Saturday, December 30, 2006

Wounded in Iraq

You read stuff like this and it almost hurts to bitch about the war's wounded, what a waste, etc. Guys like this, regardless how stupid the whole fandango is, has to live with this.

Bryan Anderson: here and here.

Can You Afford Vista

Well, it's awfully expensive. And it's actually a multiple times more expensive than that.

Rhetorical Question for Iraq

Inquiring minds want to know: Are you better off now than under Saddam?

Friday, December 29, 2006

Our Leaders: Making Us Safer; Today's Example

Placing sky marshals in first class.
A U.S. Airways passenger was charged with assaulting and slapping a Federal Air Marshal in the first class cabin....
Link. (Emphasis added.)

DHS really thinks that's the best possible place to post them? Terrorists tend to fly first class? Idea is to blast them through a bottleneck as they head to the cabin? And ignore whatever's happened in the back??

Given the breath-taking lack of intelligence evidenced by Our Leaders in all policy matters that don't involve greed and venality, odds are overwhelming that I'm right and DHS is wrong.

Today's Art


Draw Your Own Conclusion

One of DC's more prominent Wise Old Men -- outside the Beltway, we call them fools that clot the airwaves and newspapers -- George Will:
Baghdad is the problem and while we debate what to do in Baghdad, the Shiites are changing the facts on the ground in Baghdad through incremental—not at all stealthy—rather rapid ethnic cleansing. So we may get a monochrome Baghdad out of this which would be ahhh, sad, but perhaps tranquilizing.

This, for the young'uns and those who forget their history, is essentially the Nazis' rationalization for the Final Solution. Good to see that old school rightwing nuts still subscribe to their Nazi love.

The Iraqi fandango was completely unjustified and shits like Will still don't or refuse to get it. It was completely unjustified, is not justifiable, and will never be justified.

Fair! Balanced! We report, you decide!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Headline of the Day, Followed by a Rhetorical Question

Bush Praises Ford as ‘Man of Complete Integrity’
Really, how would Our Leader know? What does he know about integrity? Or to be less snarky, does he really have a basis for knowing whether or not Ford was a man of integrity or just a party hack?

Big Media's Greatest Hits 2006

Stuff they really wanted you to know, crap someone was worth spreading....

Something to Think About

Of course, Ike spent eight years saying and doing nothing about this but he at least brought it to the attention of the masses at the end....
....While the former general, Eisenhower, was well aware of the military threat posed by the Soviet Union, he chose in his farewell presidential address to the nation to warn that the war profiteers had an agenda of their own, one that was inimical to the survival of American democracy:

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

Ponder those words as you consider the predominant presence of former Halliburton CEO Dick Cheney in the councils of this White House, and how his old company has profiteered more than any other from the disaster that is Iraq. Despite having been found to have overcharged some $60 million to the U.S. military for fuel deliveries, the formerly bankrupt Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root continues to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in lucrative contracts.

There is more. Military spending has skyrocketed since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, returning to Cold War levels. A devastating report by the Center for Defense Information, founded by former top-ranking admirals and generals, reveals that in the most recent federal budget overall defense spending will rise to more than $550 billion. Compare that to the $20 billion that the United Nations and all of its agencies and funds spend each year on all of its programs to make this a safer and more livable world.

That U.S. military budget exceeds what the rest of the world’s nations combined spend on defense. Nor can it be justified as militarily necessary to counter terrorists, who used primitive $10 box cutters to commandeer civilian aircraft on 9/11. It only makes sense as a field of dreams for defense contractors and their allies in Washington who seized upon the 9/11 tragedy to invent a new Cold War. Imagine their panic at the end of the old one and their glee at this newfound opportunity.

Yes, some in those circles were also eager to exploit Iraq’s oil wealth, which does explain the abysmal indifference to the deteriorating situation in resource-poor Afghanistan, birthplace of the Sept. 11 plot, while our nation’s resources are squandered in occupying Iraq, which had nothing to do with it.

Yes, some, like Paul Wolfowitz, the genius who was the No. 2 in the U.S. Defense Department and has been rewarded for his leadership with appointment as head of the World Bank, did argue that Iraq’s oil revenue would pay for our imperial adventure. A recent study by Nobel Prize-wining economist Joseph E. Stiglitz and Harvard University’s Linda Bilmes marked that absurdity by estimating the true cost of the Iraq adventure to U.S taxpayers at a whopping $2.267 trillion, in excess of any cost borne by the Iraqis themselves.

The big prize here for Bush’s foreign policy is not the acquisition of natural resources or the enhancement of U.S. security, but rather the lining of the pockets of the defense contractors, the merchants of death who mine our treasury. But because the arms industry is coddled by political parties and the mass media, their antics go largely unnoticed. Our politicians and pundits argue endlessly about a couple of billion dollars that may be spent on improving education or ending poverty, but they casually waste that amount in a few days in Iraq.

As Eisenhower warned: “We should take nothing for granted, only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together. ... We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.”

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

So "The Greatest Generation" Comes Home from War and this is what They Promptly Do....

They declare "It's a Wonderful Life" communist propaganda.

Dunno the reasoning. In Bailey's nightmare, Potter is the nightmare of the uber-capitalist. In reality, Bailey is a balance to Potter for the benefit of the community. So the movie's not pro-Randian so, yeah, I guess it does make it commie propaganda. Unless the reason was excessive sappiness and sentimentality.

Wait, wait, here's the answer:
The FBI specifically detested the way Mr. Potter was portrayed:

The casting of Lionel Barrymore as a "scrooge-type" resulted in the loathsome Mr. Potter becoming the most hated person in the film. According to the official FBI report, "this was a common trick used by the communists."

"What's interesting in the FBI critique is that the Baileys were also bankers," said Noakes. " and what is really going on is a struggle between the big-city banker (Potter) and the small banker (the Baileys). Capra was clearly on side of small capitalism and the FBI was on the side of big capitalism.

The FBI misinterpreted this classic struggle as communist propaganda. I would argue that 'It's a Wonderful Life' is a poignant movie about the transition in the U.S. between small and big capitalism, with Jimmy Stewart personifying the last hope for a small town. It's a lot like the battle between Home Depot and the mom and pop hardware store." Source: Franklin and Marshall College and Delilah Boyd
The FBI memo is above, still censored after all these years; query who, albeit long-deceased, is being protected.

Anyway, 1947 was a weird year, first of a series....

Stuff You Should Know About

The Year's Most Underreported Stories

Siberia's permafrost is melting: Why is this an important story? Because Arctic permafrost, which in Siberia covers endless miles, contains massive amounts of methane. The melting soil releases the methane into the air, where it is now expected to massively and irrevocably accelerate global warming. It's a process that has already begun, but just. This massive climate bomb literally has the potential to end civilization. Its discovery should have not only been the year's top story, but an impetus for all humanity to unite in a common struggle for survival. Maybe in 2007. Or 2009, when someone who believes in science occupies the White House.

Massive Grass Roots Win on Net Neutrality: The telecommunications lobby, the most powerful in Washington, spent $200 million in the 109th Congress to ram through a communications "reform" bill that would have given giant providers preferential access to the Internet, fundamentally changing how media in the 21st Century will be used and crippling the Internet's remarkably democratic culture. The slam-dunk bill miraculously failed -- due to a massive grass roots lobbying campaign on an issue that got almost no corporate media coverage. Millions of American responded on an arcane issue publicized solely through New Media, marking as milestones not only the victory but how the victory was achieved. Activists need to claim more of their triumphs, and this was one of the biggest in memory.

It's hard to believe that the year's biggest story was also badly underreported, but most Americans really do have no idea how bad things have gotten in Iraq. The proper debate as of late December is not over whether to call what's happening a civil war, but whether to call it ethnic cleansing or genocide. The scale with which America's unprovoked, illegal invasion has ripped this country apart molecule by molecule is simply unimaginable to most Americans. And American media doesn't even try to report the big picture, focusing instead on the numbing drumbeat of daily death totals. The armed thugs and death squads now ruling Iraq are fully capable of driving America out of Iraq militarily in the next two years.

On the other hand, we might be driven out of Afghanistan very, very soon. As in Iraq, the puppet American-installed "government" is irrelevant and Washington has made endless boneheaded decisions that are adding up to the Taliban retaking the country, steadily, province by province, month by month. Unlike Iraq, few Americans realize we're also losing Afghanistan badly, and in some ways more quickly. If only Afghans had oil, they could at least make the news. Maybe.

There's other major crises afoot in the Middle East, too, and the U.S. has a hand in all of them: Israel's attacks on Palestine. Palestine itself now on the verge of civil war. Israel's attack on Lebanon. Lebanon itself now on the verge of civil war, too. The threat that Israel or the U.S. could attack Iran or Syria, or both. Saudi Arabia's threat to intervene on the side of the Sunnis in Iraq, while Iran supports the Shiites. Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States announcing plans to develop their own nuclear weapon program to counter Iran. What a mess. One name links all these stories: George W. Bush.

India, Pakistan, and nukes: India and Pakistan have hated each other for nearly 60 years. That's why in the late '90s they both exploded nuclear devices, which is why the Clinton administration slapped sanctions (later lifted by Dubya) on both. So what happened in 2006? Bush signs a massive deal to expand India's nuclear program, and continues to reward both Pakistan's Musharraf dictatorship and the Pakistani intelligence elements that developed Pakistan's nuclear program (and shopped it to North Korea, Iran, and Libya, among others) -- while at the same time undercutting the Musharraf regime, especially in the country's northwest, a Taliban and Al-Qaeda stronghold. Confusing, sure, but the upshot is that in turn this has increased the chances that, with an Islamist coup, Pakistan's nukes would fall into the hands of America's enemies. A real lose-lose, except for America's enemies. And at ground zero, the people of Pakistan and India, innocents in the crossfire of a conflict where we've rewarded the nuclear armament of both sides.

Say, where is Osama bin Laden, anyway?

We know who lost Iraq and Afghanistan. But who lost Russia ? In 1949 conservatives were asking this about China after the Soviet-allied Mao seized power, but in 2006 Vladimir Putin took countless additional steps to move what in the 20th Century was America's biggest rival for global power back to being an authoritarian state. In 1989, the Berlin Wall came down, nonviolent revolutions swept communist tyrants from power from Russia throughout the Soviet bloc, and it was all supposed to be better. And conservatives claimed that Reagan and America were responsible for this triumph of democracy. Who, then, is responsible for its failure? And more importantly, what does this mean for what is still the world's largest country and a major holder of oil and gas reserves?

Similarly, since when did torture, suspension of habeas corpus, and domestic warrantless spying become America's status quo? Since 2006, that's when. Three terrifying, textbook examples of how, in short progression, the unthinkable becomes the hotly debated becomes The Way We Do Things. As we enter 2007, all the elements for a fully "constitutional" dictatorship have quietly fallen into place. All it now takes is someone smarter or more ruthless than George Bush to exploit them.

Much of the so-called "Global War on Terror" is all about power and profiteering: Neocons wanted an empire abroad and expanded state power at home, sure. But wherever the U.S. military has gone in the last five years, which pretty much resembles a map of Planet Earth, privatization and lucrative contracts for well-connected companies have followed. Much of the logic of this so-called war is economic and intended to benefit only a very, very select few. While the threat posed by terror is real (especially in the wake of post-9-11 American policy), there are other far larger threats to the country's national security. Global warming, for one.

America's massive budget and foreign trade deficits, for another. Media has done little to enlighten us on just how badly the Bush regime has bankrupted our country's treasury for generations to come, and left our economy in the hands of foreign creditors like China and Japan. As 2006 closes, the housing bubble has burst, the flow of U.S. jobs overseas now resembles whitewater rapids, and the value of the dollar against foreign currency is plummeting. This is just the beginning. Thank the "terrorists" in the White House.

Amazingly, given how much it came up during the midterm elections, Republican corruption wasn't covered well at all in 2006. Media never followed the Abramoff scandal through to the dozens of lawmakers who traded his money for their votes. More broadly, there were almost daily stories of executive and legislative branch sleaze that never made waves beyond the Beltway and legislators' home constituencies. But cumulatively, they formed a damning indictment of how Washington does business. And almost no outlets covered the story as leaders of both parties buried attempts at meaningful post-Abramoff congressional ethics reforms in early 2006.

As with most labor news, The National Labor Relation Board's ruling disqualifying up to eight million Americans from union membership got almost no play. But this was no ordinary labor news; it was, by the AFL-CIO's reckoning, the worst government decision on labor in nearly 60 years. It was ignored anyway.

Even as the gap between the well-connected rich and everyone else continued to widen in 2006, class went back to being a forbidden word in corporate American media. A year after Katrina ripped away the thin veneer hiding race and class issues in America, and with Katrina's victims still being victimized by government agencies and insurance companies, with middle class jobs evaporating, privatization and government corruption endemic, health care and education costs still skyrocketing, class mobility in America decreasing, and levels of homelessness and hunger continuing to increase, the media veneer was firmly back in place. In America's increasingly vicious class war, one reason the wealthy are winning is corporate media's insistence (all evidence to the contrary) that no such war exists.

On the brighter side of that equation, though, the stranglehold of Big Money on American politics is ending. The 2006 elections showed that activist and especially Internet campaign fundraising can go dollar-for-dollar against corporate-friendly candidates. The technology is now in place to make it far easier for many little donations o match a few big special interest ones. It's no substitute for public financing of campaigns -- which would allow some of that money to be invested in meeting real needs instead -- but it's still a powerful democratizing force. As we enter 2007, we need all of those we can get.

Of course, I disagree with the name "global war on terrorr". It's a "Total War against Terror".

Headline of the Day -- And for the Rest of the Year

U.S. Deaths in Iraq Exceed 9-11 Count
And this is what's been making us safer. Not domestic security (although of course a little aggressive investigation likely would have prevented 9/11), not global coert ops performed in cooperation with allies and others.

There is no legitimate reason or even excuse for this war. It is and always will be unjustifiable.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Ho, Ho, Ho! Two Cartoons for Our Leader for Xmas

Get the picture, Mr. President? Obviously, the briefings don't get through to you, maybe pictures will.

Holiday Greetings


Sunday, December 24, 2006

Hall of Shamelessness

As I said just below, these people have no shame. Here's a 2000 litany of blame against the Clintonites with commentary about Our Leaders' successes fixing these problems:
The administration has run America’s defenses down over the decade through inadequate resources, promiscuous commitments, and the absence of a forward-looking military strategy. [As opposed to breaking the Army and Marine Corp, sending troops to war without adequate body armor and equipment, and only deciding to increase force levels five years into a global conflict.]

The arrogance, inconsistency, and unreliability of the administration’s diplomacy have undermined American alliances, alienated friends, and emboldened our adversaries. [My all-time favorite!]

World trade talks in Seattle that the current administration had sponsored collapsed in spectacular failure. [Doha anyone?] An initiative to establish free trade throughout the Americas has stalled because of this lack of Presidential leadership. [Ah, yes. Bush’s leadership on this issue really has made a difference — 6 years later and we’re not a step closer to a deal.]

The problems of Mexico have been ignored, as our indispensable neighbor to the south struggled with too little American help to deal with its formidable challenges. [Think the Mexicans feel they’ve gotten any help from Bush lately? After declaring the relationship with Mexico America’s most important on September 9, 2001, Bush has ignored our southern neighbors ever since.]

The tide of democracy in Latin America has begun to ebb with a sharp rise in corruption and narco-trafficking. [And since then, only America’s friends in Latin America have won elections… Not!]

With weak and wavering policies toward Russia, the administration has diverted its gaze from corruption at the top of the Russian government, the slaughter of thousands of innocent civilians in Chechnya, and the export of dangerous Russian technologies to Iran and elsewhere. [The biggest mistake wasn’t seeing Putin’s soul…]

A generation of American efforts to slow proliferation of weapons of mass destruction has unraveled as first India and Pakistan set off their nuclear bombs, then Iraq defied the international community. Token air strikes against Iraq could not long mask the collapse of an inspection regime that had — until then — at least kept an ambitious, murderous tyrant from acquiring additional nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. [North Korea? Iran? Oh, and what do we do when inspectors in Iraq return?]

Thank God George W. Bush is president!

Answer: No

Question: Have these people any shame?

Condi speaks:
"There have been plenty of markers that show that this is a country that is worth the investment, because once it emerges as a country that is a stabilizing factor, you will have a very different kind of Middle East."


Thinks in Iraq will inevitably get better. But an investment that's been worth it? For a couple of tax-dodging oil companies, probably. For the world: never.

And a democracy that will change the Middle East? Likliest: Never. Remote possibility: A sort of encouragement of fiefdoms.

A Return to the Good Old Days

A surge in troops... wasn't that the plan in Vietnam?

Straight Talk -- Well, Symbolism -- from Rudy Giuliani

Link. Rudy symbolically tells us that he is willing to take any position, as the wind blows, as it were, that he has no principals except getting elected. One might be reminded of Our Leader except Rudy is being straight about it -- in a roundabout way.

Image of the Day


Inquiring Minds Want to Know

Are Our Leaders really trying to spread democracy in the Middle East or just good old fascisim? Just asking....