that drug gangsters are not from the United States, but are solely of Hispanic or Asian origin. It seems that not a week goes by without a proclamation of "the biggest drug arrest in Georgia ever," "seizure of the largest shipment of drugs ever in New York," or "we have cut off the head of the dragon," as Robert Bender, head of the DEA office in San Francisco, announced in 1991. A bit later, it was discovered to be, not a dragon, but a Hydra. As much as they wish to hide it, the U.S. has its own gangsters, and the problem continues to spring forth with its own natural force.

Will there never come a time when, setting aside the foundations driven or imposed by the United States, there could be a special reunion, without antagonism, without empty rhetoric, that promotes a clear strategy, and is not perpetually smashed against a wall? Such an initiative might give new life and a clear theme for the arguments of the George W. Bush government. Fox might come along with a plea for clear-sightedness, for an adjustment to the times, for self-critical wisdom and self-correction. And wouldn't such a new and promising strategy bring along the majority of Latin American governments, who have just begun such efforts or are about to do so?

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