Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Happy Holidays

May everyone have a peaceful and joyful Christmas, and a very merry New Year's! And if you celebrate other holidays at this time, may they also be peaceful, joyful and merry!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Obama's Torture Logic

Democrats like to claim that Obama 'ended torture'. The reality is of course just a bit different. All Obama did was to end some of the Bush era executive orders. Effectively, Obama returned to the Clinton policy. But, this is very, very different from 'ending torture'.

Before Bush, America tortured, just under some rather tortured logic. It meant that an American CIA officer would not attach the electrodes, would not ask the questions, and would not throw the switch that turned on the electricity that made the victim scream in agony. They would however work the people from other countries who did this, sometimes turning victims over to them via 'extraordinary rendition.'

Now we are starting to see news reports on what Obama's Torture Logic really looks like.

From the UK's Guardian, we get

CIA working with Palestinian security agents: US agency co-operating with Palestinian counterparts who allegedly torture Hamas supporters in West Bank

Palestinian security agents who have been detaining and allegedly torturing supporters of the Islamist organisation Hamas in the West Bank have been working closely with the CIA, the Guardian has learned.

Less than a year after Barack Obama signed an executive order that prohibited torture and provided for the lawful interrogation of detainees in US custody, evidence is emerging the CIA is co-operating with security agents whose continuing use of torture has been widely documented by human rights groups.
The most common complaint is that detainees are severely beaten and subjected to a torture known as shabeh, during which they are shackled and forced to assume painful positions for long periods. There have also been reports of sleep deprivation, and of large numbers of detainees being crammed into small cells to prevent rest. Instead of being brought before civilian courts, almost all the detainees enter a system of military justice under which they need not be brought before a court for six months.
Some of the mistreatment has been so severe that at least three detainees have died in custody this year. The most recent was Haitham Amr, a 33-year-old nurse and Hamas supporter from Hebron who died four days after he was detained by GI officials last June. Extensive bruising around his kidneys suggested he had been beaten to death. Among those who died in GI custody last year was Majid al-Barghuti, 42, an imam at a village near Ramallah.
Sa'id Abu-Ali, the PA's interior minister, accepted detainees had been tortured and some had died, but said such abuses had not been official policy and steps were being taken to prevent them. He said such abuses "happen in every country in the world". Abu-Ali sought initially to deny the CIA was "deeply involved" with the two Palestinian intelligence agencies responsible for the torture of Hamas sympathisers, but then conceded that links did exist. "There is a connection, but there is no supervision by the Americans," he said. "It is solely a Palestinian affair. But the Americans help us."

That last piece shows the semantics of Obama's Torture Logic. "Supervision" is a very precise word. And its unlikely that any country, state or even puppet government would willingly put its own intelligence officers and police under the direct supervision of agents of a foreign power. So, I believe the PA official when he says there "is no supervision". The CIA officer probably merely 'suggested' that the prisoner should be left hogtied for another day. And maybe the CIA officer only 'suggested' that maybe one more slightly more powerful blow to the kidneys might be what was needed to make the victim break. There was no "supervision". But there were "links", and "the Americans help us".

Amongst all these word games, we "helped" to beat a nurse to death this year. Ain't life just wonderful with Obama's Torture Logic?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Blackwater Guards Tied to Secret Raids by the C.I.A.

Blackwater Guards Tied to Secret Raids by the C.I.A. by James Risen and Mark Mazzetti (NYT) via VotersForPeace.

Private security guards from Blackwater Worldwide participated in some of the C.I.A.’s most sensitive activities — clandestine raids with agency officers against people suspected of being insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan and the transporting of detainees, according to former company employees and intelligence officials.

Lets stop and think about 'force' and who's had it and controlled it in the history of the United States.

Our Founding Fathers were very suspicious of force that could get out of control. They'd just lived under the King of England arbitrarily using mercenaries and conscripts against them. So, one of the cornerstones of our early democracies that they created was that the power of 'force' remained in the hands of the people.

Our early democracy did not have this plethora of local, state and federal police forces and their thousands upon thousands of officers. Instead, there was a local sheriff, usually an elected office, and maybe a very small handful of deputies. If the sheriff needed to use more 'force' than that, he called for citizen volunteers. Anyone who's seen an old western movie where a posse is formed knows how this worked.

For defense against foreign enemies, our founding fathers were very distrustful of 'standing armies'
In time of actual war, great discretionary powers are constantly given to the Executive Magistrate. Constant apprehension of War, has the same tendency to render the head too large for the body. A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence agst. foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.

* Speech, Constitutional Convention (1787-06-29), from Max Farrand's Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, vol. I [1] (1911), p. 465

Instead, they kept a very small number of regular army, really just enough to man some forts along the coasts and frontiers. When war came, when the government needed more 'force' than this, they called for volunteers.

When Lincoln called this a nation with a 'government of the people, by the people, and for the people', this is at least in part of what he referred to. In those days, when the government needed to use 'force', it relied upon volunteers from the people.

The effect of this was that government officials did not have 'force' available to them without the participation of the citizenry. Under the original system of democracy created here in America, there was tight control over whether the government could fight an unpopular war. The citizenry had the final say, as it would be very hard to fight a war that no one volunteered to fight.

This is a very different system than today where any mayor has thousands of armed police officers at their beck and call, and the President can order millions of paid soldiers who are sworn to obey his orders as commander in chief.

World War II was largely the dividing line. Lincoln had a draft and of course a huge army to fight the Civil War, but that was disbanded at the end of the war, and the nation largely returned to the original system afterwards. It was the end of World War II that marked the change to a permanent army numbering in the millions.

Maybe that was needed to fight the Soviets, although that threat was always massively exaggerated in the intelligence estimates. But, whether it was really needed or not, by the end of the Cold War in 1991, the concept of a huge permanent army had become a permanent feature on the American landscape.

A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty

But, at least that force was still at least nominally under popular control. Now we are moving to the next phase. Private armies. That's what's been built in this era of 'privatisation'. The US government has paid companies like Blackwater huge fees in the millions upon millions of dollars to build vast private armies. The bean counters in the government apparently think this is a good idea since we only hire the armies when we need them.

But the problem is this. Those private armies don't just disappear when the government isn't using them for missions. They'd be available of other missions. Maybe an oil company has a problem with protesters near an overseas oil field. Or, if things get really nasty, the private armies can start to act on their own. Maybe someday a mercenary company gets tired of those protesters near its facilities and turns loose its own CIA-used snatch and grab teams on them.

Not saying that this has happened yet. But the point is that we are taking another very dangerous step AWAY from the system and the protections that our Founding Fathers tried to erect to create a free nation. We've already gone from force being under the direct control of citizens to a system where force is under the relatively uncontrolled power of the state. Now we are seeing this force move from within the government, where there was at least some chance that the people might control it, off into private companies that are completely out of public control. And these private armies are being created with public tax money being paid out in contracts.

Paying public tax money to create private armies that are not under popular control is not right. In fact, it is a very dangerous thing to do. Having private armies around is never good for peace and stability.

If Madison considered a standing army under control of the government a threat to liberty, I wonder what he would think of a private standing army that's only under the control of its owner?

So, there are these guys that were trained and had the skills to go with the CIA on these raids. Wonder what they are doing today?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The very long war

On Obama's Peace Prize

The modern American "Peace" movement must surely get some sort of an award for being the most ineffectual movement in history. They represent the views of at least 60% of Americans who want these wars to end, but they can not manage to pull off anything with the slightest impact on the wars.

Its their latest effort that has me shaking my head. They just wrote a 'open letter' to the Noble Peace Prize committee. Ok, some obvious points to be made there, as our wonderful man of peace has just escalated the war in Afghanistan by yet another 30,000 troops.

So, what do these wonderful leaders of our peace movement ask for in this letter? What dramatic step forward for mankind and the peace of the world are they calling for?

We assume that the Nobel Committee chose to award President Obama the peace prize in full awareness of the vision offered by Dr. King’s acceptance speech. We also understand that the Nobel committee may now regret that decision in light of recent developments, as we believe that the committee should be reluctant to present an Orwellian message equating peace with war. When introducing the President, the Committee should, at the very least, exhibit a level of compassion and humility by drawing attention to this distressing ambiguity.

That's it?

First, its so badly written, that what they actually ask for, which is merely for the President's introduction mention the fact that he's a warmonger creating more wars in the world, is hard to even find until you read it several times. And this is all buried down in paragraph number five of this 'open letter'. This is obviously what comes out when you assign a committee to write a statement.

And that's all they want? Heck, that's not worth the paper the letter's written on. They killed a tree to say this? Couldn't they at least ask that the committee actually withdraw the prize?

The American peace movement. Doesn't have the power to accomplish anything. Doesn't even have the guts to ask for anything. Useless.

We need to build our own peace movement from the ground up. Don't wait on leaders. Don't wait on organizations. Build it yourself in your neighborhood.

Because, if we have to wait on this bunch of 'antiwar leaders' to bring peace to the US, we are going to have a very, very, very long war.

Banks for the People

Chavez's Lines: December 6, 11 years later
Ever wonder why Chavez is so hated by the elites in the US? Its not because he's a 'dictator'. A strange dictator that's constantly having elections. No, its because he says things like this. Dangerous things. So dangerous that the citizens of the US are to be protected from such thoughts, here in this great land of freedom.

A good rule to follow is to always read the people they don't want you to read, and listen to the people they don't want you to hear. When someone is criticized and attacked, usually its a good idea to go find out why. Of course, you might find out they are a total idiot, but you should at least go check for yourself.

In this case, you might find out that its possible that a government might put white-collar bandits in jail rather than protecting them.

Banks for the people!

It is necessary to insist on the profound difference between the logic of the revolutionary state we are creating - which makes people a priority - and the logic of the bourgeois state.

Within the logic of the bourgeois state, capital pays and it receives: the only important thing is the permanent strengthening of capital to support an economic structure that not only ensures the abusive privileges of a few, but is designed for the reproduction of a model of society based on inequality and the exclusion of the majority.

Let's recall, when the financial crisis rocked the United States, we saw how the state power came to the aid of the corrupt bankers, forgetting the depositors.

Venezuela has seized control of seven banks and in our case, without any ambiguity, the idea is to protect depositors and guarantee their savings. In this particular case, we are talking about 713,200 depositors who trusted in these seven banks. In addition, we decided to include two of these banks in the public financial system in order to strengthen and broaden the support to low-income sectors.

What a difference! Over there, bankers are protected so they can continue with their sneaky tricks. Here, white-collar bandits go to jail.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Where is boom?

Remember, Bullwinkle says

"Turn off your TV, and vote for whoever you want!"

-- from the Rocky and Bullwinkle movie.  

Thursday, November 19, 2009

From the Cradle

From the Cradle by Widespread Panic and William Tonks

Listening to music and ignoring the world today. :)

From The Cradle

Black hole, paradise found
something so dark and something so bright
Blue skies over our head
Why the hell is everything turning out gray?

All things are not what they seem
The man behind the curtain is probably mean

Deep six keeps the population down
Broke and soaking wet, floating around
Keep your head down, keep your voice down
Ohh listen to the sound
All the races, all the faces
Just might find a winner lying on the ground

Learn to take it, meditate it
Can’t fake it now
From the cradle you’ve been labeled
About as stable as a drunk on shaky ground

Blind luck stumbling into a tree
Would’ve passed by if I could have seen
Got no cares I never felt pressed
I wonder what they’re getting for a pound of flesh?
Hunker down now throwing a shoe
Dogs new tricks Something they can’t use

Deep six keeps the population down
Broke and soaking wet, floating around
Keep your head down keep your voice down
Ohh listen to the sound
All the faces, you can't shake 'em now now
Just might find a winner lying on the ground

Learn to take it, try to shake it
All the faces, you can't shake 'em now now
From the cradle you’ve been labeled
About as stable as a drunk on shaky ground

Goodpeople by Widespread Panic

We are the good people
The ones they told you about
The ones that disappeared
Behind the calling of the sun
Like footprints to the sea
They dance upon the rising storm
Ten thousand voices singing
Hardly thrills our soul

Louder and louder
Hear the engines roar
Faster and faster
Fables overturned
Tighter and tighter
Oh the lightning flash
Closer and closer
Here are your waters so drink and be whole again

Machines that make their rounds
Don't care if they ever see the dawn
It'll be peaceful flowing rivers
After the winter's come and gone
Some are weak and wounded
Others sick and sore
Old woman at the well
Dropping roses from planted thorns

Louder and louder
Hear the engines roar
Faster and faster
Fables overturned
Tighter and tighter
Oh the lightning flash
Closer and closer
Here are your waters so drink and be whole again

We are the good people
The ones they told you about
One kiss of mother nature
Her spirit waits in light

Louder and louder
Hear the engines roar
Faster and faster
Fables overturned
Tighter and tighter
Oh the lightning flash
Closer and closer
Here are your waters so drink
Here are your waters so drink and be whole again
Be whole again

Both songs widely available for free on the internet since Panic allows its fans to record its shows and pass them around for free. Bt.etree.org is a good place if you know how to use bit torrent. Otherwise, I'm sure google will help find them.

Friday, November 13, 2009


[i-mur-juhn-see] noun, plural -cies, adjective
1. a sudden, urgent, usually unexpected occurrence or occasion requiring immediate action.
2. a state, esp. of need for help or relief, created by some unexpected event: a weather emergency; a financial emergency.
3. granted, used, or for use in an emergency: an emergency leave; emergency lights.
-- http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/emergency

Notice the definition is in terms of words such as 'sudden', 'urgent', and 'unexpected'.

U.S. alleges company laundered money for Iran from CNN.

In another U.S.-Iran development, President Obama said Thursday in a letter to Congress that the national emergency with respect to Iran that was declared in 1979 during the Iranian revolution has not ended.

"Our relations with Iran have not yet returned to normal, and the process of implementing the January 19, 1981, agreements with Iran is still under way," Obama wrote in an official "notice of continuation" required to extend the emergency status with Iran beyond the anniversary date of November 14. "For these reasons, I have determined that it is necessary to continue the national emergency declared on November 14, 1979, with respect to Iran, beyond November 14, 2009."

Now, given the definition of the word 'emergency', how on earth can a 'state of emergency' last for 30 years? Orwell would probably be inspired to write a new chapter of Animal Farm where the pigs declare a 30 year state of 'emergency'. Of course, this is the same government that continues to fund 8 year old wars as if they were 'unexpected' in 'emergency supplemental' funding bills.

Notice also that the US government defines 'normal' in its relations with Iran as when the Shah of Iran was our murdering and torturing puppet. Apparently, we must be in a state of emergency with Iran until we 'return' to those wonderful good ol' days when we trained the Shah's men in the CIA way of torture. When the CIA is back in Tehran, the 'emergency' will be over.

Remember back when Obama was just a candidate in the primaries, and that in order to win he needed progressive votes, and he kept promising that things would 'change' and he would follow a different course? Maybe one where we actually talked with the Iranian government as adults?? Instead, he tries to overthrow their government with a coup, and now continues the ridiculous notion of a thirty year long 'sudden' and 'unexpected' state with Iran.

BTW, this is at the tail end of a CNN piece on another story. One of the ways they try to hide embarrassing announcements. The main story is also interesting. The US government is seizing 4 American mosques and a skyscraper in NYC. It seems the Shah used to own the skyscraper, so it passed on to the Iranian state. Who then gave it to a foundation they set up so that the rents earned by the skyscraper could fund the college educations of Iranians who wish to study abroad. Obviously a communist plot. Oops, they aren't communist plots anymore, now they are 'terrorist' plots.

Their crime. Not one steamy allegation of the foundation supporting terrorism in the piece. I guess the crew that makes these things up from whole cloth had a day off. Instead, the charge is that they've done business with the Iranian state-owned bank. Not a surprise at all if the foundation is giving money to students in Iran to come to university here. I suspect they would put money into the family accounts at this state-owned bank. But ...

U.S. and European Union officials last year designated Bank Melli as a proliferator for supporting Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs and funneling money to the Revolutionary Guard and Quds Force, considered terrorist groups by the United States.

Lets see. 'Funneling money'? Isn't that what a bank is supposed to do? So, I guess what the administration bought by Wall Street is really saying is that its illegal for Iran to have a bank. Goldman Sachs needs their business.

And, everyone from the experts at the IAEA to the experts at the CIA keep saying that Iran does not have an illegal nuclear program. But, this bank is still accused by the US of 'funneling money' to it. Which I suppose really means that both the Iranian Treasury and this Iranian government agency both have counts at the state-owned Iranian bank. What a shock! What horrible crimes this bank has committed! And of course, by extension, what great crimes this foundation in America has committed by also committed by daring to do business with the same bank!

Or, to put it into Chicago terms, this would be about the same as the feds seizing a church because it happens to use the same bank for its accounts as Al Capone. Even if its Al Capone's bank, does that make a church nefarious gangsters if they open a checking account there?

My real guess is this. Somebody wanted the Shah's old skyscraper, and all of this was an excuse to go grab it. Manhattan real estate is still valuable. Remember, when the Nazi Germans stole the property and money of the jews, they dressed it up by calling the jews 'terrorists'.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

How low can they go?


And yet in the now-Democratic Congress seven years later, with deficits exploding and the government clearly needing to strengthen any and all incentives for corporations to pay their taxes, I was more than disheartened to read this story in the Hill newspaper this week:

[] Multinational corporations are fighting to preserve language in a spending bill that would weaken a ban on federal contracts.

The provision, inserted in the Senate version of the bill at the request of the Obama administration, would weaken a ban on federal contracts for inverted companies...

Before the ban began in 2002, four of the 100 largest federal contractors were inverted, according to a Government Accountability Office report.

In 2001, those four companies received $2.7 billion in federal contracts, but they have unable to win the contracts since the ban was put into place. []

The Obama administration is justifying its push on the grounds that the ban may - at some point in the undetermined future - conflict with our trade agreements. It's a charge North Dakota Sen. Byron Dorgan (D) rightly calls "absurd."

Is there nothing that these Democrats won't do to sell us out to corporate America. Think about this for a second. This is a Congress that is deliberately voting to reduce tax revenue in the middle of a recession by giving favors to corporate America.

I don't suppose they'd let every American citizen move their official residence to the Bahamas in order to reduce our taxes. Naw, didn't think so. You have to be able to bribe Congress with millions of dollars to get such preferential treatment.

Why on earth did the people elect these crooks? And, sure the people won't vote to re-elect a Congress that lets corporations move revenue and jobs out of America?

180,000 Dead American Citizens

Failing the People on Health Care by Ralph Nader.

The House of Representatives debate on the health insurance "reform" is over with the Democrats failing the people and the Republicans disgracing themselves as having left their minds back in the third grade (with apologies to third graders).

House Democrats were determined to pass any bill with a nice sounding name, such as "The Affordable Health Care for America Act". Single payer, full Medicare for all was never on the table even though a majority of citizens, physicians and nurses support that far more efficient, free choice of health care professionals, system.

and ....

The Journal of Public Health has just published a peer-reviewed study by Harvard physicians-researchers that estimates 45,000 Americans lose their lives yearly because they cannot afford health insurance to receive diagnosis and treatment. Strange how cool the House is to giving these fatalities a four year pass.

3,000 Americans died on 9-11. In response, we went to war. We've spent hundreds of billions of dollars seeking retribution. But also with the goal to make sure we don't lose another 3,000 Americans in a terrorist attack.

But, the Democrats just said that its perfectly okay with them if 180,000 Americans die from lack of health care. That's just in the time between now and when this awful 'bailout with a blue cross' bill takes effect. Since the bill does not 'mandate' that all Americans have access to health care, more will continue to die after 2013.

The Democrats just clearly stated to the American citizens that they approve the deaths of 180,000 Americans, that's 60,000 TIMES the number who died on 9-11, as long as corporate profits are maintained.

180,000 dead Americans in order to protect corporate profits. That's today's 'new Democrats'. 180,000 dead Americans in order to protect corporate profits. Whenever you see a (D) after a candidates name, that's what you need to think about. 180,000 dead Americans in order to protect corporate profits.

How on earth could American voters elect a Congress that is willing to kill 180,000 American citizens in order to protect the profits of their corporate contributors?

And the really strange part is that the Democrats seem confident that American voters will re-elect a Congress that just voted to kill 180,000 dead Americans in order to protect corporate profits. Surely they aren't right? Don't ask the corporate media that question. Ask yourself that question. As a voter and as someone who can participate in political campaigns, are you going to re-elect a Congress that just voted to kill 180,000 Americans to protect corporate profits?

Its up to you.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Revising History -- Veterans' Day

Veterans' Day was originally the world's response to the horrible mass murder of World War 1. The armistice that ended that awful and pointless conflict was signed on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month ... November 11th. Marked in the US as 'Veterans' Day'.

The Veterans' Day does not exist so that we can all cheer on the military as it leads further and further into more and more war. Veterans' Day exists as a reminder that if you let the generals make the decisions, then they can kill 60,000 in a day. Just like at the Somme where they kept ordering line after line of troops up towards the machine guns. The British command was full of the philosophical predecessors of Gen. McCrystal who thought that "more troops" was always the answer. Line after line of them sent towards the machine guns. And not just for a day, but for day after day for an entire summer. This effort moved the German line back a meaningless 7 miles, but never achieved the breakthrough that the generals kept saying was only one more 'surge' away. 432,000 British soldiers were killed or wounded in those months. "More troops" was not the answer.

Veterans' Day is the cry of the world to end this madness.

The answer to the question

The title of the AfterDowningStreet article below asks a question. "Who said they'd vote no on a health care bill this bad?" Fifty seven Democrats had made that promise in July. The answer is that two were good to their word. Kucinich and Massa.

The bill passed by 5 votes.

What does this tell you? That these 57 members would have had enormous power if they had stuck together and stuck to their guns.

We've seen the blue dogs play this game. We will likely see the minority Republicans in the Senate do so soon. Sometimes, a minority too small to pass legislation can still have great power just by saying no.

The Democrats desperately needed the votes of these 57 Representatives to pass their 'Bailout under a Blue Cross'. The question is, why didn't these 57 use the power that this position gave them in order to demand a decent bill?

These 57 had a veto power over the whole dang thing. Why didn't they use this power? If even three others had joined Kucinich, then they had the power to kill this bill. Why didn't they use this power?

Its a very old game in Washington. And as such, everyone knows what the next step would be. The Democratic leaders would come to this caucus and said 'what do you want?' If this group had really wanted to get some progressive (ie, decent, moral, caring) features into this bill, they had the power to do so by saying no. Why didn't they?

Instead, they lined up and voted for the big health corporations. All us suckers got was a nice sounding statement from Kucinich. Isn't that all we ever get from the Democrats? Nice words? I liked the words. I framed them and put them up on my little virtual wall here. But nice words is all we got.

The next obvious question to ask is this, "Why do we keep electing Democrats?"

A Bailout Under a Blue Cross

Who Said They'd Vote No on a Healthcare Bill This Bad in July, And Who Lied from AfterDowningStreet.org

Kucinich: Why I Voted NO

Washington D.C. (November 7, 2009) – After voting against H.R. 3962 - Affordable Health Care for America Act, Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today made the following statement:

“We have been led to believe that we must make our health care choices only within the current structure of a predatory, for-profit insurance system which makes money not providing health care. We cannot fault the insurance companies for being what they are. But we can fault legislation in which the government incentivizes the perpetuation, indeed the strengthening, of the for-profit health insurance industry, the very source of the problem. When health insurance companies deny care or raise premiums, co-pays and deductibles they are simply trying to make a profit. That is our system.

“Clearly, the insurance companies are the problem, not the solution. They are driving up the cost of health care. Because their massive bureaucracy avoids paying bills so effectively, they force hospitals and doctors to hire their own bureaucracy to fight the insurance companies to avoid getting stuck with an unfair share of the bills. The result is that since 1970, the number of physicians has increased by less than 200% while the number of administrators has increased by 3000%. It is no wonder that 31 cents of every health care dollar goes to administrative costs, not toward providing care. Even those with insurance are at risk. The single biggest cause of bankruptcies in the U.S. is health insurance policies that do not cover you when you get sick.

“But instead of working toward the elimination of for-profit insurance, H.R. 3962 would put the government in the role of accelerating the privatization of health care. In H.R. 3962, the government is requiring at least 21 million Americans to buy private health insurance from the very industry that causes costs to be so high, which will result in at least $70 billion in new annual revenue, much of which is coming from taxpayers. This inevitably will lead to even more costs, more subsidies, and higher profits for insurance companies — a bailout under a blue cross.

“By incurring only a new requirement to cover pre-existing conditions, a weakened public option, and a few other important but limited concessions, the health insurance companies are getting quite a deal. The Center for American Progress’ blog, Think Progress, states “since the President signaled that he is backing away from the public option, health insurance stocks have been on the rise.” Similarly, healthcare stocks rallied when Senator Max Baucus introduced a bill without a public option. Bloomberg reports that Curtis Lane, a prominent health industry investor, predicted a few weeks ago that “money will start flowing in again” to health insurance stocks after passage of the legislation. Investors.com last month reported that pharmacy benefit managers share prices are hitting all-time highs, with the only industry worry that the Administration would reverse its decision not to negotiate Medicare Part D drug prices, leaving in place a Bush Administration policy.

I like Kucinich. I just wish he'd leave that awful party.

The last line is telling. Yet again, the Democrats leave 'in place a Bush Administration policy'. Isn't it obvious that this is the function of today's corporate-owned Democrats? When the Republican brand crashes and burns from giving too much to corporations, the Democrats take power and protect and defend those policies from change.

From war to wall street, from homeland security to health care, from domestic spying to defense budgets, what we've seen repeatedly from the Democrats is that they are protecting Bush policies. And expanding them where possible.

This is what you get when you vote Democrat. I like Kucinich. But he's a black sheep in his party. His party leaders, the ones who are passing this paen to the big health corporations, tried to kick Kucinich out of Congress last year by running a pro-corporation primary challenger against him.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Civil Resistance

"The function of a civil resistance is to provoke response and we will continue to provoke until they respond or change the law. They are not in control; we are."

-- from the movie "Ghandi"

Obama Backs Extending Patriot Act Spy Provisions

Obama Backs Extending Patriot Act Spy Provisions by David Kravetz found at Wired.com

The Obama administration has told Congress it supports renewing three provisions of the Patriot Act due to expire at year’s end, measures making it easier for the government to spy within the United States.

In a letter to Sen. Patrick Leahy, the Vermont Democrat and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Justice Department said the administration might consider “modifications” to the act in order to protect civil liberties.

“The administration is willing to consider such ideas, provided that they do not undermine the effectiveness of these important authorities,” Ronald Weich, assistant attorney general, wrote to Leahy, (.pdf) whose committee is expected to consider renewing the three expiring Patriot Act provisions next week. The government disclosed the letter Tuesday.

It should come as no surprise that President Barack Obama supports renewing the provisions, which were part of the Patriot Act approved six weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

As an Illinois senator in 2008, he voted to allow the warrantless monitoring of Americans’ electronic communications if they are communicating overseas with somebody the government believes is linked to terrorism. That legislative package, which President George W. Bush signed, also immunized the nation’s telecommunication companies from lawsuits charging them with being complicit with the Bush administration’s warrantless, wiretapping program. That program was also adopted in the wake of Sept. 11.

Fascinating that the 'effectiveness' of the authorities is given top priority. The rights and liberties for which our predecessors fought and died, the very things that once made America a special place, these are now only allowed us provided it doesn't conflict with what the authorities view as 'effective'. This is a clear statement of policy from the Obama administration.

Wow, I'm so happy everything is changing under Obama's imperial rule. The only difference is that the pro-Democrat part of the left now openly and clearly supports tyranny.


In India, in the 1930's, Mahatma Ghandi was building his campaign of non-violent resistance against British colonial rule. The British rulers passed laws to oppose and prevent this. The great British democracy called these "Anti-Terrorism" laws.

When the British government did finally decide to invite peaceful Ghandi to a conference in London to discuss the possible independence of India, first it had to release him from prison.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Don't worry, We've got your back!


BTW, the Obama Administration WON this case. It was Obama's Justice Dept. that was standing before the court and making the case that it was perfectly okay for the US government to illegally arrest, torture, and submit to rendition an innocent person.

Go, Obama, Go. They say Obama taught constitutional law. But did anyone ask which constitution? Or, was the class entitled "101 ways you can shred and ignore the US constitution and get away with it"?

There's the Obama Administration, once again proclaiming to the crooks of the Bush era "Don't worry, we've got your back!"

This is the Obama Administration's idea of 'ending torture'. They are standing before the federal courts defending and protecting the torturers. I guess we should all give thanks they weren't in charge at the time of the Nuremberg trials. The Obama Justice Dept would have been defending Goring.

I don't guess its likely that the Democrats might look at these election results (see below) and maybe get the idea that this is not what the people elected them to go do? Naw, didn't think so.

Crashing and Burning

Democrats Crash and Burn by Dave Lindorff via counterpunch.org

The Democrats obviously knew this was coming, as they had their spin machine out in advance with messages like 2009 Elections Don’t Foretell a Thing. But here's Lindorff on the night's results...

But despite the lackluster candidates in both Virginia and New Jersey, I think it’s safe to say that there was also clear evidence that the losses, and the margins of the losses—huge in Virginia’s case, and significant in normally safely Democratic New Jersey—provide evidence that the Obama presidency, and the prevailing Democratic strategy of minimalist legislative initiatives on health care reform, global warming etc., expanded and unending war in Afghanistan, support for Wall Street and neglect of the one-in-five Americans who are unemployed or underemployed, are a political disaster in the making for Democrats in general and Obama in particular.

Its beyond me how anyone could think that screwing over and ignoring the desires of a vast majority of Americans, and instead just blatantly serving their corporate masters every wish was in any way a viable long term strategy for the Democrats. If there was ever a strategy pre-destined to crash and burn, that was it. When you phrase it as the Democratic strategy of "lets ignore and piss off 70% of the electorate in order to make Wall Street rich(er)", it seems to have a rather obvious flaw. It only works as long as you can keep pulling the same trick of fooling the electorate into believing you are something that you are not. Like any confidence scheme, its bound to collapse sooner or later.

See post below for how to use this to our advantage......

Begin Today

On some recent corporate TV show, a character made the comment that Washington is the 'ultimate you-don't-get-something-for-nothing town'.

How very true.

Yet, for most of my lifetime, the progressives, the left, or whatever you want to call the majority of Americans who are to the left of Obama, have acted like Washington just hands out favors like candy to kids. The left has acted like all they needed to do was to make a little noise, then Washington would come running to them with the goody basket and start handing out treats.

You don't get anything in this country without political power. Period. I'll repeat it just to make sure it gets through. You don't get anything in this country without political power.

The left has consistently conceded political power to others. The left has consistently given its votes away for free to Democrats who don't support any of the views, issues or policies of the left. The hasn't even tried to cut deals to try to get anything concrete in return for those votes. Instead, the left has just lined up and voted for the candidate with a (D) after their name. Then the left sits back and waits for the Democrats to come around with the goody bag.

The really strange part is that even though the goody bag never shows up, the left keeps repeating this behavior election after election. Even children would become skeptical of the Santa Claus myth if there weren't ever any presents. But the left seems to continue to believe the myth that the Democrats are progressives year after year.

The left needs political power. It needs to develop and build political power. The current powerlessness of the left stems directly from its inability or unwillingness to build real political power.

To have political power, that means a group is a 'player' in elections. To be a 'player', you have to have the ability to effect the outcome of the election. If what you are doing has no impact on the winner of the election, you have no political power. And those who trade in political power will ignore you. Just like the left is ignored in Washington today.

But, lets just imagine that the left organized strong, independent campaigns in a selection of the closest House and Senate races in 2010. When those campaigns threaten to pull enough votes away from the Democrats that the Democrats become in danger of losing those elections, that means that progressives are effecting the results of the elections. That means that progressives have political power. That's the day the left becomes a 'player'.

When the Democrats are looking at races across the board that are losing because of strong independent campaigns to the left of them, then the Democrats will come to us and ask 'what do we want?' That's the day we have political power. That's the day we can accomplish at least some of our goals. For instance, if we really want to end these wars, that's the day they will end.

We now know that electing Democrats will not make a difference. We now know that electing Democrats does not lead to 'change'. The wars continue. The domestic spying continues. The torture continues, albeit in a slightly altered form. The wars continue. This is after electing a Democrat President, a decent sized Democrat majority in the House, and a huge Democrat majority in the Senate that has been at times filibuster-proof.

With the Democrats holding all of that power, the left has gotten nothing. Nothing at all. Not one single major leftist issue or goal has even been addressed. There is not even an 'anti-war' voice amongst the Democrat leaders. 'Health care reform' has been revealed as the Democrats putting health insurance company profits ahead of the health of our citizens. So far, after electing all those Democrats, the left has gotten nothing, nada, zilch. The Democrats rarely even bother to make any symbolic gestures to the left.

This is because the left has no political power. This is because the left has abandoned and just plain given away its political power. Yet, it is easy to pick it up again. The majority of Americans hold views to the left of Obama and the Democrats. We are the majority. We need to start acting like it. And most of all, we need to organize.

We have to become both active and independent in politics. Sitting on the political sideline is the one strategy that is sure to continue to keep the left powerless. Backing pro-war, pro-corporate Democrats who don't support our views has been proven to be completely useless.

The 2010 elections are one year away. We need to be organizing strong, independent campaigns to challenge the Democrats. We need to target the Democrats who are in the closest races. Those are the races where we can garner the most political power. A 'safe-states' style of strategy has been proven to be an ineffectual strategy. We have to get into the middle of the closest races, because this is where we'll find political power.

When the Democrats are starting to look at close races in 2010, or at races that appear to be sure losers because of growing independent campaigns, that's when the Democrats will come to us and ask us 'what do you want?' That's the day we have political power. That's the day we start to be able to change the course of this country.

The sorts of grassroots campaigns we need take time to build and develop. The time to begin is now.

And, what if we've can't build all of this in time for 2010? Well, then we've started on our work for 2012. In fact, we need to get into the mode of thinking of ourselves as a political movement that is a force in every election cycle. The work we do now building campaigns for 2010 should roll over easily into 2012.

For 2012, there's a very simple slogan.


If we are strongly organized around independent peace candidates, if we are strongly organized around candidates that support "National Health Insurance", then we'll send a shiver of fear up the Democratic spines. And that's the day we start to get what we want.

That's the day we start to build the America that matches our vision of how great this country can really be as a peaceful and free nation.


Right now there are millions of disillusioned people out there. People who voted for Obama, but are now disappointed with what he's really turned out to be. These people need to organize. They need to realize that they control the fate of the Democrats. They need to realize that they literally have the Democrats 'by the short hairs', and that its time for them to start demanding what they want.

This is the perfect time to do this. Right now. We need to start organizing. We need to build political power. Organizing disillusioned Democrats into independent campaigns in the closest House and Senate races in 2010 is the way to build that political power.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Israel gets what it wants from Obama

Netanyahu Scores Victory as US Abandons All Settlement Demands from antiwar.com

Back last spring, Obama made a big speech on the Middle East. At the time, many people pointed out that like most Obama speeches, it was long on nice-sounding talk, but very short on specifics. Especially any specifics that might push Israel towards peace.

At the time, Obama's supporters could point to only one area of US foreign policy as a place where the US was not kowtowing to every Israeli whim. That was the supposed pressure that the US was putting on to Israel to freeze and roll-back the settlements.

Of course, that seemed like all talk as well at the time, so a wait-and-see approach appeared wise.

Now we've waited and we've seen. The US now has no objections at all to Israel stealing as much land as they can grab. Add this to the statements in recent weeks completely supporting Israel's war-crimes in Gaza. And of course the constant aid the US has given to an immoral and inhumane policy of keeping Gaza in a state of siege and limiting and controlling all food and medical supplies in the region.

Gee, sounds like George W. Bush's pro-Israeli policy. Or has it gotten even worse? Oh yeah, Obama did give a nice speech. But generally, if there's been any of Obama's oft-promised 'change' in this area, it appears to have been for the worse. But Obama did give a nice speech.

This just in .... Clinton ‘Re-Backtracks’ on Israeli Settlements
Over the weekend, Secretary Clinton was visiting with top Israeli officials, and publicly praised Israel for its commitment to peace despite its repeated refusals to halt settlement growth, and chastized the Palestinian Authority for holding on to demands that themselves were at the center of the Obama Administration’s position only a few months prior.

Now, following what is being described as a rather awkward meeting with Arab foreign ministers in Morocco, Secretary Clinton insists that the position she took just 24 hours ago isn’t really her position.

Instead, she praised Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for taking steps toward peace and pressed for Israel to “reciprocate,” insisting that the United States still wanted Israel to freeze all settlement construction. At least that’s the position today.

So, was SOS Clinton completely clueless that her statements about letting Israel do what it wants with settlements would cause a strong reaction amongst the Arabs? Or, was this just yet another case of a Democrat saying whatever it is they think their audience wants to hear?

Chicago style Democracy

Afghan Officials Cancel Election, Declare Karzai Winner from Antiwar.com

Well, Obama has successfully brought Chicago's own distinctive style of democracy to the rest of the world.

The US had reportedly expressed concern that not only would the second round of voting be expensive and dangerous, but that it might be marred with just as much fraud as the first round was.

This seems incredible, however, as Karzai got over a million fraudulent votes in the first round and with his name the only one on the ballot there appears to be little need for him to repeat the wholesale manufacture of votes.

Sounds a lot like a Chicago mayoral race. Only one candidate, and still laced with allegations of fraud.

Of course, canceling elections that could be embarrassing to the US has become old hat in Iraq.

Iraq Election Body: Finalize Law by Tuesday or Vote May Be Delayed means that the public referendum on whether the Iraqis want the US troops to leave sooner rather than later is about to be postponed yet again. Iraq May Finally Hold SOFA Referendum in January Or maybe not.

Gee, any guesses on how that vote will turn out? Apparently not from Obama and the Pentagon and Maliki, all who seem to be working hard to make sure the vote won't take place until they are completely ready to withdraw. Then I suppose we'll let the Iraqis have a symbolic bit of 'democracy'. At the rate at which Obama is withdrawing our troops from Iraq, look for that little symbolic action to occur in 2036.

Of course, to see the type of 'democracy' that the US has really given Afghanistan, you should read Security By Warlords, The CIA's Afghan Payroll by Gareth Porter.

Friday, October 23, 2009

At least now we know who's on our side

The antiwar movement retreats by Sharon Smith at Socialist Worker

Well, at least now we can tell the people who really oppose the wars apart from the Democrats who were only faking opposition for political advantage.

THE U.S. left has failed to effectively oppose the war in Afghanistan from its onset, when the U.S. population overwhelmingly supported the war on the pretext that "we were attacked."

That support has severely eroded, and polls show that a clear majority now wants to end the occupation. Yet many on the left have remained confused for the last eight years--ardently opposing the war in Iraq while remaining silent about the equally immoral war in Afghanistan.

This confusion has apparently been compounded by the election of Barack Obama, who initially opposed the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Obama's Nobel Peace Prize notwithstanding, however, he has since embraced the aims of U.S. imperialism with gusto. U.S. troops and, perhaps more importantly, U.S. military bases remain in Iraq with no deadline for complete withdrawal.

Obama authorized a surge of 21,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan soon after taking office and is now pondering whether to send at least 40,000 more. These are no longer George W. Bush's wars. Obama has claimed them for himself. So far, the only consequence of the surge has been the resurgence of the Taliban resistance against U.S. occupation. Even his pledge to close the prison camp at Guantánamo Bay remains unfulfilled.

Warning, its dangerous to your health to pay too much attention to the positions of Democrats. You can suffer severe whiplash when they suddenly change direction. In this case, as the Democrats shift from campaign rhetoric that sounded vaguely antiwar to policies that escalate and expand the wars, the only way Democrats can even pretend to be in favor of 'peace' is if they espouse George Orwell's famous slogan that "War is Peace."

At what point will the people who vote Democrat because they want peace realize that they don't get peace when they elect Democrats?

So, what's Code Pink doing these days?
A waste of $30,400
AT A recent event hosted by the Democratic Party, Code Pink co-founder Jodie Evans wasted $30,400 to have a dinner and then a photo-op with President Obama.

Code Pink used this as an opportunity to deliver a petition to the president signed by Afghan women stating that they want a say at the negotiating table and a commitment or time frame for the U.S. to leave Afghanistan.

The reply from Obama, at first, was incredulous stupidity. "What do you mean?" he said. "We have Hillary (Clinton) as my secretary of state."

Did they expect a different result? And, they spent $30,000 on that? Of course, I'm sure the Democrats loved that these suckers gave them $30,000. The really sad part is that this $30,000 will be used to elect more pro-war Democrats, and probably parts of it will be used to attack and defeat real candidates for peace. Great job Code Pink, you just helped to finance more of the pro-war politicians that we need to be trying to defeat.

BTW, remember back during the election when the Democrats were trying to tell us that it would be better for the left to have Obama as President, because he'd be more open to talk with the left and more receptive to its ideas? Well, here's the reality. If you want to waste $30,000, you can pay to attend an event with the President, and say something to him quickly in the receiving line. He won't have a clue what you are talking about, and there's not a chance this will change policies.

And notice what you do not see with Obama. This President that is willing to constantly meet and talk with Republicans never invites a group like Code Pink into the office to have a discussion on policy. Code Pink has adjusted is goals to suddenly support Obama's war in Afghanistan, and they give $30,000 to the Democrats, and they still can't talk to him beyond a meaningless few seconds at a photo op. What are the odds of a real anti-war group having its voice heard in this Democratic White House?

Well, at least we know by now for sure that the Democrats are not on our side. And if Code Pink is on our side, they have a particularly clueless way of trying to help since what they are doing is financing the pro-war candidates.

As the song lyrics used in the banner say, "Its all too clear we are on our own."

But that's not a bad thing. The biggest weakness of 'the left' in my time has been its constant willingness to be subservient to the Democrats. Its all too clear we are on our own. So, let's start organizing and acting like it. We'll quickly find that we have more power than we think.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

How low can we go?

US Vows to Stand By Israel Over Gaza War Crimes from antiwar.com

In a meeting today with America’s Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, Israeli President Shimon Peres condemned the UN for “spreading lies” in allowing the Goldstone Report’s consideration.

From the referenced Haaretz story:
Rice promised that the United States will continue to stand by Israel as a loyal friend in the fight against the Goldstone report.

The US just vowed to fight the United Nations for daring to issue a report that officially documents well-reported (outside the US corporate media that is) war crimes committed by Israel in its attacks on the civilian population of Gaza.

Read the Goldstone Report, its only 452 pages :), here

Here's a taste of what the US now unreservedly supports, and for which the US now 'vows to fight' the United Nations for daring to report.

The Mission investigated 11 incidents in which serious allegations of direct attacks with lethal outcome were made against civilians. There appears to have been no justifiable military objective pursued in any of them. The first two incidents concern alleged attacks by Israeli armed forces against houses in the al-Samouni neighbourhood of Gaza during the initial phase of the ground invasion. The following group of seven incidents concern the alleged shooting of civilians who were trying to leave their homes to walk to a safer place, waving white flags and, in some of the cases, following an injunction from the Israeli armed forces to do so. In the last of these seven cases, a house was allegedly shelled with white phosphorous, killing five and injuring others. Two further members of the family were allegedly shot by Israeli troops as they tried to evacuate the wounded to a hospital. In the following incident, a mosque was targeted during the early evening prayer, resulting in the death of 15. In many of the incidents, the Israeli armed forces allegedly obstructed emergency medical help to the wounded. A further incident concerns the bombing of a family house, killing 22 family members. In the last of the incidents described, a crowd of family and neighbours at a condolence tent was attacked with flechettes.
(I highlighted some of the more outrageous cases just so they don't get lost in all of this text. And this is just one example paragraph I went and found quickly by skimming the report. )

So, now the US supports the bombing of relatives gathered for a funeral, and the firing on people who want to aid the wounded, and on innocent civilians trying to move under a white flag? How low can we go? But hey, maybe Obama can give another nice speech to the Arab world and patch everything up.

Note of course that the US and Israel don't contradict any of the facts in the report. Instead, they attack its Jewish author as being an 'anti-Semite', and they attack the UN for ...

"The United Nations provides a stage for Ahmmadinejad, who threatens to annihilate Israel, and lets him stand judge," continued Peres.

Having a public debate on what Israel actually did in Gaza, (Israel acting with full US blessings of course), would be embarrassing. So, instead they attack any messengers who dare to report that message.

Gonna Party like its 1939

Mending Fences, Biden Assures Poland That U.S. Is Watching Over It from NY Times.

The title of this blog post is a joke. And, I'm guessing many Americans don't know enough history to get the joke. But, in Poland they certainly got it. In searching for something that explained the 'assurances' that Britain and France gave Poland in 1939, I instead found the following article on a Polishnews.com website. And its author discusses Obama' recent decisions about missile bases on Polish territory by discussing the events of 1939 and the Polish point of view towards these events.

Americans may not get the joke, but the Poles most certainly do.

Struggle for the historic truth about September 1939

As a result of the failure of the international community to assure Poland’s security, the Polish people were subjected to inconceivable suffering with grave implications for many generations to come, the entire world was plunged into the greatest catastrophe ever, and the entire region of Eastern and Central Europe was enslaved for half a century. This tragic history teaches that the voice of Poland must be carefully taken into account while debating any international security arrangements.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

He must be a King!

Classic scene from Monty Python

Two peasants talking as a man in armor 'rides' by.
1st Peasant: "He must be a King."
2nd Peasant: "Why?"
1st Peasant: "He doesn't have shit all over him."

Modern 21st Century American version:

Two peasants, standing in the mud outside the auction that is foreclosing on their homes. A limo drives by, with a vague glimpse of a man in a suit in the back talking on the phone.

1st Peasant: "He must be a Senator."
2nd Peasant: "Why"
1st Peasant: "He doesn't have shit all over him."

Monday, October 19, 2009

Can you spit?

Where oppression comes from by Paul D'Amato via SocialistWorker.org

Capitalism needs oppression. The Industrial Workers of the World used to have a saying that if all the workers of the world spit at the same time, the tiny capitalist class would drown.

Ok, everyone on three:
... 1
... 2

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Is the US supporting terrorists?

Five Iranian Commanders, 26 Others Killed by Suicide Bomber
US-Backed Jundallah Reportedly Claims Credit

by Jason Ditz, October 18, 2009, via Antiwar.com

At least 31 people were killed today, many of them top commanders in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, and 25 others were wounded in a suicide attack in Sistan-Balochistan.

The antiwar.com article has links on to BBC's reporting on the attack.

The exact extent of US backing for Jundallah is a matter of some dispute. Officials who privately acknowledge the relationship insist everything was careful worked to avoid Congressional oversight and that the relationship was “appropriate”, but the captured brother of Jundallah’s leader insists the US directly funded the group and has ordered them to carry out attacks.

So, is the US a supporter and financier of terrorist attacks?

Lets go back to what Seymour Hersh was saying and writing in the middle of 2008...

Preparing the Battlefield
The Bush Administration steps up its secret moves against Iran.

by Seymour M. Hersh in the New Republic

late last year, Congress agreed to a request from President Bush to fund a major escalation of covert operations against Iran, according to current and former military, intelligence, and congressional sources. These operations, for which the President sought up to four hundred million dollars, were described in a Presidential Finding signed by Bush, and are designed to destabilize the country’s religious leadership. The covert activities involve support of the minority Ahwazi Arab and Baluchi groups and other dissident organizations.

and ...

“The Finding was focussed on undermining Iran’s nuclear ambitions and trying to undermine the government through regime change,” a person familiar with its contents said, and involved “working with opposition groups and passing money.” The Finding provided for a whole new range of activities in southern Iran and in the areas, in the east, where Baluchi political opposition is strong, he said.

and ...
The Democratic leadership’s agreement to commit hundreds of millions of dollars for more secret operations in Iran was remarkable, given the general concerns of officials like Gates, Fallon, and many others. “The oversight process has not kept pace—it’s been coöpted” by the Administration, the person familiar with the contents of the Finding said. “The process is broken, and this is dangerous stuff we’re authorizing.”

Does anyone think that the 'oversight' process has gotten any better with complete Democratic control of the government? Can anyone picture the Democratic Congress that refused to investigate Bush ever having any real oversight over a Democratic President?

The language was inserted into the Finding at the urging of the C.I.A., a former senior intelligence official said. The covert operations set forth in the Finding essentially run parallel to those of a secret military task force, now operating in Iran, that is under the control of JSOC. Under the Bush Administration’s interpretation of the law, clandestine military activities, unlike covert C.I.A. operations, do not need to be depicted in a Finding, because the President has a constitutional right to command combat forces in the field without congressional interference. But the borders between operations are not always clear: in Iran, C.I.A. agents and regional assets have the language skills and the local knowledge to make contacts for the JSOC operatives, and have been working with them to direct personnel, matériel, and money into Iran from an obscure base in western Afghanistan. As a result, Congress has been given only a partial view of how the money it authorized may be used. One of JSOC’s task-force missions, the pursuit of “high-value targets,” was not directly addressed in the Finding. There is a growing realization among some legislators that the Bush Administration, in recent years, has conflated what is an intelligence operation and what is a military one in order to avoid fully informing Congress about what it is doing.

“This is a big deal,” the person familiar with the Finding said. “The C.I.A. needed the Finding to do its traditional stuff, but the Finding does not apply to JSOC. The President signed an Executive Order after September 11th giving the Pentagon license to do things that it had never been able to do before without notifying Congress. The claim was that the military was ‘preparing the battle space,’ and by using that term they were able to circumvent congressional oversight. Everything is justified in terms of fighting the global war on terror.” He added, “The Administration has been fuzzing the lines; there used to be a shade of gray”—between operations that had to be briefed to the senior congressional leadership and those which did not—“but now it’s a shade of mush.”

“The agency says we’re not going to get in the position of helping to kill people without a Finding,” the former senior intelligence official told me. He was referring to the legal threat confronting some agency operatives for their involvement in the rendition and alleged torture of suspects in the war on terror. “This drove the military people up the wall,” he said. As far as the C.I.A. was concerned, the former senior intelligence official said, “the over-all authorization includes killing, but it’s not as though that’s what they’re setting out to do. It’s about gathering information, enlisting support.” The Finding sent to Congress was a compromise, providing legal cover for the C.I.A. while referring to the use of lethal force in ambiguous terms.

That's a big block of quotes, but this is important stuff, and well worth reading. First item of note is that there are parallel CIA and military operations working in exactly this area of Iran and exactly with the sort of groups that appear to have started these attacks.

Listen to Seymour Hersh on Democracy Now! just after this article was published.

At the very end of the interview, he touches on ....
They would also like to create enough chaos in the country, bombings, sabotage, which is going up since this operation began. There’s always the connection but I do not have any empirical evidence for it. In the last four months, the latest incidents in terms of domestic violence, bombings, in attacks have gone up exponentially. We would like to the Iranian central government crackdown but in some vigorous weighed against these groups include a situation where there is sort of open dissidents, open warfare, then perhaps begin come in.

If we had a real Congress in a real democracy with real checks and balances, it would appear to be long since time for the Congress to investigate and understand exactly what lethal force is being used in this region where suicide bombs are going off ... and to put an end to it.

Killing 30 or more people with a bomb is wrong, and it is evil. The only way for peace is for all sides to agree that this is wrong, that this is evil, and that this can never occur.

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Really Bad Idea

Lt. Gen. Lynch Growing Tired of Waiting for His Droid Army from antiwar.com

Lt.Gen. Rick Lynch, the "new chief of the Army’s Installation Management Command" recently spoke at a trade conference ....

Not only has the Army failed to field the right kinds of robots that would save war fighters’ lives, it has not fielded any robots to Iraq or Afghanistan at all, he said at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International conference in Washington, D.C.

That claim may have come as a shock to those at the conference. Hundreds of unmanned aerial vehicles fly over the two theaters of operations today. The exploits of the explosive ordnance disposal teams and the robots they employ to clear roadside bombs are well known. But Lynch doesn’t consider those devices robots because they require humans to control them remotely.

“I’m talking about a system that has a certain degree of autonomy,” he said.

Gee, what could possibly go wrong with that. For years, the best brains in science fiction have been thinking about this very issue, and not one of them has ever come up with even the slightest possible thing that could go wrong with the idea of armed and autonomous robots. Maybe as long as they don't do automatic target recognition ...

That includes the robot autonomously firing the weapon or, in other words, shooting without a human in the decision loop, he said. SWORDS never had that feature, and the idea of armed autonomous robots firing guns on the battlefield remains controversial. But Lynch was steadfast.

“I believe we can do automatic target recognition ... to allow that capability. Autonomously,” he repeated.

All of this has happened before, and all of this will happen again. This is the beginning of a long chain of events that will eventually lead to the destruction of the 12 colonies. As it was before, it is Lt. Gen. Lynch of Earth who drives the creation of the first independent fighting robots. Or, as they will later be known to all of the galaxy, the first Cylons.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Best Way to Rob a Bank

As Foreclosures Hit All-Time High, Wall Street on Pace to Hand Out Record $140B in Employee Bonuses from Democracy Now!


Former banking regulator William Black is interviewed on Democracy Now! Highly recommended viewing for any who want to understand the massive fraud involved in the 'financial crisis'.

ALSO, from the same Democracy Now! episode. Slovenian Philosopher Slavoj Zizek on Capitalism, Healthcare, Latin American “Populism” and the “Farcical” Financial Crisis

Zizek’s latest offering also excerpted in the October issue of Harper"s magazine opens with the words: “The only truly surprising thing about the 2008 financial meltdown is how easily the idea was accepted that its happening was unpredictable.” He goes on to recall how the demonstrations against the IMF and the World Bank over the past decade all protested the ways in which banks were playing with money and warned of an impending crash. They were met with tear-gas and mass arrests.

The message, he writes, was “loud and clear, and the police were used to literally stifle the truth.”

Monday, October 12, 2009

Zinn on War and Peace Prizes

War And Peace Prizes, By Zinn, Howard via ZNet.

I was dismayed when I heard Barack Obama was given the Nobel peace prize. A shock, really, to think that a president carrying on two wars would be given a peace prize. Until I recalled that Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Henry Kissinger had all received Nobel peace prizes. The Nobel committee is famous for its superficial estimates, won over by rhetoric and by empty gestures, and ignoring blatant violations of world peace.

then ending with ...
People should be given a peace prize not on the basis of promises they have made - as with Obama, an eloquent maker of promises - but on the basis of actual accomplishments towards ending war, and Obama has continued deadly, inhuman military action in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The Nobel peace committee should retire, and turn over its huge funds to some international peace organization which is not awed by stardom and rhetoric, and which has some understanding of history.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

What American police do to someone who 'Tweets' about a protest.

The Twitterest Pill By JACK Z. BRATICH

Or, to quote from the article
What happens in Tehran, stays in Tehran.

Much of the news discourse surrounding the “Digital Media Revolution” during that summer fling relied on tired post-Cold War binaries, especially “authoritarian regimes vs. freedom-loving protestors.” But there are indeed some differences between the Iranian style of dissent management and our homegrown techniques:

To disband crowds, they still use clunky acoustic weapons like gunshots. We have the latest in dispersal technology: a “sound cannon” designed to scatter people via painful sonic blasts.

They still rely on a live voice delivering orders via the police megaphone. We have the Long Range Acoustic Device, whose prerecorded vocal commands sound like they were made by “Fred, the friendly fascist” (Seriously, someone’s been watching too many Philip K. Dick-inspired films).

Finally, if they rely on State-run television for informational control, we have something more insidious: State-friended social media. It is widely known that during the Iranian demonstrations a State Department rep contacted the co-founders of Twitter to reschedule a maintenance shut-down. Who needs to control communications via government ownership? Just be bros with the new media outlets! State Department, your Facebook friend request has been accepted by Twitter. (I hope they don’t get jealous that CNN’s status says that it’s “in a relationship” with Twitter).

Tweet from Tehran and you are a hero. Tweet from Pittsburgh, and you are facing serious jail time.

War and Peace

More reaction to Pres. Obama being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

War and Peace by Alexander Cockburn, editor of Counterpunch.org

People marvel at the idiocy of these Nobel awards, but there’s method in the madness, since in the end they train people to accept without demur or protest absurdity as part and parcel of the human condition, which they should accept as representing the considered opinion of rational men, albeit Norwegian. It’s a twist on the Alger myth, inspiring to youth: you too can get to murder Filipinos, or Palestinians, or Vietnamese or Afghans and still win a Peace Prize. That’s the audacity of hope at full stretch.

It does make one remember that the Nobel family made its money by finding better ways to make dynamite and explosives.

Warmonger Wins Peace Prize by Paul Craig Roberts

It took 25 years longer than George Orwell thought for the slogans of 1984 to become reality.

“War is Peace,” “Freedom is Slavery,” “Ignorance is Strength.”

I would add, “Lie is Truth.”

The Nobel Committee has awarded the 2009 Peace Prize to President Obama, the person who started a new war in Pakistan, upped the war in Afghanistan, and continues to threaten Iran with attack unless Iran does what the US government demands and relinquishes its rights as a signatory to the non-proliferation treaty.

The Nobel committee chairman, Thorbjoern Jagland said, “Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future.”

The WTF Prize by Dave Lindorff

If Nobel Peace prizes are being awarded to people who are simply giving the world hope, surely the judges could have found any number of worthy speechifiers. Hell, even the dictatorial leaders of China and North Korea can make flowery speeches about peace and human dignity. More to the point, the committee had under consideration at least two far more deserving nominees for the award who were actually acting at great personal risk to further peace and human rights: Chinese freedom-fighter Hu Jia and Afghani women’s rights advocate Simi Samar. It is an insult to the memory of former award winners like the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jody Williams, Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi the Dalai Lama, Lech Walesa, and others who put their lives and careers on the line to struggle for peace and human dignity to give this award to a man who has accomplished so little, and who, in fact, in his short time in office, has managed to expand one war, to block the international condemnation of the brutality of another, and who has done nothing to reverse his own country’s leading role as a promoter of war and international violence.

Oh, and by the way, the Democrats and their new Nobel Peace Prize winner are in the process of passing the biggest military budget in the history of the world.

Officer Cordova acted within the duties of a police officer and within the scope of his training,

This happened outside Coors Field. One unfortunate citizen decided to bicycle past the park on the way to visit his mother in a nearby hospice. Here's the video of what happened to him.

Even though the video shows the police officer grabbing Mr. Heaney by the back of his head and then slamming him face first into the ground, the officer was found in Sept to be not guilty on charges of assault.

Denver Pig Gets Let Off The Hook On Assault Charge!! from Colorado Indymedia.

"Cordova acted within the duties of a police officer and within the scope of his training,"

Well, there was a little good news for Mr. Heaney in this case. The officers involved in the video had attempted to charge Mr. Heaney with assaulting an officer. I guess its illegal to have your head in the hands of a police officer as its slammed face first into the ground. At least in the eyes of the officer. Fortunately for Mr. Heaney, the local district attorney's office decided not to press the charges against him.

"Cordova, who was hired in 2001, will be able to continue working in law enforcement."

There is still a ongoing civil action by Mr. Heaney against the Denver PD.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Nobel Prize??

Obama has been awarded the Nobel Prize? For what?

In the comments of another website, I started writing an alternative speech that Obama might give in accepting this award. Perhaps if the teleprompters slipped and he started to accidentally speak the truth, then this is what he might say.

"Thank you for awarding me this prize. It took a lot of arm twisting by my representatives. Fortunately, since this is Sweden instead of the US, you can all go see a doctor to get those sore arms examined.

We in the Obama administration are proud that we've managed to keep the war in Iraq going and nearly all of our troops in that country despite opposition to our presence both in Iraq and at home. Many told us that the 70% of the American people who oppose the war in Iraq would be an impossible obstacle to overcome. After all, what democracy could follow a policy opposed by 70% of its people year after year and through election after election? But, we are proud to say that we've kept almost all of our troops in Iraq where they can kill people. And we plan to continue to do this.

We are proud that we've successfully escalated the war in Afghanistan. We've doubled the number of US troops in that country during my time in office. And of course, this means more bombings, more 'accidental' shootings and more innocent civilians dead. We again would like to thank the Nobel committee for honoring this achievement. Soon, we will have almost as many troops in Afghanistan as in Iraq. Is it too early now to start campaigning for next year's prize to honor that as well?

We appear to be successful in expanding this war into Pakistan. We've launched countless drone strikes in that supposedly sovereign country, and we've succeeded in killing many more innocent civilians. And we've also succeeded in strong arming the weak new leaders of Pakistan into starting a proxy civil war within their nation. Again, thanks for the applause. I can't tell you how much it means to us to have you standing and applauding our new ways of killing innocent civilians.

Our plans to start a new war in Iran are proceeding. This has been a difficult task for my staff, since we ran on a campaign of talking with Iran and diplomacy. So, its been difficult for my people to continue the same war-like course with Iran as my predecessor. But, I am proud to say that my staff has performed brilliantly. When I hear people say that they can't see any difference between SOS Rice and SOS Clinton, except of course in their hair styles, we take that as a compliment. There is still opposition, but hopefully we can get this war started in the next year. And, I hate to sound like I'm campaigning already to win this prize again next year, but I hope the Noble committee will see our coming success in starting another war and will reward us appropriately with yet another prize.

We've successfully continued the US policy of using coups to overturn elected governments that don't suit us. In fact, we've pledged to be more aggressive in this area. So far, we've attempted two new coups, with one complete success story as we've returned Honduras to the control of its military and wealthy elites. There was a dangerous outbreak of democracy in that country, and we are glad to see the Noble committee applauding our successful actions in stomping that out.

Of course, our coup attempt in Iran was not as successful. But we always knew that it would be tough to convince a nation that it only a few decades past their own revolution of independence to give up that independence and to once again become a subservient client state. We were successful in causing some violence in the street, and in causing some innocent people to die. We aren't sure how close the Noble Peace Prize vote was, but if these extra deaths we caused in Iran were enough to put us over the top, then we'd like to thank the Nobel committee for paying close attention.

And of course, there is one thing that we are extremely proud of inside the White House. Not one single official from the Bush/Cheney era has been prosecuted for their crimes. Those who tortured, those who illegally kidnapped others, those who started illegal wars that have killed hundreds of thousands if not millions of innocent civilians, all have been safe from prosecution or from even serious investigation. This has not been easy, as many American citizens still hold the belief that even those who hold great power should be prosecuted for their crimes. But we are so very, very proud to have made certain that this does not happen.

Some have said that the reason we received this award was because of our stand on nuclear weapons. Its nice to see how a speech saying we'll do something on which we'll never follow through can have such an impact. Trust me to say that we promise years of slow and fruitless negotiations with the Russians on reducing nuclear weapons. They are busy negotiating the number of flags that shall be in the negotiating room even as we speak. Of course, these negotiations will never affect American nuclear dominance over the world, which we have no intention of releasing. But, perhaps as a part of my campaign for next year's Noble prize I might give another nice speech on the topic.

Peace at home is of course difficult to obtain when we are following policies of war and economic destruction to which most of our citizens object. Our citizens don't quite seem to understand that its necessary to give all of their tax money to the Wall Street bankers. They object for some reason that maybe we should spend that money instead on creating jobs for them. What a novel concept. Unfortunately, some or our citizens who object to this actually try to go into the streets and protest. Thankfully, the US has tens of thousands of well trained storm troopers to crush any domestic dissent, and they have done their job well. I don't think any of the world's leaders who joined me in Pittsburgh had their caviar and champagne even slightly interrupted. Thanks again to those storm troopers for busting the heads and making that possible. And thanks again for the Nobel committee recognizing with this award the contribution that our head-busting storm troopers have made towards world peace by attacking protesters who are calling for peace.

Well, I can see my time for this address is running out. I'd love to be able to push my campaign for next year's peace prize by talking about all the people who are going to die and suffer because of the 'health care reform' act that we are currently working. We promise that even more money will go to helping the profits of big health care, insurance and pharmaceutical companies. Again, thank your for the prize. Thanks again to my staff who worked so hard breaking arms to get me this prize. And I hope to be back next year to help celebrate more wars and more greater misery I intend to inflict upon the world to make our rich elites even richer still."

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

They Lie

Even after acknowledging it's false, CNN and Fox News continue to push smear of Jennings from Media Matters.

CNN's Lou Dobbs and Fox News' Brian Wilson and Sean Hannity ignored their own networks' past reporting and continued to forward the discredited smear that, while working as a teacher in 1988, Department of Education official Kevin Jennings failed to report an underage student's involvement with an older man. Dobbs claimed that "Jennings admit[ed] to failing to report a sexual matter involving a minor," and Wilson claimed that Jennings admitted that "he failed to alert authorities when a 15-year-old boy told him he was involved in a sexual relationship with an older man," even though both FoxNews.com and CNN have acknowledged that the student was of legal age -- 16 years old -- at the time.

The simplest way to deal with American corporate media like CNN and Fox News is to just simply assume that everything they say is a lie. After all, haven't they all been caught doing it way too many times. Just to catch a couple of highlights, these are the people who told us all that Iraq had WMDs and that if we didn't immediately give the Wall Street banks a trillion dollars or more the economy would crash immediately.

A 'news' organization really has one thing to sell. That is its credibility. For the life of me, I don't understand why anyone watches any of these channels. They've all lied so many times and so often that its ridiculous. Most of the time, they won't even admit their lies, much less take any credible acts to make sure it doesn't happen again.

We all know that we were all massively lied to about Iraqs WMDs. And those of us who are paying attention know that it was a deliberate policy from a group that came into the White House in 2000 determined to attack Iraq. Anyone who knows anything knew Iraq didn't have WMDs. And, these so-called 'news' outlets deliberately blocked any alternative voices from being heard. There were plenty of credible people, from former weapon inspectors to university professors who were clearly pointing out the WMD lies before the Iraq war. All of these 'news' channels refused to even let them on the air. Or, if they did give them a token notice, they treated them in exactly the same way Lou Dobbs treats facts in the story above. IE, they just ignored the inconvenient truths and went on telling their lies. Like Goebbels, they seem to think that if they tell big enough lies often enough, then people will believe them. What's most disturbing is that they seem to be correct in this.

And sometimes, what you don't see is important. Ask yourself, how many major American news organization FIRED editors who made poor decisions in telling the American people lies about Iraq's WMDs. Surely this was a major mistake. A major mistake that has so far cost the lives of more Americans than who dies on 9-11. Have you seen a 9-11 scale response to the fact that these people lied and 4000 or more Americans have died because of it? And that doesn't even consider the far more massive scale of their crimes against humanity, which you realize when you face up to the fact that these lies have caused the unneccessary deaths of over a million Iraqis.

Seems like that should be enough to cost someone their job. Have you seen waves of editors and reporters who told these lies getting fired? Nope. In fact, most of the public faces associated with these lies get promoted into bigger and better assignments. Have you seen any major policy changes to try to prevent these lies in the future? For instance, are these news organizations that got caught telling big lies now restricting the use of anonymous leaks from government officials. Nope, read any story about Iran's WMDs and you see the same techniques being used again.

So, big news organizations like CNN and Faux News lied. Those lies cost more American lives than died on 9-11. No one got fired. No internal policies changed. They seem happy that they lied, and seem determined to make sure it happens again. Don't hold your breath waiting for Lou Dobbs to get fired for this lie either.

The best thing to do is to turn off these channels. Completely. Don't watch them. I've used the parental blocking features on my sat dish to block these obscenities from entering my home. And I'm much happier now that I have. I don't get worked up by their fake propaganda, and I don't get their lies into my head. Best of all is when these junk channels have been pushing some trivial story like its major news and I'm blissfully unaware. I love it when someone who does listen to this junk is trying to tell me about some missing blonde somewhere, or some string of shark attacks that are thousands of miles away, and I'm blissfully clueless about what they are talking about.

Don't know if that means I'm getting the more important information that I need. But, if I'm succeeding in not hearing trivial and worthless 'news' that's designed to mislead or distract me, or in this case tell outright lies to my face, well that's a good step in the right direction.