View Full Version : A Controversial and/or Informative Site

Pages : 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 [12] 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37

Saundra Hummer
April 7th, 2006, 06:10 PM

"When fascism comes to America,
it will be wrapped in the flag
carrying the cross."
Sinclair Lewis

Friday, April 07, 2006


As you probably know, DWT has a team member deep in the heart of Texas, right in DeLay's Sugarland lair. Today Rozius fills us in on the latest shenanigans in Tom Delay's foul little world.

Anyone who was under the impression that the announcement of Tom Delay's upcoming resignation signaled the end of political corruption in Texas' Congressional District 22 should now see how misguided their hopes really were.

According to Texas law an election to replace a dead, convicted or resigned member of Congress must take place on one of the 2 remaining uniform election days, May 13 or November 7. The law further states that such elections require the ballot to be set up 36 days before election day.

That means that Tom Delay must resign today (April 7, 2006) in order for a special election to be held on May 13.

That isn't going to happen. Delay is purposely holding off resigning until after the deadline has passed in order to allow him time to hand pick his own successor setting up a November showdown with Democrat Nick Lampson who, according to the polls, would win the election if it were held today.

Of course, Rick "Governor Goodhair" Perry could call a special election at any time to see to it that the people of the 22nd Congressional District do not go unrepresented until next January. But, since Perry is one of Delay's and Dubya's favorite cabana boys that is very unlikely.

Meanwhile, the Delay mob continues "business as usual."

On Wednesday, Democrat Lampson called a press conference on the steps of the Sugarland, Texas Courthouse in order to ask Governor Perry to see to it that the citizens of the 22nd District got a timely chance to elect a Congressman more interested in their hopes and dreams than in furthering the right wing agenda of the Bush Crime Family.

Lampson began his press conference with a small crowd of 40 supporters in attendance. As he answered questions from the local press a crowd of GOP supporters, summoned by Delay's campaign manager via e-mail, swooped in and began to disrupt the meeting.

In a scene right out of the Florida recount these GOP thugs showed their "conservative compassion' by drowning out Mr. Lampson's statement and by roughing up a 70 year old woman. (Video clip here. GO ON-SITE CLICK ON LINK)

The Sugarland police stood by and did nothing.

When asked why they were there the Delay Brownshirts responded:
"I think what you're going to see is Republicans will rally behind a candidate and help get word out that Nick Lampson was one of the worst liberals the Texas delegation has ever seen."

"We just didn't like him coming in to Sugar Land. He surely should have known he was going to get some opposition."

"Nick is Nancy Pelosi's liberal lapdog from Beaumont, and he should get used to being confronted for the next seven months,"

The Lampson campaign responded:
"Rick Perry dances to the tune of Tom DeLay's drum. Their partisan politics are more important than the people of this district having a voice."

So there you have it. The more things change the more they remain the same.

I'll keep you posted as this campaign develops.
-Rozius, April 7, 2006

posted by DownWithTyranny @ 11:26 AM 1 comments

At 1:02 PM, Rozius said...
DeLay invokes Martin Luther King in Retirement Statement

--Plus, Dirty Campaign Contributions will be used for Delay's defense.

RAW STORY, April 7, 2007

http://www.rawstory.com/news/2006/Hill_newsletter_DeLay_invokes_Martin_Luther_0407.h tml

The following ran in The Hill's e-newsletter this morning. Hat tip to Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo who caught it first:

DeLay will pay lawyers with campaign money
Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) said Thursday that money in his campaign account is headed toward his defense.

“We'll pay lawyers,” he said when asked whether he would turn his war chest over to the National Republican Congressional Committee.

DeLay, the former House majority leader, announced earlier this week that he would resign before his term expires. DeLay has been indicted in a Texas campaign-finance case and two of his former aides have pleaded guilty in a federal corruption probe.

DeLay said Thursday that announcing his resignation has been liberating.

Quoting Martin Luther King. Jr., DeLay said, “Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, I’m free at last.”


Saundra Hummer
April 7th, 2006, 06:23 PM

Dirty Water Still Making Troops Sick

Justin Rood
April 7, 2006, 1:50 PM

Here's a story that bears revisiting -- with some urgency. Back in January, the AP reported that Halliburton was providing U.S. troops serving in Ramadi, Iraq, with dirty water. The soldiers bathed in it, washed their clothes in it, even made coffee with it. They got sick as a result.

On Jan. 23, Senate Democrats held a hearing on the matter. The story was picked up by hundreds of news outlets. Outrage ensued. The water quality at the Ramadi base improved.

But it's happened again -- this time at the Qayyarah Airfield, about 300 kilometers north of Baghdad. As an Army physician at the base wrote in a March 31 email to Senate investigators:

In January I noticed the water in our Showering facility was cloudy and had a foul odor. At the same time (over a 2 week period) I had a sudden increase in soldiers with bacterial infections presenting to me for treatment. All of these soldiers live in the same living area (PAD 103) and use the same water to shower. I had 4 cases of skin abcesses, 1 case of cellulitis, and one case of bacterial conjunctivitis.
The doctor's colleagues investigated. They discovered that workers from Halliburton's Kellogg Brown and Root division were "filling the water storage tanks with ROWPU concentrate."

ROWPU concentrate is what's left over after the contractor purifies water for drinking. First they pump water from the Tigris river; then they purify half of it for drinking. Then they pump the rest into tanks the troops use to bathe, do laundry, make coffee. That water contained twice the concentration of waste and bacteria of Tigris riverwater -- which is a far cry from Evian to begin with.

After the doctor and her colleagues made formal complaints, investigations were launched and KBR improved the water at the facility.

But here's the problem: the doctor who wrote the email only traced the problem to the dirty water because her mother had first read a January article on the problem, and told her about it. With so many servicepeople stationed around the region, are there other instances of this shameful treatment out there which haven't been discovered?

Go to the Haliburton Watch thread to see more on this story, which was posted a while back. http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/000318.php

Saundra Hummer
April 7th, 2006, 06:34 PM
~$ $ $~

Lack of Ethics in D.C.
and in
State Capitols Around the Country?

Are we Shocked?


Feds Probe House Dems' Ethics Man

Justin Rood
April 7, 2006, 3:56 PM

The Justice Department is conducting an inquiry into the financial disclosures of Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV), the Wall Street Journal reports today. The National Legal and Policy Center, a right-wing Virginia political watchdog group, brought the matter to investigators' attention, flagging "at least 200 misrepresentations or omissions in Mr. Mollohan's disclosure forms over the years," according to the newspaper.

When TPMmuckraker called the U.S. Attorney's office in Washington, their spokeswoman confirmed to us that there is an investigation, but refused to comment further on the nature or extent of it.

Late Update: DC-based government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington calls for Mollohan to step down from the Ethics committee.


Saundra Hummer
April 8th, 2006, 11:35 AM

Okay, in case you blinked, the White House staff admitted (in a story buried in the front section of the Washington Post on Friday) that Bush authorized the leaking of classified information to discredit Joe Wilson.

The White House is stonewalling as to when Bush declassified the leak material, but it appears to be several days after he gave the green light for Scooter Libby http://www.libbydefensefund.com to reveal the classified information -- which was apparently still classifed at that time -- to the infamous Judith Miller (with whom Scooter shared at least one romanticized note and "intertwined roots" in Aspen).

We hate to say this, but after five years, we are just a little proud to be vindicated that Bush is an incompetent liar who betrays the nation that he leads after clearly stealing his first elections -- and very possibly stealing the second election through various machinations (and at least guilty of amassing votes by using Goebbels like propaganda to instill fear in voters).

But that little bit of gloating is tempered by the fact that the man who would destroy America, his Machiavelli (Karl Rove), his Rasputin (Dick Cheney), and his Dr. Strangelove (Dick Rumsfeld) are still as ensonced in power as they were 5 years ago.

If you are a witness to someone repeatedly robbing banks, don't you try to stop them?

Apparently, not in the U.S. Congress, where Republican Presidents are free to break the law and betray the nation at will.

Our Elliot Ness, Patrick Fitzgerald, has limited maneuvering room in exposing the White House conspiracy to undermine the law and America for partisan purposes. He is still, technically, part of the Bush/Alberto "Bush Consigliere" Gonzales justice department, although with a degree of independent authority to pursue the PlameGate case. But he can't afford even one minor mistake or they will yank him out of there.

He has an enabling Republican Congress -- with tepid Democratic protests -- who won't follow up in Congess on what Fitzgerald uncovers, but instead are waiting to pounce on him, instead of Bush.

So, he is moving very slowly, and hoping that by making his case airtight, he can alert the public to a conspiracy of betrayal that begins with Bush.

Is anyone besides the Internet giving Fitzgerald back up?

The mainstream media seems to have finally taken THIS revelation seriously, but will it last till Monday?

And why is Bush still in the White House?

So, you can see. We are done with our gloating.

It's back to how to evict the criminal, treasonous squatters in the White House.

The revelation that Bush authorized former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby to divulge classified information about Iraq fits a pattern of selective leaks of secret intelligence to further the administration's political agenda

Prosecutor: "What Mr. Fitzgerald is telling the judge here is that Mr. Libby was expressly authorized to go have these conversations with reporters by the vice president and authorized to release classified information by the president. That is a unique situation and not very forgettable."

Newsweek: President Bush insists a president "better mean what he says." Those words could return to haunt him. After long denouncing leaks of all kinds, Bush is confronted with a statement — unchallenged by his aides — that he authorized a leak of classified material to undermine an Iraq war critic...."The president all the time was looking for himself," Sen. John Kerry.

John Podesta, a former chief of staff in the Clinton White House, said, "Scott McClellan's credibility isn't just in tatters. It is more like confetti."

Al Gore brought corporate executives and environmentally minded investors roaring to their feet with multimedia images of an overheating planet and a call for Americans to reclaim their "moral authority" by tackling global warming. That's leadership.

For More Than 180 Headlines and Stories visit


Saundra Hummer
April 8th, 2006, 11:50 AM

Claiming perch above law portends long, painful fall


“I don’t know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information. If somebody did leak classified information, I’d like to know it, and we’ll take the appropriate action.”


John Dean had a pretty good fix on the situation, but he underestimated the arrogance of his boss.

President Richard M. Nixon believed the scandal seeded by the Watergate burglary could be contained. Mr. Dean, the president’s lawyer, knew it was a tumor that could grow, metastasize and spread, eventually engulfing the presidency.

“There is a cancer on the presidency,” Mr. Dean famously said, advising Mr. Nixon to come clean with the public and begin distancing himself from the “plumbers” who carried out the break-in and other “dirty tricks” against the president’s political and ideological enemies.

Mr. Nixon, of course, refused. He believed he was above the law, and that he could escape the consequences of his personal and professional corruption by tossing underlings like Mr. Dean to the wolves baying at the Oval Office door. Thankfully, for the nation and the world, he was wrong. The rest, primarily under the bylines of Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, is history.

History has a trifling way of repeating itself, and anyone watching the wobbly arc of what has come to be known as “Plamegate” can be forgiven for feeling a strong sense of “Deanja-vu.” Since its genesis in July 2003, this scandal has played like a sequel to “All the President’s Men.”

Mr. Woodward has a bit part this time around, more privileged apologist than crusading journalist. Mr. Bernstein has had a cameo or two. Even Mr. Dean is back, hawking a book called “Worse than Watergate.”

Until Thursday, the only element missing was a rogue president who follows the Nixonian logic that states, “If the president does it, it can’t be illegal.”

Surely, President Bush and his administration have used this excuse before. Secretly authorizing the torture of detainees and wiretapping the phone conversations of unsuspecting Americans are just a pair in a laundry list of examples of a White House that plays by its own rules.

While these transgressions outraged many Americans, they have been sanctioned by a criminally negligent Republican Congress and excused by the echo chamber of conservative news outlets. A lack of congressional oversight and a campaign of relentless, concentrated spin has helped the president survive these scandals, but no amount of truth-twisting can excise the tumor now swelling inside the Bush presidency.

Mr. Nixon’s Achilles heel was a man named Liddy.

Mr. Bush’s is named Libby.

I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, former chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, has told investigators President Bush authorized the leak of classified intelligence to discredit Joseph Wilson, an administration critic who dared to challenge the president’s flimsy case for war in Iraq.

His wife, Valerie Plame Wilson, was a CIA agent specializing in, of all things, curtailing the spread of weapons of mass destruction. Now she’s a footnote of history, the victim of a political hit orchestrated by a White House that always puts partisan politics above the people’s business.

In a court filing, “Plamegate” Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald reports that Mr. Libby fingered Mr. Cheney as the “Deep Throat” who ordered him to hit Mr. Wilson where it would hurt most. When Mr. Libby said he was uncomfortable about leaking classified intelligence to the press, Mr. Cheney told him the president authorized the leaks.

So Scooter picked his plumbing tools and went to work.

The administration felt it had to discredit Mr. Wilson, who had put the lie to the president’s claim that Iraq had tried to purchase “yellowcake” uranium to make nuclear weapons. Mr. Libby began meeting with reporters and sharing classified intelligence, including portions of a National Intelligence Estimate supporting the president’s claim.

Mr. Cheney also ordered the outing of Ms. Plame, although it’s not clear from Mr. Libby’s testimony what the president knew and when he knew it.

When the scandal broke, Mr. Bush said he would fire anyone caught leaking, a pledge he later amended to read “anyone who broke the law.”

When Mr. Libby was charged with five counts of perjury, obstruction and lying to the FBI, he was allowed to resign. Guess you have to be convicted, too.

“I’d like to know if somebody in my White House did leak sensitive information,” Mr. Bush said, revealing himself as either a liar or a fool, perhaps both. Either he authorized the leaks, or Mr. Cheney did so without his permission. Either way, it’s time for a reckoning.

The excuses have already begun. While the White House is dodging questions about Mr. Libby’s testimony, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales insists the president has the “inherent authority to decide who should have classified information.” This is the same great legal mind who advocated torture and secret wiretapping. In other words, if the president does it, it’s not illegal.

It all has an eerily familiar ring, but something is very different this time around. We’re no longer talking about a cancer on the presidency, but a presidency that’s a cancer on the nation.

CHRIS KELLY, Times-Tribune columnist, is always springing leaks. E-mail: kellysworld@timesshamrock.com.


Saundra Hummer
April 8th, 2006, 12:03 PM

Bush, GOP Struggle for Public Approval ,

AP Political Writer
Sat Apr 8, 9:20 AM ET

President Bush has hit new lows in public opinion for his handling of Iraq and the war on terror and for his overall job performance. Polling also shows the Republican Party surrendering its advantage on national security.

The AP-Ipsos survey is loaded with grim election-year news for a party struggling to stay in power. Nearly 70 percent of Americans believe the nation is headed in the wrong direction — the largest percentage during the Bush presidency and up 13 points from a year ago.

"These numbers are scary. We've lost every advantage we've ever had," GOP pollster Tony Fabrizio said. "The good news is Democrats don't have much of a plan. The bad news is they may not need one."

Democratic leaders predicted they will seize control of one or both chambers of Congress in November. Republicans said they feared the worst unless the political landscape quickly changes.

There is more at stake than the careers of GOP lawmakers. A Democratic-led Congress could bury the last vestiges of Bush's legislative agenda and subject the administration to high-profile investigations of the Iraq war, the CIA leak case, warrantless eavesdropping and other matters.

In the past two congressional elections, Republicans gained seats on the strength of Bush's popularity and a perception among voters that the GOP was stronger on national security than Democrats.

Those advantages are gone, according to a survey of 1,003 adults conducted this week for The Associated Press by Ipsos, an international polling firm.

On an issue the GOP has dominated for decades, Republicans are now locked in a tie with Democrats — 41 percent each — on the question of which party people trust to protect the country. Democrats made their biggest national security gains among young men, according to the AP-Ipsos poll, which had a 3 percentage point margin of error.

The public gives Democrats a slight edge on what party would best handle Iraq, a reversal from Election Day 2004.

As for Bush's ratings:

_Just 36 percent of the public approves of his job performance, his lowest-ever rating in AP-Ipsos polling. By contrast, the president's job approval rating was 47 percent among likely voters just before Election Day 2004 and a whopping 64 percent among registered voters in October 2002.

_Only 40 percent of the public approves of Bush's performance on foreign policy and the war on terror, another low-water mark for his presidency. That's down 9 points from a year ago. Just before the 2002 election, 64 percent of registered voters backed Bush on terror and foreign policy.

_Just 35 percent of the public approves of Bush's handling of Iraq, his lowest in AP-Ipsos polling.

"He's in over his head," said Diane Heller, 65, a Pleasant Valley, N.Y., real estate broker and independent voter.

Some past presidents' job approval ratings have dropped lower than Bush's. Harry Truman in 1952, Richard Nixon in 1974, Jimmy Carter in 1979 and the first George Bush in 1992 saw their ratings fall to the mid- to high 20s, according to Gallup polling.

Many have sunk as low as this president. Bill Clinton was at 39 percent in the late summer of 1994 — before midterm elections that were disastrous for Democrats. Ronald Reagan was at 35 percent in January 1983 before rebuilding his support. Lyndon Johnson was at 36 percent in March 1968, just before announcing he would not run for re-election during the Vietnam War.

As bad as Bush's numbers may be, Congress' are worse.

Just 30 percent of the public approves of the GOP-led Congress' job performance, and Republicans seem to be shouldering the blame.

By a 49-33 margin, the public favors Democrats over Republicans when asked which party should control Congress.

That 16-point Democratic advantage is the largest the party has enjoyed in AP-Ipsos polling.

"I think we will win the Congress," Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean said, breaking the unwritten rule against raising expectations.

Rep. Tom Reynolds, R-N.Y., head of the House Republican campaign committee, said Bush's woes won't hurt GOP candidates.

"When we get to the ballot this year, there's not going to be President Bush on the ballot, and there's not going to be in my view, 'Do you want to vote with the Republicans or Democrats?' It's going to be, 'How do you feel about your member of Congress?' And if our members are doing their work and our candidates are connecting with the issues of those districts, they're going to do fine," Reynolds said.

Democrats need to gain 15 seats in the House and six in the Senate for control, no easy task in the best of circumstances.

The Democratic strategy is to nationalize the elections around a throw-the-bums-out theme keyed to a burgeoning ethics scandal focused on relationships between GOP lobbyists and lawmakers.

Democrats also need hordes of GOP voters to stay home on Election Day out of frustration. Nobody can predict whether that will happen, but a growing number of Republicans disagree with their leaders in Washington about immigration, federal spending and other issues.

Bush's approval rating is down 12 points among Republicans since a year ago. Six in 10 Republicans said they disapproved of the GOP-led Congress.

Trevor Tompson, manager of news surveys for The Associated Press, and AP writer Will Lester contributed to this report.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/troubled_republicans;_ylt=Aq15dj8xknBnz.LLP4espg2s 0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTA2Z2szazkxBHNlYwN0bQ--

Saundra Hummer
April 8th, 2006, 12:31 PM

The Century of the Self

How politicians and business learned to create and manipulate mass-consumer society.

Episodes: One | Happiness Machines
Adam Curtis, The Century of the Self tells the untold and sometimes controversial story of the growth of the mass-consumer society in Britain and the United States. How was the all-consuming self created, by whom, and in whose interests?

Freud provided useful tools for understanding the secret desires of the masses. Unwittingly, his work served as the precursor to a world full of political spin doctors, marketing moguls, and society's belief that the pursuit of satisfaction and happiness is man's ultimate goal.

This is a must watch video. Episode Two will be available 04/08/06

Click Play To View [GO ON-SITE TO ACCESS]
Download file - Real Media - Windows media

You may need to update / download Free Real Player to view this video. Click on this link to download. http://snipurl.com/a75b

Iran: The Next Neocon Target

It’s been three years since the U.S. launched its war against Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction. Of course now almost everybody knows there were no WMDs, and Saddam Hussein posed no threat to the United States. Though some of our soldiers serving in Iraq still believe they are there because Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11, even the administration now acknowledges there was no connection. Indeed, no one can be absolutely certain why we invaded Iraq. The current excuse, also given for staying in Iraq, is to make it a democratic state, friendly to the United States. There are now fewer denials that securing oil supplies played a significant role in our decision to go into Iraq and stay there. That certainly would explain why U.S. taxpayers are paying such a price to build and maintain numerous huge, permanent military bases in Iraq. They’re also funding a new billion dollar embassy- the largest in the world.

The significant question we must ask ourselves is: What have we learned from three years in Iraq? With plans now being laid for regime change in Iran, it appears we have learned absolutely nothing. There still are plenty of administration officials who daily paint a rosy picture of the Iraq we have created. But I wonder: If the past three years were nothing more than a bad dream, and our nation suddenly awakened, how many would, for national security reasons, urge the same invasion? Would we instead give a gigantic sigh of relief that it was only a bad dream, that we need not relive the three-year nightmare of death, destruction, chaos and stupendous consumption of tax dollars. Conceivably we would still see oil prices under $30 a barrel, and most importantly, 20,000 severe U.S. causalities would not have occurred. My guess is that 99% of all Americans would be thankful it was only a bad dream, and would never support the invasion knowing what we know today.

Even with the horrible results of the past three years, Congress is abuzz with plans to change the Iranian government. There is little resistance to the rising clamor for “democratizing” Iran, even though their current president, Mahmoud Almadinejad, is an elected leader. Though Iran is hardly a perfect democracy, its system is far superior to most of our Arab allies about which we never complain. Already the coordinating propaganda has galvanized the American people against Iran for the supposed threat it poses to us with weapons of mass destruction that are no more present than those Saddam Hussein was alleged to have had. It’s amazing how soon after being thoroughly discredited over the charges levied against Saddam Hussein the Neo-cons are willing to use the same arguments against Iran. It’s frightening to see how easily Congress, the media, and the people accept many of the same arguments against Iran that were used to justify an invasion of Iraq.

Since 2001 we have spent over $300 billion, and occupied two Muslim nations--Afghanistan and Iraq. We’re poorer but certainly not safer for it. We invaded Afghanistan to get Osama bin Laden, the ring leader behind 9/11. This effort has been virtually abandoned. Even though the Taliban was removed from power in Afghanistan, most of the country is now occupied and controlled by warlords who manage a drug trade bigger than ever before. Removing the Taliban from power in Afghanistan actually served the interests of Iran, the Taliban’s arch enemy, more than our own.

The longtime Neo-con goal to remake Iraq prompted us to abandon the search for Osama bin Laden. The invasion of Iraq in 2003 was hyped as a noble mission, justified by misrepresentations of intelligence concerning Saddam Hussein and his ability to attack us and his neighbors. This failed policy has created the current chaos in Iraq-- chaos that many describe as a civil war. Saddam Hussein is out of power and most people are pleased. Yet some Iraqis, who dream of stability, long for his authoritarian rule. But once again, Saddam Hussein’s removal benefited the Iranians, who consider Saddam Hussein an arch enemy.

Our obsession with democracy-- which is clearly conditional, when one looks at our response to the recent Palestinian elections-- will allow the majority Shia to claim leadership title if Iraq’s election actually leads to an organized government. This delights the Iranians, who are close allies of the Iraqi Shia.

Talk about unintended consequences! This war has produced chaos, civil war, death and destruction, and huge financial costs. It has eliminated two of Iran’s worst enemies and placed power in Iraq with Iran’s best friends. Even this apparent failure of policy does nothing to restrain the current march toward a similar confrontation with Iran. What will it take for us to learn from our failures?

Common sense tells us the war in Iraq soon will spread to Iran. Fear of imaginary nuclear weapons or an incident involving Iran-- whether planned or accidental-- will rally the support needed for us to move on Muslim country #3. All the past failures and unintended consequences will be forgotten.

Even with deteriorating support for the Iraq war, new information, well planned propaganda, or a major incident will override the skepticism and heartache of our frustrating fight. Vocal opponents of an attack on Iran again will be labeled unpatriotic, unsupportive of the troops, and sympathetic to Iran’s radicals.

Instead of capitulating to these charges, we should point out that those who maneuver us into war do so with little concern for our young people serving in the military, and theoretically think little of their own children if they have any. It’s hard to conceive that political supporters of the war would consciously claim that a pre-emptive war for regime change, where young people are sacrificed, is only worth it if the deaths and injuries are limited to other people’s children. This, I’m sure, would be denied-- which means their own children are technically available for this sacrifice that is so often praised and glorified for the benefit of the families who have lost so much. If so, they should think more of their own children. If this is not so, and their children are not available for such sacrifice, the hypocrisy is apparent. Remember, most Neo-con planners fall into the category of chicken-hawks.

For the past 3 years it’s been inferred that if one is not in support of the current policy, one is against the troops and supports the enemy. Lack of support for the war in Iraq was said to be supportive of Saddam Hussein and his evil policies. This is an insulting and preposterous argument. Those who argued for the containment of the Soviets were never deemed sympathetic to Stalin or Khrushchev. Lack of support for the Iraq war should never be used as an argument that one was sympathetic to Saddam Hussein. Containment and diplomacy are far superior to confronting a potential enemy, and are less costly and far less dangerous-- especially when there’s no evidence that our national security is being threatened.

Although a large percentage of the public now rejects the various arguments for the Iraq war, 3 years ago they were easily persuaded by the politicians and media to fully support the invasion. Now, after 3 years of terrible pain for so many, even the troops are awakening from their slumber and sensing the fruitlessness of our failing effort. Seventy-two percent of our troops now serving in Iraq say it’s time to come home, yet the majority still cling to the propaganda that we’re there because of 9/11 attacks, something even the administration has ceased to claim. Propaganda is pushed on our troops to exploit their need to believe in a cause that’s worth the risk to life and limb.

I smell an expanded war in the Middle East, and pray that I’m wrong. I sense that circumstances will arise that demand support regardless of the danger and cost. Any lack of support, once again, will be painted as being soft on terrorism and al Qaeda. We will be told we must support Israel, support patriotism, support the troops, and defend freedom. The public too often only smells the stench of war after the killing starts. Public objection comes later on, but eventually it helps to stop the war. I worry that before we can finish the war we’re in and extricate ourselves, the patriotic fervor for expanding into Iran will drown out the cries of, “enough already!”

The agitation and congressional resolutions painting Iran as an enemy about to attack us have already begun. It’s too bad we can’t learn from our mistakes.

This time there will be a greater pretense of an international effort sanctioned by the UN before the bombs are dropped. But even without support from the international community, we should expect the plan for regime change to continue. We have been forewarned that “all options” remain on the table. And there’s little reason to expect much resistance from Congress. So far there’s less resistance expressed in Congress for taking on Iran than there was prior to going into Iraq. It’s astonishing that after three years of bad results and tremendous expense there’s little indication we will reconsider our traditional non-interventionist foreign policy. Unfortunately, regime change, nation building, policing the world, and protecting “our oil” still constitute an acceptable policy by the leaders of both major parties.

It’s already assumed by many in Washington I talk to that Iran is dead serious about obtaining a nuclear weapon, and is a much more formidable opponent than Iraq. Besides, Mahmoud Almadinjad threatened to destroy Israel and that cannot stand. Washington sees Iran as a greater threat than Iraq ever was, a threat that cannot be ignored.

Iran’s history is being ignored, just as we ignored Iraq’s history. This ignorance or deliberate misrepresentation of our recent relationship to Iraq and Iran is required to generate the fervor needed to attack once again a country that poses no threat to us. Our policies toward Iran have been more provocative than those towards Iraq. Yes, President Bush labeled Iran part of the axis of evil and unnecessarily provoked their anger at us. But our mistakes with Iran started a long time before this president took office.

In 1953 our CIA, with help of the British, participated in overthrowing the democratic elected leader, Mohamed Mossedech. We placed the Shah in power. He ruled ruthlessly but protected our oil interests, and for that we protected him-- that is until 1979. We even provided him with Iran’s first nuclear reactor. Evidently we didn’t buy the argument that his oil supplies precluded a need for civilian nuclear energy. From 1953 to 1979 his authoritarian rule served to incite a radical Muslim opposition led by the Ayatollah Khomeini, who overthrew the Shah and took our hostages in 1979. This blowback event was slow in coming, but Muslims have long memories. The hostage crisis and overthrow of the Shah by the Ayatollah was a major victory for the radical Islamists. Most Americans either never knew about or easily forgot our unwise meddling in the internal affairs of Iran in 1953.

During the 1980s we further antagonized Iran by supporting the Iraqis in their invasion of Iran. This made our relationship with Iran worse, while sending a message to Saddam Hussein that invading a neighboring country is not all that bad. When Hussein got the message from our State Department that his plan to invade Kuwait was not of much concern to the United States he immediately proceeded to do so. We in a way encouraged him to do it almost like we encouraged him to go into Iran. Of course this time our reaction was quite different, and all of a sudden our friendly ally Saddam Hussein became our arch enemy. The American people may forget this flip-flop, but those who suffered from it never forget. And the Iranians remember well our meddling in their affairs. Labeling the Iranians part of the axis of evil further alienated them and contributed to the animosity directed toward us.

For whatever reasons the Neo-conservatives might give, they are bound and determined to confront the Iranian government and demand changes in its leadership. This policy will further spread our military presence and undermine our security. The sad truth is that the supposed dangers posed by Iran are no more real than those claimed about Iraq. The charges made against Iran are unsubstantiated, and amazingly sound very similar to the false charges made against Iraq. One would think promoters of the war against Iraq would be a little bit more reluctant to use the same arguments to stir up hatred toward Iran. The American people and Congress should be more cautious in accepting these charges at face value. Yet it seems the propaganda is working, since few in Washington object as Congress passes resolutions condemning Iran and asking for UN sanctions against her.

There is no evidence of a threat to us by Iran, and no reason to plan and initiate a confrontation with her. There are many reasons not to do so, however.

Iran does not have a nuclear weapon and there’s no evidence that she is working on one--only conjecture.

If Iran had a nuclear weapon, why would this be different from Pakistan, India, and North Korea having one? Why does Iran have less right to a defensive weapon than these other countries?

If Iran had a nuclear weapon, the odds of her initiating an attack against anybody-- which would guarantee her own annihilation-- are zero. And the same goes for the possibility she would place weapons in the hands of a non-state terrorist group.

Pakistan has spread nuclear technology throughout the world, and in particular to the North Koreans. They flaunt international restrictions on nuclear weapons. But we reward them just as we reward India.

We needlessly and foolishly threaten Iran even though they have no nuclear weapons. But listen to what a leading Israeli historian, Martin Van Creveld, had to say about this: “Obviously, we don’t want Iran to have a nuclear weapon, and I don’t know if they’re developing them, but if they’re not developing them, they’re crazy.”

There’s been a lot of misinformation regarding Iran’s nuclear program. This distortion of the truth has been used to pump up emotions in Congress to pass resolutions condemning her and promoting UN sanctions.

IAEA Director General Mohamed El Baradi has never reported any evidence of “undeclared” sources or special nuclear material in Iran, or any diversion of nuclear material.

We demand that Iran prove it is not in violation of nuclear agreements, which is asking them impossibly to prove a negative. El Baradi states Iran is in compliance with the nuclear NPT required IAEA safeguard agreement.

We forget that the weapons we feared Saddam Hussein had were supplied to him by the U.S., and we refused to believe UN inspectors and the CIA that he no longer had them.

Likewise, Iran received her first nuclear reactor from us. Now we’re hysterically wondering if someday she might decide to build a bomb in self interest.

Anti-Iran voices, beating the drums of confrontation, distort the agreement made in Paris and the desire of Iran to restart the enrichment process. Their suspension of the enrichment process was voluntary, and not a legal obligation. Iran has an absolute right under the NPT to develop and use nuclear power for peaceful purposes, and this is now said to be an egregious violation of the NPT. It’s the U.S. and her allies that are distorting and violating the NPT. Likewise our provision of nuclear materials to India is a clear violation of the NPT.

The demand for UN sanctions is now being strongly encouraged by Congress. The “Iran Freedom Support Act,” HR 282, passed in the International Relations Committee; and recently the House passed H Con Res 341, which inaccurately condemned Iran for violating its international nuclear non-proliferation obligations. At present, the likelihood of reason prevailing in Congress is minimal. Let there be no doubt: The Neo-conservative warriors are still in charge, and are conditioning Congress, the media, and the American people for a pre-emptive attack on Iran. Never mind that Afghanistan has unraveled and Iraq is in civil war: serious plans are being laid for the next distraction which will further spread this war in the Middle East. The unintended consequences of this effort surely will be worse than any of the complications experienced in the three-year occupation of Iraq.

Our offer of political and financial assistance to foreign and domestic individuals who support the overthrow of the current Iranian government is fraught with danger and saturated with arrogance. Imagine how American citizens would respond if China supported similar efforts here in the United States to bring about regime change! How many of us would remain complacent if someone like Timothy McVeigh had been financed by a foreign power? Is it any wonder the Iranian people resent us and the attitude of our leaders? Even though El Baradi and his IAEA investigations have found no violations of the NPT-required IAEA safeguards agreement, the Iran Freedom Support Act still demands that Iran prove they have no nuclear weapons-- refusing to acknowledge that proving a negative is impossible.

Let there be no doubt, though the words “regime change” are not found in the bill-- that’s precisely what they are talking about. Neo-conservative Michael Ledeen, one of the architects of the Iraq fiasco, testifying before the International Relations Committee in favor of the IFSA, stated it plainly: “I know some Members would prefer to dance around the explicit declaration of regime change as the policy of this country, but anyone looking closely at the language and context of the IFSA and its close relative in the Senate, can clearly see that this is in fact the essence of the matter. You can’t have freedom in Iran without bringing down the Mullahs.”

Sanctions, along with financial and political support to persons and groups dedicated to the overthrow of the Iranian government, are acts of war. Once again we’re unilaterally declaring a pre-emptive war against a country and a people that have not harmed us and do not have the capacity to do so. And don’t expect Congress to seriously debate a declaration of war resolution. For the past 56 years Congress has transferred to the executive branch the power to go to war as it pleases, regardless of the tragic results and costs.

Secretary of State Rice recently signaled a sharp shift towards confrontation in Iran policy as she insisted on $75 million to finance propaganda, through TV and radio broadcasts into Iran. She expressed this need because of the so-called “aggressive” policies of the Iranian government. We’re seven thousand miles from home, telling the Iraqis and the Iranians what kind of government they will have, backed up by the use of our military force, and we call them the aggressors. We fail to realize the Iranian people, for whatever faults they may have, have not in modern times aggressed against any neighbor. This provocation is so unnecessary, costly, and dangerous.

Just as the invasion of Iraq inadvertently served the interests of the Iranians, military confrontation with Iran will have unintended consequences. The successful alliance engendered between the Iranians and the Iraqi majority Shia will prove a formidable opponent for us in Iraq as that civil war spreads. Shipping in the Persian Gulf through the Straits of Hormuz may well be disrupted by the Iranians in retaliation for any military confrontation. Since Iran would be incapable of defending herself by conventional means, it seems logical that some might resort to a terrorist attack on us. They will not passively lie down, nor can they be destroyed easily.

One of the reasons given for going into Iraq was to secure “our” oil supply. This backfired badly: Production in Iraq is down 50%, and world oil prices have more than doubled to $60 per barrel. Meddling with Iran could easily have a similar result. We could see oil over $120 a barrel and, and $6 gas at the pump. The obsession the Neo-cons have with remaking the Middle East is hard to understand. One thing that is easy to understand is none of those who planned these wars expect to fight in them, nor do they expect their children to die in some IED explosion.

Exactly when an attack will occur is not known, but we have been forewarned more than once that all options remain on the table. The sequence of events now occurring with regards to Iran are eerily reminiscent of the hype prior to our pre-emptive strike against Iraq. We should remember the saying: “Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.” It looks to me like the Congress and the country is open to being fooled once again.

Interestingly, many early supporters of the Iraq war are now highly critical of the President, having been misled as to reasons for the invasion and occupation. But these same people are only too eager to accept the same flawed arguments for our need to undermine the Iranian government.

The President’s 2006 National Security Strategy, just released, is every bit as frightening as the one released in 2002 endorsing pre-emptive war. In it he claims: “We face no greater challenge from a single country than from Iran.” He claims the Iranians have for 20 years hidden key nuclear activities-- though the IAEA makes no such assumptions nor has the Security Council in these 20 years ever sanctioned Iran. The clincher in the National Security Strategy document is if diplomatic efforts fail, confrontation will follow. The problem is the diplomatic effort-- if one wants to use that term-- is designed to fail by demanding the Iranians prove an unproveable negative. The West-- led by the U.S.-- is in greater violation by demanding Iran not pursue any nuclear technology, even peaceful, that the NPT guarantees is their right.

The President states: Iran’s “desire to have a nuclear weapon is unacceptable.” A “desire” is purely subjective, and cannot be substantiated nor disproved. Therefore all that is necessary to justify an attack is if Iran fails to prove it doesn’t have a “desire” to be like the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France, Pakistan, India, and Israel—whose nuclear missiles surround Iran. Logic like this to justify a new war, without the least consideration for a congressional declaration of war, is indeed frightening.

Common sense tells us Congress, especially given the civil war in Iraq and the mess in Afghanistan, should move with great caution in condoning a military confrontation with Iran.

Cause for Concern

Most Americans are uninterested in foreign affairs until we get mired down in a war that costs too much, last too long, and kills too many U.S. troops. Getting out of a lengthy war is difficult, as I remember all too well with Vietnam while serving in the U.S. Air Force from 1963 to 1968. Getting into war is much easier. Unfortunately the Legislative branch of our government too often defers to the Executive branch, and offers little resistance to war plans even with no significant threat to our security. The need to go to war is always couched in patriotic terms and falsehoods regarding an imaginary eminent danger. Not supporting the effort is painted as unpatriotic and wimpish against some evil that’s about to engulf us. The real reason for our militarism is rarely revealed and hidden from the public. Even Congress is deceived into supporting adventurism they would not accept if fully informed.

If we accepted the traditional American and constitutional foreign policy of non-intervention across the board, there would be no temptation to go along with these unnecessary military operations. A foreign policy of intervention invites all kinds of excuses for spreading ourselves around the world. The debate shifts from non-intervention versus interventionism, to where and for what particular reason should we involve ourselves. Most of the time it’s for less than honorable reasons. Even when cloaked in honorable slogans-- like making the world safe for democracy-- the unintended consequences and the ultimate costs cancel out the good intentions.

One of the greatest losses suffered these past 60 years from interventionism becoming an acceptable policy of both major parties is respect for the Constitution. Congress flatly has reneged on its huge responsibility to declare war. Going to war was never meant to be an Executive decision, used indiscriminately with no resistance from Congress. The strongest attempt by Congress in the past 60 years to properly exert itself over foreign policy was the passage of the Foley Amendment, demanding no assistance be given to the Nicaraguan contras. Even this explicit prohibition was flaunted by an earlier administration.

Arguing over the relative merits of each intervention is not a true debate, because it assumes that intervention per se is both moral and constitutional. Arguing for a Granada-type intervention because of its “success,” and against the Iraq war because of its failure and cost, is not enough. We must once again understand the wisdom of rejecting entangling alliances and rejecting nation building. We must stop trying to police the world and instead embrace non-interventionism as the proper, moral, and constitutional foreign policy.

The best reason to oppose interventionism is that people die, needlessly, on both sides. We have suffered over 20,000 American casualties in Iraq already, and Iraq civilian deaths probably number over 100,000 by all reasonable accounts. The next best reason is that the rule of law is undermined, especially when military interventions are carried out without a declaration of war. Whenever a war is ongoing, civil liberties are under attack at home. The current war in Iraq and the misnamed war on terror have created an environment here at home that affords little constitutional protection of our citizen’s rights. Extreme nationalism is common during wars. Signs of this are now apparent.

Prolonged wars, as this one has become, have profound consequences. No matter how much positive spin is put on it, war never makes a society wealthier. World War II was not a solution to the Depression as many claim. If a billion dollars is spent on weapons of war, the GDP records positive growth in that amount. But the expenditure is consumed by destruction of the weapons or bombs it bought, and the real economy is denied $1 billion to produce products that would have raised someone’s standard of living.

Excessive spending to finance the war causes deficits to explode. There are never enough tax dollars available to pay the bills, and since there are not enough willing lenders and dollars available, the Federal Reserve must create enough new money and credit for buying Treasury Bills to prevent interest rates from rising too rapidly. Rising rates would tip off everyone that there are not enough savings or taxes to finance the war. This willingness to print whatever amount of money the government needs to pursue the war is literally inflation. Without a fiat monetary system wars would be very difficult to finance, since the people would never tolerate the taxes required to pay for it. Inflation of the money supply delays and hides the real cost of war. The result of the excessive creation of new money leads to the higher cost of living everyone decries and the Fed denies. Since taxes are not levied, the increase in prices that results from printing too much money is technically the tax required to pay for the war.

The tragedy is that the inflation tax is borne more by the poor and the middle class than the rich. Meanwhile, the well-connected rich, the politicians, the bureaucrats, the bankers, the military industrialists, and the international corporations reap the benefits of war profits.

A sound economic process is disrupted with a war economy and monetary inflation. Strong voices emerge blaming the wrong policies for our problems, prompting an outcry for protectionist legislation. It’s always easier to blame foreign producers and savers for our inflation, lack of savings, excess debt, and loss of industrial jobs. Protectionist measures only make economic conditions worse. Inevitably these conditions, if not corrected, lead to a lower standard of living for most of our citizens.

Careless military intervention is also bad for the civil disturbance that results. The chaos in the streets of America in the 1960s while the Vietnam War raged, aggravated by the draft, was an example of domestic strife caused by an ill-advised unconstitutional war that could not be won. The early signs of civil discord are now present. Hopefully we can extricate ourselves from Iraq and avoid a conflict in Iran before our streets explode as they did in the 60s.

In a way it’s amazing there’s not a lot more outrage expressed by the American people. There’s plenty of complaining but no outrage over policies that are not part of our American tradition. War based on false pretenses, 20,000 American casualties, torture policies, thousands jailed without due process, illegal surveillance of citizens, warrantless searches, and yet no outrage. When the issues come before Congress, Executive authority is maintained or even strengthened while real oversight is ignored.

Though many Americans are starting to feel the economic pain of paying for this war through inflation, the real pain has not yet arrived. We generally remain fat and happy, with a system of money and borrowing that postpones the day of reckoning. Foreigners, in particular the Chinese and Japanese, gladly participate in the charade. We print the money and they take it, as do the OPEC nations, and provide us with consumer goods and oil. Then they loan the money back to us at low interest rates, which we use to finance the war and our housing bubble and excessive consumption. This recycling and perpetual borrowing of inflated dollars allows us to avoid the pain of high taxes to pay for our war and welfare spending. It’s fine until the music stops and the real costs are realized, with much higher interest rates and significant price inflation. That’s when outrage will be heard, and the people will realize we can’t afford the “humanitarianism” of the Neo-conservatives.

The notion that our economic problems are principally due to the Chinese is nonsense. If the protectionists were to have their way, the problem of financing the war would become readily apparent and have immediate ramifications-- none good. Today’s economic problems, caused largely by our funny money system, won’t be solved by altering exchange rates to favor us in the short run, or by imposing high tariffs. Only sound money with real value will solve the problems of competing currency devaluations and protectionist measures.

Economic interests almost always are major reasons for wars being fought. Noble and patriotic causes are easier to sell to a public who must pay and provide cannon fodder to defend the financial interests of a privileged class.

The fact that Saddam Hussein demanded Euros for oil in an attempt to undermine the U.S. dollar is believed by many to be one of the ulterior motives for our invasion and occupation of Iraq. Similarly, the Iranian oil burse now about to open may be seen as a threat to those who depend on maintaining the current monetary system with the dollar as the world’s reserve currency.

The theory and significance of “peak oil” is believed to be an additional motivating factor for the U.S. and Great Britain wanting to maintain firm control over the oil supplies in the Middle East. The two nations have been protecting “our” oil interests in the Middle East for nearly a hundred years. With diminishing supplies and expanding demands, the incentive to maintain a military presence in the Middle East is quite strong. Fear of China and Russia moving into this region to assume more control alarms those who don’t understand how a free market can develop substitutes to replace diminishing resources. Supporters of the military effort to maintain control over large regions of the world to protect oil fail to count the real costs once the DOD budget is factored in. Remember, invading Iraq was costly and oil prices doubled. Confrontation in Iran may evolve differently, but we can be sure it will be costly and oil prices will rise.

There are long-term consequences or blowback from our militant policy of intervention around the world. They are unpredictable as to time and place. 9/11 was a consequence of our military presence on Muslim holy lands; the Ayatollah Khomeini’s success in taking over the Iranian government in 1979 was a consequence of our CIA overthrowing Mossadech in 1953. These connections are rarely recognized by the American people and never acknowledged by our government. We never seem to learn how dangerous interventionism is to us and to our security.

There are some who may not agree strongly with any of my arguments, and instead believe the propaganda: Iran and her President, Mahmoud Almadinjad, are thoroughly irresponsible and have threatened to destroy Israel. So all measures must be taken to prevent Iran from getting nukes-- thus the campaign to intimidate and confront Iran.

First, Iran doesn’t have a nuke and is nowhere close to getting one, according to the CIA. If they did have one, using it would guarantee almost instantaneous annihilation by Israel and the United States. Hysterical fear of Iran is way out of proportion to reality. With a policy of containment, we stood down and won the Cold War against the Soviets and their 30,000 nuclear weapons and missiles. If you’re looking for a real kook with a bomb to worry about, North Korea would be high on the list. Yet we negotiate with Kim Jong Il. Pakistan has nukes and was a close ally of the Taliban up until 9/11. Pakistan was never inspected by the IAEA as to their military capability. Yet we not only talk to her, we provide economic assistance-- though someday Musharraf may well be overthrown and a pro-al Qaeda government put in place. We have been nearly obsessed with talking about regime change in Iran, while ignoring Pakistan and North Korea. It makes no sense and it’s a very costly and dangerous policy.

The conclusion we should derive from this is simple: It’s in our best interest to pursue a foreign policy of non-intervention. A strict interpretation of the Constitution mandates it. The moral imperative of not imposing our will on others, no matter how well intentioned, is a powerful argument for minding our own business. The principle of self-determination should be respected. Strict non-intervention removes the incentives for foreign powers and corporate interests to influence our policies overseas. We can’t afford the cost that intervention requires, whether through higher taxes or inflation. If the moral arguments against intervention don’t suffice for some, the practical arguments should.

Intervention just doesn’t work. It backfires and ultimately hurts American citizens both at home and abroad. Spreading ourselves too thin around the world actually diminishes our national security through a weakened military. As the superpower of the world, a constant interventionist policy is perceived as arrogant, and greatly undermines our ability to use diplomacy in a positive manner.

Conservatives, libertarians, constitutionalists, and many of today’s liberals have all at one time or another endorsed a less interventionist foreign policy. There’s no reason a coalition of these groups might not once again present the case for a pro-American, non-militant, non-interventionist foreign policy dealing with all nations. A policy of trade and peace, and a willingness to use diplomacy, is far superior to the foreign policy that has evolved over the past 60 years

It’s time for a change..

Iran: The Next Neocon Target


Before the U.S. House of Representatives
April 5, 2006

Once again we’re unilaterally declaring a pre-emptive war against a country and a people that have not harmed us and do not have the capacity to do so. And don’t expect Congress to seriously debate a declaration of war resolution. For the past 56 years Congress has transferred to the executive branch the power to go to war as it pleases, regardless of the tragic results and costs.

Windows Video and transcript

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/troubled_republicans;_ylt=Aq15dj8xknBnz.LLP4espg2s 0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTA2Z2szazkxBHNlYwN0bQ--

Saundra Hummer
April 8th, 2006, 02:53 PM



Would President Bush go to war
to stop Tehran from getting the bomb?

Issue of 2006-04-17
Posted 2006-04-10

The Bush Administration, while publicly advocating diplomacy in order to stop Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapon, has increased clandestine activities inside Iran and intensified planning for a possible major air attack. Current and former American military and intelligence officials said that Air Force planning groups are drawing up lists of targets, and teams of American combat troops have been ordered into Iran, under cover, to collect targeting data and to establish contact with anti-government ethnic-minority groups. The officials say that President Bush is determined to deny the Iranian regime the opportunity to begin a pilot program, planned for this spring, to enrich uranium.

American and European intelligence agencies, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (I.A.E.A.), agree that Iran is intent on developing the capability to produce nuclear weapons. But there are widely differing estimates of how long that will take, and whether diplomacy, sanctions, or military action is the best way to prevent it. Iran insists that its research is for peaceful use only, in keeping with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and that it will not be delayed or deterred.

There is a growing conviction among members of the United States military, and in the international community, that President Bush’s ultimate goal in the nuclear confrontation with Iran is regime change. Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has challenged the reality of the Holocaust and said that Israel must be “wiped off the map.” Bush and others in the White House view him as a potential Adolf Hitler, a former senior intelligence official said. “That’s the name they’re using. They say, ‘Will Iran get a strategic weapon and threaten another world war?’ ”

A government consultant with close ties to the civilian leadership in the Pentagon said that Bush was “absolutely convinced that Iran is going to get the bomb” if it is not stopped. He said that the President believes that he must do “what no Democrat or Republican, if elected in the future, would have the courage to do,” and “that saving Iran is going to be his legacy.”

One former defense official, who still deals with sensitive issues for the Bush Administration, told me that the military planning was premised on a belief that “a sustained bombing campaign in Iran will humiliate the religious leadership and lead the public to rise up and overthrow the government.” He added, “I was shocked when I heard it, and asked myself, ‘What are they smoking?’ ”

The rationale for regime change was articulated in early March by Patrick Clawson, an Iran expert who is the deputy director for research at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and who has been a supporter of President Bush. “So long as Iran has an Islamic republic, it will have a nuclear-weapons program, at least clandestinely,” Clawson told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on March 2nd. “The key issue, therefore, is: How long will the present Iranian regime last?”

When I spoke to Clawson, he emphasized that “this Administration is putting a lot of effort into diplomacy.” However, he added, Iran had no choice other than to accede to America’s demands or face a military attack. Clawson said that he fears that Ahmadinejad “sees the West as wimps and thinks we will eventually cave in. We have to be ready to deal with Iran if the crisis escalates.” Clawson said that he would prefer to rely on sabotage and other clandestine activities, such as “industrial accidents.” But, he said, it would be prudent to prepare for a wider war, “given the way the Iranians are acting. This is not like planning to invade Quebec.”

One military planner told me that White House criticisms of Iran and the high tempo of planning and clandestine activities amount to a campaign of “coercion” aimed at Iran. “You have to be ready to go, and we’ll see how they respond,” the officer said. “You have to really show a threat in order to get Ahmadinejad to back down.” He added, “People think Bush has been focussed on Saddam Hussein since 9/11,” but, “in my view, if you had to name one nation that was his focus all the way along, it was Iran.” (In response to detailed requests for comment, the White House said that it would not comment on military planning but added, “As the President has indicated, we are pursuing a diplomatic solution”; the Defense Department also said that Iran was being dealt with through “diplomatic channels” but wouldn’t elaborate on that; the C.I.A. said that there were “inaccuracies” in this account but would not specify them.)

“This is much more than a nuclear issue,” one high-ranking diplomat told me in Vienna. “That’s just a rallying point, and there is still time to fix it. But the Administration believes it cannot be fixed unless they control the hearts and minds of Iran. The real issue is who is going to control the Middle East and its oil in the next ten years.”

A senior Pentagon adviser on the war on terror expressed a similar view. “This White House believes that the only way to solve the problem is to change the power structure in Iran, and that means war,” he said. The danger, he said, was that “it also reinforces the belief inside Iran that the only way to defend the country is to have a nuclear capability.” A military conflict that destabilized the region could also increase the risk of terror: “Hezbollah comes into play,” the adviser said, referring to the terror group that is considered one of the world’s most successful, and which is now a Lebanese political party with strong ties to Iran. “And here comes Al Qaeda.”

In recent weeks, the President has quietly initiated a series of talks on plans for Iran with a few key senators and members of Congress, including at least one Democrat. A senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, who did not take part in the meetings but has discussed their content with his colleagues, told me that there had been “no formal briefings,” because “they’re reluctant to brief the minority. They’re doing the Senate, somewhat selectively.”

The House member said that no one in the meetings “is really objecting” to the talk of war. “The people they’re briefing are the same ones who led the charge on Iraq. At most, questions are raised: How are you going to hit all the sites at once? How are you going to get deep enough?” (Iran is building facilities underground.) “There’s no pressure from Congress” not to take military action, the House member added. “The only political pressure is from the guys who want to do it.” Speaking of President Bush, the House member said, “The most worrisome thing is that this guy has a messianic vision.”

Some operations, apparently aimed in part at intimidating Iran, are already under way. American Naval tactical aircraft, operating from carriers in the Arabian Sea, have been flying simulated nuclear-weapons delivery missions—rapid ascending maneuvers known as “over the shoulder” bombing—since last summer, the former official said, within range of Iranian coastal radars.

Last month, in a paper given at a conference on Middle East security in Berlin, Colonel Sam Gardiner, a military analyst who taught at the National War College before retiring from the Air Force, in 1987, provided an estimate of what would be needed to destroy Iran’s nuclear program. Working from satellite photographs of the known facilities, Gardiner estimated that at least four hundred targets would have to be hit. He added:

I don’t think a U.S. military planner would want to stop there. Iran probably has two chemical-production plants. We would hit those. We would want to hit the medium-range ballistic missiles that have just recently been moved closer to Iraq. There are fourteen airfields with sheltered aircraft. . . . We’d want to get rid of that threat. We would want to hit the assets that could be used to threaten Gulf shipping. That means targeting the cruise-missile sites and the Iranian diesel submarines. . . . Some of the facilities may be too difficult to target even with penetrating weapons. The U.S. will have to use Special Operations units.

One of the military’s initial option plans, as presented to the White House by the Pentagon this winter, calls for the use of a bunker-buster tactical nuclear weapon, such as the B61-11, against underground nuclear sites. One target is Iran’s main centrifuge plant, at Natanz, nearly two hundred miles south of Tehran. Natanz, which is no longer under I.A.E.A. safeguards, reportedly has underground floor space to hold fifty thousand centrifuges, and laboratories and workspaces buried approximately seventy-five feet beneath the surface. That number of centrifuges could provide enough enriched uranium for about twenty nuclear warheads a year. (Iran has acknowledged that it initially kept the existence of its enrichment program hidden from I.A.E.A. inspectors, but claims that none of its current activity is barred by the Non-Proliferation Treaty.) The elimination of Natanz would be a major setback for Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but the conventional weapons in the American arsenal could not insure the destruction of facilities under seventy-five feet of earth and rock, especially if they are reinforced with concrete.

There is a Cold War precedent for targeting deep underground bunkers with nuclear weapons. In the early nineteen-eighties, the American intelligence community watched as the Soviet government began digging a huge underground complex outside Moscow. Analysts concluded that the underground facility was designed for “continuity of government”—for the political and military leadership to survive a nuclear war. (There are similar facilities, in Virginia and Pennsylvania, for the American leadership.) The Soviet facility still exists, and much of what the U.S. knows about it remains classified. “The ‘tell’ ”—the giveaway—“was the ventilator shafts, some of which were disguised,” the former senior intelligence official told me. At the time, he said, it was determined that “only nukes” could destroy the bunker. He added that some American intelligence analysts believe that the Russians helped the Iranians design their underground facility. “We see a similarity of design,” specifically in the ventilator shafts, he said.

A former high-level Defense Department official told me that, in his view, even limited bombing would allow the U.S. to “go in there and do enough damage to slow down the nuclear infrastructure—it’s feasible.” The former defense official said, “The Iranians don’t have friends, and we can tell them that, if necessary, we’ll keep knocking back their infrastructure. The United States should act like we’re ready to go.” He added, “We don’t have to knock down all of their air defenses. Our stealth bombers and standoff missiles really work, and we can blow fixed things up. We can do things on the ground, too, but it’s difficult and very dangerous—put bad stuff in ventilator shafts and put them to sleep.”

But those who are familiar with the Soviet bunker, according to the former senior intelligence official, “say ‘No way.’ You’ve got to know what’s underneath—to know which ventilator feeds people, or diesel generators, or which are false. And there’s a lot that we don’t know.” The lack of reliable intelligence leaves military planners, given the goal of totally destroying the sites, little choice but to consider the use of tactical nuclear weapons. “Every other option, in the view of the nuclear weaponeers, would leave a gap,” the former senior intelligence official said. “ ‘Decisive’ is the key word of the Air Force’s planning. It’s a tough decision. But we made it in Japan.”

He went on, “Nuclear planners go through extensive training and learn the technical details of damage and fallout—we’re talking about mushroom clouds, radiation, mass casualties, and contamination over years. This is not an underground nuclear test, where all you see is the earth raised a little bit. These politicians don’t have a clue, and whenever anybody tries to get it out”—remove the nuclear option—“they’re shouted down.”

The attention given to the nuclear option has created serious misgivings inside the offices of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he added, and some officers have talked about resigning. Late this winter, the Joint Chiefs of Staff sought to remove the nuclear option from the evolving war plans for Iran—without success, the former intelligence official said. “The White House said, ‘Why are you challenging this? The option came from you.’ ”

The Pentagon adviser on the war on terror confirmed that some in the Administration were looking seriously at this option, which he linked to a resurgence of interest in tactical nuclear weapons among Pentagon civilians and in policy circles. He called it “a juggernaut that has to be stopped.” He also confirmed that some senior officers and officials were considering resigning over the issue. “There are very strong sentiments within the military against brandishing nuclear weapons against other countries,” the adviser told me. “This goes to high levels.” The matter may soon reach a decisive point, he said, because the Joint Chiefs had agreed to give President Bush a formal recommendation stating that they are strongly opposed to considering the nuclear option for Iran. “The internal debate on this has hardened in recent weeks,” the adviser said. “And, if senior Pentagon officers express their opposition to the use of offensive nuclear weapons, then it will never happen.”

The adviser added, however, that the idea of using tactical nuclear weapons in such situations has gained support from the Defense Science Board, an advisory panel whose members are selected by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. “They’re telling the Pentagon that we can build the B61 with more blast and less radiation,” he said.

The chairman of the Defense Science Board is William Schneider, Jr., an Under-Secretary of State in the Reagan Administration. In January, 2001, as President Bush prepared to take office, Schneider served on an ad-hoc panel on nuclear forces sponsored by the National Institute for Public Policy, a conservative think tank. The panel’s report recommended treating tactical nuclear weapons as an essential part of the U.S. arsenal and noted their suitability “for those occasions when the certain and prompt destruction of high priority targets is essential and beyond the promise of conventional weapons.” Several signers of the report are now prominent members of the Bush Administration, including Stephen Hadley, the national-security adviser; Stephen Cambone, the Under-Secretary of Defense for Intelligence; and Robert Joseph, the Under-Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security.

The Pentagon adviser questioned the value of air strikes. “The Iranians have distributed their nuclear activity very well, and we have no clue where some of the key stuff is. It could even be out of the country,” he said. He warned, as did many others, that bombing Iran could provoke “a chain reaction” of attacks on American facilities and citizens throughout the world: “What will 1.2 billion Muslims think the day we attack Iran?”

With or without the nuclear option, the list of targets may inevitably expand. One recently retired high-level Bush Administration official, who is also an expert on war planning, told me that he would have vigorously argued against an air attack on Iran, because “Iran is a much tougher target” than Iraq. But, he added, “If you’re going to do any bombing to stop the nukes, you might as well improve your lie across the board. Maybe hit some training camps, and clear up a lot of other problems.”

The Pentagon adviser said that, in the event of an attack, the Air Force intended to strike many hundreds of targets in Iran but that “ninety-nine per cent of them have nothing to do with proliferation. There are people who believe it’s the way to operate”—that the Administration can achieve its policy goals in Iran with a bombing campaign, an idea that has been supported by neoconservatives.

If the order were to be given for an attack, the American combat troops now operating in Iran would be in position to mark the critical targets with laser beams, to insure bombing accuracy and to minimize civilian casualties. As of early winter, I was told by the government consultant with close ties to civilians in the Pentagon, the units were also working with minority groups in Iran, including the Azeris, in the north, the Baluchis, in the southeast, and the Kurds, in the northeast. The troops “are studying the terrain, and giving away walking-around money to ethnic tribes, and recruiting scouts from local tribes and shepherds,” the consultant said. One goal is to get “eyes on the ground”—quoting a line from “Othello,” he said, “Give me the ocular proof.” The broader aim, the consultant said, is to “encourage ethnic tensions” and undermine the regime.

The new mission for the combat troops is a product of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld’s long-standing interest in expanding the role of the military in covert operations, which was made official policy in the Pentagon’s Quadrennial Defense Review, published in February. Such activities, if conducted by C.I.A. operatives, would need a Presidential Finding and would have to be reported to key members of Congress.

“ ‘Force protection’ is the new buzzword,” the former senior intelligence official told me. He was referring to the Pentagon’s position that clandestine activities that can be broadly classified as preparing the battlefield or protecting troops are military, not intelligence, operations, and are therefore not subject to congressional oversight. “The guys in the Joint Chiefs of Staff say there are a lot of uncertainties in Iran,” he said. “We need to have more than what we had in Iraq. Now we have the green light to do everything we want.”

The President’s deep distrust of Ahmadinejad has strengthened his determination to confront Iran. This view has been reinforced by allegations that Ahmadinejad, who joined a special-forces brigade of the Revolutionary Guards in 1986, may have been involved in terrorist activities in the late eighties. (There are gaps in Ahmadinejad’s official biography in this period.) Ahmadinejad has reportedly been connected to Imad Mughniyeh, a terrorist who has been implicated in the deadly bombings of the U.S. Embassy and the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, in 1983. Mughniyeh was then the security chief of Hezbollah; he remains on the F.B.I.’s list of most-wanted terrorists.

Robert Baer, who was a C.I.A. officer in the Middle East and elsewhere for two decades, told me that Ahmadinejad and his Revolutionary Guard colleagues in the Iranian government “are capable of making a bomb, hiding it, and launching it at Israel. They’re apocalyptic Shiites. If you’re sitting in Tel Aviv and you believe they’ve got nukes and missiles—you’ve got to take them out. These guys are nuts, and there’s no reason to back off.”

Under Ahmadinejad, the Revolutionary Guards have expanded their power base throughout the Iranian bureaucracy; by the end of January, they had replaced thousands of civil servants with their own members. One former senior United Nations official, who has extensive experience with Iran, depicted the turnover as “a white coup,” with ominous implications for the West. “Professionals in the Foreign Ministry are out; others are waiting to be kicked out,” he said. “We may be too late. These guys now believe that they are stronger than ever since the revolution.” He said that, particularly in consideration of China’s emergence as a superpower, Iran’s attitude was “To hell with the West. You can do as much as you like.”

Iran’s supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, is considered by many experts to be in a stronger position than Ahmadinejad. “Ahmadinejad is not in control,” one European diplomat told me. “Power is diffuse in Iran. The Revolutionary Guards are among the key backers of the nuclear program, but, ultimately, I don’t think they are in charge of it. The Supreme Leader has the casting vote on the nuclear program, and the Guards will not take action without his approval.”

The Pentagon adviser on the war on terror said that “allowing Iran to have the bomb is not on the table. We cannot have nukes being sent downstream to a terror network. It’s just too dangerous.” He added, “The whole internal debate is on which way to go”—in terms of stopping the Iranian program. It is possible, the adviser said, that Iran will unilaterally renounce its nuclear plans—and forestall the American action. “God may smile on us, but I don’t think so. The bottom line is that Iran cannot become a nuclear-weapons state. The problem is that the Iranians realize that only by becoming a nuclear state can they defend themselves against the U.S. Something bad is going to happen.”

While almost no one disputes Iran’s nuclear ambitions, there is intense debate over how soon it could get the bomb, and what to do about that. Robert Gallucci, a former government expert on nonproliferation who is now the dean of the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown, told me, “Based on what I know, Iran could be eight to ten years away” from developing a deliverable nuclear weapon. Gallucci added, “If they had a covert nuclear program and we could prove it, and we could not stop it by negotiation, diplomacy, or the threat of sanctions, I’d be in favor of taking it out. But if you do it”—bomb Iran—“without being able to show there’s a secret program, you’re in trouble.”

Meir Dagan, the head of Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, told the Knesset last December that “Iran is one to two years away, at the latest, from having enriched uranium. From that point, the completion of their nuclear weapon is simply a technical matter.” In a conversation with me, a senior Israeli intelligence official talked about what he said was Iran’s duplicity: “There are two parallel nuclear programs” inside Iran—the program declared to the I.A.E.A. and a separate operation, run by the military and the Revolutionary Guards. Israeli officials have repeatedly made this argument, but Israel has not produced public evidence to support it. Richard Armitage, the Deputy Secretary of State in Bush’s first term, told me, “I think Iran has a secret nuclear-weapons program—I believe it, but I don’t know it.”

In recent months, the Pakistani government has given the U.S. new access to A. Q. Khan, the so-called father of the Pakistani atomic bomb. Khan, who is now living under house arrest in Islamabad, is accused of setting up a black market in nuclear materials; he made at least one clandestine visit to Tehran in the late nineteen-eighties. In the most recent interrogations, Khan has provided information on Iran’s weapons design and its time line for building a bomb. “The picture is of ‘unquestionable danger,’ ” the former senior intelligence official said. (The Pentagon adviser also confirmed that Khan has been “singing like a canary.”) The concern, the former senior official said, is that “Khan has credibility problems. He is suggestible, and he’s telling the neoconservatives what they want to hear”—or what might be useful to Pakistan’s President, Pervez Musharraf, who is under pressure to assist Washington in the war on terror.

“I think Khan’s leading us on,” the former intelligence official said. “I don’t know anybody who says, ‘Here’s the smoking gun.’ But lights are beginning to blink. He’s feeding us information on the time line, and targeting information is coming in from our own sources— sensors and the covert teams. The C.I.A., which was so burned by Iraqi W.M.D., is going to the Pentagon and the Vice-President’s office saying, ‘It’s all new stuff.’ People in the Administration are saying, ‘We’ve got enough.’ ”

The Administration’s case against Iran is compromised by its history of promoting false intelligence on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. In a recent essay on the Foreign Policy Web site, entitled “Fool Me Twice,” Joseph Cirincione, the director for nonproliferation at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, wrote, “The unfolding administration strategy appears to be an effort to repeat its successful campaign for the Iraq war.” He noted several parallels:

The vice president of the United States gives a major speech focused on the threat from an oil-rich nation in the Middle East. The U.S. Secretary of State tells Congress that the same nation is our most serious global challenge. The Secretary of Defense calls that nation the leading supporter of global terrorism.

Cirincione called some of the Administration’s claims about Iran “questionable” or lacking in evidence. When I spoke to him, he asked, “What do we know? What is the threat? The question is: How urgent is all this?” The answer, he said, “is in the intelligence community and the I.A.E.A.” (In August, the Washington Post reported that the most recent comprehensive National Intelligence Estimate predicted that Iran was a decade away from being a nuclear power.)

Last year, the Bush Administration briefed I.A.E.A. officials on what it said was new and alarming information about Iran’s weapons program which had been retrieved from an Iranian’s laptop. The new data included more than a thousand pages of technical drawings of weapons systems. The Washington Post reported that there were also designs for a small facility that could be used in the uranium-enrichment process. Leaks about the laptop became the focal point of stories in the Times and elsewhere. The stories were generally careful to note that the materials could have been fabricated, but also quoted senior American officials as saying that they appeared to be legitimate. The headline in the Times’ account read, “RELYING ON COMPUTER, U.S. SEEKS TO PROVE IRAN’S NUCLEAR AIMS.”

I was told in interviews with American and European intelligence officials, however, that the laptop was more suspect and less revelatory than it had been depicted. The Iranian who owned the laptop had initially been recruited by German and American intelligence operatives, working together. The Americans eventually lost interest in him. The Germans kept on, but the Iranian was seized by the Iranian counter-intelligence force. It is not known where he is today. Some family members managed to leave Iran with his laptop and handed it over at a U.S. embassy, apparently in Europe. It was a classic “walk-in.”

A European intelligence official said, “There was some hesitation on our side” about what the materials really proved, “and we are still not convinced.” The drawings were not meticulous, as newspaper accounts suggested, “but had the character of sketches,” the European official said. “It was not a slam-dunk smoking gun.”

The threat of American military action has created dismay at the headquarters of the I.A.E.A., in Vienna. The agency’s officials believe that Iran wants to be able to make a nuclear weapon, but “nobody has presented an inch of evidence of a parallel nuclear-weapons program in Iran,” the high-ranking diplomat told me. The I.A.E.A.’s best estimate is that the Iranians are five years away from building a nuclear bomb. “But, if the United States does anything militarily, they will make the development of a bomb a matter of Iranian national pride,” the diplomat said. “The whole issue is America’s risk assessment of Iran’s future intentions, and they don’t trust the regime. Iran is a menace to American policy.”

In Vienna, I was told of an exceedingly testy meeting earlier this year between Mohamed ElBaradei, the I.A.E.A.’s director-general, who won the Nobel Peace Prize last year, and Robert Joseph, the Under-Secretary of State for Arms Control. Joseph’s message was blunt, one diplomat recalled: “We cannot have a single centrifuge spinning in Iran. Iran is a direct threat to the national security of the United States and our allies, and we will not tolerate it. We want you to give us an understanding that you will not say anything publicly that will undermine us. ”

Joseph’s heavy-handedness was unnecessary, the diplomat said, since the I.A.E.A. already had been inclined to take a hard stand against Iran. “All of the inspectors are angry at being misled by the Iranians, and some think the Iranian leadership are nutcases—one hundred per cent totally certified nuts,” the diplomat said. He added that ElBaradei’s overriding concern is that the Iranian leaders “want confrontation, just like the neocons on the other side”—in Washington. “At the end of the day, it will work only if the United States agrees to talk to the Iranians.”

The central question—whether Iran will be able to proceed with its plans to enrich uranium—is now before the United Nations, with the Russians and the Chinese reluctant to impose sanctions on Tehran. A discouraged former I.A.E.A. official told me in late March that, at this point, “there’s nothing the Iranians could do that would result in a positive outcome. American diplomacy does not allow for it. Even if they announce a stoppage of enrichment, nobody will believe them. It’s a dead end.”

Another diplomat in Vienna asked me, “Why would the West take the risk of going to war against that kind of target without giving it to the I.A.E.A. to verify? We’re low-cost, and we can create a program that will force Iran to put its cards on the table.” A Western Ambassador in Vienna expressed similar distress at the White House’s dismissal of the I.A.E.A. He said, “If you don’t believe that the I.A.E.A. can establish an inspection system—if you don’t trust them—you can only bomb.”

There is little sympathy for the I.A.E.A. in the Bush Administration or among its European allies. “We’re quite frustrated with the director-general,” the European diplomat told me. “His basic approach has been to describe this as a dispute between two sides with equal weight. It’s not. We’re the good guys! ElBaradei has been pushing the idea of letting Iran have a small nuclear-enrichment program, which is ludicrous. It’s not his job to push ideas that pose a serious proliferation risk.”

The Europeans are rattled, however, by their growing perception that President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney believe a bombing campaign will be needed, and that their real goal is regime change. “Everyone is on the same page about the Iranian bomb, but the United States wants regime change,” a European diplomatic adviser told me. He added, “The Europeans have a role to play as long as they don’t have to choose between going along with the Russians and the Chinese or going along with Washington on something they don’t want. Their policy is to keep the Americans engaged in something the Europeans can live with. It may be untenable.”

“The Brits think this is a very bad idea,” Flynt Leverett, a former National Security Council staff member who is now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center, told me, “but they’re really worried we’re going to do it.” The European diplomatic adviser acknowledged that the British Foreign Office was aware of war planning in Washington but that, “short of a smoking gun, it’s going to be very difficult to line up the Europeans on Iran.” He said that the British “are jumpy about the Americans going full bore on the Iranians, with no compromise.”

The European diplomat said that he was skeptical that Iran, given its record, had admitted to everything it was doing, but “to the best of our knowledge the Iranian capability is not at the point where they could successfully run centrifuges” to enrich uranium in quantity. One reason for pursuing diplomacy was, he said, Iran’s essential pragmatism. “The regime acts in its best interests,” he said. Iran’s leaders “take a hard-line approach on the nuclear issue and they want to call the American bluff,” believing that “the tougher they are the more likely the West will fold.” But, he said, “From what we’ve seen with Iran, they will appear superconfident until the moment they back off.”

The diplomat went on, “You never reward bad behavior, and this is not the time to offer concessions. We need to find ways to impose sufficient costs to bring the regime to its senses. It’s going to be a close call, but I think if there is unity in opposition and the price imposed”—in sanctions—“is sufficient, they may back down. It’s too early to give up on the U.N. route.” He added, “If the diplomatic process doesn’t work, there is no military ‘solution.’ There may be a military option, but the impact could be catastrophic.”

Tony Blair, the British Prime Minister, was George Bush’s most dependable ally in the year leading up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. But he and his party have been racked by a series of financial scandals, and his popularity is at a low point. Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, said last year that military action against Iran was “inconceivable.” Blair has been more circumspect, saying publicly that one should never take options off the table.

Other European officials expressed similar skepticism about the value of an American bombing campaign. “The Iranian economy is in bad shape, and Ahmadinejad is in bad shape politically,” the European intelligence official told me. “He will benefit politically from American bombing. You can do it, but the results will be worse.” An American attack, he said, would alienate ordinary Iranians, including those who might be sympathetic to the U.S. “Iran is no longer living in the Stone Age, and the young people there have access to U.S. movies and books, and they love it,” he said. “If there was a charm offensive with Iran, the mullahs would be in trouble in the long run.”

Another European official told me that he was aware that many in Washington wanted action. “It’s always the same guys,” he said, with a resigned shrug. “There is a belief that diplomacy is doomed to fail. The timetable is short.”

A key ally with an important voice in the debate is Israel, whose leadership has warned for years that it viewed any attempt by Iran to begin enriching uranium as a point of no return. I was told by several officials that the White House’s interest in preventing an Israeli attack on a Muslim country, which would provoke a backlash across the region, was a factor in its decision to begin the current operational planning. In a speech in Cleveland on March 20th, President Bush depicted Ahmadinejad’s hostility toward Israel as a “serious threat. It’s a threat to world peace.” He added, “I made it clear, I’ll make it clear again, that we will use military might to protect our ally Israel.”

Any American bombing attack, Richard Armitage told me, would have to consider the following questions: “What will happen in the other Islamic countries? What ability does Iran have to reach us and touch us globally—that is, terrorism? Will Syria and Lebanon up the pressure on Israel? What does the attack do to our already diminished international standing? And what does this mean for Russia, China, and the U.N. Security Council?”

Iran, which now produces nearly four million barrels of oil a day, would not have to cut off production to disrupt the world’s oil markets. It could blockade or mine the Strait of Hormuz, the thirty-four-mile-wide passage through which Middle Eastern oil reaches the Indian Ocean. Nonetheless, the recently retired defense official dismissed the strategic consequences of such actions. He told me that the U.S. Navy could keep shipping open by conducting salvage missions and putting mine- sweepers to work. “It’s impossible to block passage,” he said. The government consultant with ties to the Pentagon also said he believed that the oil problem could be managed, pointing out that the U.S. has enough in its strategic reserves to keep America running for sixty days. However, those in the oil business I spoke to were less optimistic; one industry expert estimated that the price per barrel would immediately spike, to anywhere from ninety to a hundred dollars per barrel, and could go higher, depending on the duration and scope of the conflict.

Michel Samaha, a veteran Lebanese Christian politician and former cabinet minister in Beirut, told me that the Iranian retaliation might be focussed on exposed oil and gas fields in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates. “They would be at risk,” he said, “and this could begin the real jihad of Iran versus the West. You will have a messy world.”

Iran could also initiate a wave of terror attacks in Iraq and elsewhere, with the help of Hezbollah. On April 2nd, the Washington Post reported that the planning to counter such attacks “is consuming a lot of time” at U.S. intelligence agencies. “The best terror network in the world has remained neutral in the terror war for the past several years,” the Pentagon adviser on the war on terror said of Hezbollah. “This will mobilize them and put us up against the group that drove Israel out of southern Lebanon. If we move against Iran, Hezbollah will not sit on the sidelines. Unless the Israelis take them out, they will mobilize against us.” (When I asked the government consultant about that possibility, he said that, if Hezbollah fired rockets into northern Israel, “Israel and the new Lebanese government will finish them off.”)

The adviser went on, “If we go, the southern half of Iraq will light up like a candle.” The American, British, and other coalition forces in Iraq would be at greater risk of attack from Iranian troops or from Shiite militias operating on instructions from Iran. (Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, has close ties to the leading Shiite parties in Iraq.) A retired four-star general told me that, despite the eight thousand British troops in the region, “the Iranians could take Basra with ten mullahs and one sound truck.”

“If you attack,” the high-ranking diplomat told me in Vienna, “Ahmadinejad will be the new Saddam Hussein of the Arab world, but with more credibility and more power. You must bite the bullet and sit down with the Iranians.”

The diplomat went on, “There are people in Washington who would be unhappy if we found a solution. They are still banking on isolation and regime change. This is wishful thinking.” He added, “The window of opportunity is now.”



This article was also carried by Al Jazeera.com, and I posted it in the Al Jazeera thread in Current Events, however, it does seem no one believes Al Jazeera is a good source of news commentary, so Al Jazeera articles for the most part go unread. ??? Why is that? They read our news, why are we afraid of theirs? There is no more propaganda on theirs than in ours.

Saundra Hummer
April 8th, 2006, 03:43 PM

Washington's Invisible Man


As the lobbyist who has ignited what might be the biggest government scandal since Watergate, Jack Abramoff—now sentenced to 70 months in jail for conspiracy and fraud—became notorious for tossing around money, much of it from the casinos of his Indian-tribe clients, to influence key lawmakers. As he talks (and talks) to the feds, Washington is waiting to see whom he'll take down with him
By now, Jack Abramoff is known in just about every home and Grange hall and shopping mall, every Middlesex village and farm, in America. He's the Washington lobbyist who bought all those senators and representatives, the man who ripped off all those Indian tribes he represented, the butt of all those late-night-TV jokes. He's the fellow responsible for what might be the biggest government scandal since Watergate, the man whose sullied example could maybe, possibly, help clean up Washington. He's the guy who wore that infamous black hat on the day he admitted it all.

"Abramoff is known everywhere but in two buildings, that is: the United States Capitol and the White House. Sure, he spread around millions of Indian-tribe dollars, to say nothing of golf trips to Scotland and free meals at Signatures, his own fancy restaurant, and luxury-box seats at sporting events—American Indians, of all people, paying for Redskins tickets—among roughly 270 members of Congress. Sure, a few senators and representatives admit to having brushed up against Abramoff, but only long enough for him to have "duped" or "misled" them. And President Bush can barely remember him: for a couple of Hanukkahs, Abramoff apparently stood on grip-and-grin lines at the White House to be photographed with the president, but almost anybody can do that.

Being airbrushed out of a whole community in which he cut so wide a swath for the past 10 years, where he helped revolutionize lobbying, where he was very nearly ubiquitous and invincible—it's enough to hurt someone's feelings. On other matters related to his situation he tiptoes, as would anyone whose fate—the amount of time he will languish in prison—lies in the hands of prosecutors and the judge. But for someone who has fought his whole career to be acknowledged and respected and feared, being treated like a nonperson is simply too much to take. "For a guy who did all these evil things that have been so widely reported, it's pretty amazing, considering I didn't know anyone," Abramoff says sardonically. "You're really no one in this town unless you haven't met me."

Just to cite one typical example, the head of the Republican National Committee, Ken Mehlman, said in an interview, "Abramoff is someone who we don't know a lot about. We know what we read in the paper," even though, according to documents obtained by Vanity Fair, Mehlman exchanged e-mail with Abramoff, did him political favors (such as blocking Clinton-administration alumnus Allen Stayman from keeping a State Department job), had Sabbath dinner at his house, and offered to pick up his tab at Signatures. (According to a spokesperson, Mehlman does not recall the e-mail exchange, "because he was often contacted by political supporters with suggestions and ideas," or the Sabbath dinner.) The newly elected House majority leader, John Boehner, Republican of Ohio, also doesn't know Abramoff, but Abramoff's clients gave him $30,000 over the past few years, and ate many meals at Signatures. (For a couple of years, Abramoff's principal liaison with Boehner was David Safavian—a former member of "Team Abramoff" and later head of procurement for the White House Office of Management and Budget—who has been indicted for lying about his Abramoff ties.)

Then there's presidential adviser Karl Rove. He has not spoken of his relationship with Abramoff, but the White House insists Rove, too, barely knew him, acknowledging only that they met at a political event in the 1990s. "He would describe him as a casual acquaintance," a White House spokesman said. But Abramoff was Rove's spiritual heir at the College Republicans in the 1980s; both men headed the group, and the two met from time to time in connection with it. After George W. Bush took office, Susan Ralston, Abramoff's administrative assistant, took the same position with Rove at the White House, where Abramoff met with Rove at least once. (An eyewitness also recalls seeing Abramoff emerge from a car near the White House and have what looked like a pre-arranged, street-corner meeting with Rove; Abramoff says he can't recall that.) Rove dined several times at Signatures and was Abramoff's guest in the owner's box at the N.C.A.A. basketball playoffs a few years ago, sitting for much of the game by Abramoff's side. Recently, three former associates of Abramoff's have told how he frequently mentioned his strong ties to Rove, and one described being present when Abramoff took a phone call from Rove's office.

Then, most important, there's President Bush. "I, frankly, don't even remember having my picture taken with the guy," he has said. But how about those 10 or so photographs of him with Abramoff, or with Abramoff's sons, or of Laura Bush with Abramoff's daughters, apparently taken during all of those meetings that never took place? And the time when the president joked with Abramoff about his weight lifting: "What are you benching, buff guy?" How about the invitation to the ranch in Crawford, where Abramoff would have joined all of the other big Bush fund-raisers? Abramoff didn't go to that—it fell on the Sabbath, which, as an Orthodox Jew, Abramoff observes—but how about that speech Bush gave to big donors in 2003, when Abramoff sat only a few feet away, between Republican senators George Allen (Virginia) and Orrin Hatch (Utah), and was the only lobbyist on the dais?

"He has one of the best memories of any politician I have ever met," Abramoff wrote of the president in yet another of his notorious e-mails, which have evolved from his principal means of communication to the rope with which he has hanged, and continues to hang, himself. "Perhaps he has forgotten everything. Who knows."

There are other people from Abramoff's more distant past who also never knew him, such as former Republican House Speaker (and rumored 2008 presidential candidate) Newt Gingrich, who first never met Abramoff during the latter's firebrand days atop the College Republicans. "Before his picture appeared on TV and in the newspapers, Newt wouldn't have known him if he fell across him. He hadn't seen him in 10 years," Gingrich's spokesman, Rick Tyler, tells me. That this especially rankles Abramoff becomes clear as he rummages through a box of old memorabilia with me. "Here's [former Republican Texas congressman and House majority leader] Dick Armey," he tells me. "Here's Newt. Newt. Newt. [Former president Ronald] Reagan. More Newt. Newt with Grover [Norquist, the Washington conservative Republican Über-strategist and longtime Abramoff friend] this time, and with [Seattle arch-conservative Republican] Rabbi [Daniel] Lapin. But Newt never met me. Ollie North. Newt. Can't be Newt … he never met me. Oh, Newt! What's he doing there? Must be a Newt look-alike. I have more pictures of him than I have of my wife. Newt again! It's sick! I thought he never met me!"

After a public evisceration unlike any in recent history, and facing a decade or more in jail, Jack Abramoff, the 47-year-old father of five, who spent 10 hyperkinetic, largely introspection-free years as both Washington's most powerful lobbyist and a key Republican activist, is contrite and humble. He is trying to salvage for himself a modicum of self-respect, along with some mercy and understanding from the judge who holds his fate in her hands. He admits that he stepped over ethical lines, insulted and misled his clients, offended the God to whom he regularly prays. By court decree, he owes the Indian tribes approximately $25 million in restitution, and he owes the I.R.S. at least $1.7 million. On Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement, when Orthodox Jews beat their breasts for their sins, he can flagellate himself with great conviction. But for Jack Abramoff, the time for on-the-record rancor is over. However angry he may be with former cronies who supped at his trough and accepted his favors but who now call him a "sleazebag" or a "creep" and wish he'd never been born, he bites his tongue. What really upsets him is all this revisionism, all these people pretending he never existed.

"Any important Republican who comes out and says they didn't know me is almost certainly lying," he says. Such lies are not just, well, lies, but dumb to boot, he adds, for, as his own humiliations suggest, old e-mails never die; they just sit on hard drives, waiting to be subpoenaed and then to be leaked to the press. "This is not an age when you can run away from facts," he declares. "I had to deal with my records, and others will have to deal with theirs."

On January 3, Abramoff pleaded guilty to conspiracy, mail fraud, and tax evasion. Court documents describe how he encouraged at least four Indian tribes to hire his former associate Michael Scanlon, who had his own public-relations company, for grassroots work—largely political campaigning in the field, such as letter writing, phone banks, and media advertisements—without disclosing that Abramoff himself was getting kickbacks of almost half of Scanlon's profits. Both Scanlon's fees and Abramoff's take were enormous: $30,510,000 from the Louisiana Coushattas, of which Abramoff received $11,450,000; $14,765,000 from the Mississippi Band of Choctaws ($6,364,000 to Abramoff); and $3,500,000 from the Saginaw Chippewas of Michigan ($540,000 to Abramoff).

Similarly, Scanlon received $4,200,000 from the Tiguas of Texas, who were seeking to reopen a casino in El Paso. Abramoff had assured the Tiguas that he would work for free, but under his arrangement with Scanlon he surreptitiously pocketed $1,850,000. In this instance, compounding the deceit was a conflict of interest: Abramoff failed to disclose that, on behalf of another tribe, he had helped shut down the Tiguas' casino to begin with, then aided in killing legislation that might have allowed them to start up again.

"I think Jack is the ultimate con man," said Marc Schwartz, a former consultant to the Tiguas, who watched Abramoff win over tribal members in 2002 with his chartered jet, his wireless laptop and BlackBerry, and what appeared to be his dazzling accomplishments for other Indian tribes. To Schwartz, who became friendly with Abramoff, subsequent revelations about his dishonesty and bribery of public officials have made him the Mark McGwire of lobbyists, a man whose cheating has tainted whatever good he accomplished. "Greed and avarice got to Jack, and his constant references to his Orthodoxy and his self-described passion for righting wrongs made the betrayal I felt so much greater," says Schwartz.

The plea agreement also charges Abramoff with "corruption of public officials," in particular "Representative #1," universally understood to be Republican congressman Bob Ney of Ohio. It states that in exchange for "a stream of things of value"—foreign and domestic travel, golf fees, food, jobs for relatives, and both campaign contributions and a contribution to the National Republican Campaign Committee at his request—Ney became Abramoff's fixer on Capitol Hill.

The offenses don't stop there. Abramoff ripped off the law-and-lobbying firm he worked for by essentially lobbying behind its back. He misused tax-exempt charities such as his own foundation, the Capital Athletic Foundation, in one instance using $50,000 donated to it by a tribal client to help fund an August 2002 golfing trip to Scotland for himself, members of his staff, Ney, Ney staffers, and former Christian Coalition head Ralph Reed.

Abramoff also funneled $50,000 through a charity to the wife of Tony Rudy, a top aide to former House majority leader Tom DeLay (Republican of Texas), in exchange for Rudy's help in obtaining legislation to block Internet gambling and in opposing postal-rate increases. Rudy subsequently went to work for Abramoff, as did Ney's former chief of staff Neil Volz, who lobbied his former employer within less than a year of his departure—yet another violation of the law. As if that weren't enough, Abramoff in a separate case has pleaded guilty to fraud and conspiracy in the 2000 purchase of SunCruz Casinos, a Florida casino-boat company. That transaction ended in a bankruptcy and a Mob rubout, though no one, including the prosecutors in Miami, has ever linked Abramoff directly to the murder.

In return for what he hopes will be a shorter sentence, Abramoff is spilling his secrets to the Justice Department. In the past 19 months or so, prosecutors and investigators have spent something approaching 200 hours pumping him for information. Allegedly as many as 15 people—from various branches of the Justice Department (including the F.B.I.), the Department of the Interior, the Internal Revenue Service, and other federal agencies—are listening. It is an evolving process, for, with prosecutors (as with reporters), Abramoff has been a work in progress, moving from defiance to denial to self-justification to contrition. As time has passed and the parties have grown accustomed to one another, the information has grown more solid and specific. For Abramoff, unemployed and unemployable, talking with the authorities is as close as he gets these days to a full-time job. Once, his stock-in-trade was whom he knew. Now it is what he knows. "In a different era I'd be killed on the street or have poison poured into my coffee," he says.

What they are all interested in is the nearly $4 million—largely gambling revenues from the casinos of his tribal clients—that Abramoff spread around Washington. Two-thirds of that went either to the Republican Party, his ideological home since college, or to individual Republicans, many of whom could dole out appropriations, move along legislation, or perform a host of other chores that the tribes wanted. Democrats, too, mainly in the Senate, could do Abramoff favors, and, while they may have abhorred his politics, his money still smelled good. They got more than a million dollars.

The other shoe seems poised to drop in Washington, implicating perhaps a handful of senators and congressmen, as well as their staffs, relatives, and other public officials. The most obvious target is Ney. In their heyday, he and Abramoff played golf together, traveled together, philosophized together. Ney was one of the few elected officials Abramoff invited to the Bar Mitzvah of one of his three sons. Now Ney says that Abramoff "duped" and "misled" him. But, according to the plea agreement, Ney threw a lucrative contract to an Abramoff client, intervened with agencies and offices to seek favors for other Abramoff interests, helped a relative of one of Abramoff's Russian clients obtain an American visa, agreed to introduce legislation that would help reopen the Tigua casino, and, to assist Abramoff in buying the SunCruz line, read two statements into the Congressional Record, one in which he described Abramoff's main partner in that deal, Adam Kidan—a man who'd been disbarred, declared bankruptcy, and had Mob ties—as a man of the utmost integrity.

For such services, Ney, according to the plea agreement, got "a stream of things of value" from Abramoff and those he represented: a "lavish" golf trip to St. Andrews, seats in Abramoff's sports boxes, freebie dinners at Signatures (Ney was a "sushiholic," one eyewitness recalls), and at least $37,500 in donations to various political-action committees on his behalf. Rather than go for Ney immediately, prosecutors appear to be encircling him, possibly striking plea deals with frightened staffers, themselves desperate to stay out of jail.

Also in the prosecutorial crosshairs may be Republican senator Conrad Burns, of Montana, one of the largest single recipients of Abramoff loot. As head of the Senate appropriations subcommittee for the Department of the Interior, which handles Indian affairs, he was Abramoff's point man in the Senate for federal goodies.

Burns told a reporter he wishes Abramoff had never been born, and, more recently, has blanketed the airwaves in Montana with ads claiming that Abramoff "lied to anybody and everybody" and "ripped off his Indian clients," but that "he never influenced me." Abramoff won't comment specifically on the ads, clearly tempted as he is. "Every appropriation we wanted [from Burns's committee] we got," he says. "Our staffs were as close as they could be. They practically used Signatures as their cafeteria. I mean, it's a little difficult for him to run from that record." As for Burns's wishing he'd never been born, Abramoff remarks, "That's quite a statement, coming from a pro-life Republican."

Burns, however, ranks only fourth on the list of Abramoff's recipients, having taken $55,590, according to the Center for Responsive Politics (though even Burns's own people put that figure at closer to $150,000). The other four of the top-five largest individual recipients, all Republicans, were: Representative J. D. Hayworth of Arizona, co-chairman of the Congressional Native American Caucus ($69,620); Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi ($65,500); House Speaker Dennis Hastert of Illinois ($58,500); and Representative John T. Doolittle of California ($45,000). Several of them are reportedly targets of the Justice Department's investigation, as is the man who was Abramoff's main liaison at the Interior Department, former deputy secretary J. Steven Griles, a onetime mining-industry lobbyist who a high-ranking colleague told the Senate was Abramoff's water carrier in the department.

The Democrats insist that the Abramoff scandal is strictly a Republican affair. Of the more than $200,000 he gave away of his personal money, not a dime went to the Democrats. He always stipulated that his lobbying activities accord with his staunchly conservative beliefs. But Democrats received money from Abramoff's tribal clients, including: Senate minority leader Harry Reid of Nevada ($30,500); Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota ($28,000); Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa ($14,500); and Representative Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island ($31,000).

Bribery prosecutions are notoriously tough to make; while there was plenty of quid floating around, it can be very hard to prove the quo, at least without smoking guns like wiretapped conversations. Clearly, the voluminous e-mail trail will help. Along with evidentiary problems, there's also the question of political will. Perhaps after a few examples have been made, the Bush administration will declare victory and walk away from further prosecutions, especially if, should Democrats also be implicated, the opposition lets them. In another sense, though, the Abramoff scandal now transcends Abramoff. With congressional staffers and, perhaps, some congressmen willing to say anything to save their own skins, the fire could spread unabated.

For Abramoff's crimes, the statutory maximum is 30 years. But, as calculated in the plea agreement under the federal sentencing guidelines, he is subject to somewhere between 108 and 135 months in prison. That can be substantially reduced for cooperation, though given the notoriety of the case, everyone agrees, Abramoff is certain to do substantial jail time. The best guess is that Abramoff will be sentenced in a year or two, and spend at least a few years behind bars. It all rests with Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle, who took Abramoff's plea and heard his abject apology.

Ever since his days as an undergraduate at Brandeis University in the late 1970s, Abramoff has been a right-wing conservative zealot—a "Republican warrior," as he puts it. He has never voted for a Democrat in his life (and now, as a convicted felon, he probably never will). Paradoxically, it was Republicans who did Jack Abramoff in. According to an insider, Abramoff believes his downfall began with competing Republican lobbyists who coveted his clientele and fed damaging information about him to The Washington Post. And it continued with Senator John McCain (Republican of Arizona), whose hearings into Abramoff's dealings with the Indians ran for five gory, highly publicized sessions in 2004 and 2005.

At the top of his game, Abramoff was master of his domain. The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal did glowing front-page profiles of him. He had his "Team Abramoff," the cadre of young, hungry associates, many fresh recruits from the Hill, in whom he inculcated his scorched-earth, win-at-all-costs mentality. "If it's worth doing, it's worth overdoing," he tells me. Few lobbyists in Washington generated more business; in one year, he brought in $12 million. He presided over his empire at Signatures, which he opened in February 2002, between the Capitol and the White House, and which became a kind of command center for him. Abramoff's perch was Table 40, where the movers and shakers of official Washington came to him. "It was like Frank Sinatra," recalls Monty Warner, a Republican media strategist who remains friendly with Abramoff. "I can remember Ney coming up and groveling, saying how much he enjoyed a golf outing or skybox or ball game, and really appreciated Jack's support."

These days Signatures is locked up. And Abramoff, the ultimate lobbyist, now has his most challenging client: himself. In the past couple of years, he has become a cartoon-character bad guy, as he puts it. The image peaked on the day of his plea deal, when he wore the now infamous black hat. He had put it on because Orthodox Jews are supposed to cover their heads, but he feared that the yarmulke he would normally have worn would invite charges of false or newly minted piety. Besides, the forecast had called for rain. But he had unwittingly stepped right into a stereotype: Meet Jack Abramoff—the Fat Cat in the Hat.

Rehabilitation is a delicate maneuver. How do you prostrate and stand up for yourself at once? When Abramoff speaks to a reporter these days, he veers between the cathartic and the strategic. He says something, then thinks better of it. Ultimately, he is savvy enough to know that at this point in his saga the smart money lies with accepting his fate; no one who matters to him now is much interested in his self-pity or rage. When it comes to speaking freely, then, Abramoff's sentence has already begun. For public consumption, he has become something his friends and enemies would never recognize: cautious and conciliatory. He was getting to be too nice, unconvincingly so, I told him at one point. He laughed knowingly. I'd better hurry up and finish, he said; pretty soon, he'd turn into a saint.

For Abramoff, his is not a story of theft or greed; it is a colossal misunderstanding. He still sees himself as an idealist, a philanthropist, a visionary—someone who, as he puts it, "flies at 30,000 feet," too preoccupied with larger, weightier issues to deal with quotidian details, like contractual arrangements or his choice of business partners or the finer points of the law. His corner cutting and legerdemain, he says, were not only never venal, but had a higher purpose. As an Orthodox Jew, Abramoff will not even write out God's name, but he saw himself as his instrument.

Abramoff's orbit now consists largely of his home, his lawyer's office, and the F.B.I. Gone are the skyboxes; he still has Wizards tickets—a remnant of his prior life, expiring at the end of the season—but he doesn't go. From the suite that was his office at the lobbying-and-law firm of Greenberg Traurig—the biggest on the premises, big enough to drive foam golf balls in—and a team of 30, he's been reduced to a cheerless, windowless room not far from the White House (it looks like, well, a cell) and a part-time secretary. He rarely goes there.

Clearly, part of Abramoff feels that he has been unfairly targeted, that he did not invent all of the abuses with which he was charged. He was not the first lobbyist to spread money around, or to throw fund-raisers, or to treat congressmen to exotic trips. He did what other lobbyists did, only more so: more intelligently, more aggressively, more effectively, more unrelentingly, more ruthlessly. Other people surely wrote e-mails every bit as embarrassing as his, in which he called his Indian clients "troglodytes" and "morons" and "monkeys," "the stupidest idiots in the land." In one particularly damning e-mail he counseled Scanlon, "The key thing to remember with all these clients is that they are annoying, but that the annoying losers are the only ones which have this kind of money and part with it so quickly. So, we have to put up with this stuff."

Abramoff has apologized profusely for those e-mails. They were not meant as racial slurs, he says; he claims he's never made a racist comment, at least consciously, in his life. Most of them, he has pointed out, were written to Scanlon, with whom he spoke a kind of vulgar patois, part locker room, part drill sergeant, part gangsta rap. I ask him whether what he wrote about a tribe in another e-mail—"Oh, well, stupid folks get wiped out"—could be applied to him, the author of all those self-incriminating statements. "Well, here I am," he replies.

He also maintains that whatever he charged the Indians they more than earned back on his results. And it is absolutely true that in the bizarre world of Indian gaming a few strategic moves with the right politicians or bureaucrats are worth millions, billions. It is also true that the very documents that show Abramoff's ridicule of the Indians also illustrate how indefatigably he pushed their interests. So, too, did the final two days of McCain's Senate hearings, which chronicled his extraordinary influence over the Department of the Interior. Now, though, he's been turned into some kind of predator, worse for Native Americans than Andrew Jackson and George Armstrong Custer. "The entire Indian country has come together in a big kumbaya of hatred for me," he says. "It just tears at my soul."

"I was moving a mile a minute and didn't conceive that I could be doing something wrong, and as I got near to the edge I either concealed it or I convinced myself that I wasn't having a problem," he explains. "I was basically so busy winning that I didn't see what I was doing. They say, 'Stop and smell the roses'? I didn't stop and smell the dung heap. Unfortunately, now I'm paying for it dearly."

'You can take one of two points of view about Abramoff," a man familiar with the Senate investigation tells me. "Either he'd always been a bad egg and he was put into a position where he could really flourish, or he was a classic Greek tragic hero: someone who was charismatic, diligent, effective, and a movement conservative adhering to the principles while serving his clients' interests, but who got caught up in the Master of the Universe syndrome." This man subscribed to the first theory. But Abramoff has a third: It's all divine will. God is punishing him for his misdeeds. He's sometimes tempted to complain.

"I could say to God, 'How dare you do this?'" he says. "'I became religious, against every influence in my environment. I fought to be kosher; there were times I didn't eat. There were times I walked to synagogue in bloody feet.' I could say that very easily, but I don't say it for a second. Why? Because I am the bearer of many transgressions, from stuff that is known to all the stuff known only to me."

He remains radioactive. Tom DeLay, who once called Abramoff "one of my closest and dearest friends," no longer talks to him. Nor does Scanlon, who struck a plea deal before he did. "Anyone who is anywhere near anything that has to do with me has been advised by their lawyers not to talk to me," Abramoff says.

Ralph Reed's race for lieutenant governor of Georgia has foundered since it was disclosed that Reed, who says he opposes gambling, accepted gambling money from Abramoff on a lobbying job, then insisted he hadn't known about it. The two are now estranged; when Norquist got married last year, Reed steered clumsily clear of Abramoff's table. And, Abramoff says, Newt Gingrich sneered at him. Doug Bandow, a conservative whom Abramoff paid to write newspaper pieces favoring Abramoff positions, was drummed out of the Cato Institute, a conservative think tank, and lost his syndicated column. Some think Abramoff's politically ambitious lawyer, Abbe Lowell, was crazy for taking on a client who seems to blacken whatever he touches.

Abramoff's friends—and some still do exist, despite the hordes who have run for the hills—marvel at the vituperation he generates. "Jack wasn't that great when he was on top and he's not that bad now that he's fallen from grace," says Laurence R. Latourette, former managing partner at Abramoff's first lobbying firm and now a headhunter in Washington. "He was an aggressive, occasionally ruthless, and largely effective hired gun. He didn't reach out and screw people because he liked to hurt them. At the same time, he didn't let much stand in the way when pursuing his goals. Jack's not intentionally immoral. He can be amoral."

"In everything he did he was over the top, and not everything he did was bad," said another close friend, a rabbi who asked not to be identified. "He was good over the top and bad over the top."

When I began writing about Abramoff, I assumed he'd hunkered down. That's what most lawyers have their clients do, even when, as in Abramoff's case, silence only exacerbates their problems. I made the obligatory call to Abramoff's law firm and was told, unsurprisingly, that there'd be no interview. Imagine my surprise, then, when an e-mail from him arrived. Very belatedly, he was taking no chances. "This email is off the record and must not be used or forwarded by you to anyone," it unceremoniously began. "If that is agreeable, please continue reading. If not, please delete. Thanks."

Abramoff went on to say he'd heard of my article-to-be, and asked whether it would be "just another in the long line of slam pieces" he'd endured over the previous two years or whether I was "an out of the box thinker/writer who might actually be the one to write the other side of this saga." He went on: "Of the usual slam pieces, there are over 2,100 so far—including a few written by excellent writers who misrepresented to me that they wanted to 'tell the untold story' and 'give me more of a human face' etc., etc." If I could convince him otherwise, he said, he'd consider talking to me.

"I have long prayed for that one chance to have my side told, unblemished by the cartoon image I have been assigned," he went on, "but I am also prepared to have this prayer remain unanswered." I replied that writing the 2,101st "slam piece" didn't interest me, as a journalist or a human being. I also, at his request, presented my bona fides as a Jew. He agreed to meet me a few days later at Eli's, one of only two kosher delicatessens in Washington now that Abramoff's own, short-lived effort, Stacks, had closed. Eli's had the usual bedraggled look of kosher delis in the flyover states. But Abramoff himself surprised me.

He was shorter and stockier than I'd anticipated, with a black felt yarmulke on his head, something I'd not noticed in the pictures. Dressed casually and out of his usual power suits, he was a bit of a zhlub, far less scary than the man who had threatened in his e-mails to crush rival lobbyists "like bugs." He was also far more soft-spoken, polite, friendly, self-deprecating, and funny than I'd have ever expected. At adjacent tables people cast furtive glances at him, then talked into their hands as he passed. He saw it, as did I, but he was not fazed. Abramoff spoke continuously—so much so that I filibustered a bit before his hamburger got cold. He then ate it ravenously. To his acute embarrassment, he's put on 50 pounds. It's all the stress, he says.

'He always had a very vaudevillian, bombastic, exaggerated personality," a classmate of Abramoff's from Beverly Hills High School remembers. "There was clearly some insecurity deep within him that made him have to prove himself in all kinds of ways. There was a side of him that kind of came from the Borscht Belt. He seemed a little out of place in California." In fact, Abramoff was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in 1959; his father, Frank, headed golf legend Arnold Palmer's sports marketing company. (Once an 11-handicap golfer, Abramoff took his first lesson from Palmer.) When the elder Abramoff assumed a position with Diners Club, the family moved to Los Angeles. In high school, Abramoff set weight-lifting records and played center on the football team. The family was already Republican but only mildly religious; Abramoff's road to Damascus was Wilshire Boulevard, where he saw the 1971 movie Fiddler on the Roof, then vowed to reclaim his Jewish heritage and headed into Orthodoxy.

At Brandeis—he says another famous family friend, prizefighter Sugar Ray Robinson, helped get him in—Abramoff was a straight arrow who walked out when people began smoking marijuana. There, as in several later incarnations, he became the charismatic center of a loyal entourage, people who enjoyed his company and did his bidding. At this largely Jewish campus in Massachusetts in the late 1970s, there was little competition for the post of Republican big shot. He went on to head the Massachusetts College Republicans, and in 1980 helped Ronald Reagan carry the state George McGovern had won only eight years before. His partner in that effort was Grover Norquist, then a Harvard graduate student and now, as head of Americans for Tax Reform, one of the most important Republican operatives in Washington. (Norquist, whom Abramoff calls "the great unknown genius of politics," is one of the few people who publicly stood by him initially, though he refused to speak with Vanity Fair. "Grover's one of the most brave political strategists, one of the most important political figures in the early part of this century," Abramoff says. "He is also a very decent person. He's been nothing but friendly and sympathetic.")

From Massachusetts, Abramoff and Norquist took the top posts in the College Republican National Committee. Ralph Reed, then the baby-faced state chairman from Georgia, became Abramoff's projects director. To both the exhilaration and, occasionally, the discomfort of Republican grown-ups, Abramoff electrified the once sleepy organization, largely through imaginative right-wing street theater: burning Soviet flags, building and destroying mock Berlin Walls, re-assembling the American medical students who'd been rescued during Reagan's 1983 invasion of the Caribbean island of Grenada. "That's when I first didn't meet Newt Gingrich," he recalls.

If Reagan had a favorite designated "young person," it was surely Jack Abramoff. Accustomed, from his time as governor of California, to dealing with bearded Berkeley rabble-rousers, the president found this clean-cut, earnest young man a breath of fresh air. In the College Republicans' annual report for 1983 is a picture of the two in the Oval Office, with radiant beams emanating from chairman Jack Abramoff's 24-year-old eyes. "It was like meeting the king," he now recalls. At a birthday party the College Republicans threw for Reagan in the early 1980s Abramoff met his wife, Pamela, who knew Ralph Reed.

Abramoff and Norquist left the College Republicans in 1985 to take over Citizens for America, an organization designed to push Reagan's political agenda. But Abramoff soon crossed swords with the co-founder of the group, former New York gubernatorial candidate Lewis Lehrman—Abramoff and his staffers had "gone hog wild" on their spending, a Lehrman aide told The Washington Post—and was fired. Abramoff then turned to producing films. From 1986 to 1994 he made a few stinkers, most notably Red Scorpion, an anti-Communist parable filmed in Namibia that everyone hated, Abramoff included. But shortly after that, he abandoned show business. It was 1994, and the Republicans now ran Congress. It was time to get back into politics.

Right after the election, Jonathan Blank, Abramoff's next-door neighbor and a senior partner at the Washington office of the law-and-lobbying firm Preston Gates Ellis & Rouvelas Meeds, ran into him in synagogue and offered him a job. Like all such firms, Preston Gates (the Gates is Bill's father), based in Seattle, was in sudden, desperate need of Republicans. Abramoff hesitated. To him, lobbying sounded dull, and lobbyists were mainstream, cautious, unimaginative types, very much in the box, anathema to true conservatives. He accepted the offer, but only on his terms: His practice would be ideological, an extension of his conservative Republican activism. Anything politically uncongenial he simply would not do. The firm was just as ambivalent. The parties agreed to a six-month trial marriage.

Abramoff quickly brought in clients such as the government of Pakistan and, most important, the Northern Mariana Islands, an American territory in the Pacific whose exemption from certain American labor laws—factories there could pay their workers a pittance but still label their products "Made in the U.S.A."—was for Abramoff a classic case of free enterprise at work. So, too, he felt, were the Indian reservations. The Indians had always been Democrats, for Democrats were more sensitive to their social-welfare needs. Abramoff landed the Mississippi Band of Choctaws and promptly made their agenda mesh with that of the conservatives, most spectacularly by re-framing a Republican proposal to tax gaming revenues as a tax increase, then helping to kill it. The Choctaws saved hundreds of millions in taxes over the next decade. That paid a lot of bills. In five years, the tribe paid an extraordinary $7 million to Preston Gates, but they weren't complaining.

A key ally in that effort had been DeLay, whom Abramoff met in 1994. "I have admired Tom DeLay and his family from the first meeting with him, and I still do to this day," says Abramoff. I mentioned that DeLay once referred to him as one of his closest friends. "I am honored that he ever thought that of me," he says. "We would sit and talk about the Bible. We would sit and talk about opera. We would sit and talk about golf. I mean, we talked about philosophy and politics." He adds, "I didn't spend a lot of time lobbying Tom for things, because the things I worked on were usually consistent with the conservative philosophy, and I knew Tom would be supportive." Still, whether he was lobbying DeLay or not, his $450,500 to the National Republican Congressional Committee must have made DeLay very happy.

Beginning in the late 1990s, Abramoff hired several DeLay staffers and others closely connected to important congressmen. Mostly, they were long on enthusiasm and deference, short on wisdom—too young, as someone who came to know Abramoff well put it, "to have hair on their nuts." The template was Michael Scanlon, a top aide to DeLay whom Abramoff hired at Preston Gates. Lots of people didn't like him, with all his swagger and football metaphors and cheesy smoothness. But to Abramoff he was creative and tactical and ingenious: "out of the box," to use his highest encomium. Scanlon was "Abramoff's evil elf," as someone calls him.

At Preston Gates, Abramoff remained a divisive figure. The firm didn't like his clients—representing sweatshops made for bad publicity back in liberal Seattle—or his associates: the day he brought in Ralph Reed "all of the liberal Democrats went absolutely fucking nuts," an eyewitness recalls. Nor did they always appreciate his take-no-prisoners style. A former Clinton administration official blames Abramoff for going at him so relentlessly—having him subpoenaed, investigated, fired, and attacked in The Washington Times—that he finally called a mutual acquaintance of theirs. "Isn't this guy ever going to let up and get a life?" he asked this friend. "He's relentless and he's vindictive and he'll never let up," the friend replied. "He sees the world as friends and enemies, and you destroy your enemies." At the rate he was going, one of the firm's heads once warned him, Abramoff would wind up "dead, disgraced, or in jail." But Abramoff persisted.

"Most lobbyists meet with a committee chairman, staff, a few members," Abramoff recalls. "We'd meet with the whole leadership of the House and Senate, the entire committee on both sides, then create a roster of who might ideologically support the idea and get them in the war. Then we'd activate people from the district where the client was. We'd get people firing constantly on the decision-makers. And we'd outwork everyone in the media, pay think-tank people to rile them up in the press. Most Washington lobbyists are lazy, people of limits, people who move glacially slow. For better or worse, I'm a very driven person. I felt my job was to go out there and save the world…. I thought it was immoral to take someone's money and not win for them. And we basically didn't lose."

Still, he felt underappreciated and restless. He was skeptical when Greenberg Traurig, a Miami-based firm with an unremarkable lobbying practice, came courting, but was gradually won over. What clinched the deal was something Abramoff recalls the firm's president, Cesar Alvarez, said: "Better to ask for forgiveness than permission." That suited him fine. He bolted to the firm's Washington, D.C., office, along with all 11 of his acolytes, and a reported $8 million in business.

Here, too, "Team Abramoff" met resistance. Wearing conservative suits and ties in a place that favored more casual wear, they "looked like a cult," said a lobbyist there. But, overnight, Greenberg became the fourth-largest lobbyist in town. Much of that money came from Indian tribes. The Mississippi Choctaws were joined by the Louisiana Coushattas, the Saginaw Chippewas, the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, the Sandia Pueblo Indians of New Mexico, and the Tiguas, among others. Most had, essentially, the same problems: averting efforts to tax the tribes or reduce their sovereignty; securing favorable legislation on health, housing, education, and other services; winning appropriations and grants of land in trust; and protecting their casino licenses against political vicissitudes and rival Indian tribes hoping to open casinos of their own.

Abramoff delivered on these fronts, especially in beating back rival casinos. Several tribes also got visits with President Bush at the White House, or dinner with Interior Secretary Gale Norton. Indeed, with George Bush in the White House, Abramoff had the Interior Department wired. His point man was former deputy secretary J. Steven Griles; various Abramoff e-mails, along with former department legal counsel Michael Rossetti's testimony to the Senate committee, show how faithfully Griles did Abramoff's bidding. (Griles denies any wrongdoing.) "There was a swagger to [Abramoff's] walk," Wayne Smith, deputy assistant secretary for Indian affairs at the Interior Department during Bush's first term, recalls. "He was very clear that he was very well connected. He mentioned that he was a major fund-raiser, very tight with Rove. The impression was 'Hey, I am a force to be reckoned with.'"

Abramoff charged in a variety of ways. There were his fees. There were the contributions he had the tribes make, to his foundation and other organizations, which he would then funnel to politicians or his pet charity. Then, most fatefully, there was his take of the colossal fees that Scanlon (who had opened his own public-relations firm in 2001) charged for services rendered, under-rendered, and unrendered between 2001 and 2004. Greenberg Traurig knew nothing about that, but that was all right by Abramoff, who considered his grassroots work with Scanlon moonlighting that didn't constitute lobbying. The Indians were never explicitly told about the deal, either, Abramoff concedes, but that was also all right because, to him at least, the work he did was so valuable.

"Their casinos were going down the tubes, so it was not an issue of 'Jack, what are you doing?,' it was 'Jack, win, win, win,' and it was Jack saying, 'We're going to win,'" Abramoff says. "Their response was 'If you win, it's worth it. If you lose, it's not worth a dollar. Just go win.' Yes, I did wrong, but I did a hell of a lot right too. Basically, I was the best thing they had going. I knew it, they knew it. My mistake was not informing them [about Scanlon]."

In April 2002, The New York Times ran a front-page profile of Abramoff. "I call Jack Abramoff, and I get results," the vice-chairman of the Coushattas, William Worfel, told the newspaper. Never one to rest on his oars, as Reagan had observed of him, Abramoff cast about for still more Indian clients. But without knowing it he had hit his high-water mark. Rival tribal officials, dismayed by the huge payments to Abramoff and Scanlon, got word to lobbyists eager for some of Abramoff's Indian business, who in turn reached the press.

On the front page of The Washington Post for February 22, 2004, Susan Schmidt broke the story of Abramoff's astronomical fees. His underlings were horrified by what they read. "Lots of damning things in there," one of them e-mailed. "I know more than [the] article and the truth is worse." But Abramoff himself was initially sanguine: the Post was really accusing him of no more than making lots of money. He even weighed posting the piece on his Web site. Two tribes quickly rose to Abramoff's defense, faulting the Post for suggesting that the Indians were either too dumb to protect themselves or too poor to deserve first-class representation. The chief of the Mississippi Choctaws, Phillip Martin, said that Abramoff had done a "fantastic job" and was "definitely worth the money" (though Martin would recant six months later). "Sure, the new lobbyists are 1/10 the cost," the former chief of the Saginaw Chippewas, Maynard Kahgegab Jr., wrote of Abramoff's replacements, "but they are 1/10 the lobbyists." The Post never printed either letter, or, Abramoff says, anything else ever written on his behalf. (The Post's Susan Schmidt, citing materials released by the Senate committee, maintains that Abramoff's team wrote the two chiefs' letters. Both Martin and Kahgegab declined to comment.) But within a week, Greenberg Traurig fired Abramoff. Soon investigators from the Justice Department, the Internal Revenue Service, the Interior Department, and the F.B.I. were all over the case. So, too, was the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, which began its hearings in September 2004 into allegations of misconduct by Abramoff made by the Indian tribes.

Abramoff believes the hearings were unfair and blames McCain, with whom he says he has long had a contentious relationship: Abramoff raised money for Bush in 2000 and urged tribes not to contribute to McCain. McCain staffers deliberately humiliated him, he says, doling out to the press embarrassing e-mails that the Senate committee had subpoenaed—like the one in which he attempted to fabricate a Talmudic scholarship award from a Jewish organization to fortify his application to Washington's prestigious Cosmos Club.

"Mr. Abramoff flatters himself," said Mark Salter, the senator's administrative assistant. "Senator McCain was unaware of his existence until he read initial press accounts of Abramoff's abuses, and had never laid eyes on him until he appeared before the committee."

"As best I can remember, when I met with him he didn't have his eyes shut," replies Abramoff. "I'm surprised that Senator McCain has joined the chorus of amnesiacs."

Even some other Indian lobbyists concede that McCain's hearings presented a distorted picture of Abramoff and his clients. "The Mississippi Choctaw, the Louisiana Coushatta, the Saginaw Chippewa—they are very wealthy tribes with big casinos," says one. "They knew they were spending money on him and they had an agenda which was to shut down other, poor tribes. They were getting ripped off, but the idea that they didn't know they were spending $30 million to kill a rival's casino … Well, let's not pretend the Indians are stupid." McCain's solicitude toward these tribes and their willingness to play victim for him, this lobbyist says, "makes me want to puke."

Abramoff was in Los Angeles when he turned himself in to federal authorities in August 2005. He was handcuffed, held overnight, and brought into court in leg irons and chains to face charges of bank fraud in his purchase of SunCruz Casinos. He and Adam Kidan had led a group of investors in buying SunCruz for $147.5 million in 2000, after long and hostile negotiations with Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis, the owner since 1994. Boulis never saw his money, however: Abramoff and Kidan had faked the wire transfer of $23 million which was supposed to be their down payment, and Boulis was shot dead in his car in February 2001. Two of the three men currently on trial for the murder were associates of Kidan, who himself pleaded guilty to the fraud charges in December 2005, tightening the noose around Abramoff. Once Scanlon had pleaded on the Indian-lobbying front, it was only a matter of time before Abramoff did, too.

Abramoff says he'd be saddened by any further indictments. But would he feel responsible for them? "I don't want to answer that question, if that's O.K.," he replies. I asked whether he felt he'd harmed his country. "There were times when I helped the country and the causes that I love and obviously times when I hurt them," he says. "The exposure of my lobbying practice, the absurd amount of media coverage, and the focus—for the first time—on this sausage-making factory that we call Washington will ultimately help reform the system, or at least so I hope." The real problem, as he sees it, is big government: "The only thing that a clever lobbyist cannot manipulate is the absence of something to lobby for or fight against." Thus, to keep future Jack Abramoffs from popping up, government has to slim down. It's what he's been saying all along.

After paying or owing a couple million dollars in legal fees, Abramoff says, he's now living off "the fumes of my savings." Hiding his assets would be incredibly foolhardy, given the consequences at sentencing were he found out. He's dabbling in a few projects—energy businesses, property development—and doing some screenplays, written under pseudonyms. A real job is out of the question. "People don't want to be in pictures with me, let alone business," he says.

Abramoff has one potential short-term source of funds: the photographs of him with Bush, which became much coveted once Time reported their existence. Publications started sending Abramoff offers, and there was frenzied bidding that quickly rose to the low seven figures. For a time he entertained them; he says he thought he could begin to reimburse the Indians. But he ultimately decided against it, in part because the Democrats had announced—stupidly, to his mind—that they'd exploit them. But to him that's not the only stupidity in evidence. He blames the Bush administration for the fuss. "My so-called relationship with Bush, Rove, and everyone else at the White House has only become important because, instead of just releasing details about the very few times I was there, they created a feeding frenzy by their deafening silence," he says. "The Democrats, on the other hand, are going overboard, virtually insisting I was there to plan the invasion of Iraq. This is why this non-story grabbed headlines for weeks."

Abramoff says he hopes one day to pay back the Indians in full, and to visit them and ask for forgiveness. He also says he's happy so much of his tainted money is being given by embarrassed politicians to charity. "If it makes one kid's day better in some tenement somewhere, then that's good," he says.

He says he is not really readying himself for prison. "How does one prepare?" he asks. "I don't have a grand plan for how to survive. I'm putting myself in God's hands and trusting it will be fine." In fact, it will be excruciating: One can't spend more than a few minutes with him before one of his children, ranging in age from 12 to 18, calls or pops in. Apart from the Sabbath and holidays, he has spoken to his parents every day since he left college. "Hey, Dad, everything O.K.? Apart from everything that's going on?" is how one call began. To his mind, prison for him is pointless. "I can't perpetrate anything, so what does putting me in a prison do?" he asks. "Put me to work as a teacher in an inner-city school. Let me teach English, history, music. Or let me sweep floors at the reservation. Instead you'll be paying to feed me to sit in a jail. It's stupid." It sounds suspiciously liberal, and tardy too, coming from a law-and-order conservative. But he insists it's how he's always felt.

Downstairs from his office, Abramoff handed the parking-lot attendant a $100 bill. It was one of his last, he joked: the rest had gone to all those senators and congressmen. As the men fetched his car, he offered the latest late-night Jack Abramoff jokes. Conan O'Brien had just told a joke about how impressed George Bush was that Abramoff would soon name 20 congressmen; Bush could name only 3. Abramoff laughed heartily at each, though one has to wonder what combination of elements—bitterness, anger, disgust, self-loathing, or maybe even genuine pleasure—made up the mirth. He's the first to admit how peculiar it has all become. "This whole thing is one bizarre movie about some guy named Jack Abramoff," he tells me.

We set out into the solemn, dark, quiet streets of the capital, whose epic empty spaces make it a bleak place on a winter night, chillier than meteorologically colder places to the north. He turned right on 17th Street, passing the Old Executive Office Building and the White House beyond, then continued down toward the Washington Monument. By now the unnaturally enormous Capitol, bathed in an eerie lunar light, loomed in front of us, and I almost asked whether, in his newly humbled state, he felt sufficiently tortured by Washington's enduring landmarks to flee. Then I remembered that he would be leaving soon enough.

We turned down Louisiana Avenue, and he described how, on Christmas Eve, he'd taken in It's a Wonderful Life with his family, and how, by trying to die, the Jimmy Stewart character, George Bailey, learned just how loved he was. But George Bailey was someone without flaws, he said, something that could certainly not be said for himself.

"I was a killer," he said as we pulled into Union Station. "I killed for my clients, and it eventually killed me." He paused, as if he knew that this was no longer enough. That was the old Abramoff, the defiant, zealous, self-righteous Abramoff, and he could not stop there. "Or I eventually killed me," he continued. "And there were a lot of other hands on the knife."
David Margolick is a Vanity Fair contributing editor. His latest book is Beyond Glory: Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling, and a World on the Brink (Knopf).

Illustrations by TIM SHEAFFER



Saundra Hummer
April 8th, 2006, 07:36 PM
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
"The vested interests - if we explain the situation by their influence - can only get the public to act as they wish by manipulating public opinion, by playing either upon the public's indifference, confusions, prejudices, pugnacities or fears. And the only way in which the power of the interests can be undermined and their maneuvers defeated is by bringing home to the public the danger of its indifference, the absurdity of its prejudices, or the hollowness of its fears; by showing that it is indifferent to danger where real danger exists; frightened by dangers which are nonexistent."
Sir Norman Angell 1872 - 1967


"The ideal setup by the Party was something huge, terrible, and glittering - a world of steel and concrete, of monstrous machines and terrifying weapons - a nation of warriors and fanatics, marching forward in perfect unity, all thinking the same thoughts and shouting the same slogans, perpetually working, fighting, triumphing, persecuting - three hundred million people all with the same face." George Orwell, from the book 1984


Patriotism in its simplest, clearest and most indubitable signification is nothing else but a means of obtaining for the rulers their ambitions and covetous desires, and for the ruled the abdication of human dignity, reason, conscience, and a slavish enthralment to those in power.
Leo Toystoy


"Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws." Plato (427-347 B.C.)


Saundra Hummer
April 8th, 2006, 08:04 PM
The Century of the Self

Adam Curtis' acclaimed series examines the rise of the all-consuming self against the backdrop of the Freud dynasty.

Part II - The Engineering of Consent

This is a must watch video

How the US government, big business, and the CIA developed techniques to manage and control the minds of the American people.

Click here to view:


Saundra Hummer
April 9th, 2006, 01:01 PM
FYI - attached is a new piece running in today's Sunday San Francisco Chronicle that discusses a taboo subject in the immigration debate.
Sadly, despite all the rhetoric, few in the media or political arena
wants to actually talk about the real issue fueling the illegal
immigration problem. - D



San Francisco Chronicle - 4/9/06

Supply-and-Demand Solutions

By David Sirota

Amid all the rhetoric in the superheated immigration debate, many
have forgotten the key question: Why?

Why do so many Mexicans want to come to America in the first place?
The answers to this question revolve around the concept of supply and
demand -- and they tell us about how to address illegal immigration
and overcome the core economic challenges facing middle-class

Fact: Many Mexicans are willing to risk their lives to enter the
United States illegally because they are desperate to find a better
life. In supply-and-demand terms, the supply of jobs in Mexico that
one can subsist on is far less than the demand for such jobs.

But that raises the next and deeper "why" question: Why is the supply
of decent-paying jobs in Mexico so low? Therein lies an issue neither
Democrats nor Republicans want to address, because it touches on
public policies both have supported.

Fact: Both political parties have joined hands in recent years to ink
trade pacts that have destroyed the Mexican economy and created a
supply-and-demand imbalance there. The biggest of these was the North
American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) -- a pact sold to the American
people as a job creator here, and an economic development tool for
Mexico. But, of course, the pact did not include any provisions to
protect or increase Mexican workers' wages, workplace standards or
human rights, thus all it did was open up a cheap labor pool for
companies to exploit.

Fact: A decade after NAFTA's passage, America is still hemorrhaging
the good-paying jobs that NAFTA was supposed to create. As for
Mexico, the Washington Post's report on the 10-year anniversary of
NAFTA told the story: 19 million more Mexicans now live in poverty
than before the pact was signed. Similarly, former U.S. Labor
Secretary Robert Reich points out, "Mexico's real wages are lower
than they were before ." And because NAFTA included no
provisions to force companies to improve Mexican working conditions,
jobs that were created in Mexico still pay near-slave wages For
instance, the Associated Press noted this week that "Many young
[Mexicans] have manual jobs on minimum wage of $5 a day."

Time Magazine recently shed further light on the situation, reporting
that , "Even when new jobs do appear, [Mexico's] unforgiving low-wage
business culture -- the dark shame of Mexico's political and economic
leaders, which NAFTA was also supposed to reform -- makes sure that
they still often pay in a day what similar work would pay in an hour
in the United States."

Not surprisingly, Mexican workers' demand for a better life hasn't
gone away -- in economic terms, the demand is inelastic. And so that
demand is looking for a job supply north of the border.

This is the supply-and-demand reality that no amount of emotional
rhetoric can change -- and in that reality we can find the way to
address illegal immigration: by stopping the demand instead of trying
to block the supply. The Academy Award-winning movie, "Traffic,"
highlighted the perils of waging a drug war that only focuses on
trying to block the supply of narcotics, rather than on eliminating
the demand for them.

These same lessons can be applied to illegal immigration. The best
way to stop illegal entry into our country from Mexico is to tamp
down the demand by Mexicans to enter this country illegally. After
all, no wall, no fence, no border security measure can be as
effective as reducing the demand for entry. This means reforming our
trade policy to include serious wage, workplace and human-rights
provisions so that cross-border commerce actually improves the lives
of Mexican workers to the point where they no longer feel the dire
economic need to break our immigration laws.

Think about it this way: Had NAFTA lifted 19 million Mexicans out of
poverty as promised instead of helping to drive 19 million Mexicans
into poverty, you can bet the flood of illegal immigrants across our
southern border would be a trickle instead of the flood it is today.
To be sure, politicians are talking about amnesty or guest-worker
programs to give workers some kind of legal status. But if those
proposals do not come hand-in-hand with a reform of America's trade
policies, they are destined to be what they have been in the past --
merely short-term, stopgap measures, not real solutions.

Until America's political leaders start making trade policy address
the imbalance between the demand for good jobs and the supply of good
jobs in Mexico, illegal immigration will continue to be a major
problem right here at home.

Siroto Blog on:


Will add more to this article, about our own personal experiences and what we've been told by legal and illegal Mexicans from several different Mexican states. SRH

Saundra Hummer
April 9th, 2006, 03:08 PM
~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This is Part 1 of a two-part series:
Read Part II •

Surveillance, Infiltration, and Harassment of Environmental Organizations,

Part I
Hope Marston
Lane County Bill of Rights Defense Committee

t r u t h o u t | Transcript
Friday 10 March 2006
Hope Marston, of the Lane County Bill of Rights Defense Committee, spoke on the panel on "Surveillance, Infiltration, and Harassment of Environmental Organizations" at the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference (pielc.org) held March 2-5, 2006, in Eugene, Oregon.
We have just heard a litany of horrible things that we are all dealing with all the time now and we've been dealing with for the last four years, and I don't know how many of you feel overwhelmed with it, but I do every day. I feel overwhelmed with all that's happening. The executive branch is now so far out of control that I'm really not sure how long it is going to take before we can restore our liberties, our Bill of Rights and our fundamental freedoms. The house cleaning that must take place, the dismantling of the repressive system that has now permeated our society, will be enormous.

We will be very, very old when we've completed this work and that's what I believe, and in order to sustain hope, I look back to people like Ida B. Wells, who, at the beginning of this century was fighting against the lynching of African Americans, the murder, the systemic murder of African Americans in this country - hundreds of human beings killed every year in the south - they were murdered. And Ida B. Wells lived her whole life trying to get Congress to enact a Lynch Law that would stop that kind of murderous behavior, and throughout her life, she never saw Congress take action, and indeed, there is still not a law against lynching in this country. If you recall many of the murders during the civil rights era, those murders were not prosecuted under the kinds of lynching laws that Ida B. Wells was seeking. They were prosecuted under civil rights laws, as if all that was wrong with the killings was that those people's civil rights had been violated. So, even 75 years after her death, we still need anti-lynching laws, and we've got a ton of work to do on the Bill of Rights. We've got a ton of work to do to protect activists. There is no shortage of work to be done.

Despite the fact that we may not live to see all that needs to change, I think it is really important that we keep going. Fortunately, there is a core of people as some people have said, it only takes a small, committed group of people - Margaret Mead said this - it only takes a small group of committed people to change the world.

We can do it, and some of those groups of committed people are the Bill of Rights Defense Committees throughout the country. The movement started with a single Bill of Rights Defense Committee in Northampton, Massachusetts, looking for a way to speak out against the PATRIOT Act, passed in 2001, while it was still warm in the hands of Congressional members, who were asked to pass it in the dead of night, while anthrax spores were being cleaned from Capitol offices.

Despite the passage of the PATRIOT Act, these ordinary people said: there has got to be another way to fight back against this, and so they started forming these Bill of Rights Defense Committees and they started going to their city councils and they started asking their city councils to pass resolutions opposing the PATRIOT Act and some of these other post-9/11 orders that violate our Bill of Rights. The very first resolution that was passed was in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and it was directly in response to the persecution of a beloved community member named Rabbih Haddad, who ran an Islamic charity. The feds accused him of having funneled that charity money to terrorist groups. It was an allegation. Those charges were never taken to court, and yet they were used to intimidate Rabbih Haddad. It was used to drive him out of the country, and a lot of other Islamic people. A lot of other Arab Muslim people have been driven out of the country based on those kinds of allegations - nothing proven, and you're just deported.

So, we're talking about people on the front lines: Muslim people who were broadsided right after September 11. Eleven hundred Arab and Muslim men were put into jails in places like Passaic, New Jersey, and at the Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center. They were slammed up against walls, faces bloodied on the American flag that hung there with the words, "These Colors Don't Run." And it was only much later that we found out about the abuses that those people suffered. And just this week, the federal government agreed to pay one of the men held in those jails $300,000 for his suffering. So, finally, a little light, a little piece of justice coming in to address some of these abuses.

To address these and other abuses, many communities have passed resolutions against the PATRIOT Act and other post-9/11 violations of our Bill of Rights. There are 405 resolutions now. The most recent was the State of California, our country's most populous state. I am giving you this news because I know you have not seen it in the paper. I know you haven't seen it on TV. I have seen only two small articles about it, and I have been looking. The state of California passed a resolution opposing the PATRIOT Act. They passed it in time for Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein to realize that their state was actually standing up in opposition to these kinds of anti-terrorist policies that are really targeting ordinary innocent people and activists, and yet California's groundswell of opposition to the PATRIOT Act was completely ignored.

It took Senator Russ Feingold, from Wisconsin, to stand up in Congress just last week and read to his Senate colleagues the Bill of Rights and the Constitution and the eight resolutions that have been passed by the states of California, Vermont, Maine, Hawaii, Alaska, Idaho, Montana, and Colorado. Besides the eight statewide resolutions he read, 397 resolutions have been passed by community and county governments.

This movement, this grassroots movement to reassert our Bill of Rights exists in communities all over the country. There are people like you who care about our liberties, who have been fighting very hard to get these Bill of Rights resolutions passed in their communities to show Congress the importance of not trading liberty for a false sense of security.

We have a lot of work to do in 2006 and beyond. We need to continue to confront our Congressional representatives and say: "Where were you last week when the PATRIOT Act re-authorization came up, and there were only 10 people in the Senate who were willing to vote against it?" I don't care what you say, Senator Harry Reid from Nevada, when you say, "Oh well, we didn't like it. It wasn't the best it could have been, but we had to go ahead and vote on it." No. Sorry, that doesn't cut it, that doesn't cut it when we're talking about the Bill of Rights. I've got bookmarks of the Bill of Rights here. I want all of you to take one because you are going to need to know what your rights are because Congress and the White House are crossing off big sections of your rights.

During all of the PATRIOT Act reauthorization hearings last year, representatives in the House and Senate were saying to us, "If you can find abuses of the PATRIOT Act, tell us about those abuses. We'd be happy to hear about them." Dianne Feinstein said, "If you can ever find an abuse of the Patriot Act, I'd be happy to not support it." Well, I'm sorry, but the PATRIOT Act is an abuse itself. It's shrouded in secrecy! It's very hard to find out what the abuses are when, if your house has been searched, you don't even know about it, and if your library records were searched, the librarian can't tell you. She or he is under a gag order. So, back in July last year, when the House and Senate passed their reauthorization bills, we didn't have a lot of abuses to report, because the abuses weren't known back then. But then, starting in October, we started learning about some of what was going on behind the scenes - abuses we hadn't known about before because they were still secret.

In October, for instance, we learned that the Electronic Privacy Information Center, EPIC, had filed a Freedom of Information Act request to get information about how the FBI had been using its PATRIOT Act powers. What EPIC found out from the released information was that the FBI didn't always file its warrants with FISA, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which used to be used only to spy on foreign intelligence agents in the United States, expanded by the Patriot Act so now it can be used against any of us. So, EPIC learned the FBI was not always going to the FISA court right away to ask for those warrants. Some agents would start an investigation without going to FISA. But once this hit the news, it was immediately dismissed. "Well, you know, those FBI agents were not really well-trained. That was the problem. They weren't up on all of the newest procedures." I am looking at this and I'm thinking, "What do you mean they weren't up on the newest procedures? The old procedures were that they had to go to the FISA court. The new procedures were that they still had to go to the FISA court, but the requirements for getting a warrant were just a little more lax."

So, what that told me was that after the PATRIOT Act gave the FBI so many new tools, the FBI standards had become very lax, to the point that these FBI agents seem to think that they can just go ahead and start their investigation without going to FISA. To me, it's a serious abuse, and Congress should have begun holding hearings on these abuses of the PATRIOT Act. We should have been seeing hearings on this, in October, and November, and December, before the 16 provisions of the PATRIOT Act were supposed to sunset.

Then, in November, we learned that the FBI has been using National Security Letters to get information without having to go through the FISA Court. Instead of going to libraries and getting records through Section 215, which would require them to go through FISA, the FBI had been using National Security Letters, which are written by an FBI Special Agent in Charge. So, these are warrants that don't even go to court. This is just a Special Agent in Charge who writes a letter without court oversight.

According to an article in the Washington Post, the FBI has been issuing 30,000 of these National Security Letters in each of the last four years. That means millions of documents, from your rental car agency, your airline agency, your storage unit, your library - they've been issuing national security letters to get this information on ordinary Americans. Then when they look at all these records and see what they've got, they say, "Oh well, that person isn't involved with terrorism, and that person isn't involved with terrorism." Yet they don't throw away those records of innocent Americans. They keep them in a database. Not only do they keep those records, but they are allowed to distribute them to other governmental agencies and private corporations. So, the American public learned about this abuse of the PATRIOT Act in November, and I'm beginning to think, "Hearings - where are the Congressional hearings? Why is it that - now that we've learned of these abuses that Dianne Feinstein wanted to hear about - there are no Congressional hearings?"

And then, the bombshell drops. On December 16, 2005, when the Senate was getting ready to re-authorize the Patriot Act right at the last minute, a bombshell drops. The New York Times reported that President Bush decided shortly after 9/11 that he would use the National Security Agency to wiretap our electronic communications and he dares Congress to stop him because he says it is his inherent right as Commander in Chief. And when Alberto Gonzales went before Congress in January, that was his stance. Wiretapping Americans without a warrant from FISA is a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. But now, it looks like Congress is backing down and saying, "Well, I guess we have to re-write the law to make what you did was legal, President Bush."

In November we learned about the Pentagon spying on activists. We learned the government has been spying on activists: groups like PETA, Greenpeace, even the Quakers ... and we have this quote, from John Miller, FBI assistant director of public affairs. "You end up in FBI files, with your name and your group's name, because you're doing stuff."

It sounds like the FBI has done a pretty good job of sticking to those rules, and I now want a definition of "stuff." What does "doing stuff" mean? It doesn't seem to matter. The government appears ready to spy on us when it wants to, and we're really going to have to organize and engage in some serious struggle to make them stop. We all need to stand up, because the more of us who stand up ... they just can't arrest us all, and this really may be time for acts of civil disobedience.

One more little scary thing that is coming your way that was in this PATRIOT Act re-authorization. It was sneaked in, never debated, never discussed. It is one of those things the White House wrote and slipped in there, and there have only been perhaps two newspaper articles about it that I've ever seen.

Section 602 - it's titled Interference with National Special Security Events. It amends Section 1752 of Title 18, United States Code, so that anyone who willfully or knowingly enters or remains in a posted off or cordoned off area, where the President or other person protected by the Secret Service is visiting, will be subject to a fine or imprisonment for not more than 10 years, or both if the person carries a deadly or dangerous weapon or if significant bodily injury results. The second penalty would be a fine or imprisonment for not more than a year or both - that is, if there is no weapon or injury involved.

So, I looked up Section 1752 of Title 18, US Code, and learned that, prior to this provision, if you knowingly and willingly entered or remained in an area that was posted off or cordoned off by the Secret Service you could've gotten a fine or six months in jail. And what we are talking about here is when the President comes to visit. The Secret Service says, "It's going to be in this airplane hanger, and everybody who comes in here is our guest," and if you're there and they want you to leave, you better go, because if you don't leave you can be arrested. So, it used to be a fine or six months in jail for remaining in those exclusion zones. Well, now, it's either a fine and/or a year in prison or a fine and/or 10 years in prison. When I read this sneaked-in provision back in July or August, I thought, "Why is the government trying to over-regulate these presidential and vice presidential events? Then, immediately, I flashed back to 2004 during the presidential election campaign. I don't know how many of you are aware that, in this community and in communities all over the country, there were people who tried to attend Bush/Cheney events, and they were either arrested or they were sent out or they were harassed in some other way.

I mean, this isn't just Perrie Patterson, a soccer mom here in Eugene, who shouted "No!" at a Cheney event and was arrested, and this isn't just the three teachers in Medford, Oregon, who were wearing T-shirts that said "Protect our civil liberties" and were kicked out. This is also a high school kid in Iowa, who had a ticket to a Bush/Cheney event, and was asked to remove his button, which said "Bush/Cheney '04, leave no billionaire behind." That wasn't the scary part. The scary part was when the Secret Service staffer said to him, "If you protest, it won't be me taking you out, it'll be a sniper." The high school student reportedly said, "That kind of scared the heck out of me."

When government employees are starting to talk like this, where is this going? Where are we headed here, when these kinds of innocent actions that are protected by our First Amendment elicit threats from a government employee? The First Amendment clearly protects "the right to ... petition the government for a redress of grievances." It's in the First Amendment, and now our government is isolating our representatives to make sure that they don't hear anything we have to say and that the press don't photograph the President surrounded by people who oppose his policies.

So, I'm really concerned about that. I'm especially concerned about it because it's quiet, and the newspapers aren't reporting it fully, and so people aren't talking about it. And I think this exclusion zone provision is a law we will have to deliberately fight against. More and more people in Eugene are engaging in civil disobedience actions. It's a time-honored tradition - Henry David Thoreau, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. all practiced civil disobedience against repressive governments. Civil disobedience is nothing to be afraid of. It should be a conscious act. It should be taken on with people that you trust and that you know, and you should know exactly what you're doing when you get into it. It's not a lark. Not a spur-of-the-moment event.

I'm not seeing many other options for getting our rights back, quite frankly, seeing how Congress is capitulating. They're ready to write the law just as the White House wants it written. We've got until November to elect representatives who will stand up for our Bill of Rights. We have until 2008 before Bush leaves office, but many years to go before we will be able to completely dismantle the repressive machinery he has built. I hope that you'll join me and join other grassroots groups in doing all the work that is necessary to restore our essential liberties our Bill of Rights.


I had posted this in the Good Earth thread. I realized not too many people are interested in ecology, but this is important information, so I decided to post it here where more people will see it. Late doing it, as the Patriot Act did pass, but interesting nonetheless. SRH

Saundra Hummer
April 9th, 2006, 03:29 PM
New Orleans R&B star begins posthumous mayoral bid

Jeffrey Jones
Sun Apr 9, 2006 3:03 PM ET

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - Ernie K-Doe has some big hurdles to overcome to win his bid for mayor of hurricane-ravaged New Orleans: he lacks the political experience and financial clout of many of his rivals.

He's also been dead for almost five years.

No matter, said the widow of the flamboyant rhythm-and-blues singer and one of the city's most enduring characters as she launched his tongue-in-cheek campaign for the April 22 vote.

"He's the only one qualified -- that's my opinion," Antoinette K-Doe said on Saturday at a rally outside the Mother-in-Law Lounge, the nightclub that bears the name of K-Doe's biggest hit song.

"He gets the job done. The guy has soul," she said as supporters enjoyed live music, beer and heaping helpings of red beans and rice. "And I'm speaking like he's still here because in memories he is still here with us. He gets along with everybody and he makes things happen."

K-Doe's not actually on the ballot but his campaign provides some rare levity in an election widely viewed as the most crucial in the city's nearly three-century history. Mayor Ray Nagin faces 23 challengers with a spectrum of views on how to rebuild from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina seven months ago.

The campaign is vintage K-Doe, the self-proclaimed "Emperor of the World" who died in July 2001 at 65 after a colorful music career. His campaign T-shirts feature him grinning with his trademark long hair cascading over his shoulders, decked out as Uncle Sam. "Vote K-Doe Vote," they blare.

Funds raised from the sale of T-shirts and bumper stickers will go to rebuilding the Mother-in-Law Lounge, which remains a shrine to the man and his music despite being damaged in the floods after Hurricane Katrina, as well as the New Orleans Musicians Clinic.

Born Ernest Kador Jr., K-Doe's major triumph was the chart-topper "Mother-in-Law" in 1961, when he was in league with such R&B stars as James Brown, Jackie Wilson, Little Willie John and Joe Tex.

He never matched the success of "Mother-in-Law" but became a staple on the rich New Orleans music scene. In the 1990s K-Doe opened the lounge on the edge of the city's Treme neighborhood and it became a favorite of local musicians. It still houses a massive bust of his head even though the interior is gutted to the studs.

Antoinette, 63, said she aims to reopen the lounge for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, which starts at the end of this month, regardless of how far along the renovation is.

"Ernie K-Doe was an icon, a legend of New Orleans -- national and international," she said. "His music is great and it still lives on.

"And this lounge is a haven for our musicians, man. They can eat, they can put their music together and they can get in touch with each other."


Saundra Hummer
April 9th, 2006, 03:55 PM

Fast cars and fast living at heart of Malibu mystery

James Sterngold,
Chronicle Staff Writer
Sunday, April 9, 2006

Malibu -- The rich love their toys, and nowhere are such status symbols more plentiful or spectacular than in sun-kissed Malibu, where exotic sports cars are as common as double-decaf, low-fat lattes. So when a million-dollar Ferrari Enzo was wrecked here in February after a 160 mph joyride, it seemed little more than a celebrity smashup.

And then the aliens turned up.

Well, actually there were no aliens, at least not the little green kind. But there is a distinctly odd cast of characters from Sweden and elsewhere and a tale that has only grown more dense and bizarre as information has surfaced about one of the men in the Ferrari, Stefan Eriksson, and his circle of friends.

Long before the mysterious wreck, Eriksson and his group had managed to pull off one of the more amazing disappearing acts in the history of the computer gaming business. Last year, they drove their company, Gizmondo, into the ground, racking up losses of nearly $400 million. The crash case appears to be, much like the Gizmondo debacle, a series of enigmas.

Just to set the scene, here are some of the story's curlicues: Eriksson, 44, was or was not behind the wheel of the Ferrari the morning it crashed, does or does not actually own the wrecked Enzo, is or is not connected to a loaded gun clip found the morning of the crash, and may or may not be an anti-terrorism leader with a shadowy police force.

"I mean, when we got the first call, it was just a crash," said Sgt. Philip Brooks, a spokesman for the Malibu station of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. "No one is injured, no big deal. And then it just got weirder and weirder. The deputies just kind of got sucked into this."

Capt. Thomas Martin, who heads the Malibu station, said the first sign of trouble came shortly after his deputies arrived at the crash scene, a straight, quiet stretch of Pacific Coast Highway in northern Malibu. It was shortly after 6 a.m. on Feb. 21.

This was no ordinary car, or car crash. Ferrari reportedly made only 400 of the dazzlingly impractical, gull-winged Enzos, worth $1 million and up. With 660-horsepower, V-12 engines and a sleek, road-hugging profile, they look and drive like UFOs with wide tires.

The deputies estimated that Eriksson's red Enzo had been tooling along at about 160 mph (far from its top speed) when it apparently careered off the road and slid sideways onto the banked shoulder, where it was sheared in two, just behind the driver's seat, after slamming into a concrete utility pole.

Bits and pieces of car were left in a trail four football fields long, but, miraculously, Eriksson suffered only a split lip. When the deputies arrived at the scene, he was with a friend, an Irishman named Trevor Karney, and several others.

Eriksson took a Breathalyzer test, which, Brooks said, registered above the legal limit for blood-alcohol level while driving. But since Eriksson said he wasn't driving, that did not appear to be a problem, until the deputies asked who was driving.

Karney told them, according to Brooks, that someone named Dietrich was at the wheel of the Enzo and that it had been racing a silver Mercedes-Benz. Once the Ferrari rolled to a halt, Dietrich supposedly bolted into the adjacent hills, not to be seen again. Karney said he had been in a trailing car.

Eriksson showed the deputies an ID saying he was head of an anti-terrorism police unit, as did two other friends who arrived after the crash.

"I got a call from my guys, and the first thing they said to me was that there were two guys there from Homeland Security -- 'What do we do?' " Martin recalled. "I just said, 'You don't treat them any differently than you normally would. We'll sort it all out down the road. Take care of the crash.' "

Meanwhile, the deputies called for a helicopter and mountain rescue units, but they found no sign of "Dietrich."

What deputies did not know at the time was that Karney had asked the driver of another car that had pulled over if he could borrow a cell phone. Karney sat in the front seat to place his call, Brooks said, and the driver later contacted police with a startling discovery: A fully loaded Glock handgun clip was jammed under his front seat.

When police contacted Karney at the address he had given, they found out it was a luxury yacht -- which had just sailed. The police believe Karney left the country for Ireland.

When they checked out the "Homeland Security" IDs, the police made another odd discovery. Eriksson was a member of a security force for the San Gabriel Valley Transit Authority -- a nonprofit organization that used some vans and buses to provide free rides for the elderly and disabled and operated out of a garage called Homer's Auto Service.

"It's not what you think," said Yosuf Maiwandi, who runs the shop and is the head of the bus service.

He explained that it was perfectly legal for a transit authority to register its security unit as a "police" force and provide official-looking ID cards. He said he did it only because as a "police" unit, it was easier to do background checks on drivers. "Everything is legal," he said.

Maiwandi said he met Eriksson -- who immediately made a big impression -- through their mutual attorney, Ashley Posner. A big Rolls-Royce pulled up to his shop -- not a routine sight in the working-class town of Monrovia, where the garage is located -- and Eriksson, a beefy 6-footer, got out.

Eriksson offered to install, for free, an array of high-tech surveillance devices in Maiwandi's buses. That would allow him, he told Maiwandi, to demonstrate his products for prospective investors. In return, Maiwandi let Eriksson join his "police force." Eriksson asked if he could claim to be head of the anti-terrorism section.

"That's the title he chose, so I said, 'Sure,' " Maiwandi said.

Why remains just another mystery. Posner and Eriksson's criminal attorney, David Elden, said that they would not comment on the case and that Eriksson would not comment.

It turned out that Eriksson was something of a car buff with a number of extraordinary automobiles at his $5 million home in a gated neighborhood in Bel-Air. Among them, he kept not one but two Enzos -- the wrecked red model and a black one -- and a souped-up luxury car, a Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, worth about $400,000.

Even the ownership of the cars has now been called into question.

Several weeks ago, police in Beverly Hills stopped Eriksson's wife, Nicole Persson, 33, and discovered that she had no driver's license and that the Mercedes McLaren had no U.S. registration. Brooks said police subsequently discovered that the car had been reported stolen in England. And then a British bank got in touch to say it owned the wrecked Enzo.

Brooks said police discovered that Eriksson had imported the two Ferraris and the Mercedes from England last fall through San Diego, but had said they were only for show. Since they had not been modified to comply with American safety and emission codes, they were not legal on U.S. roads.

As the mystery deepened around the crash, a number of Web sites began to focus on Eriksson's involvement with Gizmondo.

Gizmondo managed to pack a lot of action into its relatively brief lifespan. It engaged in a baffling blizzard of transactions that cost the company millions of dollars. Then it abruptly ceased operating last year after it was disclosed that Eriksson and some of his Swedish colleagues had served time in prison, Eriksson reportedly for counterfeiting. One Swedish newspaper described them as members of an organized crime ring.

The tale began a few years ago, when Eriksson, another Swede, Carl Freer, and several others bought a company based in Jacksonville, Fla., called Floor Decor Inc. They sold its assets, renamed it Tiger Telematics and used the company's stock to raise capital and finance Gizmondo, a London-based subsidiary that was developing a handheld computer gaming device. Eriksson and his partners were senior executives in both companies.

According to Tiger's public Securities and Exchange Commission filings, which were reviewed by The Chronicle, Gizmondo paid Freer, Eriksson and other top executives millions of dollars in salaries and provided them with expensive autos. Freer's wife and the girlfriend of another senior executive were put on the payroll with large salaries and no clearly articulated duties.

When Freer ran up a $164,000 personal legal bill, the company paid. Gizmondo also covered a $7.6 million personal debt owed by Freer and Eriksson, according to Tiger's filings.

Eriksson and his colleagues earned even more by having Gizmondo acquire software companies in which they held an interest.

Gizmondo was operated like a booming company. Salaries in the first nine months of 2005 soared to $90 million from $4.9 million in 2004; legal, accounting and consulting costs came to more than $113 million, compared with $11.8 million the previous year. It used money Tiger borrowed or raised by selling stock, and in some instances, it paid salaries and other costs simply by issuing new shares.

Then came the long-awaited introduction last year of the Gizmondo handheld device, which was in direct competition with two industry powerhouses, Nintendo and Sony. It was a spectacular flameout.

Joe Dodson, who reviews games for the Berkeley-based Web site GameRevolution.com, said the kidney-shaped Gizmondo, which was supposed to retail for $400, had a plethora of seemingly useless features, such as a built-in camera and a GPS device. But it had almost no games available.

Gizmondo reported sales of less than $3 million last year. It suffered cumulative losses of more than $382.5 million, according to Tiger's records.

But it is hard to determine how accurate that is, because Tiger's accounting firm, Goldstein Golub Kessler, has refused to certify the results -- in part because of all the transactions Eriksson and the other executives did with other companies they controlled.

Michael Carrender, the chief executive of Tiger Telematics in Jacksonville, said he has handed over some of the company's few remaining assets in a foreclosure proceeding. He is still hoping to find a company that might want to license the Gizmondo technology, but Tiger's stock price has plummeted from more than $30 to less than 10 cents.

Freer and some of the other Gizmondo executives repaid Tiger for some of the personal bills, Carrender said, and all resigned.

People who tried to cash in on the wreck haven't done well. One person sold on eBay a jar filled with some Ferrari debris said to be taken from the Malibu crash site. The winning bid was $5.

Brooks of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said authorities will decide soon if they are going to charge Eriksson with drunken driving or any other crimes. They are fairly certain, he added, that Eriksson was behind the wheel of the Ferrari when it crashed.

E-mail James Sterngold at jsterngold@sfchronicle.com.

Page A - 1

URL: http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/04/09/MNGLKI6FTC1.DTL

©2006 San Francisco Chronicle

Saundra Hummer
April 9th, 2006, 04:53 PM

Producer: Film on WWII's official end filled with errors

Patrick Gavin
Greg Toppo,
Fri Apr 7, 12:29 PM ET

Editor's note: This article corrects a story published March 13.

An independent short film detailing a curious incident at the end of World War II contains so many errors and fabrications that its executive producer says he has pulled it from a scheduled weekend premiere.

Billed as the true story of how a 16-year-old messenger boy held up the end of the war by stopping for breakfast, The Messenger was scheduled to be shown at this weekend's Philadelphia Film Festival. But producer Pat Croce on March 27 scuttled the debut after receiving word from the film's 25-year-old director, Quincy Perkins, that the filmmaker had fabricated parts of the story, including the death of its subject.

"I feel like I got kicked in the stomach," Croce said in an interview. He had invested about $100,000 in the project. "Almost 100 grand I lost. I could be using that for a foundation or charity or something. I thought I was doing good."

As depicted in The Messenger, featured in a March 14 story in USA TODAY, Thomas E. Jones was charged with delivering a cable to President Harry Truman at the White House in August 1945, confirming Japan's World War II surrender. In the 16-minute film, Jones is portrayed as being unaware of the envelope's blockbuster contents and delaying the end of the war, first by having pancakes at a diner where he flirts with girls and then by being pulled over by a Washington, D.C., policeman for an illegal U-turn.

DVD press materials for the film show a man purported to be the real Jones recalling a police escort to the White House, where he meets "Harry Truman himself," who takes the letter from him.

"He took it and shook my hand and thanked me, and then they went back into their office or somewhere," he says to an off-camera interviewer.

It turns out that Perkins made up the escort, the encounter with Truman, the trip to the White House and the pancakes - he even hired an actor to play an elderly Jones for documentary-style footage, according to Croce.

In The Messenger, the actor delivers the tale from his San Francisco hospital "deathbed." In the closing credits, Perkins dedicates the film to Jones, who, he says, died in 2005.

Jones is alive and quite well, a retired phone company technician, silver-haired and happily living with his wife, Nancy, in a small suburban cottage in Rockville, Md., north of Washington, D.C.

"I have had a lot of health problems because I'm 77, and I've had a heart bypass," says the father of six. "But I'm feeling better now."

He says Perkins never contacted him.

The first he'd heard of the pancakes, the deathbed and the rest? Two weeks ago, after a niece, listening to the radio, caught a reference to the film after USA TODAY wrote about it. His kids Googled it and learned of coverage by other newspapers. Then they tracked down the filmmaker, who finally confessed to Croce last week.

Jones says the kernel of the story is true: A D.C. policeman pulled over the car that a companion was driving that fateful day - they'd made an illegal U-turn on Connecticut Avenue, a few blocks from the White House. The driver initially thought they were headed there, but their destination was actually the Swiss Legation (embassy), in the other direction - thus the U-turn.

While the top-secret message inside the envelope was encoded, Jones says they both knew what it said. And perhaps most significantly: There were no pancakes.

"We delivered the message at four o'clock in the afternoon," he says. "And we knew at the office that it had to do with the Japanese surrender. There wasn't any lollygagging around. It was, 'Take this and go.' "

And he never met Truman.

Sitting in their dining room amid a small stack of yellowed clippings, Jones and his wife say they won't take legal action against the filmmaker. "We'll let it sit by itself," he says.

His wife adds, "Frankly the kids are more incensed about it than he and I are."

Victoria Jones, Thomas' daughter, says, "The thing that is surprising to us is my father would have been very easy to find."

He has lived in the same house for the past 46 years. "He has gotten a couple of calls over the years about this and he's always happy to answer some questions."

In a statement e-mailed Friday, Perkins apologized to the Jones family "for any pain that this film or the recent articles have caused them."

He adds that he "did not mean to declare as fact that the real life Thomas ate pancakes nor that Thomas would have knowingly jeopardized the lives of hundreds of thousands to stop and eat them."

Perkins says he "made substantial efforts to locate and secure an on-camera interview with the real life Thomas E. Jones," but eventually was "led to believe by examination of credible documentation that he was likely deceased."

He adds, "While this film is premised upon a true historical event, it is not a documentary and is not a dramatization. As with all films premised upon historical events, the filmmaker's creative interpretation is imparted to hopefully create an interesting piece of art."

He also apologizes to Croce "for anything that I may have done or said that may have mislead (sic) him to believe that the actor depicting Mr. Jones was the actual individual," but press materials say Perkins "managed to track down a surprised Jones via telephone, residing in Allentown, Pa." He says Jones told him he was "waiting 50 years for someone to call."

Perhaps Croce is more incensed than anyone. A one-time part-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers, he financed the film as a favor to Perkins, the son of a friend.

He says he's most angered by the film's final segment, which features an elderly "Jones" in a hospital bed, telling his incredible tale as the credits roll.

Croce says Perkins duped him and the rest of the cast and crew into believing that he had conducted the "deathbed interview" prior to Jones' Dec. 31, 2005 "passing."

As to why Perkins relied on an actor, Croce says, "The only thing he said to me was (that) he thought that Thomas E. Jones was dead. Still, it's no excuse for fabricating an interview with an actor."



Saundra Hummer
April 9th, 2006, 06:56 PM

A 'Concerted Effort' to Discredit Bush Critic;

Prosecutor Describes Cheney, Libby as Key Voices Pitching Iraq-Niger Story
(link on-site)"Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald for the first time described a 'concerted action' by 'multiple people in the White House' -- using classified information -- to 'discredit, punish or seek revenge against' a critic of President Bush's war in Iraq."
-- Barton Gellman and Dafna Linzer, Washington Post, April 9, 2006

Bush Authorized Leak to Times, Libby Told Grand Jury (link on-site)
"A former White House aide under indictment for obstructing a leak probe, I. Lewis Libby, testified to a grand jury that he gave information from a closely-guarded "National Intelligence Estimate" on Iraq to a New York Times reporter in 2003 with the specific permission of President Bush"
-- Josh Gerstein, New York Sun, April 6, 2006

Libby Pressured McClellan To Issue Statement 'Exonerating Him' (link on-site)
"'Scooter Libby “implored White House officials to have a public statement issued exonerating him' even though 'had in fact played in disclosing Ms. Wilson’s CIA employment.'"
-- via ThinkProgress.org, April 6, 2006

Libby's Lawyers Call for Case Dismissal (link on-site)
"Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald is narrowing the description of his powers in an effort to counter calls for dismissal of the criminal case he brought against Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, defense lawyers said Friday." (Note: The Washington Post story has no comment from the Special Counsel's office)
-- Pete Yost, Washington Post, March 31, 2006

Libby Trial May Be Embarrassment for Bush (link on-site)
"Court papers filed late Friday raise the possibility a trial could become politically embarrassing for the Bush administration by focusing on the debate about whether the White House manipulated intelligence to justify the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003."

News outlets subpoenaed in CIA leak case (link on-site)
"The New York Times, NBC News and a lawyer for a Time magazine reporter said they received subpoenas from the defense team for Libby, once chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney. The Washington Post said it expected to receive a subpoena as well."

Judge Says Libby Can See Bush Briefings (link on-site)
"The ruling is a partial victory for Libby, who is charged with lying in the investigation into the leak of a CIA operative's identity....Any classified evidence that Libby wants to use must be approved by the judge after a secret vetting process established by Congress to ensure protection of government secrets."

Libby Responds to Fitzgerald's CIA Filing (link on-site)
"Libby intentionally misled investigators and the grand jury in an attempt to protect Cheney (see the timeline here), never dreaming that the reporters would be subpoenaed, and now in hindsight is trying to reconstruct not his memory but an alternative explanation for having lied."

Libby Defense Request Strongly Resisted by CIA (link on-site)
"In court papers, Fitzgerald has accused Libby's defense team of engaging in graymail -- demanding unobtainable legal documents to terminate a court proceeding."

Conflict of interest at WETA (link on-site)
"WETA produces the NewsHour and Washington Week in Review. Is it proper that a member of the Board of Trustee to be mixed up in something like this? The NewsHour is watched by the entire diplomatic corps, allied and hostile. It is watched by the foreign press. How does this look to the world?"

Cheney, Libby Blocked Papers To Senate Intelligence Panel (link on-site)
"Vice President Cheney and his chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, overruling advice from some White House political staffers and lawyers, decided to withhold crucial documents from the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2004 when the panel was investigating the use of pre-war intelligence that erroneously concluded Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction..."

Arianna Huffington: The Full Disclosure Tucker Carlson Isn't Making (link on-site)
"...[Tucker Carlson's] father, Richard Carlson, is on the advisory committee of the Libby Legal Defense Trust, the GOP-heavy-hitter-laden group that has so far raised $2 million."

Read the Injunction (United States VS Scooter Libby) HERE:LINK ON-SITE
Friends of Scooter Libby Launch Web Site, Want Your Money (link on-site)
Media Channel, NY - Feb 22, 2006
... the highlight of the site (www.scooterlibby.org) is a section that, implicitly blasts the media, called “What You Aren’t Hearing About Scooter Libby.”. ...

Scooter Libby Launches Website (link on-site)
Human Events - Feb 21, 2006
... For the past five years, Scooter Libby served selflessly as an Assistant to President Bush and as the Chief of Staff and National Security Adviser to Vice ...

Fred Thompson to raise funds for Scooter Libby defense (link on-site)
WBIR-TV, TN - Feb 23, 2006
... Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson will help raise funds for the defense of Vice President Dick Cheney's indicted former chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby. ...

Scooter Libby’s Home Page (link on-site)
Wonkette (satire), DC - Feb 21, 2006
Should we ever appear on Celebrity Jeopardy, we have our charity all picked out: The Scooter Libby Legal Defense Trust, sure to be topping everyone's year-end ... (link on-site)

Scooter Libby's Graymail (link on-site)
Yahoo! News - Feb 17, 2006
Last week, I suggested that Scooter Libby might be trying to orchestrate a "graymail" defense--which is based on the implied threat of blowing national ...

And that is Cheney's replacement for Scooter Libby as his Chief-of ... (link on-site)
Huffington Post, NY - Feb 16, 2006
... The simple answer is that he's Vice President Cheney's former legal counsel and, since the indictment and resignation of Scooter Libby in October, Cheney's ...

Carl Cameron Uses Scooter Libby As One Excuse Of Why The Vice ... (link on-site)
News Hounds, CA - Feb 14, 2006
... Of course Scooter Libby has got legal problems and is not around. (Comment: Do you really want to go there, Carl?) In addition to ...

Fred Thompson offers help to Libby defense (link on-site)
Scripps Howard News Service, DC - Feb 22, 2006
... Lewis "Scooter" Libby, facing trial in January, was indicted in October on five felony counts involving obstruction of justice, perjury and false statements ...

Will Scooter LibbyGraymail the CIA?

(link on-site)
Yahoo! News - Feb 7, 2006
... Still, Libby seems close to making this sort of push. ... But Libby may not stop at PDBs, the CIA damage assessment and information pertaining to Valerie Wilson. ...

Judge OKs press subpoenas in CIA leak case (link on-site)
WASHINGTON - The judge in the CIA leak case said Monday that lawyers on both sides in the perjury trial of former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby ...

Scooter Libby Wants Your Money (link on-site)
Slate - 18 hours ago
By John Dickerson. Scooter Libby has a Web site. He's not running for office, but the site makes it looks like he is. The lead picture ...

Passing the hat for Libby (link on-site)
Boston Globe, United States - Feb 27, 2006
By Nina Easton, Globe Staff | February 26, 2006. The legal defense fund for I. Lewis ''Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's ...

Identity of Official to Be Kept From Libby (link on-site)
CBS News - Feb 25, 2006
(AP) Former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, charged with perjury in the CIA leak case, cannot be told the identity of another government official ...

Libby gets his shot at reporters (link on-site)
American Thinker, AZ - 12 hours ago
This account offers few details of the judge’s order and makes one puzzling assertion—that Fitzgerald was seeking to subpoena reporters, too, when I see no ...

Libby case update (link on-site)
American Thinker, AZ - 18 hours ago
You cannot rely on the antique media to give an appropriately detailed report of what is happening in the Libby case. Luckily Bryon ...

Fitzgerald Says Plame Irrelevant To Libby Prosecution (link on-site)
The Conservative Voice, NC - 23 hours ago
By Sher Zieve – The original lawsuit against former aide to VP Cheney Lewis “Scooter” Libby was that Libby had leaked information that resulted in the ...

A CIA Leak Trial Without the CIA Leak (link on-site)
National Review Online, NY - Feb 27, 2006
CIA leak prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald argued at a hearing Friday that, as far as the perjury charges against former Cheney chief of staff Lewis Libby are ...

Monitor Monitor Tracking the news - the latest developments and ... (link on-site)
Philadelphia Inquirer, PA - Feb 26, 2006
The Latest: I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby and special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald returned to court Friday. Judge Reggie B. Walton ruled ...

Libby's Team to Subpoena Media (link on-site)
NewsMax.com, FL - Feb 25, 2006
Lawyers for I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby say they soon plan to subpoena reporters and news organizations, and a federal judge has set the stage for a showdown in ...

Federal judge grants Libby access to personal notes (link on-site)
Feb 25, 2006
US District Judge Reggie B. Walton Friday granted defense attorneys for I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby JURIST news ...

Libby can't be told suspected leaker's name (link on-site)
First Amendment Center, TN
By The Associated Press. WASHINGTON — Former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, charged with perjury in the CIA leak ...

Ex-White House aide loses -- and wins -- on evidence requests (link on-site)
North County Times, CA - Feb 25, 2006
WASHINGTON -- Former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, charged with perjury in the CIA leak case, cannot be told the identity of another government ... (link on-site)

Friends of Scooter Libby Launch Web Site, Want Your Money (link on-site)
Media Channel, NY - Feb 22, 2006
... the highlight of the site (www.scooterlibby.org) is a section that, implicitly blasts the media, called “What You Aren’t Hearing About Scooter Libby.”. ...

Scooter Libby Launches Website (link on-site)
Human Events - Feb 21, 2006
... For the past five years, Scooter Libby served selflessly as an Assistant to President Bush and as the Chief of Staff and National Security Adviser to Vice ...

Fred Thompson to raise funds for Scooter Libby defense (links on-site)
WBIR-TV, TN - Feb 23, 2006
... Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson will help raise funds for the defense of Vice President Dick Cheney's indicted former chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby. ...

Libby knew CIA spy by name before it was published, filing shows (links on-site)
Handwritten notes taken by the CIA show Vice President Dick Cheney's top aide knew the name of CIA spy Valerie Plame Wilson a month before her cover was blown. It appears to be the first known document in the hands of prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald that directly contradicts Lewis "Scooter" Libby's claim he learned from reporters in July 2003 that Valerie Wilson was a CIA employee.

Judge in Libby Case Seeks Middle Ground (links on-site)
A federal judge signaled Monday that he is seeking ways to provide Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff general descriptions of highly classified documents to use in his defense against perjury charges.

U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton issued an order significantly curtailing the number of intelligence summaries that he might order the Bush administration to turn over to lawyers for I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

Scooter Libby’s Home Page (link on-site)
Wonkette (satire), DC - Feb 21, 2006
Should we ever appear on Celebrity Jeopardy, we have our charity all picked out: The Scooter Libby Legal Defense Trust, sure to be topping everyone's year-end ...

Scooter Libby's Graymail (link on-site)
Yahoo! News - Feb 17, 2006
Last week, I suggested that Scooter Libby might be trying to orchestrate a "graymail" defense--which is based on the implied threat of blowing national ...

And that is Cheney's replacement for Scooter Libby as his Chief-of ... (link on-site)
Huffington Post, NY - Feb 16, 2006
... The simple answer is that he's Vice President Cheney's former legal counsel and, since the indictment and resignation of Scooter Libby in October, Cheney's ...

Carl Cameron Uses Scooter Libby As One Excuse Of Why The Vice ... Link on-site)
News Hounds, CA - Feb 14, 2006
... Of course Scooter Libby has got legal problems and is not around. (Comment: Do you really want to go there, Carl?) In addition to ...

Fred Thompson offers help to Libby defense (link on-site)
Scripps Howard News Service, DC - Feb 22, 2006
... Lewis "Scooter" Libby, facing trial in January, was indicted in October on five felony counts involving obstruction of justice, perjury and false statements ...

Will Scooter Libby Graymail the CIA? (link on-site)
Yahoo! News - Feb 7, 2006
... Still, Libby seems close to making this sort of push. ... But Libby may not stop at PDBs, the CIA damage assessment and information pertaining to Valerie Wilson. ...

Libby's Lawyers Say Prosecutor Acted Unconstitutionally (Go on-site)
WASHINGTON, Feb. 23 — Lawyers for Vice President Dick Cheney's former top aide asked a
federal judge on Thursday to dismiss his indictment, saying the special prosecutor in the C.I.A. leak
case lacked the authority to bring the charges. Lawyers for the former aide, I. Lewis Libby Jr.,
said his indictment violated the Constitution because the special counsel, Patrick J. Fitzgerald,
was not appointed by the president with the consent of the Senate. They added that the appointment violated federal law because the attorney general did not supervise the investigation. Only Congress, the lawyers said, can approve such an arrangement.

Ex-Cheney Aide Testified Leak Was Ordered, Prosecutor Says (link on-site)
WASHINGTON, Feb. 9 — I. Lewis Libby Jr., the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, told a grand jury that he was authorized by his "superiors" to disclose classified information to reporters about Iraq's weapons capability in June and July 2003, according to a document filed by a federal prosecutor.

Libby May Have Tried to Mask Cheney's Rolelink on-site)
Sunday, November 13, 2005; In the opening days of the CIA leak investigation in early October 2003, FBI agents working the case already had in their possession a wealth of valuable evidence. There were White House phone and visitor logs, which clearly documented the administration's contacts with reporters.And they had something that law enforcement officials would later describe as their "guidebook" for the opening phase of the investigation: the daily, diary-like notes compiled by I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, then Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, that chronicled crucial events inside the White House in the weeks before the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame was publicly disclosed.

White House Won't Rule Out Presidential Pardon for Libby (link on-site)
The White House refused Tuesday to rule out a presidential pardon for Lewis "Scooter" Libby,
the former vice presidential aide indicted for allegedly obstructing a grand jury investigation
into the White House unmasking of a secret CIA officer.

On Scooter Libby and His White House Friends - David Addington to Replace Libby
“Cheney has tried to increase executive power with a series of bold actions -- some
so audacious that even conservatives on the Supreme Court sympathetic to Cheney's
view have rejected them as overreaching. The vice president's point man in this is longtime
aide David Addington, who serves as Cheney's top lawyer.

Where there has been controversy over the past four years, there has often been Addington. He was a principal author of the White House memo justifying torture of terrorism suspects. He was a
prime advocate of arguments supporting the holding of terrorism suspects without access to courts.”


Judge OKs press subpoenas in CIA leak case (link on-site)
WASHINGTON - The judge in the CIA leak case said Monday that lawyers on both sides in the perjury trial of former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby ...

Scooter Libby Wants Your Money (link on-site)
Slate - 18 hours ago
By John Dickerson. Scooter Libby has a Web site. He's not running for office, but the site makes it looks like he is. The lead picture ...

Passing the hat for Libby (link on-site)
Boston Globe, United States - Feb 27, 2006
By Nina Easton, Globe Staff | February 26, 2006. The legal defense fund for I. Lewis ''Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's ...

Identity of Official to Be Kept From Libby (link on-site)
CBS News - Feb 25, 2006
(AP) Former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, charged with perjury in the CIA leak case, cannot be told the identity of another government official ...

Libby gets his shot at reporters (link on-site)
American Thinker, AZ - 12 hours ago
This account offers few details of the judge’s order and makes one puzzling assertion—that Fitzgerald was seeking to subpoena reporters, too, when I see no ...

Libby case update (link on-site)
American Thinker, AZ - 18 hours ago
You cannot rely on the antique media to give an appropriately detailed report of what is happening in the Libby case. Luckily Bryon ...

Fitzgerald Says Plame Irrelevant To Libby Prosecution (link on-site)
The Conservative Voice, NC - 23 hours ago
By Sher Zieve – The original lawsuit against former aide to VP Cheney Lewis “Scooter” Libby was that Libby had leaked information that resulted in the ...

A CIA Leak Trial Without the CIA Leak (link on-site)
National Review Online, NY - Feb 27, 2006
CIA leak prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald argued at a hearing Friday that, as far as the perjury charges against former Cheney chief of staff Lewis Libby are ...

Monitor Monitor Tracking the news - the latest developments and ... (link on-site)
Philadelphia Inquirer, PA - Feb 26, 2006
The Latest: I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby and special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald returned to court Friday. Judge Reggie B. Walton ruled ...

Libby's Team to Subpoena Media (link on-site)
NewsMax.com, FL - Feb 25, 2006
Lawyers for I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby say they soon plan to subpoena reporters and news organizations, and a federal judge has set the stage for a showdown in ...

Federal judge grants Libby access to personal notes (link on-site)
Feb 25, 2006
US District Judge Reggie B. Walton Friday granted defense attorneys for I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby JURIST news ...

Libby can't be told suspected leaker's name (link on-site)
First Amendment Center, TN
By The Associated Press. WASHINGTON — Former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, charged with perjury in the CIA leak ...

Ex-White House aide loses -- and wins -- on evidence requests (Link on-site)
North County Times, CA - Feb 25, 2006
WASHINGTON -- Former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, charged with perjury in the CIA leak case, cannot be told the identity of another government ...

Doctors without Borders
Freedom States Alliance


In the Sun Foundation

Alliance for Justice

Gold Star Families for Peace


American Civil Liberties Union

Thank You


The PretzelDunce

Bang, You're dead.

Chimp Whisperer

Ack, Ack, ACK Ack!

Is Rove Next?

Watch what you say, unless you are Libby of course.


This website has no financial or personal connection to the defense fund for the man, Scooter Libby, who betrayed a CIA operative using classified information and betrayed the national Security of the United States of America. This site is to help direct people to organizations and causes that will help protect Americans, instead of taking actions -- as Scooter Libby did -- that threaten the citizens of the United States of America.

This site is sponsored as a public service on behalf of America's national security by BuzzFlash.com and TakeBackTheMedia.com


Saundra Hummer
April 9th, 2006, 07:10 PM

Gangster Government
A Leaky President Runs Afoul of
"Little Rico"

by Greg Palast
Exclusive to BuzzFlash.com

It's a crime. No kidding. But the media has it all wrong. As usual, 'Scooter' Libby finally outed 'Mr. Big,' the perpetrator of the heinous disclosure of the name of secret agent Valerie Plame. It was the President of United States himself -- in conspiracy with his Vice-President. Now the pundits are arguing over whether our war-a-holic President had the legal right to leak this national security information. But, that's a fake debate meant to distract you.

OK, let's accept the White House alibi that releasing Plame's identity was no crime. But if that's true, they've committed a bigger crime: Bush and Cheney knowingly withheld vital information from a grand jury investigation, a multimillion dollar inquiry the perps themselves authorized. That's akin to calling in a false fire alarm or calling the cops for a burglary that never happened -- but far, far worse. Let's not forget that in the hunt for the perpetrator of this non-crime, reporter Judith Miller went to jail.

Think about that. While Miller sat in a prison cell, Bush and Cheney were laughing their sick heads off, knowing the grand jury testimony, the special prosecutor's subpoenas and the FBI's terrorizing newsrooms were nothing but fake props in Bush's elaborate charade, Cheney's Big Con.

On February 10, 2004, our not-so-dumb-as-he-sounds President stated, "Listen, I know of nobody -- I don't know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information. If somebody did leak classified information, I'd like to know it, and we'll take the appropriate action. And this investigation is a good thing. ...And if people have got solid information, please come forward with it."

Notice Bush's cleverly crafted words. He says he can't name anyone who leaked this "classified" info -- knowing full well he'd de-classified it. Far from letting Bush off the hook, it worsens the crime. For years, I worked as a government investigator and, let me tell you, Bush and Cheney withholding material information from the grand jury is a felony. Several felonies, actually: abuse of legal process, fraud, racketeering and, that old standby, obstruction of justice.

If you or I had manipulated the legal system this way, we'd be breaking rocks on a chain gang. We wouldn't even get a trial -- most judges would consider this a "fraud upon the court" and send us to the slammer in minutes using the bench's power to administer instant punishment for contempt of the judicial system.

Why'd they do it? The White House junta did the deed for the most evil of motives: to hoodwink the public during the 2004 election campaign, to pretend that evil anti-Bush elements were undermining the Republic, when it was the Bush element itself at the center of the conspiracy. (Notably, elections trickery also motivated Richard Nixon's "plumbers" to break into the Watergate, then the Democratic Party campaign headquarters.)

Let me draft the indictment for you as I would have were I still a government gumshoe:

"Perpetrator Lewis Libby (alias, 'Scooter') contacted Miller; while John Doe 1 contacted perpetrators' shill at the Washington Post, Bob Woodward, in furtherance of a scheme directed by George Bush (alias 'The POTUS') and Dick Cheney (alias, 'The Veep') to release intelligence information fraudulently proffered as 'classified,' and thereinafter, knowingly withheld material evidence from a grand jury empanelled to investigate said disclosure. Furthermore, perpetrator 'The POTUS' made material statements designed to deceive investigators and knowingly misrepresent his state of knowledge of the facts."

Statements aimed at misleading grand jury investigators are hard-time offenses. It doesn't matter that Bush's too-clever little quip was made to the press and not under oath. I've cited press releases and comments in the New York Times in court as evidence of fraud. By not swearing to his disingenuous statement, Bush gets off the perjury hook, but he committed a crime nonetheless, "deliberate concealment."

Here's how the law works (and hopefully, it will). The Bush gang's use of the telephone in this con game constituted wire fraud. Furthermore, while presidents may leak ("declassify") intelligence information, they may not obstruct justice; that is, send a grand jury on a wild goose chase. Under the 'RICO' statute (named after the Edward G. Robinson movie mobster, 'Little Rico'), the combination of these crimes makes the Bush executive branch a "racketeering enterprise."

So, book'm, Dan-o. Time to read The POTUS and The Veep their rights.

After setting their bail (following the impeachments and removals, of course), a judge will have a more intriguing matter to address. The RICO law requires the Feds to seize all "ill-gotten gains" of a racketeering enterprise, even before trial. Usually we're talking fast cars and diamond bling. But in this case, the conspirators' purloined booty includes a stolen election and a fraudulently obtained authorization for war. I see no reason why a judge could not impound the 82d Airborne as "fruits of the fraud " -- lock, stock and gun barrels -- and bring the boys home.

And if justice is to be done we will will also have to run yellow tape across the gates at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue -- "CRIME SCENE - DO NOT ENTER" -- and return the White House to its rightful owners, the American people, the victims of this gangster government.

Former racketeering investigator Greg Palast is author of "ARMED MADHOUSE: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Class War," to be released in June. Subscribe to our new podcast of these columns at


Saundra Hummer
April 9th, 2006, 07:24 PM

Sunday, Apr. 09, 2006

"Why I Think Rumsfeld Must Go"

A military insider sounds off against the war and the "zealots" who pushed it
Two senior military officers are known to have challenged Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on the planning of the Iraq war. Army General Eric Shinseki publicly dissented and found himself marginalized. Marine Lieut. General Greg Newbold, the Pentagon's top operations officer, voiced his objections internally and then retired, in part out of opposition to the war. Here, for the first time, Newbold goes public with a full-throated critique:

In 1971, the rock group The Who released the antiwar anthem Won't Get Fooled Again. To most in my generation, the song conveyed a sense of betrayal by the nation's leaders, who had led our country into a costly and unnecessary war in Vietnam. To those of us who were truly counterculture—who became career members of the military during those rough times—the song conveyed a very different message. To us, its lyrics evoked a feeling that we must never again stand by quietly while those ignorant of and casual about war lead us into another one and then mismanage the conduct of it. Never again, we thought, would our military's senior leaders remain silent as American troops were marched off to an ill-considered engagement. It's 35 years later, and the judgment is in: the Who had it wrong. We have been fooled again. From 2000 until October 2002, I was a Marine Corps lieutenant general and director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. After 9/11, I was a witness and therefore a party to the actions that led us to the invasion of Iraq—an unnecessary war. Inside the military family, I made no secret of my view that the zealots' rationale for war made no sense. And I think I was outspoken enough to make those senior to me uncomfortable. But I now regret that I did not more openly challenge those who were determined to invade a country whose actions were peripheral to the real threat—al-Qaeda. I retired from the military four months before the invasion, in part because of my opposition to those who had used 9/11's tragedy to hijack our security policy. Until now, I have resisted speaking out in public. I've been silent long enough.

I am driven to action now by the missteps and misjudgments of the White House and the Pentagon, and by my many painful visits to our military hospitals. In those places, I have been both inspired and shaken by the broken bodies but unbroken spirits of soldiers, Marines and corpsmen returning from this war. The cost of flawed leadership continues to be paid in blood. The willingness of our forces to shoulder such a load should make it a sacred obligation for civilian and military leaders to get our defense policy right. They must be absolutely sure that the commitment is for a cause as honorable as the sacrifice.

With the encouragement of some still in positions of military leadership, I offer a challenge to those still in uniform: a leader's responsibility is to give voice to those who can't—or don't have the opportunity to—speak. Enlisted members of the armed forces swear their oath to those appointed over them; an officer swears an oath not to a person but to the Constitution. The distinction is important.

Before the antiwar banners start to unfurl, however, let me make clear—I am not opposed to war. I would gladly have traded my general's stars for a captain's bars to lead our troops into Afghanistan to destroy the Taliban and al-Qaeda. And while I don't accept the stated rationale for invading Iraq, my view—at the moment—is that a precipitous withdrawal would be a mistake. It would send a signal, heard around the world, that would reinforce the jihadists' message that America can be defeated, and thus increase the chances of future conflicts. If, however, the Iraqis prove unable to govern, and there is open civil war, then I am prepared to change my position.

I will admit my own prejudice: my deep affection and respect are for those who volunteer to serve our nation and therefore shoulder, in those thin ranks, the nation's most sacred obligation of citizenship. To those of you who don't know, our country has never been served by a more competent and professional military. For that reason, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's recent statement that "we" made the "right strategic decisions" but made thousands of "tactical errors" is an outrage. It reflects an effort to obscure gross errors in strategy by shifting the blame for failure to those who have been resolute in fighting. The truth is, our forces are successful in spite of the strategic guidance they receive, not because of it.

What we are living with now is the consequences of successive policy failures. Some of the missteps include: the distortion of intelligence in the buildup to the war, McNamara-like micromanagement that kept our forces from having enough resources to do the job, the failure to retain and reconstitute the Iraqi military in time to help quell civil disorder, the initial denial that an insurgency was the heart of the opposition to occupation, alienation of allies who could have helped in a more robust way to rebuild Iraq, and the continuing failure of the other agencies of our government to commit assets to the same degree as the Defense Department. My sincere view is that the commitment of our forces to this fight was done with a casualness and swagger that are the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions—or bury the results.

Flaws in our civilians are one thing; the failure of the Pentagon's military leaders is quite another. Those are men who know the hard consequences of war but, with few exceptions, acted timidly when their voices urgently needed to be heard. When they knew the plan was flawed, saw intelligence distorted to justify a rationale for war, or witnessed arrogant micromanagement that at times crippled the military's effectiveness, many leaders who wore the uniform chose inaction. A few of the most senior officers actually supported the logic for war. Others were simply intimidated, while still others must have believed that the principle of obedience does not allow for respectful dissent. The consequence of the military's quiescence was that a fundamentally flawed plan was executed for an invented war, while pursuing the real enemy, al-Qaeda, became a secondary effort. There have been exceptions, albeit uncommon, to the rule of silence among military leaders. Former Army Chief of Staff General Shinseki, when challenged to offer his professional opinion during prewar congressional testimony, suggested that more troops might be needed for the invasion's aftermath. The Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense castigated him in public and marginalized him in his remaining months in his post. Army General John Abizaid, head of Central Command, has been forceful in his views with appointed officials on strategy and micromanagement of the fight in Iraq—often with success. Marine Commandant General Mike Hagee steadfastly challenged plans to underfund, understaff and underequip his service as the Corps has struggled to sustain its fighting capability.

To be sure, the Bush Administration and senior military officials are not alone in their culpability. Members of Congress—from both parties—defaulted in fulfilling their constitutional responsibility for oversight. Many in the media saw the warning signs and heard cautionary tales before the invasion from wise observers like former Central Command chiefs Joe Hoar and Tony Zinni but gave insufficient weight to their views. These are the same news organizations that now downplay both the heroic and the constructive in Iraq.

So what is to be done? We need fresh ideas and fresh faces. That means, as a first step, replacing Rumsfeld and many others unwilling to fundamentally change their approach. The troops in the Middle East have performed their duty. Now we need people in Washington who can construct a unified strategy worthy of them. It is time to send a signal to our nation, our forces and the world that we are uncompromising on our security but are prepared to rethink how we achieve it. It is time for senior military leaders to discard caution in expressing their views and ensure that the President hears them clearly. And that we won't be fooled again.


Saundra Hummer
April 9th, 2006, 08:36 PM


Richard Reeves
Fri Apr 7, 8:06 PM ET

COACHELLA, Calif. -- I went from coast to coast across the United States last week and saw a lot of things and a lot of people: a lot of immigrants, legal and illegal, in California and Texas, a lot of fools and frauds in Washington.

This town of 30,000 people was the end of my trail, 2,500 miles west of Washington and 40 miles north of Mexico. Ninety-seven percent of the people here are Hispanic, most of them Mexican or Mexican-American. The Town Council has voted to make Coachello a "sanctuary," meaning that local police will be ordered not to enforce federal immigration laws if illegal immigration is made a felony instead of a civil offense punishable only by immediate deportation.

In between, I was in Los Angeles, where 500,000 people totally surprised city police by peacefully marching through downtown to protest proposals to put more walls along the California-Mexico border and make it a crime to be or to aid an illegal immigrant. The surprise was a result of the fact that city officials were not listening to the Spanish-language radio stations organizing the giant demonstration of Chicano Power.

I was in Miami, the capital of Latin America, where they say the United States begins in Fort Lauderdale. I stopped in Dallas, too, where high school students left their classrooms to march on City Hall for the same reasons.

In Washington, I was there when members of Congress held a press conference at which Rep. Steve King (news, bio, voting record), an Iowa Republican, stood before a pulpit decorated by a sign that said, "Just Say No to Amnesty," meaning that the 11 million or 12 million Mexicans living and working in the United States without proper documentation should be sent back where they came from. That would take a lot of pickup trucks.

"Anybody that votes for an amnesty bill," said King, "deserves to be branded with a scarlet letter 'A'." That would take a lot of branding irons.

Back to the Coachella Valley, which is part of Riverside County east of Los Angeles. The best-known place in the valley is Palm Springs. There are, according to official figures that probably don't mean much, 233,000 undocumented aliens in the county. There is no figure for the valley itself, which has a year-round population of 285,000, with 100,000 more coming for the sun each winter. But there is a widespread feeling that without "illegals," there would be no valley to speak of anyway.

This is from the local newspaper, The Desert Sun:

"'If we are not here, the very nice area will disappear,' said Sostenes Abalos, owner of SOS Cleaning & Maintenance in Cathedral City, which employs eight. The 41-year-old Abalos jumped the fence at the Mexican border 21 years ago, after paying a smuggler $40. He became a U.S. citizen earlier this year, fearing potential changes coming to immigration laws."Life is different in Southern California, beginning with the fact that middle-class people have servants, underpaid, undocumented, intimidated and desperate Hispanics who build and clean their houses, tend their gardens and care for their children. Folks here, the Anglos, will often speak out against illegal immigration, but it would be foolish to believe they mean it.

The long border between a poor country and a rich one has created situations that are misunderstood in many other parts of the country, including Washington, D.C. The ties that bind and the pressures that separate across that border cannot be unbound or relieved by lawmakers or more fences.

Looking north and east to the capital from here, the press conferences and the compromises seem not only distant but irrelevant to the facts on the ground, including these:

Americans, particularly in the Western states, are addicted to the benfits of immigrant labor, beginning with cheap help around the house and cheaper food prices in markets and restaurants.

The United States needs young people, and Mexico has them. There are only 1.5 Americans under 14 for every one over 65. In Mexico, that ratio is 7-to-1, and many of them are coming here to pay your Social Security.

Legal, documented Mexicans in the United States are related to the undocumentated "illegals." And families stick together.

New walls make things worse because they discourage undocumented workers from going home to Mexico and Central America and then trying to get back in, fostering family breakdown on both sides of the border.

None of this is likely to change until there is more income parity between the national neighbors. Americans make four times and more what Mexicans make. My friend Andres Oppenheimer, the Latin American columnist of The Miami Herald, who has looked at similar situations around the world, says the flow of the poor coming north will end only when that ratio gets close to 2-to-1. And that will take a long time -- or it may never happen, and this problem will be debated and fudged by politicians for our lifetimes.


Saundra Hummer
April 10th, 2006, 11:51 AM
~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Kill Cravings With These Foods

Jupiter Images
[Go on-site to view]
By Amy Paturel, M.S., M.P.H.
If you just can't curb the urge to wolf down chocolate or cookies, you should head straight to the kitchen. That's right. Because even though mindless noshing packs on the pounds like no other pastime, some foods can make a definite dent in your need to nibble.

According to registered dietitian Milton Stokes, eating low-calorie, fiber-rich foods before a meal (salads, soup and fruits) may prevent a dieter from submitting to an all out gorge-fest. But some of the best appetite killers are nibbles that might be hiding in plain sight in your kitchen right now:

Nuts: New research shows the fatty acids in pine nuts initiate the release of an appetite-suppressing hormone called cholecystokinin (CKK). According to Stokes, it’s too soon to tell if these results will stand up. In the meantime, sprinkle pine nuts on your salad or mix them into pesto over whole wheat pasta. Want a more accessible nut? Try almonds. People who consume these nutrient powerhouses lose more weight and fat mass than those who don’t. Why? The cell walls of almonds seem to act as a physical barrier to the total absorption of fat.

Hot Stuff: Spicy foods have a metabolism-boosting benefit and can dull your taste buds so you're apt to eat less. Even foods that are hot in temperature -- like tea and soup -- may diminish your appetite. Just make sure your soup is tomato or broth-based (not cream!) and your tea isn’t of the sugary variety (beware commercial flavored types like Chai). In fact, if you go green, your tea may actually give your metabolism a boost, too.

Apples: Apples pack a lot of fiber -- twice as much in every bite as peaches, grapes and grapefruit. Fiber helps turn on the fullness switch and prevents you from overeating. Get into the habit of eating an apple before dinner. Chances are, you’ll eat less of your meal as the fiber starts to kick in.

Milk: Research shows that dairy foods promote weight loss, but the mechanism isn’t fully understood yet. "It looks like calcium helps break down the fat in cells," says Stokes. "But getting calcium from real dairy foods, like low-fat or nonfat milk or yogurt, help more than taking supplements."

Green Leaves: Two cups of cabbage, celery or lettuce provides almost no calories. And in most cases, you burn off the greens just by digesting them. Pickles and cucumbers count in this category, too.

If snacking doesn’t do the trick, sniffing might. According to Alan Hirsch, M.D., neurological director of the Smell and Taste Research Foundation in Chicago, just a whiff of green apple, banana and peppermint might help you drop some weight.

What's Next? See what lurks in The Fridge.

Saundra Hummer
April 10th, 2006, 03:11 PM

There is no better snack or easier way to add extra nutrition, flavor and crunch to a meal than by adding a handful of walnuts. While walnuts are harvested in December, they are available year-round to help us get those all important omega 3 fatty acids.

It is no surprise that the regal and delicious walnut comes from an ornamental tree that is highly prized for its beauty. The walnut kernel consists of two bumpy lobes that look like abstract butterflies. The lobes are off white in color and covered by a thin, light brown skin. They are partially attached to each other. The kernels are enclosed in round or oblong shells that are brown in color and very hard.

History Health Benefits ...
How to Select and Store
How to Enjoy
Nutritional Profile
Health Benefits

When it comes to their health benefits, walnuts definitely are not a hard nut to crack. This delicious nut is an excellent source of omega-3 essential fatty acids, a special type of protective fat the body cannot manufacture. Walnuts' concentration of omega-3s (a quarter-cup provides 90.8% of the daily value for these essential fats) has many potential health benefits ranging from cardiovascular protection, to the promotion of better cognitive function, to anti-inflammatory benefits helpful in asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory skin diseases such as eczema and psoriasis. In addition, walnuts contain an antioxidant compound called ellagic acid that supports the immune system and appears to have several anticancer properties.
Take Walnuts to Heart

Adding walnuts to your diet can be an important step in improving your cardiovascular health. Walnuts are an important source of monounsaturated fats-- approximately 15% of the fat found in walnuts is healthful monounsaturated fat. A host of studies have shown that increasing the dietary intake of monounsaturated-dense walnuts has favorable effects on high cholesterol levels and other cardiovascular risk factors. One particular study compared the effects of a cholesterol-lowering Mediterranean diet with an adjusted Mediterrenean diet in which 35% of the calories derived from monounsaturated fats came from walnuts. When following the walnut-rich diet, the 49 study participants were found to have lower levels of total cholesterol, LDL (the dangerous form) cholesterol and Lp(a) ("lipoprotein a," another lipid compound that increases blood clotting and, when elevated, is considered a risk factor for atherosclerosis).

In addition to their heart-protective monounsaturated fats, walnuts' concentration of omega-3 essential fatty acids is also responsible for the favorable effects walnut consumption produces on cardiovascular risk factors. Omega-3s benefit the cardiovascular system by helping to prevent erratic heart rhythms, making blood less likely to clot inside arteries (which is the proximate cause of most heart attacks), and improving the ratio of good (HDL) cholesterol to potentially harmful (LDL) cholesterol. Omega-3s also reduce inflammation, which is a key component in the processes that turn cholesterol into artery-clogging plaques. Since walnuts contain relatively high levels of l-arginine, an essential amino acid, they may also be of special import when it comes to hypertension. In the body (specifically within those hard-working blood vessels), l-arginine is converted into nitric oxide, a chemical that helps keep the inner walls of blood vessels smooth and allows blood vessels to relax. Since individuals with hypertension have a harder time maintaining normal nitric oxide levels, which may also relate to other significant health issues such as diabetes and heart problems, walnuts can serve as a great addition to their diets.

A study published in the August 2003 issue of Phytochemistry sheds further light on walnuts’ cardioprotective benefits. Earlier research had already suggested that several polyphenolic compounds found in walnuts, specifically ellagic and gallic acid, possessed antioxidant activity sufficient to inhibit free radical damage to LDL cholesterol. In this new study, researchers identified 16 polyphenols, including three new tannins, with antioxidant activity so protective they describe it as “remarkable”.

Walnuts improve cardiovascular function by a variety of mechanisms, suggests a study conducted at the Lipid Clinic in Barcelona, Spain, and published in the April 2004 issue of Circulation.

For four weeks, 21 men and women with high cholesterol followed either a regular, low-calorie Mediterranean diet or one in which walnuts were substituted for about one-third of the calories supplied by olives, olive and other monounsaturated fats in the Mediterranean diet. Then, for a second four weeks, they switched over to the diet they had not yet been on.

Not only did the walnut diet significantly reduce total cholesterol (a drop that ranged from 4.4 to 7.4%) and LDL (bad) cholesterol (a drop ranging from 6.4 to 10%), but walnuts were also found to increase the elasticity of the arteries by 64%, and to reduce levels of vascular cell adhesion molecules, a key player in the development of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).

The researchers found that the drop in cholesterol correlated with increases in blood levels of alpha-linolenic acid, a key essential fatty acid from which omega 3 fats can be derived, and gamma-tocopherol, a form of vitamin E. Walnuts are uniquely rich in both of these nutrients, which have shown heart protective benefits in other studies.

The Food and Drug Administration has recently cleared the health claim that “eating 1.5 ounces per day of walnuts as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.” "This is the first time a whole food, not its isolated components, has shown this beneficial effect on vascular health," said Emilio Ros, who led the study at the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona.

Walnuts Improve Cholesterol Profile in Persons with Type 2 Diabetes
In patients with type 2 diabetes, including a daily ounce of walnuts in a diet in which 30% of calories came from fat translated into a significant improvement in subjects' cholesterol profile.

In this study, published in the December 2004 issue of Diabetes Care, 58 men and women with an average age of 59 years, were assigned to one of three diets in which 30% of calories was derived from fat: a low fat diet, a modified low fat diet, and a modified low fat diet including an ounce of walnuts per day.

After 6 months, those on the walnut diet had achieved a significantly greater increase in their HDL-to-total cholesterol ratio than the other groups, plus walnut eaters saw a 10% reduction in their LDL cholesterol. Why such benefit from walnuts? Most likely because walnuts are exceptionally high in their content of monounsaturated fat and the omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid. Plus, walnuts combine these heart healthy fats with a hefty dose of the antioxidants including at least 16 antioxidant phenols, vitamin E, ellagic and gallic acid.

Additional research has confirmed that when walnuts are eaten as part of a modified low-fat diet, the result is a more cardiprotective fat profile in diabetic patients than can be achieved by simply lowering the fat content of the diet. In a study published in the July 2005 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, all 55 study participants with type 2 diabetes were put on low fat diets, but the only group to achieve a cardioprotective fat profile (less than 10% of calories from saturated fat, 7-10% of calories from polyunsaturated fats, adequate omega-3 fats, and an omega-6:omega-3 ratio of less than 10) were those who ate walnuts (30 grams—about one ounce—per day).

Walnuts Found to Reduce Levels of Several Molecules that Promote Atherosclerosis
In addition to walnuts' beneficial effects on cholesterol, more insight into the reasons why walnuts reduce the risk of coronary heart disease were revealed in research published in the November 2004 issue of the Journal of Nutrition.

The study involved 20 overweight or obese men, 30 to 60 years old, and 3 menopausal women, aged 55-65, all of whom had elevated LDL cholesterol levels. Each subject was assigned to one of the three diets on a rotating six-week basis with a two-week break between each one. The average American diet served as the control diet, while the two experimental diets were a linoleic acid (LA) diet that included an ounce of walnuts and a teaspoon of walnut oil daily, and an alpha-linoleic acid diet (ALA), which added a teaspoon of flaxseed oil, which is especially high in ALA, to the linoleic diet.

Both experimental diets resulted in positive effects, with the ALA diet providing the most benefit. In addition to lowering LDL cholesterol, the walnut-rich ALA diet: lowered levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation strongly associated with atherosclerosis and heart disease
increased levels of the protective omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), (both omega-3 fats can be synthesized in the body from ALA), and
decreased levels of ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 and E-selection, all of which are involved in cholesterol's adhesion to the endothelium (the lining of the arteries).

Food for Better Thought
Walnuts have often been thought of as a "brain food," not only because of the wrinkled brain-like appearance of their shells, but because of their high concentration of omega-3 fats. Your brain is more than 60% structural fat. For your brain cells to function properly, this structural fat needs to be primarily the omega-3 fats found in walnuts, flaxseed and cold-water fish. This is because the membranes of all our cells, including our brain cells or neurons, are primarily composed of fats. Cell membranes are the gatekeepers of the cell. Anything that wants to get into or out of a cell must pass through the cell's outer membrane. And omega-3 fats, which are especially fluid and flexible, make this process a whole lot easier, thus maximizing the cell's ability to usher in nutrients while eliminating wastes--definitely a good idea, especially when the cell in question is in your brain.

Epidemiological studies in various countries including the U.S. suggest a connection between increased rates of depression and decreased omega-3 consumption, and in children, the relationship between low dietary intake of omega-3 fats and ADHD has begun to be studied. A recent Purdue University study showed that kids low in omega-3 essential fatty acids are significantly more likely to be hyperactive, have learning disorders, and to display behavioral problems. In the Purdue study, a greater number of behavioral problems, temper tantrums, and sleep problems were reported in subjects with lower total omega-3 fatty acid concentrations. More learning and health problems were also found in the children in the study who had lower total omega-3 fatty acid concentrations. Over 2,000 scientific studies have demonstrated the wide range of problems associated with omega-3 deficiencies. The American diet is almost devoid of omega-3s, except for nuts, such as walnuts, seeds and cold-water fish. In fact, researchers believe that about 60% of Americans are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids, and about 20% have so little that test methods cannot even detect any in their blood.

Help Prevent Gallstones
Twenty years of dietary data collected on 80,718 women from the Nurses' Health Study shows that women who eat least 1 ounce of nuts, peanuts or peanut butter each week have a 25% lower risk of developing gallstones. Since 1 ounce is only 28.6 nuts or about 2 tablespoons of nut butter, preventing gallbladder disease may be as easy as packing one peanut butter and jelly sandwich (be sure to use whole wheat bread for its fiber, vitamins and minerals) for lunch each week, having a handful of almonds as an afternoon pick me up, or tossing some walnuts on your oatmeal or salad.

A Source of Bio-Available Melatonin
Want a better night's sleep? Try sprinkling your dinner's tossed green salad, fruit salad or steamed vegetables with a handful of walnuts. Or enjoy a baked apple or poached pear topped with walnuts for dessert.

Melatonin, a hormone produced by the pineal gland, which is involved in inducing and regulating sleep and is also a powerful antioxidant, has been discovered in walnuts in bio-available form, making them the perfect evening food for a natural good night's sleep.

Melatonin has been shown to help improve sleep for night shift workers and people suffering from jet lag, but maintaining healthy levels of this hormone is important for everyone over the age of 40 since the amount of melatonin produced by the human body decreases significantly as we age, and this decrease in antioxidant protection may be related to the development of free radical-related diseases later in life.

In a study published in the September 2005 issue of Nutrition, Russell Reiter and colleagues at the University of Texas have not only quantified the amount of melatonin present in walnuts—between 2.5 and 4.5 ng/gram—but have demonstrated that eating walnuts triples blood levels of melatonin and also increases antioxidant activity in the bloodstream in animals.

The authors theorize that by helping the body resist oxidative stress (free radical damage), walnuts may help reduce the risk of cancer and delay or reduce the severity of cardiovascular disease and neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's or Alzheimer's disease. Walnuts, best known as a heart-healthy nut, are also a rich source of another highly cardio-protective nutrient: omega-3-fatty acids, so Reiter and his team will next investigate possible synergy between walnuts' omega-3 fats and melatonin. To us at the World's Healthiest Foods, this sounds familiar theme in Nature's symphony in which whole, wholesome foods each provide a wealth of nutrients whose harmony promotes our optimal health.

That’s Nut the End of Walnut's Health BenefitsWalnuts are a very good source of manganese and a good source of copper, two minerals that are essential cofactors in a number of enzymes important in antioxidant defenses. For example, the key oxidative enzyme superoxide dismutase, which disarms free radicals produced within cell cytoplasm and the mitochondria (the energy production factories within our cells) requires both copper and manganese.

Walnuts also contain an antioxidant compound called ellagic acid, which blocks the metabolic pathways that can lead to cancer. Ellagic acid not only helps protect healthy cells from free radical damage, but also helps detoxify potential cancer-causing substances and helps prevent cancer cells from replicating. In a study of 1,271 elderly people in New Jersey, those who ate the most strawberries (another food that contains ellagic acid) were three times less likely to develop cancer than those who ate few or no strawberries.

It is no surprise that the regal and delicious walnut comes from an ornamental tree that is highly prized for its beauty. The walnut kernel consists of two bumpy lobes that look like abstract butterflies. The lobes are off white in color and covered by a thin, light brown skin. They are partially attached to each other. The kernels are enclosed in round or oblong shells that are brown in color and very hard.

While there are numerous species of walnut trees, three of the main types of walnuts consumed are the English (or Persian) walnut, Juglans regia; the Black walnut, Juglans nigra; and the White (or butternut) walnut, Juglans cinerea. The English walnut is the most popular type in the United States and features a thinner shell that is easily broken with a nutcracker. The Black walnut has thicker shells that are harder to crack and a much more pungent distinctive flavor. The White walnut features a sweeter and oilier taste than the other two types, although it is not as widely available and therefore may be more difficult to find in the marketplace.

HistoryWhile walnut trees have been cultivated for thousands of years, the different types have varying origins. The English walnut originated in India and the regions surrounding the Caspian Sea, hence it is known as the Persian walnut. In the 4th century AD, the ancient Romans introduced the walnut into many European countries where it has been grown since. Throughout its history, the walnut tree has been highly revered; not only does it have a life span that is several times that of humans, but its uses include, but are not limited to, food, medicine, shelter, dye and lamp oil. It is thought that the walnuts grown in North America gained the moniker "English walnuts," since they were introduced into America via English merchant ships.

Black walnuts and white walnuts are native to North America, specifically the Central Mississippi Valley and Appalachian area. They played an important role in the diets and lifestyles of both the Native American Indians and the early colonial settlers.

Today, the leading commercial producers of walnuts are the United States, Turkey, China, Iran, France and Romania.
How to Select and Store
When purchasing whole walnuts that have not been shelled, choose those that feel heavy for their size. Their shells should not be cracked, pierced or stained, as this is oftentimes a sign of mold development on the nutmeat, which renders it unsafe for consumption.

Shelled walnuts are generally available in prepackaged containers as well as bulk bins. Just as with any other food that you may purchase in the bulk section, make sure that the bins containing the walnuts are covered and that the store has a good product turnover so as to ensure its maximal freshness. Whether purchasing walnuts in bulk or in a packaged container, avoid those that look rubbery or shriveled. If it is possible to smell the walnuts, do so in order to ensure that they are not rancid.

Due to their high polyunsaturated fat content, walnuts are extremely perishable and care should be taken in their storage. Shelled walnuts should be stored in an airtight container and placed in the refrigerator, where they will keep for six months, or the freezer, where they will last for one year. Unshelled walnuts should preferably be stored in the refrigerator, although as long as you keep them in a cool, dry, dark place they will stay fresh for up to six months.
How to Enjoy
For some of our favorite recipes, click Recipes.

A Few Quick Serving Ideas:
Mix crushed walnuts into plain yogurt and top with maple syrup.

Add walnuts to healthy sautéed vegetables. Walnuts are great in baked goods and breakfast treats. Some of our favorites include zucchini walnut bread, carrot walnut muffins and apple walnut pancakes.

Purée walnuts, cooked lentils and your favorite herbs and spices in a food processor. Add enough olive or flax oil so that it achieves a dip-like consistency.

Sprinkle walnuts onto salads.

Add walnuts to your favorite poultry stuffing recipe.

To roast walnuts at home, do so gently--in a 160-170 degree F oven for 15-20 minutes--to preserve the healthy oils.

Make homemade walnut granola: Mix together aproximately 1/2 cup of honey, 3 to 4 tablespoons of blackstrap molasses, a tablespoon of vanilla, a dash of salt, and a teaspoon each of your favorite spices, such as cinnamon, ginger and/or nutmeg. Place 6-8 cups of rolled oats in a large bowl and toss to coat with the honey-blackstrap mixture. Then spread on a cookie sheet and bake at 275 degrees for 45 minutes. Cool and mix in 1/2 to 1 cup of walnuts.

SafetyWalnuts are not a commonly allergenic food and are not known to contain measurable amounts of goitrogens, oxalates, or purines.
Nutritional Profile
Introduction to Food Rating System Chart
The following chart shows the nutrients for which this food is either an excellent, very good or good source. Next to the nutrient name you will find the following information: the amount of the nutrient that is included in the noted serving of this food; the %Daily Value (DV) that that amount represents (similar to other information presented in the website, this DV is calculated for 25-50 year old healthy woman); the nutrient density rating; and, the food's World's Healthiest Foods Rating. Underneath the chart is a table that summarizes how the ratings were devised. Read detailed information on our Food and Recipe Rating System.

Nuts, Walnuts0.25 cup
163.50 calories
Nutrient Amount DV
(%) Nutrient
Density World's Healthiest
Foods Rating
omega 3 fatty acids 2.27 g 90.8 10.0 excellent
manganese 0.85 mg 42.5 4.7 very good
copper 0.40 mg 20.0 2.2 good
tryptophan 0.05 g 15.6 1.7 good
World's Healthiest
Foods Rating Rule
excellent DV>=75% OR Density>=7.6 AND DV>=10%
very good DV>=50% OR Density>=3.4 AND DV>=5%
good DV>=25% OR Density>=1.5 AND DV>=2.5%

In Depth Nutritional Profile for Walnuts References
Anderson K.J.; Teuber S.S.; Gobeille A.; Cremin P.; Waterhouse A.L.; Steinberg F.M. Walnut polyphenolics inhibit in vitro human plasma and LDL oxidation. Journal of Nutrition, Vol. 131, Issue 11: 2837-2842.
Ensminger AH, Ensminger, ME, Kondale JE, Robson JRK. Foods & Nutriton Encyclopedia. Pegus Press, Clovis, California.
Ensminger AH, Esminger M. K. J. e. al. Food for Health: A Nutrition Encyclopedia. Clovis, California: Pegus Press; 1986.
Fortin, Francois, Editorial Director. The Visual Foods Encyclopedia. Macmillan, New York.
Fukuda T, Ito H, Yoshida T. Antioxidative polyphenols from walnuts (Juglans regia L.). Phytochemistry. Aug;63(7):795-801.
Gillen LJ, Tapsell LC, Patch CS, Owen A, Batterham M. Structured dietary advice incorporating walnuts achieves optimal fat and energy balance in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. J Am Diet Assoc. 2005 Jul;105(7):1087-96.
Morgan JM, Horton K, Reese D et al. Effects of walnut consumption as part of a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet on serum cardiovascular risk factors. Int J Vitam Nutr Res 2002 Oct; 72(5):341-7.
Patel G. Essential fats in walnuts are good for the heart and diabetes. J Am Diet Assoc. 2005 Jul;105(7):1096-7.
Reiter RJ, Manchester LC, Tan DX. Melatonin in walnuts: influence on levels of melatonin and total antioxidant capacity of blood. Nutrition. 2005 Sep;21(9):920-4. .
Ros E, Nunez I, Perez-Heras A, Serra M, Gilabert R, Casals E, Deulofeu R. A walnut diet improves endothelial function in hypercholesterolemic subjects: a randomized crossover trial. Circulation. 2004 Apr 6;109(13):1609-14. .
Stevens LJ, Zentall SS, Abate ML, et al. Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Boys with Behavior, Learning, and Health Problems. Physiol Behav 59(4/5) 915-920. 1996.
Stevens LJ, Zentall SS, Deck JL, et al. Essential Fatty Acid Metabolism in Boys with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1995 Oct; 62(4): 761-8.
Tapsell LC, Gillen LJ, Patch CS, Batterham M, Owen A, Bare M, Kennedy M. Including Walnuts in a Low-Fat/Modified-Fat Diet Improves HDL Cholesterol-to-Total Cholesterol Ratios in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2004 Dec;27(12):2777-83.
Tsai CJ, Leitzmann MF, Hu FB, Willett WC, Giovannucci EL. . Frequent nut consumption and decreased risk of cholecystectomy in women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Jul;80(1):76-81.
Wood, Rebecca. The Whole Foods Encyclopedia. New York, NY: Prentice-Hall Press; 1988.
Zhao G, Etherton TD, Martin KR, West SG, Gillies PJ, Kris-Etherton PM. Dietary {alpha}-Linolenic Acid Reduces Inflammatory and Lipid Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Hypercholesterolemic Men and Women. J Nutr. 2004 Nov;134(11):2991-2997.
More of the World's Healthiest Foods (& Spices)!
For education only, consult a healthcare practitioner for any health problems.

© 2002-2006 The George Mateljan Foundation

Saundra Hummer
April 10th, 2006, 05:54 PM
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
"Iniquity, committed in this world, produces not fruit immediately, but, like the earth, in due season, and advancing by little and little, it eradicates the man who committed it. ...justice, being destroyed, will destroy; being preserved, will preserve; it must never therefore be violated." : Manu 1200 bc


The powerful have invoked God at their side in this war, so that we will accept their power and our weakness as something that has been established by divine plan. But there is no god behind this war other than the god of money, nor any right other than the desire for death and destruction. Today there is a "NO" which shall weaken the powerful and strengthen the weak: the "NO" to war.: Subcomandante Marcos - Source: No to war, 2/16/03


"Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step over the ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never! -- All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a Thousand years. At what point, then, is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.": Abraham Lincoln - (1809-1865) 16th US President - 1838


"The individual is handicapped by coming face to face with a conspiracy so monstrous he cannot believe it exists" J. Edgar Hoover

~ ~ ~

Saundra Hummer
April 10th, 2006, 11:42 PM
Phone-Jamming Records Point to White House

Associated Press Writer
Mon Apr 10, 4:55 PM ET

Key figures in a phone-jamming scheme designed to keep New Hampshire Democrats from voting in 2002 had regular contact with the White House and Republican Party as the plan was unfolding, phone records introduced in criminal court show.

The records show that Bush campaign operative James Tobin, who recently was convicted in the case, made two dozen calls to the White House within a three-day period around Election Day 2002 — as the phone jamming operation was finalized, carried out and then abruptly shut down.

The national Republican Party, which paid millions in legal bills to defend Tobin, says the contacts involved routine election business and that it was "preposterous" to suggest the calls involved phone jamming.

The Justice Department has secured three convictions in the case but hasn't accused any White House or national Republican officials of wrongdoing, nor made any allegations suggesting party officials outside New Hampshire were involved. The phone records of calls to the White House were exhibits in Tobin's trial but prosecutors did not make them part of their case.

Democrats plan to ask a federal judge Tuesday to order GOP and White House officials to answer questions about the phone jamming in a civil lawsuit alleging voter fraud.

Repeated hang-up calls that jammed telephone lines at a Democratic get-out-the-vote center occurred in a Senate race in which Republican John Sununu defeated Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, 51 percent to 46 percent, on Nov. 5, 2002.

Besides the conviction of Tobin, the Republicans' New England regional director, prosecutors negotiated two plea bargains: one with a New Hampshire Republican Party official and another with the owner of a telemarketing firm involved in the scheme. The owner of the subcontractor firm whose employees made the hang-up calls is under indictment.

The phone records show that most calls to the White House were from Tobin, who became President Bush's presidential campaign chairman for the New England region in 2004. Other calls from New Hampshire senatorial campaign offices to the White House could have been made by a number of people.

A GOP campaign consultant in 2002, Jayne Millerick, made a 17-minute call to the White House on Election Day, but said in an interview she did not recall the subject. Millerick, who later became the New Hampshire GOP chairwoman, said in an interview she did not learn of the jamming until after the election.

A Democratic analysis of phone records introduced at Tobin's criminal trial show he made 115 outgoing calls — mostly to the same number in the White House political affairs office — between Sept. 17 and Nov. 22, 2002. Two dozen of the calls were made from 9:28 a.m. the day before the election through 2:17 a.m. the night after the voting.

There also were other calls between Republican officials during the period that the scheme was hatched and canceled.

Prosecutors did not need the White House calls to convict Tobin and negotiate the two guilty pleas.

Whatever the reason for not using the White House records, prosecutors "tried a very narrow case," said Paul Twomey, who represented the Democratic Party in the criminal and civil cases. The Justice Department did not say why the White House records were not used.

The Democrats said in their civil case motion that they were entitled to know the purpose of the calls to government offices "at the time of the planning and implementation of the phone-jamming conspiracy ... and the timing of the phone calls made by Mr. Tobin on Election Day."

While national Republican officials have said they deplore such operations, the Republican National Committee said it paid for Tobin's defense because he is a longtime supporter and told officials he had committed no crime.

By Nov. 4, 2002, the Monday before the election, an Idaho firm was hired to make the hang-up calls. The Republican state chairman at the time, John Dowd, said in an interview he learned of the scheme that day and tried to stop it.

Dowd, who blamed an aide for devising the scheme without his knowledge, contended that the jamming began on Election Day despite his efforts. A police report confirmed the Manchester Professional Fire Fighters Association reported the hang-up calls began about 7:15 a.m. and continued for about two hours. The association was offering rides to the polls.

Virtually all the calls to the White House went to the same number, which currently rings inside the political affairs office. In 2002, White House political affairs was led by now-RNC chairman Ken Mehlman. The White House declined to say which staffer was assigned that phone number in 2002.

"As policy, we don't discuss ongoing legal proceedings within the courts," White House spokesman Ken Lisaius said.

Robert Kelner, a Washington lawyer representing the Republican National Committee in the civil litigation, said there was no connection between the phone jamming operation and the calls to the White House and party officials.

"On Election Day, as anybody involved in politics knows, there's a tremendous volume of calls between political operatives in the field and political operatives in Washington," Kelner said.

"If all you're pointing out is calls between Republican National Committee regional political officials and the White House political office on Election Day, you're pointing out nothing that hasn't been true on every Election Day," he said.

Associated Press at: http://news.yahoo.com/


Saundra Hummer
April 11th, 2006, 08:10 PM
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The love of liberty is the love of others; the love of power is the love of ourselves.: William Hazlitt (1778-1830)


He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, science for him the spinal cord would fully suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, senseless brutality, deplorable love-of-country stance, how violently I hate all this, how despicable an ignorable war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be a part of so base an action! It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder." : Albert Einstein


Big money and big business, corporations and commerce, are again the undisputed overlords of politics and government. The White House, the Congress and, increasingly, the judiciary, reflect their interests. We appear to have a government run by remote control from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and the American Petroleum Institute. To hell with everyone else: Bill Moyers - PBS Commentator


The principal power in Washington is no longer the government of the people it represents. It is the Money Power. Under the deceptive cloak of campaign contributions, access and influence, votes and amendments are bought and sold. Money established priorities of action, holds down federal revenues, revises federal legislation, shifts income from the middle class to the very rich. Money restrains the enforcement of laws written to protect the country from abuses of wealth--laws that mandate environmental protection, antitrust laws, laws to protect the consumer against fraud, laws that safeguard the securities markets, and many more: Richard N. Goodwin - Speechwriter for John F. Kennedy


"Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.": Mussolini


Saundra Hummer
April 12th, 2006, 01:50 PM

World's Strongest Glue! Available Only From Nature!

Corey Binns
Special to LiveScience
Mon Apr 10, 12:00 PM ET

The bacterium Caulobacter crescentus uses the toughest glue on Earth to stick to river rocks, and now scientists are trying to figure out how to produce the stuff.

The adhesive can withstand an enormous amount of stress, equal to the force felt by a quarter with more than three cars piled on top of it. That’s two to three times more force than the best retail glues can handle.

The single-celled bacterium uses sugar molecules to stay put in rivers, streams, and water pipes, a new study found. It’s not clear how the glue actually works, however, but researchers presume some special proteins must be attached to the sugars.

"There are obvious applications since this adhesive works on wet surfaces," said study leader Yves Brun, an Indiana University bacteriologist. "One possibility would be as a biodegradable surgical adhesive."

Engineers could use the superior stickum too, Brun and colleagues say.

But making it has proved challenging. Like a mess of chewing gum, the gunk globs to everything, including the tools used to create it.

"We tried washing the glue off," Brun said. "It didn't work."

The research, announced by the university Friday, will be detailed in the April 11 issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

High-Tech Dinosaurs Had Tails Like Fiberglass The Real Spider-Man Creates Tough Fiber in Lab Abalone Armor: Toughest Stuff Theoretically Possible New Glue Derived from Clinging Mussels Vines Make Their Own Glue

Visit LiveScience.com for more daily news, views and scientific inquiry with an original, provocative point of view. LiveScience reports amazing, real world breakthroughs, made simple and stimulating for people on the go. Check out our collection of Amazing Images, Image Galleries, Interactive Features, Trivia and more. Get cool gadgets at the new LiveScience Store, sign up for our free daily email newsletter and check out our RSS feeds today!


Saundra Hummer
April 12th, 2006, 06:25 PM

Report Raises New Questions on Bush, WMDs

Associated Press Writer
30 minutes ago

The White House faced new questions Wednesday about President Bush's contention three years ago that weapons of mass destruction had been found in Iraq.

The Washington Post reported that a Pentagon-sponsored team of experts determined in May 2003 that two small trailers were not used to make biological weapons. Yet two days after the team sent its findings to Washington in a classified report, Bush declared just the opposite.

"We have found the weapons of mass destruction," Bush said in an interview with a Polish TV station. "We found biological laboratories."

Bush spokesman Scott McClellan said Wednesday that Bush was relying on information from the Central Intelligence Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency when he said the trailers seized after the 2003 invasion were mobile biological laboratories. That information was later discredited by the Iraq Survey Group in its 2004 report.

The CIA and DIA publicly issued an assessment one day after the Pentagon team's report arrived in Washington that said U.S. officials were confident that the trailers were used to produce biological weapons. The assessment said the mobile facilities represented "the strongest evidence to date that Iraq was hiding a biological warfare program."

McClellan said it was unclear whether officials at the White House were aware of the contradictory field report when Bush repeated the claim in the television interview.

"If and when the White House became aware of this particular issue, I'm looking into that matter," McClellan said. "The White House has asked the CIA and the DIA to go and look into that issue."

The Post did not say that Bush knew what he was saying was false. But ABC News did during a report on "Good Morning America," and McClellan demanded an apology and an on-air retraction. ABC News said later in a clarification on its Web site that Charles Gibson had erred. McClellan said he had received an apology.

"This is nothing more than rehashing an old issue that was resolved long ago," McClellan said. "I cannot count how many times the president has said the intelligence was wrong."

"The intelligence community makes the assessment," he said. "The White House is not the intelligence-gathering agency."

Navy Cmdr. Greg Hicks, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a written statement that the report from the expert team was sent to the DIA on May 27, 2003, but he said the findings were not vetted until over the summer. The statement did not say whether the information was immediately shared with the White House.

"This further analysis led to the conclusion of the ISG that the mobile units were impractical for biological agent production and almost certainly designed and built for the generation of hydrogen," Hicks' statement said.

CIA spokeswoman Jennifer Dyck declined to speak specifically about the classified field report but said in general that producing a finished intelligence report takes time, coordination, debate and vetting.

"This is not a fast process, especially when dealing with complex issues," she said. "It is not typically something that happens in a matter of hours."

The trailers — along with aluminum tubes acquired by Iraq for what was believed to be a nuclear weapons program — were primary pieces of evidence offered by the Bush administration before the war to support its contention that Iraq was making weapons of mass destruction.

Intelligence officials and the White House have repeatedly denied claims that intelligence was exaggerated or manipulated in the months before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003. The Iraq Survey Group concluded in 2004 that there was no evidence that Iraq produced weapons of mass destruction after 1991.


Read other reports on the same issue:
On the Net:

CIA/DIA report on mobile trailers: http://www.cia.gov/cia/reports/iraqi_mobile_plants/paper_w.pdf

Duelfer report on the WMD claims:


Saundra Hummer
April 12th, 2006, 08:50 PM

More Thoughts From Petition Signers.

Those Against The GW Bush/Dick Cheney Administration,
Those Against The U.S. Attacking Iran -
(3417 submissions so far!)

3465. Roswell in Beaverton, OR
As a US Citizen, I am strongly opposed to any preemptive war, including one against Iran. The war on terrorism is as old as civilization itself, and terrorism can only be defused, not defeated. The GOP are using terrorism in a fear mongering media blitz to manipulate the United States into wars that kill, permanently maim, and mentally destroy hundreds of thousands of innocent people. The only benefit of their wars is to siphon the tax payer’s money into the pockets of the greedy, corrupt “chicken hawks”. I fell less safe today than I did pre-Bush. 9/11 was not a defining moment in US history, but a tragedy that we need to learn from and carry those lessons into the future. The current US government does not represent my views. It is time for a drastic change in Congress to put an end to this era of insanity.

3417. Daniel in Brooklyn, NY
Are we becoming the new Nazis? Since when was it legal or 'right' to simply attack any country you want to for any reason you want to? The deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqi citizens, UN workers, soldiers from the USA, UK, and others is the direct result of a president breaking the law and lying to attack a soverign country- whether the leader was corrupt or not. We are now virtually an outlaw state with lying corrupt leaders who will do anything to stay in power and rob us blind along the way. Bush, Chaney, Rumsfield, Rice,Rove..all are criminals according to internatilonal laws.

3416. Michael in Anaheim, CA
As William Rivers Pitt recently wrote: "Iran, unlike Iraq, has a formidable military. They own the high ground over the Persian Gulf and have deployed missile batteries all throughout the mountains along the shore. Those missile batteries include the Sunburn missile, which can travel in excess of Mach 2 and can spoof Aegis radar systems. Every American warship in the Gulf, including the carrier group currently deployed there, would be ducks on the pond. The blowback in Iraq would be immediate and catastrophic. The Shi'ite majority that enjoys an alliance with Iran would go indiscriminately crazy and attack anyone and anything flying the stars and stripes. Syria, which has inked a mutual defense pact with Iran and is believed to have significant chemical and biological weapons capabilities, would get into the game. China, which has recently established a multi-billion dollar petroleum relationship with Iran, might step into the fray if it sees its new oil source at risk. Russia, which has stapled itself to the idea that Iran's nuclear ambitions are for peaceful purposes, would likewise get pulled in. Blair and Britain want nothing to do with an attack on Iran, Berlusconi appears to have lost his job in Italy, and Spain's Aznar is already gone. If the Bush administration does this, I told my boss, they'd instantly find themselves in a cold and lonely place." Mr. Bush, you know all this is true, and these are only some of the physical ramifications to an attack on Iran. Politically, we would be toast. You are fully aware that your illegal war crime in Iraq has been a failure of the highest order. An attack on Iran will bring the entire world down upon our heads. There are a lot of us Americans who don't share your crazed vision. Consider this as well: it looks like a trap. Iran is making all this noise about their nuclear capability to draw us into exactly what you are planning. They believe they can destroy us. And they are right. Take a look at a map and see that Iran is easily 4 times the size of Iraq and infinitely more technically sophisticated. We in America would be sitting ducks. Give it some thought and get back to me.

3415. Zora L. in San Francisco, CA

If you want a war, you put on a uniform, for once, or send your kids!!! IMPEACH!!!


Saundra Hummer
April 13th, 2006, 01:18 AM


Want Proof of the Hostile Takeover? Read This.

David Sirota


The basic premise of my upcoming book Hostile Takeover

{http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/redirect?link_code=ur2&tag=sirotablog-20&camp=1789&creative=9325&path=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2Fgp%2Fproduct%2F 0307237346%2Fqid%3D1135296981%2Fsr%3D8-1%2Fref%3Dsr_8_xs_ap_bn1_xgl14%3Fn%3D507846%2526s% 3Dbooks%2526v%3Dglance}
is that there is no longer any lines between Big Business and
government. They are one and the same - both looking to fleece the
average American as much as possible. And a new story in the Wall
Street Journal
today shows exactly what I'm talking about.

Back in 2003, Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) led a bipartisan group of
lawmakers to introduce an amendment to outlaw so-called "cash
balance" pension conversions whereby companies, without warning,
reduce the pensions they promised workers without giving those
workers a choice to stay in their old pension plan. The amendment
ultimately passed the House of Representatives (though was killed in
the final conference committee) over the strong objections of
Corporate America, including IBM, which had been one of the biggest
companies to try to shaft its workers with these kind of pension
rip-off schemes.

But the amendment didn't pass without the Bush administration quite
literally turning over the Treasury Department to IBM. As the
Washington Post reported at the time
{http://bernie.house.gov/documents/articles/20030917124906.asp}, IBM
sent around a document to congressional offices labeled "Treasury
talking points" that said the Treasury Department "strongly opposes
the Sanders amendment to the Transportation/Treasury appropriations
bill." Treasury soon admitted that "the department had prepared" the
materials, but had never actually released them to corporations to
help them lobby to defeat the bill.

Now, years later, the Wall Street Journal reports that "an
investigation into ties between Treasury Department officials and
International Business Machines Corp. shows the Treasury worked
closely with IBM on pension issues and provided information that was
subsequently misused in the company's lobbying." A report demanded by
Sanders from the Treasury Department's Inspector General "said a
Treasury official disclosed nonpublic information to IBM and failed
to report expenses paid by a lobbyist for a pension-industry trade

Those are shocking revelations, even for a corporate-owned
administration like the one we have now. However, perhaps more
shocking is the fact that the Journal also notes that "the Justice
Department didn't pursue criminal or civil charges in the matters
because they didn't meet the agency's 'prosecutorial threshold.'" In
other words, yeah, they broke the law, and illegally turned the
people's government over to Big Business, but that's not worth

This is your government, ladies and gentlemen of America - a
government that is a wholly owned subsidiary of Big Business. A
government where an agency as powerful as the U.S. Treasury
Department routinely operates like an arm of the companies such as
IBM that it is supposed to be regulating. A government, in short,
that is the victim of a Hostile Takeover
{http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/redirect?link_code=ur2&tag=sirotablog-20&camp=1789&creative=9325&path=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2Fgp%2Fproduct%2F 0307237346%2Fqid%3D1135296981%2Fsr%3D8-1%2Fref%3Dsr_8_xs_ap_bn1_xgl14%3Fn%3D507846%2526s% 3Dbooks%2526v%3Dglance}. from the David Sirota Newsletter


See the Sirota Blog for the complete story

Saundra Hummer
April 13th, 2006, 02:24 PM

Updated: 10:34 AM EDT

Scalia Proud He Stayed on Cheney Case


HARTFORD, Conn. (April 12) - Conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia had some advice Wednesday for those who questioned his impartiality after he refused to recuse himself from a case involving his hunting buddy, Vice President Dick Cheney.

(Getty Images) Outspoken Justice
Antonin Scalia says critics who think he should have recused himself from a case involving Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force should ''get a life.'' Post Thoughts


"For Pete's sake, if you can't trust your Supreme Court justice more than that, get a life," Scalia said.

Scalia, addressing an audience at the University of Connecticut's law school on Wednesday, said recusing himself from the 2004 case - which focused on an energy task force that Cheney led - would only have given fuel to newspaper editorial writers and other detractors who have said he is too close to the vice president.

"I think the proudest thing I have done on the bench is not allowed myself to be chased off that case," Scalia said.

The case in question involved Cheney's request to keep private the details of closed-door White House strategy sessions that produced the administration's energy policy.

The administration fought a lawsuit brought by watchdog and environmental groups that contended that industry executives, including former Enron chairman Ken Lay, helped shape that policy. The Supreme Court upheld the administration position on a 7-2 vote.

Scalia refused to recuse himself from the case, rejecting arguments by critics who questioned his impartiality because of a hunting vacation that he took with Cheney while the case was pending.

Scalia told the audience Wednesday that he would have stepped aside had the case involved Cheney personally, but that he viewed it differently because the vice president was named in his official capacity as head of the group.

Scalia, 70, was appointed in 1982 by President Ronald Reagan to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Reagan nominated him four years later to the U.S. Supreme Court, filling the opening that occurred when William Rehnquist became chief justice.

Scalia takes a very literal approach to the Constitution, telling the audience Wednesday that he strongly disputes the idea that the wording selected by the Constitution's framers should be viewed in light of society's evolving morals and political leanings.

"You can't take the position that these words are expandable in one direction and not expandable in the other," he said. "They obviously meant to set some standards to control future generations."

He also said because of the Supreme Court's time constraints and heavy workload, justices often have to pass on the chance to review many potentially valid cases.

"I can't tell you how many cases I look at and say, 'Boy, they really messed that up,' " he said, then added a motion that pantomimed tossing something aside.

Several UConn law students who attended the speech said afterward that they were surprised by Scalia's candor, though none were surprised that he hewed to his well-documented conservative stances.

"He's definitely a very smart guy, very bright," said third-year law student Kay Williams of Rockville, Ind. "I think from his speech today, it seemed that while he has certain views, he's not looking to impose them on everyone else."

That opinion was not shared by protesters who set up tables and passed out pamphlets on the lawn near the building where Scalia spoke.

At a same-sex kissing booth near the lecture hall, students said they believe some of Scalia's opinions amount to attacks on gays, women and other minorities.

"His visit opened a lot of conversation on this campus," said third-year law student Colby Smith, who was wearing an "I Kiss Boys" T-shirt. "We want to make sure people understand what the concerns are with him, and why his views are particularly offensive."

04/12/06 18:29 EDT


Saundra Hummer
April 13th, 2006, 03:11 PM
BuzzFlash Review:
April 13, 2006

The Constitution, Declaration of Independence and Other Great Documents of American History, 1775-1865 (Paperback)

by John Grafton (Editor)

For patriotic Americans, the Constitution and Declaration of Independence are our political Bible. If the Bible were the basis of our government, we wouldn't have needed a Constitution and a Declaration of Independence, right?
After all, the monarchies of Europe, including the one the colonists rebelled against, were cemented in the fixed universe of pre-enlightenment Deified hierarchy, including royal lineage.

At times like these, as the anti-Constitutional madmen in the White House, stand, perhaps, on the precipice of starting WW III by nuking Iran, we felt a bit of comfort in returning to the documents that founded this country as a land of freedom, liberty, equality and laws.

Our laws were not set up by any religious order, or by a deranged, egomaniacal man who declares -- like a French monarch -- "Je Suis le Droit," (I am the law). They were constructed in revolutionary language and concepts to create a balance of government invested with its power by the people of the United States of America.

For far too many years, we have been spoon fed distorted, Disneyesque visions of "patriotism," which was just the hypocritical pablum of power-hungry right wing zealots.

So BuzzFlash decided to offer its readers a chance to return to our real national birth certificates, the American Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

This Dover edition also includes the Gettysburg Address, the Emancipation Proclamation and several other key documents to our standing as a free nation.

The founding of America was indeed a revolutionary act, as was our evolution into an invigorating democracy. We should not let the Busheviks banish our heritage as a free nation, founded upon the scales of justice, to the ash heap of history.

These documents are the Bible of our democracy. Hold onto them tight. They belong to you. In times like these, they are a comfort.
To think that these men in their delusional state, believe they know better than our founding fathers; that their values and sets of ideals and even their knowledge is greater than those of Adams, and Jefferson and the other numerous men who had our countries best interest at heart, and that they are better tuned as to how our country should, and can be run, is so far out there as to be ludicrous. They need to have a comeupance and be taken out of office - shown the door, this due to the fact they are unraveling all that took so long to put in place. Look at the damage which they have done in just the few short years after having hijacked our elections.

By the way folks, vote absentee in our next and/or insist on paper ballots if you can't, as Diebold and other machines are open to hijacking with no trail visable, no way to even check them to make sure they recorded the right things. As the church lady says, "How convenient" Voting monitors and guardians of the ballot boxes are needed it seems, especially after having learned after the elections, of the discovery of so many ballots having been found hidden away or thrown out, proving without a doubt, managers of the polls aren't always to be trusted. It seems they will do just about anything to insure their party or man and/or women is elected. Such things going on in our country? I would not have thought it possible. Well, live and learn. We now know the ugly truth. Don't we?

Saundra Hummer
April 13th, 2006, 03:35 PM
Another general joins anti-Rummy brigade

New York Daily News
Thursday, April 13th, 2006

The extraordinary "Revolt of the Generals" continued yesterday with a fourth high-ranking senior military leader calling for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's head.

Retired two-star Maj. Gen. John Batiste, who commanded the Big Red One - the Army's 1st Infantry Division - in Iraq until November, said Rumsfeld must go for ignoring and intimidating career officers.

"You know, it speaks volumes that guys like me are speaking out from retirement about the leadership climate in the Department of Defense," Batiste told CNN.

"I believe we need a fresh start in the Pentagon. We need a leader who understands teamwork, a leader who knows how to build teams, a leader that does it without intimidation," said Batiste, a West Point graduate who also served in the 1991 Persian Gulf War and is now president of Klein Steel Service in upstate Rochester.

"When decisions are made without taking into account sound military recommendations, sound military decision-making, sound planning - then we're bound to make mistakes," he said.

The unusual drumbeat of criticism from top generals comes as public support for the war continues to slide. In the latest carnage, a car bomb killed at least 20 people outside a Shiite mosque north of Baghdad yesterday.

And in a video posted today on the Internet, Al Qaeda No. 2 Ayman Al-Zawahiri praised insurgents in Iraq and called on all Muslims to support them. It wasn't clear why the video, which apparently was made in November 2005, was being released now.

Batiste was adding his voice to a chorus already made up of retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, former head of the U.S. Central Command; retired Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, who oversaw training of Iraqi forces, and retired Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold, former director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Rumsfeld shrugged off the criticism earlier this week as not "new or surprising."


Saundra Hummer
April 13th, 2006, 04:02 PM

UPDATE:What Game Were They At? 'Wash Post' Strikes Out on Boos for Cheney
E&P Staff
Published: April 11, 2006 10:30 PM ET updated Wednesday

NEW YORK The veteran Associated Press reporter Terence Hunt heard them. Reuters heard them. In fact, virtually every press account of opening day for the Washington Nationals baseball team at RFK Stadium this afternoon mentioned that when Vice President Dick Cheney was introduced to throw out the first pitch he was loudly booed or at the minimum received more jeers than cheers. A video of the event proves it.

But here's how David Nakumura of the hometown Washington Post described it:

"The first pitch of the Washington Nationals' second season at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium was low and away, bouncing in the dirt before being scooped up by catcher Brian Schneider.

"For that, Vice President Cheney received a round of boos from the home crowd this afternoon. But the catcalls didn't last long before the fans cheered for the Nationals, who took the field in their white uniforms with red trim against the New York Mets."

No one else suggested that it was the quality of the pitch that set off the booing.

AP: "Greeted with loud boos and some cheers, Vice President Dick Cheney threw out the ceremonial first pitch Tuesday at the Washington Nationals' home opener. "

Reuters: "The vice president, whose popularity is slumping along with that of President George W. Bush, walked out on the field to cheering and booing from the near-sellout crowd. The boos appeared to be little louder than the cheers."

The New York Times: "(Pedro) Martínez, who proceeded to wave to the crowd, received a slightly warmer reception than Vice President Dick Cheney, who was jeered before and after short-hopping the ceremonial first pitch."

The White House correspondents' pool report noted that Cheney "stepped out onto field dressed in khakis and a Nats bomber jacket to the sound of thunderous boos and catcalls."


In its Wednesday expansion of the story, the Post made a key change, although it still puts the reporter at odds with most of his colleagues, who did not report any upsurge in booing after he tossed the pitch. Here is the slightly revised section:

"Vice President Cheney threw out the ceremonial first pitch, a right-handed toss that bounced in the dirt to the outside of the plate before being scooped up by catcher Brian Schneider. Cheney, booed by some as he walked to the mound, got even more catcalls after his throw -- a far cry from President Bush's fastball at last year's home opener."

E&P Staff

Links referenced within this article
Find this article at:



Saundra Hummer
April 13th, 2006, 04:49 PM


April 13, 2006


The firing of Washington columnist James Ridgeway by the new management of the Village Voice, and the subsequent resignation of the distinguished Pulitizer Prize winner Sydney Schanberg from the paper, is a sad moment in the history of the New York weekly. I was a columnist for the Voice for some seven years. Jim Ridgeway was not only a colleague but someone I considered a comrade in the pursuit of truth for many years. Syd Schanberg (right), whom I also know and admire, is the former New York Times reporter and Newsday columnist who is known to the large public through the movie "The Killing Fields," describing his intrepid work in Cambodia and his indefatigable and devoted search for his Cambodian colleague Dith Pran, is one of the most distinguished names in Americn journalism. That these two superb journalists have now vanished from the Voice is a symbol of what is happening to that paper, and of what will happen to all the weekly papers in the Voice chain (including the L.A. Weekly, for which I have also long written) under the new ownership and management of Michael Lacey's New Times corporation.

"Democracy Now"this morning had an informative discussion with Ridgeway and other Voice writers that I urge you to listen to. You can both read a transcript, and listen to the archived broadcast, by clicking here.

The letter of protest below is signed by Village Voice writers and staffers, including some of the most able and valuable people at the weekly, many of whom I'm proud to call friends. I associate myself entirely with their sentiments:

Ridgeway's track record

For 30 years, James Ridgeway has, in his person, his politics, and his writing, defined what makes the Voice a special publication. From Three Mile Island to 9-11, Ridgeway has provided some of the nation's most incisive and insightful coverage of government misfeasance and malfeasance. He was one of the first journalists in America to spotlight the threat posed by a resurgent racist and neo-Nazi movement, an issue he hammered away at in the pages of the Voice years before anyone ever heard of Ruby Ridge or Timothy McVeigh. His reports on escalating environmental abuses exposed corporate lawbreakers and bureaucratic indifference. Ridgeway's writings on conflicts from Bosnia to Baghdad to Haiti have always provided the otherwise unreported flip side of the world according to the mainstream media, in short reporting that jibes precisely with the exact mission of the Voice. Over the past few years, Ridgeway expanded onto the Web, filing regular
nuggets of breaking news and even posting video reports on the 2004 elections. In light of this distinguished track record, the decision last week by the Voice's new ownership to terminate Ridgeway is shameful. It also sends a terrible message as to the sort of coverage that the new ownership portends. We call on Voice Media executive editor Michael Lacey and chairman and CEO Jim Larkin to reverse his discharge.

Posted by Doug Ireland at 01:56 PM | Permalink

TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference VILLAGE VOICE FIRES JAMES RIDGEWAY; SYDNEY SCHANBERG QUITS:

ARCHIVE OF MY ARTICLES - Go on-site to link up to these and several other bits of information


Saundra Hummer
April 13th, 2006, 05:20 PM

Outsourcing saves less than claimed
Thu Apr 13, 4:32 AM ET
Outsourcing of information technology and business services delivers average cost savings of 15 percent, a survey found on Thursday, disproving market claims that outsourcing can reduce costs by over 60 percent.

After professional fees, severance pay and governance costs, savings range between 10 percent and 39 percent, with the average level at 15 percent when contracts are first let, according to outsourcing advisory firm TPI.

"This research proves that the promise of massive operational savings is unrealistic when you take into account the costs of procurement and ongoing contract management," Duncan Aitchison, TPI's managing director, said in a statement.

"In our experience, outsourcing arrangements which focus solely on delivering huge savings often fail to meet client expectations," he added.

Cost reduction remains the primary motivation behind current outsourcing contracts, but an increasing number of companies are outsourcing primarily to improve quality, at 21 percent now versus 11 percent in 2004.

The first three months of 2006 had the largest number of outsourcing contracts ever signed in the first quarter of a year. TPI found that 83 contracts were signed, valued globally at over 18 billion euros ($21.9 billion), compared with 76 deals worth just over 13 billion euros over the same period last year.

IBM, EDS and T-Systems were the main beneficiaries of contracts let in the first quarter of 2006, winning total contract values of 3.7 billion euros, 3.6 billion euros and 1.1 billion euros, respectively.

The pipeline of deals on which TPI is currently advising is led by EDS, IBM and CSC, which are competing for deals totaling 6.4 billion euros, 6 billion and 4 billion, respectively, it added.



Saundra Hummer
April 13th, 2006, 06:20 PM
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

"Today democracy is a facade of plutocracy.

Because the peoples will not tolerate naked plutocracy, power is nominally turned over to them, while real power rests in the hands of the plutocrats. In democracies, whether republican or monarchical, the statesmen are marionettes, and the capitalists are the wire pullers: they dictate the political guidelines, they control the voters by buying public opinion, through business and social connections [they control] higher government officials ...

The plutocracy of today is more powerful than the aristocracy of the past, because nothing stands above it except the state, which is its tool and helper.":

Count Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi, "Pan-european" publicist and political figure, in his book Praktischer Idealismus ("Practical Idealism"), Vienna, 1925.


"People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction, and anyone who insists on remaining in a state of innocence long after that innocence is dead turns himself into a monster.": James Baldwin Biography - Fiction Writer, Essayist, Social Critic, 1924-1987


"When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators.": P. J. O'Rourke - (1947- ) US humorist, journalist, & political commentator


The greatest of fault, I should say, is to be conscious of none: Robert Carlyle (1795 - 1881)

~ ~ ~

Saundra Hummer
April 13th, 2006, 08:44 PM

Premature Babies Feel Pain

2 hours, 7 minutes ago

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - A researcher at Arkansas Children's Hospital has submitted findings of a study that suggests premature babies can consciously feel pain instead of reacting to it by reflex.

The study, which is to be published in the medical journal Pain, was conducted by Dr. Kanwaljeet S. Anand, director of the Pain Neurobiology Laboratory at the hospital's Research Institute.

His research looked at the responses of babies to pain by monitoring changes in heart rate, facial expressions and blood pressure through positive and negative stimuli.

Anand said the new findings support his initial theory on neonatal pain, first published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1987.

The accepted theory is that premature babies react to pain through reflex, but do not actually perceive pain beyond their nerve fibers or spinal cord or in the highest sensory center of the brain, he said.

During the study, electrodes were placed over the sensory cortical areas of the brain. Researchers found that, after stroking the babies' hands with alcohol swabs, both sides of the babies' brains were stimulated, shown by increases in blood flow.

Nurses from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit then drew blood from the babies' veins, which resulted in an increase in blood flow to the sensory cortex. That increase suggested the babies felt pain at the highest sensory level of the brain, Anand said.

"This is the first study to report that when a premature baby feels pain, that acute pain activates the sensory cortex, the highest center of pain processing in the brain," Anand said. "These results prove that babies consciously feel pain, rather than simply reacting to it."

Saundra Hummer
April 13th, 2006, 08:59 PM

Mystery Vibrations Detected Inside Earth
Ker Than
LiveScience Staff Writer
Thu Apr 13, 4:00 PM ET

Tremors deep inside the Earth are usually produced by magma flowing beneath volcanoes, but a new study suggests they can also be produced by the shifting and sliding of tectonic plates.

Scientists have recorded vibrations from underground tremors at a geologic observatory along the San Andreas Fault, an 800 mile scar in the earth that runs through California. The fault marks the boundary between the Pacific Tectonic Plate and the North American Plate.

Tectonic plates are large pieces of the Earth's crust that bump and grind like chunks of sea ice floating atop the ocean. The Earth's surface is made up of about ten major tectonic plates and many more minor ones.

Tremors are sustained vibrations that occur deep inside the Earth.

"Unlike the sharp jolt of an earthquake, tremors within Earth's crust emerge slowly, rumbling for longer periods of time," explained Kaye Shedlock, the program director for Earthscope at the National Science Foundation.

EarthScope is a project investigating the structure and evolution of the North American continent and the physical processes controlling earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

Normally, tremors are produced by the movement of magma in cracks and other channels beneath volcanoes.

But there are no volcanoes located near the Earthscope San Andreas Observatory at Depth (SAFOD) in Parkfield, California, where the new tremors were recorded.

These are the first recordings of non-volcanic tremors deep inside the Earth. They were recorded in deep boreholes that were drilled down to a depth of about 2 miles.

Instead of volcanoes, the scientists think the subterranean rumblings might be caused by processes similar to those that produce tremors near the Cascadia Subduction Zone, an active fault that runs from mid-Vancouver Island to northern California.

Those tremors are caused by the sliding of the undersea Juan de Fuca tectonic plate beneath the North American plate.

The two plates making up the San Andreas Fault are different from those in the Cascadia Subduction Zone, however, in that they slide past another, much like two cars moving very slowly in opposite directions on a freeway, in what scientists call a "slip."

"Right now we have no recorded slip associated with the tremors, so we haven't been able to see the other part," Earthscope facility project director Greg van der Vink told LiveScience.

Earthscope researchers hope to definitively link the two events by installing instruments called laser strainmeters inside the borehole which are capable of measuring slips as the tremors happen.

Quiz: 100 Years After the Great 1906 Quake Ominous Rumbling Under San Andreas Fault Inside an Earthquake:
Geologists Penetrate Fault Zone 2 Miles Down New Method Promises Better Earthquake Prediction How Volcanoes Work

Visit LiveScience.com
for more daily news, views and scientific inquiry with an original, provocative point of view. LiveScience reports amazing, real world breakthroughs, made simple and stimulating for people on the go. Check out our collection of Amazing Images, Image Galleries, Interactive Features, Trivia and more. Get cool gadgets at the new LiveScience Store, sign up for our free daily email newsletter and check out our RSS feeds today!


the magnificent goldberg
April 14th, 2006, 03:59 AM

Mystery Vibrations Detected Inside Earth
Ker Than
LiveScience Staff Writer
Thu Apr 13, 4:00 PM ET

Tremors deep inside the Earth are usually produced by magma flowing beneath volcanoes, but a new study suggests they can also be produced by the shifting and sliding of tectonic plates.

Scientists have recorded vibrations from underground tremors at a geologic observatory along the San Andreas Fault, an 800 mile scar in the earth that runs through California. The fault marks the boundary between the Pacific Tectonic Plate and the North American Plate.

Tectonic plates are large pieces of the Earth's crust that bump and grind like chunks of sea ice floating atop the ocean. The Earth's surface is made up of about ten major tectonic plates and many more minor ones.

Tremors are sustained vibrations that occur deep inside the Earth.

"Unlike the sharp jolt of an earthquake, tremors within Earth's crust emerge slowly, rumbling for longer periods of time," explained Kaye Shedlock, the program director for Earthscope at the National Science Foundation.

EarthScope is a project investigating the structure and evolution of the North American continent and the physical processes controlling earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

Normally, tremors are produced by the movement of magma in cracks and other channels beneath volcanoes.

But there are no volcanoes located near the Earthscope San Andreas Observatory at Depth (SAFOD) in Parkfield, California, where the new tremors were recorded.

These are the first recordings of non-volcanic tremors deep inside the Earth. They were recorded in deep boreholes that were drilled down to a depth of about 2 miles.

Instead of volcanoes, the scientists think the subterranean rumblings might be caused by processes similar to those that produce tremors near the Cascadia Subduction Zone, an active fault that runs from mid-Vancouver Island to northern California.

Those tremors are caused by the sliding of the undersea Juan de Fuca tectonic plate beneath the North American plate.

The two plates making up the San Andreas Fault are different from those in the Cascadia Subduction Zone, however, in that they slide past another, much like two cars moving very slowly in opposite directions on a freeway, in what scientists call a "slip."

"Right now we have no recorded slip associated with the tremors, so we haven't been able to see the other part," Earthscope facility project director Greg van der Vink told LiveScience.

Earthscope researchers hope to definitively link the two events by installing instruments called laser strainmeters inside the borehole which are capable of measuring slips as the tremors happen.

Quiz: 100 Years After the Great 1906 Quake Ominous Rumbling Under San Andreas Fault Inside an Earthquake:
Geologists Penetrate Fault Zone 2 Miles Down New Method Promises Better Earthquake Prediction How Volcanoes Work

Visit LiveScience.com
for more daily news, views and scientific inquiry with an original, provocative point of view. LiveScience reports amazing, real world breakthroughs, made simple and stimulating for people on the go. Check out our collection of Amazing Images, Image Galleries, Interactive Features, Trivia and more. Get cool gadgets at the new LiveScience Store, sign up for our free daily email newsletter and check out our RSS feeds today!


How does that feel to someone living locally, Sandi?


Saundra Hummer
April 14th, 2006, 11:23 AM
How does that feel to someone living locally, Sandi?


Not much going on where we are, but we see rips (faults) in the earth where earthquakes have been severe in Bend and other areas. Schuks Auto Parts is built on top of an old rip in the earth, and behind their building you can see a terrible rift. No one knew anything about them until a survey, maps and photo's of the damaged areas were published in the newspaper and on our local television station.

Where we are, the mountains are all old volcano's. Our area has hot water wells, the water too hot to drink, so people have holding tanks to cool it off. Mt. Hood, which we can see from here, has a steam vent. The butte behind us is monitored for volcanic activity. We're right at it's foot, on a very slight slope, too flat looking to realize we are actually on it.

When Mount Saint Helens went off, both times I could feel it. It is constantly rumbling. Frequent earthquakes, yet minor ones, all too frequently. It has settled down the last month, where before the number of quakes were concerning vulcanologists, It's dome building has slowed down for the time being.

Go on the USGS Earthquake Hazard Page Website. It gives you the latest information on earthquakes around the world. Histories, etc.

The South Pacific and the near East are really getting them lately. It's nothing for that area to have 5.5 or so magnitude quakes. Fiji, Tonga, Iran, Pakistan, they are all having them on a pretty consistant basis, as are Russia and Japan.
Here's the site:

Saundra Hummer
April 14th, 2006, 12:45 PM

Iran Leader:
Israel Will Be Annihilated

Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 1 minute ago

The president of Iran again lashed out at Israel on Friday and said it was "heading toward annihilation," just days after Tehran raised fears about its nuclear activities by saying it successfully enriched uranium for the first time. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called Israel a "permanent threat" to the Middle East that will "soon" be liberated. He also appeared to again question whether the Holocaust really happened.

"Like it or not, the Zionist regime is heading toward annihilation," Ahmadinejad said at the opening of a conference in support of the Palestinians. "The Zionist regime is a rotten, dried tree that will be eliminated by one storm."

Ahmadinejad provoked a world outcry in October when he said Israel should be "wiped off the map."

On Friday, he repeated his previous line on the Holocaust, saying: "If such a disaster is true, why should the people of this region pay the price? Why does the Palestinian nation have to be suppressed and have its land occupied?"

The land of Palestine, he said, referring to the British mandated territory that includes all of Israel, Gaza and the West Bank, "will be freed soon."

He did not say how this would be achieved, but insisted to the audience of at least 900 people: "Believe that Palestine will be freed soon."

"The existence of this (Israeli) regime is a permanent threat" to the Middle East, he added. "Its existence has harmed the dignity of Islamic nations."

The three-day conference on Palestine is being attended by officials of Hamas, the ruling party in the Palestinian territories.

Iran has previously said it will give money to the Palestinian Authority to make up for the withdrawal of donations by Western nations who object to Hamas' refusal to recognize Israel and renounce violence. But no figure has been published.

On Tuesday, Ahmadinejad announced that Iran had successfully enriched uranium using a battery of 164 centrifuges, a significant step toward the large-scale production of enriched uranium required for either fueling nuclear reactors or making nuclear weapons.

The United States, France and Israel accuse Iran of using a civilian nuclear program to secretly build a weapon. Iran denies this, saying its program is confined to generating electricity.

The U.N. Security Council has given Iran until April 28 to cease enrichment. But Iran has rejected the demand.

The chief of Israeli military intelligence, Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin, was quoted Wednesday as saying Iran could develop a nuclear bomb "within three years, by the end of the decade."

The Worlds most prominant leaders are all nut cases, and you'll never convince me otherwise.

Just listen to all that has gone on, what is going on and just look where we are headed. Our leaders, and, it seems.- everyone elses - don't seem to be at all concerned about anyone - just their own wacked beliefs and dreams of money, power and self agrandizement. :rant2: Attitudes need to change and quickly or these leaders need to be impeached and/or thrown out of office, whichever way that can be found around the world;that which works best. A scary group of people are ruling the world, and there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Dark foreboding times. Let's hope we won't be seeing times much darker.

Saundra Hummer
April 14th, 2006, 02:00 PM

AT&T, Group Challenge U.S. Spy Program

Associated Press Writer
Thu Apr 13, 11:30 PM ET

AT&T Inc. and an Internet advocacy group are waging in federal court a privacy battle that could expose the reach of the Bush administration's secretive domestic wiretapping program.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation said it obtained documents from a former AT&T technician showing that the National Security Agency is capable of monitoring all communications on AT&T's network.

"It appears the NSA is capable of conducting what amounts to vacuum-cleaner surveillance of all the data crossing the Internet, whether that be people's e-mail, Web surfing or any other data," whistle-blower Mark Klein, who worked for the company for 22 years, said in a statement released by his lawyers.

U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker is considering whether to unseal documents that Klein provided and AT&T wants kept secret. EFF filed the documents under seal as a courtesy to the phone company, but is seeking to unseal them.

The EFF lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, seeks to stop the surveillance program that started shortly after the 2001 terror attacks. The suit is based in large part on the Klein documents, which detail secret spying rooms and electronic surveillance equipment in AT&T facilities.

The suit claims AT&T company not only provided direct access to its network that carries voice and data but also to its massive databases of stored telephone and Internet records that are updated constantly.

AT&T violated U.S. law and the privacy of its customers as part of the "massive and illegal program to wiretap and data-mine Americans' communications" without warrants, the EFF alleged.

Klein said the NSA built a secret room at the company's San Francisco central office in 2003, adjacent to a "switch room where the public's phone calls are routed." One of the documents under seal, Klein said, shows that a device was installed with the "ability to sift through large amounts of data looking for preprogrammed targets."

Other so-called secret rooms were constructed at AT&T sites in Seattle, San Jose, Los Angeles and San Diego, the statement said.

Other documents under seal show that fiber optic cables from the secret room tapped into WorldNet Internet subscribers, Klein said. The documents also instructed technicians how to connect cables to the secret room. Klein said he was required to connect circuits that fed information to the secret room.

The NSA declined directly to address the lawsuit or Klein's allegations, which covered activities at AT&T Corp. before SBC Communications Inc. bought it and became AT&T Inc. late last year.

"Any discussion about actual or alleged operational issues would be irresponsible as it would give our adversaries insight that would enable them to adjust and potentially inflict harm to the U.S.," NSA spokesman Don Weber said.

Michael Balmoris, an AT&T spokesman, said the San Antonio-based telecommunications company "follows all laws with respect to assistance offered to government agencies." He declined further elaboration, saying AT&T is "not in a position to comment on matters of national security or litigation."

President Bush confirmed in December that the NSA has been conducting the surveillance when calls and e-mails, in which at least one party is outside the United States, are thought to involve al-Qaida terrorists.

In congressional hearings last week, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales suggested the president could order the NSA to listen in on purely domestic calls without first obtaining a warrant from a secret court established nearly 30 years ago to consider such issues.

He said the administration, assuming the conversation related to al-Qaida, would have to determine if the surveillance were crucial to the nation's fight against terrorism, as authorized by Congress following the Sept. 11 attacks.

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2006 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.

Saundra Hummer
April 14th, 2006, 02:36 PM
:secret :violin :secret :violin :secret

He's the leakingest

Will Durst

04.13.06 - This is in-leaking-credible. According to leaked grand jury testimony, it turns out the person who instructed Scooter Libby to leak classified information about pre-Iraq war intelligence was the president himself. Can't wait for them play “Hail to the Leaker,” as he enters the Capitol next January for his State of the Union Leakage. “Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome the First Leaker of the United States of America, George Leaky Bush.” I always suspected the president was a sneaky leaker. And now it turns out, he's the Chief Leaker. The Chief Executive Officer of Leakwell Incorporated. Chicken Leaker.

Let's welcome today's guest: the headliner of the 3rd annual Leakapalooza: lead singer, Leaky Leakman of Leaky Leakman and the Leakers. That crafty veteran manager of the five time defending champions, the Texas Leakers. And no, that's not redundant. And because news of his leakage has been leaked, the Leaker-in-Chief is seriously involved in heavy duty leakage control. Trusted in that old adage, “Leak and Learn,” so he leaked his ass off. Fortunately, they have adult garments for that now. I think they're called “Leakenders” or “Leakaways.” “Wear Leakaways and you won't leak a ways.”

Leak is such an ugly word, isn't it? Leaker is even worse. Like a loser with the dribbles. Leak leak bo beak, banana fana fo feak. Fee fie fo feak. LEAKY! When the going gets tough; the tough leak like chronic diarrhea. Leakers unite! And form a trickle. Voted least leakly to succeed. Through the leaking glass. Going to have to face it: he's addicted to leaks. He's going to leak, leak, leak, around the clock. And this ain't the first time. Ever since college there have been rumors he had a leaky beak. The man is positively leakalicious.

He doesn't have to answer to us. He's the leaker of the free world. From the party of Lincoln to the party of Leakin. A lesson learned from Nixon: stonewall and you stonewall alone. Leak and the world leaks with you. Leaking like the confidence of the forward shooters in a Dick Cheney hunting party. As leaky as the roof on the last duplex standing in the 9th Ward. Leakier than a condom on the 50 yard line after an Oakland Raiders double overtime playoff game. The human personification of a rusted rain gutter in Seattle during January. Leaky. As the vice president told Patrick Leahy on the floor of the Senate: “Go leak yourself!” Leak me? Leak you! This leaking leaker's leaked.

Who knows why he leaked. Plausible leakability perhaps. Might have been an involuntary muscle spasm, or maybe its just the leak of love. One explanation is he didn't mean to leak, he was just being leaksadasical. Morphed into Dr. Kevorkaleaker before our very eyes. Just wanted to assure himself of a major role in the newest production of “Around the Truth in 80 Leaks.” Filmed in Leak-O-Rama. Wasn't really his fault, he and Captain Hazlewood were playing a quick game of “Leak, leak, splash,” when all hell broke loose and his pie hole began to leak partisan ooze. Or maybe it's a simple case of living out his childhood dream of finally becoming one of the lesser known Knights of the Round Table: Sir Leaksalot.

Comic, actor, writer, radio talk show host, cheeseburger aficionado Will Durst will never be able to eat potato leak soup again.

(c) 2006 WorkingForChange. All Rights Reserved

URL: http://www.workingforchange.com/article.cfm?ItemID=20639

the magnificent goldberg
April 14th, 2006, 03:53 PM
Not much going on where we are, but we see rips (faults) in the earth where earthquakes have been severe in Bend and other areas. Schuks Auto Parts is built on top of an old rip in the earth, and behind their building you can see a terrible rift. No one knew anything about them until a survey, maps and photo's of the damaged areas were published in the newspaper and on our local television station.

Where we are, the mountains are all old volcano's. Our area has hot water wells, the water too hot to drink, so people have holding tanks to cool it off. Mt. Hood, which we can see from here, has a steam vent. The butte behind us is monitored for volcanic activity. We're right at it's foot, on a very slight slope, too flat looking to realize we are actually on it.

When Mount Saint Helens went off, both times I could feel it. It is constantly rumbling. Frequent earthquakes, yet minor ones, all too frequently. It has settled down the last month, where before the number of quakes were concerning vulcanologists, It's dome building has slowed down for the time being.

Go on the USGS Earthquake Hazard Page Website. It gives you the latest information on earthquakes around the world. Histories, etc.

The South Pacific and the near East are really getting them lately. It's nothing for that area to have 5.5 or so magnitude quakes. Fiji, Tonga, Iran, Pakistan, they are all having them on a pretty consistant basis, as are Russia and Japan.
Here's the site:

What I meant, Sandi, was how do you feel about it? I'd feel as if the sword of Damocles was continuously creeping down upon my neck.


Saundra Hummer
April 14th, 2006, 04:45 PM
What I meant, Sandi, was how do you feel about it? I'd feel as if the sword of Damocles was continuously creeping down upon my neck.


Not a worry in the world. It doesn't bother anyone. I would rather have the fear of earthquakes than tornado's every year. Bad ones are so seldom and they don't hurl your house or your neighbors, at you in the form of a thousand daggers, like tornado's do. If and when the "BIG ONE" hits, it will be horrific I'm sure, and it could happen within the next breath or it could be in the next 100 years or ?????

One just can't go through life thinking "what if?" all the time. However, having said this, I have packed up some of my favorite things because of all of the shaking, there are just too many things which can't be replaced, and I had been wanting a lot of it out of the way in any case. Gifts from family, odd or unusual things. some favorite colorful California Pottery, etc. and arts and crafts lamps. I want to build some shelving and instead of being out and collecting dust, they will at least be where they won't be hurled across a room, although the last big quake, the one down in California broke all of my girlfriends heirloom crystal, it was on the bottom shelf of her to the floor cupboards, and it flung open the door and threw it all against her stove, and cupboards on the opposite wall, just breaking all of it. She thought it would all be safe there, or somewhat safe. It just goes to show you, one just never knows. Her husband Mike McNulty went around on his bicycle shutting off everyones gas lines, which probably prevented serious damage. Brave of him, that's for sure. This was at their house in Century City.

the magnificent goldberg
April 14th, 2006, 04:54 PM
One just can't go through life thinking "what if?" all the time.

I see what you mean. My wife does that; it was certainly cheaper than buying contents insurance. Now we've moved, we've got contents in with the building insurance, but she still worries. :)


Saundra Hummer
April 14th, 2006, 07:37 PM
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Money becomes evil not when it is used to buy goods but when it is used to buy power... economic inequalities become evil when they are translated into political inequalities: Samuel Huntington - Political Scientist


"The truth is that men are tired of liberty." Mussolini

How Soon We Forget! SRH


The abuse of buying and selling votes crept in and money began to play an important part in determining elections. Later on, this process of corruption spread to the law courts. And then to the army, and finally the Republic was subjected to the rule of emperors. : Plutarch (46 A.D.-127 A.D.) Historian of the Roman Republic


Saundra Hummer
April 14th, 2006, 09:15 PM

Desert Rats Leave The Sinking Ship
Why Rumsfeld Should Not Resign
The Guardian - Comment
Friday, April 14, 2006
By Greg Palast

Well, here they come: the wannabe Rommels, the gaggle of generals, safely retired, to lay siege to Donald Rumsfeld. This week, six of them have called for the Secretary of Defense's resignation.

Well, according to my watch, they're about four years too late -- and they still don't get it.

I know that most of my readers will be tickled pink that the bemedalled boys in crew cuts are finally ready to kick Rummy in the rump, in public. But to me, it just shows me that these boys still can't shoot straight.

It wasn't Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld who stood up in front of the UN and identified two mobile latrines as biological weapons labs, was it, General Powell?

It wasn't Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld who told us our next warning from Saddam could be a mushroom cloud, was it Condoleezza?

It wasn't Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld who declared that Al Qaeda and Saddam were going steady, was it, Mr. Cheney?

Yes, Rumsfeld is a swaggering bag of mendacious arrogance, a duplicitous chicken-hawk, yellow-bellied bully-boy and Tinker-Toy Napoleon -- but he didn't appoint himself Secretary of Defense.

Let me tell you a story about the Secretary of Defense you didn't read in the New York Times, related to me by General Jay Garner, the man our president placed in Baghdad as the US' first post-invasion viceroy.

Garner arrived in Kuwait City in March 2003 working under the mistaken notion that when George Bush called for democracy in Iraq, the President meant the Iraqis could choose their own government. Misunderstanding the President's true mission, General Garner called for Iraqis to hold elections within 90 days and for the U.S. to quickly pull troops out of the cities to a desert base. "It's their country," the General told me of the Iraqis. "And," he added, most ominously, "their oil."

Let's not forget: it's all about the oil. I showed Garner a 101-page plan for Iraq's economy drafted secretly by neo-cons at the State Department, Treasury and the Pentagon, calling for "privatization" (i.e. the sale) of "all state assets ... especially in the oil and oil-supporting industries." The General knew of the plans and he intended to shove it where the Iraqi sun don't shine. Garner planned what he called a "Big Tent" meeting of Iraqi tribal leaders to plan elections. By helping Iraqis establish their own multi-ethnic government -- and this was back when Sunnis, Shias and Kurds were on talking terms -- knew he could get the nation on its feet peacefully before a welcomed "liberation" turned into a hated "occupation."

But, Garner knew, a freely chosen coalition government would mean the death-knell for the neo-con oil-and-assets privatization grab.

On April 21, 2003, three years ago this month, the very night General Garner arrived in Baghdad, he got a call from Washington. It was Rumsfeld on the line. He told Garner, in so many words, "Don't unpack, Jack, you're fired."

Rummy replaced Garner, a man with years of on-the-ground experience in Iraq, with green-boots Paul Bremer, the Managing Director of Kissinger Associates. Bremer cancelled the Big Tent meeting of Iraqis and postponed elections for a year; then he issued 100 orders, like some tin-pot pasha, selling off Iraq's economy to U.S. and foreign operators, just as Rumsfeld's neo-con clique had desired.

Reading this, it sounds like I should applaud the six generals' call for Rumfeld's ouster. Forget it.

For a bunch of military hotshots, they sure can't shoot straight. They're wasting all their bullets on the decoy. They've gunned down the puppet instead of the puppeteers.

There's no way that Rumsfeld could have yanked General Garner from Baghdad without the word from The Bunker. Nothing moves or breathes or spits in the Bush Administration without Darth Cheney's growl of approval. And ultimately, it's the Commander-in-Chief who's chiefly in command.

Even the generals' complaint -- that Rumsfeld didn't give them enough troops -- was ultimately a decision of the cowboy from Crawford. (And by the way, the problem was not that we lacked troops -- the problem was that we lacked moral authority to occupy this nation. A million troops would not be enough -- the insurgents would just have more targets.)

President Bush is one lucky fella. I can imagine him today on the intercom with Cheney: "Well, pardner, looks like the game's up." And Cheney replies, "Hey, just hang the Rumsfeld dummy out the window until he's taken all their ammo."

When Bush and Cheney read about the call for Rumsfeld's resignation today, I can just hear George saying to Dick, "Mission Accomplished."

Generals, let me give you a bit of advice about choosing a target: It's the President, stupid.

Read more about the untold story of General Garner and the secret war plans in ARMED MADHOUSE, by Greg Palast, to be released June 6 (US) and July 6 (UK). View Palast's interview with Garner for BBC Television at www.GregPalast.com




Saundra Hummer
April 14th, 2006, 10:14 PM

Subsidizing fish to swim
Molly Ivins
Creators Syndicate
04.11.06 - AUSTIN, Texas -- We need to keep up with the daily drip, that endless succession of special favors for special interests performed by Congress, or we'll never figure out how we got so far behind the eight ball. While the top Bushies lunge about test-driving new wars (great idea -- the one we're having is a bummer, so let's start another!), Congress just keeps right on cranking out those corporate goodies.

Earlier this month, the House effectively repealed more than 200 state food safety and public health protections. Say, when was the last time you enjoyed a little touch of food poisoning? Coming soon to a stomach near you. What was really impressive about H.R. 4167, the "National Uniformity for Food Act," is that it was passed without a public hearing.
"The House is trampling crucial health safeguards in every state without so much as a single public hearing," said Erik Olson, attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council. "This just proves the old adage, 'Money talks.' The food industry spared no expense to ensure passage."

Thirty-nine attorneys general, plus health, consumer and environmental groups, are opposing the law. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the food industry has spent more than $81 million on campaign contributions to members of Congress since 2000.

The bill would automatically override any state measure that is stronger than federal law, the opposite of what a sensible law would do. The NRDC says state laws protecting consumers from chemical additives, bacteria and ingredients that can trigger allergic reactions would be barred, and that includes alerts about chemical contamination in fish, health protection standards for milk and eggs, and warnings about chemicals or toxins such as arsenic, mercury and lead. Happy eating, all.

Here's another little gem, one of those "it was after midnight and everyone wanted to go home" deals. Just a no-cost sweetener to encourage oil and gas companies to drill in the Gulf of Mexico -- and who needs more encouragement these days than the oil companies? The poor things are making hardly any money at all. Just have the federal government waive the royalty rights for drilling in the publicly owned waters. Turns out this waiver will cost the government at least $7 billion over the next five years.

I roared with laughter upon reading that Texas Rep. Joe Barton had assured his colleagues the provision of energy bill was "so non-controversial" that senior House and Senate negotiators had not even discussed it. That's one of the oldest ploys in the Texas handbook of sneaky tricks and has been successfully used to pass many a sweet deal for the oil industry.

"The big lie about this whole program is that it doesn't cost anything," Massachusetts Rep. Edward Markey told The New York Times. "Taxpayers are being asked to provide huge subsidies to oil companies to produce oil -- it's like subsidizing a fish to swim."

Then there are daily drips so strange it's hard to tell if members of Congress are clear on what they're doing. You may have heard that more and more corporations are backing out of their pension obligations and dumping the responsibility on an under-funded federal agency.

So the push is on to get companies to pony up for the pension agency. According to the Financial Times: "Employers will be able to slash their contributions to under-funded pension schemes by tens of billions of dollars over the next five years under proposed legislation before Congress that was expected to have the opposite effect. The legislation was proposed by the White House last year to lessen the risk of a taxpayer bailout of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., a federal safety net for pension schemes."

Brilliant. Anyone know how the White House went from protecting the Benefit Guaranty Corp. to slashing corporate contributions by tens of billions? Did they send Michael "Brownie" Brown to do the job?

(c) 2006 Creators Syndicate

He's fond of saying, GW Bush, that "We're with ya!" Will he, or any of his crony's be with the elderly in soup lines when this pension debacle all comes crashing down on our most vulnarable?
:rant2: Sure.:rant2: Right.:rant2: Give me a break!:rant2:


Saundra Hummer
April 14th, 2006, 10:59 PM
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Debate Revives as 9/11 Dust Is Called Fatal

Anthony DePalma
The New York Times
Friday 14 April 2006

A motorcycle honor guard stood by in January as the body of former Detective James Zadroga, 34, was taken to a cemetery in New Jersey.
(Photo: Richard Perry/The New York Times)

In the cold, clinical language of the autopsy report of a retired New York City detective that was released this week, there were words that thousands of New Yorkers have come to anticipate and to fear.

"It is felt with a reasonable degree of medical certainty that the cause of death in this case was directly related to the 9/11 incident," stated the report from the medical examiner's office in Ocean County, N.J.

That "reasonable degree of medical certainty" - coroner language for "as sure as I can be" - provides the first official link made by a medical expert between the hazardous air at ground zero after the trade center collapse and the death of someone who worked in the rescue effort.

The report has reopened old wounds, giving lawsuits brought by first responders and downtown residents new evidence to back up allegations that the toxic mixture of dust and fumes at ground zero was deadly.

The report has also reignited a fierce debate over whether to classify deaths like that of Detective James Zadroga, 34 - who died on Jan. 5 of respiratory failure at his parents' New Jersey home - as being "in the line of duty," making survivors eligible for more benefits.

Dr. Robin Herbert, who has screened thousands of first responders through the World Trade Center Worker and Volunteer Medical Screening Program, called Detective Zadroga's autopsy report a "sentinel event" and a warning sign.

"It should be taken very seriously and investigated with great vigor," Dr. Herbert said.

But while acknowledging that those exposed to the dust may develop fatal diseases, many medical experts who have tracked the health effects of the trade center collapse have been reluctant to cross the line in between probability and certainty.

The autopsy report went further than any other medical document to link a death to the dust, but it by no means provides conclusive proof of the dust's general toxicity and its impact on other workers at the site. That, experts generally agree, may take 20 years to play out, depending on the latency period for many cancers and other diseases that could be linked to exposure to the toxic materials.

Proving the cause of a disease, even when the cause may seem obvious, is difficult. Dr. Michael M. Baden, former chief medical examiner of New York and a forensics expert, said the phrase "reasonable degree of certainty" is the standard term used in court to mean that given the available information, "it's very likely that that opinion is correct."

That said, Dr. Baden noted that given the impact of such a finding, he would have expected the medical examiner's office to consult with doctors who had tested or treated other first responders before coming to such a conclusion. Other experts said that tests should have been done on the particles found in Detective Zadroga's lungs to compare them with the dust from the trade center.

Neither step was taken. The autopsy was performed by Dr. Gerard Breton, a 73-year-old retired pathologist who has been on contract to the medical examiner's office in Ocean County for a decade.

Dr. Breton said in a telephone interview yesterday that he did not attempt to classify the "innumerable foreign body granulomas" containing "unidentified foreign materials" in Detective Zadroga's lungs. He also did not consult any doctors besides the detective's physician, who he said had informed him of Detective Zadroga's work at ground zero.

Nonetheless, Dr. Breton said what he found was unmistakable.

"I cannot personally understand that anyone could see what I saw in the lungs, and know that the person was exposed to ground zero, and not make the same link I made," said Dr. Breton.

Detective Zadroga, who joined the New York Police Department in 1992, did not smoke and had no known history of asthma. His family has long believed that the 450 grueling hours that the highly decorated officer spent working on recovery efforts at ground zero in 2001 had filled his lungs with fiberglass, pulverized concrete and a toxic brew of chemicals that fatally scarred his lungs, leading to his death at the age of 34.

For them, the autopsy report was an awful confirmation.

Joseph Zadroga, Detective Zadroga's father, said his son and other officers who had worked at the trade center site knew the air they were breathing would probably cause health problems down the road. "You had to be a fool not to realize that," he said on Tuesday at a news conference in Manhattan.

Detective Zadroga's colleagues have argued that hundreds of officers who were also exposed to the dust will probably suffer from a variety of serious illnesses, including a number of blood cancers, because of their work at ground zero.

Michael J. Palladino, president of the Detectives' Endowment Association, said that he wanted state pension law amended so that Detective Zadroga's death and others like it are reclassified as occurring in the line of duty, qualifying survivors to receive larger benefits. A bill to make such a change has been proposed in Albany.

In Brooklyn yesterday, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg noted that a law was passed last year allowing city workers who got sick after responding to the trade center site to qualify for full disability pensions, even after they retire. He called Detective Zadroga's death tragic, but said the autopsy report may not be definitive.

"We'll see what other doctors say," Mr. Bloomberg said. "Generally, there are lots of other contributing factors."

More than 7,300 people who worked at the trade center recovery site - police officers, firefighters and constructions workers - have joined in a class-action suit seeking damages from their employers.

David E. Worby, the lawyer handling that suit, said about 40 of the plaintiffs have already died. "At a minimum, their diseases were aggravated, and accelerated by the toxic exposure," he said.

Toxic substances known to cause cancer, like benzene and asbestos, take decades to develop the disease. Mr. Worby said the doctors and scientists he had consulted believe that the complex mixture of chemicals that resulted from the collapse of the two towers - along with everything in them - may have created a compound that acts as an accelerant, vastly increasing the speed by which known carcinogens trigger cancer.

"It's a horror show," he said.

In a separate class-action lawsuit against federal environmental officials, residents and schoolchildren from Lower Manhattan claim they were given false assurance that the air around ground zero was safe enough for them to move back in a few days after the attack.

In February, a federal judge in Manhattan ruled that statements about safety made by officials after 9/11 were misleading and "without question conscience-shocking."


Saundra Hummer
April 15th, 2006, 01:44 AM

Bush is Against Leaks – Except When He Leaks

Helen Thomas
April 13 - 19, 2006 VOL. XVI

WASHINGTON -- President Bush is piously opposed to leaks, unless he's the person doing the leaking.

The president has now acknowledged that he authorized the leak of a classified October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq to bolster his case for the invasion of Iraq .

In retrospect, the administration now says much of the information in the top secret report was faulty. But that's another story.

Before Bush declassified the report, it included caveats and dubious assumptions that should have given him pause. But they were conveniently ignored in his rush to go to war.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said the president was motivated by the "public interest" in releasing parts of the report.

On Monday, Bush said he declassified the document to show the basis for his argument that Saddam Hussein posed a threat to the U.S.

"I wanted people to see the truth," he said, explaining that he ordered the declassification because "it was important for people to get a better sense for why I was saying what I was saying in my speeches" about Saddam's pursuit of a weapons program.

However, when the leaks are selective and appear to be vengeful, the president's professed concern for the people's right to know is highly suspect.

Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has called on Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney to speak out "to get to the bottom of it so it can be evaluated again, by the American people."

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., Bush's rival when he ran for reelection in 2004, told NBC-TV's "Meet the Press"" Sunday it was wrong for Bush to selectively declassify information "in order to buttress phony arguments to go to war."

There are leaks -- and then there are leaks.

One leak that upset the administration was the revelation in the New York Times that Bush had ordered the wiretapping of Americans without a warrant. Bush and his aides have thoroughly denounced that leak.

Another leak that angered the administration was the Washington Post expose of the shameful U.S. practice of transferring some detainees to secret prisons abroad for interrogation and possibly torture.

Bush ordered the U.S. invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003 . By June and July of that year, the president was still trying to justify the attack even as his stated reasons for going to war were falling by the wayside.

Fending off critics became a top priority for the president, whose credibility suffered when former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson shot down the administration's claims that Saddam had tried to purchase uranium to develop nuclear weapons.

The CIA sent Wilson to the African nation of Niger to check out the allegations. Later, he wrote an op-ed essay in the New York Times on July 6, 2003 , that pooh-poohed the White House's claims.

Apparently to discredit Wilson , the White House leaked the fact that Wilson 's wife, Valerie Plame, was a CIA undercover officer and indicated that she had instigated her husband's journey to Niger .

Wilson told CNN Monday that the White House "made an effort to besmirch my good name and my wife's reputation and damage her career."

Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald -- who has been seeking the identity of the person who made public the secret information about Plame's CIA status -- said that I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, had testified before a grand jury that he was authorized by Bush, through Cheney, to leak information from the intelligence report.

According to Fitzgerald, Libby was directed by Cheney and Bush to describe the uranium allegations as a "key judgment" of the intelligence community.

Of course, like all the other administration scares about Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction, the uranium story proved to be a lot of hot air after American forces occupied Iraq and found no traces of WMD or any nuclear weapons development.

In this whole morass, it's clear that Libby -- who has been charged with perjury and obstruction of justice -- has no intention of becoming the fall guy. Libby's trial next year may give us a peak inside this ultra-secretive White House and its still-mysterious motives for invading Iraq.

Falls Church News Press

Saundra Hummer
April 15th, 2006, 11:19 AM
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Protection Racket, Inc.

Ellen Goodman
Washington Post Writers Group

04.14.06 - BOSTON -- For those who have ever wondered when a promise of protection becomes a protection racket, this is your moment.

We now have the forced admission that in 2003 George W. Bush himself approved the leaking of classified intelligence gathered before the Iraq War. He didn't let it all leak out. He authorized a trickle of information buttressing his case that Saddam Hussein had been a nuclear threat, information that had already been discredited.

After manipulating this faucet of fear, the president then defended the war in the name of national security, casting himself as the country's father-protector. In short, he sold himself as the person we needed to protect us from the fear he provoked. Welcome to the protection racket.
And lest you forget, his re-election campaign was run by the same racketeers. George W. was transformed from a conservative who was compassionate to a commander in chief who was unflappable. John Kerry was accused of the unmanly crime of nuance and caricatured as flip-floppable. We were subjected to an endless strongman debate with Arnold Schwarzenegger leading the attack on “girlie men.”

A stock figure of the election cycle was the soccer mom transformed into the security mom. This was the woman scared right -- into the arms of the president. In this favorite story line, women who mock husbands who don't ask for directions fall for the politician who insists that he knows where he's going.

The security mom was something of a cartoon figure and the balloon over her head now reads: “What was I thinking?” There are enough second thoughts in the citizenry to make Bush's approval rating look like the “Summit Plummet” ride at Disney World. But I'm afraid the racketeers aren't filing for bankruptcy yet.

Consider the success of Harvey Mansfield's book, a last-ditch defense of “Manliness.” Harvard's token conservative has written a plea to common sense replete with enough provocative nonsense to make you wonder if he handled public relations for Larry Summers. Women, he asserts manfully, like changing diapers, fear spiders and are cute when they're mad. But the oddball, often-impenetrable mix of Socrates and stereotypes has landed Mansfield attention even in such estrogen-laden bastions as Oprah's magazine.

Mansfield defines manliness as “confidence in the face of risk.” His manly man is something of a drama king who prefers times of conflict and war. He “asserts himself so that he and the justice he demands are not overlooked.' And if an occasional woman who overcomes her love of diapers and fear of spiders also asserts herself -- see Margaret Thatcher -- she is simply declared to be manly.

What makes this a somewhat modest defense is that Mansfield acknowledges good and bad manliness. The same characteristics can lead a terrorist to fly a plane directly into a building or a firefighter to race up the stairs to save lives.

So Mansfield believes we need to bolster the “good” manliness to protect us from the “bad” manliness. “Manliness is the only remedy for the trouble it causes,” he writes. But here is where the scam clicks in. He calls on women to accept, jolly, humor and respect manly men as a way of muting their danger. Protection Rackets Inc.

Despite the existence of women terrorists, soldiers and secretaries of state, most wars have indeed been initiated and waged by men. Tribes and countries do continually look to one group of men to defend them against another group of men.

But sometimes we have to just ask: How well have humoring and jollying muted the dangers of war or honor killings, wife-beating or ethnic cleansing? Haven't we shown too much respect for people whose blood rushes to conflict? In a Time magazine piece, even a retired general chastises the White House for going to war with a “swagger.” What happens when the men who fantasized a nuclear threat in Iraq confront the swagger of such a threat in Iran?

In the past weeks, I've heard any number of people ask whether Katie Couric has the gravitas -- that's Latin for baritone -- to be a sole network news anchor. And whether Hillary Clinton has the cojones -- that's Spanish for, never mind -- to be president. I've taken the pulse of liberals who have a crush on John McCain for his wartime courage even when his convictions have turned the Straight Talk Express into a Right Wing Local.

There's something to be learned in the Bush debacle. Beware the call of the old manliness. Beware the man who ramps up the danger and offers himself as hero and security blanket. And beware the leader whose unwavering, unflappable, unnuanced and unjustified confidence in the face of risk becomes our disaster.

(c) 2006, Washington Post Writers Group

URL: http://www.workingforchange.com/article.cfm?ItemID=20644

Saundra Hummer
April 15th, 2006, 11:34 AM

White House Whopper Becomes Instant Classic

Molly Ivins
Published on Thursday, April 13, 2006 by TruthDig

Personally, I think this is a really good time not to keep up. The more you try, the less sense it makes, although getting us used to having it all make no sense at all may be an extremely sneaky Karl Rove ploy to justify the war in Iraq. Hard to say.

The latest development to which the only appropriate response is, “Huh,” is the news that the “mobile weapons labs” introduced to us by President Bush before the war as conclusive evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq were not evidence—conclusive or otherwise—of WMD and were not, in fact, mobile weapons labs.

The only thing new here is the news that George W. Bush likely knew a couple of days before he talked about them in public that the Defense Intelligence Agency had found they were not mobile weapons labs.
OK, given everything we already know about the lies before the war, this is not particularly startling—although I do think it’s long past time we stopped referring to the campaign of disinformation and false information that we were fed as anything but lies. No, the startling and funny part of the “mobile weapons lab” lie is the administration’s defense of it, which is so batty it’s an instant classic.

According to White House spokesman Scott McClellan, the DIA report debunking the “weapons labs” is “a complex intelligence white paper and it’s ... one derived from highly classified information (and) takes a substantial amount of time to coordinate and to run through a declassification process.”

If I understand what McClellan is saying, Bush leaked bad information from a classified intelligence report because there wasn’t enough time for the contradictory DIA report to go through a declassification process. All of which would make more sense if we hadn’t just gone through this Valerie Plame episode, where the White House says if the president leaked it, then it’s legal to leak it. No problem, the president can declassify at will, they said. I don’t know about you, but none of it is becoming clearer for me. Does anyone understand why we have to bomb Iran yet?

Meanwhile, Congress can’t figure out how to do a deal on immigration. I’d like to stick my two cents in here to say the reason that deal fell apart and the reason it won’t come back together is because of American business, which hires the illegals and donates the campaign money. Bless your sweet heart if you think the deal came unglued over the Republicans ignoring their base or some other political problem. Money, my friends, talks, and bull walks. Look at who wants illegal workers here. Look at who controls Congress.

Courtesy of the Daou Report on salon.com, I found this item on a blog called The Shape of Days, about the recent demonstrations: “There’s really no other way to say it: Being here is weird. To be surrounded by a crowd of thousands of people, all of whom look alike, none of whom look like me, many of whom are decorated with our flag, none of whom are speaking our language, on our national Mall ... it’s a surreal experience. Despite my best judgment and best intentions, I feel the inklings of xenophobia bubbling up inside. This place isn’t for me; I don’t belong here. It’s time to go.”

I suppose this citizen deserves credit for honesty, but I’m so much more amazed by his or her provincialism. I feel one of those rants about suburbia coming on. Never been in a public place before surrounded by people who speak a different language and look different from you? Can you live in a city and not have experienced that?

I was high just from seeing them all—500,000 in Dallas! Of course, most of us know the immigrants are there—it’s just so interesting to see them en masse. If you’ve ever wondered what this country would be like without illegal workers, now you’ve got the answer. It would come to a halt.

Let me point out again, I don’t have a dog in this fight. There are just some things I know from living in Texas all my life. One is, don’t bother to build a fence. Two is, if you want to stop illegal immigrants, stop the people who hire them—quit punishing people who come because there are jobs. Three, this border has always been porous, and it has always worked to the advantage of the United States.

If you want to do the smart thing and look for a long-term solution, try fixing NAFTA and helping with economic development in Mexico. Meantime, I could do without the drivel about how these people are so different. Of course they’re not. Try getting out a little more.

Molly Ivins is the former editor of the liberal monthly The Texas Observer. She is the bestselling author of several books including Who Let the Dogs In?

© 2006 TruthDig.com, LLC


Truth Dig, Drilling Beneath the Headlines


Saundra Hummer
April 15th, 2006, 12:56 PM

Isahaqi,-Children of Araham: Death in the Desert
Written by Chris Floyd
Animation by Richard Kast

Go On Site to downloasd.



Saundra Hummer
April 15th, 2006, 03:40 PM
:laugh: :clap: :laugh:


Tehran, 14 April (AKI) - Iran's hardline president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has apparently been incensed by an anonymous text message suggesting he does not wash enough. Ahmadinejad has taken legal action over the offending text, has fired the president of a phone company and has had four people arrested and accused of colluding with the Israeli foreign intelligence service, Mossad, the anti-government website Rooz Online reports.

Poking fun at the president, the regime's senior figures and its policies, has reportedly become a national pastime in Iran. The Iranian authorities are paying particular attention to jokes comparing Iran's nuclear programme with sex. Several people are widely believed to have received court summonses for sending nuclear-related jokes, according to Rooz Online.

"While the outcome of the recent arrests in connection with SMS messaging is not clear yet, what is certain is that SMS jokes have already put some people into serious trouble," wrote Rooz Online.

The clampdown is in line with the authorities' uncompromising stance on Internet bloggers. Large numbers of the nation's estimated 70,000 to 100,000 bloggers have faced harassment or imprisonment. The regime has acknowledged monitoring text message traffic. This apparently began in the run-up to the presidential election last June.


What an abuse of power. Freedoms are unknown in their country? Seems like it. Well not that it seems to be that way, it is that way. It's as we've always heard - that there are none. No personal freedoms, or at least, very few. We've known this for years about several leaders restraints on their citizens, and we've known how it was and how it is in China, Yugoslavia, North Korea, Russia, and all over the Near, Far, and Middle East. How foolish of him, this little man of backward motivations, and anyone else to be, or even halfway thinking of taking such goings on to such an extreme. Punishment? Ridiculous. Public ridicule like private opinions can't be totally controlled, not ever.

Saundra Hummer
April 15th, 2006, 05:41 PM
Congress: Only You Can Authorize War on Iran

Contributed by Working Assets



Congress: Only You Can Authorize War on IranRecent news reports have indicated that the Bush Administration is planning offensive military operations against Iran, possibly including nuclear weapons, and that these plans are not just "contingencies." Intelligence officials quoted by renowned investigative reporter Seymour Hersh describe this planning as "enormous," "hectic" and "operational."

Yet our constitution says quite clearly in Article One, Section Eight, that only Congress has the power to declare war. Despite President Bush's expansive views of his own powers, a unilateral bombing attack on another country is in fact an overt act of war.

Make no mistake about it -- the President of Iran and the mullahs who back him are dangerous, anti-semitic theocrats. However, the consensus of American intelligence agencies is that they are at least ten years away, if not more, from developing their first atomic weapon. There is still ample time to engage diplomatically and solve this problem through international agencies such as the United Nations Security Council and the International Atomic Energy Agency. The neoconservatives' view that American bombing attacks will cause the Iranian people to rise up and overthrow their government can most charitably be described as delusional.

Representative DeFazio of Oregon has introduced a resolution to express the sense of Congress that the President cannot initiate military action against Iran without congressional authorization. He is seeking additional support among other House members for the resolution as well.

Call to action

Urge your Representative to co-sign Rep. DeFazio's "sense of Congress" resolution forbidding military action against Iran without Congressional authorization.

Deadline: immediate

I'm writing to ask that you immediately co-sign Representative DeFazio's Sense of Congress resolution that the President cannot initiate military action against Iran without congressional authorization.

You are, no doubt, familiar with Article One, Section Eight of the US Constitution, granting Congress -- and only Congress -- the power to declare war. Despite this President's expansive views of his own powers, it's clear to me that bombing another country is in fact an act of war -- one that must be carefully and thoroughly debated there in Congress.

Some are proposing that bombing raids would cause the Iranian people to rise up and overthrow their government. This is a patently ridiculous assumption -- and is being promoted by the very same individuals who predicted we would be greeted with flowers and candy in Iraq.

Make no mistake about it -- the President of Iran and the mullahs who back him are dangerous, anti-semitic theocrats. However, our own intelligence agencies have agreed that Iran is at least ten years away from having enough weapons-grade material for their first atomic bomb. This problem can be solved through strong cooperative diplomacy in the United Nations Security Council and other multinational bodies -- not with a unilateral and unprovoked act of war.

Please, uphold your oath of office and don't abdicate your Constitutional duties. Sign Representative DeFazio's letter and prevent this President from getting us embroiled in a quagmire even larger than Iraq. Please let me know how you intend to proceed on this issue.



Add your name and address below and send this e-mail as is, or personalize it using your own words. When you click Send E-mail, your name and address will automatically be inserted at the bottom of this e-mail letter. The subject of your e-mail will be the title of the action.

If you would like to have your name and address automatically filled in to this form whenever you take action, simply register with ActForChange.

Prefix* -Select Prefix-Ms.Mrs.Mr.Dr.
Secondary Title -Select Title-Br.Fr.ImamRabbiRev.Rev. Dr.Sr.
First Name
Last Name

You will automatically receive a copy of your e-mail.
WorkingForChange and Working Assets are committed to preserving your privacy. Please read our privacy policy for more information.

* - Congress now requires that constituents include their title when contacting them online.

Your e-mail will be sent to:
Your U.S. Representative
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Your e-mail will be cc'd to:
Your U.S. Senators
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Additional Information:

Your letter will carry much more weight if you take a couple of minutes to personalize it and express your views in your own words.

Contact information and links for advocacy group(s) working on this issue:



Saundra Hummer
April 15th, 2006, 06:53 PM
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Now He Tells Us

By Robert Scheer, AlterNet
Posted on April 12, 2006, Printed on April 15, 2006
The president played the scoundrel -- even the best of his minions went along with the lies -- and when a former ambassador dared to tell the truth, the White House initiated what Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald calls "a plan to discredit, punish or seek revenge against Mr. Wilson." That is the important story line.

If not for the whistle-blower, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, President Bush's falsehoods about the Iraq nuclear threat likely would never have been exposed.

On Monday, former Secretary of State Colin Powell told me that he and his department's top experts never believed that Iraq posed an imminent nuclear threat, but that the president followed the misleading advice of Vice President Dick Cheney and the CIA in making the claim. Now he tells us.
The harsh truth is that this president cherry-picked the intelligence data in making his case for invading Iraq and deliberately kept the public in the dark as to the countervailing analysis at the highest level of the intelligence community. While the president and his top Cabinet officials were fear-mongering with stark images of a "mushroom cloud" over American cities, the leading experts on nuclear weaponry at the Department of Energy (the agency in charge of the U.S. nuclear-weapons program) and the State Department thought the claim of a near-term Iraqi nuclear threat was absurd.

"The activities we have detected do not, however, add up to a compelling case that Iraq is currently pursuing what INR would consider to be an integrated and comprehensive approach to acquire nuclear weapons," said a dissenting analysis from an assistant secretary of state for intelligence and research (INR) in the now infamous 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, which was cobbled together for the White House before the war. "Iraq may be doing so but INR considers the available evidence inadequate to support such a judgment."

The specter of the Iraqi nuclear threat was primarily based on an already-discredited claim that Iraq had purchased aluminum tubes for the purpose of making nuclear weapons. In fact, at the time, the INR wrote in the National Intelligence Estimate that it "accepts the judgment of technical experts at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) who have concluded that the tubes Iraq seeks to acquire are poorly suited for use in gas centrifuges to be used for uranium enrichment and finds unpersuasive the arguments advanced by others to make the case that they are intended for that purpose."

The other major evidence President Bush gave Americans for a revitalized Iraq nuclear program, of course, was his 2003 State of the Union claim -- later found to be based on forged documents -- that a deal had been made to obtain uranium from Niger. This deal was exposed within the administration as bogus before the president's speech in January by Ambassador Wilson, who traveled to Niger for the CIA. Wilson only went public with his criticisms in an op-ed piece in the New York Times a half year later in response to what he charged were the administration's continued distortion of the evidence. In excerpts later made available to the public, it is clear that the Niger claim doesn't even appear as a key finding in the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate, while the INR dissent in that document dismisses it curtly: "[T]he claims of Iraqi pursuit of natural uranium in Africa are, in INR's assessment highly dubious."

I queried Powell at a reception following a talk he gave in Los Angeles on Monday. Pointing out that the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate showed that his State Department had gotten it right on the nonexistent Iraq nuclear threat, I asked why did the president ignore that wisdom in his stated case for the invasion?

"The CIA was pushing the aluminum tube argument heavily and Cheney went with that instead of what our guys wrote," Powell said. And the Niger reference in Bush's State of the Union speech? "That was a big mistake," he said. "It should never have been in the speech. I didn't need Wilson to tell me that there wasn't a Niger connection. He didn't tell us anything we didn't already know. I never believed it."

When I pressed further as to why the president played up the Iraq nuclear threat, Powell said it wasn't the president: "That was all Cheney." A convenient response for a Bush family loyalist, perhaps, but it begs the question of how the president came to be a captive of his vice president's fantasies.

More important: Why was this doubt, on the part of the secretary of state and others, about the salient facts justifying the invasion of Iraq kept from the public until we heard the truth from whistle-blower Wilson, whose credibility the president then sought to destroy? In matters of national security, when a president leaks, he lies.

By selectively releasing classified information to suit his political purposes, as President Bush did in this case, he is denying that there was a valid basis for keeping the intelligence findings secret in the first place. "We ought to get to the bottom of it, so it can be evaluated by the American people," said Sen. Arlen Specter, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. I couldn't have put it any better.

Robert Scheer is the author of the new book, Playing President: My Relationships with Nixon, Carter, Bush I, Reagan and Clinton -- and How They Did Not Prepare Me for George W. Bush. Read more Scheer at TruthDig.

© 2006 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.

View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/34861/

Saundra Hummer
April 15th, 2006, 07:07 PM

From Wounded Knee to Afghanistan
Compiled by Zoltan Grossman
(revised 09/20/01)

Grossman: Killing Civilians
The List (Printing)
U.S. military spending ($343 billion in the year 2000) is 69 percent greater than that of the next five highest nations combined. Russia, which has the second largest military budget, spends less than one-sixth what the United States does. Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Cuba, Sudan, Iran, and Syria spend $14.4 billion combined; Iran accounts for 52 percent of this total.

The following is a partial list of U.S. military interventions from 1890 to 1999. This guide does NOT include demonstration duty by military police, mobilizations of the National Guard, offshore shows of naval strength, reinforcements of embassy personnel, the use of non-Defense Department personnel (such as the Drug Enforcement Agency), military exercises, non-combat mobilizations (such as replacing postal strikers), the permanent stationing of armed forces, covert actions where the U.S. did not play a command and control role, the use of small hostage rescue units, most uses of proxy troops, U.S. piloting of foreign warplanes, foreign disaster assistance, military training and advisory programs not involving direct combat, civic action programs, and many other military activities. <

Among sources used, besides news reports, are the Congressional Record (23 June 1969), 180 Landings by the U.S. Marine Corps History Division, Ege & Makhijani in Counterspy (July-Aug. 1982), and Daniel Ellsberg in Protest & Survive. "Instances of Use of United States Forces Abroad, 1798-1993" by Ellen C. Collier of the Library of Congress Congressional Research Service.

1890 (-?)
300 Lakota Indians massacred at Wounded
Buenos Aires interests protected.

Marines clash with nationalist rebels.

Black workers revolt on U.S.-claimed Navassa Island defeated.

Army suppresses silver miners' strike.

1893 (-?)
Naval, troops
Independent kingdom overthrown, annexed.

Breaking of rail strike, 34 killed.

Month-long occupation of Bluefields.

Naval, troops
Marines land in Sino-Japanese War.

Marines kept in Seoul during war.

Troops, naval
Marines land in Colombian province.

Marines land in port of Corinto.

Boxer Rebellion fought by foreign armies.

Naval, troops
Seized from Spain, killed
600,000 Filipinos.

Naval, troops
Seized from Spain, still hold Navy

Naval, troops
Seized from Spain, occupation

Naval, troops
Seized from Spain, still use as base.

Army battles Chippewa at Leech Lake.

Marines land at port of San Juan del Sur.

Battle over succession to throne.

Marines land at port of Bluefields.

Army occupies Coeur d'Alene mining region.

Army battles Creek Indian revolt.

Naval, troops
Broke off from Colombia 1903, annexed Canal Zone 1914-99.

Marines intervene in revolution.

U.S. interests protected in Revolution.

Marines land in Russo-Japanese War.

Marines land in democratic election.

"Dollar Diplomacy" protectorate set up.

Marines land during war with Nicaragua.

Marines intervene in election contest.

Marines land in Bluefields and Corinto.

U.S. interests protected in civil war.

Naval, troops
Continuous occupation with flare-ups.

U.S. interests protected in Havana.

Marines land during heated election.

Marines protect U.S. economic interests.

Troops, bombing
20-year occupation, fought guerrillas.

Americans evacuated during revolution.

Fight with rebels over Santo Domingo.

Breaking of miners' strike by Army.

Naval, troops
Series of interventions against

Troops, bombing
19-year occupation after revolts.

8-year Marine occupation.

Military occupation, economic protectorate.

Naval, troops
Ships sunk, fought Germany

Naval, troops
Five landings to fight Bolsheviks.

"Police duty" during unrest after elections.

Marines intervene for Italy against Serbs in Dalmatia.

Marines land during election campaign.

2-week intervention against unionists.

Troops, bombing
Army intervenes against

Fought nationalists in Smyrna (Izmir).

Naval, troops
Deployment during nationalist revolt.

Landed twice during election strife.

Marines suppress general strike.

Marines stationed throughout the country.

Warships sent during Faribundo Marti revolt.

Army stops WWI vet bonus protest.

Naval,troops, bombing, nuclear
Fought Axis for 3
years; 1st nuclear war.

Army puts down Black rebellion.

Nuclear threat
Soviet troops told to leave north (Iranian

Response to shooting-down of U.S. plane.

Nuclear threat
Bombers deployed as show of strength.

Command operation
U.S. directs extreme-right in civil

Marines evacuate Americans before Communist victory.

Nuclear threat
Atomic-capable bombers guard Berlin Airlift.

Command operation
CIA directs war against Huk

Command operation
Independence rebellion crushed in

Troops, naval, bombing, nuclear threats
South Korea fight China & North Korea to stalemate; A-bomb threat in 1950, & vs. China in 1953. Still have bases.

Command operation
CIA overthrows democracy, installs Shah.

Nuclear threat
Bombs offered to French to use against

Command operation, bombing, nuclear threat CIA directs exile invasion after new gov't nationalizes U.S. company lands; bombers based in Nicaragua.

Nuclear threat, troops
Soviets told to keep out of Suez crisis; MArines evacuate foreigners

Troops, naval
Marine occupation against rebels.

Nuclear threat
Iraq warned against invading Kuwait.

Nuclear threat
China told not to move on Taiwan isles.

Flag protests erupt into confrontation.

Troops, naval, bombing, nuclear threats Fought South Vietnam revolt & North Vietnam; 1-2 million killed in longest U.S. war; atomic bomb threats in 1968 and 1969.

Command operation CIA-directed exile invasion fails.

Nuclear threat Alert during Berlin Wall crisis.

Nuclear threat
Blockade during missile crisis; near-war with USSR.

Command operation
Military buildup during guerrilla war.

Panamanians shot for urging canal's return.

Command operation Million killed in CIA-assisted army coup.

Troops, bombing Marines land during election campaign.

Command operation Green Berets intervene against rebels.

Army battles Blacks, 43 killed.

After King is shot; over 21,000 soldiers in cities.

Bombing, troops, naval Up to 2 million killed in decade of bombing, starvation, and political chaos.

Command operation U.S. directs Iranian marine invasion.

Command operation, bombing U.S. directs South Vietnamese invasion; "carpet-bombs" countryside.

Command operation Army directs Wounded Knee siege of Lakotas.

Nuclear threat World-wide alert during Mideast War.

Command operation CIA-backed coup ousts elected marxist president.

Troops, bombing Gas captured ship, 28 die in copter crash.

Command operation CIA assists South African-backed rebels.

Troops, nuclear threat, aborted bombing Raid to rescue Embassy hostages; 8 troops die in copter-plane crash. Soviets warned not to get involved in revolution.

Naval jets Two Libyan jets shot down in maneuvers.

Command operation, troops Advisors, overflights aid anti-rebel war, soldiers briefly involved in hostage clash.

Command operation, naval CIA directs exile (Contra) invasions, plants harbor mines against revolution.

Naval, bombing, troops Marines expel PLO and back Phalangists, Navy bombs and shells Muslim and Syrian positions.

Maneuvers help build bases near borders.

Troops, bombing Invasion four years after revolution.

Two Iranian jets shot down over Persian Gulf.

Bombing, naval Air strikes to topple nationalist gov't.

Troops Army assists raids on cocaine region.

Naval, bombing US intervenes on side of Iraq in war.

Naval jets Two Libyan jets shot down.

St. Croix Black unrest after storm.

Air cover provided for government against coup.

Troops, bombing
Nationalist government ousted by 27,000 soldiers, leaders arrested, 2000+ killed.

Foreigners evacuated during civil war.

Troops, jets Iraq countered after invading Kuwait; 540,000 troops also stationed in Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, UAE, Israel.

Bombing, troops, naval Blockade of Iraqi and Jordanian ports, air strikes; 200,000+ killed in invasion of Iraq and Kuwait; no-fly zone over Kurdish north, Shiite south, large-scale destruction of Iraqi military.

Naval, bombing, troops Kuwait royal family returned to throne.

Army, Marines deployed against anti-police uprising.

Troops, naval, bombing U.S.-led United Nations occupation during civil war; raids against one Mogadishu faction.

Nato blockade of Serbia and Montenegro.

Jets, bombing No-fly zone patrolled in civil war; downed jets, bombed Serbs.

Troops, naval
Blockade against military government; troops restore President Aristide to office three years after coup.

Krajina Serb airfields attacked before Croatian offensive.

Marines at Rwandan Hutu refuge camps, in area where Congo revolution begins.

Soldiers under fire during evacuation of foreigners.

Soldiers under fire during evacuation of foreigners.

Attack on pharmaceutical plant alleged to be "terrorist" nerve gas plant.

Attack on former CIA training camps used by Islamic fundamentalist groups alleged to have attacked embassies.

Bombing, Missiles
Four days of intensive air strikes after weapons inspectors allege Iraqi obstructions.

Bombing, Missiles
Heavy NATO air strikes after Serbia declines to withdraw from Kosovo.

Suicide bomb attack on USS Cole.

NATO troops shift and partially disarm Albanian rebels.

Jets, naval
Response to hijacking attacks.

Massive U.S. mobilization to attack Taliban, Bin Laden. War could expand to Iraq, Sudan, and beyond.

For more information or with comments and additions please contact:
Zoltan Grossman, 1705 Rutledge, Madison, WI 53704 Phone Fax
(608)246-2256. mtn@igc.apc.org
Permission to reproduce this list in its entirety
is granted by the author, please send any published copy to the above


Saundra Hummer
April 15th, 2006, 07:15 PM

Nativists for Native Americans

Cenk Uygur
Posted on April 12, 2006,
Printed on April 15, 2006
This post first appeared in the Huffington Post and is republished here with permission.

I'm sick of all this illegal immigration into this country. I think we ought to send every illegal back. But instead of starting with the newest arrivals, I think we should start with the ones that have been here illegally the longest. After all, they've been breaking the law longer.

So, it's about time we threw those English bastards out. Send them back to where they came from! They crossed over into this land uninvited, with their guns and diseased blankets and slave trade, and settled in like they own the place. They didn't pay any taxes on the land, they just took it.

The settlers were the original illegals. They took all the good jobs the Native Americans were perfectly capable of doing at a fair market rate. They killed off all the bison that the Natives made a living from and they spread like a virus throughout the country. If we only had a good nativist movement back then. Nativists for Native Americans! Maybe we could have stopped the original wetback - Christopher Columbus. He didn't just cross a river, he crossed a whole ocean. His back was drenched.

How many people on the Nina, Pinta and the Santa Maria had green cards? Besides they sound suspiciously Mexican to me. The illegals who snuck in here on those boats also refused to assimilate in to American culture. They wouldn't even learn the language! Send them back!

After the Spanish and the English, came the French, the Dutch and the Germans. All of them trying to take what belonged to Americans. They didn't just want our jobs; they wanted the whole friggin' country.

And that's all before the Italians came in with their criminal gangs and the Irish with all of their Irish flags. It's called America -- if you're going to wave any flag it should be the American flag! The whole thing was a repellent spectacle.

Send them back!

Of course, no one really gave the Native Americans permission to cross the Bering Strait either. I can guarantee you that the original occupants - the bison - weren't too happy to see them. In fact, that's it; let's give America back to the buffalo. They've been here the longest and they've certainly gotten screwed by illegal immigration the most.

But whatever we do, let's make sure we are fair and send everyone who has ever come here without permission back - and all their children. Is it fair that their kids get to stay when the parents crossed over illegally? Besides, they're a burden on the rest of us.

Throw the bums out. I know it sounds impractical, but what's fair is fair. It's about time we made a stand for real Americans - the buffalo!

Cenk Uygur is co-host of The Young Turks, the first liberal radio show to air nationwide.

© 2006 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.

View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/bloggers/cenk/34869/

Benjamin Franklin believed the Germans would never be assimilated, for the same reasons many of us believe the Mexicans can't be. Here in Oregon, they cuss, look down on and discriminate against Californian's. Just human nature I suppose, but pretty silly.
We've known ranchers who wouldn't make it without Mexican labor. They, the Mexican "hired hands", no doubt have "Green Cards", and they are doing work no one else will stick with. They themselves, the Mexicans, don't stick around forever with them either, it is just such hard, back-breaking, out in the elements work, hot or freezing cold, there's just no respite, and as a rule, we've seen and talked to them about them having worked months on end without a day off. It was promised days off would be there for them, but they never came. SRH

Saundra Hummer
April 15th, 2006, 07:19 PM

How to frame Iran

By Don Hazen
Posted on April 14, 2006,
Printed on April 15, 2006
There is much discussion and consternation in pragmatic progressiveland about how to frame Iran, and stay relevant in the national dialogue leading up to the Congressional elections in the Fall. Clearly, for the saber rattlers in the White House, the fear engendered by Iran's bragging about their nuclear developments, is an opportunity that will be worked until the cows come home.

The conventional wisdom seems to be there is no easy answer for what to do with Iran. There is a lot of fear of falling into the weak, not-willing-to-protect-America trap. The tried-and-true of diplomacy will likely be ignored by Iran, and US diplomacy is all stick and no carrot anyway.

That Iran is a terrorist supporting state calling for the destruction of Israel seems factual. Yet, bombing Iran seems ludicrous on its face (but then so was invading Iraq). But for the record, warring on Iran would likely send terrorists around the world to do dirty work, launch attacks regionally, and we'd find ourselves in horrible slog of a land war, especially since Iran is not in the terrible shape Iraq was when we invaded.

There is sympathy for the notion that a middle-sized country like Iran is not irrational for wanting the bomb, when neighbors have it, and especially given the fact the Bushies have thumbed their nose at our own obligations to reduce nuclear weapons under non-proliferation treaty.

But in the world of real politik, while that's a sane position, it is a non-starter, since the bellicose mainstream media and the conservative echo chamber will hammer away at the traitor theme -- even if another country has valid security interests -- and many Democrats will not likely venture very far from the Republicans.

One argument is that there are no good options. Progressives don't need to have a position -- make Bush come up with it. That approach worked with social security, where Bush offered various plans that made little sense, and he killed it himself.

So for now, the dialogue continues. But for sure there needs to a push to get lots of people better educated on what is at stake and what the current myths are ...especially promoting the fact that a nuclear bomb for Iran is far away -- maybe ten years, maybe more. For that Juan Cole is a good read...

Don Hazen is the executive editor of AlterNet.

© 2006 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.

View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/bloggers/don/34968/

Saundra Hummer
April 15th, 2006, 07:24 PM
~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Latest White House Whopper

Molly Ivins,
Posted on April 14, 2006, Printed on April 15, 2006
Personally, I think this is a really good time not to keep up. The more you try, the less sense it makes, although getting us used to having it all make no sense at all may be an extremely sneaky Karl Rove ploy to justify the war in Iraq. Hard to say.

The latest development to which the only appropriate response is "Huh" is the news that the "mobile weapons labs" introduced to us by President Bush before the war as conclusive evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq were not evidence -- conclusive or otherwise -- of WMD and were not, in fact, mobile weapons labs.

The only thing new here is the news that George W. Bush probably knew a couple of days before he talked about them in public that the Defense Intelligence Agency had found they were not mobile weapons labs.

OK, given everything we already know about the lies before the war, this is not particularly startling -- although I do think it's long past time we stopped referring to the campaign of disinformation and false information that we were fed as anything but lies. No, the startling and funny part of the "mobile weapons lab" lie is the administration's defense of it, which is so batty it's an instant classic.

According to White House spokesman Scott McClellan, the DIA report debunking the "weapons labs" is "a complex intelligence white paper and it's ... one derived from highly classified information (and) takes a substantial amount of time to coordinate and to run through a declassification process."

If I understand what McClellan is saying, Bush leaked bad information from a classified intelligence report because there wasn't enough time for the contradictory DIA report to go through a declassification process. All of which would make more sense if we hadn't just gone through this Valerie Plame episode, in which the White House says if the president leaked it, then it's legal to leak it. No problem, the president can declassify at will, they said. I don't know about you, but none of it is becoming clearer for me. Does anyone understand yet why we had to bomb Iran?

Meanwhile, Congress can't figure out how to do a deal on immigration. I'd like to stick my two cents in here to say the reason that deal fell apart and the reason it won't come back together is because of American business, which hires the illegals and donates the campaign money. Bless your sweet heart if you think the deal came unglued over the Republicans ignoring their base or some other political problem. Money, my friends, talks, and bull walks. Look at who wants illegal workers here. Look at who controls Congress.

Courtesy of the Daou Report on salon.com, I found this item on a blog called The Shape of Days, about the recent demonstrations: "There's really no other way to say it: Being here is weird. To be surrounded by a crowd of thousands of people, all of whom look alike, none of whom look like me, many of whom are decorated with our flag, none of whom are speaking our language, on our national Mall ... it's a surreal experience. Despite my best judgment and best intentions, I feel the inklings of xenophobia bubbling up inside. This place isn't for me; I don't belong here. It's time to go."

I suppose this citizen deserves credit for honesty, but I'm so much more amazed by his or her provincialism. I feel one of those rants about suburbia coming on. Never been in a public place before surrounded by people who speak a different language and look different from you? Can you live in a city and not have experienced that?

I was high just from seeing them all -- 500,000 in Dallas! Of course, most of us know the immigrants are there -- it's just so interesting to see them en masse. If you've ever wondered what this country would be like without illegal workers, now you've got the answer. It would come to a halt.

Let me point out again, I don't have a dog in this fight. There are just some things I know from living in Texas all my life. One is, don't bother to build a fence. Two is, if you want to stop illegal immigrants, stop the people who hire them -- quit punishing people who come because there are jobs. Three, this border has always been porous, and it has always worked to the advantage of the United States.

If you want to do the smart thing and look for a long-term solution, try fixing NAFTA and helping with economic development in Mexico. Meanwhile, I could do without the drivel about how these people are so different. Of course they're not. Try getting out a little more.

Molly Ivins writes about politics, Texas and other bizarre happenings.

© 2006 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.

View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/34963/

Saundra Hummer
April 15th, 2006, 07:29 PM
~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Under conditions of tyranny it is far easer to act than to think: Hannah Arendt


Most people would rather opine a lie and "fit in" than profess the truth and be excluded. Just as the majority would rather be lied to and made comfortable than be told the truth and made uncomfortable. Liars have held humanity in the throes of illusion for countless centuries. Governmental, religious, and academic officialdom can and do transform basically decent human beings into unconscious automatons bereft of free will. They do this successfully because a majority of humans are terrified to assume personal responsibility: Michael Godspeed


"Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes. And armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. "In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended. Its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force of the people. "The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and morals, engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare." : James Madison, April 20, 1795

There is a wonderful mythical law of nature that the three things we crave most in life -- happiness, freedom, and peace of mind -- are always attained by giving them to someone else.: Peyton Conway March (1864-1955) US Army General,

~ ~ ~

Saundra Hummer
April 16th, 2006, 03:51 PM

Former Joint Chiefs Chair Defends Rumsfeld

Associated Press Writer
7 minutes ago

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld did not intimidate members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during planning of the Iraq war as some retired generals have charged, a former chairman said Sunday.

With Rumsfeld described by his critics as a micromanager who did not listen to military leaders, the Pentagon circulated a one-page memo late last week detailing the defense secretary's frequent contacts with numerous military and civilian advisers.

Richard B. Myers, the Air Force general who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs from 2001 until last fall, dismissed criticism that military leaders failed to stand up to Rumsfeld and President Bush when they disagreed with those civilian officials.
"We gave him our best military advice and I think that's what we're obligated to do," Myers said on "This Week" on ABC. "If we don't do that, we should be shot."

A half-dozen retired generals have called for Rumsfeld's ouster, citing mistakes in the conduct of the war in Iraq. Some have suggested that intimidation by Rumsfeld kept military leaders quiet even when they thought policies were flawed.

"You'd have to believe that everybody in the chain of command is intimidated, and I don't believe that," Myers said. He added that Rumsfeld allowed "tremendous access" for presenting arguments.

"In our system, when it's all said and done ... the civilians make the decisions," he said. "And we live by those decisions."

The Pentagon memo, which was not dated or signed, put onto paper information that had been provided orally to reporters on Friday. It is not unusual for the Defense Department to distribute such information to analysts, military officials and others who might be reporting or commenting on a Pentagon policy.

Senior military leaders "are involved to an unprecedented degree in every decision-making process" in the Defense Department, according to the memo. Rumsfeld, it said, had met 139 times with members of the joint chiefs and 208 times with combat commanders from 2005 to the present.

Bush on Friday said that Rumsfeld "has my full support" and praised the defense secretary "for his leadership during this historic and challenging time for our nation."

On Sunday's news shows, Republican lawmakers either backed Rumsfeld or declined to take issue with Bush's support for him. Democrats continued to call for a change in Pentagon leadership.

Sen. George Allen (news, bio, voting record), R-Va., suggested that people are looking for a "scapegoat," yet he called the retired generals who have criticized Rumsfeld "people of credibility."

Allen, on CBS' "Face the Nation," questioned whether replacing Rumsfeld would have any impact on the insurgents in Iraq, the training of security forces there or on how Iraqi leaders form their government.

Sen. Richard Lugar (news, bio, voting record), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that Bush is making "a good call" in retaining Rumsfeld. Facing a large agenda of foreign-policy issues, the president should not be distracted by operational disputes, said Lugar, R-Ind.

Sen. Evan Bayh (news, bio, voting record), D-Ind., who called for Rumsfeld to resign two years ago, said the issue now is about "the president's decision-making and judgment."

Bush's inability to put more important concerns ahead of keeping Rumsfeld as defense secretary "is not healthy for our country," Bayh said in a joint appearance with Lugar on ABC's "This Week."

Sen. Christopher Dodd (news, bio, voting record), D-Conn., told "Fox News Sunday" that criticism from retired generals "is a very, very important event."

"We ought to pay a lot of attention," Dodd said. "And the president would be very wise, in my view, asking him to step aside."

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2006 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.


Saundra Hummer
April 16th, 2006, 04:16 PM

Tomgram: History Ambushes the Bush Administration

A project of the Nation Institute
compiled and edited by Tom Engelhardt
This post can be found at http://www.tomdispatch.com/index.mhtml?pid=77789

[Note for readers: This is the stand-alone conclusion to a two-part dispatch, the first of which, Exporting Ruins, was published two weeks ago.]

In the Rubble

Tom Engelhardt

You can count on one thing. All over Washington, Republicans are at least as capable as I am of watching and interpreting the polling version of the smash-up of the Bush administration. With each new poll, the numbers creep lower yet. Presidential approval in the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll dropped another 3% in the last month and now sits at 38%, while disapproval of the President continues to strengthen -- 47% of Americans now "strongly disapprove" of the President's handling of the presidency, only 20% "strongly approve." (62%, by the way, disapprove of the President's handling of the war in Iraq.)

Behind these figures lurk worse ones. When asked, for instance, whether they would vote for a generic Democrat or Republican in the upcoming midterm elections, those polled chose the generic Democrat by a startling 55-40%, the largest such gap yet. In addition, Democrats have now become the default party Americans "trust" almost across the board on issues, even in this poll edging the Republicans out by a single percentage point on the handling of terrorism.
Commenting on a recent Ipsos-AP poll showing Democrats and Republicans in a tie on the question, "Who do you trust to do a better job of protecting the country," GOP pollster Tony Fabrizio said: "These numbers are scary. We've lost every advantage we've ever had. The good news is Democrats don't have much of a plan. The bad news is they may not need one." Surprisingly, despite the way Democrats have shied off the subject, a near-majority (45%) of those polled were also in favor of some kind of Feingold-like censure of the President for listening in on citizens without prior court approval.

The words connected to almost any new poll these days are "hit a new low." Other recent new lows were reached by that AP-Ipsos poll and by a Fox News poll where presidential approval was at 36%. Or take a recent state poll in California, where Bush has admittedly never been a popular figure. Still, a 32% approval rating? Or check out the trajectory of Bush polling approval numbers from September 11, 2001 to today. Despite various bumps and plateaus -- including a conveniently engineered, Karl Rovian bump just before election 2004 -- it's been a slow, ever-downward path that, in early 2005, dipped decisively under 50%; by the end of 2004 had crossed the 40% threshold; and is, at present, in the mid-30% range.

There's no reason to believe that the bottom has been reached. After all, these polls precede the recent disastrous flap over the Patrick Fitzgerald federal court filing on I. Lewis Libby and the various "declassification" admissions of the President and Vice-President (of which there is guaranteed to be more to come); these figures arrived before the (retired) generals revolt against Donald Rumsfeld, which is still spreading and to which the President's staunch defense can only contribute fuel ("Secretary Rumsfeld's energetic and steady leadership is exactly what is needed at this critical period. He has my full support and deepest appreciation."); these figures precede by a couple of months the beginning of the next hurricane season along the never-reconstructed Gulf Coast; they precede any indictment of Karl Rove or of other Bush administration figures in the Plame case, and further even more contorted presidential (and vice- presidential) fall-back positions in the same case; these polls come before the predictable happens in Iraq and the sectarian war there worsens while the American position weakens as well as before the Iranian situation really kicks in; they arrive before summer gas prices head above $3 a gallon aiming for the stratosphere; before any real economic bad news comes down the pike; before other as yet unknown crises hit that the Bush administration predictably just won't be able to get its collective head or its waning governmental powers around.

This is the situation before some future round of hideous polling figures sets off a full-scale panic in the Republican Party, leading possibly to a spreading revolt of the pols that could put the present revolt of the generals in the shade. Given the last couple of years, and what we now know about the Bush administration's inability to operate within the "reality-based community" (as opposed to spinning it to death), there is no reason to believe that a polling bottom exists for this President, not even perhaps the Nixonian Age of Watergate nadir in the lower 20% range.

Toppling the Colossus of Washington

A revolt of the Republican pols, should it occur, would highlight the essential contradiction between the two halves of the Bush administration's long-term program, until recently imagined as indissolubly joined at the hip. Domestically, there was the DeLay-style implanting of the Republican Party (and the ready cash infusions from lobbyists that were to fuel it) at the heart of the American political system for at least a Rooseveltian generation, if not forever and a day. This country was to be transformed into a one-party Republican democracy, itself embedded in the confines of a Homeland Security State. Abroad, there was the neocon vision of a pacified planet whose oil heartlands would be nailed down militarily in an updated version of a Pax Romana until hell froze over (or the supplies ran out). If in 2002 or 2003, these seemed like two perfectly fitted sides of a single vision of dominance, it is now apparent that they were essentially always at odds with each other. Both now seem at the edge of collapse.

The dismantling of the domestic half of the Bush program is embodied in the tale of Tom DeLay. Not so long ago, "the Hammer" ("If you want to play in our revolution, you have to live by our rules...") was a Washington colossus in the process of creating a Republican political machine built in part "outside government, among Washington's thousands of trade associations and corporate offices, their tens of thousands of employees, and the hundreds of millions of dollars in political money at their disposal." With his K Street Project, he had transformed the generally "bipartisan" nature of money- and influence-peddling in Washington into a largely Republican funding machine. Meanwhile, with the gerrymandering scheme he rammed through the Texas legislature, which chased local Democrats all the way to Oklahoma and back, and added six seats to the Republican House majority in 2004, he seemed to be setting the course of the ship of state for the foreseeable future.

Astride the political world, DeLay then looked invulnerable, while the well-hammered Democrats seemed consigned to the status of a minority party for decades to come. Who could have imagined that, less than two years later, DeLay would be indicted for money-laundering in Texas and, faced with the unraveling Abramoff case, resign his House leadership position, then withdraw from the reelection campaign for his House seat, and finally, with his top staff aides going down, find himself possibly on the verge of indictment in Washington?

Delay's project was meant for life, not for a life sentence. And if you're honest with yourself, a couple of years back I'll bet you didn't expect anything like this either. You can certainly bet that, when they created those fabulous fictions about Iraq and then invaded, it never crossed the minds of George, Dick, Don, Condi, Paul, Stephen and the rest that anything like this might ever happen -- not just to DeLay or to the Republican Party, but to them. Think of it this way: They were never putting forward the "unitary executive theory" of government and launching a commander-in-chief state in order to turn it all over to a bunch of Democrats, no less the thoroughly loathed Hillary Clinton.

How time flies and how, to quote Donald Rumsfeld's infamous phrase about looters in Baghdad, "stuff happens." Looked at in the light of history, the incipient collapse of the Bush project seems to have occurred in hardly a blink. Its brevity is, in a sense, nearly inexplicable, as unexpected as water running uphill or an alien visitation. We are, after all, talking about the ruling officials of the globe's only "hyperpower" who have faced next to no opposition at home. In these years, the Democratic Party proved itself hardly a party at all, no less an oppositional one, and the active antiwar movement, gigantic before the invasion of Iraq, has remained, at best, modest-sized ever since. At the same time, in Iraq the administration faced not a unified national liberation movement backed by a superpower as in Vietnam, but a ragtag, if fierce, Sunni resistance and recalcitrant Shiite semi-allies, all now at each other's throats.

What makes the last few years so strange is that this administration has essentially been losing its campaigns, at home and abroad, to nobody. What comes to mind is the famous phrase of cartoonist Walt Kelly's character, Pogo: "We have met the enemy and he is us." Perhaps it's simply the case that -- in Rumsfeldian terms -- it's hard for people with the mentality of looters to create a permanent edifice, even when they set their minds to it.

And yet, it wasn't so long ago that every step the Bush people took on either "front" came up dazzling code orange, brilliantly staving off rising political problems. As a result, it took just short of five miserable years, which seemed a lifetime, to reach this moment -- years which, historically, added up to no time at all. Is there another example of the rulers of a dominant global power -- who fancied themselves the leaders of a New Rome -- crashing and burning quite so quickly? In less than five years, Bush and his top officials ran their project into the ground. In the process, they took a great imperial power over a cliff and down the falls, without safety vests, rubber dinghies, or anyone at the bottom to fish us all out.

This process, though hardly noticed at the time, began early indeed -- and at its corrosive heart was, of course, Iraq. How can you explain the way the leaders of the world's preeminent military power were chased through the night by Iraq's unexpected set of rebellions and its no-name resistance? How quickly -- though, unfortunately, not quickly enough -- their various elaborate tales and lies, their manipulated intelligence and cherry-picked stories of Iraqi WMD and Saddam's nefarious links to al-Qaeda were dismantled -- a process that has yet to end. Only last week, another little tale of fraud was done away with by the Washington Post.

On May 29, 2003, in a television interview, the President described two mobile trailers found in Iraq by U.S. and Kurdish soldiers as "biological laboratories" and said: "We have found the weapons of mass destruction." This claim would be cited by senior administration officials for months thereafter and yet, on May 27, a "Pentagon-appointed team of technical experts had strongly rejected the weapons claim in a field report sent to the Defense Intelligence Agency," as would other reports to come.

History's Surprises

Most Americans are now aware that the administration's various pre-war tales have evaporated, including presidential howlers like the possibility that Saddam would place (nonexistent) unmanned aerial vehicles off our East coast (in some unexplained fashion) to spray (nonexistent) chemical and biological weaponry over Eastern cities. (Maybe this was just some sort of displaced Sunbelt wish-fulfillment fantasy.)

We think less, however, about the way another set of tales -- heroic yarns of battlefield derring-do and American-style shock-and-awe triumph -- dissolved almost as they were created. Just two weeks short of May 1st, it seems appropriate to glance back at a moment I'm sure no one has quite forgotten, though the Bush administration would undoubtedly prefer that we had. I'm thinking of May 1, 2003, which David Swanson of the After Downing Street website recently labeled M (for Mission Accomplished) Day, a holiday that, he points out, lasted not even a single year.

Let's return, then, to the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln, an aircraft carrier whose planes had released over a third of the three million pounds of ordnance that had just hit Iraq. It had almost reached its homeport, San Diego, the previous day, but was held about 30 miles out in the Pacific because the President, as New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd would point out, chose to co-pilot an S-3B Viking sub reconnaissance Naval jet onto its deck rather than far less dramatically climb stairs.

That day certainly seemed like the ultimate triumphalist political photo op as well as the launching pad for George Bush's 2004 reelection campaign. British journalist Matthew Engel referred to the President then as "the stuntman in the bomber jacket." It was actually a flight suit, but the phrase caught something of the moment. The Tom Cruise film Top Gun -- made, by the way, with copious help from the U.S. Navy -- was on everyone's mind in what Elizabeth Bumiller of the Times called "one of the most audacious moments of presidential theater in American history." It seemed to confirm that George Bush was a more skilled actor-president than Ronald Reagan had ever been.

Unlike his father, the younger Bush was visibly comfortable in the business of creating fabulous fiction. We know that Scott Sforza, a former ABC producer, "embedded" himself on that carrier days before the President hit the deck. Along with Bob DeServi, a former NBC cameraman and lighting specialist, and Greg Jenkins, a former Fox News television producer, he planned out every detail of the President's landing, as Bumiller put it, "even down to the members of the Lincoln crew arrayed in coordinated shirt colors over Mr. Bush's right shoulder and the ‘Mission Accomplished' banner placed to perfectly capture the president and the celebratory two words in a single shot. The speech was specifically timed for what image makers call ‘magic hour light,' which cast a golden glow on Mr. Bush."

So, on that thrilling day, the President landed on what was essentially a movie set. After carefully taking off his helmet in private – no goofy Michael Dukakis moments here -- he made a Top Gun victory speech, avoiding Vietnam as politicians had largely done for two decades. The speech had World War II on the brain right down to the cribs from Churchill. ("We do not know the day of final victory, but we have seen the turning of the tide…") The President cited "the character of our military through history -- the daring of Normandy, the fierce courage of Iwo Jima…" Given his frame of reference, he probably meant from The Sands of Iwo Jima to Saving Private Ryan. Then he spoke of "the decency and idealism that turned enemies into allies [and] is fully present in this generation."

He also delivered his now-infamous almost-victory line against the background of that Mission Accomplished banner, claiming that "major combat operations in Iraq have ended."

Give George Bush credit: When it came to not-quite-battle footage, he proved he could don a military uniform, get in a military vehicle, and carry it off with panache. His on-deck Tom Cruise "swagger" would be a staple of press coverage for weeks. And above all, he clearly loved landing on that deck, wearing that outfit, making that speech. He was having the time of his life.

But even as his advance men were bringing it off, even as he was glorying in his color-coded tale of battle triumph, something was beginning to devour that moment of presidential glory. A headline that went with the CNN account of his landing that day caught this well: "Bush calls end to 'major combat,'" it said, but there was also a subhead, little noted at the time: "U.S. Central Command: Seven [American soldiers] hurt in Fallujah grenade attack." Those two headlines would struggle for dominance for the next couple of years, a struggle now long over.

Let's consider the odd fate of the perfect fiction Bush's men put together on the Abraham Lincoln, because it was typical of what has happened to administration image-making and story-telling. Only six months later, Time magazine was already writing, "The perfect photo-op has flopped," and claiming that, shades of Vietnam, the President had a "growing credibility problem." By then, instead of preparing for a series of Top-Gun reelection ads, the President and his advance men were busy bobbing and weaving when it came to that fateful "Mission Accomplished" banner. By then, those Iraqi grenades had multiplied into a Sunni insurrection and Fallujah had morphed into a resistant enemy city that, in November 2004, would be largely destroyed by American firepower without ever being fully subdued; and the President was already pinning the idea for creating that banner on the sailors and airmen of the Abraham Lincoln; only to have the White House finally admit that it had produced the banner -- supposedly at the request of those same sailors and airmen; and then, well … not. Long before May 1 rolled around again, "mission accomplished" would be a scarlet phrase of shame -- useful only to Bush critics and despised Democrats.

By July 2003, as we now all know, top Bush officials were in a panic, already sensing that the other part of their victory story -- their far-fetched set of explanations for why we had to invade Iraq -- was being gnawed away at. That was why, when Joseph Wilson, who had emerged as a potentially dangerous administration critic, published his famed op-ed on Niger uranium in the New York Times that July 6th, the administration gathered its forces to whack him and his wife, and so offer a warning to others -- with all the disastrous consequences for Bush and his key officials with which we now live.

By November 2003, George Bush's presidency was already beginning to be eaten alive by a growing, if chaotic, Iraqi rebellion; while the movie version of Bush's War was already guaranteed never to make it into DVD. All its mini-tales -- of the Jessica Lynch rescue, the tearing down of Saddam's statue in Firdos Square, Pat Tillman's last stand in Afghanistan -- would, like those missing weapons of mass destruction, like the American occupation of Iraq itself, crash and burn. In most cases, this happened almost as the stories were being created.

Take Private Lynch, who was "rescued" by American Special Forces arriving at the hospital where she was being treated by Iraqi doctors armed with night-vision cameras and a flag to drape over her. They shot their film of the rescue, and transmitted it in real time to Centcom headquarters in Doha, where it was edited and released. The result was a dreamy media frenzy of patriotism back home, complete with a wave of Jessica T-shirts and other paraphernalia and an NBC movie of the week. And yet Jessica Lynch's story, like the story of that toppled statue in Baghdad, like the story of Saddam's vast arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, was soon in tatters. An unheroic version that lacked gun or knife wounds, mistreatment, or even Iraqi captors from which to be rescued, practically galloped onto the scene. By the time Lynch herself more or less rejected the story told about her in a book, I Am a Soldier, Too, it was too late. It almost immediately hit not the bestseller lists but the remainder tables because her story had already evaporated.

Americans, of course, like victory. We prefer to be in a triumphalist culture and undoubtedly much of the turn of events of the last couple of years -- including the recent revolt of the generals along with those sagging presidential polling figures and the multiplying conversion experiences of all sorts of conservatives and even former neocons -- can simply be accounted for by the resulting not-victory in Iraq.

Undoubtedly, the Bush administration is not yet out of ammunition, either figuratively or literally. Even as they stand in the rubble of their world, top Bush officials remain quite capable of making decisions that will export ruins to, say, Iran and create further chaos in the oil heartlands of the planet as well as here at home. I don't sell them short, nor do I see a Democratic Party capable of taking the reins of the globe's last standing imperial power and doing a heck of a lot better. Still, there's something consoling in knowing that history remains filled with surprises and that the short, rubble-filled, disastrous career of the Bush administration looks likely to be one of them.

Tom Engelhardt, who runs the Nation Institute's Tomdispatch.com ("a regular antidote to the mainstream media"), is the co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The End of Victory Culture, a history of American triumphalism in the Cold War. His novel, The Last Days of Publishing, has recently come out in paperback.

posted April 16, 2006 at 5:05 pm

Copyright 2006 Tom Engelhardt


Saundra Hummer
April 16th, 2006, 04:32 PM

contract oversight: what's new

POGO's Katrina Contracting Resources Page to learn more » GO ON-SITE TO ACCESS - LINK AT BOTTOM OF THIS POST FOR ALL LINKS HERE AND BELOW:

Competition in Federal Contracting | read more on this topic
POGO releases report, "The Politics of Contracting: Bajagua's No-Bid Deal," March 30, 2006. read this report »

To learn more, read this San Diego Tribune-Union story. read this article »

U.S. Strong Arms Mexican Government on Water Project: Political Influence Behind $600 Million No-Bid Contract. December 21, 2005. read this alert»

Contractor Sweetheart Deals | read more on this topic
POGO opposes the proposed joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin to form the United Launch Alliance. March 16, 2006. read this letter »

Contractor Accountability | read more on this topic
GAO, IRS, and GSA find that many contractors are cheating on their taxes. March 14, 2006.

POGO warns of risky federal buying method. March 6, 2006. read this letter»

POGO Opposes Proposed Reductions in Oversight of Government Contracts. February 9, 2006. read this letter»

Revolving Door | read more on this topic
POGO Hails Introduction of Davis-Waxman Legislation, Calls the "Executive Branch Reform Act of 2006" a Landmark Step On the Road to Open Government, April 6, 2006. read this alert»

POGO promotes government ethics and intregrity in presentation before the Interagency Ethics Council. April 6, 2006. read this presentation»

POGO's Conflict of Interest and Ethics Proposals. February 1, 2006. read this proposal»

Iraq Reconstruction Contracts | read more on this topic
GAO challenges U.S. reconstruction efforts in Iraq. February 8, 2006. read this testimony»



Saundra Hummer
April 16th, 2006, 05:11 PM

Robert Schlesinger: We Could Bomb Iran in 12 Hours ...
... and other fun facts from today's papers

Robert Schlesinger
Sun Apr 16, 1:19 PM ET

How close are we to bombing Iran? From order to boom, the timeline could be as short as 12 hours, according to William Arkin in the Outlook section of today's Washington Post.

It's one of two Iran-related must-reads in today's papers, the other being a NY Times op-ed on why bombing Iran could lead to something that bears an awful resemblance to World War Three.

Arkin, who has top-notch military sources, writes in some detail about the state and nature of planning for attacks on Iran.

If you liked Seymour Hersh in The New Yorker, you re going to love this piece in the Post. Arkin, who blogs about national security for the Post, goes into how the different branches of the military have been planning for an attack on Iran, from "forcible entry" by the Marines to the Army dealing with Iranian missiles, to strike targeting by the Air Force to the Navy figuring out how to keep the Strait of Hormuz (think of it as the oil faucet) open. Click here for the whole piece.

And Arkin makes an interesting and compelling argument about why it's important that this stuff be public:

President Bush dismissed news reports that his administration has been working on contingency plans for war -- particularly talk of the possibility of using tactical nuclear weapons against Tehran -- as "wild speculation." Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld chimed in, calling it "fantasyland." He declared to reporters that "it just isn't useful" to talk about contingency planning. But the secretary is wrong.

It's important to talk about war planning that's real. And it is for Iran. In early 2003, even as U.S. forces were on the brink of war with Iraq, the Army had already begun conducting an analysis for a full-scale war with Iran. The analysis, called TIRANNT, for "theater Iran near term," was coupled with a mock scenario for a Marine Corps invasion and a simulation of the Iranian missile force. U.S. and British planners conducted a Caspian Sea war game around the same time. And Bush directed the U.S. Strategic Command to draw up a global strike war plan for an attack against Iranian weapons of mass destruction. All of this will ultimately feed into a new war plan for "major combat operations" against Iran that military sources confirm now exists in draft form.

None of this activity has been disclosed by the U.S. military, and when I wrote about Iran contingency planning last week on The Washington Post Web site, the Pentagon stuck to its dogged position that "we don't discuss war plans." But it should.

The diplomatic effort directed at Iran would be mightily enhanced if that country understood that the United States is so serious about deterring the Iranian quest for nuclear weapons that it would be willing to go to war to stop that quest from reaching fruition.

Iran needs to know -- and even more important, the American public needs to know -- that no matter how many experts talk about difficult-to-find targets or the catastrophe that could unfold if war comes, military planners are already working hard to minimize the risks of any military operation. This is the very essence of contingency planning.

It is a Dr. Strangelove argument: What's the point of having a doomsday device -- or in this case scenario -- if you do not tell the world about it?

And doomsday it could well be, according to Richard Clarke and Steven Simon, a pair of top Clinton-era counter-terrorism officials who write on Iran in the Times' Week in Review section. They recall that after the Iranian-arranged bombing of Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, the administration debated how to react.

At that point, the Clinton administration and the Pentagon considered a bombing campaign. But after long debate, the highest levels of the military could not forecast a way in which things would end favorably for the United States. There is s similar situation today. If we bomb Iran, they'll respond, possibly by sinking tankers or trying to shut down the Strait of Hormuz, but more likely by using its global terror network, which is much more -- what's the word? -- real than Saddam's:

Iran could use its terrorist network to strike American targets around the world, including inside the United States. Iran has forces at its command that are far superior to anything Al Qaeda was ever able to field. The Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah has a global reach, and has served in the past as an instrument of Iran. We might hope that Hezbollah, now a political party, would decide that it has too much to lose by joining a war against the United States. But this would be a dangerous bet. So. We bomb. They retaliate. We escalate?

Forget defining a civil war. How many countries does it take to make a world war?

(And: Lest we pretend that this is clear-cut, what's the alternative? Is everyone comfortable with a nuclear-armed Iran in 10 years?)

No, I'm not. Nor am I happy with so many other countries having nuclear capacites directed at weapons.

I'm not at all happpy with the words this little puffed up man in Iran is always banding about, such drivel, pumped into him by radicalism in his religion. Never have I heard of such hatred in something that should be enlightened and progressive. How is it that they have allowed themselves to be so overcome with mind controlling methods, all in the name of a religious belief.

About the time frame: We do have ten years, or so we've been told, to use diplomatic persuasion, peaceful rational methods, rather than our military might. We all know our capacity to destroy is superior to any nations, and much more deadly, however, having said this, military strikes by us will surely be retaliated against. Such is the stuff of nations and men. Vindictivness is, often times, human nature.

This looming war with Iran has been part of the plan before we even invaded Iraq. It's been on the drawing board before this administration ever stole the election. Such great strategists, at least they are when it comes to hijacking our own nation, but the way they run an occupation would just be laughable if it weren't for the horrors they've inflicted on innocents. The majority of whom are nothing more than civilians caught up in the wrong place at the wrong time. Then look at our own losses, the ones we're learning of each and every day. All of whom have been, and are, caught up in this grandiose plan of these wacked out Neo-Cons.

Iran won't be so easy. Just look at the monumental foul-ups in Iraq. Will they have learned anything? I seriously doubt it. I only hope that we won't be seeing if they have or haven't. SRH

Saundra Hummer
April 16th, 2006, 06:10 PM


Gingrich warns Republicans Americans want change
Sun Apr 16, 2006 11:36 AM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Republican Party is in serious danger of losing political ground in November elections if it does not enact reforms that eliminate waste and hold the federal bureaucracy to higher standards, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said on Sunday.

"I think they're in very serious danger of having a very bad election this fall," Gingrich said on Fox News Sunday.

"You have to respect the right of the American people to say they want change," he said, criticizing the federal government's bungled efforts to cope with Hurricane Katrina and the Republican-led Congress' failure to enact immigration reforms.

"Are they going to learn some lessons and get their act together?" Gingrich asked.

Republicans currently outnumber Democrats 231-201 in the House and have a 55-44 advantage in the Senate.

The former representative from Georgia said the "debacle" over measures to strengthen U.S. borders and create a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants "was one more piece of the puzzle" for many voters who have lost faith in Republican leadership.

"The country absolutely wants control of the borders," Gingrich said. "The country absolutely wants us to insist that becoming an American citizen requires that you passed a test in English."

A well-designed guest worker program would have the support of 75 percent to 80 percent of the American people, he said.

With the federal budget deficit at record levels, Gingrich said Americans are losing patience with "pork," the discretionary spending earmarked to benefit local political constituencies.

"We were sent here to reform Washington, not to be co-opted by Washington," he said.


Saundra Hummer
April 16th, 2006, 06:51 PM

Iranians volunteer for "martyrdom missions"

Parisa HafeziSun
Apr 16, 2006
11:51 AM ET

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Some 200 Iranians have volunteered in the past few days to carry out "martyrdom missions" against U.S. and British interests if Iran is attacked over its nuclear program, a hardline group said on Sunday.

The United States and other Western nations accuse Iran of seeking to master enrichment technology to build atomic weapons, a charge Iran denies. Washington says it wants a diplomatic solution, but has not ruled out a military option.
Mohammad Ali Samadi, spokesman for the Committee for the Commemoration of Martyrs of the Global Islamic Campaign, said fresh fears over a possible U.S. attack on Iran's nuclear sites helped attract volunteers during its latest recruitment drive.

"Because of the recent threats, we have started to register more volunteers since Friday," Samadi told Reuters by telephone.

"Some 200 people have registered to carry out operations against our enemies. America and Britain are definitely considered enemies."

Chanting "Death to America" and "Nuclear technology is our right", volunteers registered their names at the former American Embassy in southern Tehran on Sunday.

They signed a document called "Registration form for martyrdom-seeking operations" and pledged to "defend the Islamic Republic's interests".

"We will give a good lesson to those who dare to attack our country," said Ali, a 25-year-old masked volunteer, after filling out registration form.

When asked why he had covered his face, Ali said: "I do not want to be recognized when traveling abroad to harm American and British interests."


The Committee for the Commemoration of Martyrs of the Global Islamic Campaign, which says it has no affiliation with the government, was formed in 2004. Since then Samadi said some 52,000 people have signed up to be involved in possible attacks.

The Sunday Times of London, quoting unnamed Iranian officials, reported Iran had 40,000 trained suicide bombers prepared to strike western targets if Iran is attacked.

"The main force, named the Special Unit of Martyr Seekers in the Revolutionary Guards, was first seen last month when members marched in a military parade," the report said.

But Samadi denied the report.

"The Revolutionary Guards have no links to martyrdom-seeking operations. We are the only martyrdom seeking group in Iran," he said. "And we are an independent group."

No Iranians are thought to have directly executed suicide bombings in recent years. But the United States has accused Iran of being a state sponsor of terrorism.

In Sunday's New York Times a former White House counterterrorism expert said Iran's response to any U.S. military attack would be to use "its terrorist network to strike American targets around the world".

"Iran has forces at its command far superior to anything al Qaeda was ever able to field," wrote former White House counter terror chief Richard Clarke and former State Department official Steven Simon.

The "martyrdom" registration coincided with a conference on the Palestinian cause. Iran has refused to recognize Israel and supports anti-Israeli groups like Hamas and Hizbollah.

Inside the embassy, the walls were decorated with pictures of Palestinian suicide bombers. Videos of Israeli army attacks on Palestinians were shown on a wide screen. Books and CDs on the Palestinian uprising were also for sale.

In 1979, the then-American embassy was seized and its staff were taken hostage by militant students in 1979. The 52 hostages were freed after 444 days in captivity.


Registered? He is calling for suicide bombers?

He will do more damage with them than he will with his standing military. They, Irans standing army, will just be wiped out in the first skirmishes, but suicide bombers, like Israel has learned, they're a force to be recognized, and dealt with in a different manner, and, it seems, nothing is fail safe.[

Saundra Hummer
April 16th, 2006, 08:25 PM
~ ~ ~ ~ ~

"It is the utmost folly -- it is just short of suicide -- to take the position that citizens of any country should hold their tongues for fear of causing distress to the immediate and sometimes tortuous policies of their leaders." : Wendell Lewis Willkie


What shall we say when history asks how such crimes came to be committed in the name of America? Will we say that we stood silently by, shrugging our shoulders, filling our bellies, closing our eyes? Or will we be able to say: We saw. We dissented. We resisted. We condemned.
Chris Floyd - Chris Floyd is an American journalist and political watchdog.


"The moment we begin to fear the opinions of others and hesitate to tell the truth that is in us, and from motives of policy are silent when we should speak, the divine floods of light and life no longer flow into our souls.": Elizabeth Cady Stanton Biography - Reformer, Writer, Lecturer, 1815-1902

"All experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security."
The Declaration of Independence (1776)


Saundra Hummer
April 16th, 2006, 08:44 PM

U.S. strike on Iran could make Iraq look like a warm-up bout
Fallout around the world would be grim


"Toronto Star " -- -- WASHINGTON—On the ground, more terror.

Poison-laced missiles raining down on U.S. troops in Iraq or Afghanistan, the downing of a U.S. passenger airliner, suicide bombers in major cities, perhaps unleashing their deadly payload in a shopping mall food court. It could be 9/11 all over again. Or worse.

On the political front, more anti-Americanism.

Renewed venom aimed at Washington from European capitals, greater distrust from China and Russia, outright hatred in the Arab and Muslim world. Oil prices spiralling out of control, a global recession at hand.

In Iran, a galvanizing of a splintered nation. An end to hopes for political reform, a rally-around-the-leader phenomenon common among the victimized, an ability to rebuild a nuclear program in two to four years.

These are the potential costs of a U.S. military strike in Iran.

"It would be Iran's Pearl Harbor and it will be the beginning of a war, not the end of a war. It will set back American strategic interests for a generation," says Joseph Cirincione, the director for non-proliferation at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

"The war will take place at a time and location of Iran's choosing. It will make Iraq look like a preliminary bout."

But the cost of inaction could be even higher: a defiant nation with an apparently unstable leadership steeped in hatred for Americans in the heart of the Middle East with nuclear capabilities.

With Tehran ignoring both threats and cajoling from the international community and declaring itself — prematurely — part of the world's "nuclear club" this week, talk of the Washington stick moved to the forefront, while the carrot, now discredited, was pushed off centre stage.

While the week began with the White House trying to tamp down speculation about military strikes in Iran, reported by The Washington Post and by journalist Seymour Hersh in The New Yorker, it was becoming clear the Bush administration was growing impatient with a diplomatic effort that is not working with Tehran.

It may have also welcomed talk of potential military strikes, even if it would be extremely reluctant to use them, simply to remind some recalcitrant United Nations members such as China and Russia that diplomacy does have an end date.

The bluntest assessment of diplomatic success came from Karl Rove, U.S. President George W. Bush's political adviser and deputy chief of staff, who told a Houston audience Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was "not a rational human being."

"We are engaged in a diplomatic process with our European partners and the United Nations to keep (Iran) from developing such a weapon," Rove said. "It's going to be tough because they are led by ideologues who have a weird sense of history."

Ahmadinejad announced this week that Iran had taken its nuclear enrichment program to new levels. Before he did so, he dismissed any influence of the United Nations, according to state media. "They know they cannot do a damned thing," he said.

The Iranian government has stated it will construct 3,000 centrifuges at a facility in Natanz and would eventually expand that to 54,000 centrifuges, which spin uranium into fuel rich enough to produce atom bombs. Estimates of their capability date range from 2010 to 2020.

Bush has been clear he wants to stop Tehran from acquiring even the knowledge needed to build nuclear weapons, and last month he vowed U.S. military might could be used to protect staunch allies such as Israel.

But, earlier this week, Bush called reports of potential military strikes on Iran "wild speculation." British Foreign Minister Jack Straw said the stories were "completely nuts."

U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld weighed in, saying he wouldn't address things from "fantasy land," but then added: "The last thing I'm going to do is to start telling you or anyone else in the press or the world at what point we refresh a plan or don't refresh a plan, and why. It just isn't useful."

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sternly called for action at the UN, but didn't say what it could be, leaving her spokesman sputtering about "re-underlining" the call for Iran to suspend its enrichment program and vowing this time the Security Council will do more than just release a statement.

"This is not a question of Iran's right to civil nuclear power," Rice said. "This is a question that the world does not believe that Iran should have the capability and the technology that could lead to a nuclear weapon.

"When the Security Council reconvenes, it will be time for action."

The timing of military strikes is now being openly debated in Washington.Cirincione says he believes there will be secret strikes announced by Bush after they happen. But first, he says, Bush should be expected to go to the U.S. Congress for authorization before mid-term elections in November, while Republicans still control the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Approval before the elections, the strike after the elections, because the almost certain spike in U.S. gas prices following such action will blunt any rally-round-the-flag effect at election time, he says. John Pike, a military analyst at globalsecurity.org, predicts strikes in the summer of 2007, safely away from the presidential election the next year. He argues, as many do, that Bush already has congressional approval and needs not go back to lawmakers. "It will be a surprise," he says. "There's nothing like dropping bombs on evil-doers to give Republicans some political updraft."

Pike argues that, despite all the breast-beating in Congress about misuse of a resolution that got the country into war in Iraq and all the sound and fury about clandestine surveillance in this country, nothing has been done to strip Bush of any power when it comes to war. "He will be looking at atomic ayatollahs. There will be some real downsides (to military action) and there will be efforts to redouble diplomatic moves, but in Tehran, the U.S. is equated with Satan.

"What kind of diplomatic solution do they believe they can get from Satan?"

Other analysts have been blunt in their assessment of the cost to the United States.
"The most dangerous delusion is that a conflict would be either small or quick," says Richard Haass, the president of the non-partisan Council on Foreign Relations.

Haass, who until July 2003 was a principal adviser to former secretary of state Colin Powell, says destroying Iran's nuclear capacity would require numerous cruise missiles and aircraft.

"Iran would be sure to retaliate, using terrorist groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas and attacking U.S. and British forces and interests in Iraq and Afghanistan," he said in a written analysis this week. "This would require the U.S. to respond militarily against a larger set of targets inside Iran. What would begin as a limited strike would not remain limited for long."

Haass also warned that such a strike would likely push oil prices above $100 (U.S.) per barrel, setting off an economic chain reaction that could lead to global recession. He predicts a certain increase in anti-Americanism in Europe, further rage against the U.S. in the Arab and Muslim world, and a questioning of U.S. ties in Russia and China.

Ken Pollack of the more liberal Brookings Institution argues for sanctions restricting investment in Tehran.

"The world community should force Iranians to have an internal debate — do they want their nuclear program more than a healthy economy?" he told a recent forum.

But Pollack adds a sobering point. If the administration truly believes it cannot live in a world in which Iran has nuclear weapons, the military option may be the only way to prevent that.

But it would be seen as an unprovoked attack on a country that has attacked no one. It would be likened to Osama bin Laden's attack on the U.S., Pollack said, reminding his audience how the United States responded to that.

Copyright Toronto Star Newspapers Limited


Saundra Hummer
April 17th, 2006, 08:40 PM

Think truly, and thy thoughts Shall the world's famine feed. Speak truly, and each word of thine Shall be a fruitful seed. Live truly, and thy life shall be A great and noble creed: Horatius Bonar, D.D.


The essence of immorality is the tendency to make an exception of myself: Jane Addams


The state has, in order to control us, introduced division into our thinking, so that we come to distrust others and look to the state for protection! But the roots of our individualism remind us that what we are is inseparable from the source from which all others derive; that coercive practices that threaten our neighbor also threaten us.: -Butler Shaffer

It is easier to find a score of men wise enough to discover the truth than to find one intrepid enough, in the face of opposition to stand up for it: A. A. Hodge


I am done with great things and big things, great institutions and big success, and I am for those tiny invisible molecular moral forces that work from individual to individual, creeping through the crannies of the world like so many rootlets, or like the capillary oozing of water, yet which if you give them time, will rend the hardest monuments of man's pride: William James

From Information Clearing House - A News Site which tells us the news posted on ICH is news you won't see on FOX, or CNN. To read this newsletter online, click on the following links:

http://www.informationclearing house.com

RSS FEED http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/rssfeed.xml

Saundra Hummer
April 17th, 2006, 09:15 PM

Bombs That Would Backfire


04/17/06 "New York Times" -- -- WHITE HOUSE spokesmen have played down press reports that the Pentagon has accelerated planning to bomb Iran. We would like to believe that the administration is not intent on starting another war, because a conflict with Iran could be even more damaging to our interests than the current struggle in Iraq has been. A brief look at history shows why.

Reports by the journalist Seymour Hersh and others suggest that the United States is contemplating bombing a dozen or more nuclear sites, many of them buried, around Iran. In the event, scores of air bases, radar installations and land missiles would also be hit to suppress air defenses. Navy bases and coastal missile sites would be struck to prevent Iranian retaliation against the American fleet and Persian Gulf shipping. Iran's long-range missile installations could also be targets of the initial American air campaign.

These contingencies seem familiar to us because we faced a similar situation as National Security Council staff members in the mid-1990's. American frustrations with Iran were growing, and in early 1996 the House speaker, Newt Gingrich, publicly called for the overthrow of the Iranian government. He and the C.I.A. put together an $18 million package to undertake it.

The Iranian legislature responded with a $20 million initiative for its intelligence organizations to counter American influence in the region. Iranian agents began casing American embassies and other targets around the world. In June 1996, the Qods Force, the covert-action arm of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, arranged the bombing of an apartment building used by our Air Force in Khobar, Saudi Arabia, killing 19 Americans.

At that point, the Clinton administration and the Pentagon considered a bombing campaign. But after long debate, the highest levels of the military could not forecast a way in which things would end favorably for the United States.

While the full scope of what America did do remains classified, published reports suggest that the United States responded with a chilling threat to the Tehran government and conducted a global operation that immobilized Iran's intelligence service. Iranian terrorism against the United States ceased.

In essence, both sides looked down the road of conflict and chose to avoid further hostilities. And then the election of the reformist Mohammad Khatami as president of Iran in 1997 gave Washington and Tehran the cover they needed to walk back from the precipice.

Now, as in the mid-90's, any United States bombing campaign would simply begin a multi-move, escalatory process. Iran could respond three ways. First, it could attack Persian Gulf oil facilities and tankers — as it did in the mid-1980's — which could cause oil prices to spike above $80 dollars a barrel.

Second and more likely, Iran could use its terrorist network to strike American targets around the world, including inside the United States. Iran has forces at its command that are far superior to anything Al Qaeda was ever able to field. The Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah has a global reach, and has served in the past as an instrument of Iran. We might hope that Hezbollah, now a political party, would decide that it has too much to lose by joining a war against the United States. But this would be a dangerous bet.

Third, Iran is in a position to make our situation in Iraq far more difficult than it already is. The Badr Brigade and other Shiite militias in Iraq could launch a more deadly campaign against British and American troops. There is every reason to believe that Iran has such a retaliatory shock wave planned and ready.

No matter how Iran responded, the question that would face American planners would be, "What's our next move?" How do we achieve so-called escalation dominance, the condition in which the other side fears responding because they know that the next round of American attacks would be too lethal for the regime to survive?

Bloodied by Iranian retaliation, President Bush would most likely authorize wider and more intensive bombing. Non-military Iranian government targets would probably be struck in a vain hope that the Iranian people would seize the opportunity to overthrow the government. More likely, the American war against Iran would guarantee the regime decades more of control.

So how would bombing Iran serve American interests? In over a decade of looking at the question, no one has ever been able to provide a persuasive answer. The president assures us he will seek a diplomatic solution to the Iranian crisis. And there is a role for threats of force to back up diplomacy and help concentrate the minds of our allies. But the current level of activity in the Pentagon suggests more than just standard contingency planning or tactical saber-rattling.

The parallels to the run-up to to war with Iraq are all too striking: remember that in May 2002 President Bush declared that there was "no war plan on my desk" despite having actually spent months working on detailed plans for the Iraq invasion. Congress did not ask the hard questions then. It must not permit the administration to launch another war whose outcome cannot be known, or worse, known all too well.

Richard Clarke and Steven Simon were, respectively, national coordinator for security and counterterrorism and senior director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council.

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company


Saundra Hummer
April 18th, 2006, 12:34 AM
* * * * * * *

Neil Young urges Bush impeachment on protest album

Steve Gorman
Mon Apr 17, 5:42 PM ET

Veteran rocker Neil Young has recorded a protest album featuring an anti-Iraq war track with "a holy vow to never kill again" and a song titled "Let's Impeach the President," the singer said on Monday.

The 10-track set, called "Living with War," was recorded this month by a "power trio" -- electric guitar, bass and drums -- plus trumpet and a 100 voices, the 60-year-old Canadian-born musician announced on his Web site.

Young's longtime manager, Elliot Roberts, told Reuters the album, which has been the subject of Internet buzz for several days, will be played for executives at his label, Warner Music Group's Reprise Records, on Tuesday.
"It's devoted to the state of America, or the direction that America is moving in," Roberts said of the album.

In a message crawl along the bottom of his Web site, Young drew parallels to two of the leading protest singers of the 1960s, saying of his new record: "I think it is a metal version of Phil Ochs and Bob Dylan ... metal folk protest?"

The crawl goes on to reveal the lyrics of the album's title track, with such lines as: "I raise my hand in peace ... I never bow to the laws of the thought police ... I take a holy vow ... to never kill again ...

"In the big hotels ... in the mosques and the doors of the old museum ... I take a holy vow ... to never kill again."

Roberts confirmed that a separate song on the album is titled "Let's Impeach the President." He declined to disclose any further details about the record.

But according to some online reports, the song accuses President George W. Bush of "lying" and features a rap with Bush's voice set against a choir singing "flip-flop."

One member of that choir, a California-based musician, wrote on a "blog" entry last Friday that the recording session wrapped with an a capella version of "America the Beautiful."

Young's latest offering comes just seven months after the release of his last album, "Prairie Wind," which has sold about 450,000 U.S. copies as of last week, according to sales tracking service Nielsen SounScan.

Music from that album was featured in the recent concert film "Neil Young: Heart of Gold," directed by Jonathan Demme.

"Living with War" appears to bring Young full circle from a more pro-Bush administration stance he took in the months following the September 11 attacks.

Not long after recording the song "Let's Roll," a tribute to passengers who apparently fought back against hijackers on doomed United Airlines Flight 93 over Pennsylvania, Young came out publicly in support of the U.S. Patriot Act.

The legislation, which gave law enforcement authorities broad new powers aimed at bolstering the administration's war on terror, was harshly criticized by some as threatening Americans' civil liberties.

"Living with War" is hardly the first work by Young to take on the political establishment. As part of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, in 1970, Young wrote and recorded the song "Ohio," a song about the four Kent State University students killed by National Guard troops during an anti-Vietnam war rally.


Saundra Hummer
April 18th, 2006, 06:46 PM
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


April 18, 2006
From MediaChannel.org's Executive Editor,
Danny Schechter...
Watch What's Done, Not What's SaidReuters: "Russian police are looking for two mystics who persuaded a student to part with over 91,000 pounds in exchange for lifting a curse…."
CSPAN VIEWERS WRITE MOVING LETTERSNothing demonstrates the power of media more than the letters that often flood in when you get on TV. I know how transitory that 15 seconds of fame is but it showed us once again that if our views could be part of the national discourse—rather than marginalized on the sidelines—we could find many viewers open to questioning media narratives and deceptive news. Scroll down and read some of the thoughtful letters from people I don’t know as opposed to most of the “usual suspects.” (No offense.) Check out the hunger out there for real debate and media analysis.

Thanks to our partnership with Mediavision, we will be posting some excerpts from Rory O ‘Connor and my hour in the sun of CSPAN. See what you think and help us figure out how to reach more people and encourage more change. Responses welcome.

Meanwhile, the war we discussed continues to dominate the news and remains riddled with some of the media flaws we talked about.
U.S. military deaths in Iraq have increased sharply in April after reaching the lowest level in two years last month.

This morning on CNN: “Insurgents used a mosque as cover as they fired rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns at the governor's compound in Ramadi, Iraq, according to the Pentagon. U.S. Marines responded to the repeated attacks with a tank round.” Note operative phrase in report: “According to the Pentagon.”
WILL BAGHDAD BE FULLUJA- IZED?Chris Floyd warns of new plans to destroy the Iraqi Capital to Save it:

”Of all the war crimes that have flowed from the originating crime of President George W. Bush's unprovoked invasion of Iraq, perhaps the most flagrant was the destruction of Fallujah in November 2004. Now, as ignominious defeat looms for Bush's Babylonian folly, some of the key players in fomenting the war are urging that the "Fallujah Option" be applied to an even bigger target: Baghdad.

“What these influential warmongers openly call for is the "pacification" of Baghdad: a brutal firestorm by U.S. forces, ravaging both Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias in a "horrific" operation that will inevitably lead to "skyrocketing body counts," as warhawk Reuel Marc Gerecht cheerfully wrote last week in the ever-bloodthirsty editorial pages of The Wall Street Journal. Gerecht's war whoop quickly ricocheted around the right-wing media echo chamber and gave public voice to the private counsels emanating from a group whose members now comprise the leadership of the U.S. government: The Project for the New American Century.”
Mike Whitney writes:”In more than 3 years of war, there has never been a positive citing of alleged terror mastermind Abu Musab al Zarqawi. This has led many to believe that he is merely a creation of Pentagon propagandists working with their agents in the western press. Colonel Derek Harvey strengthened those suspicions last week.”

American Forces Press reports:FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas, April 17, 2006 Army leaders are taking lessons learned from the 2003 Abu Ghraib detainee abuse incidents in Iraq to revamp the intelligence field. Changes include the activation of dedicated interrogation battalions and a new joint training center for the intelligence career field.

“The 201st Military Intelligence Battalion is the first of four joint interrogation battalions -- two active and two reserve -- to be activated in the next several years. Its mission is to conduct detainee screening and interrogation missions in support of military operations throughout the world, such as Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

“Being the first dedicated interrogation battalion in the Army, the spotlight is on these fine soldiers and their leadership," said Col. Richard Saddler, commander of the 470th Military Intelligence Brigade and keynote speaker at the ceremony. "Fortunately, they are the finest our nation has to offer, and they will do well in their upcoming missions."
Joe Dunphy, Mediachannel’s military affairs specialist, explains:“The astonishing element here is that the "interrogators" are being trained at the same Fort that trains Army medics--Ft. Sam Houston. This should present a big ethical problem for medics, their instructors, and medical staff that helps accredit the courses. NB: the guys most likely to be brought to trial on torture and abuse charges are being trained almost side-by-side by the medics who would have to report them for any torture abuses.

“Medics are already being trained to go into battle with pistols, which is an angle I don't see discussed much elsewhere, even in EMT magazines. The EMT oath echoes the Hippocratic oath with the general idea of first do no harm. As a side issue, there has not been very much in-depth coverage of medical staff and ambulances being used as targets by combatants on both sides. This is a human rights issue of course. EMS personnel are trained to assist patients, however they find them. One of the sidelights of this form of guerrilla war is that some people will die unnecessarily because medical staff and equipment will not be available to them, due to fear of being targeted

The Mail & Guardian reports:”Although the United States is resisting pressure to deal with Iran's nuclear ambitions through direct talks with Tehran, rather than sanctions or military strikes, it still intends to meet senior Iranian officials for discussions on Iraq at which it will demand an end to Iranian meddling, according to Zalmay Khalilzad, the US ambassador in Baghdad.
MONEY AND POLITRICKSYesterday, I told you about an FEC report saying that John Kerry has banked $13 million for a campaign in ’08. The Washington Post reports that Hillary Clinton already has $20 million.
FUN CITY BECOMES SURVEILLANCE CITYAP Reports the New York Police Department which has set up and is running its own anti-terrorist army and intelligence agency has now begun to wire the city with surveillance cameras. There are plans to install 500 at a cost of 9 million. The justification, of course, preventing another 911. Question: Will this 1984 style technology save us or further erode our rights?

Comment on this post...

Big Media: Prizes and Problems
Gulf Coast newspapers win the Pulitzer for Gulf News coverage. Here’s The Stories Behind those Pulitzers
The Washington Post and others report:”The Pulitzer committee particularly praised the Times-Picayune for its 'heroic, multi-faceted coverage' and exceptional use of resources after staff were forced to abandon the newspaper plant in the face of rising flood waters. The same newspaper also won the breaking news Pulitzer for overcoming 'desperate conditions' facing the city during the storm and afterwards.

The Washington Post won four Pulitzers - the biggest tally in the paper's history - including awards for breaking open the scandal involving Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff and disclosing the existence of secret CIA prisons overseas. Strikingly, the Pulitzer board honored two Post reports - on the secret prisons and domestic surveillance - that US President Bush personally urged the editors not to publish. The New York Times grabbed three prizes, including a national reporting award for its coverage of the US administration's controversial domestic eavesdropping program.”

http://www.news24.com/News24/World/News/0,,2-10-1462_1918004,00.html - AFP, News 24, The Washington PostJim Amoss, editor of The Times-Picayune, and Stan Tiner, executive editor of The Sun Herald, describe what it took for their staffs to produce the stories that would share journalism’s highest honor for 2006.

David Swanson shows how one major media outlet does it: ”An AP article on Tuesday begins: "President Bush bats away talk of bombing Iran's disputed nuclear sites as 'wild speculation.' But plodding diplomacy hasn't borne fruit so far, and the administration is facing a hard truth: There may be no way to stop Iran from getting the bomb."

“Here we have encapsulated the most warmongering position to be found in the U.S. media. The reporter who wrote this, Anne Gearan, believes that Bush is lying when he says that talk of attacking Iran is wild speculation, because in reality, she tells us, his administration is considering just that. But the fact that Bush is lying is not worth mentioning. Rather, it is important to praise him for "facing" the possibility of war.


WHERE’S JUDITH MILLER NOW THAT WE NEED HERCliff Kincaid of the right-wing media monitoring group Accuracy in Media has opened his own front in a challenge to former NY Times reporter Judith Miller, writing on the American Daily:

”Times reporter Judith Miller is on the lecture circuit, pulling down $15,000-$20,000 a speech plus first class airfare. When she left the paper, after spending 85 days in jail, she wrote that "In my future writing, I intend to call attention to the internal and external threats to our country’s freedoms-Al Qaeda and other forms of religious extremism, conventional and W.M.D. terrorism, and growing government secrecy in the name of national security-subjects that have long defined my work." Those are noble sentiments. But it's the Times, more than any other media organization, which has prevented the government from solving the case of the post-9/11 anthrax attacks.”


AN ARAB VIEW: Mulham Assir writes on the Arabic Media Internet Network”For the public consumption of millions, complex reality is processed into black-and-white metaphor, which in turn becomes black-and-white reality. For words to be turned into swords they must be empowered by belief, and for belief to take memorable hold in the mind of millions it must be expressed in a few powerful images, as simple and awe-inspiring as religious scriptures: good/evil, civilized/savage, man of peace/terrorist, nuclear threat of rogue state/peaceful democracy of the world community."
RAW STORY ON OFFICIAL LEAKS”On a Sunday talk show, the deputy editor for the Washington Post's editorial page defended the paper's controversial take on President Bush's leak of classified material to counter war critics, RAW STORY has found. "Well, I'm deputy editor of the editorial page, so let me first take a sip of my Kool-Aid...and step up and take one for the team," Colbert King said on WJLA TV's Inside Washington. "What we were trying to say is that the president had every right to declassify the information..."

"As journalists, we welcome information like this," King continued. "We welcome leaks."

On Sunday, the New York Times published an editorial entitled "A Bad Leak" which seemingly took aim at the the Post's "A Good Leak" from a week earlier.

"President Bush was right to approve the declassification of parts of a National Intelligence Estimate about Iraq three years ago in order to make clear why he had believed that Saddam Hussein was seeking nuclear weapons," began the Post's editorial, "A Good Leak," last Sunday. In contrast, Sunday's Times editorial, "A Bad Leak," begins with "President Bush says he declassified portions of the prewar intelligence assessment on Iraq because he "wanted people to see the truth" about Iraq's weapons programs and to understand why he kept accusing Saddam Hussein of stockpiling weapons that turned out not to exist."
Web Site Rates Health Care Journalism
c.moreover.com reg
AP via Los Angeles Times

THE REPORT by Jonathan Rugman: http://www.channel4.com/news/special-reports/special-reports-storypage.jsp?id=2046)
THE CRITIQUE by Dave Edwards:: http://www.zmag.org/sustainers/content/2006-04/15edwards.cfm
Comment on this post...
From The World Of C-SPAN Viewers
Ms Phyl Brown writes from Concord, CA about our appearance on CSPAN

”BRAVO!! I just finished watching Rory O'Connor and Danny Schechter on C-SPAN which was originally aired last month. I felt a renewal of hope by what they said and how they said it. For that I'm very, very thankful!! I wish I could donate something but I've been unemployed since 2001 and things are rough. I'll promote your web site on my blog. Thank you again and keep up the great work!!”

H. Leon Rapaer writes:

”Thanks for your great work. Please take a look at my new web site http://www.voterrebellion.com/ . I would appreciate any comments you have. I am also trying to help reform our media and government.

Kevin Collins writes from Midlothian,VA:

”You don’t know what breath of fresh air it was to see you on C-SPAN yesterday. Ever since the onset of the pre-war WMD campaign, I have internally questioned allegation after allegation, all the while wondering if I was somewhat less of a patriot for not accepting on face value what I sensed was propaganda being sold to me on multiple fronts. Ideally, I want nothing more than to be a proud American, but cannot do so when my government repeatedly lies to me and spends our tax dollars like a drunken sailor on a war against an undefined enemy. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but this war is against a concept, which enables it to continue ad infinitum and allows the enemy to evolve as the powers that be see fit.

“In my attempt to uncover the truth, I have checked out foreign news websites and come to realize there is a lot of news going unreported in the mainstream media. It’s pretty easy to demonize a 3rd world nation or convince our nation of a need to do something unilaterally when only a few of the facts are presented. The American people are lambs being led to the slaughter, and they will not realize it until it’s far too late, should nothing change.

“As a recovering Republican since the early 90s, I am aghast at the deficits being racked up (unchecked) and see little economic hope in the foreseeable future. I find it ironic how the current administration saw no difficulty in overhauling bankruptcy laws to the advantage of big business while racking up our current
deficit to wage a war that has resulted in skyrocketing fuel costs, all of which adversely impacts the middle class.

“I don’t know if I’m a conservative or a liberal, as I refuse to categorize myself as anything since I cannot trust that I receive sufficient information to even make reasonable, fair determinations. The media’s complicity in all this leads me to believe we now live (or are soon to live) under the mere guise of democracy, as hard questions are not being asked and no one in any high positions is being held truly accountable. While I wish I could contribute to assist you in your noble cause, I am struggling to make ends meet as a sole breadwinner.

“Please know that your efforts are not in vain, and I have nothing but the utmost respect and appreciation for your efforts to expose and ultimately correct the perilous compliance of the media in our country. Hopefully, the greedy old Pharisees (GOP) will get their long-overdue reality check this November, and some new leadership will emerge.”

Louis J. Launer writes from St Charles Mo:

”I saw your interview Monday morning on Book TV on C-SPAN2 and I am very happy that there are people like me who write and get published and wonder how and why our media acts the way they do.

“Twenty years ago, I graduated from college with a B.A. in Mass Communications from Lindenwood College (now known as Lindenwood University). I wanted to be a broadcast journalist. But by 1985, I witnessed the unprofessional conduct of many who were in radio, television and cable and how many literally showboat and worry more about their aspiring careers rather than do the research, observe, write and publish.

“I even had a CBS executive say the words “drop dead” to me in a job interview. I didn’t do anything to him. I never actually met him until the interview. He was also a long-time chairman of the board of Lindenwood. I later found out that in order to get into a lot of media organizations, I needed to join an organization that was called Alpha Epsilon Rho, which to my discovery, has members who practice “cheating” to get a story to what they want. It disillusioned me and destroyed any hopes I had to be an honest journalist.

“I don’t like what is being practiced today by the media. They are inaccurate. They put stories in a very false light and they will hurt anyone they can just to get the story that they want either on the air or in print. I believe that is wrong and does not follow what our founding fathers wanted when it came to a free press.

"I don’t like FOX, CNN or the New York Times because they are not true to their word when it comes to their stories. I believe when Howell Raines was editor at the NYT, it was the worst of times for the newspaper. But his removal from that newspaper was just a symptom and did not cure the disease. It scared the media for a moment. But they went on practicing the same shabby practices that they have done before...

"I appreciate what you are doing. Keep at it. Go get them. I want to see journalism return to some honesty and professional practices before my life here on earth ends."

Sandy Mozingo wrotes:

”Dear Danny, I'm watching you now on Book TV on C-span2. It's 4 am plus on April 17th. What you said about the Hollywood producers & other people involved in helping this administration & this is what I've been telling people about the movie "Wag the dog" with Dustin Hoffman & others. It was about a president who was sagging in the polls & up for reelection so he had a bunch of experts, esp. in Hollywood "produce a war" by attacking the US & blaming another innocent country & used that for an excuse to attack this country. Of course this pres. gets reelected because now America is threatened & he's protecting us by going to war. Sound familiar? How can we get this evil person & his whole administration get impeached? What can we do?”

A more regular correspondent but another I've never met is generous. Da’ud X Mohammad writes from Oregon:

"You have a good speaking voice. I wish you could get some regularly scheduled times on Air America Radio with Al Frankin, Randi Rhodes, and Mike Malloy, in particular, and at least make an occasional appearance with Sam and Janeane, although as regular fare, they're somewhat intense.

“You're animated enough to do well on TV. Man, you should go for it - in your spare time... Did I say you are among our very best spokesfolk...

Steve Smyth “I'd like to participate...”

We received many more letter and express our thanks to all who poured their hearts out and offered support for our analysis and call to action.

Mediachannel will post excerpts from the CSPAN program today, but if you want to buy a tape or DVD, this is the URL to go to:

url]http://www.cspanstore.org/shop/index.php?main_page=product_video_info&products_id=191938-1[/url]REPORTING: My former 20/20 colleague Peter Lance’s latest on 911 on David Horrowitz’s Front Page Mag site:
JIB JAB: Received too late for Passover

http://www.atomfilms.com/contentPlay/shockwave.jsp?id=matzah&preplayPlease keep your letters and items coming. Mediachannel can only survive with your support. Become a member. Invite others to join. Help us pay our bills, and read more people. Imagine what we could do with our own show. That is not impossible. We would like to start some podcasts and A TV vehicle. We are looking for volunteers with time and skills.
Write: Dissector@mediachannel.org
Comment on this post...
Spread The Word: Please forward this to interested friends and colleagues>>>

Visit my archive of daily dissections.
To modify your preferences, visit the subscription management page.
Unsubscribe from the News Dissector Blog newsletter or all future emails from MediaChannel.org.
HAVE FEEDBACK? Write to us at dissector@mediachannel.org
Concerned about the media? TELL A FRIEND!
on the Web for news, analysis, resources and more.
http://www.mediachannel.org---------------------------------------------- INDENT]

Saundra Hummer
April 18th, 2006, 06:51 PM
~ ~ ~ ~ ~

"Law is often the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual.": Thomas Jefferson to I. Tiffany, 1819


"As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air -- however slight -- lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness." : William O Douglas


"Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters." : Daniel Webster


Saundra Hummer
April 18th, 2006, 07:00 PM

Senate Hearings on Bush, Now

In this VF.com exclusive, a Watergate veteran and Vanity Fair contributor calls for bipartisan hearings investigating the Bush presidency. Should Republicans on the Hill take the high road and save themselves come November?

By Carl Bernstein

04/18/06 "Vanity Fair" -- -- Worse than Watergate? High crimes and misdemeanors justifying the impeachment of George W. Bush, as increasing numbers of Democrats in Washington hope, and, sotto voce, increasing numbers of Republicans—including some of the president's top lieutenants—now fear? Leaders of both parties are acutely aware of the vehemence of anti-Bush sentiment in the country, expressed especially in the increasing number of Americans—nearing fifty percent in some polls—who say they would favor impeachment if the president were proved to have deliberately lied to justify going to war in Iraq.

John Dean, the Watergate conspirator who ultimately shattered the Watergate conspiracy, rendered his precipitous (or perhaps prescient) impeachment verdict on Bush two years ago in the affirmative, without so much as a question mark in choosing the title of his book Worse than Watergate. On March 31, some three decades after he testified at the seminal hearings of the Senate Watergate Committee, Dean reiterated his dark view of Bush's presidency in a congressional hearing that shed more noise than light, and more partisan rancor than genuine inquiry. The ostensible subject: whether Bush should be censured for unconstitutional conduct in ordering electronic surveillance of Americans without a warrant.

Raising the worse-than-Watergate question and demanding unequivocally that Congress seek to answer it is, in fact, overdue and more than justified by ample evidence stacked up from Baghdad back to New Orleans and, of increasing relevance, inside a special prosecutor's office in downtown Washington.

In terms of imminent, meaningful action by the Congress, however, the question of whether the president should be impeached (or, less severely, censured) remains premature. More important, it is essential that the Senate vote—hopefully before the November elections, and with overwhelming support from both parties—to undertake a full investigation of the conduct of the presidency of George W. Bush, along the lines of the Senate Watergate Committee's investigation during the presidency of Richard M. Nixon.

How much evidence is there to justify such action?

Certainly enough to form a consensus around a national imperative: to learn what this president and his vice president knew and when they knew it; to determine what the Bush administration has done under the guise of national security; and to find out who did what, whether legal or illegal, unconstitutional or merely under the wire, in ignorance or incompetence or with good reason, while the administration barricaded itself behind the most Draconian secrecy and disingenuous information policies of the modern presidential era.

"We ought to get to the bottom of it so it can be evaluated, again, by the American people," said Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on April 9. "[T]he President of the United States owes a specific explanation to the American people … about exactly what he did." Specter was speaking specifically about a special prosecutor's assertion that Bush selectively declassified information (of dubious accuracy) and instructed the vice president to leak it to reporters to undermine criticism of the decision to go to war in Iraq. But the senator's comments would be even more appropriately directed at far more pervasive and darker questions that must be answered if the American political system is to acquit itself in the Bush era, as it did in Nixon's.

Perhaps there are facts or mitigating circumstances, given the extraordinary nature of conceiving and fighting a war on terror, that justify some of the more questionable policies and conduct of this presidency, even those that turned a natural disaster in New Orleans into a catastrophe of incompetence and neglect. But the truth is we have no trustworthy official record of what has occurred in almost any aspect of this administration, how decisions were reached, and even what the actual policies promulgated and approved by the president are. Nor will we, until the subpoena powers of the Congress are used (as in Watergate) to find out the facts—not just about the war in Iraq, almost every aspect of it, beginning with the road to war, but other essential elements of Bush's presidency, particularly the routine disregard for truthfulness in the dissemination of information to the American people and Congress.

The first fundamental question that needs to be answered by and about the president, the vice president, and their political and national-security aides, from Donald Rumsfeld to Condoleezza Rice, to Karl Rove, to Michael Chertoff, to Colin Powell, to George Tenet, to Paul Wolfowitz, to Andrew Card (and a dozen others), is whether lying, disinformation, misinformation, and manipulation of information have been a basic matter of policy—used to overwhelm dissent; to hide troublesome truths and inconvenient data from the press, public, and Congress; and to defend the president and his actions when he and they have gone awry or utterly failed.

Most of what we have learned about the reality of this administration—and the disconcerting mind-set and decision-making process of President Bush himself—has come not from the White House or the Pentagon or the Department of Homeland Security or the Treasury Department, but from insider accounts by disaffected members of the administration after their departure, and from distinguished journalists, and, in the case of a skeletal but hugely significant body of information, from a special prosecutor. And also, of late, from an aide-de-camp to the British prime minister. Almost invariably, their accounts have revealed what the president and those serving him have deliberately concealed—torture at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo, and its apparent authorization by presidential fiat; wholesale N.S.A. domestic wiretapping in contravention of specific prohibitive law; brutal interrogations of prisoners shipped secretly by the C.I.A. and U.S. military to Third World gulags; the nonexistence of W.M.D. in Iraq; the role of Karl Rove and Dick Cheney's chief of staff in divulging the name of an undercover C.I.A. employee; the non-role of Saddam Hussein and Iraq in the events of 9/11; the death by friendly fire of Pat Tillman (whose mother, Mary Tillman, told journalist Robert Scheer, "The administration tried to attach themselves to his virtue and then they wiped their feet with him"); the lack of a coherent post-invasion strategy for Iraq, with all its consequent tragedy and loss and destabilizing global implications; the failure to coordinate economic policies for America's long-term financial health (including the misguided tax cuts) with funding a war that will drive the national debt above a trillion dollars; the assurance of Wolfowitz (since rewarded by Bush with the presidency of the World Bank) that Iraq's oil reserves would pay for the war within two to three years after the invasion; and Bush's like-minded confidence, expressed to Blair, that serious internecine strife in Iraq would be unlikely after the invasion.

But most grievous and momentous is the willingness—even enthusiasm, confirmed by the so-called Downing Street Memo and the contemporaneous notes of the chief foreign-policy adviser to British prime minister Tony Blair—to invent almost any justification for going to war in Iraq (including sending up an American U-2 plane painted with U.N. markings to be deliberately shot down by Saddam Hussein's air force, a plan hatched while the president, the vice president, and Blair insisted to the world that war would be initiated "only as a last resort"). Attending the meeting between Bush and Blair where such duplicity was discussed unabashedly ("intelligence and facts" would be jiggered as necessary and "fixed around the policy," wrote the dutiful aide to the prime minister) were Ms. Rice, then national-security adviser to the president, and Andrew Card, the recently departed White House chief of staff.

As with Watergate, the investigation of George W. Bush and his presidency needs to start from a shared premise and set of principles that can be embraced by Democrats and Republicans, by liberals and centrists and conservatives, and by opponents of the war and its advocates: that the president of the United States and members of his administration must defend the requirements of the Constitution, obey the law, demonstrate common sense, and tell the truth. Obviously there will be disagreements, even fierce ones, along the way. Here again the Nixon example is useful: Republicans on the Senate Watergate Committee, including its vice chairman, Howard Baker of Tennessee ("What did the president know and when did he know it?"), began the investigation as defenders of Nixon. By its end, only one was willing to make any defense of Nixon's actions.

The Senate Watergate Committee was created (by a 77–0 vote of the Senate) with the formal task of investigating illegal political-campaign activities. Its seven members were chosen by the leadership of each party, three from the minority, four from the majority. (The Democratic majority leader of the Senate, Mike Mansfield, insisted that none of the Democrats be high-profile senators with presidential aspirations.) One of the crucial tasks of any committee charged with investigating the Bush presidency will be to delineate the scope of inquiry. It must not be a fishing expedition—and not only because the pond is so loaded with fish. The lines ought to be drawn so that the hearings themselves do not become the occasion for the ultimate battle of the culture wars. This investigation should be seen as an opportunity to at last rise above the culture wars and, as in Watergate, learn whether the actions of the president and his deputies have been consistent with constitutional principles, the law, and the truth.

Karl Rove and other White House strategists are betting (with odds in their favor) that Republicans on Capitol Hill are extremely unlikely to take the high road before November and endorse any kind of serious investigation into Bush's presidency—a gamble that may increase the risk of losing Republican majorities in either or both houses of Congress, and even further undermine the future of the Bush presidency. Already in the White House, there is talk of a nightmare scenario in which the Democrats successfully make the November congressional elections a referendum on impeachment—and win back a majority in the House, and maybe the Senate too.

But voting now to create a Senate investigation—chaired by a Republican—could work to the advantage both of the truth and of Republican candidates eager to put distance between themselves and the White House.

The calculations of politicians about their electoral futures should pale in comparison to the urgency of examining perhaps the most disastrous five years of decision-making of any modern American presidency.

Where are huge differences between the Nixon presidency and this one, of course, but surprisingly few would appear to redound to this administration's benefit, including even the fundamental question of the competence of the president.

First and foremost among the differences may be the role of the vice president. The excesses of Watergate—the crimes, the lies, the trampling of the Constitution, the disregard for the institutional integrity of the presidency, the dutiful and even enthusiastic lawbreaking of Nixon's apparatchiks—stemmed from one aberrant president's psyche and the paranoid assumptions that issued from it, and from the notion shared by some of his White House acolytes that, because U. S. troops were fighting a war—especially a failing one against a determined, guerrilla enemy in Vietnam—the commander in chief could assume extraordinary powers nowhere assigned in the Constitution and govern above the rule of law. "When the president does it that means that it is not illegal," Nixon famously told David Frost.

Bush and Cheney have been hardly less succinct about the president's duty and right to assume unprecedented authority nowhere specified in the Constitution. "[E]specially in the day and age we live in … the president of the United States needs to have his Constitutional powers unimpaired, if you will, in terms of the conduct of national-security policy," Cheney said less than four months ago.

Bush's doctrine of "unimpairment"—at one with his tendency to trim the truth—may be (with the question of his competence) the nub of the national nightmare. "I have the authority, both from the Constitution and the Congress, to undertake this vital program," Bush said after more than a few Republican and conservative eminences said he did not and joined the chorus of outrage about his N.S.A. domestic-surveillance program.

"Terrorism is not the only new danger of this era," noted George F. Will, the conservative columnist. "Another is the administration's argument that because the president is commander in chief, he is the 'sole organ for the nation in foreign affairs' … [which] is refuted by the Constitution's plain language, which empowers Congress to ratify treaties, declare war, fund and regulate military forces, and make laws 'necessary and proper' for the execution of all presidential powers."

A voluminous accumulation of documentary and journalistic evidence suggests that the policies and philosophy of this administration that may be illegal and unconstitutional stem not just from Bush but from Cheney as well—hence there's even greater necessity for a careful, methodical investigation under Senate auspices before any consideration of impeachment in the House and its mischievous potential to create the mother of all partisan, ideological, take-no-prisoners battles, which would even further divide the Congress and the country.

Cheney's recognition of the danger to him and his patron by a re-assertion of the Watergate precedent of proper congressional oversight is not hard to fathom. Illegal wiretapping—among other related crimes—was the basis of one of the articles of impeachment against Nixon passed by the House Judiciary Committee. The other two were defiance of subpoenas and obstruction of justice in the Watergate cover-up. "Watergate and a lot of the things around Watergate and Vietnam, both during the 1970s, served, I think, to erode the authority … [that] the president needs to be effective, especially in the national-security area," Cheney has observed. Nixon did not share his decision-making, much less philosophizing, with his vice president, and never relegated his own judgment to a number two. Former secretary of state Colin Powell's ex-chief of staff, retired army colonel Larry Wilkerson, has attested, "What I saw was a cabal between the vice president of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made."

Here it may be relevant that Powell has, in private, made statements interpreted by many important figures in Washington as seemingly questioning Cheney's emotional stability, and that Powell no longer recognizes the steady, dependable "rock" with whom he served in the administration of George W. Bush's father. Powell needs to be asked under oath about his reported observations regarding Cheney, not to mention his own appearance before the United Nations in which he spoke with assurance about Saddam Hussein's possession of weapons of mass destruction and insisted that the United States was seeking a way to avoid war, not start it.

Because Powell was regarded by some as the administration "good guy," who was prescient in his anxiety about Bush's determination to go to war in Iraq ("You break it, you own it"), he should not be handed a pass exempting him from tough questioning in a congressional investigation. Indeed, Powell is probably more capable than any other witness of providing both fact and context to the whole story of the road to war and the actions of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and the others.

One of the similarities between Bush and Nixon is their contempt, lip service aside, for the legitimate oversight of Congress. In seeking to cover up his secret, illegal activities, Nixon made broad claims of executive privilege, many on grounds of national security, the most important of which were rejected by the courts.

Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and their colleagues have successfully evaded accountability for the dire consequences of their policies through a tried-and-true strategy that has exploited a situation in which the press (understandably) has no subpoena power and is held in ill repute (understandably) by so many Americans, and the Republican-controlled Congress can be counted on to ignore its responsibility to compel relevant, forthright testimony and evidence—no matter how outrageous (failure to provide sufficient body armor for American soldiers, for example), mendacious, or inimical to the national interest the actions of the president and his principal aides might be.

As in Watergate, the Bush White House has, at almost every opportunity when endangered by the prospect of accountability, made the conduct of the press the issue instead of the misconduct of the president and his aides, and, with help from its Republican and conservative allies in and out of Congress, questioned the patriotism of the other party. As during the Nixon epoch, the strategy is finally wearing thin. "He's smoking Dutch Cleanser," said Specter when Bush's attorney general claimed legality for the president's secret order authorizing the wiretapping of Americans by the N.S.A.—first revealed in The New York Times in December.

Before the Times story had broken, the president was ardent about his civil-libertarian credentials in such matters: "Any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires—a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so," Bush said in a speech in Buffalo, New York, in April 2004.

Obviously, Bush's statement was demonstrably untrue. Yet instead of correcting himself, Bush attacked the Times for virtual treason, and his aides initiated a full-court press to track down whoever had provided information to the newspaper. "Our enemies have learned information they should not have, and the unauthorized disclosure of this effort damages our national security and puts our citizens at risk," he declared, as if America's terrorist enemies hadn't assumed they were subject to all manner of electronic eavesdropping by the world's most technologically sophisticated nation.

As in the Nixon White House, the search for leakers and others in the executive branch who might be truthful with reporters has become a paranoid preoccupation in the Bush White House. "Revealing classified information is illegal, alerts our enemies, and endangers our country," Bush added. (The special prosecutor's revelation that Bush himself—through Cheney—was ultimately behind Scooter Libby's leaking to undermine Joseph Wilson has ironically caused Bush more damage among Republican members of Congress than far more grievous acts by the president.)

Literally dozens of investigations have been ordered at the C.I.A., the Pentagon, the National Security Agency, and elsewhere in the executive branch to find out who is talking to the press about secret activities undertaken in this presidency. These include polygraph investigations and a warning to the press that reporters may be prosecuted under espionage laws.

Bush's self-claimed authority to wiretap without a court order—like his self-claimed authority to hold prisoners of war indefinitely without habeas corpus (on grounds those in custody are suspected "terrorists")—stems from the same doctrine of "unimpairment" and all its Nixonian overtones: "The American people expect me to protect their lives and their civil liberties, and that's exactly what we're doing with this [N.S.A. eavesdropping] program," asserted Bush in January.

When Nixon's former attorney general John N. Mitchell was compelled to testify before the Watergate Committee, he laid out the sordid "White House horrors," as he called them—activities undertaken in the name of national security by the low-level thugs and high-level presidential aides acting in the president's name. Mitchell, loyal to the end, pictured the whole crowd, from Haldeman and Ehrlichman and Colson down to Liddy and the Watergate burglars, as self-starters, acting without authority from Nixon. The tapes, of course, told the real story—wiretapping, break-ins, attempts to illegally manipulate the outcome of the electoral process, routine smearing of the president's opponents and intricate machinations to render it untraceable, orders to firebomb a liberal think tank, the Watergate cover-up, and their origin in the Oval Office.

In the case of the Bush administration's two attorneys general, John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales, there are indications that—as in the Nixon White House—they approved and/or promulgated policies (horrors?) that would appear intended to enable the president to circumvent the Constitution and the law.

Ashcroft expressed reservations as early as 2004 about the legality of the wiretapping authority claimed by Bush, according to recent disclosures in the press, but Ashcroft's doubts—and the unwillingness of his principal deputy attorney general to approve central aspects of the N.S.A. domestic eavesdropping plan—were not made known to the Congress. Gonzales, as White House counsel, drew up the guidelines authorizing torture at American-run prisons and U.S. exemption from the Geneva war-crimes conventions regarding the treatment of prisoners. (His memo to the president described provisions of the conventions as "quaint.")

"Let me make very clear the position of my government and our country," said Bush when confronted with the undeniable, photographic evidence of torture. "We do not condone torture. I have never ordered torture. I will never order torture. The values of this country are such that torture is not a part of our soul and our being." The available facts would indicate this was an unusually evident example of presidential prevarication, but we will never know exactly how untruthful, or perhaps just slippery, until the president and the White House are compelled to cooperate with a real congressional investigation.

That statement by Bush, in June 2004, in response to worldwide outrage at the infamous Abu Ghraib photographs, illustrates two related, core methodologies employed by this president and his cadre to escape responsibility for their actions: First, an Orwellian reliance on the meaninglessness of words. (When is "torture" torture? When is "ordered" "authorized"? When is "if someone committed a crime they will no longer work in my administration" a scheme to keep trusted aides on the payroll through a legal process that could take years before adjudication and hide the president's own role in helping start—perhaps inadvertently—the Plame ball rolling?)

"Listen, I know of nobody—I don't know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information," the president was quoted saying in Time magazine's issue of October 13, 2003. Time's report then noted with acuity, "Bush seemed to emphasize those last two words ['classified information'] as if hanging onto a legal life preserver in choppy seas."

The second method of escape is the absence of formal orders issued down the chain of command, leaving non-coms, enlisted men and women, and a few unfortunate non-star officers to twist in the wind for policies emanating from the president, vice president, secretary of defense, attorney general, national-security adviser to the president, and current secretary of state (formerly the national-security adviser). With a determined effort, a committee of distinguished senators should be able to establish if the grotesque abuse of Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo was really the work of a "few bad apples" like Army Reserve Spc. Lynndie England wielding the leash, or a natural consequence of actions flowing from the Oval Office and Office of the Secretary of Defense.

In a baker's dozen of hearings before pliant committees of Congress, a parade of the top brass from Rice to Rumsfeld, to the Joint Chiefs, to Paul Bremer has managed for almost three years to evade responsibility for—or even acknowledgment of—the disintegrating situation on the ground in Iraq, its costs in lives and treasure, and its disastrous reverberations through the world, and for an assault on constitutional principles at home. Similarly, until the Senate Watergate hearings, Nixon and his men at the top had evaded responsibility for Watergate and their cover-up of all the "White House horrors."

With the benefit of hindsight, it is now almost impossible to look at the president's handling of the war in Iraq in isolation from his handling of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Certainly any investigation of the president and his administration should include both disasters. Before 9/11, Bush and Condoleezza Rice had been warned in the starkest of terms—by their own aides, by the outgoing Clinton administration, and by experts on terrorism—of the urgent danger of a spectacular al-Qaeda attack in the United States. Yet the first top-level National Security Council meeting to discuss the subject was not held until September 4, 2001—just as the F.B.I. hierarchy had been warned by field agents that there were suspected Islamic radicals learning to fly 747s with no legitimate reasons for doing so, but the bureau ultimately ignored the urgency of problem, just as Bush had ample opportunity (despite what he said later) to review and competently execute a disaster plan for the hurricane heading toward New Orleans.

There will forever be four indelible photographic images of the George W. Bush epoch: an airplane crashing into World Trade Tower number two; Bush in a Florida classroom reading from a book about a goat while a group of second-graders continued to captivate him for another seven minutes after Andrew Card had whispered to the president, "America is under attack"; floodwaters inundating New Orleans, and its residents clinging to rooftops for their lives; and, two days after the hurricane struck, Bush peeking out the window of Air Force One to inspect the devastation from a safe altitude. The aftermath of the hurricane's direct hit, both in terms of the devastation and the astonishing neglect and incompetence from the top down, would appear to be unique in American history. Except for the Civil War and the War of 1812 (when the British burned Washington), no president has ever lost an American city; and if New Orleans is not lost, it will only be because of the heroics of its people and their almost superhuman efforts to overcome the initial lethargy and apparent non-comprehension of the president. Bush's almost blank reaction was foretold vividly in a video of him and his aides meeting on August 28, 2005, the day before Katrina made landfall. The tape—withheld by the administration from Congress but obtained by the Associated Press along with seven days of transcripts of administration briefings—shows Bush and his Homeland Security chief being warned explicitly that the storm could cause levees to overflow, put large number of lives at risk, and overwhelm rescuers.

In the wake of the death and devastation in New Orleans, President Bush refused to provide the most important documents sought by Congress or allow his immediate aides in the White House to testify before Congress about decision-making in the West wing or at his Crawford ranch in the hours immediately before and after the hurricane struck. His refusal was wrapped in a package of high principle—the need for confidentiality of executive branch communications—the same principle of preserving presidential privacy that, presumably, prevented him from releasing official White House photos of himself with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff or allowing White House aides to testify about the N.S.A. electronic-eavesdropping program on grounds of executive privilege.

The unwillingness of this president—a former Texas governor familiar with the destructive powers of weather—to deal truthfully ("I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees," he said in an interview with Good Morning America three days after the hurricane hit) and meaningfully with the people of the Gulf Coast or the country, or the Congress, about his government's response ("Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job") to Hurricane Katrina may be the Rosebud moment of his presidency. The president's repeated attempts to keep secret his actions and those of his principal aides by invoking often spurious claims of executive privilege and national security in the run-up to the war in Iraq—and its prosecution since—are rendered perfectly comprehensible when seen in relation to the Katrina claim. It is an effective way to hide the truth (as Nixon attempted so often), and—when uncomfortable truths have nonetheless been revealed by others—to justify extraordinary actions that would seem to be illegal or even unconstitutional.

Is incompetence an impeachable offense? The question is another reason to defer the fraught matter of impeachment (if deserved) in the Bush era until the ground is prepared by a proper fact-finding investigation and public hearings conducted by a sober, distinguished committee of Congress.

We have never had a presidency in which the single unifying thread that flows through its major decision-making was incompetence—stitched together with hubris and mendacity on a Nixonian scale. There will be no shortage of witnesses to question about the subject, among them the retired three-star Marine Corps general who served as director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the war's planning, Gregory Newbold.

Last week he wrote, "I now regret that I did not more openly challenge those who were determined to invade a country whose actions were peripheral to the real threat—Al Qaeda. I retired from the military four months before the invasion, in part because of my opposition to those who had used 9/11's tragedy to hijack our security policy." The decision to invade Iraq, he said, "was done with a casualness and swagger that are the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions—or bury the results." Despite the military's determination that, after Vietnam, "[W]e must never again stand by quietly while those ignorant of and casual about war lead us into another one and then mismanage the conduct of it.… We have been fooled again."

The unprecedented generals' revolt against the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, is—like the special prosecutor's Plame investigation—a door that once cracked open, cannot be readily shut by the president or even his most senior aides. What outsiders long suspected regarding the conduct of the war has now been given credence by those on the inside, near the top, just as in the unraveling of Watergate.

General Newbold and his fellow retired generals have (as observed elsewhere in the press) declared Rumsfeld unfit to lead America's military at almost exactly the moment when the United States must deal with the most difficult legacy of the Bush presidency: how to pry itself out of Iraq and deal with the real threat this administration ignored next door, from Iran.

Rumsfeld appeared Friday on an Al Arabiya television broadcast and said, "Out of thousands and thousands of admirals and generals, if every time two or three people disagreed we changed the Secretary of Defense of the United States, it would be like a merry-go-round." This kind of denial of reality—and (again) Orwellian abuse of facts and language—to describe six generals, each with more than 30 years military experience, each of whom served at the top of their commands (three in Iraq) and worked closely with Rumsfeld, is indicative of the problem any investigation by the Senate must face when dealing with this presidency.

And if Rumsfeld is unfit, how is his commander-in-chief, who has steadfastly refused to let him go (as Nixon did with Haldeman and Ehrlichman, "two of the finest public servants I have ever known"), to be judged?

The roadblock to a serious inquiry to date has been a Republican majority that fears the results, and a Democratic minority more interested in retribution and grandstanding than the national weal. There are indications, however, that by November voters may be far more discerning than they were in the last round of congressional elections, and that Republicans especially are getting the message. Indeed many are talking privately about their lack of confidence in Bush and what to do about him.

It took the Senate Watergate Committee less than six months to do its essential work. When Sam Ervin's gavel fell to close the first phase of public televised hearings on August 7, 1973, the basic facts of Nixon's conspiracy—and the White House horrors—were engraved on the nation's consciousness. The testimony of the president's men themselves—under oath and motivated perhaps in part by a real threat of being charged with perjury—left little doubt about what happened in a criminal and unconstitutional presidency.

On February 6, 1974, the House voted 410 to 4 to empower its Judiciary Committee to begin an impeachment investigation of the president. On July 27, 1974, the first of three articles of impeachment was approved, with support from 6 of the 17 Republicans (and 21 Democrats) on the committee. Two more articles were approved on July 29 and 30. On August 8, facing certain conviction in a Senate trial, Nixon resigned and Gerald Ford became president.

In Watergate, Republicans were the ones who finally told Richard Nixon, "Enough." They were the ones who cast the most critical votes for articles of impeachment, ensuring that Nixon would be judged with nonpartisan fairness. After the vote, the Republican congressional leadership—led by the great conservative senator Barry Goldwater—marched en masse to the White House to tell the criminal president that he had to go. And if he didn't, the leadership would recommend his conviction in the Senate and urge all their Republican colleagues to do the same.

In the case of George W. Bush, important conservative and Republican voices have, finally, begun speaking out in the past few weeks. William F. Buckley Jr., founder of the modern conservative movement and, with Goldwater, perhaps its most revered figure, said last month: "It's important that we acknowledge in the inner counsels of state that [the war in Iraq] has failed so that we should look for opportunities to cope with that failure." And "Mr. Bush is in the hands of a fortune that will be unremitting on the point of Iraq.… If he'd invented the Bill of Rights it wouldn't get him out of this jam." And "The neoconservative hubris, which sort of assigns to America some kind of geo-strategic responsibility for maximizing democracy, overstretches the resources of a free country."

Even more scathing have been some officials who served in the White House under Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush's father. Bruce Bartlett, a domestic policy aide in the Reagan administration, a deputy assistant treasury secretary for the first President Bush, and author of a new book, Impostor: How George Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy, noted: "A lot of conservatives have had reservations about him for a long time, but have been afraid to speak out for fear it would help liberals and the Democrats"—a situation that, until the Senate Watergate Committee hearings, existed in regard to Nixon. "I think there are growing misgivings about the conduct of the Iraq operation, and how that relates to a general incompetence his administration seems to have about doing basic things," said Bartlett.

fter Nixon's resignation, it was often said that the system had worked. Confronted by an aberrant president, the checks and balances on the executive by the legislative and judicial branches of government, and by a free press, had functioned as the founders had envisioned.

The system has thus far failed during the presidency of George W. Bush—at incalculable cost in human lives, to the American political system, to undertaking an intelligent and effective war against terror, and to the standing of the United States in parts of the world where it previously had been held in the highest regard.

There was understandable reluctance in the Congress to begin a serious investigation of the Nixon presidency. Then there came a time when it was unavoidable. That time in the Bush presidency has arrived.

Carl Bernstein is a Vanity Fair contributing editor. His biography of Hillary Rodham Clinton will be published by Knopf next year.

Click below to read or post comments on this article
Comments (8) | Trackback (0) Go on-stite to access links and features.


Saundra Hummer
April 18th, 2006, 08:20 PM
:confused2 :shrug: :confused2

Free the Uighurs
Tue April 18, 6:57 AM ET

It's a classic scene from movies and TV: The triumph of the U.S. rule of law as the jail doors swing wide and a prisoner, mistakenly accused but now exonerated, is released and walks into the daylight of freedom.

Unfortunately, for a small group of Chinese Muslims and others held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba - and for the already tattered image of U.S. democracy abroad - it doesn't always work that way. The U.S. Supreme Court refused Monday to hear the emergency appeal of Abu Bakker Qassim and A'Del Abdu al-Hakim, who are seeking freedom after more than four years of wrongful imprisonment.

Despite the Pentagon's early proclamationsthat the Guantanamo detainees were all "enemy combatants," the "worst of the worst" and largely swept up on the battlefields of Afghanistan, officials now admit that Qassim and al-Hakim - and scores of others - never should have been jailed. While about 490 prisoners are still held there, more than 100 have been released, most of them returned to their home countries.

Qassim and al-Hakim, however, are Uighurs (WEE-gur), a Central Asian ethnic minority that has long resisted domination by Beijing. The Bush administration fears, understandably, that if the Uighurs held at Guantanamo were turned over to Beijing, they might be tortured or killed.

But the government also rejects any notion of letting them seek even temporary asylum in the USA, though a small Uighur expatriate community in the Washington area has asked to take them in. Instead, the administration prefers to blame unnamed third countries for refusing to allow the Uighurs to be dumped there. (A Berlin newspaper reported Saturday that Germany is the latest to resist U.S. arm-twisting).

A federal judge in Washington ruled in December that their continued detention is illegal but, in an appalling reflection on the impotence of the courts in the post-9/11 era, concluded he didn't have the power to do anything about it. An appeals court is due to hear their case next month.

Meanwhile, Qassim, al-Hakim and others remain in limbo, victims of a situation also familiar to American moviegoers: Catch-22. Their plight has given the rest of the world, notably the Muslim world, yet another opportunity to question U.S. dedication to freedom and justice.


Saundra Hummer
April 18th, 2006, 11:53 PM

Recipe for Holy War: Add two nut jobs and stir

April 17, 2006

All right. I'm now officially scared.

Having just read Seymour Hersh's article about Bush's Iran plan, it appears that we no longer have a case of the good guys versus the bad guys.

What we have here is the bad guy versus the bad guy - two madmen playing an international game of chicken, ratcheting up the rhetoric to appeal to their fundamentalist followers.

There's no doubt that Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is mad in the head. In fact, it might help you remember his name if you pronounce it "Ah'm mad in ee head." He's got a uranium enrichment program going on so he can build nuclear power plants. But since he's crazy, there's a lot of worldwide concern that he's going to build a nuclear bomb while he's at it.

The U.N. atomic watchdog agency, which paid him a little visit last week, says there's no evidence that he's working on weapons. Even so, the world is feeling a little squirmy about letting Ah'm Mad In Ee Head carry on with his nuclear program. Everyone keeps asking him to quit it, but he's dug in his heels.

So that's one madman on the loose.

The other one - our very own nut job in the White House - is licking his chops over what he perceives as a stubborn challenge from Iran's president.

In last week's New Yorker magazine, Hersh provided a detailed look at Bush's response to Ah'm Mad In Ee Head. According to Hersh's sources, Bush wants Ah'm Mad In Ee Head to defy U.N. demands to quit playing with uranium.

You know why? Because our own madman wants to trot out one of our own nukes and bomb Iran's madman out of business - along with a few hundred thousand other Iranians, of course.

As one congressman told Hersh, "The most worrisome thing is that Bush has a messianic vision." Bush is waging a holy war. He's on a crusade. And so is Ah'm Mad In Ee Head.

One nut-job fundamentalist Christian plus one nut-job fundamentalist Muslim equals one nut-job Holy War.

The administration's talking heads deny this, of course. They say Hersh is in "fantasyland." That's funny. It's exactly what they said about Hersh when he broke the story about U.S. soldiers torturing prisoners in Abu Ghraib.

And so the rest of the world's people are as scared of George Bush as they are of Ah'm Mad In Ee Head. This unelected president of ours has systematically been dehumanizing Arabs. He's imprisoned them without charges. He's tortured them. He's killed them. And now he wants to nuke them.

He's like a child with a serious case of ADHD. He's lost interest in Iraq and is looking for a new toy to break. Iraq, after all, has turned out badly, so he's doing what he always does when he makes a mess of something - he's turning his attention elsewhere and starting a whole new mess.

The rest of the world prefers diplomacy, and for a good reason.

If Bush attacks Iran, he will unleash Hezbollah - Iran's strong, well organized terrorist organization. And who do you think Hezbollah's first target will be? The sitting ducks right next door in Iraq - American troops. Then Europe and Israel will go up in flames.

So now I'm officially scared. On their own, Bush and Ah'm Mad In Ee Head are frightening enough. Working together, these two could create the Perfect Storm.

Let's have a drink

There are 1,009 days 'til Inauguration 2009 - if we live that long. That means we'll break 1,000 next week. Let's drink a toast to Day 999 on Friday. At 7 p.m. on April 28 I'll be in the downstairs bar at Catherine's Restaurant, 153 West Main St., Goshen. If you plan to stop in, let me know so I can tell Steve at the restaurant what kind of crowd to expect.

Beth's column appears on Monday. Talk to her at 346-3147 or at bquinn@th-record.com.

Copyright Orange County Publications, a division of Ottaway Newspapers Inc., all rights reserved.


Saundra Hummer
April 19th, 2006, 12:16 AM

Scientists say they're being gagged by Bush

White House monitors their media contacts

Juliet Eilperin,
Washington Post
Sunday, April 16, 2006
Washington -- Scientists doing climate research for the federal government say the Bush administration has made it hard for them to speak forthrightly to the public about global warming. The result, the researchers say, is a danger that Americans are not getting the full story on how the climate is changing.

Employees and contractors working for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, along with a U.S. Geological Survey scientist working at an NOAA lab, said in interviews that over the past year administration officials have chastised them for speaking on policy questions; removed references to global warming from their reports, news releases and conference Web sites; investigated news leaks; and sometimes urged them to stop speaking to the media altogether. Their accounts indicate that the ideological battle over climate-change research, which first came to light at NASA, is being fought in other federal science agencies as well.

These scientists -- working nationwide in research centers in such places as Princeton, N.J., and Boulder, Colo. -- say they are required to clear all media requests with administration officials, something they did not have to do until the summer of 2004. Before then, climate researchers -- unlike staff members in the Justice or State departments, which have long-standing policies restricting access to reporters -- were relatively free to discuss their findings without strict agency oversight.

"There has been a change in how we're expected to interact with the press," said Pieter Tans, who measures greenhouse gases linked to global warming and has worked at NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder for two decades. He said that although he often "ignores the rules" the administration has instituted, when it comes to his colleagues, "some people feel intimidated -- I see that."

Christopher Milly, a hydrologist at the U.S. Geological Survey, said he had problems twice while drafting news releases on scientific papers describing how climate change would affect the nation's water supply.

Once in 2002, Milly said, Interior officials declined to issue a news release on grounds that it would cause "great problems with the department." In November 2005, they agreed to issue a release on a different climate-related paper, Milly said, but "purged key words from the releases, including 'global warming,' 'warming climate' and 'climate change.' ''

Administration officials said they are following long-standing policies that were not enforced in the past. Kent Laborde, a NOAA public affairs officer who flew to Boulder last month to monitor an interview Tans did with a film crew from the BBC, said he was helping facilitate meetings between scientists and journalists.

"We've always had the policy, it just hasn't been enforced," Laborde said. "It's important that the leadership knows something is coming out in the media, because it has a huge impact. The leadership needs to know the tenor or the tone of what we expect to be printed or broadcast."

Several times, however, agency officials have tried to alter what these scientists tell the media. When Tans was helping to organize the Seventh International Carbon Dioxide Conference near Boulder last fall, his lab director told him participants could not use the term "climate change" in conference paper's titles and abstracts. Tans and others disregarded that advice.

None of the scientists said political appointees had influenced their research on climate change or disciplined them for questioning the administration. Several researchers have received bigger budgets in recent years because President Bush has focused on studying global warming rather than curbing greenhouse gases. NOAA's budget for climate research and services is now $250 million, up from $241 million in 2004.

The assertion that climate scientists are being censored first surfaced in January when James Hansen, who directs NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, told the New York Times and the Washington Post that the administration sought to muzzle him after he gave a lecture in December calling for cuts in emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. (NASA Administrator Michael Griffin issued new rules recently that make clear that its scientists are free to talk to members of the media about their scientific findings, including personal interpretations.)

Two weeks later, Hansen suggested to an audience at the New School University in New York that his counterparts at NOAA were experiencing even more severe censorship. "It seems more like Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union than the United States," he told the crowd.

NOAA Administrator Conrad Lautenbacher responded by sending an agency-wide e-mail that said he is "a strong believer in open, peer-reviewed science as well as the right and duty of scientists to seek the truth and to provide the best scientific advice possible."

"I encourage our scientists to speak freely and openly," he added. "We ask only that you specify when you are communicating personal views and when you are characterizing your work as part of your specific contribution to NOAA's mission."

NOAA scientists, however, cite repeated instances in which the administration played down the threat of climate change in their documents and news releases. Although Bush and his top advisers have said that Earth is warming and human activity has contributed to this, they have questioned some predictions and caution that mandatory limits on carbon dioxide could damage the nation's economy.

In 2002, NOAA agreed to draft a report with Australian researchers aimed at helping reef managers deal with widespread coral bleaching that stems from higher sea temperatures. A March 2004 draft report had several references to global warming, including "Mass bleaching ... affects reefs at regional to global scales, and has incontrovertibly linked to increases in sea temperature associated with global change."

A later version, dated July 2005, drops those references and several others mentioning climate change.

NOAA has yet to release the coral bleaching report. James Mahoney, assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere, said he decided in late 2004 to delay the report because "its scientific basis was so inadequate." Now that it is revised, he said, he is waiting for the Australian Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to approve it. "I just did not think it was ready for prime time," Mahoney said. "It was not just about climate change -- there were a lot of things."

On other occasions, Mahoney and other NOAA officials have told researchers not to give their opinions on policy matters. Konrad Steffen directs the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado at Boulder, a joint NOAA-university institute with a $40 million annual budget. Steffen studies the Greenland ice sheet, and when his work was cited last spring in a major international report on climate change in the Arctic, he and another NOAA lab director from Alaska received a call from Mahoney in which he told them not to give reporters their opinions on global warming.

Steffen said that he told him that although Mahoney has considerable leverage as "the person in command for all research money in NOAA ... I was not backing down."

Mahoney said he had "no recollection" of the conversation, which took place in a conference call. "It's virtually inconceivable that I would have called him about this," Mahoney said, though he added: "For those who are government employees, our position is they should not typically render a policy view."

The need for clearance from Washington, several NOAA scientists said, amounts to a "pocket veto" allowing administration officials to block interviews by not giving permission in time for journalists' deadlines.

Ronald Stouffer, a climate research scientist at NOAA's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, estimated his media requests have dropped in half because it took so long to get clearance to talk from NOAA headquarters. Thomas Delworth, one of Stouffer's colleagues, said the policy means Americans have only "a partial sense" of what government scientists have learned about climate change.

"American taxpayers are paying the bill, and they have a right to know what we're doing," he said.

Page A - 3
URL: http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/04/16/MNG3SI80RC1.DTL
©2006 San Francisco Chronicle

Saundra Hummer
April 19th, 2006, 12:14 PM
From Capitol Hill Blue

The Rant
The decider-in-chief: A drunk with power


Apr 19, 2006, 03:25

I'm having a hard time keeping up with all of George W. Bush's titles.

He likes to call himself the commander-in-chief, a hypocritical stance since he did everything in his and his daddy's power to avoid going to war during the Vietnam era. Perhaps coward-in-chief would be more appropriate.

He also loves to call himself a "war time president," another blatant use of fantasy since the only war he manages is the one he created himself based on lies and fabricated rationale.

Now he's got a new, self-indulgent title.

"I'm the decider, and I decide what is best," Bush declared in a sort-of-stirring defense of embattled defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Decider-in-chief? A key statement to the arrogance that is George W. Bush.

"I decide what is best," he says.

For Bush the game has always been about power. Absolute power. Dictatorial power.

This is the American President who said: "it would be much easier if this was a dictatorship, as long as I get to be the dictator."

At the time some people thought he was joking. Those who know him knew he wasn't.
"Of all the Presidents I've served or observed, George W. Bush is the least receptive to the opinion of others," says political scientist George Harleigh, who served in both the Nixon and Reagan administrations. "He has no interest in what others think and he doesn't listen to the advice of experts or professionals."

In 1999, while completing a profile of Harris County, Texas, Judge Robert Eckels, I interviewed a number of Texas political observers. Republican and Democrat alike agreed that then Gov. George W. Bush was stubborn, arrogant and used to having his own way.

"He's an asshole," said Tom Delaney, who worked on Bush's second gubernatorial campaign. "He can smile at you while cutting off your balls."

Dr. Justin Frank, a prominent George Washington University psychiatrist and author of the book, Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President, says Bush has a cruel, sadistic streak that goes back to his childhood when a young George gleefully bragged about dissecting cats, cutting them open while they were still alive.

The boy who tortured cats, Dr. Frank says, grew up into an alcohol-abusing bully who strikes out at anyone who opposes him.

All one has to do is confront the President and the bully emerges.

"To actually directly confront him in a clear way, to bring him out, so you would really see the bully, and you would also see the fear," he says.

Dr. Frank also believes Bush, an alcoholic who brags that he gave up booze without help from groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, may be drinking again.

"Two questions that the press seems particularly determined to ignore have hung silently in the air since before Bush took office," Dr. Frank says. "Is he still drinking? And if not, is he impaired by all the years he did spend drinking? Both questions need to be addressed in any serious assessment of his psychological state."

As a recovering alcoholic (11 years, 10 months and 13 days sober), I agree with Dr. Frank's assessment. Bush demonstrates many of the traits of a drinker who has relapsed: An inability to focus, moments where he goes "blank" and can't respond, incoherent sentences and flashes of anger when challenged.

"The pattern of blame and denial, which recovering alcoholics work so hard to break, seems to be ingrained in the alcoholic personality. It's rarely limited to his or her drinking," Dr. Frank says. "The habit of placing blame and denying responsibility is so prevalent in George W. Bush's personal history that it is apparently triggered by even the mildest threat."

So it's no surprise that the self-declared "decider-in-chief" is an arrogant hothead who probably sneaks a drink or two during the day. He's a paranoid, fear-mongering bully who openly abuses power and, thanks to the gullible American voting public, he can, and will continue to, abuse that power.

A drunk: That's the title George W. Bush deserves most. He is a drunk even if he doesn't get blasted on booze. He's drunk with power and that's the most dangerous kind of drunk. When a drunk who gets high on power sits in the White House, the rest of us wake up with the hangover.

© Copyright 2005 Capitol Hill Blue


Saundra Hummer
April 19th, 2006, 01:03 PM
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Protection Racket, Inc.

Ellen Goodman
Washington Post Writers Group

04.14.06 - BOSTON -- For those who have ever wondered when a promise of protection becomes a protection racket, this is your moment.

We now have the forced admission that in 2003 George W. Bush himself approved the leaking of classified intelligence gathered before the Iraq War. He didn't let it all leak out. He authorized a trickle of information buttressing his case that Saddam Hussein had been a nuclear threat, information that had already been discredited.

After manipulating this faucet of fear, the president then defended the war in the name of national security, casting himself as the country's father-protector. In short, he sold himself as the person we needed to protect us from the fear he provoked. Welcome to the protection racket.

And lest you forget, his re-election campaign was run by the same racketeers. George W. was transformed from a conservative who was compassionate to a commander in chief who was unflappable. John Kerry was accused of the unmanly crime of nuance and caricatured as flip-floppable. We were subjected to an endless strongman debate with Arnold Schwarzenegger leading the attack on “girlie men.”

A stock figure of the election cycle was the soccer mom transformed into the security mom. This was the woman scared right -- into the arms of the president. In this favorite story line, women who mock husbands who don't ask for directions fall for the politician who insists that he knows where he's going.

The security mom was something of a cartoon figure and the balloon over her head now reads: “What was I thinking?” There are enough second thoughts in the citizenry to make Bush's approval rating look like the “Summit Plummet” ride at Disney World. But I'm afraid the racketeers aren't filing for bankruptcy yet.

Consider the success of Harvey Mansfield's book, a last-ditch defense of “Manliness.” Harvard's token conservative has written a plea to common sense replete with enough provocative nonsense to make you wonder if he handled public relations for Larry Summers. Women, he asserts manfully, like changing diapers, fear spiders and are cute when they're mad. But the oddball, often-impenetrable mix of Socrates and stereotypes has landed Mansfield attention even in such estrogen-laden bastions as Oprah's magazine.

Mansfield defines manliness as “confidence in the face of risk.” His manly man is something of a drama king who prefers times of conflict and war. He “asserts himself so that he and the justice he demands are not overlooked.' And if an occasional woman who overcomes her love of diapers and fear of spiders also asserts herself -- see Margaret Thatcher -- she is simply declared to be manly.

What makes this a somewhat modest defense is that Mansfield acknowledges good and bad manliness. The same characteristics can lead a terrorist to fly a plane directly into a building or a firefighter to race up the stairs to save lives.

So Mansfield believes we need to bolster the “good” manliness to protect us from the “bad” manliness. “Manliness is the only remedy for the trouble it causes,” he writes. But here is where the scam clicks in. He calls on women to accept, jolly, humor and respect manly men as a way of muting their danger. Protection Rackets Inc.

Despite the existence of women terrorists, soldiers and secretaries of state, most wars have indeed been initiated and waged by men. Tribes and countries do continually look to one group of men to defend them against another group of men.

But sometimes we have to just ask: How well have humoring and jollying muted the dangers of war or honor killings, wife-beating or ethnic cleansing? Haven't we shown too much respect for people whose blood rushes to conflict? In a Time magazine piece, even a retired general chastises the White House for going to war with a “swagger.” What happens when the men who fantasized a nuclear threat in Iraq confront the swagger of such a threat in Iran?

In the past weeks, I've heard any number of people ask whether Katie Couric has the gravitas -- that's Latin for baritone -- to be a sole network news anchor. And whether Hillary Clinton has the cojones -- that's Spanish for, never mind -- to be president. I've taken the pulse of liberals who have a crush on John McCain for his wartime courage even when his convictions have turned the Straight Talk Express into a Right Wing Local.

There's something to be learned in the Bush debacle. Beware the call of the old manliness. Beware the man who ramps up the danger and offers himself as hero and security blanket. And beware the leader whose unwavering, unflappable, unnuanced and unjustified confidence in the face of risk becomes our disaster.

(c) 2006, Washington Post Writers Group

URL: http://www.workingforchange.com/article.cfm?ItemID=20644

Saundra Hummer
April 19th, 2006, 01:36 PM

Election-year Investigations

Molly Ivins
Creators Syndicate
04.17.06 - AUSTIN, Texas -- An interesting semi-historical footnote concerning Dick Cheney's oft-reiterated references during the 2000 presidential campaign to President Clinton's weaseling under oath. "He knows what the meaning of 'is' is," says Cheney in his campaign stump speech to show the moral superiority of the Republican camp.

Which leads us to this story about Karl Rove, Bush's campaign manager and the man they call "Bush's brain."

Rove, as all the world knows, has been a longtime Republican political operative in Texas prior to heading to Washington with Bush. During that time, Texas Democrats noticed a pattern that they eventually became somewhat paranoid about: In election years, there always seemed to be an FBI investigation of some sitting Democrat either announced or leaked to the press.

After the election was over, the allegations often vanished, although in the case of Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower, three of his aides were later convicted. The investigations were conducted by FBI agent Greg Rampton, who was stationed in Austin in those years.

In 1989, Rove was nominated for a position with the federal Board for International Broadcasting. He answered a questionnaire from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that was later obtained by subpoena. One of the questions was: Have you been interviewed or asked to supply any information in connection with any administrative or grand jury investigation in the past 18 months? If so, provide details.

Rove responded, "This summer I met with agent Greg Rampton of the Austin FBI office at his request regarding a probe of political corruption in the office of Texas Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower."

In 1991, Rove was undergoing state Senate confirmation hearings for an appointment to the East Texas State University board of regents. Sen. Bob Glasgow was questioning Rove about his work for Gov. Bill Clements in the 1986 campaign against Gov. Mark White.

A now-forgotten incident of that campaign involved a listening device allegedly found in Rove's office by a private security firm a few days before a televised debate. The case made headlines around the state. It was investigated by Rampton, who never found the alleged perpetrator.

Glasgow: "Ah, Mr. Rove, would you now tell us publicly who bugged your office that you blamed upon Mark White publicly and the press statewide?"

Rove: "Ah, first of all, I did not blame it on Mark White. If, ah, if you'll recall I specifically said at the time that we disclosed the bugging that we did not know who did it, but we knew who might benefit from it. And no, I do not know. ..."

Glasgow: "And are you now satisfied that Mark White and the Democratic Party did not bug your office as you -- as you released, ah, to the newspapers?"

Rove: "Senator, I never said Mark White bugged my office, I'm not certain he has an electronic background. I never said the Democratic Party bugged it either. ... As to who bugged it, Senator, I do not know -- and the FBI does not know. ..."

Glasgow: "How long have you known an FBI agent by the name of Greg (Rampton)?"

Rove: "Ah, Senator, it depends -- would you define 'know' for me?"

Glasgow: "What is your relationship with him?"

Rove: "Ah, I know, I would not recognize Greg (Rampton) if he walked in the door. We have talked on the phone a var- -- a number of times. Ah, and he has visited in my office once or twice, but we do not have a social or personal relationship whatsoever. ..."

Glasgow: "During the Rick Perry campaign (against Jim Hightower), did you have any conversations with FBI agent Rampton about the course and conduct of that campaign?"

Rove: "Yes, I did, two or three times. ..."

Glasgow: "Did you issue a press release in Washington, at a fund-raiser, about information you'd received from the FBI implicating -- implicating, ah, Hightower?"

Rove: "We did not issue a press release. ... We did not issue a news release. I talked to a member of the press ..."

Glasgow: "I'm gonna let you expound on anything you want to. Ah, involved in campaigns that you've been involved in, do you know why agent Rampton conducted a criminal investigation of Garry Mauro at the time you were involved in that campaign, pulled the finance records of Bob Bullock at the time you were involved in that campaign, pulled the campaign records of Jim Hightower at the time you were involved in that campaign?"

Rove: "Well, Senator, first of all, as I said before, I was not involved in either Bob Bullock or Garry Mauro's campaigns or the campaigns of their Republican opponent. I'd be hard pressed to tell you who Garry Mauro's opponent was in 1986. Ah, and I'd -- think I'd be hard pressed even to remember who Bob Bullock's opponent was in 1986. So I can't answer that part of the question. I do know that I became involved in Rick Perry's campaign in November of 1989. At that point there was already an investigation ongoing of the Texas Department of Agriculture, prompted by stories which had appeared in August and September, I believe, in The Dallas Morning News regarding the use of Texas Department of Agriculture funds."

Glasgow shifts to the Board for International Broadcasting appointment: "And in answering a question for that perspective (sic) federal appointment, did you make a claim in there that you were involved in the Hightower investigation at the request of special agent Rampton of the Federal Bureau of Investigation?"

Rove: "No, sir."

Glasgow: "You did not make that statement in response ..."

Rove: "I did not, and I was ..."

Glasgow: "Let me finish my question. Did you make that statement in response to a written questionnaire?"

Rove: "Ah, Senator, ah, no, I did not make that statement, but I ..."

Glasgow: "Thank you very much."

Rampton, who was subsequently involved with the FBI operation at Ruby Ridge, said that he had not talked to Rove about the Hightower case. Told that Rove had so claimed in his federal questionnaire, Rampton said:

"Let me think. I couldn't recall talking to him on that particular case at all. My memory, if there was a conversation we had on that case, well, I can't recall it. He was not an integral part of that case. I don't even remember bouncing anything off him as somebody who was familiar with politics in Austin."
(c) 2006 Creators Syndicate

URL: http://www.workingforchange.com/article.cfm?ItemID=20664

Saundra Hummer
April 19th, 2006, 01:41 PM

Meet the world's proto-fascist superpower

Geov Parrish

04.19.06 - Chinese President and Chinese Communist Party (CCP) head Hu Jintao is in Seattle today and tomorrow, visiting Boeing and Microsoft on his way to a White House meeting Thursday with President Bush. It's not clear which side of the continent will be the more important stop for Hu.

Boeing, of course, did a lot to make China's current emergence as a world economic leader possible, pushing the U.S. government hard first to back Permanent Most Favored Nation status in the '90s, then to work to admit China to the World Trade Organization in 2001. And Boeing was among the first U.S. companies to agree to offset sales deals that transferred sensitive military technology (and U.S. jobs) to China, a trend that has resulted a decade later in Motorola and other U.S. companies doing original R&D work on Chinese soil for a military carefully modernizing to counter U.S. technological superiority. As for American manufacturing jobs migrating to China, well, it seems like most of them have. China is now the world's undisputed manufacturing center.

But it is the Microsoft connection that is particularly interesting, and not just because civil libertarians and human rights groups object to companies like Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo capitulating to Beijing demands that their software in China incorporate Chinese state censorship programs. China business expert Ethan Gutmann, author of Losing the New China (essentially a memoir of U.S. corporate practices in Beijing), identifies Microsoft as one of the more influential U.S. companies now in China. "In terms of the Internet, foreign corporations are making the human rights situation worse. The problem is not censorship but surveillance equipment," Gutmann says, leading to Internet self-censorship, powerlessness, and fear among Chinese hoping to challenge the totalitarian practices of their government. Cisco Systems is the biggest purveyor of such equipment, but Microsoft is also suspected of colluding with Beijing on this item.

On the other side of the country, President Bush is expectedly to talk with Hu mostly about trade issues. America's trade deficit with China is enormous; moreover, China now owns a sizeable, and growing, portion of our country's national debt, meaning that it controls a good chunk of the record deficits Bush has run up -- and any further debt he might wish to create. If Bush really wants to invade Iran, for example, he will undoubtably need the money from somewhere -- and China, which has large oil contracts with Iran, is not likely to look favorably on having that oil essentially seized by America. That, as much as the likely-to-be-precipitous impact on oil prices, is the real economic danger of Bush's latest military obsession. China not only controls American debt, but can also easily modify the spigot of Chinese-made consumer goods pouring daily into America. The average American home has literally thousands of Chinese-made goods in it. Imagine what would happen in this country if Wal-Mart's import costs suddenly tripled.

But what Bush and Hu almost certainly won't discuss is the totalitarian nature of the Chinese government itself, for sheer scale the worst human rights abuser in the world. Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, and others are helping to bring that repression into the 21st century. Gutmann believes that while foreign business entered China a decade ago with the best of intentions for being a democratizing force, that idealism has been replaced by cynicism, and the foreign investment has meant an influx of cash and technology -- and new power -- for the CCP. The 1989 pro-democracy movement of Tiananmen Square is scattered and all but dead; after seeing how its corporations operate first hand, remaining reformers no longer hold up America as an ideal (remember the Goddess of Democracy?). Falun Gong, the meditative practice whose mixture of poor provincial and university-bred practitioners Beijing finds threatening enough to have banned and aggressively repressed, charges that the Chinese government operates concentration camps and slave labor camps with its political prisoners. They've produced eyewitnesses to prove it. Tibetans and China's numberless other ethnic minorities are as poor and repressed as ever; China's enthusiastic rhetorical support for the "War on Terror" is a direct extension of its contempt for the Uighur and other Muslim minorities in the west.

Foreign investment has brought undisputed wealth, and income stratification, to China's coastal cities and provinces; the interior, however, remains mostly poor, and Gutmann believes the interior may actually have a negative GDP. Moreover, as with rural areas around the world (only more so), people are leaving. In the largest mass migration in human history, an estimated 700 million people -- nearly half of China's population -- is expected to move from west to east, from country to city, in coming years. It is a virtually limitless supply of cheap labor. And even if only a fifth of the country rises to the middle class, that still equals the entire population of the United States -- an irresistible new domestic market for foreign corporations. Little wonder that when American corporations first deal with the Beijing government these days, they are often, in Gutmann's words, "too obsequious."

Some of this would have happened regardless of what America did; the Chinese were experimenting with enterprise zones for foreign investment as early as 1980, and China, Communist or not, has a reputation for some of the best entrepreneurs in the world. "I have a lot of faith that the Chinese enterpreneurial spirit can overcome anything the government does," comments Gutmann.

Human rights, however, is another matter. China's was the only authoritarian government challenged by the wave of 1989 revolutions sweeping the world to have survived it, and it is stronger for the experience. Beijing these days is anything but Marxist; Gutmann identifies it instead as "proto-fascist." In the U.S., it is primarily ethnic Chinese, evangelical Christians, and hard-line conservatives -- not liberals -- who agitate over China's horrific human rights record. Bush, like Clinton before him, has paid the issue lip service but has otherwise done nothing. Given China's economic leverage over the U.S., it's not entirely clear at this point that he could do anything if he wanted to.

But American business, Gutmann believes, can, and should. "We have to look over the policy of engagement again," he says, and refuse to do business in any area that abets repression. That means companies like Cisco should stop training Chinese police. It means Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, and others should stop aiding censorship and surveillance and stop giving the government user information on the Internet, potentially the strongest democratizing force in China. And on R&D, Gutmann believes {U.S.] "government intervention is sorely needed over any police or military applications" being provided by American corporations.

The militaries of both China and the U.S. are eying each other as likely future adversaries, and planning accordingly. The "War on Terror" has masked a U.S. drive to create large military bases that surround China on all sides, and China is focusing its new technology on anti-satellite weaponry and other developments meant to exploit what it believes to be the Pentagon's weakest links. In the long run, Gutmann believes that democratic reform within China is all but inevitable. The question is whether it will come before, or after, a war with the superpower it is attempting to replace.

(c) 2006, WorkingForChange.com

URL: http://www.workingforchange.com/article.cfm?ItemID=20672

Saundra Hummer
April 19th, 2006, 06:03 PM
Walking the White House plank

White House press secretary, Scott McClellan, departs as the investigation into Karl Rove enters into a serious new phase.
Sidney Blumenthal

The resignation of the White House press secretary, Scott McClellan, is an event of almost complete insignificance except insofar as the beleaguered White House presents it as an important change. Meanwhile, the secretary of defence, Donald Rumsfeld, under siege from dissenting ex-generals demanding his firing for arrogant incompetence, stays.

McClellan is a flea on the windshield of history. On the podium, he performed his duty as a slow-flying object swatted by a frustrated and flustered press corps. Inexpressive, occasionally inarticulate and displaying a limited vocabulary, his virtue was his unwavering discipline in sticking to his uninformative talking points, fending off pesky reporters, and defending the president and all the president's men to the last full measure of his devotion. Inside the Bush White House, he was a non-player, a factotum, the instrument of Karl Rove, Bush's chief political strategist and deputy chief of staff. McClellan played no part in the inner councils of state. He was the blank wall erected in front of the press to obstruct them from seeing what was on the other side. McClellan's stoic façade was unmatched by a stoic interior. He was a vessel for his masters, did whatever he was told, put out disinformation without objection, and was willing to defend any travesty. He is the ultimate dispensable man.

Events that could truly shake the Bush White House to its foundation, however, may be discerned elsewhere. On Monday, in Chicago, a jury found former Republican governor George Ryan guilty of 18 counts of corruption. His trial was the climax of a nine-year investigation that had yielded 75 convictions, including some of the most powerful figures in the Republican party of Illinois. The federal investigation, dubbed Operation Safe Roads, began by looking into bribery for driver's licenses. Over time, prosecutors systematically uncovered broader and deeper patterns of corruption reaching up to the governor's office. Patiently, they built their cases until they reached the top.

The United States attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, who conducted this painstakingly thorough prosecution, Patrick Fitzgerald, is also the special prosecutor in charge of the investigation into the leaking of the identity of the covert CIA operative, Valerie Plame Wilson. So far, he has indicted I. Irving "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, on five counts of perjury and obstruction of justice.

Two weeks ago, Fitzgerald filed a motion before the federal court in the Libby case stating that his investigation had proved that the White House engaged in "concerted action" from "a plan to discredit, punish or seek revenge against" former ambassador Joseph Wilson, who revealed that the rationale of the Iraq war was based on false information that the White House knew was bogus. Fitzgerald declared further that he had gathered "evidence that multiple officials in the White House" had outed his wife's clandestine identity to reporters as an element of revenge.

Last week, on April 12, Libby counter-filed to demand extensive documents in the possession of the prosecutor. His filing, written by his lawyers, reveals that he intends to put Karl Rove on the stand as a witness to question him about his leaking of Plame's name to reporters and presumably his role in the "concerted action" against Wilson.
In his request for documents from Rove's files, Libby dropped mention of Rove's current legal status.

For months, Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, has assured the press that his client, who was believed to be vulnerable to indictment for perjury, is in the clear. But Libby insisted that he was entitled to "disclosure of such documents" in Rove's files "even if Mr. Rove remains a subject of a continuing grand jury investigation".

Karl Rove is a subject of Fitzgerald's investigation - this is the headline buried in Libby's filing.

In white-collar criminal investigations, individuals who fall under the gaze of a prosecutor fit into one of three categories: witness, subject or target. Rove's attorney has suggested that Rove is simply a witness. But that is untrue. He is a subject. A subject is someone the prosecutor believes may have committed a crime and is under investigation. If the prosecutor decides he has accumulated sufficient evidence to prove guilt, he will change the designation of that person from subject to target and then indict him or her.

Having successfully completed his most extensive investigation and prosecution, ending with the conviction of former Governor Ryan, Patrick Fitzgerald returns to the unresolved case before him. The federal grand jury considering his evidence began meeting again this morning. Karl Rove remains a subject--for now.

Go on-site to view tags - links, just click on the following addresse to access:
This entry was tagged with the following keywords: whitehouse scottmcclellan patrickfitzgerald karlrove





Saundra Hummer
April 19th, 2006, 06:35 PM

Colonel Accused of Corruption in Iraq

The Los Angeles Times has a story today about Kimberly D. Olson, an Air Force colonel now accused of using her high position in the Coalitional Provisional Authority in Iraq for financial gain (she's the highest-ranking officer to be accused of wrongdoing in connection with reconstruction):

One of the first female pilots in the Air Force, she was a hard-charger with an unblemished reputation for honesty, a high profile in the Pentagon and a commitment to the U.S. goal of creating a democracy in the Middle East.

Today, Olson is at the center of accusations of audacious impropriety in the corruption-plagued reconstruction of Iraq….

Pentagon investigators allege that while on active duty as one of the most powerful figures in Iraq, Olson established a U.S. branch of a South African security firm after helping it win more than $3 million in contracts to provide protection for senior U.S. and British officials, as well as for KBR, a subsidiary of Halliburton Co.

Disgusting, I guess, although you sort of have to strain to find any meaningful difference between what Olson did and what passed for "business of usual" throughout the reconstruction. Basically, an American-run administration was installed in Iraq and tasked with privatizing the country's industries and handing off reconstruction contracts to whoever had the slickest and best-connected lobbyists. In early 2005, government watchdogs reported that $9 billion worth of reconstruction funds had somehow up and vanished. Without excusing Olson, the invasion created the perfect atmosphere for looting and corruption; stories like these are the inevitable result.
Posted by Bradford Plumer on 04/19/06 at 12:53 PM | E-mail |

TrackBack URL for this entry:


First Pfc. Lynndie England, then Brigadier General Janis Karpinski and now colonel Olson. How is it that the bulk of the people going down for military incompetence are women? Today our Decicer-In-Chief claimed that it is he who makes the decisions. Those who are giving the orders are the ones who should go down.
Posted by: alex2012 on 04/19/06 at 01:55 PM

so Cheney giving a nobid contract to Halliburton is exempt,
like the law in texas about drinking while handling firearms???

Posted by: Eddie Wilson on 04/19/06 at 02:58 PM


Business as usual, or so it seems to me.

Remember the hanger-oners who invited GW Bush to every event and private party in Texas just so they could cozy up to GHW Bush when he was president? Seems GW made a lot of money due to his perceived influence with his father. Was the son corrupt? Were they corrupt? Were they all corrupt? Well, we know the answer to that one, or believe we do, so why is her situation any different than so many other in goverment payed jobs, elected positions, etc.?

ETHICS. It all comes down to those I suppose, and it seems that there are far and few people with them in this strange day and age we're all living in. Seems philosophy needs to be taught from grade school on, as we are in desperate need of the ideas put forth by those in our past. Does anyone even teach ethics any longer? They say they do in law school, but with so many attorney's we've seen up close and personal, they didn't exhibit them, in fact it was just the opposite end of the spectrum, It wasn't that way with all of them, James Massey and Bernie Thurber were exceptional and just wonderful, but this hasn't been the case with far too many, not all of them, but way too many. A lot of them we've dealt with just didn't learn a thing about fairness. Ethics weren't their expertise, it seemed to us that lining their pockets and the law firms coffers with whom they work is all that matters to them - looking good in court and taking you to the proverbial cleaners - they have that down pat. There should be more to their character I would believe. How does this make them happy with their lot in life? Not something most of us could live with. Or so I like to believe.

Saundra Hummer
April 19th, 2006, 07:13 PM
Bush recess appoints Soc. Security trustees

By William L. Watts, MarketWatch
The Wall Street Journal
Last Update:
7:52 PM ET Apr 19, 2006

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- President Bush on Wednesday circumvented a standoff with the Senate over his efforts to re-appoint two public trustees to the boards of the Social Security and Medicare programs.
The White House announced that Bush had "recess appointed" John Palmer and Thomas Saving to serve on the Social Security and Medicare board of trustees.
The constitution allows the president to make recess appointments to temporarily fill posts that otherwise require Senate confirmation when the upper chamber is not in session. Lawmakers return next week from a two-week Easter recess.
Palmer, a former dean of Syracuse University's Maxwell School, and Saving, an economist at Texas A&M University, had served as public trustees since 2000. Although their four-year terms had expired, the pair was able to remain in place to complete the annual trustees report on Social Security and Medicare that was released in 2005.
Bush had sought to re-appoint the pair, but Senate leaders have said they were reluctant to break with a tradition in which the public trustees serve only one term, the New York Times reported. Other trustees include the secretaries of the Treasury, Health and Human Services, and Labor Departments, as well as the commissioner of the Social Security Administration. Administration officials have blamed the standoff for the delay in the release of the 2006 trustees' report. The annual report assesses the financial outlook of the Social Security and Medicare programs.

William L. Watts is a reporter for MarketWatch.


Saundra Hummer
April 19th, 2006, 07:31 PM
A Fascinating Read

Dubai: Sinister Paradise

A computer image of the 'Burj Dubai' in the United Arab Emirates, which will be the world's highest building when completed in November 2008. Click to enlarge. Go on-site to view photo.

Commentary: From the Archives: Does the road to the future end here?

By Mike Davis
July 14, 2005

The narration begins:
As your jet starts its descent, you are glued to your window. The scene below is astonishing: a 24-square-mile archipelago of coral-colored islands in the shape of an almost finished puzzle of the world. In the shallow green waters between continents, the sunken shapes of the Pyramids of Giza and the Roman Coliseum are clearly visible.

In the distance are three other large island groups configured as palms within crescents and planted with high-rise resorts, amusement parks, and a thousand mansions built on stilts over the water. The "Palms" are connected by causeways to a Miami-like beachfront chock-a-block full of mega-hotels, apartment high-rises and yacht marinas.

As the plane slowly banks toward the desert mainland, you gasp at the even more improbable vision ahead. Out of a chrome forest of skyscrapers (nearly a dozen taller than 1000 feet) soars a new Tower of Babel. It is an impossible one-half-mile high: the equivalent of the Empire State Building stacked on top of itself.

You are still rubbing your eyes with wonderment and disbelief when the plane lands and you are welcomed into an airport emporium where hundreds of shops seduce you with Gucci bags, Cartier watches, and one-kilogram bars of solid gold. You make a mental note to pick up some duty-free gold on your way out.

The hotel driver is waiting for you in a Rolls Royce Silver Seraph. Friends have recommended the Armani Hotel in the 160-story tower or the seven-star hotel with an atrium so huge that the Statue of Liberty would fit inside, but instead you have opted to fulfill a childhood fantasy. You always have wanted to be Captain Nemo in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.

Your jellyfish-shaped hotel is, in fact, exactly 66 feet below the sea surface. Each of its 220 luxury suites has clear Plexiglas walls that provide spectacular views of passing mermaids as well as the hotel's famed "underwater fireworks:" a hallucinatory exhibition of "water bubbles, swirled sand, and carefully deployed lighting." Any initial anxiety about the safety of your sea-bottom resort is dispelled by the smiling concierge. The structure has a multi-level failsafe security system, he reassures you, that includes protection against terrorist submarines as well as missiles and aircraft.

Although you have an important business meeting at the Internet City free-trade zone with clients from Hyderabad and Taipei, you have arrived a day early to treat yourself to one of the famed adventures at the Restless Planet dinosaur theme park. Indeed, after a soothing night's sleep under the sea, you are aboard a monorail headed for a Jurassic jungle. Your expedition encounters some peacefully grazing Apatosaurs, but you are soon attacked by a nasty gang of velociraptors. The animatronic beasts are so flawlessly lifelike -- in fact, they have been designed by experts from the British Museum of Natural History -- that you shriek in fear and delight.

With your adrenaline pumped-up by this close call, you polish off the afternoon with some thrilling snowboarding on the local black diamond run. Next door is the Mall of Arabia, the world's largest mall -- the altar of the city's famed Shopping Festival that attracts 5 million frenetic consumers each January -- but you postpone the temptation.

Instead, you indulge in some expensive Thai fusion cuisine at a restaurant near Elite Towers that was recommended by your hotel driver. The gorgeous Russian blond at the bar keeps staring at you with almost vampire-like hunger, and you wonder whether the local sin scene is as extravagant as the shopping?..

The Sequel to Blade Runner?

Welcome to paradise. But where are you? Is this a new science-fiction novel from Margaret Atwood, the sequel to Blade Runner, or Donald Trump tripping on acid?

No, it is the Persian Gulf city-state of Dubai in 2010.

After Shanghai (current population: 15 million), Dubai (current population: 1.5 million) is the world's biggest building site: an emerging dreamworld of conspicuous consumption and what locals dub "supreme lifestyles."

Dozens of outlandish mega-projects -- including "The World" (an artificial archipelago), Burj Dubai (the Earth's tallest building), the Hydropolis (that underwater luxury hotel, the Restless Planet theme park, a domed ski resort perpetually maintained in 40C heat, and The Mall of Arabia, a hyper-mall -- are actually under construction or will soon leave the drawing boards.

A satellite photo of 'Jebel Ali Palm Island,' the second Palm Island to be built off the coast of Dubai. Eventually, three palm-shaped artificial islands will be built in the Dubai area. The first one, 'Jumeira Palm' is almost completed. Click to enlarge.
Under the enlightened despotism of its Crown Prince and CEO, 56-year-old Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the Rhode-Island-sized Emirate of Dubai has become the new global icon of imagineered urbanism. Although often compared to Las Vegas, Orlando, Hong Kong or Singapore, the sheikhdom is more like their collective summation: a pastiche of the big, the bad, and the ugly. It is not just a hybrid but a chimera: the offspring of the lascivious coupling of the cyclopean fantasies of Barnum, Eiffel, Disney, Spielberg, Jerde, Wynn, and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.

Multibillionaire Sheik Mo -- as he's affectionately known to Dubai's expats -- not only collects thoroughbreds (the world's largest stable) and super-yachts (the 525-foot-long Project Platinum which has its own submarine and flight deck), but also seems to have imprinted Robert Venturi's cult Learning from Las Vegas in the same way that more pious Moslems have memorized The Quran. (One of the Sheik's proudest achievements, by the way, is to have introduced gated communities to Arabia.)

Under his leadership, the coastal desert has become a huge circuit board into which the elite of transnational engineering firms and retail developers are invited to plug in high-tech clusters, entertainment zones, artificial islands, "cities within cities" -- whatever is the latest fad in urban capitalism. The same phantasmagoric but generic Lego blocks, of course, can be found in dozens of aspiring cities these days, but Sheik Mo has a distinctive and inviolable criterion: Everything must be "world class," by which he means number one in The Guinness Book of Records. Thus Dubai is building the world's largest theme park, the biggest mall, the highest building, and the first sunken hotel among other firsts.

Sheikh Mo's architectural megalomania, although reminiscent of Albert Speer and his patron, is not irrational. Having "learned from Las Vegas," he understands that if Dubai wants to become the luxury-consumer paradise of the Middle East and South Asia (its officially defined "home market" of 1.6 billion), it must ceaselessly strive for excess.

From this standpoint, the city's monstrous caricature of futurism is simply shrewd marketing. Its owners love it when designers and urbanists anoint it as the cutting edge. Architect George Katodrytis wrote: "Dubai may be considered the emerging prototype for the 21st century: prosthetic and nomadic oases presented as isolated cities that extend out over the land and sea."

Moreover, Dubai can count on the peak-oil epoch to cover the costs of these hyperboles. Each time you spent $40 to fill your tank, you are helping to irrigate Sheik Mo's oasis.

Precisely because Dubai is rapidly pumping the last of its own modest endowment of oil, it has opted to become the postmodern "city of nets" -- as Bertolt Brecht called his fictional boomtown of Mahoganny -- where the super-profits of oil are to be reinvested in Arabia's one truly inexhaustible natural resource: sand. (Indeed mega-projects in Dubai are usually measured by volumes of sand moved: 1 billion cubic feet in the case of The World.)

Al-Qaeda and the war on terrorism deserve some of the credit for this boom. Since 9/11, many Middle Eastern investors, fearing possible lawsuits or sanctions, have pulled up stakes in the West. According to Salman bin Dasmal of Dubai Holdings, the Saudis alone have repatriated one-third of their trillion-dollar overseas portfolio. The sheikhs are bringing it back home, and last year, the Saudis were believed to have ploughed at least $7 billion into Dubai's sand castles.

Another aqueduct of oil wealth flows from the neighboring Emirate of Abu Dhabi. The two statelets dominate the United Arab Emirates -- a quasi-nation thrown together by Sheik Mo's father and the ruler of Abu Dhabi in 1971 to fend off threats from Marxists in Oman and, later, Islamists in Iran.

Today, Dubai's security is guaranteed by the American nuclear super-carriers usually berthed at the port of Jebel Ali. Indeed, the city-state aggressively promotes itself as the ultimate elite "Green Zone" in an increasingly turbulent and dangerous region.

Meanwhile, as increasing numbers of experts warn that the age of cheap oil is passing, the al-Maktoum clan can count on a torrent of nervous oil revenue seeking a friendly and stable haven. When outsiders question the sustainability of the current boom, Dubai officials point out that their new Mecca is being built on equity, not debt.

Since a watershed 2003 decision to open unrestricted freehold ownership to foreigners, wealthy Europeans and Asians have rushed to become part of the Dubai bubble. A beachfront in one of the "Palms" or, better yet, a private island in "The World" now has the cachet of St. Tropez or Grand Cayman. The old colonial masters lead the pack as Brit expats and investors have become the biggest cheerleaders for Sheikh Mo's dreamworld: David Beckham owns a beach and Rod Stewart, an island (rumored, in fact, to be named Great Britain).

An Indentured, Invisible Majority

The utopian character of Dubai, it must be emphasized, is no mirage. Even more than Singapore or Texas, the city-state really is an apotheosis of neo-liberal values.

On the one hand, it provides investors with a comfortable, Western-style, property-rights regime, including freehold ownership, that is unique in the region. Included with the package is a broad tolerance of booze, recreational drugs, halter tops, and other foreign vices formally proscribed by Islamic law. (When expats extol Dubai's unique "openness," it is this freedom to carouse -- not to organize unions or publish critical opinions -- that they are usually praising.)

On the other hand, Dubai, together with its emirate neighbors, has achieved the state of the art in the disenfranchisement of labor. Trade unions, strikes, and agitators are illegal, and 99% of the private-sector workforce are easily deportable non-citizens. Indeed, the deep thinkers at the American Enterprise and Cato institutes must salivate when they contemplate the system of classes and entitlements in Dubai.

At the top of the social pyramid, of course, are the al-Maktoums and their cousins who own every lucrative grain of sand in the sheikhdom. Next, the native 15% percent of the population -- whose uniform of privilege is the traditional white dishdash -- constitutes a leisure class whose obedience to the dynasty is subsidized by income transfers, free education, and government jobs. A step below, are the pampered mercenaries: 150,000-or-so British ex-pats, along with other European, Lebanese, and Indian managers and professionals, who take full advantage of their air-conditioned affluence and two-months of overseas leave every summer.

However, South Asian contract laborers, legally bound to a single employer and subject to totalitarian social controls, make up the great mass of the population. Dubai lifestyles are attended by vast numbers of Filipina, Sri Lankan, and Indian maids, while the building boom is carried on the shoulders of an army of poorly paid Pakistanis and Indians working twelve-hour shifts, six and half days a week, in the blast-furnace desert heat.

Dubai, like its neighbors, flouts ILO labor regulations and refuses to adopt the international Migrant Workers Convention. Human Rights Watch in 2003 accused the Emirates of building prosperity on "forced labor." Indeed, as the British Independent recently emphasized in an exposé on Dubai, "The labour market closely resembles the old indentured labour system brought to Dubai by its former colonial master, the British."

"Like their impoverished forefathers," the paper continued, "today's Asian workers are forced to sign themselves into virtual slavery for years when they arrive in the United Arab Emirates. Their rights disappear at the airport where recruitment agents confiscate their passports and visas to control them"

In addition to being super-exploited, Dubai's helots are also expected to be generally invisible. The bleak work camps on the city's outskirts, where laborers are crowded six, eight, even twelve to a room, are not part of the official tourist image of a city of luxury without slums or poverty. In a recent visit, even the United Arab Emirate's Minister of Labor was reported to be profoundly shocked by the squalid, almost unbearable conditions in a remote work camp maintained by a large construction contractor. Yet when the laborers attempted to form a union to win back pay and improve living conditions, they were promptly arrested.

Paradise, however, has even darker corners than the indentured-labor camps. The Russian girls at the elegant hotel bar are but the glamorous facade of a sinister sex trade built on kidnapping, slavery, and sadistic violence. Dubai -- any of the hipper guidebooks will advise -- is the "Bangkok of the Middle East," populated with thousands of Russian, Armenian, Indian, and Iranian prostitutes controlled by various transnational gangs and mafias. (The city, conveniently, is also a world center for money laundering, with an estimated 10% of real estate changing hands in cash-only transactions.)

Sheikh Mo and his thoroughly modern regime, of course, disavow any connection to this burgeoning red-light industry, although insiders know that the whores are essential to keeping all those five-star hotels full of European and Arab businessmen. But the Sheikh himself has been personally linked to Dubai's most scandalous vice: child slavery.

Camel racing is a local passion in the Emirates, and in June 2004, Anti-Slavery International released photos of pre-school-age child jockeys in Dubai. HBO Real Sports simultaneously reported that the jockeys, "some as young as three -- are kidnapped or sold into slavery, starved, beaten and raped." Some of the tiny jockeys were shown at a Dubai camel track owned by the al-Maktoums.

The Lexington Herald-Leader -- a newspaper in Kentucky, where Sheikh Mo has two large thoroughbred farms -- confirmed parts of the HBO story in an interview with a local blacksmith who had worked for the crown prince in Dubai. He reported seeing "little bitty kids" as young as four astride racing camels. Camel trainers claim that the children's shrieks of terror spur the animals to a faster effort.

Sheikh Mo, who fancies himself a prophet of modernization, likes to impress visitors with clever proverbs and heavy aphorisms. A favorite: "Anyone who does not attempt to change the future will stay a captive of the past."

Yet the future that he is building in Dubai -- to the applause of billionaires and transnational corporations everywhere -- looks like nothing so much as a nightmare of the past: Walt Disney meets Albert Speer on the shores of Araby.

Mike Davis is the author of Dead Cities and the forthcoming Monster at the Door: the Global Threat of Avian Influenza (New Press 2005).

Copyright 2005 Mike Davis

This piece first appeared at Tomdispatch.com.


I would be in favor of anyone traveling to that country forefiting their passport, and I would also be in favor or denying entry to anyone wishing to visit here until they no longer have slaves.

Rich worked at a lumber mill when Arabs went there to purchase huge lots of lumber and with them were the most expensive call girls, which they bragged about, and an eunich. Can you imagine? How barbaric, yet we aren't allowed to visit their country freely as they believe we are a corrupting influence on their citizens. Go figure.

No wonder Michael Jackson is flitting about the Arab world in Arab dress, womens no less, or is this being too judgemental?

Saundra Hummer
April 19th, 2006, 07:35 PM
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

"Let no man turn aside, ever so slightly, from the broad path of honour, on the plausible pretence that he is justified by the goodness of his end. All good ends can be worked out by good means." : Charles Dickens


"No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee." : John Donne (1573-1631)


"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle. All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." Sir Edmund Burke (1729-1797) - (Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents, 1770)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Saundra Hummer
April 19th, 2006, 07:45 PM

Inside Cheney's Office

As Dick Cheney's approval ratings plummet to a mere 18%, the American Prospect investigates what makes the man who is only "a heartbeat away from the presidency" tick. But that's easier said than done when the VP and his staff are so secretive that they don't even maintain an employee directory. According to the Prospect, until the Valerie Plame leak, "outside the Washington cognoscenti, it's a safe bet that not one in a hundred Americans could name a single Cheney aide."

[Cheney's] press people seem shocked that a reporter would even ask for an interview with the staff. The blanket answer is no -- nobody is available. Amazingly, the vice president's office flatly refuses to even disclose who works there, or what their titles are. "We just don't give out that kind of information," says Jennifer Mayfield, another of Cheney's "angels." She won't say who is on staff, or what they do? No, she insists. "It's just not something we talk about."
Col. Larry Wilkerson, a former top aide to Colin Powell, portrays the vice president's office as the source of a zealous, almost messianic, approach to foreign affairs. "There were several remarkable things about the vice president's staff," he saysOne was how empowered they were, and one was how in sync they were. In fact, we used to say about both [Rumsfeld's office] and the vice president's office that they were going to win nine out of ten battles, because they are ruthless, because they have a strategy, and because they never, ever deviate from that strategy ... They make a decision, and they make it in secret, and they make in a different way than the rest of the bureaucracy makes it, and then suddenly foist it on the government -- and the rest of the government is all confused."
As the Bush administration considers an attack on Iran, Cheney's secretive office is likely again to be at the forefront of internal policy debates.

Posted by Juliana Bunim on 04/17/06 at 02:00 PM


Saundra Hummer
April 19th, 2006, 08:27 PM

FBI Seeks Access to Dead Columnist's Papers

Scott Shane
The New York Times

Wednesday 19 April 2006
Also see below:
National Archives Pact Let CIA Withdraw Public Documents •

Washington - The F.B.I. is seeking to go through the files of the late newspaper columnist Jack Anderson to remove classified material he may have accumulated in four decades of muckraking Washington journalism.

Mr. Anderson's family has refused to allow a search of 188 boxes, the files of a well-known reporter who had long feuded with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and had exposed plans by the Central Intelligence Agency to kill Fidel Castro, the machinations of the Iran-contra affair and the misdemeanors of generations of congressmen.

Mr. Anderson's son Kevin said that to allow government agents to rifle through the papers would betray his father's principles and intimidate other journalists, and that family members were willing to go to jail to protect the collection.

"It's my father's legacy," said Kevin N. Anderson, a Salt Lake City lawyer and one of the columnist's nine children. "The government has always and continues to this day to abuse the secrecy stamp. My father's view was that the public is the employer of these government employees and has the right to know what they're up to."

The F.B.I. says the dispute over the papers, which await cataloging at George Washington University here, is a simple matter of law.

"It's been determined that among the papers there are a number of classified U.S. government documents," said Bill Carter, an F.B.I. spokesman.

"Under the law," Mr. Carter said, "no private person may possess classified documents that were illegally provided to them. These documents remain the property of the government."

The standoff, which appears to have begun with an F.B.I. effort to find evidence for the criminal case against two pro-Israel lobbyists, has quickly hardened into a new test of the Bush administration's protection of government secrets and journalists' ability to report on them.

F.B.I. agents are investigating several leaks of classified information, including details of domestic eavesdropping by the National Security Agency and the secret overseas jails for terror suspects run by the C.I.A.

In addition, the two lobbyists, former employees of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or Aipac, face trial next month for receiving classified information, in a case criticized by civil liberties advocates as criminalizing the routine exchange of inside information.

The National Archives recently suspended a program in which intelligence agencies had pulled thousands of historical documents from public access on the ground that they should still be classified.

But the F.B.I.'s quest for secret material leaked years ago to a now-dead journalist, first reported Tuesday in the Chronicle of Higher Education, seems unprecedented, said several people with long experience in First Amendment law.

"I'm not aware of any previous government attempt to retrieve such material," said Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. "Librarians and historians are having a fit, and I can't imagine a bigger chill to journalists."

The George Washington University librarian, Jack Siggins, said the university strongly objected to the F.B.I.'s removing anything from the Anderson archive.

"We certainly don't want anyone going through this material, let alone the F.B.I., if they're going to pull documents out," Mr. Siggins said. "We think Jack Anderson represents something important in American culture - answers to the question, How does our government work?"

Mr. Anderson was hired as a reporter in 1947 by Drew Pearson, who bequeathed to him a popular column called Washington Merry-Go-Round.

Mr. Anderson developed Parkinson's disease and did little reporting for the column in the 15 years before his death in December at 83, said Mark Feldstein, director of the journalism program at George Washington, who is writing a book about him.

His files were stored for years at Brigham Young University before being transferred to George Washington at Mr. Anderson's request last year, but the F.B.I. apparently made no effort to search them.

"They waited until he was dead," Kevin Anderson said. He said F.B.I. agents first approached his mother, Olivia, 79, early this year.

"They talked about the Aipac case and that they thought Dad had some classified documents and they wanted to take fingerprints from them" to identify possible sources, he recalled. "But they said they wanted to look at all 200 boxes and if they found anything classified they'd be duty-bound to take them."

Both Kevin Anderson and Mr. Feldstein, the journalism professor, said they did not think the columnist ever wrote about Aipac, and his health was too impaired to have reported on the group in recent years.

Mr. Anderson said he thought the Aipac case was a pretext for a broader search, a conclusion shared by others, including Thomas S. Blanton, who oversees the National Security Archive, a collection of historic documents at George Washington.

"Recovery of leaked C.I.A. and White House documents that Jack Anderson got back in the 70's has been on the F.B.I.'s wanted list for decades," Mr. Blanton said.

Jack Anderson had a well-documented feud with the F.B.I. Director J. Edgar Hoover, whose trash he once searched and who once described the columnist as "lower than the regurgitated filth of vultures."

Mr. Carter of the F.B.I. declined to comment on any connection to the Aipac case or to say how the bureau learned that classified documents were in the Anderson files.

Mr. Feldstein, whose book, "Poisoning the Press: Richard Nixon, Jack Anderson and the Rise of Washington's Scandal Culture" is to be published next year, said he found it "a little daunting" when F.B.I. agents came to his house last month to ask about the Anderson documents. He found that they knew little about the columnist and his work.

Asked what the columnist might make of the F.B.I.'s actions, Mr. Feldstein said, "He'd be thunderously outraged, and privately bemused by the ineptness of his old adversaries."


National Archives Pact Let CIA Withdraw Public Documents

Scott Shane
The New York Times
Tuesday 18 April 2006
Washington - The National Archives signed a secret agreement in 2001 with the Central Intelligence Agency permitting the spy agency to withdraw from public access records it considered to have been improperly declassified, the head of the archives, Allen Weinstein, disclosed on Monday.

Mr. Weinstein, who began work as archivist of the United States last year, said he learned of the agreement with the C.I.A. on Thursday and was putting a stop to such secret reclassification arrangements, which he described as incompatible with the mission of the archives.

Like a similar 2002 agreement with the Air Force that was made public last week, the C.I.A. arrangement required that archives employees not reveal to researchers why documents they requested were being withheld.

The disclosure of the secret agreements provides at least a partial explanation for the removal since 1999 of more than 55,000 pages of historical documents from access to researchers at the archives. The removal of documents, including many dating to the 1950's, was discovered by a group of historians this year and reported by The New York Times in February.
The reclassification program has drawn protests from many historians and several members of Congress, notably Representative Christopher Shays, the Connecticut Republican who held a hearing on the program last month.

The National Archives, with facilities in College Park, Md., at the presidential libraries and in other locations, are the repository of most official government documents and a major resource for historians.

"Classified agreements are the antithesis of our reason for being," Mr. Weinstein said in a statement. "Our focus is on the preservation of records and ensuring their availability to the American public, while at the same time fulfilling the people's expectation that we will properly safeguard the classified records entrusted to our custody."

In a brief interview, Mr. Weinstein said he was particularly disturbed that the archives had agreed not to tell researchers why documents were unavailable. The C.I.A. agreement said archives employees would "not attribute to C.I.A. any part of the review or the withholding of documents." In the agreement with the Air Force, archives officials said they would "not disclose the true reason for the presence" of Air Force personnel at the archives.

Mr. Weinstein said he would not permit such agreements in the future. If the withdrawal of previously declassified documents becomes necessary, he said, it will be conducted "with transparency," including disclosure of the number of documents removed.

Asked about Mr. Weinstein's statement, Paul Gimigliano, a C.I.A. spokesman, said, "Working very closely over the years with the National Archives, C.I.A.'s goal has been to ensure the greatest possible public access to material that has been properly declassified."

C.I.A. officials have said the reclassification work was necessary because other agencies, including the State Department, released material about intelligence activities without giving the agency a chance to review it.

First Lt. Christy A. Stravolo, an Air Force spokeswoman, said that any decisions on documents that had been "put back into protective custody" complied with federal guidelines. "The Air Force Declassification Office has a very thorough process for review, and there are no shortcuts so as to protect national security," Lieutenant Stravolo said.

Thomas S. Blanton, director of the private National Security Archive at George Washington University, praised Mr. Weinstein's actions.

"He's doing the right thing, no more secret agreements to classify open files," said Mr. Blanton, whose group helped uncover the reclassification program. "The National Archives aided and abetted a covert operation to lie to researchers and white-out history."

Matthew M. Aid, a Washington historian who discovered in December that documents he obtained years ago had been removed from open shelves, said he was "saddened" by the revelation that archives officials had agreed to hide the reclassification program. "I still don't understand why this all had to be done in secret," Mr. Aid said.

John W. Carlin, Mr. Weinstein's predecessor as head of the archives from 1995 to 2005, said in a statement that he knew nothing about the reclassification program and was "shocked" to learn the contents of the secret agreements signed when he was in office.

Michael J. Kurtz, the assistant archivist, who signed both agreements, could not be reached for comment last night. Mr. Weinstein said Mr. Kurtz had told him that he briefed Mr. Carlin about the agreements, but that he understood if Mr. Carlin did not recall being told of the reclassification effort.


Saundra Hummer
April 20th, 2006, 03:06 PM

Robbery, not reconstruction, in Iraq

By Derrick Z. Jackson, Globe Columnist | April 18, 2006
The great liberator of Iraq was actually the hyena that cleaned out the nation.

Piece by piece, Halliburton over here, a corrupt company over there, we have heard various individual cases of overcharging and fraud by American firms in the reconstruction of Iraq. Last weekend, a Globe story connected some of the dots of corruption. Of $20.7 billion in Iraqi bank accounts and oil revenues seized by the Coalition Provisional Authority in the US-led invasion of Iraq, $14 billion was given out for reconstruction but tens of millions of dollars were unaccounted for. A year ago, an audit by the inspector general found no evidence of work done or goods delivered on 154 of 198 contracts. Sixty cases of potential swindles are under investigation.

Halliburton and its hundreds of millions of dollars of overcharges or baseless costs are well known. But millions more were taken by companies that promised to build or restore libraries or police facilities, or deliver trucks and construction equipment. Money was given to the puppet government with no follow-up. US government investigators can account for only a third of the $1.5 billion given by the CPA to the interim government and it appears that a substantial portion of the $8 billion given to Iraqi ministries went to ''ghost employees.''

Because of the way the United States set things up after the invasion, contractors are immune from prosecution by Iraqis. And even when firms are prosecuted, the millions of dollars in fines go to the US Treasury, not the Iraqi people. It amounts to two invasions. First the bombs. Then the banks.
This is robbery, not reconstruction.

It also amounts to yet another slow-motion lie by the Bush administration. The magnitude of the corruption brings into sharper relief the claims made by then-Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz a month before the war.

The claims came from the same infamous testimony before the House Budget Committee where Wolfowitz said Army chief of staff Eric Shinseki was ''wildly off the mark'' for saying several hundred thousand troops would be needed to stabilize Iraq. Wolfowitz told the committee that the administration was ''doing everything possible in our planning now to make post-war recovery smoother and less expensive.''

Besides pooh-poohing Shinseki's estimates, Wolfowitz said a Washington Post story that quoted administration officials as saying the initial invasion would cost $60 billion to $95 billion was also way off the mark. Speaking about such administration officials, Wolfowitz said, ''I don't think he knows what he's talking - he or she knows what they're talking about. I mean, I think the idea that it's going to be eclipsed by these monstrous future costs ignores the nature of the country we're dealing with.''

''It's got already, I believe, on the order of $15 billion to $20 billion a year in oil exports, which can finally - might finally be turned to a good use instead of building Saddam's palaces. It has one of the most valuable undeveloped sources of natural resources in the world. And let me emphasize, if we liberate Iraq, those resources will belong to the Iraqi people, that they will be able to develop them and borrow against them.''

''It is a country that has somewhere between, I believe, over $10 billion -- let me not put a number on it - in an escrow account run by the United Nations. It's a country that has $10 billion to $20 billion in frozen assets from the Gulf War, and I don't know how many billions that are closeted away by Saddam and his henchmen. But there's a lot of money there and to assume that we're going to pay for it is just wrong.''

Wolfowitz was wrong on nearly every point, except for the idea that there was about $20 billion floating around Iraq to seize. It has been three years and all Iraq has become is a ''free-fraud zone,'' according to one of the attorneys for whistleblowers in Iraqi swindles. Recently, the Army found that Halliburton had $263 million of exaggerated or unexplainable costs on a $2.4 billion no-bid contract, yet still paid Halliburton $253 million of the $263 million.

Halliburton is in 103rd place in the Fortune 500 with $21 billion in revenues and just under $2.4 billion in profits. Halliburton gets its $2.4 billion no-bid contract nearly paid in full while the Iraqi people are out of much of their $21 billion. We liberated Iraq. The resources belong to American contractors.

Derrick Z. Jackson's e-mail address is jackson@globe.com.

© Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company



Saundra Hummer
April 20th, 2006, 03:47 PM

BREAKING: Scott McClellan, the Liar for the Liar-in-Chief,
Walks the Plank and Resigns.
We Don't Need the PR Puppets to Resign; We Need the Bush Administration to Resign,
Starting with the Incompetent in the Oval Office.

Rove Relinquishes Some Control in Shake-Up

AP White House Correspondent
Wed Apr 19, 6:40 PM ET

White House political mastermind Karl Rove surrendered a key policy role Wednesday and press secretary Scott McClellan resigned in an escalation of a Bush administration shake-up driven by Republican anxieties.

Rove gave up his responsibilities as chief policy coordinator, a position he assumed just over a year ago that strengthened his influence over matters ranging from homeland security and domestic policy to the economy and national security. The promotion had left him stretched too thin in the eyes of some officials, as the White House grappled with mounting problems.

With Wednesday's change, Rove will be able to focus more on politics, fundraising and big-picture thinking with the approach of the November congressional elections, officials said.

A major force in the administration from the start, Rove still is expected to have a big voice in policy but not the day-to-day oversight. Those responsibilities will shift to Joel Kaplan, who was promoted to deputy chief of staff from the No. 2 job in the White House budget office where he had served as Joshua Bolten's lieutenant.

Bolten took over Friday as chief of staff with authority to do whatever he deemed necessary to stabilize Bush's presidency, and he has moved quickly with changes.

With the Iraq war hanging over Bush, the White House has been rocked by mistakes and missteps — from an ill-fated Supreme Court nomination to a bungled response to Hurricane Katrina — that have resulted in the president's plunge in the polls to the lowest point since he took office. Nervous Republicans told Bush he needed fresh people with new ideas.

McClellan, the press secretary for nearly three years, was the public face of the White House and a vulnerable target in an administration trying to show off new people. He had been bloodied by contentious press briefings and media criticism about an administration loath to give up information.

"The White House is going through a period of transition. Change can be helpful, and this is a good time and good position to help bring about change," McClellan said, his voice choked with emotion as he stood alongside Bush outside the White House. "I am ready to move on."

In recent months, McClellan had told people he enjoyed his job and wanted to stay for the long term. He said Wednesday he started to think about leaving in the past few weeks and concluded, with a new chief of staff, that it was a good time to go. He and Bush came to a decision in a meeting Monday in the Oval Office.

"I have given it my all, sir, and I have given you my all, sir, and I will continue to do so as we transition to a new press secretary," McClellan said.

"It's going to be hard to replace Scott," Bush said. "But, nevertheless, he's made the decision and I accept it. ... Job well done."

Bush patted McClellan on the back and they walked together across the South Lawn to the president's helicopter to begin a trip to Alabama. But the aircraft couldn't get off the ground because its radio failed, and they had to take a motorcade.

McClellan will remain until a successor is named. Possibilities mentioned include Tony Snow, host of a program on Fox News Radio, Dan Senor, former coalition spokesman in Iraq, Trent Duffy, former White House deputy press secretary and former Treasury spokesman Rob Nichols.

More changes are expected. White House officials have done nothing to discourage speculation that Treasury Secretary John Snow is leaving. Bush's communications chief, Nicolle Wallace, also is expected to depart because her husband has taken a new job in New York. Changes also are expected in the White House lobbying shop run by Candida Wolff.

The shake-up began with the March 28 resignation of Andy Card, Bush's longtime chief of staff, and his replacement by Bolten. Just this week, Bush has named a new budget chief and a new trade representative and is moving toward choosing a new domestic policy adviser

Kaplan, the new deputy chief of staff, will take over from Rove as coordinator of policy developed within the Domestic Policy Council, the National Economic Council, the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council. A trusted aide to Bolten, he will be the new chief's right-hand man.

"Joel Kaplan is a man of great talent, intellect and experience who possesses a deep knowledge of policy and budget processes," Bush said in a written statement.

Rove and Joe Hagin, who oversees White House administration, intelligence and national security, will remain as deputy chiefs of staff.

Rove still is under investigation by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald for his role in the leak of Valerie Plame's CIA identity.

The episode also brought problems for McClellan. He at first denied Rove had played any part in the leak, saying he based his account on Rove himself. But later it was revealed that Rove had been a source for at least two reporters.

McClellan said Kaplan would focus on the day-to-day management of the policy process. "And so this really frees Karl up to focus on bigger strategic issues," the spokesman said. "He will continue to be a crucial voice and trusted adviser on policy ... as he has since the beginning of this administration."



April 20th, 2006, 04:13 PM
[QUOTE=Saundra Hummer... Scott McClellan, the Liar for the Liar-in-Chief,
Walks the Plank and Resigns.
We Don't Need the PR Puppets to Resign; We Need the Bush Administration to Resign...

Rove Relinquishes Some Control in Shake-Up...[/QUOTE]

1st off - thanks so much for putting all this stuff up here saundra :clap:

2nd - am i paranoid and pessimistic, or is this administration "shake-up" just a PR stunt? i don't buy any of it.

"rove relinquishes some control?" sounds like lip service to me. i wish i could devote all my time to fighting this administration. not in the cards...

Saundra Hummer
April 20th, 2006, 05:47 PM
1st off - thanks so much for putting all this stuff up here saundra :clap:

2nd - am i paranoid and pessimistic, or is this administration "shake-up" just a PR stunt? i don't buy any of it.

"rove relinquishes some control?" sounds like lip service to me. i wish i could devote all my time to fighting this administration. not in the cards...

Remember how it was thought that Newt Gingrich's influence had left the building? Later we learned that all he had done was move from the front window into the back room, he still has pull and still advises.

Karl Rove gone? That's comical. Just not so out there in the public eye I would imagine. I'm with you on that, pesimistic to be sure, cynical to boot. This administration warrants all we think of it, and then some. Scary people, scary idiotic ideas, and how they implement them is scandalous. It truly is, and deadly as well.

Mostly I've had thanks about these posts, however, there's been a few complaints and a bit of anger here and there. Having said this, I want to thank you 'thedwork' for your thoughts on this group of Jackels. Have you ever seen a more dangerous, constitution bashing and law breaking group of neer-do-wells in your life?

They are frightening, they are dangerous, and they aren't to be trusted. No way, no shape, no form. I believe are taking us down the path to WWIII and somehow, someway they must be stopped. To think that there are those of different beliefs who are praying for it, just stuns me.

How is it that they, this administration, believe they themselves won't be gone after by other governments around the world? Is there one world power or an emerging power out there which will let us rule the world? Without a fight that is?

Each and every day we learn of more atrocities and dumber than dumb actions on their parts. We just can't keep letting these things happen, as the world surely won't.

Then there's this, is it that world politics aren't interesting to eveyone? They aren't a main concern for every one? Then perhaps this is why it should be, so, how about this?: How much money are we the tax payer going to fill Halliburtons already deep pockets with? There are several other corporations out there whose pockets are already stuffed as well. Do they need a longer and longer free ride, while we pay and pay? I would think that the American voter/taxpayer would just be having a fit about what is happening, but they are so busy in their own lives, they just aren't seeing it. In the end, they will, let's just hope that it won't be too late by that time for all of us.

The handwriting is on the wall, and almost everyone seems to be waking up to this administrations unlawful and shameful actions. It's cruelty's, it's stupidity, it's prevarications. Lots of us have always known how it is with them, and now the other half of us is beginning to wake up to what it is this less than ideal administration has been up to ever since before they stole the elections. Well before September 11, 2001. It's a fact, it is out there for them to see. If they do, and are waking up to the Administrations less than stellar ways, I have to believe, "It's better late than never".

If one person tells another what is posted here, just one, and then another, and hopefully another, you'd be amazed at how fast the truth can be told, how fast it can be learned. How it, instead of spin, can be there for everyone to learn, and for them to become believers.

The truth, it's there just for the looking. Deciphering it isn't all that difficult, that is, if one has an open mind.

Time is something I have way too much of, not something I can grow accustomed to, so this is how I spend a lot of time, hoping to make some sort of difference, no matter how miniscule.

I wish these people, the Bush/Cheney administration, would just fade away, but they are here for the long haul, so I just do what I can each and every day. Since it seems that the Congress and too many voters are so intimidated by the words "Censure" and "Impeachement", that GW, Cheney, and "their" cabinet, will be around to wreck their havoc until the end of their terms. If so, I'll have them to go after for quite a while. I'll just keep at it, I'll keep at them until they're no longer in office, or nor longer in a place of influence.

We'll have to work hard to get rid of them with their wacked ideas and ideals. As long as they're around, it's a more dangerous world, a more shamed filled America, so they're staying my main focus. :shrug:

April 20th, 2006, 06:43 PM
Remember how it was thought that Newt Gingrich's influence had left the building? Later we learned that all he had done was move from the front window into the back room, he still has pull and still advises.

Karl Rove gone? That's comical.

yeah. agreed. how anyone can think that getting rid of mclellan is going to "shake thing up" is beyond me. i remember the 1st few press conferences i saw him do. i couldn't believe someone so inept was up there representing our country's govt. mindboggling.

even if it's just the internet, it's good to have confirmation that there are people who have the same view of what's going on w/ all this stuff as i do.

in case you haven't heard of this one, this is the book that showed me how deep, dangerous, and real the problem is:


it goes all the way back to the early 1900s to give perspective on the situation. everything is very well documented and written. it's kinda like trying to keep up w/ the film "syriana" but you can go at your own pace and read things through multiple times to get the connections. ellsberg recommends this book.

just the other day i was at work and i started talking about about how numbing it was how the administration was speaking about Iran and how absurd it was that they thought it was ok to just go into other countries and "spread democracy" by killing their citizens and putting up our own puppet governments to serve our own economic needs, etc etc etc... then the guy i was talking to said "i like bush." then he went on to actually say that he thought we should just "nuke 'em" and "kill all the guys over there," so on and so forth. when i realized he was serious it was a real eye opener. it's like i'm spending my days w/ a different species or something. i don't get it.

if i had time to fight this administration in a meaningful way i would. i feel bad that i can't but i'm a relatively poor person, working 40 hours a week - then i spend all my "free" time trying to get gigs, playing gigs, and rehearsing because i'm trying to be a musician. it's really just not an option for me to spend time on waking people up to bush/cheney/rummy/wolfowitz/rove... in addition to the fact that i have to spend at least an hour a day on the AAJ forum yakking about jazz :gavel: :D thank god for people like you sandi!!! keep on.

Saundra Hummer
April 20th, 2006, 06:55 PM
yeah. agreed. how anyone can think that getting rid of mclellan is going to "shake thing up" is beyond me. i remember the 1st few press conferences i saw him do. i couldn't believe someone so inept was up there representing our country's govt. mindboggling.

even if it's just the internet, it's good to have confirmation that there are people who have the same view of what's going on w/ all this stuff as i do.

in case you haven't heard of this one, this is the book that showed me how deep, dangerous, and real the problem is:


it goes all the way back to the early 1900s to give perspective on the situation. everything is very well documented and written. it's kinda like trying to keep up w/ the film "syriana" but you can go at your own pace and read things through multiple times to get the connections. ellsberg recommends this book.

just the other day i was at work and i started talking about about how numbing it was how the administration was speaking about Iran and how absurd it was that they thought it was ok to just go into other countries and "spread democracy" by killing their citizens and putting up our own puppet governments to serve our own economic needs, etc etc etc... then the guy i was talking to said "i like bush." then he went on to actually say that he thought we should just "nuke 'em" and "kill all the guys over there," so on and so forth. when i realized he was serious it was a real eye opener. it's like i'm spending my days w/ a different species or something. i don't get it.

if i had time to fight this administration in a meaningful way i would. i feel bad that i can't but i'm a relatively poor person, working 40 hours a week - then i spend all my "free" time trying to get gigs, playing gigs, and rehearsing because i'm trying to be a musician. it's really just not an option for me to spend time on waking people up to bush/cheney/rummy/wolfowitz/rove... in addition to the fact that i have to spend at least an hour a day on the AAJ forum yakking about jazz :gavel: :D thank god for people like you sandi!!! keep on.

Thanks again, and good luck to you with your performing and playing jazz. A hard road to go down, as it takes a special person, one with a love for the music, not just instant gratification, that's for sure.

This is a fun site for music. Lots of things come up that I had forgotten about, or just never knew. Fun to hear everyone elses take on musicians I was lucky enough to see or about those I wish I had and never had the chance to, or about ones, who are back in a fog, me having forgotten too much about them.

Good luck to you once again, SRH

Saundra Hummer
April 20th, 2006, 10:33 PM
'Decider' Bush responsible for Rumsfeld - and the war

Thu Apr 20, 6:57 AM ET

The trajectory of Donald Rumsfeld's tenure as Defense secretary in many ways tracks public attitudes about the Iraq war.

In the months after 9/11, with the nation hungry for strong leadership and eager for revenge, the brilliant and affable Defense secretary was the toast of Washington - a septuagenarian star hailed for his insider's savvy and public eloquence. After the successful campaign to depose the Taliban regime that harbored Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, support for the looming war against Saddam Hussein was strong.

Today, polls find the public weary of the Iraq war and wary of those who initiated it. Rumsfeld is seen more as a latter day Robert McNamara - the similarly talented Vietnam-era Defense secretary who blinded himself to the realities of the war and guided the nation ever deeper into that misbegotten adventure.

The parallel grew stronger in recent days as six retired generals accused Rumsfeld of mishandling the Iraq war, ignoring advice and intimidating subordinates. The debate, it seems, is shifting from how to win the war to whom to blame.

Although Democrats plan to press the issue of Rumsfeld's future when Congress returns next week, the debate is largely academic: Rumsfeld says he's staying put, and "decider in chief" George W. Bush is pointedly exempting him from the shake-up in the executive branch. But it nevertheless raises the question of whether Rumsfeld would help the nation more by staying or by leaving.

Many of the retired generals' criticisms ring true, notably Marine Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold's eloquent observation that the decision to invade Iraq "was done with a casualness and swagger that are the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions - or bury the results."

More broadly, Rumsfeld's performance as Defense secretary has been mixed, at best. On the plus side:

• His efforts to transform the military into a leaner high-tech outfit, by closing excess bases and scuttling wasteful programs, were necessary, even if they angered many in the Pentagon bureaucracy and Congress.

• His steely resolve when the Pentagon was hit on Sept. 11, 2001, and in the days that followed, was inspirational and what the nation needed at the time. The Afghanistan campaign to overthrow the Taliban and destroy al-Qaeda's terror bases was achieved quickly and with relatively light casualties.

• Saddam's removal took only three weeks, and will be studied by military historians and tacticians for generations.

On the negative side:

• Some of Rumsfeld's choices have proved disastrously wrong, and he has been painfully slow to reconcile what he thought would happen in Iraq with the reality on the ground - a state of denial that could only compound the problems his original decisions created.

• Although sufficient troops were deployed to topple Saddam, not enough were sent to prevent the chaos and looting that erupted in the power vacuum after the regime fell. One dumbfounding example: The military didn't secure Saddam's huge stockpiles of munitions, despite knowing where many of them were located. That allowed insurgents to use them against U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians.

• Rumsfeld underestimated the nature and strength of the insurgency. Dismissing the insurgents as a bunch of "dead-enders" displayed more wishful thinking than sharp analysis. The result is evident every day.

• His inconsistent guidance on the treatment of prisoners contributed at least indirectly to the Abu Ghraib scandal and severely damaged this nation's reputation abroad. His subsequent stonewalling of the scandal, failing to hold anyone of high rank accountable, only reinforced the message.

Other mistakes weren't Rumsfeld's alone, but as the leader of the military he shares some of the blame. In particular, disbanding the Iraqi army made security more difficult and drove unemployed young men toward the insurgency.

As culpable as Rumsfeld might be, however, criticism from former generals is the worst possible reason to dump him, potentially undermining the nation's long tradition of civilian control of the military.

Also, while retired generals have every right to speak out, the complaints from some ring hollow. One criticism is that dissenters were intimidated by Rumsfeld's forceful personality. No one will ever accuse him of being warm and fuzzy. Nonetheless, if senior military leaders thought his policies were wrongheaded, they needed to say so before putting their troops' lives on the line, even at the risk of incurring his wrath. Isn't that what we expect of generals, or of leaders in any context?

Further, for all the symbolism and all the bad decisions, Rumsfeld is not the person most accountable. The president is.

As the nation tries to extract itself from Iraq and confront Iran's nuclear ambitions, it's up to Bush to decide whether Rumsfeld is the best person to run the Defense Department or whether he should be replaced. Rumsfeld's war is, after all, Bush's war.

If Rumsfeld stays, we can only hope that he, and the president, have learned from their mistakes.


Only Rumsfeld? We know who the others are who are calling the shots, so why just him?

I was asked to sign a petition aimed at ridding the Pentagon of him about a year ago, but felt that if he were forced into resigning, or, if he were fired, there are others, such as Cheney and Bush who should also be packing their bags.

What good would it do to just rid ourselves of him? There are the other two who are every bit as much to blame and so why just Rumsfeld? How about Ms. Rice? Donald Rumsfeld's not anymore to blame, or so it seems, than the rest of them, as they all share that mantle, the cloak of deception, poor planning, cronyism, and ineptitude in all that they've done in regards to Iraq. Remember, there are the other two hawks. and as far at that goes, Donald Rumsfeld is no more to blame than the rest of the Cheney/Bush administration's cabinet, along with the yes men fluttering about Capital Hill, snatching up any little tid-bit they can find. It's a sleezy operation. Ulterior motives on their part? You betcha! It's follow the leader "Big Time".

Saundra Hummer
April 20th, 2006, 10:54 PM
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
In the 435-member House of Representatives, 123 elected officials earned at least one million dollars last year, according to recently released financial records made public each year. Next door in the ornate Senate, whose blue-blooded pedigree includes a Kennedy and a Rockefeller, one in three people are millionaires. By comparison, less than one percent of Americans make seven-figure incomes.:
Source: Millionaires Fill US Congress Halls, Agence France Press, June 30, 2004 http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article6418.htm


"The country is headed toward a single and splendid government of an aristocracy founded on banking institutions and monied corporations, and if this tendency continues it will be the end of freedom and democracy, the few will be ruling and riding over the plundered plowman and the beggar.... Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)


In a country well governed poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed wealth is something to be ashamed of. : Confucius


Democracy when the indigent, and not the men of property, are the rulers: Aristotle

~ ~ ~

Saundra Hummer
April 21st, 2006, 12:39 AM

Movements: From Antiwar,
to Peace,
to Democracy
We need to take this historic opportunity to evolve the antiwar movement into a democracy movement.

Mike Ferner

04/20/06 "ICH" -- - Not a day too soon the antiwar movement has begun a desperately-needed discussion.

As a movement we are great at activism, deficient when it comes to real organizing, and damn near devoid of long-range, strategic thinking and discussion. So congratulations to former Marine Corps Major Scott Ritter for writing The Art of War for the Antiwar Movement, provoking us to stop and think for a minute, and to Cindy Sheehan, Max Obuszewski and others for responding. Here are a few more thoughts I hope will add to our collective wisdom.

First, we needn’t fear appeals for more discipline, nor references to strategic geniuses of any stripe—military or pacifist. Dismissing useful methods because of their source is like spurning modern P.R. techniques to promote peace because Procter and Gamble Corp. uses them to sell toothpaste and deodorant.

One of the intellects Ritter mentions is Sun Tzu, whose Art of War should not be dismissed because of its title. It contains such gems as:

“For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.”

“There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare.”

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”
The last is particularly relevant to today’s antiwar movement. If anybody out there knows what our strategy is, please report to the public address system at once. On the other hand, tactics, like our activism, we do ‘round the clock, and re-do, and do more next time, and try again, and...all of which is to say, dear colleagues, that this may indeed keep us busy but (A) it is not organizing, and (B) even organizing is not effective without a coherent strategy.
In an email to peace activists around the country, Max Obuszewski, of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, refutes Ritter’s comment that the antiwar movement “is not just losing, but is in fact on the verge of complete collapse,” by citing more than 600 actions around the country last month, commemorating three years of war.

Cindy Sheehan responded to Ritter that “The anti-war movement is not on the ‘verge of collapse’ because we are not organized, or because we don't take a ‘warriors’ view of attacking the neocons and the war machine...but because the two-thirds of Americans who philosophically agree that the war is wrong...will not get off of their collective, complacent, and comfortable behinds to demonstrate their dissent with our government.”

I’m encouraged to hear there were over 600 actions around the country marking the third anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, (even though Max’s use of the word “commemorating” says a lot about how we view our role in this struggle). And who among us has not felt Cindy’s frustration with a system that successfully keeps millions of our fellow citizens sitting on their complacent butts, even when they tell pollsters they are against this criminal war?

But even if the antiwar movement organizes 1200 actions “commemorating” the fourth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq next year, that is not enough. Neither is it enough if we succeed in getting millions of our fellow citizens off their backsides to do something.

“Well, that’s easy enough for you to say, Mr. Smartypants,” I can see already in my inbox, and you’d be right—it certainly is easier said than done. Because what we really need to do is:

Reevaluate and embolden our tactics. For example, why are we content to have 500,000 people march in the streets of Washington on a Saturday (last September 24), but wait until everyone’s gone home the next Monday for a polite, orchestrated civil disobedience action? If only 10% of that half-million wanted to sit down on Pennsylvania Avenue and stay for as long as it takes to dislodge the criminals, shouldn’t that be part of our plans?

Reevaluate our long-term goals. For example, ask ourselves if we’re content to be an antiwar movement—meaning that our opponents define our existence and purpose. When the agents of empire decide it’s time to march the nation off to war once again, the antiwar movement reassembles activists from a hundred different fronts, throws itself into the fray, and works against the government’s well-oiled killing machine until we are exhausted. Do we ever ask ourselves, as Scott Ritter does, if we want to be more than “a walk-on squad of high school football players...taking on the NFL Super Bowl Champions,” or, as I painfully observed recently in Washington, a brief parade of colorful banners and heartfelt slogans passing an empty White House?

Reevaluate (A) the source of our opponents’ power and (B) how to neutralize it so the narrow elite is not always turning our own government against us; so we can redirect U.S. policy to serve the many.
As for bolder tactics, the leadership of many antiwar groups will respond (1) we can’t risk upping the ante because grandparents from Duluth (my apologies, Duluthians) will not participate in civil disobedience, and (2) tradition dictates we cooperate with the police in our own arrests. Regarding #1, I lay odds that people in this movement have more gumption than its leaders. As to #2, I admit I’m not an adequate student of civil disobedience theory, but I can tell when our actions are not commensurate with the misery our government is causing, and they are not.
As for long-term goals, we can work our way towards them by not just demanding “troops out now,” but bases out now; paying billions for repairing the physical damage we’ve caused and not funneled through U.S. corporations; no saddling Iraqis with odious debt left over from Saddam Hussein’s reign; getting the clutches of empire off the rest of the globe.

That last goal, of course, requires we determine the source of our opponents’ power and how to neutralize it. I would hardly be the first to suggest that our opponents—those agents of empire in corporations and government—create political power by concentrating economic power, and that the time-tested mechanism for doing so is the corporation. I do, however, suggest there is a more helpful approach to analyzing the problem and determining what to do about it than what we typically do—which, with all respect, rarely goes beyond trying to elect more Democrats, or writing your Congressperson, or petitioning for impeachment, or even protesting and getting arrested.
To get a flavor for what I’m talking about, consider the modern environmental movement or the most recent inspiration, the greatly energized immigrant rights movement.

Environmentalists have become experts at fighting on corporate terrain (regulatory hearings) to reduce the crap in our air and water by a few parts per million, or maybe even stopping a toxic waste dump or a nuclear power plant, one at a time, until we are exhausted. We call that success. But the corporate form continues to gain legal rights and economic and political power, because long ago we surrendered the fight over democratic control of energy and transportation companies, settling instead for regulating them around the edges—a most Faustian bargain. If we want to control energy and transportation policies; if we want to address the root causes of pollution; if we want to treat the disease and not just the symptom, we have to reengage the struggle of who’s in charge, not just petition for a little less poison.

Similarly, the immigrant rights movement, regardless of its current energy and numbers, must reduce the political power of corporations profiting from today’s immigration policies, not just change a few clauses in immigration legislation or elect a few promising politicians.

How are we to redirect sufficient time and energy to this more fundamental work, knowing that the individual fires we fight will rage out of control any moment? By learning how to simultaneously fight fires and do fire prevention; by taking this historic opportunity to evolve the antiwar movement into a democracy movement.

It won’t be easy, but it will be necessary if we want to do more than postpone the next war or end the suffering of the current war a few weeks sooner; if we want to actually build peace. We need the discipline to understand that reacting against injustice is fighting fires; that fire prevention requires relearning our histories to find out how and where power is vested; how peoples’ movements dealt with these same problems generations ago; why we have to strip corporations of rights they’ve usurped so we can exercise democracy’s power to make fundamental change; how to change our organizing to focus on fundamental goals.

Scott Ritter prophetically writes that “America is pre-programmed for war, and unless the anti-war movement dramatically changes the manner in which it conducts its struggle, America will become a nation of war, for war, and defined by war, and as such a nation that will ultimately be consumed by war.”
In more painfully personal terms, Cindy Sheehan writes, “Looking back on my life up until Casey was killed in Iraq, on 04/04/04, I have tried to analyze over and over again what went wrong. I knew that our leaders were bought and paid for employees of the war machine, and yet, when Casey came of age, he put on the uniform and marched off to another senseless war to bring his employers that rich reward of money and power. The warning for American mothers and fathers is this: the war machine will get your children, if not now, then your grandchildren. It is a hard and steep price to pay for the certain knowledge that the people in power think of us, not as their employers and electorate whom they swear to serve, but as their tools to be used as cannon fodder whenever the impulse strikes them.”

If we want Scott and Cindy’s words to be more than an intellectually stimulating, forgettable bit in our inbox, we have to learn how to transform the antiwar movement into a democracy movement. Our reward will be that we can finally move beyond opposing one war after another to build the kind of peaceful, just world we deserve...and the planet is waiting for us to create.
Mike Ferner. (mike.ferner@sbcglobal.net) The author is involved with the Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy (POCLAD). He welcomes messages from anyone who cares to respond. He is a freelance writer and a member of Veterans For Peace.
© 2006 Mike Ferner.


Saundra Hummer
April 21st, 2006, 12:50 AM
$ $ $


Sex and money bought Iraq contracts

T. Christian Miller

04/20/06 "SMH" -- -- A CONTRACTOR in Iraq has pleaded guilty to providing money, sex and designer watches to US officials in exchange for more than $US8 million ($10.8 million) in reconstruction contracts.
Philip Bloom faces up to 40 years in prison after admitting paying more than $US2 million in bribes to US officials with the Coalition Provisional Authority, which ruled Iraq after the US-led invasion in 2003.

Bloom's guilty plea on bribery and money-laundering charges is the latest development in a widening corruption scandal centred on a network of US civilians and military officials who worked out of a coalition outpost in the south-central Iraqi town of Hillah.

Under the plea agreement, Bloom must pay $US3.6 million in restitution and forfeit $US3.6 million in assets. His guilty plea "sends a message to Iraqis that US oversight will track down, arrest and prosecute American citizens who committed crimes in Iraq involving Iraqi money", said Stuart Bowen, who heads the office of the Special Inspector-General for Iraq Reconstruction.

The scheme began in January 2004, when Bloom began paying bribes to Robert Stein, a civilian contractor who controlled $US82 million in reconstruction funds as the comptroller for the coalition's headquarters in Hillah.

Stein, who had a previous conviction for fraud when he was hired, pleaded guilty to accepting bribes in February. He funnelled money and favours from Bloom to other officials in Hillah, all of whom helped direct contracts to a group of companies controlled by Bloom, court documents say.

Two officers in the US Army Reserve, Lieutenant-Colonel Michael Wheeler and Lieutenant-Colonel Debra Harrison, have already been arrested in connection with the case and more arrests are expected, investigators said.

From January to June 2004, when the coalition government was replaced, Bloom provided Stein and officers with first-class air tickets, real estate lots, weapons, new four-wheel-drive vehicles, cigars, designer watches, alcohol, prostitutes at Bloom's Baghdad villa and cash bribes.

In return, Bloom's company, Global Business Group, received $US8.6 million in contracts to refurbish a police academy in Hillah, a library in Karbala and other reconstruction projects. In some cases the work was never done, and in others it was shoddy, audits by the inspector-general reveal.

The contracts were paid with Iraqi funds held in the Development Fund for Iraq, which has been at the centre of many of the corruption scandals in Iraq.

■ Handwriting experts authenticated Saddam Hussein's signatures on more documents, including one apparently approving death sentences for 148 Shiites in June 1984, Raouf Abdel-Rahman, the chief judge in his trial, said yesterday.
Also in Baghdad yesterday, separate groups of gunmen entered two primary schools and beheaded two teachers in front of their students, the Ministry of State for National Security said.

Los Angeles Times, Associated Press, Reuters


the magnificent goldberg
April 21st, 2006, 05:36 AM
Lest anyone think that all the problems are in the USA, here's something I found by accident just now. It's three months old but nothng's changed. We all knew the police would do this when the new law came in.


10 January 2006
Maya Anne Evans
Maya Anne Evans writes from Our World Our Say

My name is Maya Anne Evans. On 25th October last year I was arrested and charged. Simply for standing outside Downing Street and reading out the names of the British soldiers who have died in Iraq. It doesn’t seem possible that something like this could happen in our country but it happened to me. I thought we had freedom of speech.
If you believe that it’s time we stood up and challenged this Government then please help Our World Our Say do that in 2006 by making a donation.

I was arrested under the Designated Area Order clause of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act. On 1st January that act came into force in full — giving the police the power to arrest people for any act of petty law breaking — conceivably even dropping a piece of litter.
And under the act for all but a truly minor crime, the police can take a sample of your DNA, photograph and fingerprint you and take impressions of your footwear. They can keep this even if you are not charged.

If you, like me, are alarmed at the serious erosion of our basic freedoms then please take a moment now to send a donation to help Our World Our Say in 2006. They have big plans if they can raise enough funds including:

A series of high profile adverts and posters outlining how the Government is destroying precious liberties.
Public opinion polls and research to highlight ways of ending the war and killings in Iraq. According to The Lancet over 100,000 people have died.
A relaunch of their web site, which will enable them to run larger and more interactive campaigns — so that supporters and concerned members of the public can take action.

They need to secure at least £50,000 for work that is already in the pipeline. It’s vital that Our World Our Say has the funds to act as it’s not just the new laws that threaten us, it’s also the extremely sophisticated technology that the Government is investing in that enables them to watch and track our every move. You can see details at the foot of this email.

The authoritarian tendencies of this Government and its willingness to give the police almost unlimited powers are deeply disturbing. They seem to have a disdain for individual rights that goes against the fundamental principles of our society.

The Government gives various justifications for their measures: to prevent terrorism; to stop anti-social behaviour; to prevent crime. But the end result is the same. They’re destroying the liberties that are the basis of our democracy. To me that’s not the way to beat terrorism. The underlying message is that no one can be trusted and that wanting to voice your own opinion will not be tolerated.

If you are alarmed about what is happening to our liberties then please take a few minutes now to make a donation.

The Government needs to know that the British people will not let freedom of expression and association be crushed in this way. We must not forget that not dissimilar methods were used by the apartheid regime in South Africa, and the totalitarian government in East Germany before the Berlin Wall came down.

The Designated Area Order clause of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act, that I was arrested under, makes it illegal to hold any sort of protest around Parliament without police permission and with stringent conditions attached, like no megaphones.

Why are Police resources being wasted on repressing protest when the Police are so stretched anyway? Believe it or not two police sergeants, twelve constables, and two police minibuses were deployed to stop my protest. I was then taken to Charing Cross police station, locked up for five hours, and later given a criminal record.

My story is but one example. Here are a few more.

You will remember Walter Wolfgang, who was thrown out of the Labour Party conference for heckling. What wasn’t clearly publicised was that he was held under the Terrorism Act when he tried to re-enter the hall.
Five protestors travelling to an EU summit on Tyneside wanted to make a point to Home Secretary Charles Clarke about ID Cards. They were carrying a giant ID card and red boiler suits as part of their planned protest. But they were arrested and detained even before they arrived at the summit and held under suspicion of causing criminal damage. What is this country coming to when protest can be stifled on so many fronts?
In Brighton recently a police helicopter and at least 100 police were deployed for a demonstration of not more than 150 people. They were hemmed in and leafleters were videoed by the police, just like they would be in some countries with repressive regimes.

There are many, many other examples that don’t make the news, but around this country protest is being stifled and individual rights are being eroded and the power of the state to monitor and apprehend individuals has grown beyond reason. Please help Our World Our Say challenge this by making a donation.

If, like me, you feel you can’t sit back and let our basic freedoms be curtailed then take action. You could support me in my next protest. If you send an email to mayaaction@ourworldoursay.org your details will be forwarded on to me.

You can also help Our World Our Say build their presence by making a donation online.

By getting people to work together we can stop — and turn back — the erosion of our liberties. The internet offers a new way for millions of people to work together.

Whilst the cost of the ID Cards Scheme could be up to £30 billion those of us protesting do so on tiny resources. You could send £20 or whatever you can afford to pay for adverts, posters, opinion polls and a major upgrade of the Our World Our Say web site.

Thank you and Happy New Year

Maya Anne Evans

To make a donation go to: http://www.securegiving.co.uk/donate_to/owos_donate.html

If you wish to donate by paypal go to: http://www.owos.info/make_a_donation/donate.php

You can also send a donation to: Our World Our Say, FREEPOST LON15893, LONDON SE24. NO STAMP NEEDED

Posted by SJT at January 10, 2006 07:11 AM

Post a comment

Saundra Hummer
April 21st, 2006, 12:21 PM
Lest anyone think that all the problems are in the USA, here's something I found by accident just now. It's three months old but nothng's changed. We all knew the police would do this when the new law came in.


Posted these quotes earlier and they do fit with what you're posting, don't you think? Don't they? Why can't the voters see what is happening and work for change?

"As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air -- however slight -- lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness." : William O Douglas


"Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters." : Daniel Webster


Saundra Hummer
April 22nd, 2006, 01:22 PM


James Howard Kunstler

New York Center for Art and Media Studies, USA,

James Trainor

The good news is that we are all going to learn new skills: gardening, weaving, carpentry. The bad news is that we won’t have any choice. So explained James Howard Kunstler at a recent cold shower of a lecture at NYCAMS attended by students, architects, artists, urbanists and those merely curious about their mid- to long-term futures. Kunstler peers three decades hence and sees the withering of everything we thought of as fundamental rights. Suburbia and the interstate highway system? A bizarre 200-year anomaly in a 30,000-year history of human settlement patterns. Air travel? A daydream of the Golden Age. The art world? Huh? The reason is simple and inescapable: cheap energy – namely petroleum – is over. The world reached peak oil production around 2003 and what is left in the ground will be gone in 30 to 40 years (Kunstler is careful to cull his data from a wide range of independent and industry sources). At a crucial tipping point the energy input of extracting the stuff will be greater than the energy output, and that will be the end of that. No currently conceivable configuration of viable ‘alternative’ energies will ever support the incalculable energy demands of a globalized economy, and the massive infrastructures that permit what Kunstler calls ‘the 12,000-mile caesar salad’ will prove not merely unsustainable but nearly unimaginable in their one-time folly. Globalism will evaporate; nations will contract and fragment; industrial food production, networked technologies of commerce and communication – all will implode. When Kunstler spoke to a group of 20-something geniuses at Google HQ in California recently, they all protested that technology will come to the rescue. But technology is only as good as the energy supplied to run it and when you have no economically feasible way to power factories to produce solar cells or wind turbines then you are in a bit of a pickle.

But Kunstler, who outlines his thesis in his book The Long Emergency (2005) is anything but a gloomy Jeremiah shrieking in the fossil fuel begrimed wilderness. While he admits that civilization – especially the American variety – is in deep trouble, he remains strangely chipper. If humans survive the epic strife he predicts, it will only be by embracing a Jeffersonian model of ‘localism’ in which the majority of the population lives in a re-agrarianized hinterland between reefs of abandoned urban sprawl or in small communities based upon pre-industrial models of production, consumption and reduced expectations. While Kunstler showed plans for hypothetical human-scaled, energy-efficient towns of the future I wondered not about the challenges awaiting the next generation of architects and planners, but also about whether any of them would bother calling themselves ‘architects’. Can you build an enlightened new society in the midst of a civil war between a new class of rural ‘haves’ in Vermont, say, and the disenfranchised ‘have-nots’ of rustbelt paved-over New Jersey? Not long before he went quail hunting, Dick Cheney recently stated that ‘the American way of life is non-negotiable’. As Kunstler points out, future circumstances will negotiate our way of life for us. Trying not to get morose, he has taken as his ironically fatalist motto the phrase, ‘it’s all good’. Right or wrong, he’s taking the really long view. In the meantime, you might want to reconsider all those periodic iPod upgrades and invest in a hand-cranked Victrola.

James Trainor


Saundra Hummer
April 22nd, 2006, 04:58 PM

Bush hears voices

Joe Conason
The New York Observer

04.21.06 - “I hear the voices, and I read the front page, and I know the speculation,” said the President of the United States, sounding as peevish as a toddler banging his silver spoon on the high chair. “But I'm the decider, and I decide what's best. And what's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the Secretary of Defense.”

By reminding everybody that he is “the decider,” George W. Bush no doubt hoped to stifle embarrassing protests from a growing corps of retired officers such as General Anthony Zinni, who believe that the war in Iraq has been ruinously botched and that the Secretary of Defense should retire. But his defensive outburst only drew attention to the most deserving target of criticism: himself.

While the frustrated generals named Mr. Rumsfeld in their complaint, they clearly aimed at Mr. Bush. They know that the commander in chief was implicated, from the beginning, in every bad decision perpetrated by the Pentagon civilian leadership. They understand why the president cannot take their advice to dump Rummy, as Brookings Institution military analyst Michael O'Hanlon pointed out: “For Bush to fire Rumsfeld is for Bush to declare himself a failure as president.”

But the generals, some of whom have supported the president in the past, cannot demand the resignation of the president, of course, nor can they direct their critique at him personally. To do so would set off even more false alarms about their supposed violation of America's traditional civilian control of the military.

That is only one of several bogus ripostes to retired flag officers who are now private citizens, with all the rights and privileges that the rest of us enjoy- and considerably more knowledge than most of us possess. Predictably, they are enduring the usual barrage of chaff and nonsense fired off from the right at every prominent White House critic. They have been attacked for speaking up at all, and they have been attacked for not speaking up sooner. They're talking about policy, and they're accused of obsessing about personality.

Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, offered the most feeble defense of his boss: “He does his homework. He works weekends; he works nights. People can question my judgment or his judgment, but they should never question the dedication, the patriotism and the work ethic of Secretary Rumsfeld.” Nobody has questioned his work ethic, let alone his patriotism (a tactic most often abused by Republicans and not against them). What the flag officers have questioned are his spectacular incompetence and his catastrophic arrogance.

As if to confirm their observations, Mr. Rumsfeld airily dismissed his critics by assuring Rush Limbaugh that “this too will pass.” In a way, that remark was almost as dishonest as his forgotten claim that he knew where Iraq's weapons of mass destruction would be found. He is well aware that anger has festered in the armed forces for years, not weeks or days, and won't evaporate with a wave of his hand.

Expressions of that discontent were first heard following the public assault on Gen. Eric Shinseki by Paul Wolfowitz, then the Deputy Defense Secretary, because the general had dared to urge more “boots on the ground” in Iraq. They were heard when eight retired J.A.G. admirals and generals sent the President a letter demanding a sweeping investigation of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, which meant holding the guilty Mr. Rumsfeld accountable. They were heard when a dozen retired flag officers decided to endorse John Kerry at the Democratic convention in 2004.

And they are heard again this year, louder than ever, with scores of Iraq veterans stepping forward to run for Congress as Democrats.

Among those candidates is Joe Sestak, a retired vice admiral seeking to unseat Curt Weldon, the entrenched (and truly egregious) Republican incumbent in Pennsylvania's Seventh District. During his 31-year career in the Navy, Mr. Sestak's assignments ranged from commanding a battle group in the Persian Gulf to serving on the National Security Council staff and overseeing the Quadrennial Defense Review. (He also happens to have earned a master's in public administration and a doctorate in government from Harvard.)

“One of the primary reasons I entered this election is that I believe invading Iraq was not the right decision,” explains Mr. Sestak, who sees the war as a damaging distraction from Al Qaeda, Afghanistan and other serious threats. He now warns that we must find our way out of “a prolonged occupation with rising death, injury and cost …. It will be an occupation that will continue to have goals that are ever changing as they remain elusive. The result will be continued loss of U.S. military and diplomatic credibility.”

Yes, the president hears the voices and doesn't like what he hears. So his henchmen scourge those who dare to speak out, regardless of their previous service. But he will never escape the judgment of the men and women in uniform who had to carry out his orders.


URL: http://www.workingforchange.com/article.cfm?ItemID=20683

Saundra Hummer
April 22nd, 2006, 05:04 PM
* * * * *

Rove Redirected

E.J. Dionne, Jr.
Washington Post Writers Group

04.22.06 - WASHINGTON -- Here's the real meaning of the White House shake-up and the redefinition of Karl Rove's role in the Bush presidency: The administration's one and only domestic priority in 2006 is hanging on to control of Congress.

That, in turn, means that all the spin about Rove's power being diminished is simply wrong. Yes, Rove is giving up some policy responsibilities to concentrate on politics, but guess what? The possibility of President Bush winning enactment of any major new policy initiative this year is zero. Rove is simply moving to where all the action, of necessity, will be.
As one outside adviser to the administration said, the danger of a Democratic takeover of at least one house of Congress now looms large and would carry huge penalties for Bush. The administration fears “investigations of everything” by congressional committees, this adviser said, and the “possibility of a forced withdrawal from Iraq” through legislative action.

“I don't think they see much chance of accomplishing anything this year,” said this Republican strategist, who preferred not to be quoted by name. “The bulk of their agenda, let's say, has been put on hold.”

Rove never stopped being political even when he had formal responsibility for policy. What's intriguing about the shift in the direction of Rove's energies is that it marks a turn from the high politics of a partisan realignment driven by ideas and policies to the more mundane politics of eking out votes, seat by seat and state by state. Most of Rove's grander dreams have died as the president's poll numbers have come crashing down. It's forgotten that the president's proposal to privatize part of Social Security was not primarily about creating solvency in the system, since the creation of private accounts would have aggravated deficits for a significant period. It was part of a larger effort to reorganize government and bring the New Deal era to a definitive close.

The president's “ownership society” was a political project designed to increase the reliance of Americans on private markets for their retirements and, over the longer run, on their own resources for health coverage. The idea was that broadening the “investor class,” a totemic phrase among tax-cutting conservatives, would change the economic basis of politics -- and create more Republicans.

The collapse of the Social Security initiative was thus more than a policy failure. It was a decisive political defeat that left Bush and Rove with no fallback ideas around which to organize domestic policy. And just as the growing unpopularity of the war in Vietnam after 1966 forced Lyndon Johnson to abandon his Great Society programs -- partly because of large GOP gains in Congress during that year's midterm elections -- opposition to the Iraq War is undercutting Bush's effort to create a kind of Great-Society-in-reverse.

The Democrats had such large congressional margins in 1966 that they could suffer major losses and still maintain at least nominal control of both houses. But Republican congressional margins are thin, particularly in the House where a shift of 15 seats would make Democrat Nancy Pelosi the speaker.

And the possibility of a Democratic tide that might sweep in second- or third-tier challengers is no longer just fantasy talk among liberals at cocktail parties. It is a genuine Republican fear. According to figures from state polls published this week by SurveyUSA, Bush has an approval rating of above 50 percent in just four states -- Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and Nebraska. His disapproval rating is 60 percent or higher in such key battlegrounds as Virginia, Florida, Minnesota, Missouri, Colorado, New Mexico, Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

The Virginia numbers from a survey earlier this month -- 37 percent approval for Bush, 60 percent disapproval -- are particularly intriguing. Democrats are beginning to think that Sen. George Allen, who is up for re-election this year and considering a run at the presidency in 2008, may be vulnerable. Democrats already see Republican seats in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Missouri, Montana, Tennessee, Rhode Island and Arizona as reasonable targets. While a Democratic takeover of the Senate is still a long shot (the party would need a net gain of six), it is no longer a preposterous idea.

Thus Rove's new electoral focus is an urgent administration priority. And given the unfavorable political terrain for the president, Rove's recipe this year, as in 2004, will likely include a heavy dollop of attacks on the Democrats. Hold on for the new Swift Boaters, coming soon to your swing state. It's not the politics dreams are made of, but it often works.

(c) 2006, Washington Post Writers Group

URL: http://www.workingforchange.com/article.cfm?ItemID=20692

Saundra Hummer
April 22nd, 2006, 05:14 PM

Changing of the guard
Will Durst - WorkingForChange.com

04.21.06 - As part one of President Bush's long awaited second term midseason staff purge-athon, Scott McClellan abandoned his plum position as White House Press Secretary. The rumor is he wants to follow in his predecessor, Ari Fleischer's footsteps, and spend more personal time lying to his family. This follows Chief of Staff Andrew Card's resignation and signals a desperate attempt by the Bush Administration to give the perception of a change of direction. Which is very much advisable for Bush, given that the current direction could most accurately be described as sub-basement directed. Does the term "rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic" have any meaning here? Even Karl Rove has seen his role diminished. I imagine he needs more personal time to file the scuff marks off of his cloven hooves. That's right. Bush's brain has been laid off. And yes, that is redundant.
In an attempt to reverse poll numbers which are falling faster than an Acme Company cartoon anvil catapulted off the edge of the Grand Canyon with a confused coyote clinging to it, the President hopes that a changing of the guard will be his approval rating equivalent of an animated trampoline. Reportedly, nobody's position is safe, which means even the twins are worried about being supplanted by a couple of good Mormon girls. And although Dick Cheney's head is reputedly on the chopping block, the conventional wisdom inside the Beltway is whoever actually acts as pink slip messenger to the Vice President better be wearing a full body containment suit that is impervious to both birdshot and political fallout of the nuclear variety.

Unfortunately, the person the President refuses to replace is the one whose head everyone keeps calling for: Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. If this were "White House Survivor," Jeff Probst would be snuffing out Rummy's torch while fellow castaways snickered on wooden benches huddling together for warmth. The dapper and verbally flatulent Secretary, however, remains a man who doesn't know the meaning of the word "quit." As it turns out, he seems unfamiliar with a few other words as well: like "strategy," "consensus" and "diplomatic." The recent call by between six and eight hundred generals for his dumpstering has met with stubborn resistance from his boss. When asked, the President said, yes, he hears the voices for Rumsfeld to be returned horizontally to the private sector, but it would be HE who decided, because HE is the chief decider. He's not a divider or a uniter, he's a decider. Who hears the voices. Hmmmmm.

Speaking of Rumsfeld's prize quagmire, Iraq, President Bush said "failure is not an option." So, apparently, it's a factory installed standard equipment feature. Thank the maker. Not sure the tentative low level alterations Dubyah instituted are quite the infusion of new blood his election bound Republican brethren were calling for. Not even sure these guys qualify as old blood. More like sickle cell anemia blood from badger roadkill. Apparently, for the GOP, a changing of the guard is similar to a game of political Volleyball. Every two years, someone yells "Rotate!" and players switch positions. I'll be honest, I can't wait for the photo-op of this entire corrupt cursed imperial ruling class standing in line at the unemployment office -- or better yet chained together while wearing orange jumpsuits. After all, doesn't real regime change start at home? Writer, comic, actor, radio talk show host, political liability Will Durst is all for nation building. Especially when the nation is his.

Don't forget Keeping it Real With Will & Willie.
Monday through Friday. 7- 10am. PDT. On KQKE. 960 AM.
The QUAKE. San Francisco.
Or listen long distance @ quakeradio.com.

(c) 2006 WorkingForChange. All Rights Reserved

URL: http://www.workingforchange.com/article.cfm?ItemID=20686
. . .

Saundra Hummer
April 22nd, 2006, 05:24 PM


Compare and contrast

Molly Ivins
Creators Syndicate

04.20.06 - HOUSTON -- "Compare and contrast," read the directions for essay exams in the old college blue books. Compare and contrast the trials of Zacarias Moussaoui and Jeffrey Skilling.

Moussaoui appears to be headed for the death penalty, despite having an alibi of the lead-pipe-cinch variety. He was in jail on Sept. 11, 2001, so we know he wasn't out hijacking jets and killing people. He also appears to be seriously crazy, or at the very least a chronic liar, but that's a separate argument. Although Moussaoui is a member of al-Qaida, there is evidence that they thought he was a crazy screw-up, too. Peter Bergen, author of two books about Osama bin Laden, told The Washington Post, "Even al-Qaida tried to cut this guy loose."

In Texas, we are quite accustomed to seeing people who haven't actually hurt anyone sentenced to death. One classic case featured a kid whose entire contribution to the annals of crime consisted of holding open a screen window. Another kid crawled through said window to burgle a house, surprised the householder, and shot and killed her. The perp then rolled on the screen-holder, who bought the death penalty for abetting in the commission of a felony with firearm.

Nor would Moussaoui's mental state draw much note here. Where's Dr. Death when you need him? Dr. James Grigson testified in hundreds of capital murder cases in Texas and was always certain that the defendants were going to commit more violent crimes and should be executed -- even though he never met with some of them before testifying.

If I were to make an argument against the death penalty for Moussaoui, it would be on grounds of practical public relations. Why let this guy have martyrdom and world fame when we could just put him away?

Meanwhile, back in Houston, we have our laughs, too. Jeff Skilling was testifying along about the great rip-off that almost pushed California into bankruptcy when he observed that the state formerly called "Golden" had a regulatory environment like that of Brazil.

Prosecutor Sean Berkowitz stared at him. "Do you think it was funny what happened in California? You're smiling."

Skilling backtracked and said he regretted joking about it. But isn't it almost funny, what happened in California? Remember the Enron energy traders who thought it was so funny they joked about ripping off "Grandma Millie," the citizens of California, and how unfair it was that they wanted their money back? All that madness when California was caught in this hopeless bind, having to buy energy at grossly inflated prices?

If the California legislators had been stupid enough to deregulate electricity in such a disastrous way on their own, they would deserve being laughed at. But they had help -- from Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling. Enron spent more than $345,000 lobbying in California.

Skilling himself testified to utility commissioners that deregulation could save the state $8.9 billion: "You can triple the number of police officers in Los Angles, San Francisco, Oakland and San Diego. The stakes are huge, and every minute that we delay bringing competitive markets to California allows the meter to keep ticking."

Enron was very busy creating the regulatory climate of Brazil nationwide in those years. From 1997 to 2000, 24 states adopted energy deregulation, and Enron repeatedly sent Lay and Skilling to testify. The company spent more than $1.9 million in campaign contributions to more than 700 candidates in 28 states since 1997, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics.

Enron had a huge fleet of lobbyists and even enlisted George W. Bush, then-governor of Texas, to call Gov. Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania to lobby for deregulation. According to the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call, "In early 1998, Enron Corp. secured a $750,000 contract for political operatives tied to (then) House Majority Whip Tom DeLay to secretly conduct an aggressive grass-roots campaign pushing energy deregulation. ... The contract was awarded after DeLay personally recommended to Enron officials that they hire the team of strategists who make up the inner circle of his political and fund-raising machine."

I doubt it will startle any citizen to read that the quality of justice in this country is deeply affected by how much you can afford to pay for it. If Zacarias Moussaoui could afford the jury coach Jeff Skilling has sitting in the courtroom, he'd doubtlessly be less at risk.

But in both cases there is the same feeling that maybe we've missed the point -- the real culprits in Moussaoui case were the FBI higher-ups who stifled the investigation and have never paid any price. In the Enron case, our political system should be a co-defendant -- campaign contributions, lobbyists, sell-outs and all.

(c) 2006 Creators Syndicate

URL: http://www.workingforchange.com/article.cfm?ItemID=20676

Saundra Hummer
April 22nd, 2006, 06:40 PM

Stayin' alive

Fri Apr 21, 7:14 AM ET

Whose side are they on? The thought of a surgeon taking a scalpel to the wrong limb, organ or patient sends chills down the spine of anyone who has been in a hospital.

Eighty-four cases of what's known in the business as "wrong-site surgery" were reported in the USA last year. But that's just the "tip of the iceberg," because many hospitals across the country aren't obligated to account for such blunders publicly, says Dennis O'Leary, who heads a group that inspects health care facilities.

The chances of wrong-site surgery are slim - about one in 113,000 operations, a study published Tuesday in Archives of Surgerynotes. Still, any incident is unacceptable. In one typical case, instead of removing a benign tumor from Doug McCoy's right ear last September, surgeons at Maricopa Medical Center in Phoenix operated on his left ear - which had no tumor.

In an effort to eliminate such blunders, surgeons have been required since 2004 to mark the spot they plan to cut while consulting with their patient before the operation. Nurses are supposed to call a "time out" in the operating room to conduct a final safety check to ensure that the right procedure is performed on the right patient.

So why do these catastrophic mistakes keep happening? Mainly because systems designed to prevent errors are faulty, or not followed, researchers say.

Some surgeons who think they'd never make such a stupid mistake often ignore safety protocols. Stubborn resistance to standardized conduct is part of the culture of medicine.

Airline pilots overcame this barrier long ago. Even the most experienced pilots must run through a checklist before taking off. It may be embarrassing for surgeons to be asked if they know for sure which side - or patient - they're about to operate on. But it's a lot less embarrassing than making a grievous error. Swallowing a little pride may save a limb, or a life.

Hazards in hospitals. Surgical screw-ups are a small part of a much larger patient-safety problem in hospitals.

Incidents such as bedsores, post-operative infections and failure to diagnose and treat conditions that develop in the hospital continued to plague American hospitals, according to a new study of Medicare patients by HealthGrades, a health care ratings company.

The study found that 1.24 million patient safety incidents occurred in nearly 40 million hospitalizations from 2002 to 2004. Those incidents were associated with 250,000 potentially preventable deaths and $9.3 billion of excess costs. For the second straight year, incidents increased slightly.

What can be done? Only 23 states have mandatory error-reporting systems, and standards of measurement aren't consistent. More states need to adopt rigorous reporting systems, and they should publicly release the type and number of patient safety incidents at each hospital. Exposure can spur progress.

That's what Minnesota has done, and it's ranked as the nation's top state for improving patient safety. A unique program there allows fiercely competitive hospitals to work together to share data, highlight best practices and implement tested solutions. As a result, Medicare patients in Minnesota had a nearly 30% lower risk of a safety incident compared with New Jersey, listed as the worst state.

Progress in reducing medical errors has been painfully slow. Speeding improvements requires making safety a top priority, publicly identifying hospitals that miss the grade and rewarding those that exceed it.

Growing older. In the face of botched surgeries, hospital goof-ups and myriad other risks, there was some encouraging news on the health front this week: Americans are living longer.

Despite a population that is growing in numbers and waistlines, the actual number of deaths in the USA dropped by nearly 50,000 in 2004 from the year before.

The National Center for Health Statistics said significant drops in the death rates for heart disease, cancer and stroke accounted for most of the decline, though they remain the three biggest causes of death. Deaths from influenza fell 7%.

The provisional death toll was 2,398,343, down 49,945 from 2003 and the biggest such drop since World War II.

In Europe, meanwhile, researchers from the World Health Organization and Greenpeace have been warring over how many "extra deaths" could be attributed to cancers caused by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster 20 years ago next week. Estimates in differing studies range widely, from 9,000 to 90,000.

Thanks to advances in medicine, more Americans may be living a little longer. And thanks to the radiation released at Chernobyl, unknown numbers of Europeans may be dying a little younger.

But death still comes only once, and the one sure thing in life is that eventually it will come for everybody. There are no "extra" deaths, just differences in timing.

Copyright © 2006 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.


Saundra Hummer
April 23rd, 2006, 11:53 AM

Tomgram: John Brown's Wake-up Call for the President

[Note to Tomdispatch readers: I'll be traveling much of the week -- with no access to email until perhaps Tuesday, limited access until Thursday, and minimal ability to respond to letters and requests.]
a project of the Nation Institute To send this to a friend, or to read more dispatches, go to tomdispatch.com

Just a week back, I suggested that there was no reason to believe the President's approval ratings had bottomed out. In fact, I wrote, "There is no reason to believe that a polling bottom exists for this President, not even perhaps the Nixonian Age of Watergate nadir in the lower 20% range." Now, the latest Fox News poll LINK ON SITEputs the President at an all-time low -- a 33% approval rating. Democrats are long gone; independents peeling away in droves; and, it seems, even Republicans not so desperately far behind.

Fox News, whose trusty team not a month ago could be found banging away at CBS News (when its poll hit 34%) for "wildly oversampl[ing] Democrats," now tells us that "for the first time under 70% of Republicans approve of the Bush presidency." As we all know, the President has already lost the informal poll of generals and now, according to historian Sean Wilentz in Rolling Stone magazine, he's lost the historians, too. Across the political spectrum, Wilentz writes, historians are coming to agree that George Bush is the worst president in U.S. history. ("No previous president appears to have squandered the public's trust more than Bush has.") President James Buchanan's shade can now rest easy.

Increasingly, the price of unleaded regular at the local gas pump (on average, $2.86; in California, $3) and the price of a barrel of crude oil ($75), not to speak of the ever more disastrous situation in Iraq, the unreconstructed New Orleans and Mississippi coasts, the ever-deepening Plame case investigation, all those conservatives undergoing conversion experiences, the range of government bureaucrats and intelligence officials leaking up an angry storm as well as the former officials (as on 60 Minutes tonight) spilling the beans about administration misdeeds,! and too many other disparate phenomena to name indicate that George and his pals stand in the rubble of their project to dominate the American public and the world.

On March 10, 2003, diplomat John Brown wrote an open letter to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell submitting his resignation in protest against the onrushing invasion of Iraq. He wrote in part: "The president has failed: To explain clearly why our brave men and women in uniform should be ready to sacrifice their lives in a war on Iraq at this time; to lay out the full ramifications of this war, including the extent of innocent civilian casualties; to specify the economic costs of the war for ordinary Americans; to clarify how the war would help rid the world of terror; to take international public opinion against the war into serious consideration." And he added that this administration in its "unjustified use of force" was "giving birth to an anti-American century."

Despite the millions then demonstrating worldwide, Brown was part of a rather lonely crowd in American officialdom. (Only three State Department officials resigned in protest.) But how on target he proved to be. Now, viewing that rubble, all those wasted lives, and the trillion-dollar or more Afghan-Iraq wars, he writes directly to the President, calling on him to take some responsibility for what he has wrought. Tom



a project of the Nation Institute
compiled and edited by Tom Engelhardt

On Waking Up Sleepless in the Middle of the Night

John Brown

TO: The President

FROM: A former American diplomat

SUBJECT: Waking up in the middle of the night

Mr. President: Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night? Do you? Do you ever wake up sleepless in the middle of the night?

What have you done in Iraq? Do you ever realize, in the middle of the night, what you've done? Do you?

1. You've caused over 2,370 American soldiers to die in an impoverished land that never attacked us. Was that the right answer to 9/11 or the "threat" from Iraq? Do you ever ask yourself that question?

2. Because of your Iraq invasion, thousands of U.S. enlisted personnel are maimed, physically and mentally, for life. What can you tell these victims of your war? That you're honored by their duty towards you, our "mission-accomplished" commander-in-chief?

3. Your decision to go to war has led to the death of tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis. Do you have any remorse for this, Mr. President? Or was it that, for you, Iraqis only really deserved to serve as props in "shock and awe" -- your name for your made-for-TV porno/violence program at the beginning of the war, produced and distributed directly into our living rooms by the mainstream media? (Thank you, Fox News.)

4. Will you ever, ever accept responsibility for making torture all-American at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and elsewhere? And the Statue of Liberty -- why, tell us why, did you allow it to be replaced by that image of an abused, hooded, helpless prisoner on a box? Aren't you the least bit concerned at how America is seen by the rest of the world because of your war -- as a brutal aggressor nation, dismissive of the opinions of mankind?

5. What about your mercenaries ("Pentagon contractors") that our tax dollars pay for? Who are they? What are they doing in their multi-thousands in Iraq, and to the Iraqis? Do you know? Or don't you care to know?

6. You said you wanted to "rebuild" Iraq -- but isn't it true that all you've really done is construct a Roman-Empire-style camp, a "Green Zone" for Iraqi collaborators (whom you now mistrust) and U.S. personnel in the heart of Baghdad that is an invitation to insurgent mortars? Haven't you -- tell the truth -- destroyed in Iraq more than you have built? Haven't you?

7. You say Iraqis now live in a land of "freedom" -- but what kind of freedom? How can it ever be like the Four Freedoms of Franklin Delano Roosevelt -- freedom of expression and worship, joined with freedom from want and freedom from fear? As electricity fails and bombs terrify citizens in Baghdad, where is the freedom you promised Iraqis, Mr. President?

8. Your occupation of Iraq has led to a bloody sectarian conflict. Why do you and your ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad now blame the Iraqis for their problems? Don't you share responsibility for the desperate situation they are in?

9. Your trillion-dollar binge of destruction in the cradle of civilization -- who will pay for it? The widows of our soldiers? Our young people, already too debt-burdened paying for their educations? Or their baby-boomer parents who may see their pensions evaporate to support your war?

10. Why can't you truthfully tell us, Mr. President, the reasons you led America into war? Was it for the WMD, for regime change, for the oil, for grand neocon visions, to avenge your father, to win elections at home? What were your real intentions? Are you afraid to tell us? Or is the truth that, deep down, you never really knew?

11. And, Mr. President, as you contemplate another war, this time against Iran, won't you ever wake up in the middle of the night, and stop more madness before it is too late?

John Brown, who writes regularly for Tomdispatch and Tompaine.com, is a former diplomat who resigned from the State Department over the planned war in Iraq, compiles the Public Diplomacy Press Review, available free upon request at the site.

Copyright 2006 John Brown

posted April 23, 2006 at 11:01 am


Saundra Hummer
April 23rd, 2006, 01:29 PM

This state of affairs is clearly unjust, made possible by coercion and violence, not some natural superiority of Americans.

Narcissistic personality disorder

Robert Jensen
04.20.06 - Politicians and pundits in the United States love to talk about our “national character,” typically in rapturous tones of triumphalism.
Often that character is asserted as a noble force but not defined: Earlier this year, for example, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said our national character -- presumed to be benevolent -- requires us to be welcoming to legal immigrants.

Other times it must be defended against foreigners who just don't understand us: Washington Post columnist Jim Hoagland last month explained that too many Middle Easterners fall prey to “depictions of Americans routinely raping, killing, firebombing mosques and torturing innocents as a function of national character.”

And sometimes character is political destiny: In New Delhi last month, President Bush proclaimed that “democracy is more than a form of government, it is the central promise of our national character.” Luckily for India, its national character shares the same feature, according to Bush.

Can a nation have a coherent character? If we take the question seriously -- investigating reality rather than merely asserting nobility -- we see in the U.S. national character signs of pathology and decay as well as health and vigor. What if, for purposes of analysis, we treated the nation as a person? Scan the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association (the bible of mental-health professionals, now in its fourth edition) and one category jumps out: Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

DSM-IV describes the disorder as “a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy” that can be diagnosed when any five of these nine criteria are met:

1. a grandiose sense of self-importance.

2. preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.

3. believes he or she is special and unique.

4. requires excessive admiration.

5. sense of entitlement.

6. interpersonally exploitative, taking advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends.

7. lacks empathy.

8. often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.

9. shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.

Narcissistic tendencies to self-aggrandize are not unique to the United States, of course. But given the predominance of U.S. power in the world, we should worry most about the consequences of such narcissism here. This disorder is bipartisan, and is virtually required of all mainstream politicians. When the House of Representatives held hearings about the creation of the Department of Homeland Security in 2002, California Democrat Nancy Pelosi declared that America is “the greatest country that ever existed on the face of the earth.” Texas Republican Dick Armeydescribed the United States as “the greatest, most free nation the world has ever known.” With a “grandiose sense of self-importance,” politicians routinely ratchet up the rhetorical flourishes when asserting that the country is “special and unique.”

As for arrogance and haughtiness: When asked at his pre-war news conference in March 2003 whether the United States would be defying the United Nations if it were to invade Iraq without legal authorization, Bush said, “if we need to act, we will act, and we really don't need United Nations approval to do so.” Bush prefaced that promise to defy international and U.S. law with the phrase “when it comes to our security,” but since the invasion of Iraq had little or nothing to do with the security of the United States we can ignore that qualifier. Here the younger Bush was merely mimicking his father, who remarked in February 1991 as the United States was destroying Iraq a first time: “The U.S. has a new credibility. What we say goes.”

On the Gulf War and “lacks empathy”: On Feb. 13, 1991, U.S. planes hit a bunker in Baghdad. Whether military planners knew it was an air-raid shelter or thought it was a “command-and-control site,” an estimated 300-400 civilians died. Colin Powell, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, referred to this as “one downside of airpower,” and said the incident led him to discuss with Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf the need “to look at the target list a little more closely.” Was the goal of that review to discuss civilian casualties? No, it was to question the efficiency of bombing an already bombed-out Baghdad. In Powell's words: “I asked questions like, 'Why are we bombing the Baath Party headquarters for the eighth time? … Why are we bouncing rubble with million-dollar missiles?'”

Powell, who went on to serve as secretary of state in George W. Bush's first term, was often referred to as the “dove” of that administration. Perhaps we could call this level of empathy the mark of a “tough dove.”

The unpleasant subject of the current Iraq war brings up “fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance.” Though Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently acknowledged mistakes in the current Iraq war -- “We've made tactical errors, thousands of them, I'm sure” -- she made it clear that history will vindicate U.S. officials for making “the right strategic decision” to invade. But that small concession to reality was too much for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who responded, “I don't know what she was talking about, to be perfectly honest.”

While it's easy to point at the narcissism of soulless and self-indulgent leaders, this diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder applies to the country as a whole. The belief that the United States is unique -- a shining “city upon a hill” -- is deeply rooted, and for many has divine origins; 48 percent of Americans believe the United States has “special protection from God,” according to a 2002 survey.

The narcissism of the whole society also is evident in the widespread “sense of entitlement,” defined as “unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations.” This is difficult to confront, precisely because it takes root to some degree in all of us and can't be so easily displaced onto only the most overtly pathological. The vast majority of the U.S. public -- by comparison to the rest of the world -- lives an extravagant lifestyle that we show few signs of being willing to give up.

We are 5 percent of the world's population and consume about a quarter of the world's energy. This state of affairs is clearly unjust, made possible by coercion and violence, not some natural superiority of Americans. Yet the vast majority of the U.S. public, and even much of the left/ progressive political community, acts as if they expect this state of affairs to continue. That's real narcissism, and it's at the heart of the political problem of the United States. Even if we swept the halls of Congress and the White House clean of every corrupt and cruel politician, the deeper self- indulgence of an affluent culture would be untouched.

Political activism to derail the pathological policies of those politicians must go forward. Critique of the concentrated power of the corporate elites who support those policies is essential. But the critical self-reflection necessary at the collective level also must come home to each of us.
(c) Working Assets Online. All rights reserved.

URL: http://www.workingforchange.com/article.cfm?ItemID=20674

Saundra Hummer
April 23rd, 2006, 02:45 PM

CIA Fires Analyst for Alleged Press Leak

Associated Press Writer
Apr 22, 1:11 PM EDT

AP Photo/J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE Go On-Site to view


CIA Fires Worker Over Leaking Information

Other U.S. Video:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The CIA fired a top intelligence analyst who admitted leaking classified information that led to a Pulitzer Prize-winning story about a network of secret CIA prisons, government officials say.

The officer was a senior analyst nearing retirement, Mary McCarthy, The Associated Press learned. Reached Friday evening at home, her husband would not confirm her firing.

Almost immediately, the firing turned political. Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., praised the agency for identifying a source of the leaks and encouraged vigorous investigation of other open cases. "Those guilty of improperly disclosing classified information should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," Roberts said.

Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., called on President Bush to hold accountable those in his administration who leaked information about the Iraq intelligence in the run-up to the war and outed undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame. "Apparently, President Bush doesn't believe what's good for the CIA is good for the White House," Menendez said.

In McCarthy's final position at the CIA, she was assigned to its Office of Inspector General, looking into allegations the CIA was involved in torture at Iraqi prisons, according to a former colleague who spoke on condition of anonymity because the case is under investigation.

Without identifying McCarthy by name, CIA Director Porter Goss announced the firing in a brief message to agency employees circulated Thursday. Such dismissals are highly unusual.

Agency spokesman Paul Gimigliano confirmed an officer had been fired for having unauthorized contacts with the media and disclosing classified information to reporters, including details about intelligence operations.

"The officer has acknowledged unauthorized discussions with the media and the unauthorized sharing of classified information," Gimigliano said. "That is a violation of the secrecy agreement that everyone signs as a condition of employment with the CIA."


CIA Leak Investigation

Prosecutors' Filing With Libby's Comments on Bush
Libby Indictment

Latest News

CIA Fires Analyst for Alleged Press Leak
Libby Defends Releasing Fitzgerald Letter

New Twist in CIA Leak Probe
Citing the Privacy Act, the CIA would not disclose any details about the officer's identity, assignments or what she might have told the news media. A law enforcement official confirmed there was a criminal leaks investigation under way, but it did not involve the fired CIA officer.

The official said the CIA officer had provided information that contributed to a Washington Post story last year disclosing secret U.S. prisons in Eastern Europe. The law enforcement official spoke only on condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the matter.

The Post's Dana Priest won a Pulitzer Prize this week for her reporting on a covert prison system set up by the CIA after Sept. 11, 2001, that at various times included sites in eight countries. The story caused an international uproar, and government officials have said it did significant damage to relationships between the U.S. and allied intelligence agencies.

Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. said on the newspaper's Web site: "We don't know the details of why (the CIA employee) was fired, so I can't comment on that. But as a general principle, obviously I am opposed to criminalizing the dissemination of government information to the press."

It was unclear if Priest or any other reporters who spoke to McCarthy would be brought into an investigation. Post spokesman Eric Grant said no reporter at the paper had been subpoenaed or had spoken to investigators about the matter.

Goss has pressed for aggressive probes about leaked information.

"The damage has been very severe to our capabilities to carry out our mission," Goss told Congress in February, adding that a federal grand jury should be impaneled to determine "who is leaking this information."

On Friday, another government official, also speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information, said the fired officer had failed a lie-detector test.

It was not clear if the person was taking a routine polygraph examination, as is required periodically of employees with access to classified information, or if the test was among those ordered by Goss to find leakers inside the agency.

Justice Department officials declined to comment publicly on the firing and whether the matter had been referred to federal prosecutors for possible criminal charges.

One law enforcement official said there were dozens of leak investigations under way. Another said there had been no referral from the CIA involving the fired employee, normally a precursor to a criminal investigation.

Both spoke on condition of anonymity because the matter is under investigation.

Associated Press writers Mark Sherman and Ted Bridis contributed to this report.


If one is fired, then fire them all.

Boy oh boy, what a swift way to clean house.

Think that will ever happen? Let's not hold our collective breaths. It's not in the works, nor is it about to be. The shining city on the hill, is only shining us on. We get it, we really do. SRH

Saundra Hummer
April 23rd, 2006, 05:30 PM

Nothing is easier than self-deceit. For what each man wishes, that he also believes to be true: Demosthenes


As long as people believe in absurdities, they will continue to commit atrocities: Voltaire


The tale of the slaughter at Wounded Knee in South Dakota is [an] example too well known to require detailed repeating here, but what is less well known about that massacre is that, a week and a half before it happened, the editor of the South Dakota's Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer -- a gentle soul named L. Frank Baum, who later became famous as the author of The Wizard of Oz -- urged the wholesale extermination of all America's native peoples: "The nobility of the Redskin is extinguished, and what few are left are a pack of whining curs who lick the hand that smites them. The Whites, by law of conquest, by justice of civilization, are masters of the American continent, and the best safety of the frontier settlements will be secured by the total annihilation of the few remaining Indians. Why not annihilation? Their glory has fled, their spirit broken, their manhood effaced; better that they should die than live the miserable wretches that they are.": David E. Stannard


"We used to have a War Office, but now we have a Ministry of Defence, nuclear bombs are now described as deterrents, innocent civilians killed in war are now described as collateral damage and military incompetence leading to US bombers killing British soldiers is cosily described as friendly fire. Those who are in favour of peace are described as mavericks and troublemakers, whereas the real militants are those who want the war. Tony Benn


Saundra Hummer
April 23rd, 2006, 06:38 PM

Not sure this story is allowed, however it is more about power, abuse and politics than any one belief, so I'm posting it, however, if it offends, I can just post the address and you can make up your mind about it.

Bill Moyers | A Time for Heresy

Bill Moyers
Saturday 22 March 2006

Bill Moyers is President of the Schumann Center for Media and Democracy. This is the prepared text of his remarks delivered on March 14 upon the establishment by Marilyn and James Dunn, of the Wake Forest Divinity School, of a scholarship in religious freedom in the name of Judith and Bill Moyers. When Dean Bill Leonard asked James Dunn to join him here at Wake Forest's new Divinity School, my soul shouted "Yes!" These two men personify the honesty and courage we need to meet the challenge of faith in the fundamentalist dispensation of the 21st century as radical interpretations of both Islam and Christianity seek, in the words of C.Welton Gaddy of the Interfaith Alliance, "to take over the government and use cause structures to advance the ideology, hierarchy, and laws" of their movement.

James Dunn and Bill Leonard are Baptists. What kind of Baptist matters. At last count there were more than two dozen varieties of Baptists in America. Bill Clinton is a Baptist. So is Pat Robertson. Jesse Jackson is a Baptist. So is Jesse Helms. Al Gore is a Baptist. So is Jerry Falwell. No wonder Baptists have been compared to jalapeno peppers: one or two make for a tasty dish, but a whole bunch together will bring tears to your eyes.

Many Baptists are fundamentalists; they believe in the absolute inerrancy of the Bible and the divine right of preachers to tell you what it means. They also believe in the separation of church and state only if they cannot control both. The only way to cooperate with fundamentalists, it has been said, is to obey them. James Dunn and Bill Leonard are not that kind of Baptist. They trace their spiritual heritage to forbearers who were considered heretics for standing up to ecclesiastical and state power on matters of conscience. One of them was Thomas Helwys, who, when Roman Catholics were being persecuted by the British crown, dared to defend the Catholics. Helwys went to jail, and died there, for telling the king of England, King James - yes, of the King James Bible - that "Our Lord the King has no more power over their [Catholic] conscience than ours, and that is none at all."

Baptists helped to turn that conviction into America's great contribution to political science and practical politics - the independence of church and state. Baptists in colonial America flocked to Washington's army to fight in the Revolutionary War because they wanted to be free from sanctioned religion. When the war was won they refused to support a new Constitution unless it contained a Bill of Rights that guaranteed freedom of religion and freedom from religion. No religion was to become the official religion; you couldn't be taxed to pay for my exercise of faith. This was heresy because, while many of the first settlers in America had fled Europe to escape religious persecution at the hands of the majority, once here they made their faith the established religion that denied freedom to others. Early Baptists considered this to be tyranny. Said John Leland: "All people ought to be at liberty to serve God in a way that each can best reconcile to their own consciences."

It was all about a free conscience in a free state, and James Dunn has spent his life as a champion of both. No one in my time has been a greater defender of "soul freedom" - the competence of each man and woman to interpret their own experience of God in the light of faith and reason. When James stood up against fundamentalists who would have the state recognize their literal reading of the Bible as the foundation for public policy, they smeared him. They demonized him. They tried to fire him from his denominational position. But they couldn't silence him. He stood against them when they set out to turn the Southern Baptist Convention into a monolith of dogma run from the top down by a cabal of credalists demanding doctrinal conformity. He riled them when they sought to turn the pews of their churches into precincts of partisan politics. He infuriated them when he opposed their plotting with the White House to draft a Constitutional amendment that would trivialize prayer by reducing it to a perfunctory ritual approved by the state. Said James Dunn: "The Supreme Court can't ban prayer in school. Real prayer is always free." When the fundamentalists and their obliging politicians claimed that God had been expelled from the classroom, Dunn answered: "The god whom I worship and serve has a perfect attendance record and has never been tardy."

I think of people like Dunn as primal Baptists. Traces of their mindset go all the way back to the story of Jacob wrestling with the angel in the book of Genesis. I relish the interpretation of this ancient story of Davidson Loehr, a former carpenter, combat photographer, and scholar who is now a minister in Austin, Texas. He reminds us that technically Jacob's adversary was not an angel; it was the local deity who stood guard at the boundary beyond which Jacob was not supposed to venture. Local gods were everywhere in those days, protecting parochial fiefdoms. This one told Jacob he couldn't leave, to turn around and go back. But Jacob wouldn't turn back; he had miles to go and promises to keep. He was called to discover his destiny, move out to the great world awaiting him. If he turned back he would spend the rest of his life in a place too narrow, with a god too small. So Jacob had to go to the mat with this presumptuous authority figure and they wrestled all night. It must have been a terrible struggle because when morning came and Jacob had pinned the god for the last time, his leg was on fire with pain. He crossed the river and on the other side he got a new name - now he would be known as Israel - but for the rest of his life Jacob walked with a limp. Pain comes with freedom - it's just the deal. The little gods don't want you to grow, learn, think for yourself. But you have to test their truth claims against your own life's experience - against your own faith and reason. To cross over to freedom you have to show the bogus gods at the border that you have a mind of your own.

It's fascinating what is revealed to you. Joseph Campbell told me a story (also recently recounted by Davidson Loehr) about the Australian tribe that used the bullroarer to keep people in awe of the gods. The bullroarer is a long flat board with notches, or slits, at one end, and a rope at the other. When you swing it around your head, the action produces a musical humming. The sound struck the primitive tribes as other-worldly, causing them to tremble in fear that the gods were angry. So the elders would go into the forest and come back with word of what it would take to placate the gods. And the people would oblige.

Now when a young boy in the tribe was ready to become a man, a ritual took place. Wearing masks, the elders would kidnap him and take him into the woods, tie him down, and with a flint knife slice the underside of his penis. It was painful, but the medicine man said this is how you became a man.

It meant shedding one's innocence. At the end of the ritual one of the masked men dipped the bullroarer in the boy's blood and thrust it in his face, simultaneously removing his mask so the boy could see it's not a god at all - it's just one of the old guys. And the medicine man would whisper, "We make the noises."

Ah, yes - it's not the gods after all. It's just the old guys - Uncle George, Uncle Dick, Uncle Don. The "noise" in the woods is the work of the old guys playing gods, wanting you to live in fear and trembling so that you will look to them to protect you against the wrath to come. It takes courage to put their truth-claims to the test of reality, to call their bluff.

We need such courage today. This is a time for heresy. American democracy is threatened by perversions of money, power, and religion. Money has bought our elections right out from under us. Power has turned government "of, by, and for the people" into the patron of privilege. And Christianity and Islam have been hijacked by fundamentalists who have made religion the language of power, the excuse for violence, and the alibi for empire. We must answer the principalities and powers that would force on America a stifling conformity. Either we make the heretical choices that will inspire us to renew our commitment to America's deepest values and ideals, or the day will come when we will no longer recognize the country we love.

Here's what I mean.

Two years ago, the American Political Science Association produced a study entitled Democracy in an Age of Rising Inequality . The report said people with wealth - privileged Americans - are "roaring with a clarity and consistency that public officials readily hear and routinely follow" while citizens "with lower or moderate incomes are speaking with a whisper." The study concluded that "progress toward realizing American ideals of democracy may have stalled, and even, in some places, reversed."

The following year - 2005 - the editors of The Economist, one of the world's most pro-capitalist publications, produced their own sobering analysis of what is happening in America. They found great and growing income disparities. Thirty years ago the average annual compensation of the top 100 chief executives was 30 times the pay of the average worker; today it is 1000 times the pay of the average worker.

They found an education system "increasingly stratified by social class" in which poor children "attend schools with fewer resources than those of their richer contemporaries." They found our celebrated universities increasingly "reinforcing rather that reducing" these educational inequalities.

They found American corporations no longer successful agents of upward mobility. It is now harder for people to start at the bottom and rise up the company hierarchy by dint of hard work and self-improvement.

The editors of The Economist studied all this evidence and concluded - and I am quoting a pro-business magazine, remember - that the United States "risks calcifying into a European-style, class-based society."

Let that sink in: The United States "risks calcifying into a European-style, class-based society."

In 1960 I heard John F. Kennedy promise that "a rising tide lifts all boats." He was right then. He would be wrong today. Just this past weekend The Washington Post, in a lead editorial, called for a second look at the old belief "that anyone who works hard and plays by the rules can attain the American dream by sharing in the fruits of economic progress." As great wealth accumulated at the top, the rest of the country is not benefiting proportionally. Across the country working men and women are strained to cope with the rising cost of health care, pharmaceutical drugs, housing, higher education, and public transportation - all of which have risen faster than typical family income. The economist Robert J. Gordon, quoted in The Financial Times (another pro-business publication), says there has been "little long-term change in workers share of U.S. income over the past half century." The top ten percent of earners have captured almost half the total income gains and the top one percent has gained the most of all - more in fact, than all the bottom 50 percent.

We are witnessing a marked turn of events for a nation whose DNA contains the inherent promise of an equal opportunity at "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." We were not supposed to be a country where the winners take all. The great progressive struggles in our history were waged to make sure ordinary citizens, and not just the rich, share in the benefits of a free society. Today, however, the majority of Americans may support such broad social goals as affordable medical coverage for all, decent wages for working people, safe working conditions, a good education for every child, and clean air and water, but there's no government "of, by, and for the people" to deliver on those aspirations. America is no longer working for all Americans.

How did this happen? By design. For a quarter of a century now a ferocious campaign has been conducted to dismantle the political institutions, the legal and statutory canons, and the intellectual, cultural, and religious frameworks that sustained America's social contract. The corporate, political, and religious right converged in a movement that for a long time only they understood because they are its advocates, its architects, and its beneficiaries.

Their economic strategy was to cut workforces and wages, scour the globe for even cheaper labor, and relieve investors of any responsibility for the cost of society. On the weekend before President Bush's second inauguration, The New York Times described how his first round of tax cuts had already brought our tax code closer to a system under which income on wealth would not be taxed at all and public expenditures would be raised exclusively from salaries and wages.

Their political strategy was to neutralize the independent media, create their own propaganda machine with a partisan press, and flood their coffers with rivers of money from those who stand to benefit from the transfer of public resources to elite control. Along the way they would burden the nation with structural deficits that will last until our children's children are ready to retire, systematically stripping government of its capacity, over time, to do little more than wage war and reward privilege.

Their religious strategy was to fuse ideology and theology into a worldview freed of the impurities of compromise, claim for America the status of God's favored among nations (and therefore beyond political critique or challenge), and demonize their opponents as ungodly and immoral.

At the intersection of these three strategies was money: Big Money.

They found a deep flaw in our political system and zeroed in on it.

Our elected officials need huge sums of money to finance their campaigns, especially to buy television. The average cost of running and winning a seat in the House of Representatives - the so-called "People's House" - now tops one million dollars. The chairman of the Federal Election Commission said just this weekend that anyone who expects to run for the nomination for president - the nomination - in 2008 will need to have raised one hundred million dollars by the end of 2007. That money isn't going to come from regular folks - less than one half of one percent of all Americans made a contribution of $200 or more to a federal candidate in 2004. No, the men and women who have mastered the money game have taken advantage of this fundamental weakness in our system - the high cost of campaigns - to sell democracy to the highest bidder.

Some simple facts:

The number of lobbyists registered to do business in Washington has more than doubled in the last five years. That's 16,342 lobbyists in 2000 to 34,785 last year. Sixty-five lobbyists for every member of Congress.

The total spent per month by special interests wining, dining, and seducing federal officials is now nearly $200 million. Per month.

But it's a small investment on the return. Just look at the most important legislation passed by Congress in the last decade.

There was the energy bill that gave oil companies huge tax breaks at the same time that Exxon Mobil just posted $36 billion in profits in 2005, while our gasoline and home heating bills are at an all-time high.

There was the bankruptcy "reform" bill written by credit card companies to make it harder for poor debtors to escape the burdens of divorce or medical catastrophe.

There was the deregulation of the banking, securities, and insurance sectors, which led to rampant corporate malfeasance and greed and the destruction of the retirement plans of millions of small investors.

There was the deregulation of the telecommunications sector which led to cable industry price-gouging and the abandonment of news coverage by the big media companies.

There was the blocking of even the mildest attempt to prevent American corporations from dodging an estimated $50 billion in annual taxes by opening a P.O. box in an off-shore tax haven like Bermuda or the Cayman Islands.

In every case these results were driven by the demands of Big Money in the form of campaign contributions and the cost of lobbying.

And in every case, the religious right was cheering for the winners.

You've heard about Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff, I'm sure. Let me tell you a little more than what you might have heard.

Tom DeLay was a small businessman from Sugar Land, Texas, who ran a pest extermination business before he entered politics. He hated the government regulators who dared to tell him that some of the pesticides he used were dangerous - as, unfortunately, they were. DeLay got himself elected to the Texas legislature at a time the Republicans were becoming the majority in the once-solid Democratic south, and his reputation for joining in the wild parties around the state capital earned him the nickname "Hot Tub Tom." But early in his political career, with exquisite timing (and the help of some videos from the right-wing political evangelist, James Dobson) Tom DeLay found Jesus and became a full-fledged born-again Christian. He would, in time, humbly acknowledge that God had chosen him to restore America to its biblical worldview. "God," said Tom DeLay, "has been walking me through an incredible journey Š God is using me, all the time, everywhere Š God is training me. God is working with me Š."

Yes, indeed: God does work in mysterious ways.

In addition to finding Jesus, Tom DeLay also discovered the power of money to power his career. By raising more than two million dollars from lobbyists and business groups and distributing the money to dozens of Republican candidates in 1994, the year of the Republican breakthrough in the House, DeLay bought the loyalty of many freshmen legislators and got himself elected majority whip, the number three man in Newt Gingrich's "Gang of Seven," who ran the House.

Here's how they ran it: On the day before the Republicans formally took control of Congress on January 3, 1995, DeLay met in his office with a coterie of lobbyists from some of the biggest companies in America. He virtually invited them to write their own wish list. What they wanted first was "Project Relief" - a wide-ranging moratorium on regulations that had originally been put into place for the health and safety of the public. Soon scores of companies were gorging on his generosity, adding one juicy and expensive tidbit after another to the bill. On the eve of the debate 20 major corporate groups advised lawmakers that "this was a key vote, one that would be considered in future campaign contributions." On the day of the vote lobbyists on Capitol Hill were still writing amendments on their laptops and forwarding them to House leaders.

Watching Tom DeLay become the virtual dictator of the House, with the approval of party leaders and the blessing of the Christian right, I was reminded of the card shark in Texas who said to his prey, "Now play the cards fair, Reuben; I know what I dealt you." They were stacking the deck against the people.

Consider what they did to the bill for Medicare prescription drug coverage. As the measure was coming to a vote, a majority of the full House was sympathetic to allowing cheaper imports from Canada and to giving the government the power to negotiate wholesale drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries. But DeLay and his cronies were working in behalf of the big pharmaceutical companies and would have none of it. So they made sure there would be no amendments on the floor and they held off the final roll call a full three hours - well after midnight - in order to strong-arm members who wanted to vote against the bill.

There are no victimless crimes in politics. The price of corruption is passed on to you. What came of all these shenanigans was a bill that gave industry what it wanted and gave taxpayers the shaft. But when the deeply flawed bill passed in the wee hours of the morning, the champagne corks popped in the offices crowded with lobbyists for the big drug and insurance companies. They were about to be richer on the backs of America's senior citizens.

When Tom DeLay worked the system to reward the rich and powerful, he had come a long way from Sugar Land, Texas. The people who had voted for him had the right to expect him to represent them, not the big lobbyists in Washington. This expectation is the very soul of democracy. We can't all govern - not even tiny, homogenous Switzerland practices pure democracy. So we Americans came to believe our best chance of responsible government lies in obtaining the considered judgments of those we elect to represent us. Having cast our ballots in the sanctity of the voting booth with its assurance of political equality, we go about our daily lives expecting the people we put in office to weigh the competing interests and decide to the best of their ability what is right. What do they do instead?

Well, as Tom DeLay became the king of campaign fundraising, The Associated Press writes "He began to live a lifestyle his constituents back in Sugar Land would have a hard time ever imagining." Big corporations provided private jets to take him to places of luxury most Americans have never seen - places with "dazzling views, warm golden sunsets, golf, goose-down comforters, marble bathrooms, and balconies overlooking the ocean." The AP reports that various organizations - campaign committees, political action committees, even a children's charity established by DeLay - paid over $1 million for hotels, restaurants, golf resorts and corporate jets used by DeLay. There were at least 48 visits to golf clubs and resorts; 100 flights aboard corporate jets arranged by lobbyists; and 500 meals at fancy restaurants, some averaging $200 for a dinner for two.

Spreading a biblical worldview kept DeLay on the move and on the take. But he needed help to sustain the cash flow. He found it in a lobbyist and fellow ideologue named Jack Abramoff, who personifies the money machine of which DeLay, with the blessing of the political and religious right, was the mastermind. It was Abramoff who helped DeLay raise those millions of dollars from campaign donors that bought the support of other politicians and became the base for an empire of corruption.

Just last month Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty to fraud, tax evasion, and conspiracy to bribe public officials. It's a spectacular fall for a man whose rise to power began 25 years ago with his election as chairman of the College Republicans. Despite its innocuous name, the organization became a political attack machine for the far right and a launching pad for younger conservatives on the make. Karl Rove had once held the same job as chairman. So did Grover Norquist, who ran Abramoff's campaign and would become the most powerful operative in Washington for advancing the movement's strategies. At their side was a youthful $200-a-month intern named Ralph Reed. Over the next several years they would yoke politics and religion to turn the conservative revolution into a rapacious racket.

Ralph Reed found Jesus and wound up running Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition. Time magazine put him on their cover as "the Right Hand of God." Reportedly after seeing "Fiddler on the Roof" Abramoff became an Orthodox religious Jew who finagled fake awards to provide himself with credentials in the new piety-soaked world of conservative Washington politics. One of those bogus awards named him "a distinguished Bible scholar." He received the "Biblical Mercantile Award" from an organization which laundered money for Tom DeLay's junkets to plush golf clubs.

It's impossible to treat all the schemes and scams this crowd concocted to subvert democracy in the name of God and greed. But here are two examples.

Abramoff made his name, so to speak, representing Indian tribes with gambling interests. As his partner he hired a DeLay crony named Michael Scanlon. What they had to offer, of course, were their well-known connections to the political and religious power structure, including friends at the White House (Abramoff's personal assistant usefully became Karl Rove's personal assistant), members of Congress, Christian right activists like Reed, and right-wing ideologues like Norquist (according to one report, two lobbying clients of Abramoff paid $25,000 to Norquist's organization - Americans for Tax Reform - for a lunch date and meeting with President Bush in May 2001.)

Before it was over the Indian tribes had paid them $82 million dollars, much of it going directly into Abramoff's and Scanlon's pockets. But some of the money found its way to the righteous. Ralph Reed, for one, had his hand out. Reed was the religious right's poster boy against gambling. "We believe gambling is a cancer on the American body politic," Reed had said. "It is stealing food from the mouths of childrenŠ [and] turning wives into widows." Reed was right about that, of course, but his distaste for gambling was no match for his desire to make himself some moolah by helping to protect Abramoff's gambling interests. When Reed resigned from the Christian Coalition - just as it was coming under federal investigation and slipping into financial arrears - he sent Abramoff an email: "Now that I am leaving electoral politics, I need to start humping in corporate accountsŠ I'm counting on you to help me with some contacts."

Abramoff came through. According to published reports, he and his partner Michael Scanlon paid Reed some $4 million to whip up Christian opposition to gambling initiatives that could cut into the profits of Abramoff's clients. Reed called in some of the brightest stars in the Christian firmament - Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, Phyllis Schlafly - to participate in what became a ruse in Abramoff's behalf. They would oppose gambling on religious and moral grounds in strategic places (Texas, Louisiana, Alabama) at decisive moments when competitive challenges threatened Abramoff's clients. Bogus Christian fronts were part of the strategy. Preachers in Texas rallied to Reed's appeals. Unsuspecting folks in Louisiana turned on their radios one day to hear the voice of God - with Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson doing the honors - thundering against a riverboat gambling scheme which Abramoff wanted defeated because it threatened one of his own gambling clients. Reed even got James Dobson, whose nationwide radio "ministry" reaches millions of people, to deluge phone lines at the Interior Department and White House with calls from indignant Christians. In 1999 Abramoff arranged for the Mississippi Choctaws, who were trying to stave off competition from other tribes, to contribute over $1 million to Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform, which then passed the money along to the Alabama Christian Coalition and to another anti-gambling group Reed had duped into aiding the cause. It is unclear how much these Christian soldiers, "marching as to war," knew about the true purpose of their crusade, but Ralph Reed knew all along that his money was coming from Abramoff. When he fiddled, his brethren on the Christian right danced.

It gets worse.

And here we get to the heart of darkness.

One of Abramoff's first big lobbying clients was the Northern Marianas Islands in the Pacific. After World War II the Marianas became a trusteeship of the United Nations, administered by the U.S. government under the stewardship of the Interior Department. During World War II thousands of Marines died on the Marianas, fighting for our way of life and our freedoms. Today, these islands are a haven for tourists - first-class hotels, beautiful beaches, championship golf courses. But that's not the whole story. The islands were exempted from U.S. labor and immigration laws, and over the years tens of thousands of people, primarily Chinese, mostly women, were brought there as garment workers to live in crowded barracks in miserable conditions. The main island, Saipan, became known as America's biggest sweatshop.

In 1998 a government report found workers there suffering severe malnutrition and health problems and subjected to unprovoked acts of violence. Many had signed "shadow contracts" which required them to pay up to $7000 just to get the job. They also had to renounce their claim to basic human rights. They were forbidden to engage in political and religious activities, to socialize or to marry. Some of the biggest names in the retail clothing industry were enabled to slap "made in the USA" labels on the clothes and import them to America while paying the workers practically nothing.

When these scandalous conditions began to attract attention, the sweatshop moguls fought all efforts at reform. Knowing that Jack Abramoff was close to Tom DeLay, they hired him to lobby for the islands. Conservative members of Congress lined up as Abramoff's team arranged for them to visit the islands on carefully guided junkets. Conservative intellectuals and journalists, for hire at rates considerably above what the women on the islands were making, also signed on for expense-free trips to the Marianas. They flew first-class, dined at posh restaurants, slept in comfort at the beachfront hotel, and returned to write and speak of the islands as "a true free market success story" and "a laboratory of liberty."

Abramoff took Tom DeLay and his wife there, too. DeLay practically swooned. He said the Marianas "represented what is best about America." He called them "my Galapagos" - "a perfect petri dish of capitalism."

These fellow travelers - rightwing members of Congress, their staffs and their lapdogs in the rightwing press and think tanks - became a solid phalanx aimed at any and all attempts to provide workers on the islands with a living wage and decent living conditions. When a liberal California Democrat, George Miller, and a conservative Alaskan senator, Frank Murkowski, both indignant at the "appalling conditions," tried to raise minimum wages on the islands and at least prevent arbitrary deportation of the workers, they were stopped cold.

After the 2000 election, when the spoils of victory were being divided up, Abramoff got himself named to the Bush transition team for the Interior Department. He wanted to make sure the right people wound up overseeing his clients in the Marianas. He enlisted Ralph Reed, who said he would raise the matter with Rove, to stop at least one appointment to Interior that might prove troublesome. It was about this time that Reed wrote an email to Enron's top lobbyist touting his pal Abramoff as "arguably the most influential and effective GOP lobbyist in Congress. I share several clients with him and have yet to see him lose a battle. He also is very close to DeLay and could help enormously on that front. raised $ for bushŠ[sic]"

For his services to the Marianas Jack Abramoff was paid nearly $10 million dollars, including the fees he charged for booking his guests on the golf courses and providing them copies of Newt Gingrich's book

To this day, workers on the Marianas are still denied the federal minimum wage while working long hours for subsistence income in their little "petri dish of capitalism" - "America at its best."

There are no victimless crimes in politics. The cost of corruption is passed on to the people. When the government of the United States falls under the thumb of the powerful and privileged, regular folks get squashed.

We are dealing here with a vision sharply at odds with the majority of Americans. These are people who want to arrange the world for the convenience of themselves and the multinational corporations that pay for their elections. With their fundamentalist medicine men twirling the bullroarers in the woods, they would turn America into their petri dish - a replica of the Marianas, many times magnified: A society "run by the powerful, oblivious to the weak, free of accountability, enjoying a cozy relationship with government, thriving on crony capitalism," in the words of Al Meyeroff, who led a class-action suit in behalf of the worker on the Marianas and learned what they were up against. Let this, too, sink in: If the corporate, political, and religious right have their way, we will go back to the first Gilded Age, when privilege controlled politics, votes were purchased, legislatures were bribed, bills were bought, and laws flagrantly disregarded - all as God's will.

So, my friends at Wake Forest, there is work to do. These charlatans and demagogues know that by controlling a society's most emotionally-laden symbols, they can control America, too. They must be challenged. Davidson Loehr reminds us that holding preachers and politicians to a higher standard than they want to serve has marked the entire history of both religion and politics. It is the conflict between the religion of the priests - ancient and modern - and the religion of the prophets.

It is the vast difference between the religion about Jesus and the religion of Jesus.

Yes, the religion of Jesus. It was in the name of Jesus that a Methodist ship caulker named Edward Rogers crusaded across New England for an eight-hour work day. It was in the name of Jesus that Francis William rose up against the sweatshop. It was in the name of Jesus that Dorothy Day marched alongside auto workers in Michigan, brewery workers in New York, and marble cutters in Vermont. It was in the name of Jesus that E.B. McKinney and Owen Whitfield stood against a Mississippi oligarchy that held sharecroppers in servitude. It was in the name of Jesus that the young priest John Ryan - ten years before the New Deal - crusaded for child labor laws, unemployment insurance, a minimum wage, and decent housing for the poor. And it was in the name of Jesus that Martin Luther King Jr. went to Memphis to march with sanitation workers who were asking only for a living wage.

This is the heresy of our time - to wrestle with the gods who guard the boundaries of this great nation's promise, and to confront the medicine men in the woods, twirling their bullroarers to keep us in fear and trembling. For the greatest heretic of all is Jesus of Nazareth, who drove the money changers from the temple in Jerusalem as we must now drive the money changers from the temples of democracy.


Saundra Hummer
April 23rd, 2006, 08:04 PM

Thank you for signing the DontAttackIran.org petition!

With your help we have very quickly collected almost 30,000 signatures and the support of numerous organizations.

We will soon announce an event at the White House. Cindy Sheehan and representatives of all the supporting organizations will deliver the petition to the President, along with every signature and comment you've added. You will all be invited to join us!

BUT FIRST... we need to collect a lot more signatures. If you each find one more person, we'll double our count. If you find two or 10, our numbers will shoot through the roof.

Please print out this flyer and post it, pass it out, put it in the mail, tack it up on bulletin boards:

Please send the following note to everyone you know:


Bush and Cheney are seriously considering attacking Iran, and are threatening to use nuclear bombs. Please join me in helping to prevent this by taking 60 seconds to sign a petition at




If you received this from a friend, you can subscribe at:

To unsubscribe from AfterDowningStreet Updates, click here:

To unsubscribe from all Democrats.com mailings, click here:

Saundra Hummer
April 23rd, 2006, 10:21 PM
Peak Oil and the Passion of Christ (Mel Gibsons Movie)

This article goes into all sorts of issues, peak oil, gay marriages, abortion, drilling in the Anwar, and many other issues. It may offend some as it"s "in your face" with button pushing, controversial issues, things that matter to many of us, but we're all adults here so if you aren't in agreement with what is being written about, that's o.k. too, however, it is an interesting article.


Saundra Hummer
April 23rd, 2006, 10:45 PM

Newsday editorial on peak oil

Editorial, Newsday (NY)
Brace for $100-a-barrel oil - and the sacrifices required to put in place a national policy for energy alternatives. The world is nowhere near running out of oil soon. But there is a general agreement that it's close to reaching peak oil production.
published April 23, 2006.

Petrol prices signal the need to prepare for change
Editorial, The Age (Australia)The question of when oil production will peak (some analysts even say it has) is a highly uncertain one, but it can no longer be safely assumed that there is plenty more, at an affordable price. Australia must urgently assess the full extent of its oil vulnerability, across all industries and sectors.
published April 23, 2006.

Peak oil - Apr 23

Staff, Energy Bulletin
Missing DOE report on peak oil and oil shale reappears / Simmons: global energy war could happen over oil / The "Hot" War: in business at the front line / Are commodity prices threatening energy investments? / Peak tires
published April 23, 2006.

Solutions & sustainability - Apr 23
Staff, Energy Bulletin
Edible forests / Environmentalism can help economy / On Earth Day (beyond small solutions) / Deep-fried America (hope on global warming)
published April 23, 2006.

Preparing for peak oil in NYC: The cow from one end to the udder
Jenna Orkin, WTC Environmental Organization
The NYC Peak Oil Meetup forged ahead with its campaign to educate the public in basic farming skills, undeterred by the fact that the meeting was held in the belly of that most unnatural beast, Midtown Manhattan.
published April 23, 2006.

Why the world is not about to run out of oil

Vijay Vaitheeswaran, The Economist
Is the world really starting to run out of oil? And would hitting a global peak of production necessarily spell economic ruin? Both questions are arguable. (Excerpts).
published April 22, 2006.

Will Iran tighten the reins on the global petro supply?

Peter Tertzakian, press release
The outcomes of the UN’s deadline for Iran are considered by Peter Tertzakian, author of "A Thousand Barrels a Second."
published April 22, 2006.

Peak oil - Apr 21

Staff, Energy Bulletin
Department of Defense and energy revolution / Interview - SF peak oil resolution / BBC: What is driving oil prices so high? / Le Monde: Il faut préparer la "fin du pétrole" / Peak oil in Switzerland / PO interview in Wisconsin
published April 21, 2006.

What the mainstream media are not telling you about the run up in oil prices

Jeffrey J. Brown, Energy Bulletin
Most of the mainstream media attribute the run up in oil prices to geopolitical tensions. However, a careful examination of recent supply data suggests a different reason - oil importers are bidding against each other for available total petroleum
published April 20, 2006.

Politics after the Peak

Tom Whipple, Falls Church News-Press
Before the oil age comes to a complete close, let's hope someone rehabilitates Jimmy Carter as one of the most prescient Presidents ever to hold the office. Congress might even rename an airport for him — just before it is shut down forever.
published April 20, 2006.

Peak oil - Apr 20

Staff, Energy Bulletin
A conversation with Wendell Berry / Presentations from Triangle (NC) PO conference / Great Decisions TV: Global energy outlook / "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" author: The coming oil crisis / Colorado state geologist: Oil world in decline / Why metals stocks haven't peaked / Sustainable Energy Forum May 7-9 Washington, DC / Lester Brown: Wartime mobilization effort needed to save environment & civilization
published April 20, 2006.

Solutions & sustainability - Apr 20

Staff, Energy Bulletin
Alternative hedonism might just lead us to fulfilment / Here comes the sun - links / Bill McKibben: The hope of the web
published April 20, 2006.

More peak energy news...

BP's chief scientist on the energy future

Jorge Salazar, Earth & Sky
The world needs to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by a factor of two in the next 40-50 years. At the same time, there will be an increase in demand in energy by a factor of two. All together, our energy intensity has to go down by a factor of four.
published April 23, 2006.

Other energy - Apr 23

Staff, Energy Bulletin
Sweden goes for green as Nordics mull energy future / Coal-to-diesel breakthrough could cut oil imports / Energy news from Australia / Gulf production: plenty of repairs still to go / Qatar to boost oil output, plans investment abroad
published April 23, 2006.

Politics & economics - Apr 23

Staff, Energy Bulletin
Venezuela: turning off the taps to U.S. / The axis of oil: China and Venezuela / Rebel attack threatens government in Chad / UK protectionism threatens European gas supplies (Gazprom)
published April 23, 2006.

U.S. oil prices and policy - Apr 23

Staff, Energy Bulletin
What's up with oil, gasoline prices? / CBS: Making sense of the oil mess / Profits, not crude oil prices or ethanol are driving pump price spike / Proposed windfall profits tax would finance alternatives and efficiency
published April 23, 2006.

Environment - Apr 22

Staff, Energy Bulletin
Global warming threatening Bangladesh's coast / Nova on "Dimming the Sun" / Dust storms and pollution force Beijing to go greener / Soil scientist: The ground we walk on - it's part of global warming / Science magazine: Stand by for a warmer, but not scorching, world
published April 22, 2006.

Environment - Apr 21

Staff, Energy Bulletin
Ask Umbra: Apocalypse 101 / The emerging environmental majority / Climate change will be significant but not extreme, study predicts / UK's Gordon Brown: 'The environment must be centre of policy worldwide' / UK Tory leader pledges to firm up green credentials with carbon levy / UK scientists fear new attempts to undermine climate action / Triumph the Insult Comic Dog interviews Republican senators on global warming
published April 21, 2006.

Politics & economics - Apr 21

Staff, Energy Bulletin
Gas prices - what's the right strategy for the Dems? / Conservative Cal: Getting serious about energy (takes an enemy) / Chavez: oil will be destroyed if attacked / Castro on energy / Australian MPs in 'back pocket' of giants / Get used to higher gas prices, Canadian PM says
published April 21, 2006.

Other energy - Apr 21

Staff, Energy Bulletin
Could Sweden become the OPEC-equivalent for bioenergy? / Americans commute longer, farther than ever / Wall Street Journal's green auto coverage / Australian's fuel-from-plastic potential wasted
published April 21, 2006.

Hundred dollar oil, five percent inflation, and the coming recession
Philip K. Verleger, Jr., The International Economy
Prominent energy economist predicts inflation and/or recession on purely economic grounds - peak oil isn't necessary to make his case. (excerpts)
published April 21, 2006.

How dare they use our oil!

Editorial, NY TImes
How's this for nerve? The leader of a country that consumes more than 20 million barrels of oil a day is warning the leader of a country that consumes some 6.5 million barrels not to try to lock up world oil resources.
published April 21, 2006.

Think small on energy

Nikos Tsafos, Thesis & Antithesis
Energy policy in America has suffered from big ideas. A step in the right direction is rejected because it is not a leap; the dream is for all problems to be solved at once or not at all.
published April 20, 2006.

Other energy - Apr 20

Staff, Energy Bulletin
More uranium: when and from where? / Going nuclear: a green makes the case / Anything into oil (turkey guts, junked car parts, even raw sewage...true!) / Growing demand for non-food crops / UK coal producer pushes for price increases of 40% / Russia to control Armenia's gas / Transmaterial, transtudio and seeing the big picture - links
published April 20, 2006.

Full newswire:


Go on-site to read these articles in their complete form.

Saundra Hummer
April 24th, 2006, 02:01 PM
A book review from one of our booted members. It was his James Joyce "isms" which got him kicked off it seems, that and rants against all sorts of racial issues, sounding pretty racial himself, but only putting racism down in an in your face way, sounding racist, while not really being that, just to show how backwards it all is.

Anyway, here's the review of the book he's written, and I hear it is taking off so that's good and here's hoping he has continued successes.

Editorial Reviews

Book Description

JEW GIRL Set in post 9/11 New York City Jew Girl is EminemRevenge’s first novel. Its release came as Hurricane Katrina boiled across the south unearthing secrets long thought buried: racism, elitism, sexism, anti-Semitism, judgmentalism. With almost divine synchronicity these same issues play out in Jew Girl against the backdrop of the September 11th Shoah of the World Trade Center.
Originally, based on a dream the book was intended to be a homage to James Joyce, an author rediscovered after EminemsRevenge read Alan Nadel's Invisible Criticism. In the end the book pays homage to the forward thinking teacher who inspired him to read both Joyce and D.H. Lawrence and look outside the box of conventional thinking. This teacher built on a foundation created from information about Judaism shared with an inquisitive pre-adolescent EminemsRevenge by his next door neighbor, a rabbi cop, in the Rockaway peninsula of NYC.


In the spring of 2003, EminemsRevenge's cousin, Howard Delapenha, who was battling cancer, gave him a laptop to finish his Work in Progress. Knowing that his book would be controversial because of the scope of the subjects it covered...Black-on-Black racism, anti-Semitism, and the dehumanization of the working class...EminemsRevenge joined a blogging community originating out of San Francisco to test the waters for his writing style, which was literary but street. One of the major problems he ran into was his free usage of the dreaded politically incorrect "N" word... all posts using the word were deleted... and the message was lost in translation! While Jew Girl has the rap and be-bop rhythms of Public Enemy, the in-your-face Cop Killer lyricism of Ice-T is always evident in EminemsRevenge's writings, and white America shudders every time they are confronted with an angry Black male!

The San Francisco-based blogging community banned EminemsRevenge when he parodied Marshall Mather's song about taking a girl out into the woods and locking her in the trunk as he taunted one of their top members in the "mature" section during her two week vacation. Then he discovered Xanga.com and came up with the name EminemsRevenge...a name that would be banned from various blogging sites over the next two years because of his uniquely Black radicalism.


Jew Girl could have easily been called A Tale of Two Messiahs. The characters move through one day leaden by the decisions of past days. Reuven Kalisz is a pre-adolescent boy whose mother is dying of cancer. His mother once dated a goy from the office, Jonah Valjean, who took her to see a play about golems. Although he did not like his mother's boyfriend at the time, the story about golems fascinated him. Reuven asked his mother every detail about the play. He supplemented what she told him about the subject by asking his next-door neighbor, Ian Odamench, a holocaust survivor, to tell him everything he knew about the subject.

When neo-nazis desecrated his grandfather's grave, Reuven decided to go to Harlem and seek his mother's ex-boyfriend for assistance with creating a golem. Reuven believes Jonah Valjean has supernatural powers because his mother was recalled to life after receiving a Valentine's Day card from Jonah.

Jonah Valjean is meanwhile living a less than charmed life! There's a "contract" on him in Harlem since the neighborhood crack dealers thought he snitched on them, so Jonah is now living in a rooming house in South Ozone Park. One of the tenants is an ex-convict who is a closet homosexual, and he wants to kill Valjean simply because Jonah brings out his homosexual yearnings.

The book follows the path of Jonah and Reuven as they face their hopes and fears sharing a common bond: Eileen Kalisz, who is obviously dying as she faces cancer for the third time in her life, and each hopes for a miracle that only the other is capable of performing.


Der Geist der stets verneint is a constant refrain in the book. It's a phrase that Mephistopheles uttered in Goethe's Faust---the spirit that ever denies.

IT describes the latent feeling in NYC after that fateful Tuesday morn in September...and the semantic wordplay of Jew Girl reminds one of Joyce's Finnegans Wake since you have to employ Hebrew, Latin, German, French and Yiddish to even approximate the despairing hope of New Yorkers in a post-apocalyptic city.

Mensch is a Yiddish term for a man who is more than a man...and if you dissect the name Ian Odamench you will see not only a bastardization of the Yiddish mensch, but also the Hebrew name for YHWH---Adonai---and you get the feeling that he is a man of God. Jonah is a book in the bible about a reluctant prophet, and Valjean is the Victor Hugo protagonist hounded in Les Miserables, so any belief that there is superfluous usage of "exotic" language just for the sake of being intellectual should be dispelled with these revelations.

Jew Girl IS like a Public Enemy rap opera that dispels the myth that Nigroes only think in 4/4 time and write in nursery rhymes...and unlike Joyce, there's a glossary at the end of the book that defines most of the archaic terms...the thing is you have to interpret them as the reader!!!

Book Description
A literary rap novel that explores the racist and anti-Semitic cancers eating away at a post-9/11 New York City.


Saundra Hummer
April 24th, 2006, 03:33 PM

Bush, Inquisition? No parallel exists.

Mon Apr 24, 7:00 AM ET

I was shocked to read James Reston Jr.'s commentary comparing President Bush to King Ferdinand. No, not shocked that there are people out there who actually believe this, but that USA TODAY would give them an audience ("The 'American Inquisition'," The Forum, Tuesday).

There is a difference in respectful, serious-minded debate and vicious radical invective that has no basis in logic. If Bush is leading a Christian Inquisition as Ferdinand did, then Reston has to explain why Islam is one of the fastest-growing religions in the USA. Would a president with Ferdinand's agenda ever allow this to happen in his own country? This simple question completely obliterates all the arguments Reston made and exposes him as a man with an agenda, not a man interested in truth or justice.

Americans are sick of our president being compared to Hitler, Nazis, Genghis Khan, King Ferdinand, and every other famous villain in history. None of those tyrants ever showed any interest in spreading democracy and freedom inside their own countries or anywhere else. By contrast, Iraq has the first freely elected government in its history.

The American people would never allow our country to engage in a tyrannical crusade, and Reston treats us with utter contempt to believe we would.

Chris Lawrence, Nashville

Histrionics, not history

James Reston Jr. relies on pure histrionics, not history, to draw parallels between the Spanish Inquisition, the Bush presidency and the global fight against terrorism.

Since Hitler and Nazi comparisons are very un-P.C., Reston shot for maximum effect by using a more obscure, but no less evil, character: the Spanish Grand Inquisitor Tomás de Torquemada. (The more dastardly the figure and their deeds the better.)

Seriously, as a law-abiding citizen, I have no fear of a secret police force lurking about or my neighbors reporting my suspicious behavior as in Inquisition-era Spain. But if there are "bad guys" in our midst, I want a modern-day - dedicated, but principled -"Holy Brotherhood" looking out for our national security.

By the way, why didn't Reston mention the fact that during Ferdinand and Isabella's reign, a final victory over the Moors in Spain in 1492 (the same year as Columbus' voyage) ended a threat to the further conquest of Western Europe by Islamic invaders?

Col. Chris Krisinger, U.S. Air Force, Burke, Va.

Copyright © 2006 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.


Maybe this wasn't a good comparison, but, who should we be comparing his antics and strong-arm tactics to?

Remember, he is a transitory power, and knowing and recognizing this as a fact just drives us to look about for those who are alike in the way they conduct the business of state - of ruling. Where are they? We only have dictators and despots to compare him to, as in my short time here on this earth, I've not seen anyone from a democratic free country do what it is he is doing to us and the rest of the world. No he isn't condeming us to the rack, he isn't lining us up against a wall and having his puppets yell "FIRE!", but he is putting the screws to us just the same in so many different ways. More clever this way don't you think?

Just look at how much damage he has wrecked in the short period of time he has been a household and international name. We will forever live with, and be affected by his policies; his out in the open, in our face, taking from the poor and middle class policies all of this being done to nurture and humor the wealthiest among us, and then there are his secret carryings on. And how about this: Just look at how we are viewed internationally and then complain that GW isn't getting a fair shake. He has put himself up there to ridicule, to rail against, leaving us to search out comparisons. It has been he and his administrations doings which have started this coming down on poor little GW Bush and his gaggle of cohorts. And since we haven't had such carryings on being implemented by any other president and their cabinets in our history, at least not that we've been aware of, us never before ever having had such things being done in our name, of course we are going to grouse and compare. Look at the horrid things being done and accepted as standard policy. It's only natural that we compare him and this administration to the worst out there. He and his cabinet have driven us to it. We're just so sick and tired of this administrations way of conducting the business of state. SRH

Saundra Hummer
April 24th, 2006, 05:38 PM

Rumsfeld sued over Pentagon's recruiting database

Daniel Trotta
Tue April 25, 2006 1:42 AM IST

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Six New York teen-agers sued Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld on Monday, alleging the U.S. Department of Defense broke the law by keeping an extensive database on potential recruits.

The suit in federal court in Manhattan follows a series of allegations last year of misconduct by recruiters, who have experienced difficulty meeting targets because of the war in Iraq.

The Pentagon last year acknowledged it had created a database of 12 million Americans, full of personal data such as grades and Social Security numbers, to help find potential military recruits.

The Pentagon has defended the practice as critical to the success of the all-volunteer U.S. military, and said it was sensitive to privacy concerns.

But the suit alleges the Pentagon improperly collected data on people as young as 16 and kept it beyond a three-year limit, and said that the law does not allow for keeping records on race, ethnicity, gender or social security numbers.

"On the one hand Congress has afforded broad latitude to collect information but on the other hand the Department of Defense has completely flouted those limits," said Donna Lieberman, director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, which filed the suit on behalf of the six plaintiffs.

The Pentagon referred the case to a spokeswoman who was not immediately available for comment.

Although the database was created in 2003, before the U.S. military started missing recruiting targets, the Pentagon first revealed the program in the federal register last year just has it was hit by other recruiting scandals.

The plaintiffs -- all 16- and 17-year-old students from the New York area -- were approached by military recruiters even after demanding that their information be stricken from the database, Lieberman said.

They want the court to declare the database illegal, force the military to stop keeping improper records and pay for their lawyers.

The suit names Rumsfeld; David Chu, the under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, and Matt Boehmer, the Pentagon's director of advertising and market research studies.

"There's nothing sinister," Chu said when responding to criticism of the program last year.

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.


Saundra Hummer
April 24th, 2006, 07:10 PM

"It is a government of the people by the people for the people no longer it is a government of corporations by corporations for corporations" Rutherford. B. Hayes


"Hierarchies make some people dependent on others, blame the dependent for their dependency, and then use that dependency as a justification for further exercise of authority" : Martha Ackelsberg

"The civilized have created the wretched, quite coldly and deliberately, and do not intend to change the status quo; are responsible for their slaughter and enslavement; rain down bombs on defenseless children whenever and wherever they decide that their "vital interests" are menaced, and think nothing of torturing a man to death: these people are not to be taken seriously when they speak of the "sanctity" of human life, or the "conscience" of the civilized world. " James Baldwin - page 489 of COLLECTED ESSAYS (1998), from chapter one of "The Devil Finds Work" (orig. pub. 1976)

~ ~ ~

Saundra Hummer
April 24th, 2006, 07:23 PM

All War-All The Time
Anti-Empire Update

William Blum

04/24/06 "ICH' -- -- Your War Channel-all war-all the time-24/7-25/8-round the clock-breaking only for commercials for Halliburton and Bechtel

The recent paper by two prominent academics, John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, on "The Israel Lobby", has spurred considerable discussion both in the mainstream media and on the Internet about the significance of the role played by this lobby in instigating the US invasion and occupation of Iraq. The answer to this question may reside ultimately, and solely, in the minds of the neo-conservatives, in or close to official government positions, who lobbied for years to invade Iraq and overthrow Saddam Hussein; an early instance of this being their now-famous letter to President Clinton in January 1998, which, in no uncertain terms, called for an American strategy that "should aim, above all, at the removal of Saddam Hussein's regime from power". Warning of Saddam's potential for acquiring weapons of mass destruction, the neo-cons, in language at times sounding frenzied, insisted that his removal was absolutely vital to "the security of the world in the first part of the 21st century" and for "the safety of American troops in the region, of our friends and allies like Israel and the moderate Arab states, and a significant portion of the world's supply of oil."

This of course was a gross exaggeration. In 1998, after seven years of relentless US bombing and draconian sanctions, Iraq was but a pitiful shell of its former self and no longer a threat even to its neighbors, much less "the world". There were those who hated Saddam, but the only country that had any good reason to fear Iraq, then or later, was Israel, as retaliation for Israel's unprovoked bombing of Iraq in 1981. The letter to Clinton was signed by Elliott Abrams, Richard L. Armitage, William J. Bennett, Jeffrey Bergner, John Bolton, Paula Dobriansky, Francis Fukuyama, Robert Kagan, Zalmay Khalilzad, William Kristol, Richard Perle, Peter W. Rodman, Donald Rumsfeld, William Schneider, Jr., Vin Weber, Paul Wolfowitz, R. James Woolsey, and Robert B. Zoellick(1), most of whom, if not all, could be categorized as allies of Israel; most of whom were soon to join the Busheviks. What could have prompted these individuals to write such a letter to the president other than a desire to eliminate a threat to the safety of Israel? And when they came into power some began immediately to campaign for regime change in Iraq.

There are those who argue that the United States has invaded numerous countries without requiring instigation by Israel. This is of course true, it's what the empire does for a living. But to say that the Israel lobby played a vital role in the invasion of Iraq in 2003 is not to suggest an explanation for the whole history of US foreign interventions.

To the role of the Israel lobby we must add two other factors carrying unknown degrees of weight in the decision to invade Iraq: controlling vast amounts of oil, and saving the dollar from the euro by reversing Saddam Hussein's decision to use the latter in Iraq's oil transactions (and this reversal was one of the first edicts of the occupation).

Whatever ambiguity may remain about the role of the Israel lobby in the invasion of Iraq, it's clear that if and when the sociopaths who call themselves our leaders attack Iran, Israeli security will be the main reason, with the euro in second place because Iran has been taking -- or at least threatening to take -- serious steps to replace the dollar with the euro in oil transactions. Iran of course also has lots of oil, but unless the United States aims at conquest and occupation of the country -- and where will Los Socios find a few hundred thousand more clueless American bodies -- access to and control of the oil would not be very feasible. The Israel lobby appears to be the only major organized force that is actively pushing the United States toward crisis in Iran. Along with the lobby's leading member, the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), there's the American Jewish Committee (AJC), which has taken out full-page ads in major US newspapers with the less-than-subtle heading: "A Nuclear Iran Threatens All", depicting radiating circles on an Iran-centered map to show where its missiles could strike.

"The threat from Iran is, of course, their stated objective to destroy our strong ally Israel," declared George W. last month. "That's a threat, a serious threat. It's a threat to world peace. I made it clear, and I'll make it clear again, that we will use military might to protect our ally Israel."(2)

Chutzpah of an imperial size

Do you remember the classic example of "chutzpah"? It's the young man who kills his parents and then asks the court for mercy on the grounds that he's an orphan.

The Bush administration's updated version of that is starting a wholly illegal, immoral, and devastating war and then dismissing all kinds of criticism of its action on the grounds that "We're at war."

They use this excuse to defend warrantless spying, to defend the imprisonment of people for years without charging them with a crime, to abuse and torture them, to ignore the Geneva Convention and other international treaties; they use it against Democrats, accusing them of partisanship during "a time of war"; they use it to justify the expansion of presidential powers and the weakening of checks and balances. In short, they claim "We can do whatever we want about anything at all related to this war, because we're at war."

"War is war," says Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, "and it has never been the case that when you captured a combatant you have to give them a jury trial in your civil courts. Give me a break."(3) Scalia, in his public talks, implies that prisoners held in the far-flung American gulag were all "captured on the battlefield".(4) But this is simply false. Very few of the poor souls were captured on any kind of battlefield, few had even a gun in their hand; most were just in the wrong place at the wrong time or were turned in by an informer for an American bounty or a personal grudge.

The American public, like all publics, requires only sufficient repetition from "respectable" sources to learn how to play the game: Earlier this month many cities of Wisconsin held referendums on bringing the troops home from Iraq. Here's Jim Martin, 48, a handyman in Evansville. He thinks that his city shouldn't waste taxpayers' money running a referendum that means nothing. "The fact of the matter remains, we're at war," he said as he ate his lunch at the Night Owl bar.(5)

And here now is Chris Simcox a leader in the Minuteman movement that patrols the Mexican border: "If I catch you breaking into my country in the middle of the night and we're at war ... you're a potential enemy. I don't care if you're a busboy coming to wash dishes."(6)

One observer has summed up the legal arguments put forth by the Bush administration thusly: "The existing laws do not apply because this is a different kind of war. It's a different kind of war because the president says so. The president gets to say so because he is president. ... We follow the laws of war except to the extent that they do not apply to us. These prisoners have all the rights to which they are entitled by law, except to the extent that we have changed the law to limit their rights."(7)

Yet, George W. has cut taxes tremendously, something probably unprecedented while at war.

Facing calls for impeachment, plummeting popularity, a looming Republican electoral disaster, and massive failure in Mesopotamia, Georgie looks toward Persia. He and the other gang members will be able to get away with almost anything they can think of if they can say "We're in two wars!"

A tale of two terrorists

Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person charged to date in the United States in connection with the September 11, 2001 attacks, testifying at his trial in Alexandria, Virginia:

The sobbing September 11 survivors and family members who testified against him were "disgusting" ... He and other Muslims want to "exterminate" American Jews ... executed Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh was "the greatest American"(8) He expressed his willingness to kill Americans "any time, anywhere" ... "I wish it had happened not only on the 11th, but the 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th."(9)

Orlando Bosch, one of the masterminds behind the October 6, 1976 bombing of a Cuban passenger plane, blown out of the sky with 73 people on board, including the entire young Cuban fencing team, interviewed April 8 by Juan Manuel Cao of Channel 41 in Miami:

Cao: Did you down that plane in 1976?

Bosch: If I tell you that I was involved, I will be inculpating myself ... and if I tell you that I did not participate in that action, you would say that I am lying. I am therefore not going to answer one thing or the other.

Cao: In that action 73 persons were killed ...

Bosch: No chico, in a war such as us Cubans who love liberty wage against the tyrant [Fidel Castro], you have to down planes, you have to sink ships, you have to be prepared to attack anything that is within your reach.

Cao: But don't you feel a little bit for those who were killed there, for their families?

Bosch: Who was on board that plane? Four members of the Communist Party, five north Koreans, five Guyanese ... Who was there? Our enemies. Cao: And the fencers? The young people on board?

Bosch: I saw the young girls on television. There were six of them. After the end of the competition, the leader of the six dedicated their triumph to the tyrant. She gave a speech filled with praise for the tyrant. We had already agreed in Santo Domingo, that everyone who comes from Cuba to glorify the tyrant had to run the same risks as those men and women that fight alongside the tyranny.

Cao: If you ran into the family members who were killed in that plane, wouldn't you think it difficult ... ?

Bosch: No, because in the end those who were there had to know that they were cooperating with the tyranny in Cuba.

The main difference between Zacarias Moussaoui and Orlando Bosch is that one of them is on trial for his life while the other walks around Miami a free man, free enough to be interviewed on television.

Bosch had a partner in plotting the bombing of the Cuban airliner, Luis Posada, a Cuban-born citizen of Venezuela. He's being held in custody in the United States on a minor immigration charge. His extradition has been requested by Venezuela for several crimes including the downing of the airliner, part of the plotting having taken place in Venezuela. But the Bush administration refuses to send him to Venezuela because they don't like the Venezuelan government, nor will they try him in the United States for the crime. However, the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Civil Aviation (1973), of which the United States is a signatory, gives Washington no discretion. Article 7 says that the state in which "the alleged offender is found shall, if it does not extradite him, be obliged, without exception whatsoever and whether or not the offence was committed in its territory, to submit the case to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution."(10) Extradite or prosecute. The United States does neither.

This is your mind on anti-communism

Earlier this month, in Miami-Dade County, Florida (where else?) it was reported that the parent of a schoolchild asked the school board to ban a book called "Vamos a Cuba" ("Let's go to Cuba"), a travel book that has smiling kids on the cover and inside depicts happy scenes from a festival held in Cuba. "As a former political prisoner from Cuba, I find the material to be untruthful," Juan Amador, wrote to the school board. "It portrays a life in Cuba that does not exist. I believe it aims to create an illusion and distort reality." Mr. Amador is presumably claiming that no one in Cuba is ever happy or even smiles. The book is currently being reviewed by a school committee.(11)

During his recent election campaign, Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi declared that communists in Mao's China boiled babies to make fertilizer.(12) He defended his remark by citing: "The Black Book of Communism", a "history" of communism published in 1997, a book that is to the study of communism as "The Protocols of the Elders of Zionism" is to Judaism or the collected statements of George W. Bush are to understanding why we are fighting in Iraq. Berlusconi's remark may actually be regarded as progress in the wonderful world of anti-communism, for following the Russian Revolution of 1917 it was widely and long proclaimed that the Bolsheviks killed and ate babies (as the early pagans believed the Christians guilty of devouring their children; the same was believed of Jews in the Middle Ages). It's interesting to note (Well, to me at least) that in 2003, when my book Killing Hope was published in Italy, the publisher gave it the title "Il Libro Nero Degli Stati Uniti" ("The Black Book of The United States").(13)

Charles Taylor and that fake opposition party known as the Democrats

Some things I have to repeat, because the news makes them relevant once again, and because the media ignores them once again. Charles Taylor, former president of Liberia, has been captured and is being held for trial in a UN-sponsored war-crimes court in neighboring Sierra Leone. In 2003 Taylor was indicted by this court for "bearing the greatest responsibility for war crimes, crimes against humanity and serious violations of international humanitarian law" during Sierra Leone's civil war. The United States, along with the rest of the world, condemns Taylor, applauds his capture, and calls for his punishment. What we're not reminded of is this:

In 1998, President Clinton sent Rev. Jesse Jackson as his special envoy to Liberia and Sierra Leone, the latter being in the midst of one of the great horrors of the 20th century -- You may remember the army of mostly young boys, the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), who went around raping and chopping off people's arms and legs. African and world opinion was enraged against the RUF, which was committed to protecting the diamond mines they controlled. Taylor was an indispensable ally and supporter of the RUF and Jackson was an old friend of his. Jesse was not sent to the region to try to curtail the RUF's atrocities, nor to hound Taylor about his widespread human rights violations, but instead, in June 1999, Jackson and other American officials drafted entire sections of an accord that made RUF leader, Foday Sankoh, Sierra Leone's vice president, and gave him official control over the diamond mines, the country's major source of wealth.(14)

And what was the Clinton administration's interest in all this? It's been speculated that the answer lies with certain individuals with ties to the diamond industry and to Clinton, while he was president or while governor of Arkansas; for example, Maurice Tempelsman, generous contributor to the Democratic Party and escort of Secretary of State Madeleine Albright around this time, whose Antwerp, Amsterdam and Tel Aviv diamond marts arranged for Sierra Leone diamond sales to Tiffany and Cartier.(15)

Good ol' Bill? Good ol' Jess? I know, I know, I keep tearing down your heroes. Who will you have left? But remember the words of the two characters in Bertolt Brecht's "Galileo":

"Unhappy the land that has no heroes," says the first.

"No," says the other, "Unhappy the land that needs heroes."

Or as Abbie Hoffman said: "Sacred cows make the best hamburger."

After the war-crimes trial we'll need a second tribunal for shameless lying, gross insults to our intelligence, and just plain weird stupidity and stupid weirdness.

George W. Bush, speaking March 29, 2006 to the Freedom House organization in Washington: "We're a country of deep compassion. We care. One of the great things about America, one of the beauties of our country, is that when we see a young, innocent child blown up by an IED , we cry. We don't care what the child's religion may be, or where that child may live, we cry. It upsets us. The enemy knows that, and they're willing to -- they're willing to kill to shake our confidence. That's what they're trying to do."(16)

"Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." Voltaire

Is this any way to organize a society of human beings?

April 18 was the 100th anniversary of the historic, catastrophic San Francisco earthquake of 1906. Studies predict that the next big quake in the city will take a much greater human toll because so many of the residents live in apartments and houses built before building codes were tightened in 1970. And because many units are rent-controlled apartments, we are told, landlords have few incentives to seismic retrofit.(17) There are those who would use this as an argument against rent control. There are others who would use it as an argument against free enterprise or private ownership of housing. Think of it. Over the years, California has learned very well how to modernize buildings to prepare them to withstand earthquakes much better than in the past. That this works has been proven again and again, even dramatically, such as in Los Angeles, hit by a 7.4 quake in 1994, with relatively little damage. (I was asleep in my bed in Hollywood when it hit in the early morning of January 17 and was rudely and frighteningly awakened, but the apartment building was fine.) Yet large numbers of people in California are still living in dwellings very vulnerable to a quake because to correct the situation would adversely affect the profit and loss statements of the owners of those dwellings.


(1) Letter to Clinton: http://www.newamericancentury.org/iraqclintonletter.htm

(2) Agence France Presse, March 20, 2006

(3) Newsweek, April 3, 2006

(4) Washington Post, April 15, 2006, p.2

(5) Associated Press, March 27, 2006

(6) Philadelphia Inquirer, March 26, 2006

(7) Dahlia Lithwick, Slate.com, March 28, 2006

(8) Washington Post, April 14, 2006, p.1

(9) Deutsche Presse-Agentur, April 13, 2006

(10) www.unodc.org/unodc/terrorism_convention_civil_aviation.html

(11) Washington Post, April 9, 2006, p.2

(12) Associated Press, March 29, 2006

(13) For many other examples of the mind on anti-communism, see William Blum, "Freeing the World to Death", chapter 12 ("Before there were terrorists there were communists and the wonderful world of anti-communism")

(14) Ryan Lizza, "Where angels fear to tread", New Republic, July 24, 2000

(15) The Washington Post, August 2, 1997, p.A1 and February 6, 1998, p.B1 re Tempelsman. Other speculation in various places has concerned diamond investors Jean Raymond Boulle and Robert Friedland, each with alleged ties to Clinton.

(16) Federal Information and News Dispatch, Inc., State Department Documents and Publications, March 29, 2006

(17) Washington Post, April 17, 2006, p.3

William Blum < bblum6@aol.com > is the author of: Killing Hope: < www.killinghope.org > US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2

Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower

West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir

Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire

Go onsite for the numerous links in the article itself. Just click on the following link.


Saundra Hummer
April 24th, 2006, 07:33 PM
* * * * * * *

Hijacking Catastrophe

9/11, Fear, and the Selling of American Empire.

Go On-Site to View Video. link at end of article

Hijacking Catastrophe is powerful, understated, straightforward and educational. In a single meticulously organized hour of evidence and analysis, viewers are treated to a thoughtful explanation of modern American empire, neo-conservatism as a driving force for the current Bush administration.

Hijacking Catastrophe

Karen Kwiatkowski
(Lt. Col. USAF retired)
Better than anyone to date, the Media Education Foundation has quietly and accurately documented the most important history of 21st century thus far in their recent video and DVD release, Hijacking Catastrophe: 9/11, Fear, and the Selling of American Empire.

Hijacking Catastrophe is powerful, understated, straightforward and educational. In a single meticulously organized hour of evidence and analysis, viewers are treated to a thoughtful explanation of modern American empire, neo-conservatism as a driving force for the current Bush administration, and something I have not seen before, a real economic analysis of what is driving some of our current "global war on terror."

The film examines the Bush Administration’s investment in neo-conservatism, and the early, and already horrific, results. While past performance is no guarantee of future earnings, Hijacking Catastrophe shows exactly why America’s "new conservatism" is a pyramid scheme of inhumane proportions.

The film examines eight aspects of the current situation of American foreign policy. The film provides an explanation for the obvious continuity between Cold War policies and those of the present. It examines long-term neoconservative thinking and how this peculiar version of Jacobin utopianism ascended from its rather inauspicious political roots. The film explores the dangerous territory of how the post 9-11 national shock was carefully cultivated by neoconservatives in Washington to support their own long-held objectives in the Middle East.

Hijacking Catastrophe then documents the Pentagon and White House process of disinformation, exaggeration, and media-supported propaganda between 9-11 and America’s March 2003 invasion of Iraq. It describes the neoconservative vision of military dominance over a supine, energy-rich Middle East, not only for its own sake, but as a warning to other potential international rivals.

Hijacking Catastrophe describes the cost of empire in a way so comprehensive that it becomes clear that neo-conservatism, as a foreign policy guide, comes with a very real moral, political and financial garnishment of every American, and of American children yet unborn. The cost is shown not only as a current financial outlay or in lives unlived on the part of soldiers and marines, but in terms of an alarming debt burden, loss of domestic freedom, the growing and invasive state, a permanent tattering of the Constitution and Bill of Rights.


Go on-site to view video and to check out sources, and other links.

Saundra Hummer
April 24th, 2006, 07:38 PM
* . * . * . * . *
California Becomes Second State to Introduce Bush Impeachment

David Swanson

04/24/06 -- -Joining Illinois, California has become the second state in which a proposal to impeach President Bush has been introduced in the state legislature. And this one includes Cheney as well.

California Assemblyman Paul Koretz of Los Angeles (where the LA Times has now called for Cheney's resignation) has submitted amendments to Assembly Joint Resolution No. 39, calling for the impeachment of President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney. The amendments reference Section 603 of Jefferson's Manual of the Rules of the United States House of Representatives, which allows federal impeachment proceedings to be initiated by joint resolution of a state legislature.

The resolution, in the words of Koretz's press release, "bases the call for impeachment upon the Bush Administration intentionally misleading the Congress and the American people regarding the threat from Iraq in order to justify an unnecessary war that has cost billions of dollars and thousands of lives and casualties; exceeding constitutional authority to wage war by invading Iraq; exceeding constitutional authority by Federalizing the National Guard; conspiring to torture prisoners in violation of the 'Federal Torture Act' and indicating intent to continue such actions; spying on American citizens in violation of the 1978 Foreign Agency Surveillance Act; leaking and covering up the leak of the identity of Valerie Plame Wilson, and holding American citizens without charge or trial."

Koretz submitted amendments gutting AJR No. 39, a resolution unrelated to impeachment, to the Assembly Rules Committee. The Rules Committee may take up the bill this week for referral, allowing him to formally introduce the amended resolution.

AJR 39 is a bill introduced in January by Koretz calling for a moratorium on depleted uranium:

"At both the state and national levels," Koretz said, "we will be paying for the Bush Administration's illegal actions and terrible lack of judgment and competence for decades—not only in the billions of dollars wasted on the war and welfare for the rich, but in the worldwide loss of respect for America and Americans. Bush and Cheney must be impeached and removed from office before they undertake even deadlier misdeeds, such as the use of nuclear weapons. There are no bounds to their willingness to ignore the Constitution and world opinion—we can't afford to wait for the next disaster and hope that we can survive it."

For more information and to thank this American hero, contact Paul Michael Neuman in Koretz's District Office: (310) 285-5490 paul.neuman@asm.ca.gov or go here:

Here is a kit to help with promoting this resolution and with passing others in your towns and cities and states. Also on this page is information on activities in other states and localities:

Get organized in California to pass this bill!

Illinois Legislators Were First to Introduce Bill for Bush Impeachment

Three members of the Illinois General Assembly have introduced a bill that urges the General Assembly to submit charges to the U. S. House of Representatives to initiate impeachment proceedings against the President of the United States, George W. Bush, for willfully violating his Oath of Office to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States and if found guilty urges his removal from office and disqualification to hold any other office in the United States.

The Jefferson Manual of rules for the U.S. House of Representatives makes clear that impeachment proceedings can be initiated by a state legislature submitting charges. The state of Illinois is on its way toward forcing on the House what not a single one of its members has yet had the courage to propose: Articles of Impeachment.

The text of the Illinois bill and information on its status are available here:

The bill takes up the issues of illegal spying, torture, detentions without charge or trial, manipulation of pre-war intelligence, and the leaking of classified information.

Please thank these sponsors of the bill:

Rep. Karen A. Yarbrough, phone (217) 782-8120 or (708) 615-1747; fax (708) 615-1745

Rep Sara Feigenholtz , phone (217) 782-8062 or (773) 296-4141; fax (217) 557-7203 or (773) 296-0993

Rep. Eddie Washington phone (217) 558-1012 or (847) 623-0060, fax (847) 623-6078

Here is a kit to help with promoting this resolution and with passing others in your towns and cities. Also on this page is information on activities in other states and localities: http://www.impeachpac.org/resolutions

Get organized in Illinois to pass this bill! http://pdamerica.org/statecaucus.php?s=IL

Source article http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/node/9249

Posted 04/24/06

There are numerous links in this article, numerous links, click on the above address(link) to view this story and to access them.

Saundra Hummer
April 24th, 2006, 10:34 PM

Murtha: 'Nobody can believe these guys anymore'

April 23, 2006 09:19 PM / Bush Leagues .

U.S. Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), the decorated ex-Marine who knows a lot more about war than President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, says the credibility of the Bush administration is shot to hell.
Writes Bill Steigerwald in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

U.S. Rep. John Murtha, continuing his criticism of President Bush's handling of the Iraq war, said today it would take more than Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's resignation to restore Bush's credibility in the Middle East and with the American public.

The only way Bush can show he is ready to seriously change direction and pursue a diplomatic solution to the war is if he makes "substantial" changes in his administration, Murtha told about 100 people attending a luncheon sponsored by the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh at the DoubleTree Hotel, Downtown.

"Nobody can believe these guys anymore," Murtha, D-Johnstown, told reporters after his speech, in which he listed the reasons he believes the Bush administration has "mishandled, mischaracterized and misrepresented" the planning and management of the war.

Whether it's Bush's fault or not that things are going badly in Iraq, Murtha said, "he's getting blamed for it, so he needs to make some substantial changes" in his top staff. "He's got to let loyalty and friendship take a subservient position to the good of the country."

Unless "we replace the people responsible for the failed plan" the U.S. will not be able to get the international help and cooperation it needs, Murtha said during his half-hour speech. He also again criticized Rumsfeld, saying he andBush "were wrong when it came to Iraq" but "won't admit it."

Though the president touts the elections in Iraq as evidence of success in the war, Murtha said in reality "we have lost the hearts and minds of both the Iraqi people, and as the polls indicate, of the American public and, obviously, of the world."


I had hoped that Murtha would comment on the statements by the retired generals re Rumsfeld, but have not seen anything.

Posted by Via at April 24, 2006 09:05 AM
Of course Representative John Murtha is right on target and his courage to speak out has encouraged/embolden some combat experienced generals to do the same and that can only be good for America.

I just think it hilarious that military professionals are criticized and demeaned by GOP "brain-strained" talking heads that never served and couldn't tell the difference between this is my rifle and this is my ....

I keep telling myself that this era of GOP ism (image is more important than substance)is only a fad and will fade away as fast as the equally distastefully 70's polyester leisure suits.

All we can do is hope -- hope that after the '06 elections we'll see many of the political hardliners and christians for political convenience walking down lovers lane holding their own hands.

Posted by BWC at April 24, 2006 09:27 AM

Posted by catsandcubs at April 24, 2006 10:19 AM
"Nobody can believe these guys anymore" said Murtha. I would like to know the time when we could believe one thing that they said. As far as I know everything they ever said was a lie.

Posted by Boots at April 24, 2006 11:45 AM
I hope Murtha remembers never to shake hands with the liars, cheaters and thieves that are currently in the Whitehouse and running the house and senate.
It appears most Americans can not recognize the difference between the two.

Posted by Ted at April 24, 2006 02:41 PM
If this country was lucky enough to see the back side of Cheney,Rumsfield & the 50 or more innercircle, I doubt if Bush is smart enough, informed enough or flexable enough to even begin to rise to the capabability of being President. Leaves one to ponder who then might really run the country.

Posted by Dodie Shepard at April 24, 2006 05:26 PM
The only time this administration has told us the truth is when it said it couldn't find the weapons of mass destruction. Roseanne said it best, "The only time a politician is telling the truth is when he calls another politician a liar."

Posted by Dan Peterson at April 24, 2006 06:07 PM
According to the top CIA man who was director in Europe:Last night on 60 minutes: He stated that Iraq never did intend to buy Uranium from Niger. There were no weapons of mass destruction yet Bush neglected to use intelligence from abroad but instead went ahead and invaded Iraq. How much more can Americans take when it comes to our leader deceiving us right and left? And yet our young people are losing their lives for a deceiver.
Posted by jude at April 24, 2006 06:49 PM

Post a comment
We welcome reader comments:
Comment directly here or discuss this story and other issues in ReaderRant. We reserve the right to moderate comments. Opinions posted by readers do not necessarily reflect the editorial positions of Capitol Hill Blue.


Saundra Hummer
April 24th, 2006, 10:48 PM
~~ ~ ~ ~ ~~

In Washington, everything is for sale
April 23, 2006 07:55 AM / Capitol Hillbillies .

When you realize that everything in Congress (and the White House for that matter) is for sale, it should come as no surprise that fatcat political donors can even buy a mention in The Congressional Record.

A study by Scripps-Howard Foundation finds that a donation to the campaign of a member of Congress is an easy and quick way to get a favorable mention in the Record, the purported daily journal of the actions of Congress.

In reality, though, the Congressional Record is a hypocritical revision of history in real time. Members of Congress are allowed to "revise and extend" their remarks (which is a fancy way to say they are able to edit and chance what they really said on the floor of Congress). In addition, they can submit articles and other mentions into the record without really ever doing so. Like so many actions of Congress, the Record is a sham, a phony representation of what really happens with our government.

Just another example of the best government that big money can buy.
Writes Michael Malik of Scripps-Howard Foundation Wire:

Hanging in the lobby of its office in Grand Rapids, Mich., is a plaque honoring Universal Forest Products for its 50th anniversary.

"Universal is a great American business success story and it is my privilege to honor the company, its chairman, Peter Secchia, and its thousands of employees," reads the plaque, which hangs alongside other awards and photographs at company headquarters.

It's a copy of a statement that Rep. Vernon Ehlers, R-Mich., inserted into the official Congressional Record on Feb. 1, 2005.

What it doesn't say is that nine days before Ehlers put the statement into the record, Secchia gave Ehlers a $1,000 campaign contribution. About two weeks earlier, another Universal executive donated $500. Since 2001, the two executives have given Ehlers' campaign committee $7,000.

The practice of honoring campaign donors in the Congressional Record is commonplace among members of the House of Representatives, according to a study by the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire.

Thirty-four of 44 top-ranked members of Congress have lauded campaign donors with written "extensions of remarks" in the Congressional Record, the study showed.

Scripps Howard reviewed Congressional Record statements since 2001 by the Republican chair and ranking Democrat for every House committee, plus the House speaker and minority leader.

Of the 118 donor-honoring statements found, 83 were by Democrats, and 35 by Republicans. People honored by the official statements gave a combined $357,036 to Democrats' campaigns and $130,900 to Republicans', federal records showed.

Nine lawmakers had honored six or more donors.

On three occasions, House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., has honored donors in the record. He received more than $8,500 from them. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California has made eight statements for the record honoring donors, receiving almost $30,000 from those honored or their relatives.

The remarks represented a small fraction of the legislators' 4,004 "extensions of remarks." Still, the practice worries some watchdogs.

Keith Ashdown, vice president of policy for Taxpayers for Common Sense, a budget watchdog group, said money doesn't necessarily buy influence on Capitol Hill, but it does buy access.

He said it doesn't surprise him that remarks honoring donors are being entered into the Congressional Record.

"At one point, it was probably the main area people had debates about what was most affecting our nation," Ashdown said. "And now it's about paying people back for a campaign contribution."

Norm Ornstein, who studies Congress as a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, said honoring a donor in the Congressional Record is not always evidence of something fishy.

"Members treat inserts into the record as piffle, not meaningful, but what we've learned is, it is the Congressional Record and it's meaningful," Ornstein said. "It was an opportunity for members who might not have time on the floor because it was constrained, to add materials that were not discussed during the debate itself."

According to House ethics rules, members cannot take contributions linked to any official House action. But the rule has never been enforced against the practice of inserting praise for campaign donors into the Congressional Record.

"At the very least, it is the kind of problem that we have because the ethics committee refuses to take action," said Melanie Sloane, executive director for the group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. "Members of Congress do know better than this."

The House ethics committee issued an advisory opinion in May 1999 reiterating the rule and "reminding" House members they cannot take any gifts in exchange for official action. But the committee did not directly refer to the Congressional Record.

Lawmakers defend their official remarks and deny they are made in return for campaign contributions.

Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., honored 14 donors or their companies _ the most of any of the lawmakers reviewed. He received $14,400 in campaign contributions from those individuals. The statements highlighted milestones such as awards, birthdays and retirements.

For example, in November 2003, Skelton entered into the record a Veterans Day speech made by retired Army Maj. Gen. Robert Shirkey. Ten days earlier, Shirkey donated $500 to Skelton's re-election campaign. Shirkey has donated $1,750 to Skelton since 2001.

Lara Battles, Skelton's press secretary, said extensions of remarks are frequently tributes to outstanding citizens and military-service members upon retirement, in recognition of an honor or award or as a memorial tribute.

"That a dozen or so of his contributors would be among the outstanding citizens is not surprising," she said. "There is no quid pro quo for Congressional Record statements."

Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., honored 12 donors who contributed a combined $51,750 over the years.

Lynne Weil, Lantos' communication director, said if Lantos wants to make a remark for the record, the staff doesn't check to see if that person is a donor.

"These people are being praised for their contributions to society, great achievements or a lifetime of public service," Weil said. "Some of these donors are the congressman's friends."

Phil Friedman, founder and president of Computer Generated Solutions, was honored in May 2005 for moving his New York office to Lower Manhattan. Lantos' official statement called it "an event significant in its own right, since it marks the continued rebirth of an area devastated by the September 11th attacks."

Friedman has given Lantos $4,000, and other company employees have given him $3,500.

In mid-June 2005, Stephen Hebert donated $2,000 to Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif. That came 10 days before Hunter entered a remark into the record honoring Hebert's father, the late professional baseball player Wally A. "Preacher" Hebert. Since 2001, Stephen Hebert has given Hunter $3,000.

Hunter press secretary Joseph Kasper said, "There's nothing unethical about it."


Our elected officials have no shame. None whatsoever.

Posted by Frank Leslie at April 23, 2006 08:28 AM
Frank, in order to feel shame one must have "normal" conscience. Liars and psychopaths "rationalize" they do not feel shame or embarrasment and worst yet the actually believe their lies and the spin they spew on the public as evidenced by Hunter press secretary Joseph Kasper saying, "There's nothing unethical about it."

Like their peers filling our overcrowded prisons they actually believe that they are more powerful than "We the people" and it is high time that they be made to feel "the pain" that only the "we" can dispense.

Posted by camus at April 23, 2006 12:56 PM
Everything for sale in Congress, and not one mention of AIPAC.

Posted by Gorilla in the Room at April 23, 2006 02:32 PM
Did everyone notice that the Cheney's are getting a $1.9 million tax refund this year?(!) God must really love them, and they've done such great job for us. I just pray that they have saved their receipts and documented their vehicle mileage in case of an audit.

Is it too late to change my 1040 UN-EZ?


Posted by Frank at April 24, 2006 12:56 AM
Why does your illustration show a black persons hand holding the money? Are we going to be blamed for this too?

Posted by Raoul Imbert at April 24, 2006 06:59 AM

TRUTH, JUSTICE, HONESTY, TRUST, have long since been removed. They were sold long ago...none left in DC

© Copyright 2006 by Capitol Hill Blue



Saundra Hummer
April 25th, 2006, 11:31 AM

Let's call the Israel lobby the Israel lobby

Molly Ivins
Creators Syndicate

04.25.06 - AUSTIN, Texas -- One of the consistent deformities in American policy debate has been challenged by a couple of professors, and the reaction proves their point so neatly it's almost funny.

A working paper by John Mearsheimer, professor of political science at the University of Chicago, and Stephen Walt, professor of international affairs at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, called "The Israel Lobby" was printed in the London Review of Books earlier this month. And all hell broke loose in the more excitable reaches of journalism and academe.
For having the sheer effrontery to point out the painfully obvious -- that there is an Israel lobby in the United States -- Mearsheimer and Walt have been accused of being anti-Semitic, nutty and guilty of "kooky academic work." Alan Dershowitz, who seems to be easily upset, went totally ballistic over the mild, academic, not to suggest pretty boring article by Mearsheimer and Walt, calling them "liars" and "bigots."

Of course there is an Israeli lobby in America -- its leading working group is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). It calls itself "America's Pro-Israel Lobby," and it attempts to influence U.S. legislation and policy.

Several national Jewish organizations lobby from time to time. Big deal -- why is anyone pretending this non-news requires falling on the floor and howling? Because of this weird deformity of debate.

In the United States, we do not have full-throated, full-throttle debate about Israel. In Israel, they have it as matter of course, but the truth is that the accusation of anti-Semitism is far too often raised in this country against anyone who criticizes the government of Israel.

Being pro-Israel is no defense, as I long ago learned to my cost. Now I've gotten used to it. Jews who criticize Israel are charmingly labeled "self-hating Jews." As I have often pointed out, that must mean there are a lot of self-hating Israelis, because those folks raise hell over their own government's policies all the time.

I don't know that I've ever felt intimidated by the knee-jerk "you're anti-Semitic" charge leveled at anyone who criticizes Israel, but I do know I have certainly heard it often enough to become tired of it.

And I wonder if that doesn't produce the same result: giving up on the discussion.

It's the sheer disproportion, the vehemence of the attacks on anyone perceived as criticizing Israel that makes them so odious. Mearsheimer and Walt are both widely respected political scientists -- comparing their writing to "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" is just silly.

Several critics have pointed out some flaws in the Mearsheimer-Walt paper, including a too-broad use of the term "Israel lobby" -- those of us who are pro-Israel differ widely -- and having perhaps overemphasized the clout of the Israel lobby by ignoring the energy lobby.

It seems to me the root of the difficulty has been Israel's inability first to admit the Palestinians have been treated unfairly and, second, to figure out what to do about it. Now here goes a big fat generalization, but I think many Jews are so accustomed (by reality) to thinking of themselves as victims, it is especially difficult for them to admit they have victimized others.

But the Mearsheimer-Walt paper is not about the basic conflict, but its effect on American foreign policy, and it appears to me their arguments are unexceptional. Israel is the No. 1 recipient of American foreign aid, and it seems an easy case can be made that the United States has subjugated its own interests to those of Israel in the past.

Whether you agree or not, it is a discussion well worth having and one that should not be shut down before it can start by unfair accusations of "anti-Semitism." In a very equal sense, none of this is academic. The Israel lobby was overwhelmingly in favor of starting the war with Iraq and is now among the leading hawks on Iran.

To the extent that our interests do differ from those of Israel, the matter needs to be discussed calmly and fairly. This is not about conspiracies or plots or fantasies or anti-Semitism -- it's about rational discussion of American interests. And, in my case, being pro-Israel. I'm looking forward to hearing from all you nutjobs again.

(c) 2006 Creators Syndicate

URL: http://www.workingforchange.com/article.cfm?ItemID=20708

Saundra Hummer
April 25th, 2006, 11:38 AM
. ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ .

Dying for Nixon; dying for Bush

Paul Loeb

04.25.06 - "I didn't want to die for Nixon," said a man I met recently in a Seattle park. He'd served on military bases in a half dozen states, then had a car accident just before being shipped to Vietnam. "The accident was lucky," he said. "It was a worthless war and I didn't want to go."

I agreed. I admired those who fought in World War II, I said. We owe them the debt of our freedom. But to die for Nixon's love of power, his fear of losing face, his deception and vindictiveness - to die for him was obscene. Nixon's war, the man said, had nothing noble about it. And neither did Iraq.
What does it mean to die in a war so founded on lies? Bush may lack Nixon's scowl, but he's equally insulated from the consequences of profoundly destructive actions. He came to power riding on the success of Nixon's racially divisive "Southern Strategy," which enshrined the Republicans as the party of backlash. He won reelection by similarly manipulating polarization and fear. Like Nixon, he's flouted America's laws while demonizing political opponents. His insistence that withdrawing from Iraq would create a world where terrorists reign echoes Nixon's claim that defeat in Vietnam would leave the U.S. “a pitiful, helpless giant.”

While Bush assures our soldiers they fight for Iraqi freedom, and to "make America safer for generations to come," 82 percent of Iraqis, according to a British Ministry of Defense poll, say they're "strongly opposed" to the presence of American and British troops, and 45 percent justify attacks against them.

This creates what psychologist Robert Jay Lifton calls "an atrocity-creating situation." Lifton first used the phrase during Vietnam. He now uses it to describe a "counterinsurgency war in which U.S. soldiers, despite their extraordinary firepower, feel extremely vulnerable in a hostile environment," amplified by "the great difficulty of tracking down or even recognizing the enemy."

This sense of an environment out of control has seeded the ground for Abu Ghraib and for massacres, at the villages of Haditha and Mukaradeeb, already being compared to My Lai. Former Army sniper Jody Blake recently described his unit keeping extra spades on their vehicles so that if they killed innocent Iraqis in response to an Improvised Explosive Device attack, they could throw one next to them to make it appear those killed were preparing a roadside bomb.

Last December Bush called the Iraqi election "a watershed moment in the story of freedom." But if our invasion and occupation has created a watershed moment, it's one yielding rivers of resentment and bitterness that may poison the global landscape for decades to come. And when Bush talks of promoting freedom, the world sees the freedom of America to do whatever we please, no matter how many nations oppose us.

America's Vietnam-era leaders made much of their embrace of freedom as well, while overthrowing elected governments from Brazil to Chile to Greece. The war they waged in Southeast Asia killed two to five million Vietnamese, plus more deaths in Laos and Cambodia. And as with Iraq, those making the key decisions were profoundly insulated: Out of 234 eligible sons of Senators and Congressmen, only 28 served in Vietnam, only 19 saw combat, only one was wounded and none were killed.

In Iraq, as we know, the chickenhawks led the march to war, and the sole congressman or senator with a son who initially served was Democrat Tim Johnson, who the Republicans still attacked as insufficiently patriotic. The sons of Republican Senator Kit Bond and three Republican congressmen have joined him since, but like Bush and his cohorts, most who've made this war possible have never been intimately touched by it.

Counting Eisenhower's first deployment of soldiers and CIA agents in support of the French, the United States fought in Vietnam for over twenty years. We've been in and out of Iraq for nearly forty, since the 1963 coup when the CIA first helped the Baath Party overthrow the founder of OPEC. (And intervening in Iran since our 1953 overthrow of the democratically elected of Mohammed Mossadegh, where we replaced him with the dictatorial Shah). With this administration promising no immediate end in sight, Bush now tells us it will be up to "future presidents" even to consider withdrawing our troops. Who wants to be the last man or woman to die for George Bush?
(c) 2006, WorkingForChange

URL: http://www.workingforchange.com/article.cfm?ItemID=20707

Saundra Hummer
April 25th, 2006, 11:44 AM

Coalition Sounds Off on Net Neutrality Legislation
From PC Magazine,
April 24, 2006
Bary Alyssa Johnson

[Free Press editor note: Vint Serf is incorrectly spelled in this article. The correct spelling is “Cerf.”]

Vint Serf, so-called “father” of the Internet, is among the big names and organizations that have come together to create the SavetheInternet.com Coalition, which hosted a national conference call today.

Other members of the Coalition include Gun Owners of America, Craigslist.com, Public Knowledge, MoveOn.org, the American Library Association, Afro-Netizen.com, the Consumer Federation of America, the Consumers Union, and Free Press.

Today’s conference call is one of the coalition’s many campaign tactics to emphasize the importance of “Net neutrality,” the concept of a free and open Internet.

“The fight for Internet freedom is now being waged in earnest,” said Tim Karr, campaign director for Free Press. “On one side you have the public and on the other side the nation’s largest phone and cable companies looking to strip the Net of neutrality.”

The “fight” that Karr refers to, and the purpose of the Campaign, is to address what equates to a Congressional re-write of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, in a bid to update it to include Internet-related activities.

“The last decade of Internet revolution has been marked by innovation, which was the consequence of the open and neutral access that the Internet has afforded until now,” said Vint Serf, who serves as the chief Internet evangelist at Google, during the conference call. “Proposals coming from telcos and the cable companies, as exemplified in some of their legislation, destroys that neutrality.”

The updated bill, dubbed “Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancements Act of 2006” is sponsored by Representative and House Commerce Chairman Joe Barton (R-Texas), Representative and Chairman of Telecommunications and Internet Subcommittee Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Representative Charles Pickering (R-Miss.), and Representative Bobby Rush (D-Ill.). The bill is focused on video-franchise reform and was first introduced to Congress in late March 2006.

It would, among other things, grant telcos and cable operators automatically renewing national franchises to deliver video services over the Internet, and would grant the FCC authority over Net neutrality-related issues. The CEA and US Telecom are among a number of groups showing public support for the bill.

On the opposing side, the coalition is concerned over the lack of protections for Network neutrality. The bill includes policies related to Internet freedom, “however, those policies are subject to the whims of future administrations—what we need is established network neutrality,” said GiGi Sohn, President of Public Knowledge, during the conference call.

The Coalition is not alone in voicing such concerns, as evident by a statement issued jointly by Amazon, Google, eBay, InteractiveCorp., Microsoft, and Google, at a Senate hearing.

“We are extremely concerned that legislation before your Committee would fail to protect the Internet from discrimination and would deny consumers unfettered access to the tremendous scope of content, applications, and services that are available today on the Internet and will be deployed in the future,” they said.

The proposals being heard this week on Capitol Hill, as part of the new telecommunications policy, come mainly from telcos and cable companies, according to some Coalition members. The legislation, “as it reads today,” would not give content providers equal access to consumers on the other end of the network.

“Whenever you see groups on the far left and the far right joining together over what Congress is getting ready to do, it’s my experience that whatever Congress is getting ready to do is generally unconstitutional,” said Craig Fields, Director of Internet Operations for Gun Owners of America.

The Coalition is looking to achieve a “simple principle” that disallows network providers from discriminating against smaller, independent companies and favoring the content they own or are financially vested in.

“The telcos want to create a functionality [or service] and selectively make it available to the people they favor…which keeps competitors from having access,” said Mark Cooper, Director of Research at the Consumer Federation of America, during the call. “Presence by gatekeepers drives out innovation and restrictions on use of functionality raise prices.”

The Coalition wants to avoid such practices by encouraging Congress to refrain from “selling out” Internet freedom to big phone and cable companies. The Coalition is asking the Senate to include in the updated telecommunications bill anti-discrimination measures, prohibition against tiering schemes and strong federal enforcement of these laws.

“This is legislation that’s being rushed through Congress on the wings of large cable and telephone companies,” Karr said. “Our effort is to raise public awareness with Americans across the spectrum.”

In various bids to raise public awareness, the Coalition and its members are interacting with the House of Representatives, particularly members of the Energy and Commerce Committee, who will mark up the bill later this week. The Coalition is asking people to send letters to local newspapers to bring the issue out into the public eye, and has also organized a team of bloggers to bring the issue to the online community.

“We’re also organizing a rally that will take place on Capitol Hill to make all members of Congress aware that the public voice cannot be ignored,” Karr said. “The amount of money spent on the Hill to influence, by telecom companies, needs to be countered by volume—the volumes of Americans concerned with Internet freedoms.”

This article is copyrighted material, the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Brought to you by FREE PRESS, on the web at www.freepress.net


Saundra Hummer
April 25th, 2006, 01:23 PM

Is This A Joke?
Sen. Russ Feingold's Leadership PAC suggests the White House wants to wiretap political opponents.

April 25, 2006

Sen. Russ Feingold's leadership PAC sponsored an Internet video making an unfounded suggestion that President Bush is being urged to eavesdrop "on anybody who has the nerve to disagree with [him] - court order or not."

A Feingold spokesman says the ad is a parody. Funny or not, it makes an accusation for which there's no evidence.

Feingold himself says in the video that "our country hasn't stood for this kind of abuse of power in 200 years." We think he's forgetting such things as FDR's forced internment of 120,000 Japanese-Americans in World War II, and Lincoln's summary jailings of Confederate sympathizers.


The Progressive Patriots Fund founded by Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin posted a video titled "W" on their website last week. On Friday, the group's website posted an announcement that Feingold had shown the ad at a Texas fundraiser. They say they are considering airing a shorter version of the video as a TV ad in the future.

Progressive Patriots Ad: "W"

Advisor: So Mr. President, how's our commander in chief feeling these days?
President (off-screen): Yeah, I'm fine, fine.
Advisor: Oh, you're a lot better than fine. The war's over like you said. Missions accomplished Georgie baby.
President (off screen): Huh?
Advisor: I'm sorry, that probably doesn't seem appropriate for the king of the United States. Yes I said "King." Think about it. You don't have to settle for just being President GW. The war still got everyone running scared. They'll go along with whatever you say. Forget the rules and quit treating the Constitution like it's set in stone. For starters, we should be eavesdropping on anybody who has the nerve to disagree with you - court order or not.
President (off screen): What?
Advisor: It's not domestic spying George. It's terrorist surveillance.
President (revealed as George Washington): Break the law? Ignore the Constitution? What you propose goes against the very things we stand for. As President of these United States, I would never condone that.
Feingold (voiceover): Our country hasn't stood for this kind of abuse of power for over two hundred years. Let's not stand for it now. Support the Progressive Patriots. We can fight the terrorists without breaking the law or sacrificing our freedoms. Authorized and paid for by the Progressive Patriots Fund.

Eavesdropping on everybody?

The video shows a presidential advisor who bears a strong resemblance to Karl Rove addressing someone as "Georgie baby" and "GW," who appears only in shadows. The Rove character says, "The war still got everyone running scared. They'll go along with whatever you say. Forget the rules and quit treating the Constitution like it's set in stone. For starters, we should be eavesdropping on anybody who has the nerve to disagree with you - court order or not. . . . It's not domestic spying. It's terrorist surveillance." At that point "GW" is revealed, dressed as George Washington. He says "I would never condone that."
A Feingold spokesman insists the ad is "just a parody." We're not sure everybody will get the joke. It's based on an accusation for which no proof exists – that the Bush administration is using, or wants to use, a secret National Security Agency surveillance program to spy on political opponents, something Bush says is untrue.

The NSA eavesdropping program is carried out without court warrants of any sort, but so far as is known it is used exclusively to eavesdrop on conversations that include at least one person thought to be connected to al Qaeda, and at least one person who is outside the US. Much about the program remains secret, but so far no evidence has come to light suggesting that the administration is targeting political opponents.

Feingold, a possible future candidate for his party's presidential nomination, has sponsored a Senate resolution which would censure Bush for what the senator calls "unlawful authorization of wiretaps of Americans within the United States without obtaining the court orders required," and for "failure to inform the full congressional intelligence committees" and "his efforts to mislead the American people" about the legalities of the program .

What the administration says

The most thorough public discussion of the secret program comes from a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales from February 6, 2006. During the hearing, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) asked Gonzales about a remark made by DNC Chairman Howard Dean, comparing the program to President Nixon's infamous eavesdropping. Gonzales responded:

Gonzales: This is not domestic surveillance, this is not going after our political enemies. This is about international communications, this is about going after al Qaeda.

Feingold and other critics say the program violates the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution which protects citizens against unreasonable searches and seizures. The critics also say the program violates the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and the Privacy Act of 1974. Gonzales has argued that the administration has expanded authority under the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) which Congress passed in response to the 9/11 attacks. He also has argued that Article II of the Constitution gives the president "inherent powers" as Commander in Chief.

Because the program remains classified it isn't possible to confirm independently the administration's statement that there have been no abuses. Even some Republicans are seeking legislation to require review of the wiretaps by the FISA court. But no abuses have come to light so far, and so the the ad's suggestion that the administration wishes to target political critics is unsupported.

Not in 200 years?

The ad concludes with Feingold's voice saying, "Our country hasn't stood for this kind of abuse of power in over 200 years. Let's not stand for it now."

Feingold may be forgetting his history. President Lincoln threw people in jail without charges during the Civil War, including members of the Maryland legislature and at least one former member of Congress from Ohio. Franklin Roosevelt moved 112,000 Japanese Americans out of their homes and held them in internment camps during World War II. They had support at the time but would be considered "abuses" by most today. In 1988 Congress declared that the WWII internments constituted "fundamental violations of the basic civil liberties and constitutional rights" of citizens. The wartime measures of Lincoln and FDR were far more serious that warrantless eavesdropping on overseas conversations.

Also, it's not clear to us what Feingold means by "this kind of abuse." If he means warrantless wiretapping of political opponents, as his ad seems to imply, then we'd like to see some evidence. If his ad is really a parody as his spokesman says, then we wonder why Feingold isn't laughing. Perhaps he doesn't get his own joke.

by Brooks Jackson and Justin Bank

James Risen and Eric Lichtblau, "Bush Let's U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts," NY Times. 16 Dec 2005.

Press Briefing by Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez and General Michael Hayden. 12 Dec 2005.

Transcript of Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez Testimony to the United States Senate Judiciary Committee. 6 Feb 2006.

Transcript of President Bush Press Conference at the White House. 26 Jan 2006.

This message was sent from FactCheck.org to %Member:Email% . It was sent from: FactCheck.org, 320 National Press Building, Washington, DC 20045.

Go to the following link to see all of the articles and their links, just click below to access the several articles and links:


May 2nd, 2006, 03:15 AM
NO twas the Zionists that did it!!!

btw - Jammu is a Hindu dominated area with constant incursions by the jihadists to "cleanse and convert" the area. Ladakh, predominantly Buddhist, is also in their sights (where on earth isn't?). This latest incident is just a continuation of a multi-century bloody jihad on the Indian sub-continent (the forgotten holocaust). :(

At least 22 Hindus massacred in Jammu and Kashmir
Jammu-Kashmir Jihad Update: "At least 22 Hindus massacred in Kashmir," from Reuters, with thanks to Ruth King:

JAMMU, India (Reuters) - Suspected Islamic militants [that is, mujahedin -- RS] shot dead at least 22 Hindus in two small villages in Indian-administered Kashmir on Monday, officials said.
The massacre, one of the biggest in recent months, took place just days before Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh holds talks with Kashmiri separatists in New Delhi and later travels to the violent region for a "roundtable" conference with Kashmiris.

Militants struck the remote Hindu-dominated mountainous villages in Doda district, some 170 km (100 miles) northeast of Jammu, Kashmir's winter capital, early on Monday, police said.

No militant group claimed responsibility for the attack in which nine people were wounded, five critically.

"They (the villagers) were asked to assemble outside the house of the village head and later shot dead by the militants," Gulzar Ahmed Qureshi, a top Doda official, told Reuters.

"Yes, they are all Hindus," he added. "This is an unfortunate incident when things were looking up for peaceful days ahead."

Maybe these "militants" don't want peace -- except that peace which will follow their total victory.

UPDATE: The death toll is now up to 35. (BBC link thanks to JE.)

Saundra Hummer
May 3rd, 2006, 01:07 PM
FYI...attached is an article from Josh Marshall's TPM Cafe that has generated some controversy/interest. Josh's site is hosting an official Book Club for Hostile Takeover. You can check out all the posts there and participate at http://bookclub.tpmcafe.com



Politics of the Future vs. Politics of the Short-Term

David Sirota

One of the more destructive habits of progressives in Washington today is the refusal to think long-term. Every battle is about the next election, every narrative is crafted to try to fit the exact political topography only of the moment. There is no long-term campaign of consistent themes that continues between elections, or that ties one two-year election cycle to the next. Then on election day, folks throw up their hands and don't understand why Americans think Democrats stand for nothing.

Some of this destructive behavior is fueled by the not-so-secret career aspirations of former Clinton administration folks in Washington, still clinging onto hope that they can get their old White House jobs back. Many (but certainly not all) of these folks want to believe the short-term skirmishes are the quickest way back to their glory days. These are the folks who endlessly go back and forth between their Beltway holdover jobs in the lobbying/nonprofit world and the jobs on the campaign of the latest Democratic presidential nominee, desperate to get back to where they were. They are less interested in waging the long-term battle that is required to fight the hostile takeover, because that long-term battle does not provide them a short-term path back to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. - even though it provides the most effective way to empower ordinary citizens to take back their government for the long-haul.

But this obsession over short-term tactics is not merely sad. As I have touched on before in an article entitled Partisan War Syndrome, it is both politically destructive and morally reprehensible at a time when ordinary citizens are crying out for real leadership to fight the hostile takeover.

I began thinking about this topic after reading Ruy Teixeira's commentary {http://bookclub.tpmcafe.com/node/29448} on my book at TPM Cafe's Book Club. He points to a study by the Democratic Leadership Council essentially saying that class-based politics is a loser (I know, big shocker that the Chevron/Dupont/Enron/Merck-funded DLC is railing against class-based politics).

Let's be clear - Ruy and the DLC aren't necessarily wrong about the data. Americans are an optimistic people, and desire an "aspirational" politics (which, by the way, I don't think is mutuallyexclusive from the politics I discuss in Hostile Takeover). But they are wrong in rejecting class-based populism because the short-term poll numbers tell us its not yet a sharpened political weapon.

For the DLC (as opposed to Ruy, who is truly an honest broker) that's by design: if you look at the blunt edge of a spear and cite its bluntness as an excuse to never try to sharpen it, it will never be sharp. That's exactly what the DLC and Corporate America wants - a rationale to convince politicians never to embrace class-based politics, no matter how successful it could be or has proven to be. They don't want a movement to change the corrupt Establishment, because they are part of it. They want us think that populism doesn't work as electoral strategy even though, as author Andrei Cherney notes at the TPM Cafe discussion, "Every successful Democratic campaign of the last century (including Franklin Roosevelt in 1932 and Bill Clinton in 1992) was built on a populist – us against them – appeal." As I noted in an article for the American Prospect, this is much the same today among successful red-state and red-district Democrats.

What we have to remember, though, is that movements don't start by exclusively focusing on the poll numbers in front of us - they start by focusing on the vision down the road. As I argue in Hostile Takeover, Big Money's conquest of our government has been a 30 year process. The forces who perpetrated the takeover didn't say "well, polls say the public doesn't want massive tax breaks for the wealthy, gutting of pension protection laws, atttacks on the minimum wage, and the general handing over of our democratic government to Big Business, so let's not do it."

No, they rejected that circular rationale of self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead, they had in their mind what they wanted to do, and then got down and fought to create their own class-based politics - one that represents moneyed interests against the rest of us. Over the years, on issue after issue, they softened up public opinion through their (dishonest) storylines. Put another way, they waged a public education campaign to make the public opinion topography more favorable to their cause. Now, as Hostile Takeover details, we are living through the consequences of the public policies that Big Money's earlier efforts laid the groundwork for.

This is what those of us who want to fight the takeover must be willing to embrace: the politics of the future, not just the politics of the short-term that too much of the Democratic Party Establishment in Washington has gotten comfortable with. As the Washington Monthly noted in its review, Hostile Takeover was not written as a guide to political strategy - it was written as a public education tool. The primary goal of the book is not to help Democrats win the 2006 or 2008 election (though that would certainly be nice). The goal is to help raise awareness among ordinary folks about exactly what's going on, exactly how they are being screwed, and exactly what we can do about it - so that over the long term, the public opinion polls that Ruy cites fundamentally change.

Let's put into real terms what that means by using a specific
example. Ruy correctly says voters tell pollsters that they "remain optimistic about class mobility" with "an amazing 45 percent believed it was very or somewhat likely that they would become wealthy in the future" and with "80 percent [saying] it’s still possible to start out poor in this country, work hard, and become rich."

But here are the real facts underneath the public perceptions, according to the Wall Street Journal:

*"The reality of mobility in America is more complicated than the myth. As the gap between rich and poor has widened since 1970, the odds that a child born in poverty will climb to wealth -- or a rich child will fall into the middle class -- remain stuck. Despite the spread of affirmative action, the expansion of community colleges and the other social change designed to give people of all classes a shot at success, Americans are no more or less likely to rise above, or fall below, their parents' economic class than they were 35 yearsago."*

Similarly, The Economist noted:

*"According to a long-term research project carried out at the University of Michigan, led by Gary Solon, America's score on socialmobility is not particularly high or low, but middling...If you are among the poorest 5% of the population, your chances of achieving an average income are only one in six. If you are among the poorest 1%,they become very dim indeed. Moreover—and this was the most surprising thing about the study—despite America's more flexible labour markets, social mobility there is no longer greater than in supposedly class-ridden Europe, and if anything it seems to be declining. A study by Katharine Bradbury and Jane Katz for the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston found that in the 1970s, 65% of people changed their social position. In the 1990s, only 60% did...The authors also found decreasing amounts of social mobility at the top and the bottom. This is squeezing the middle class. Americans may be sorting themselves into two more stable groups, haves and have-nots."*

Thus, the challenge is to connect public opinion to the actual facts, and perhaps even more challenging, to get progressives to realize that our highly touted "new infrastructure" must invest in this kind of unglamorous, pride-swallowing public education work rather than only focusing on the next election and on being a rah-rah squad for the Democratic Party Establishment. Like our opponents realized 30 years ago, we cannot be successful unless we better educate the public. Instead of pandering to voters in with zig-zagging campaign messages that reinforce a lack of conviction, we must have the guts to go out and show America how their views of economic opportunity diverge from what's actually going on, how the hostile takeover of our government is helping cause that divergence, and how America's corrupt politicians are making the problem worse.

This is the objective of a real movement, not just the short-term political campaigns commandeered every two years by opportunistic, washed-up political operatives in D.C. Rather than simply saying "well, the public already believes what they believe, and there's nothing we can do about it" we must stop arrogantly treating the public as too stupid to understand the world around us, and we must start having the guts to fight back – even when we know we will be criticized, even when the poll-tested climate doesn't initially seem as favorable as pollsters would like. In the words of President George H.W. Bush, we need to have that "vision thing" in order to start unifying Americans in the long-term fight against the economic war we are all facing, rather than pursuing a short-term, short-sighted politics that pretends this war doesn't even exist.


Go on-site to view other topical articles by several commentators, and to access David Sirota's archives.

Saundra Hummer
May 3rd, 2006, 01:15 PM
NO twas the Zionists that did it!!!

btw - Jammu is a Hindu dominated area with constant incursions by the jihadists to "cleanse and convert" the area. Ladakh, predominantly Buddhist, is also in their sights (where on earth isn't?). This latest incident is just a continuation of a multi-century bloody jihad on the Indian sub-continent (the forgotten holocaust). :(

Dummy us, at least dummy me. I thought that with the end of WWII that we would never see such acts again. The failure of the Nazi's would be a lesson for the world. With murderer's hunted down and punished, many of us believed that those with such thoughts in their heads wouldn't act on them ever again, but how very wrong to ever think that way. Bosnia, India, China, and how many more of us have, and are,doing things so dispicable, so evil as to shame us all. We've learned nothing from history?

Saundra Hummer
May 3rd, 2006, 01:46 PM
~ ~ ~ ~ ~

We thought, because we had power, we had wisdom: Stephen Vincent Benét:


I hope our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us, that the less we use our power the greater it will be: Thomas Jefferson:

A person will worship something, have no doubt about that. We may think our tribute is paid in secret in the dark recesses of our hearts, but it will out. That which dominates our imaginations and our thoughts will determine our lives, and our character. Therefore, it behooves us to be careful what we worship, for what we are worshipping we are becoming: Ralph Waldo Emerson:

~ ~ ~

Saundra Hummer
May 3rd, 2006, 06:28 PM
* * * * *

GOP doesn't mean 'God's Own Party'
Bush administration's pursuit of religion-driven policies and courting of an end-times electorate are cause for alarm

April 21, 2006, 8:44PM

Now that the GOP has been transformed by the rise of the South, the trauma of terrorism and George W. Bush's conviction that God wanted him to be president, a deeper conclusion can be drawn: The Republican Party has become the first religious party in U.S. history.
We have had small-scale theocracies in North America before — in Puritan New England and later in Mormon Utah. Today, a leading power such as the United States approaches theocracy when it meets the conditions currently on display: an elected leader who believes himself to speak for the Almighty, a ruling political party that represents religious true believers, the certainty of many Republican voters that government should be guided by religion and, on top of it all, a White House that adopts agendas seemingly animated by biblical worldviews.

Indeed, there is a potent change taking place in this country's domestic and foreign policy, driven by religion's new political prowess and its role in projecting military power in the Mideast.

The United States has organized much of its military posture since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks around the protection of oil fields, pipelines and sea lanes. But U.S. preoccupation with the Middle East has another dimension. In addition to its concerns with oil and terrorism, the White House is courting end-times theologians and electorates for whom the Holy Lands are a battleground of Christian destiny. Both pursuits — oil and biblical expectations — require a dissimulation in Washington that undercuts the U.S. tradition of commitment to the role of an informed electorate.

The political corollary — fascinating but appalling — is the recent transformation of the Republican presidential coalition. Since the election of 2000 and especially that of 2004, three pillars have become central: the oil-national security complex, with its pervasive interests; the religious right, with its doctrinal imperatives and massive electorate; and the debt-driven financial sector, which extends far beyond the old symbolism of Wall Street.

President Bush has promoted these alignments, interest groups and their underpinning values. His family, over multiple generations, has been linked to a politics that conjoined finance, national security and oil. In recent decades, the Bushes have added close ties to evangelical and fundamentalist power brokers of many persuasions.

Over a quarter-century of Bush presidencies and vice presidencies, the Republican Party has slowly become the vehicle of all three interests — a fusion of petroleum-defined national security; a crusading, simplistic Christianity; and a reckless credit-feeding financial complex. The three are increasingly allied in commitment to Republican politics. On the most important front, I am beginning to think that the Southern-dominated, biblically driven Washington GOP represents a rogue coalition, like the Southern, proslavery politics that controlled Washington until Abraham Lincoln's election in 1860.

I have a personal concern over what has become of the Republican coalition. Forty years ago, I began a book, The Emerging Republican Majority, which I finished in 1967 and took to the 1968 Republican presidential campaign, for which I became the chief political and voting-patterns analyst. Published in 1969, while I was still in the fledgling Nixon administration, the volume was identified by Newsweek as the "political bible of the Nixon Era."

In that book I coined the term "Sun Belt" to describe the oil, military, aerospace and retirement country stretching from Florida to California, but debate concentrated on the argument — since fulfilled and then some — that the South was on its way into the national Republican Party. Four decades later, this framework has produced the alliance of oil, fundamentalism and debt.

Some of that evolution was always implicit. If any region of the United States had the potential to produce a high-powered, crusading fundamentalism, it was Dixie. If any new alignment had the potential to nurture a fusion of oil interests and the military-industrial complex, it was the Sun Belt, which helped draw them into commercial and political proximity and collaboration. Wall Street, of course, has long been part of the GOP coalition. But members of the Downtown Association and the Links Club were never enthusiastic about "Joe Sixpack" and middle America, to say nothing of preachers such as Oral Roberts or the Tupelo, Miss., Assemblies of God. The new cohabitation is an unnatural one.

While studying economic geography and history in Britain, I had been intrigued by the Eurasian "heartland" theory of Sir Halford Mackinder, a prominent geographer of the early 20th century. Control of that heartland, Mackinder argued, would determine control of the world. In North America, I thought, the coming together of a heartland — across fading Civil War lines — would determine control of Washington.

This was the prelude to today's "red states." The American heartland, from Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico to Ohio and the Appalachian coal states, has become (along with the onetime Confederacy) an electoral hydrocarbon coalition. It cherishes sport-utility vehicles and easy carbon dioxide emissions policy, and applauds pre-emptive U.S. airstrikes on uncooperative, terrorist-coddling Persian Gulf countries fortuitously blessed with huge reserves of oil.

Because the United States is beginning to run out of its own oil sources, a military solution to an energy crisis is hardly lunacy. Neither Caesar nor Napoleon would have flinched. What Caesar and Napoleon did not face, but less able American presidents do, is that bungled overseas military embroilments could also boomerang economically. The United States, some $4 trillion in hock internationally, has become the world's leading debtor, increasingly nagged by worry that some nations will sell dollars in their reserves and switch their holdings to rival currencies. Washington prints bonds and dollar-green IOUs, which European and Asian bankers accumulate until for some reason they lose patience. This is the debt Achilles' heel, which stands alongside the oil Achilles' heel.

Unfortunately, more danger lurks in the responsiveness of the new GOP coalition to Christian evangelicals, fundamentalists and Pentecostals, who muster some 40 percent of the party electorate. Many millions believe that the Armageddon described in the Bible is coming soon. Chaos in the explosive Middle East, far from being a threat, actually heralds the second coming of Jesus Christ. Oil price spikes, murderous hurricanes, deadly tsunamis and melting polar ice caps lend further credence.

The potential interaction between the end-times electorate, inept pursuit of Persian Gulf oil, Washington's multiple deceptions and the financial crisis that could follow a substantial liquidation by foreign holders of U.S. bonds is the stuff of nightmares. To watch U.S. voters enable such policies — the GOP coalition is unlikely to turn back — is depressing to someone who spent many years researching, watching and cheering those grass roots.

Four decades ago, the new GOP coalition seemed certain to enjoy a major infusion of conservative northern Catholics and Southern Protestants. This troubled me not at all. I agreed with the predominating Republican argument at the time that "secular" liberals, by badly misjudging the depth and importance of religion in the United States, had given conservatives a powerful and legitimate electoral opportunity.

Since then, my appreciation of the intensity of religion in the United States has deepened. When religion was trod upon in the 1960s and thereafter by secular advocates determined to push Christianity out of the public square, the move unleashed an evangelical, fundamentalist and Pentecostal counterreformation, with strong theocratic pressures becoming visible in the Republican national coalition and its leadership.

Besides providing critical support for invading Iraq — widely anathematized by preachers as a second Babylon — the Republican coalition has also seeded half a dozen controversies in the realm of science. These include Bible-based disbelief in Darwinian theories of evolution, dismissal of global warming, disagreement with geological explanations of fossil-fuel depletion, religious rejection of global population planning, derogation of women's rights and opposition to stem cell research. This suggests that U.S. society and politics may again be heading for a defining controversy such as the Scopes trial of 1925. That embarrassment chastened fundamentalism for a generation, but the outcome of the eventual 21st century test is hardly assured.

These developments have warped the Republican Party and its electoral coalition, muted Democratic voices and become a gathering threat to America's future. No leading world power in modern memory has become a captive of the sort of biblical inerrancy that dismisses modern knowledge and science. The last parallel was in the early 17th century, when the papacy, with the agreement of inquisitional Spain, disciplined the astronomer Galileo for saying that the sun, not the Earth, was the center of our solar system.

Conservative true believers will scoff at such concerns. The United States is a unique and chosen nation, they say; what did or did not happen to Rome, imperial Spain, the Dutch Republic and Britain is irrelevant. The catch here, alas, is that these nations also thought they were unique and that God was on their side. The revelation that He apparently was not added a further debilitating note to the late stages of each national decline.

Over the last 25 years, I have warned frequently of these political, economic and historical (but not religious) precedents. The concentration of wealth that developed in the United States in the bull market of 1982 to 2000 was also typical of the zeniths of previous world economic powers as their elites pursued surfeit in Mediterranean villas or in the country-house splendor of Edwardian England. In a nation's early years, debt is a vital and creative collaborator in economic expansion; in late stages, it becomes what Mr. Hyde was to Dr. Jekyll: an increasingly dominant mood and facial distortion. The United States of the early 21st century is well into this debt-driven climax, with some analysts arguing — all too plausibly — that an unsustainable credit bubble has replaced the stock bubble that burst in 2000.

Unfortunately, three of the pre-eminent weaknesses displayed in these past declines have been religious excess, a declining energy and industrial base, and debt often linked to foreign and military overstretch. Politics in the United States — and especially the evolution of the governing Republican coalition — deserves much of the blame for the fatal convergence of these forces in America today.
Phillips is the author of "American Theocracy: The Perils and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century" (Viking). This article originally appeared in The Washington Post.

* * *
MORE Viewpoints, Outlook
'Star-Spangled' mangling: Haven't we heard worse?
LETTERS: Immigration and the law
Viewpoints, Outlook

Saundra Hummer
May 3rd, 2006, 06:39 PM
~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Freedom of expression is the well-spring of our civilization... The history of civilization is in considerable measure the displacement of error which once held sway as official truth by beliefs which in turn have yielded to other truths. Therefore the liberty of man to search for truth ought not to be fettered, no matter what orthodoxies he may challenge.": Felix Frankfurter - (1882-1965) U.S. Supreme Court Justice - Source: Concurring Opinion, Dennis et al. v. U.S. (1951)

"Freedom to differ is not limited to things that do not matter much. That would be a mere shadow of freedom. The test of its substance is the right to differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order." : Justice Robert H. Jackson - (1892-1954), U. S. Supreme Court Justice Source: West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 1943


He therefore is the truest friend to the liberty of his country who tries most to promote its virtue, and who, so far as his power and influence extend, will not suffer a man to be chosen into any office of power and trust who is not a wise and virtuous man...: Samuel Adams

~ ~ ~

Saundra Hummer
May 3rd, 2006, 06:59 PM
~ ~ ~ ~ ~

"If the innocent honest Man must quietly quit all he has for Peace sake, to him who will lay violent hands upon it, I desire it may be considered what kind of Peace there will be in the World, which consists only in Violence and Rapine; and which is to be maintained only for the benefit of Robbers and Oppressors.": - -- John Locke - (1632-1704) English philosopher and political theorist.

They could be made to accept the most flagrant violations of reality, because they never fully grasped the enormity of what was demanded of them, and were not sufficiently interested in public events to notice what was happening : George Orwell

Political language. . . is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind: George Orwell

The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them: George Orwell

~ ~ ~

Saundra Hummer
May 3rd, 2006, 07:07 PM
* * * * *

Exclusive: Return Of The Shah

Shah of Iran's Heir Plans Overthrow of Regime
By Human Events

05/03/06 "Human Events' -- -- Reza Pahlavi, son of the late Shah of Iran, told the editors of HUMAN EVENTS last week that in the next two to three months he hopes to finalize the organization of a movement aimed at overthrowing the Islamic regime in Tehran and replacing it with a democratic government.

He believes the cause is urgent because of the prospect that Iran may soon develop a nuclear weapon or the U.S. may use military force to preempt that. He hopes to offer a way out of this dilemma: a revolution sparked by massive civil disobedience in which the masses in the streets are backed by elements of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

Pahlavi, who lives in exile in the United States, said he has been in contact with elements of the Revolutionary Guard that would be willing to play such a role, and activists who could help spark the civil disobedience.

He also said that the U.S. and other governments can help by imposing “smart sanctions” on the leaders of Iranian regime, but he categorically opposes U.S. military intervention.

After the revolution he envisions, Pahlavi said, he would be willing to become a constitutional monarch in Iran if an Iranian constitutional convention offered him that role. “I’m ready to serve in that capacity,” he said. “If the people so choose, it would be my greatest honor.”

The following are excerpts from the interview with the editors of HUMAN EVENTS in which Pahlavi explained why and how he thinks his country can be transformed from an Islamist dictatorship into a free democracy.


Under any circumstances, would you support U.S. military action against Iran?

As a matter of principle there’s no way that I can support any kind of military intervention regardless of the crisis because as a matter of principle, and as a nationalist, I cannot even imagine the fact that my country could be attacked, and today it’s a very different scenario from, let’s say, the Second World War where you are occupied by Nazi forces and there’s a liberating force coming in. This is a strike against Iranian installations that are part of our national assets. That it’s used wrongly by the wrong people is beside the point. So there’s no justification as far as I’m concerned.

Even if we had absolutely certain knowledge the regime in Iran was on the threshold of actually building a nuclear weapon, you would oppose U.S. military intervention to stop that from happening?

First of all, whether the U.S. does it or not is its affair. I would still be critical of it only because I think that if we come back to a position in which we are today, there’s time to remedy the situation and I will get to other options later. But I can tell you one thing: The best gift that you can give the current regime is, in fact, to attack it. Why? Because, one, it will immediately consolidate the nation, two, it will neutralize all elements of the military and paramilitary forces who have a role to play in the options that I will present later and they will be forced into a position of defense. So they are out of the equation.

Three, it will stir this entire regional emotion, once again, against the West, while we are trying to get help from the very same West to promote a democratic ideal.

Fourth, if it’s a race against time, as in the sense, “Will this regime become nuclear first or will the Iranian people achieve democracy?” there’s no way you’re going to win the race by doing so. You may prolong the inevitable armament of Iran, but you will certainly push back the democratic cause for many years, if not for good.

And, ultimately, I don’t know if it’s going to be effective. We’re not talking about Iraq. We’re talking about a country with a multitude of installations, some of which you happen to know about and many of which we still don’t know about. Many of these entities are hidden under civilian areas, the actual stockpiling.

You would be willing to renounce that idea that Iran could develop a nuclear weapon?

I’m against developing any weapons of mass destruction. I work to see the world develop a process of disarmament because otherwise it will be madness. If we build it, tomorrow the Turks will build it, then the Saudis want to build it, then the Egyptians want to build it. Believe me, in that part of the world, there’s some track record how stable the world will feel having a whole bunch of nuclear warheads in the hands of all these people. Forget it. I’d be the first one proposing a plan to reverse the cycle of proliferation.

You don’t believe Iran needs a nuclear weapon to balance Israel’s nuclear weapon?


You would not demand that Israel disarm?

Since when has Israel been a threat to anyone? Israel just wants to be left alone and live in peace side by side with its neighbors. As far as I’m concerned, Israel never had any ambition to territorially go and invade, I don’t know, Spain or Morocco or anywhere else. And let me tell something else about Iran: Unlike the rest of the Islamic or Arab world, the relationship between Persia and the Jews goes back to the days of Cyrus the Great. We take pride as Iranians of having a history where Cyrus was the most quoted figure in the Torah, as a liberator of Jewish slaves, who went to Babylon and gave them true freedom for them to worship and in fact helped them build a temple. We have a biblical relation with Jews, and we have no problem with modern day Israel. As far as regional politics, I believe, I think many Iranians believe so, that as much as Israel has a right to exist, so should the Palestinians. They have to work the problem between each other. And we have no business interfering, and we need to help get as much stability in the region.

A democratic regime in Iran would be doing that, but a clerical regime in Tehran that sends money to Hamas and to Hizballah and to all the terrorists around the globe obviously is not promoting stability and peace, it is doing the reverse.

In your argument for why you could not see supporting, under any circumstances, the United States’ using military action against Iran, you said this would turn the Iranian people against Americans.

Yes, they’re your best natural allies. What they see, rather than helping us—because we are your best weapon against this regime. Why do you want to bypass us? And you’re attacking our resources.

Last year, Iran elected Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a viciously anti-American president. He’s threatening the destruction of Israel. He’s threatening the United States. Why is it that the same country that can elect this guy has a pro-American population?

Because that’s what the Iranian people are like. Iran is the only country that has the most pro-Western people with the most anti-Western government—unlike the rest of the countries in the region.

Why did that develop? In 2000 you had the reformer, President Khatami, everyone said the parliament is for reform. Then suddenly, five years later, you have someone else elected by an overwhelming margin who is supposedly anti-West. And, of course, he defeated Rafsanjani.

Again, you see the tree but you don’t see the forest.

Explain it.

The whole regime, in its entirety, is hostile and antagonistic to what we understand in the free world as being our definition of human rights and individual freedoms. This regime is dedicated to implement a viewpoint which is the most extreme interpretation of religion and God’s law on Earth, anywhere around the globe, starting with itself, the region and beyond. If tomorrow they can do it in Washington, they will do it. Or anywhere else. They don’t see eye to eye with you. This is a regime that is dedicated to that.

But you’re not explaining the change from 2000, when they had reformers in there, and people thought they had a chance—
Reformers to reform what? To sustain the regime or to change it? The reformers were not committed to end the regime. They were committed to preserving it. And so was Khatami. Don’t get me wrong. That’s part of the typical mistake the West has been making, including the U.S. government.

It still would have been a more moderate regime than the present one.

Come on, who are we kidding? You said the same thing about Andropov. You said he drinks whiskey and listens to jazz, therefore he’s more moderate. He was Communist for God’s sake.

How would you change it now?

The reason the regime was using Khatami as the smiling face talking about a dialogue of civilizations was just to buy time. The same way that in the nuclear race they played the game of buying time by saying we’re going to negotiate with Russians or we’re not going to talk to them—buying time. Three years of endless negotiations has produced nothing. Why? The regime gained an extra three years. All I’m saying is that now, when you look at the future, we have a delicate time frame within which we can bring about change.

How long?

I cannot give you an expert, scientific opinion about how close Iran is to actual fissile material. . .

Newt Ginrich told us in our interview with him that we had two to three years to change the regime in Iran, or else he wanted to go to war.

That I think is realistic. Plus or minus six months or so.

Gingrich says if we can’t get the regime changed in two to three years we have to invade Iran. What’s your answer to that?

My answer is that I think that while the analysis that the options are running out as time goes by is true, the most important option that has been the least talked about has yet to be even considered, let alone tried.

Which is?

Which is, where I’m coming from. What I’m coming from is that, short of military strikes, which I don’t think is going to help at all with the ultimate solution, the much better way is to find the best way of enforcing the hand of the people of Iran. I need to explain that because it’s a complex issue.

Assume you’re directly advising Condoleezza Rice and George Bush. Bush is going to be in office for two more years. How can they help you and your people get rid of this regime in the next two years?

We have to find a combination of internal elements working with exterior elements within the Iranian opposition and a coordination of such a movement with a number of key countries who in concert will act on this plan to make it happen.

You want to see a systematically organized general strike, people going into the streets against the government in Tehran?

Well look, civil disobedience, we can find examples of it from Argentina to India.

That’s what you want. That’s your tool.

That’s one of the tools. The other thing is the military and paramilitary power. Understand one thing: The basic powerbase of this regime is the Revolutionary Guards, at the end of the day.

They report to [Ayatollah] Khamenei, not to Ahmadinejad?

It’s a mixed bag. Ultimately, Khamenei is the supreme leader. But let’s face it, Khamenei doesn’t have single-handed control. In fact, Khamenei went all the way to take the risk of alienating some of the Revolutionary Guards by publicly referring to the talks between [U.S. Ambassador to Iraq] Zalmay Khalilzad and Iranians over the Iraqi issue. What was he trying to do there? He was much more concerned about the rising disenchantment inside Iran. He wanted to just pour ice water on their head, by saying, “Oh, we’re talking to the Americans”—at the risk of alienating his own militia.

That explains the psychology of the regime. It also explains that the whole militia is not under one core unit. It’s a whole mafia. There are various families of Revolutionary Guards. Each has its own portfolio and agenda. Some are behind Al Qaeda. Some are involved in Syria. Some are involved in Bekaa Valley. Some are involved in Iraq, etc. And they have their own independent means of finances. They don’t have to report back to the government. They have their own bases of income, free ports, what have you.

You think you can exploit this to turn some elements of the Revolutionary Guards against the regime?

Yes, for a number of reasons. Because like in any totalitarian system, they know that at the end they’ll fall. The question is, how do they negotiate their exit strategy? No. 2 is because a lot of their families are not as wealthy as we think. There are some preferred ones, but many are still having to make ends meet. We have ranked officers who have to drive taxicabs at three o’clock in the morning, as a major or colonel returning from base, because they don’t have enough money to pay the rent. The disenchantment is there.

So what you see happening is a general strike, people going into the streets, refusing to work, calling for the overthrow of the regime, and then their being backed—

Sustained. Sustained.

And then being sustained by significant elements of the Revolutionary Guards who say, “You’re gone”?

And I’m talking about a blitzkrieg of media supporting, like the BBC did before the revolution, which was practically announcing the night before where there would be a demonstration the next day. This is not myth, it is fact.

Are you in contact with some of the commanders of these [elements]?

Absolutely. Absolutely. And in fact, they keep on saying that we are being under-utilized, we have a role to play, we know the time for it, but we cannot just take the initiative. They are in No Man’s Land. You have to understand.

Are you the person who puts together the master plan? Are you the commander-in-chief of this counteraction?

Look, I think I can be effective, and the reason I have stayed behind until now was because I wanted to exhaust every avenue of possibility so that the opposition can gather itself and collectively work on a common agenda. Within the next two or three months, we’ll know if the result of two or three years of intense effort is going to pay off.

Two or three months?

Two or three months. This summer.

Are you going to have a unity council of sorts?

Yes, the goal was to have some kind of congress, or, we call it a forum, where all these [exiled Iranian opposition] groups, albeit under their own umbrellas and structure, could agree on a common agenda of action under common points that we all agree, and act like that. That’s the best we can hope to make something out of the fabric of the known opposition. But what I have told them, and what I am telling them right now, as much as there’s a deadline on anything, there should be a deadline for that, too. And I’ve exhausted every avenue to act as a catalyst to bring as many people together so they can work together. But if, for any reason, this strategy does not work, then I would be ready to step in and take any initiative that is necessary. But I would do that only if the other option does not work.

Specifically, what you’d like to do, if you can get this umbrella of these outside groups together, is use their collective ability to communicate back with all these atomized groups inside Iran to call for things like a general strike.

Then orchestrate a massive campaign of resistance and civil disobedience to bring as much pressure within domestically. Meanwhile, the international community can play a much bigger role as well in pressuring the regime even further. That’s where I get to the smart sanction part. For instance, why penalize the people that are already bleeding and hungry? Why don’t you, for instance, in terms of the UN sanctions, demand a complete obstruction of travel for Iranian officials? Or denying them visas or from entering other countries, things of that nature? Why don’t you talk to all these countries that have intelligence and data on all those dummy corporations and bank accounts that the regime has in different countries and freeze those accounts?

You basically send a very strong message to the regime, you penalize their officials, you don’t necessarily declare war on Iran or economically put more pressure.

Then it’s also a challenge to Russia and China. You know Russia and China might be able to legitimately argue why they would veto any Security Council resolutions on sanctions. China, obviously, because it’s dependent on Iranian oil, and Russia because I think Putin and Peter the Great are not that far apart, in terms of their being the big boys in the region. But they will be hard pressed to object to any smart sanction, because failure to do so basically means they are in cahoots with the Islamic regime. I don’t know if they want to take that public position in the court of public opinion.

While you’re doing this, how concerned are you about your own security here in the United States?

Look it’s beyond concern. I put faith in the Almighty and I said whatever it takes. You know, what can you do? You cannot live in a shell.

In your Iran, Mahmoud Abdullah, the Afghan who converted to Christianity, would have every right to do that and the state would protect him from retaliation by radical clerics?

God, I hope so. I hope so. Because if we are basing our constitution on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that’s one of the most fundamental rights that any human being should have. I’m sick and tired of hypocrisy and all this dubious attitude that is so typical of our region. If you believe in something you say it, you don’t fool around. I mean, that’s where I’m coming from. I haven’t lived 45 years of my life to fool around with these things. If I’m willing to lose my life for it, hell I’m going to fight for these rights, otherwise it’s not worth it. Frankly it’s not worth it! I might as well forget about Iran and become a citizen and live my life in this country. No. I want to have the same rights you have over here over there. That’s what I’m fighting for! Otherwise why bother?

Do you think the Iranian population as a whole agrees with you today or do you feel you have to convert them to your point of view?

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to find out that the minute you criticize any aspect of this regime you are going to be at the very least incarcerated, possibly tortured, and at the very worst, executed. Last week, there were six bodies of women found in South of Tehran, because of the new edict by Ahmadinejad—and I’m not saying “edict” as a cleric because he’s not, but the new law—to further strengthen the strict code of how you dress! People can be fined if they happen to have a dog on a leash because dogs are supposed to be bad in Islam. You cannot even walk your dog on the street and not be fined. Imagine if you were to criticize the regime! Don’t you think people get that? They do.

Would you rather participate in a democratic parliamentary election like Iraq or simply come back as a constitutional monarch?

I appreciate the question. I know what my function is today, and my function today is to be a catalyst that promotes unity as opposed to being an element that brings polarity. My role today is not institutional, it’s political. My role today is not someone who will be a symbolic leader under that institution, but a national leader that is fighting for freedom. ... My job today is to be a liberator, as opposed to representing an institution. However, as an option, certainly the Iranian people should consider that beyond the content of the future, which I described to you—secular, democratic, based on human rights—what should the ultimate form be? Do we want to have a parliamentary monarchy like we do Sweden, or Japan, or Holland, or Belgium? Or do we want to have a republican system like you have in this United States or France or elsewhere? That debate is not today’s debate. That is the debate that will be the responsibility of the next constitutional assembly that will have to bring in a new constitution and draft a new one.

At that time, there probably will be a lot of debates between those who are advocates of a monarchic system and those who are advocates of a republican system.

But you don’t rule it out?

I think it is, in my personal opinion, I think that that institution will better serve the purpose of the institutionalization of the democracy in Iran rather than the republican form. I can, case in point, use the example, of a post-Franco [Spain] with King Juan Carlos.

You’re not renouncing the throne, in other words? You’ll take it, if—

Look, it’s not a matter what I choose to do. I think that if monarchy has to be decided it should be based on people wanting it, not me arguing it. I have faith that this is an appropriate institution. It’s not a coincidence it survived more than 25 centuries. It is very much imbedded in Iranian culture and tradition and identity. In modern days, it can play just as effective a role. And I think that one of the things that I often find, thinking of the way Americans look at monarchy, which is immediately George III in your mind, is that you should at least liberate yourself from that aspect and see that the name “republic” doesn’t mean anything. Most of your enemies are republics. Saddam Hussein is one. Syria is one. “Republic” doesn’t automatically mean democratic. The Soviet Union was a republic. Most of your allies in Europe and NATO, half of them were monarchies. ... I think it’s not the form of the regime, it’s the content that matters. I think a monarchy is just as compatible to be committed to be democratic as a republic is. In some countries, a monarchy works better than a republic. Usually, history has shown us, in countries that are heterogeneous, in other words that have a lot of different groups, ethnicities and religion, the gelling factor, the unifying factor, has been the institutional mind, with the difference that this institution has to remain above the fray and not be engaged in the politics. That’s the big difference. Because the only time it can maintain neutrality and be for all is by not being engaged. Because the minute you become political then you have to take sides and that defeats the purpose, which is pretty much the problem we had under the previous regime, because the person of the king was directly involved in making policy, which is the last thing you want to do.

Having said that, yes, I’m fully committed to that. I’m ready to serve in that capacity. If the people so choose, it would be my greatest honor. But at the end of the day, what I tell them is, first and foremost, I’m an Iranian and I’d be just as happy to serve my country in whatever capacity. But if you give me that choice, that opportunity, I think I could do a good job for you.


May 3rd, 2006, 08:33 PM
LDL Cholesterol Does NOT Cause Atherosclerosis or Heart Disease.
How much longer will the medical establishment keep lying to us?

By Anthony Colpo,
May 29, 2005

LDL cholesterol does not cause heart disease.

The above statement runs counter to everything your doctor, the media, and allegedly 'respectable' and 'impartial' health organizations have ever told you.

Nonetheless, it's true.

It's no big secret that, throughout history, those in power--and the network of individuals who rely on these powerbrokers for their livelihood--have often lied and misled the general public in order to preserve the status quo.

Our time is no different.

For the last four decades, the medical establishment has been successfully operating one of the biggest health scams of all time. Through the use of extensive propaganda, they have convinced millions of people the world over that cholesterol, especially LDL cholesterol, is a direct cause of heart disease. They have further convinced millions that the key to avoiding heart disease is to reduce cholesterol levels via the use of lipid-lowering drugs and diets low in saturated fats. This racket has produced billions in profits for drug companies and the manufacturers of low-fat food products.

While cholesterol paranoia is an extremely lucrative phenomenon for the food and drug industries, it has delivered no benefit whatsoever to the rest of us. Heart disease is still the number one killer in cholesterol-phobic Western countries. Sure, the number of deaths from heart disease has decreased since the late sixties, but the overall incidence of heart disease has not declined one iota.(1-4) If cholesterol reduction were effective in preventing heart disease, then it would surely lower both fatal and non-fatal heart disease. This has not happened. Modern medicine has made breathtaking strides in extending the lives of those who have already had heart attacks, but has failed dismally in helping people avoid heart disease in the first place.

The anti-cholesterol campaign has been more than just an unproductive failure. The inordinate focus on cholesterol, a perfectly natural substance that performs many crucial functions in the body, has taken valuable resources and attention from the things that do cause heart disease. An inestimable number of lives have been lost that could have been saved had the medical community and general public been aware of the truly causative factors.

Let us now find out why the anti-cholesterol campaign is a mess of contradictory, scientifically untenable nonsense.

LDL (Lies, Damn Lies)

To allow their pet theory to accommodate the inescapable fact that cholesterol is a vitally important substance, the purveyors of the cholesterol hypothesis invented the "good cholesterol, bad cholesterol" dichotomy.

LDL cholesterol, which transports cholesterol from the liver to the tissues and organs of the body, was deigned the "bad" cholesterol. As part of its delivery function, so the story goes, LDL brings cholesterol to the arteries, where it is then deposited to form arterial plaque. These plaques then grow, rupture, and stimulate the formation of artery-blocking blood clots.

HDL cholesterol, on the other hand, is the swash-buckling knight in shining armor that counters the action of its evil twin LDL by sweeping cholesterol from the arteries and transporting it back to the liver, from whence it can be safely disposed.

This "good cholesterol, bad cholesterol" paradigm is, quite frankly, a scientific absurdity.

Fact versus Fiction

Let's get one thing perfectly clear right from the outset: atherosclerotic plaques are not simply big wads of fat and cholesterol that have stuck to the walls of arteries like mud inside a pipe. That so many supposedly intelligent people have even contemplated entertaining such a notion, let alone accepted it as gospel truth, is a sad, sad reflection of the extremely low intellectual standard dominating the health sciences, and society in general, today.

The growth of atherosclerotic plaques begins inside the artery wall, between the inner and outer layers. These plaques are actually complex entities comprised of numerous components, including smooth muscle cells, calcium, connective tissue, white blood cells, and cholesterol and fatty acids. The proliferation of these various components occurs, not because of elevations in blood cholesterol or because one has eaten too much butter and cream, but because of unfavorable physiological conditions that damage or weaken the structure of the artery. This triggers an inflammatory state in which the body recognizes the injury and sets about to repair it. Cholesterol is present in atherosclerotic plaque for the same reason all the other components are present--as part of the body's attempt to repair itself. Blaming cholesterol for atherosclerotic plaque makes about as much sense as blaming paramedics for the carnage they are faced with after arriving at the scene of an accident.

This 'response-to-injury' scenario is well accepted by the vast majority of serious cardiovascular researchers. The problem is that many of these same individuals insist on clinging to the untenable notion that LDL cholesterol is somehow involved in triggering or aggravating the inflammatory state that promotes atherosclerosis and eventually leads to heart disease or stroke.

Follow the Cholesterol Trail

If LDL cholesterol 'caused' atherosclerosis, then logic dictates that there should be a strong correlation between blood levels of LDL cholesterol and atherosclerosis. Proponents of the lipid hypothesis would have you believe this is exactly the case.

They're wrong.

Oxidized LDL

Before we continue, it's important to distinguish between 'standard' LDL cholesterol, and 'modified' LDL cholesterol. The former is the type of LDL that your body produces each and every day as a part of perfectly normal and healthy metabolic function. Modified LDL, in contrast, has undergone some sort of deleterious alteration; the most widely studied example is 'oxidized' LDL. This is LDL that has been subject to free radical damage.

During the eighties, some researchers began to wake up to the fact that LDL itself was not a reliable independent risk factor for CHD. After all, half of those who suffer CHD have LDL levels within the normal limit. Among the 28,000-plus participants of the Women's Health Study, for example, forty-six percent of first cardiovascular events occurred in women with LDL cholesterol levels under 130 mg/dL--the 'desirable' target for primary prevention set by the NCEP.(5)

Research in both animals and humans has shown that oxidized LDL is a far better predictor of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease than regular LDL cholesterol. This would indicate that a person's antioxidant status, rather than their LDL levels, is a more important determinant of whether or not they will develop advanced plaques.

That, of course, is not how the medical orthodoxy interpreted the findings. The discovery of oxidized LDL cholesterol, they insisted, simply gave further support to the importance of lowering LDL cholesterol. Lower LDL, they claimed, and you will also lower oxidized LDL levels.

Wrong again.

In animal studies, administration of antioxidant drugs like probucol impairs LDL oxidation and arterial plaque formation, even when there is no change in blood cholesterol levels.(6-10)

In fact, administration of the antioxidant butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) significantly reduces the degree of atherosclerosis on the aortic surface of rabbits even though it raises LDL cholesterol levels!(9)

A similar phenomenon is observed in humans. Among elderly Belgians, higher levels of oxidized LDL were accompanied by a significantly increased risk of heart attack, regardless of overall LDL levels.(11,12)

In Japanese patients undergoing surgery to remove plaque from their carotid arteries, blood levels of oxidized LDL were significantly higher than those measured in healthy controls. Advanced carotid plaques extracted from the patients showed far higher levels of oxidized LDL than neighboring sections of artery that were disease-free. Elevated oxidized LDL was also associated with an increased susceptibility of plaque rupture. However, there was no association between oxidized LDL concentrations and overall LDL levels.(13)

The irrelevance of total LDL levels was further underscored when patients given aggressive LDL cholesterol-lowering treatment were compared with those receiving less aggressive treatment. Despite greater LDL reductions in the former group, there were no differences in calcified plaque progression as detected by electron beam tomography.(14)

It's the Antioxidants, Stupid!

In 1997, Swedish researchers published a comparison of CHD risk factors among men from Vilnius in Lithuania and Linkoping in Sweden. These two groups were selected because the former had a four-fold higher death rate from CHD than the latter. Very little difference in traditional risk factors existed between the two groups, except that the men from CHD-prone Vilnius had lower total and LDL cholesterol levels!

According to common wisdom, the lower total and LDL cholesterol of the Lithuanian men should have placed them at reduced risk of heart disease. When the researchers probed further, they discovered that the men from Vilnius had significantly higher concentrations of oxidized LDL.(15) They also displayed significantly poorer blood levels of important diet-derived antioxidants such as beta carotene, lycopene, and gamma tocopherol (a form of vitamin E).(16,17) Blood levels of these particular nutrients are largely determined by dietary intake, especially from the consumption of antioxidant-rich fruits, nuts, and vegetables. So while the Lithuanian men had lower LDL levels, they had a greater susceptibility to oxidized LDL due to what appeared to be a poorer intake of antioxidant-rich foods.

This may well have explained their greater susceptibility to cardiovascular disease; in tightly-controlled clinical trials, individuals randomized to increase their intake of fruits and vegetables have experienced significant reductions in cardiovascular and all-cause mortality.

The LDL Theory on Trial

Speaking of tightly-controlled clinical trials, none have ever conclusively demonstrated that LDL cholesterol reductions can prevent cardiovascular disease, nor increase longevity.

In the massive GISSI-Prevenzione trial in Italy, the mortality benefits of omega-3-rich fish oil appeared early on in the study--as did an increase in LDL cholesterol levels! Mean LDL levels in the subjects given fish oil rose from 136mg/dl at baseline to 150mg/dl after six months, before gradually returning to initial levels at 42 months. A similar pattern was observed in the control group. This extended period of elevated LDL levels did not in any way prevent the fish oil patients from experiencing significantly more favorable cardiovascular and mortality outcomes.(18)

In the Lyon Diet Heart Study, an experimental group advised to increase consumption of root vegetables, green vegetables, fish and fruit, and omega-3 fatty acids also experienced greatly improved cardiovascular and survival outcomes. The study was originally intended to follow the patients for 4 years, but death rates diverged so dramatically early on that researchers decided it would be unethical to continue and called an end to the trial. After an average follow-up of 27 months, the overall death rate of the control group was more than twice that of the experimental group.

One little publicized finding from this well-known trial was that the total and LDL cholesterol levels of the treatment and control groups were virtually identical throughout the entire study. Those in the treatment group, however, did show significantly higher blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants (19).

What about Statins?

What about statin drugs? According to medical 'opinion leaders' (those who tell the rest of the unthinking masses what to believe), recent trials with statin drugs have proven once and for all that LDL reduction is beneficial. Allegedly, these trials have also shown that the greater the LDL reductions, the better.

Again, this is completely false.

Statins Do a Whole Lot More Than Just Lower LDL

Statin drugs exert their lipid-lowering effect by blocking an enzyme in the liver that is involved in the early stages of cholesterol synthesis. Statins inhibit the synthesis of mevalonate, a precursor not only to cholesterol, but also to a substance known as geranyl-geraniol. Inhibition of geranyl-geraniol produces beneficial effects on levels of nitric oxide (NO), a substance with anti-inflammatory and artery-dilating properties.(20,21) The consequences of this dual action are widespread:

In research with mice, statins markedly reduce measures of both inflammation and atherosclerosis, even though there is little change in serum cholesterol levels.(22)

Statins reverse or impede the progression of atherosclerosis in rabbits, without any accompanying change in serum cholesterol.(23,24)

In human volunteers with slightly elevated cholesterol, researchers found that four weeks of simvastatin therapy significantly enhanced forearm blood flow, a measure of arterial function. The amount of improvement was unrelated to the degree of cholesterol reduction.(25)

In elderly diabetic patients, cerivastatin increased dilation of the brachial artery after only 3 days, before any change in cholesterol levels had occurred.(26)

Statins have been shown to reduce blood platelet production of thromboxane, an eicosanoid that encourages blood-clotting. This effect was not seen with the older drugs that lowered total or LDL cholesterol such as cholestyramine, cholestipol, and fibrates.(27)

Statins have also been observed to inhibit the migration of smooth muscle cells seen in atherosclerotic plaque formation.(28,29)

Statins may prevent advanced atherosclerotic plaques, or atheromas, from rupturing. Plaque rupture is believed to be the instigating factor in a significant portion of coronary events.(30)
Clearly, the effects of statins go far beyond merely lowering cholesterol. The multi-faceted nature of statins is no doubt why almost all of the major controlled, randomized trials with statin drugs have shown no association between the degree of total or LDL cholesterol lowering and the CHD survival rate. In most of these studies, the risk of a fatal heart attack was similarly reduced whether total or LDL cholesterol levels were lowered by a small or large amount.(31-37)

There are two exceptions--the PROSPER trial, which recorded the highest survival rates in both the treatment and control groups among those with the highest LDL levels.(38)

In the Japanese Lipid Intervention Trial (J-LIT), a six-year study of over 47,000 patients treated with simvastatin, those with a total cholesterol level of 200-219 mg/dL had a lower rate of coronary events than those whose levels were above or below this range. The lowest overall mortality rate was seen in the patients whose total and LDL cholesterol levels were between 200-259 mg/dL and 120-159 mg/dL. The highest death rate in the study, by the way, was observed among those whose cholesterol levels were below 160 mg/dL.(39)

The Establishment Method of Dealing With Contradictory Evidence

When confronted with non-supportive evidence, the medical establishment usually does what any good purveyor of profitable misinformation would do--ignores it. Additionally, it simultaneously seeks out supportive evidence, no matter how flimsy, and then embarks on an aggressive propaganda campaign to 'educate' as many people as possible to this allegedly supportive evidence. The end result is that the public receives a highly distorted version of events that, while far from the truth, is nonetheless far more palatable to the reigning orthodoxy.

A perfect example of this phenomenon occurred in April 2004, when the results of the Pravastatin or Atorvastatin Evaluation and Infection Therapy trial (PROVE-IT) were published.

The PROVE-IT researchers randomized patients who had recently been hospitalized for an acute coronary event to either 40 milligrams of pravastatin (Pravachol) or 80 milligrams of atorvastatin (Lipitor) daily. Not surprisingly, median LDL cholesterol levels were lowered to a greater extent on high dose atorvastatin.

After an average follow-up of two years, the high dose atorvastatin group enjoyed a 30 percent reduction in CHD mortality and a 28 percent decrease in overall mortality(40). Establishment spokespeople could barely hide their euphoria; after a continual stream of non-supportive major trials, they finally had a study in which LDL reduction appeared to be correlated with improved clinical outcomes! According to the barrage of publicity awarded to the trial by an ever compliant media, PROVE-IT finally 'proved' that the lower the LDL level, the better!

Actually, PROVE-IT proved no such thing.

Neither did TNT, the highly-hyped study published in March 2005 which also supposedly proved the value of aggressive LDL-lowering. In this study, 10,001 CHD patients with LDL cholesterol levels of less than 130 mg/dl were randomly assigned to either 10 or 80 milligrams of atorvastatin (Lipitor) daily. TNT was sponsored by Pfizer, the manufacturer of Lipitor (currently the world's best-selling drug).

Those receiving low-dose atorvastatin reduced their mean LDL cholesterol levels to 101 mg/dl, while those taking the high dose brought their LDL readings down to 77 mg/dl. After a median follow-up of 4.9 years, 2.5 percent of the low-dose group had died from coronary causes, compared to 2 percent in the high dose group, a twenty percent relative risk reduction.(41) Glowing media reports enthusiastically hailed these results as triumphant confirmation of the PROVE-IT findings. According to the hype, the "lower is better" era of LDL reduction had officially arrived.

Wait Just a Minute…

That statins exert a whole host of biochemical effects beyond mere lipid-lowering is beyond question. In light of this inescapable fact, how can anyone confidently conclude that it was LDL reduction--and not amplification of one or more of these other effects--that produced the favorable cardiovascular outcomes seen in PROVE-IT or TNT?

The answer, of course, is that they can't.

Cut the CRP

C-reactive protein (CRP) is a substance that serves as a marker for inflammatory activity inside the body. CRP has attracted a great deal of attention ever since a large study published in 2002 suggested that this protein was a significantly better predictor of future cardiovascular events than LDL cholesterol.

In January 2005, the New England Journal of Medicine published two studies examining the interplay between statin use, CRP levels, and subsequent coronary event rates. The first of these, using data from the aforementioned PROVE IT study, found that: "Patients who have low CRP levels after statin therapy have better clinical outcomes than those with higher CRP levels, regardless of the resultant level of LDL cholesterol."(42)

In the second study, researchers used intravascular ultrasonography to examine the association of LDL and CRP with the continued development of atherosclerosis in 502 CHD patients. They found that "Atherosclerosis regressed in patients with the greatest reduction in CRP levels, but not in those with the greatest reduction in LDL cholesterol levels."(43)

These results reinforce what is already obvious to those whose minds have not been thoroughly dulled by the massive anti-cholesterol offensive--namely, that the favorable results seen in PROVE-IT were due to the non lipid-lowering actions of statins. The strong correlation between CRP and improved clinical outcomes indicates that the anti-inflammatory effects of statins played a key role.

Of course, the CRP analysis of the PROVE-IT trial was published almost a year after the initial paper that focused on LDL. This was more than enough time to milk the LDL publicity machine for all it was worth, and to use the PROVE-IT results as primary justification for a further reduction in the official NCEP cholesterol-lowering guidelines.

The Charade Continues

With the sole exception of two selectively interpreted trials (PROVE-IT and TNT), decades of dietary and drug intervention trials have repeatedly shown a complete disconnect between total and LDL cholesterol reduction and clinical outcomes.

As such, there exists no proof that LDL cholesterol causes cardiovascular disease, nor that LDL reduction can lower the incidence of CVD events. So how much longer will the medical mainstream keep up the LDL cholesterol charade?

A long, long time, if comments by one of the leading proponents of this nonsensical paradigm are anything to go by.

Commenting on recent research that questions a causal role for C-reactive protein in cardiovascular disease, Dr Steven Nissen, a cardiologist at Ohio's Cleveland Clinic, says the debate "reminds him of the resistance experienced 20 years ago when the importance of cholesterol was first discovered."

According to Nissen, "Many nihilists fought vociferously against the concept of LDL as a causative agent in atherosclerosis. A few of them still don't accept the concept."(44)

Planet Earth to Steve Nissen…

Nissen's response to critics of the cholesterol agenda is a classic textbook example of the kind of dismissive, evasive arguments used by those who propagate scientifically untenable nonsense. Orthodoxy knows full well that it can't rationally address all of the numerous contradictions and fallacies inherent in its pet hypothesis, so it instead attempts to portray dissenting commentators as lone quacks who are out of step with scientific reality.

For those tempted to believe such rot, I would strongly suggest you first visit the home page for The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics. This is a worldwide network of researchers, doctors, and science writers who are highly critical of the anti-cholesterol campaign. It includes such highly esteemed researchers as Dr. Uffe Ravnskov, MD, PhD, (who has published dozens of papers on kidney disease and the cholesterol hypothesis), Kilmer McCully, MD, (the pioneer researcher who uncovered the link between homocysteine and cardiovascular disease), Peter Langsjoen, MD, (foremost authority on the interaction between statin drugs and coenzyme Q10), and Mary Enig, PhD, (the renowned biochemist who first raised the alarm on trans fatty acids).

While Nissen would have his colleagues and the public believe that opposition to the cholesterol hypothesis is limited to a handful of disgruntled "nihilist" crackpots, the truth is that a growing number of highly esteemed and accomplished individuals are joining the campaign to alert the public to the fact that this hypothesis is a total sham.

Always was, and always will be.

Sources: http://www.theomnivore.com/LDL_May_2005.html

Saundra Hummer
May 4th, 2006, 12:11 PM

Fiercest foe isn't on the mat
Oakdale sophomore and state champion wrestler has cancer

Last Updated: May 4, 2006, 05:12:17 AM PDT

As one of the area's top high school wrestlers, Trevor Machado-Ching has faced his share of tough opponents on the mat.
Now the Oakdale High sophomore is facing his toughest opponent off the mat.

Machado-Ching has been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, cancer of the lymph nodes.

"Our doctors are telling us it's a pretty treatable form," said Trevor's father, Bryan Ching.

Machado-Ching placed his name in the state wrestling record books when, as a freshman last year, he won the 103-pound state title. He's one of five California freshmen to win a state championship.

This year, in the loaded 112-pound weight class, Machado-Ching placed fourth in the state. He lost a one-point decision to Calvary Chapel's Justin Paulsen in the semifinals.

"I look back at Trevor's season, and it's really amazing what he did," Oakdale wrestling coach Brian Stevens said. "Some guys are ready to wrap it up after an injury, and he took fourth in the state while battling cancer."

Machado-Ching had problems with his left shoulder throughout his sophomore year, but it appeared to be an orthopedic problem.

"We had him sit out of a couple of dual meets to rest his shoulder," Stevens said. "It seemed to be just a nagging thing, but looking back and it starts to make sense."

Machado-Ching finished the season with his second consecutive state medal, and began to plan for sophomore nationals.

But Stevens noticed something during a practice session.

"Every time I'd get his arm, I could do whatever I wanted," he said. "Something was wrong."

Machado-Ching's cancer had manifested itself in his left shoulder. When it was checked out by doctors, his mom, Corinne Machado-Ching, wanted a biopsy done as well. The diagnosis came soon after.

Since then, he's been making a few trips a week to Stanford Medical Center, where his doctor, Michael Link, is the head of oncology. When not at Stanford, Machado-Ching is still going to school.

He is undergoing tests this week to determine what stage the cancer is in. Chemotherapy will soon follow.

"Trevor wasn't showing any of the other early symptoms (for lymphoma)," said his sister, Whitney Machado-Ching, a sophomore at Cal State Stanislaus. "His doctors are telling us they think they caught it pretty early."

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Web site says the five-year survival rate for children ages 0-19 who contract non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is 76.3 percent.

"Our doctors are among the best in the country and Trevor's physically in great shape," Bryan Ching said. "We're very optimistic."

CHING SAID the outpouring of support from the wrestling community has been astounding.

Family friend Nate Harvey wrote about Machado-Ching's diagnosis on the messageboards at the Web site of The California Wrestler magazine, and wrestlers from across the state responded. More than 5,500 people have read Harvey's original post.

"Wrestling's a pretty close-knit community," Stevens said.

The family has been blown away by the calls and letters.

"So many people out there are thinking about Trevor," Whitney Machado-Ching said. "The support's been overwhelming."

To help offset the cost of Trevor's treatments and therapy, a bank account has been set up in his name at Farmers and Merchants Bank in Modesto.

Harvey has ordered red and yellow bracelets similar to the Livestrong bracelets. These bracelets say "Heart of a champion" on one side and have Trevor's initials on the other.

Harvey said a fund-raising golf tournament also is being planned.

Now, the family says the main thing is to remain positive and keep praying.

"Our oncologist says Trevor could be the Lance Armstrong of wrestling," Ching said. "We're praying he comes back and everything's going to be OK."

Will DeBoard's high schools column appears Thursdays. Write him at P.O. Box 5256, Modesto, CA 95352-5256, call 578-2300, fax 238-4551 or e-mail wdeboard@modbee.com.

To make a donation

Fiercest foe isn't on the mat

Last Updated: May 4, 2006, 05:12:17 AM PDT

Oakdale High sophomore wrestler Trevor Machado-Ching has been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, cancer of the lymph nodes.
To help offset the costs of Machado-Ching's treatment, a bank account has been set up.

• Donations may be made to Oakdale Wrestling, c/o Trevor Machado-Ching, at Farmers and Merchants Bank, 3001 McHenry Ave., Modesto, CA 95350.

• Custom red and gold bracelets bearing Machado's initials will be sold at Fitness Plus in Oakdale, Oakdale High and online in the next few weeks.


. . . . .*. . . . .

Saundra Hummer
May 4th, 2006, 12:26 PM
* * * * *
Bullshit Artist: The 9/11 Leadership Myth


Ron Schalow

Subtitled "America was under attack for 102 minutes and for 102 minutes the president did nothing: How George W. Bush turned his pathetic performance on 9/11 into political gold," this book certainly caught our attention.

This 312-page compilation of the Bush crew's totally inept performance on 9/11 -- including their failure to take a single action to prevent it from occurring even when warned -- was fascinating even to the eyes of jaded 'ol BuzzFlash, who monitored the news reports of 9/11 as it happened.
Part of the attraction of "Bullshit Artist: The 9/11 Leadership Myth" is that its citizen-author, Ron Schalow of North Dakota, mixes fact with sardonic commentary and a playful layout. Can it be fun finding out how the Bush Administration is incompetent? Well yeah, in a sort of "all hail to the dunce" perverse sort of way.

You realize that the mainstream media is so busy playing its role as royal court transcribers that their reporting lacks the most basic of common sense. Schalow litters "Bullshit Artist" with the basic logic of the common person -- and Bush and his minions come off as something like a nefarious version of the Keystone Cops. However, after reading this book, you are left yearning for the Keystone Cops, who would have done a far better job protecting our nation and reacting to 9/11.

Frankly, until we read "Bullshit Artist," we had forgotten how abysmally clueless the Bushevik government is. Their theme song should be "Don't Send in the Clowns; We're Already Here."

Schalow's biting, down-to-earth asides remind us that we are the sane ones -- and also bring a smile to our face. Schalow confirms -- by focusing on the statements by Busheviks about their actions during 9/11 and the factual admissions -- that these are dolts of the most extreme variety. Their plea to the man and woman on the street appears to be, "doesn't everyone have the right to be confused, disoriented, and unable to act?"

Basically, when you finish reading "Bullshit Artist," you want a real common man as president -- not the faux Karl Rove creation. We nominate Ron Schalow, author of "Bullshit Artist: The 9/11 Leadership Myth." Because when you apply common sense to what happened surrounding 9/11, the "common man myth" of George W. Bush turns into fairy dust. He's just a smirking fool whose family name was used to put him in a position of power several thousand of times beyond his ability.

And, as a result, every life in the United States has been put in jeopardy.


Saundra Hummer
May 4th, 2006, 04:17 PM

Jazz: Miles ahead

Trumpeter Eddie Henderson, coming to O.C. for a Miles Davis tribute, talks about his early meetings with the master.
Wednesday, May 3, 2006
The Orange County Register

Eddie Henderson has retreated to a back booth at the Catalina Jazz Club in Hollywood between sets and is chuckling at his teenage ignorance and audacity.

It seems that Miles Davis, whom Henderson knew primarily as a family friend, took the young classical trumpet student to one of his San Francisco gigs in the late 1950s.

"We were driving home afterward and I told him he didn't know how to play right," recalls Henderson, now 65. "I was more impressed with the saxophonists (Cannonball Adderley and John Coltrane)."

Miles' brittle, vulnerable tone, with its split notes, pitch bends and half-valving, was antithetical to what Henderson was learning at the San Francisco Conservancy. But it didn't take him long to wise up.

When he takes the stage Friday and Saturday at Founders Hall as part of "The Music of Miles Davis" tribute band, those on hand will hear the echoes of the soul and spirit Miles expressed through his unorthodox technique – and hear arguably the most appropriate trumpeter alive to represent Miles' legacy.

Henderson is best known for his work in the Mwandishi band of Miles alumni Herbie Hancock, an adventurous and groundbreaking unit that paralleled Miles' own electric experimentation during the same period of the early 1970s.

Henderson once performed Miles' own improvisations for him, but has also thoroughly digested the trumpeting of Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard and Woody Shaw.

The result is far more than an amalgam. Henderson's distinct artistry displays gorgeous tone and a soulful, fleet, broad-ranging approach that ranges from subtle and sly to spellbindingly intense.

"He's as good as it gets on trumpet," said guitarist John Scofield, with whom Henderson was playing at Catalina's last month when the Miles stories came spilling out.

Scofield, who played with Miles, is another link between the two trumpeters. But let's finish the story of that early meeting.

"He stopped the car in the middle of the street," Henderson says, explaining that Miles was driving the two back to Henderson's home when the teenager told the master he didn't play trumpet correctly. "He put his face this close to mine and just looked in my eyes."

Henderson demonstrates with an intense gaze, nearly touching noses with your humble interviewer.

"The light changed, red-green, red-green. Three or four times. We just sat there, him looking in my eyes. ... After that, I found out who he was."

Besides studying classical trumpet at the time, Henderson was busy playing basketball and ice skating – he was the first black to compete in the National Figure Skating Championships. And he was preparing for college – he would get a medical degree and for 11 years maintained a part-time general practice.

Nonetheless, he took the time to seriously investigate Miles' music. Nine months later, when Miles returned to San Francisco for a gig, he stopped by Henderson's house and the teenager replicated Miles' solos off "Sketches of Spain" and "Kind of Blue."

"He said, 'You sound good, but that's me,'" Henderson said.

By Miles' next visit to town, Henderson was not only finding his own style, but had discovered the influence trumpeter Freddie Webster had on Miles – a fact he confronted Miles with.

"He said, 'Everybody's a thief – I just took out a short-term loan.' ... Everyone's derivative of their predecessors. You can't escape your influences."

But you also shouldn't be trapped by them.

"The more dialects you learn, the more you can play," he said. "Jazz is about freedom, not limitation. It came about as rebellion against slavery. It's about freedom."

The sextet at the Founders Hall gig is a transgenerational affair, ranging from 31-year-old tenor saxist Wayne Escoffery to 77-year-old Jimmy Cobb, who worked with Miles and was the drummer on "Kind of Blue." Fortysomethings Steve Wilson, an alto saxist who played with Dave Holland and Chick Correa, and Dave Kikoski, on piano, will help ensure high-caliber creativity. Bassist Ed Howard rounds out the group, which focuses on Miles' '50s and '60s' repertoires.

"The tunes are so stylized, so Miles," Henderson said. "I'm flattered that I was even asked to do this."

Saundra Hummer
May 4th, 2006, 04:27 PM
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~




VIDEO: Rumsfeld Called Out On Lies About WMD


"Bullshit Artist: The 9/11 Leadership Myth" (Paperback, by Ron Schalow. Subtitled "America was under attack for 102 minutes and for 102 minutes the president did nothing: How George W. Bush turned his pathetic performance on 9/11 into political gold," this book certainly caught our attention.

Minimum Wage Discharge Petition: Contact your U.S. representative’s office today and ask whether he or she will fight to raise the minimum wage.

Cindy Sheehan: Pro-American = Anti-BushCo -
A BuzzFlash Guest Contribution

Why Kent State is important today; 36 years ago today, Ohio National Guardsmen shot 13 college students at Kent State University who were protesting US incursions into Cambodia as part of the Vietnam War. Nine students survived (one in a wheelchair forever) and four were killed.

Republicans Ignore Sky High Gas Prices While Big Oil Rakes in Record Profits

Mike Whitney: The Greenback's Long Downward Spiral - A BuzzFlash Reader Contribution

What Can We Do To Stop This Madness? BuzzFlash Readers ask this all the time. So, we put together this Perspectives article: What You Can Do.

More headlines on BuzzFlash . . .

Bush Lied, Soldiers Keep Dying.
2,409 U.S. Military Fatalities in Iraq (thru today)
17,469 U.S. Military Maimed in Iraq (Last DoD Update: 06-Apr-06)
38,861 Iraqis Reported Killed (thru today)

The BuzzFlash Mailbag

Barbara's Daily Buzz

Midterm War - Editorial Cartoon by Tony Peyser

White House Defies Judge's Order Regarding Who Abramoff Visited -- Verse-Case Scenario by Tony Peyser

For More Than 180 Headlines and Stories visit http://www.buzzflash.com.


Hostile Takeover: How Big Money and Corruption Conquered Our Government--and How We Take It Back (Hardcover)
by David Sirota

Read BuzzFlash.com's Review>>>


We got to know David Sirota when he was the communications person for the next United States Senator from the State of Vermont, Bernie Sanders. Sirota is the worst nightmare of the DNC: David looks at Washington and sees both parties as willing puppets of corporate greed. Of course, he sees the Republicans as worse than the Democrats, but it's a matter of degree.

* * *

Sirota's basic premise is that the American government has experienced a hostile takeover by large corporate entities. He offers plenty of proof for his thesis that we've gone from Lincoln's "government of the people, by the people and for the people" to Bush's "government of the rich, by the rich and for the rich."

* * *

Sirota offers us a vision of how our government has been hijacked by dollars -- and what we need to do to return our Constitutional democracy to the citizens of the United States.

SUBSCRIBE to the BuzzFlash Alerts!

Saundra Hummer
May 4th, 2006, 05:40 PM

Rumsfeld Heckled by Former CIA Analyst
Associated Press Writer
37 minutes ago

Protesters repeatedly interrupted Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld during a speech Thursday and one man, a former CIA analyst, accused him of lying about Iraq prewar intelligence in an unusually vociferous display of anti-war sentiment.

"Why did you lie to get us into a war that caused these kind of casualties and was not necessary?" asked Ray McGovern, the former analyst, during a question-and-answer session.

"I did not lie," shot back Rumsfeld, who waved off security guards ready to remove McGovern from the hall at the Southern Center for International Studies.

With Iraq war support remaining low, it is not unusual for top Bush administration officials to encounter protests and hostile questions. But the outbursts Rumsfeld confronted on Thursday seemed beyond the usual.

Three protesters were escorted away by security as each interrupted Rumsfeld's speech by jumping up and shouting anti-war messages. Throughout the speech, a fourth protester stood in the middle of the room with his back to Rumsfeld in silent protest. Officials reported no arrests.

Rumsfeld also faced tough questions from a woman identifying herself as Patricia Roberts of Lithonia, Ga., who said her son, 22-year-old Spc. Jamaal Addison, was killed in Iraq. Roberts said she is now raising her young grandson and asked whether the government could provide any help.

Rumsfeld referred her to a Web site listing aid organizations.

President Bush seldom faces such challenges. Demonstrators usually are kept far from him when he delivers public remarks.

Rumsfeld has been interrupted by anti-war demonstrators in congressional hearing rooms as he has delivered testimony to lawmakers in recent months, and at some speeches around the country.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has had direct confrontations overseas. These include demonstrators who called her a murderer and war criminal in Australia in March, and throngs of anti-war protesters who dogged her every move in northern England in April.

Demonstrators were kept far away from Rice during a visit last week to Greece, where riot police confronted a violent street mob that smashed shop windows in protest of U.S. policies and Rice's role in the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

More than half of Americans say the war in Iraq was not worth the cost financially or in loss of life, recent public polling has found. Just over one-third of those surveyed say they approve of Bush's handing of the war. Public sentiment about the war has been at those low levels since fall.

Just over one-third of the public says Rumsfeld is doing an excellent or pretty good job, according to polling in March, while six in 10 said fair or poor.

In the run-up to the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration repeatedly spoke of evidence that Saddam Hussein had acquired weapons of mass destruction. No such armaments have been found. Officials also spoke about connections between Saddam and al-Qaida that critics say remain unproven.

In recent weeks, at least a half dozen retired generals have called for Rumsfeld's resignation, saying he has ignored advice offered by military officers and made strategic errors in the Iraq war, including committing too few troops. But he has received strong backing by Bush, who repeatedly has indicated he will keep Rumsfeld at the Pentagon.

When security guards tried removing McGovern, the analyst, during his persistent questions of Rumsfeld, the defense secretary told them to let him stay. The two continued to spar.

"You're getting plenty of play," Rumsfeld told McGovern, who is an outspoken critic of the war in Iraq.

Responding to another protester who also accused Rumsfeld of lying, the secretary said such accusations are "so wrong, so unfair and so destructive."

At one point, Rumsfeld was praised by an audience member who said he had followed Rumsfeld's career and wondered what in his upbringing had shaped his positive outlook on life.

"I guess one thing I'd say is that my mom was a school teacher and my dad read history voraciously. And I guess I adopted some of those patterns of reading history," Rumsfeld replied.

Rumsfeld focused his speech on a U.S. need to increase its emphasis on more flexible partnerships with foreign militaries and rethinking of the role of long-established alliances like NATO.

He called such changes "necessary adjustments, based on the new realities and the new threats that have emerged since the end of the Cold War."

He also said, "We need ways to make sure we're better understood in the world than we are."

Rumsfeld also likened the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan to the Cold War.

"There is no question our country is facing difficulties in Iraq and difficulties in Afghanistan," he said

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/rumsfeld&printer=1;_ylt=Am_bOyuSGf3tW4ygmw.ARGOWwvIE;_ylu=X 3oDMTA3MXN1bHE0BHNlYwN0bWE-

Saundra Hummer
May 4th, 2006, 07:48 PM

"But to manipulate men, to propel them toward goals which you -- the social reformers -- see, but they may not, is to deny their human essence,
to treat them as objects without wills of their own, and therefore to degrade them.": Isaiah Berlin - (1909-1997) - Source: Two Concepts of Liberty, 1958


"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. To be your own man is hard business. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself." Rudyard Kipling - (1865-1936)


"Information is the currency of Democracy." "In matters of style, swim with the current, in matters of principle, stand like a rock" "If all the people knew all the facts, they would never make a mistake." "It is better for one hundred guilty men to go free than one innocent man to go to jail" "It is wrong to take a man's money and use it to promote ideas he does not agree with" "It's better to debate an issue without settling it, than to settle an issue without debate." "The end of democracy, and the defeat of the American Revolution will occur when government falls into the hands of the lending institutions and moneyed incorporations." : Thomas Jefferson

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Saundra Hummer
May 4th, 2006, 09:17 PM

Gouging? What gouging?

Will Durst


Sorry. Didn't mean to startle you. I'm just tired of talking to myself here. Worried about shredding my vocal cords shouting into a vacuum. Apparently some of you have been nodding off. And don't give me that “Who, me?” crap. You know who you are. Yes you. The ones who are waiting for the president to do something about this gas price thing. The ones who mistook that lame BS oozing out of his “gosh, gas prices are getting high, aren't they?” press conference as sincere. When are you going to get it through your tiny little heads? He's not here to help.

Let me go through this one more time. Stay with me. It's not that complicated. The president is a Texas oilman. His father is a Texas oilman. His vice president is an oilman who shoots Texas lawyers. All the rich people he knows, his father knows and Dick Cheney knows have 30 weight running through their veins. All the people who gave him money that put him in the White House are oilmen. Does this clear anything up? Maybe a little? His major priority is to pay them back in spades, then they tell him what a good job he's doing and give him more money .

So if you're waiting for him to grow a spine or learn to read or ever ever ever go so far as erecting a single solitary obstacle in the way of folks making obscene profits on fossil fuel, you'd best be advised not to hold your breath unless you enjoy that bluish look most often associated with people no longer eligible for social security benefits due to the fact that they've become altogether much too skinny and dead. Get it? Got it. Good.

The president says “there's no magic wands.” No kidding. Neither are there talking fish or fairy wings or giant toadstools upon which Donald Rumsfeld can perch naked eating flies with his bifurcated tongue. What's your point? Bush plans to investigate possible collusion or price fixing and the good news is, the report is already finished and it turns out everything is okey-dokey folks. Nope, everything's on the up and up, and George knows because his buddies assured him it is.

He also plans to relax environmental rules, which you could see coming like an 18 wheeler full of concrete blocks rolling off a 45 degree ramp straight up the driveway towards your front door. He wants to boost domestic supply, which is code for “Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, baby!” and he's delaying deposits into our strategic petroleum reserve, which might save a thimble's worth. Measures destined to be about as effective as cleats on a duck.

I've come up a few other things the president could do that would be as effective to cut gas prices.

o Run around in circles until he gets dizzy and falls down.

o Bang a walking stick on the ground real hard like Nanny McPhee.

o Get the entire House of Representatives to sing “Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog” in the key of off.

o Lay a wreath of 80 dollar gas receipts at the tomb of the unknown SUV driver.

o Shoot a 78 year old Texas lawyer in the face with a gun.

o Propose a bill that gives more tax incentives to oil companies.

o And the last thing the president can do that will be as effective as what he's doing now in cutting gas prices: mandate the oil companies change their accounting practices to base 12 so those profits don't sound so big. Writer, comic, actor, radio talk show host, ne'er do well, Will Durst wants green stamps with his fillups.

(c) 2006 WorkingForChange. All Rights Reserved

URL: http://www.workingforchange.com/article.cfm?ItemID=20749


Saundra Hummer
May 4th, 2006, 09:34 PM

Investigating the dead

Molly Ivins
Creators Syndicate

04.27.06 - AUSTIN, Texas -- It's nice to know that the investigative reporter Jack Anderson is still under investigation, although seriously dead.
Anderson died last year, and for 19 years before his death he suffered from Parkinson's disease and was increasingly less active as a reporter. Now that he's safely deceased, the Federal Bureau of Investigation wants to go through nearly 200 boxes of his files to see if there are any classified documents in there. If it's classified, they want it back -- even though Anderson was in the habit of printing anything he ever got that was of any interest.

This is apparently part of the Great Bush Reclassification Project, in which government information that has previously been declassified and offered for public consumption is now being reclassified as secret so nobody can find out about it. Those who saw government documents between declassification and reclassification are just going to have to forget what they saw. That, or some Man in Black will be sent around to zap your memory with a little thingamajig.

For some reason, the FBI thinks Jack Anderson, despite Parkinson's disease, had some papers involving two employees of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) who have been criminally charged with receiving classified information. That case is a crock in itself, and to use it to dig through Anderson's archived stuff is just ludicrous.

Among Anderson's targets of old was the Federal Bureau of Investigation itself -- gee, still worried he might have photos of J. Edgar Hoover in a dress after all these years?

Anderson was a hardworking investigative reporter. Among his scoops was exposing the CIA's plots to kill Fidel Castro and breaking details of the Iran-Contra affair. I always liked him because he was so un-Establishment, a Mormon with nine kids. Anderson never had time for the Washington dinner party circuit and never gave a damn about it.

Even some other journalists looked down on him -- he was never part of D.C.'s "cool" in-group. But the proof was in the work, and although he made a few memorable mistakes, he was consistently so far ahead of the pack he made his detractors look like the lazy snobs they were.

Anderson's son Kevin said family members are willing to go to jail rather than let Anderson's papers be confiscated. "It's my father's legacy," he told the New York Times. "The government has always, and continues to this day, to abuse the secrecy stamp. My father's view was that the public is the employer of these government employees and has the right to know what they're up to."

Meanwhile, the Bush administration is so hopelessly confounded by the problems of secrecy, it has now fired a CIA agent for allegedly leaking the truth concerning a gulag of "black site" prisons we keep in Eastern Europe (remember when only the Soviets did that?). And of course Bush claims he has the right to instantly declassify anything in order to back up a phony charge against a political opponent. How lovely.

I listened to that pompous self-righteous blowhard Bill Bennett saying the other day that several reporters who won Pulitzers this year should be in jail. I guess the responsibility of being the Virtue Czar has finally driven Bennett daffy. If he can't see that the problem is an administration that runs torture programs, gulags and illegal domestic spying programs, rather than reporters who find out about these programs and print the truth, then I say it's time for a new Virtue Czar.

Jack Anderson was right: The people in government work for us. What they do is our responsibility because they do it in our name and with our money -- that's why we have a right to know about it.

The other day I heard a young man say, "I have an issue with torture." Turns out he was offended by some scenes in a movie he'd been to. I have an issue with torture, too. I get upset when it's real and it's my country doing it. I guess I wouldn't make a good Virtue Czar.

(c) 2006 Creators Syndicate

URL: http://www.workingforchange.com/article.cfm?ItemID=20716

Saundra Hummer
May 4th, 2006, 09:36 PM

Ethics Shmethics

Molly Ivins
Creators Syndicate
05.02.06 - AUSTIN, Texas -- Either the so-called "lobby reform bill" is the contemptible, cheesy, shoddy piece of hypocrisy it appears to be ... or the Republicans have a sense of humor.

The "lobby reform" bill does show, one could argue, a sort of cheerful, defiant, flipping-the-bird-at-the-public attitude that could pass for humor. You have to admit that calling this an "ethics bill' requires brass bravura.

House Republicans returned last week from a two-week recess prepared to vote for "a relatively tepid ethics bill," as The Washington Post put it, because they said their constituents rarely mentioned the issue.

Forget all that talk back in January when Jack Abramoff was indicted. What restrictions on meals and gifts from lobbyists? More golfing trips! According to Rep. Nancy L. Johnson of Connecticut, former chair of the House ethic committee, passage of the bill will have no political consequences "because people are quite convinced that the rhetoric of reform is just political."

Where can they have gotten that idea? Rep. David Hobson, R-Ohio, told the Post, "We panicked, and we let the media get us panicked."

By George, here's the right way to think of it. The entire Congress lies stinking in open corruption, but they can't let the media panic them. They're actually proud of NOT cleaning it up.

The House bill passed a procedural vote last week 216 to 207, and it is scheduled for floor debate and a final vote on Wednesday -- which gives citizens who don't like being conned a chance to speak. Now is the time for a little hell-raising.

Chellie Pingree of Common Cause said, "This legislation is so weak it's embarrassing." Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21 and a longtime worker in reformist vineyards, said: "This bill is based on the premise that you can fool all of the people all of the time. This is an attempt at one of the greatest legislative scams that I have seen in 30 years of working on these issues."

Come on, people, get mad. You deserve to be treated with contempt if you let them get away with this.

I'm sorry that all these procedural votes seem so picayune, and I know the cost of gas and health insurance are more immediate worries. But it is precisely the corruption of Congress by big money that allows the oil and insurance industries to get away with these fantastic rip-offs.

Watching Washington be taken over by these little sleaze merchants is not only expensive and repulsive, it is destroying America, destroying any sense we ever had that we're a nation, not 298 million individuals cheating to get ahead.

I'm sorry these creeps in Congress have so little sense of what they're supposed to be about that they think it's fine to sneer at ethics. But they work for us. It's our job to keep them under control until we can replace them. Time to get up off our butts and take some responsibility here. Let them hear from you.

(c) 2006 Creators Syndicate

URL: http://www.workingforchange.com/article.cfm?ItemID=20737

Saundra Hummer
May 4th, 2006, 09:40 PM

Republicans wake a sleeping giant

Molly Ivins
Creators Syndicate

05.04.06 - AUSTIN, Texas -- Dec. 16, 2005, is a day that will live in infamy in the Hall of Fame of Unintended Republican Consequences.
A bunch of the guys were just noodling around in the House of Representatives in Washington, see, kind of fooling around with the idea that they might get some traction out of immigration as a hot-button issue. The old hot buttons have kind of cooled off here lately, with people up in arms about Iraq, oil, health insurance and all this other stuff that makes the boys say, "Who me?" Where's a good divisive social issue when you need one? They weren't that far wrong -- some variation on the race card usually works.

Trouble is, they played the card, tried to make every illegal worker in the country a felon and woke up the Sleeping Brown Giant, instead.

Who knew? Unions, organizers, community workers, priests and preachers, and Lord knows the Democrats have been trying to wake the Sleeping Giant for years. That it would happen someday was an article of faith when I first started watching Texas politics 40 years ago. Who knew all it would take was one softly played, very ugly, very nasty little piece of racial political pandering. And there was the Giant, out on the streets in the millions. For those who know the Latin emphasis on respect and dignity, maybe it's not such a surprise after all.

The Waking Giant clearly makes a good part of Anglo America uncomfortable -- I suppose if the R's really want to push racial division, it will work and we can commit some monumental folly like building a fence on the border. But as a founding member of the Anti-Hypocrisy on Border Issues Party, I'm ready to bet Republican money, which after all hires the illegal workers, has too much at stake to let their party go off on a racist toot. You can let the right-wing radio commentators bloviate all they want, to get the young jackboots all stirred up, but it's still Wal-Mart hiring these people. Believe me, their employers are big Republican donors.

The solution to this problem is so simple: Do the right thing. As that great economist "High" Hightower of Denison, Texas, said, "Everyone does better when everyone does better." We won't need a fence or even a border when Mexico is doing better.

It does not take great economic acumen to realize that Mexico was damaged by NAFTA, that the surge in immigration has been caused by our own selfish and stupid trade policies, which benefit few of us, also. And domestic policies, I might add. The conservatives have been preaching this “Me First” stuff as though life were a race to the finish and the only object is to pick up as much money as you can. It doesn't work -- not even if you wind up with a lot of toys. As another noted economist said, we are becoming a nation of private opulence and public squalor.

Look, we all do better when we all do better. You raise the minimum wage, it works for everyone.

Rabbi Michael Lerner ("The Left Hand of God: Taking Back Our Country from the Religious Right") is urging a 20- year commitment of 5 percent of GDP to end world poverty. The money would not be committed to governments, but to NGOs with solid records. And I say, why the hell not?

Is selfish and stupid working out so well for us? The progressive religious people will be meeting in Washington, D.C., on May 17-20 for a Spiritual Activism Conference. Naturally, being lefties, they pose no threat to separation of church and state. Amazing how easy it is to keep that clear just by thinking it through.

(c) 2006 Creators Syndicate

URL: http://www.workingforchange.com/article.cfm?ItemID=20750

Saundra Hummer
May 4th, 2006, 11:20 PM

Cut and Run? You Bet.

Lt. Gen. William E. Odom
Foreign Policy
May/June 2006 Issue
Why America must get out of Iraq now.Withdraw immediately or stay the present course? That is the key question about