Friday, February 25, 2005

Pure OP-ED: The White House Press Corps

Giving a bit more thought to the Gannon/Guckert affair, it occurs to me to wonder why that small, ' everybody knows everybody' group, the official White House press corps, never questioned what this man was doing in their ranks.

Questions and rumours were around before bloggers and independent papers started investigating this obvious Republican shill, the bought man in the press corps.

The immediate answer is simple. Everyone in the White House press corps is, in more ways than one, bought. And bought people don't raise many questions about other bought people, no matter how they feel about that persons involvement.

In this Administration, unwelcome questions can reduce your access, immediately reducing your rank and privilege at the White House and with your employer. Anyone who says " screw that, I'm telling the truth and doing my job", will not be invited back to the party and that persons job will be subject to big job description amendments.

Ergo, in the great grand scheme of things, the media and its reporters, those with 'access' were all well and truly bought before that White House Press Pass was issued.
It's the corporate way, it's the new American way, and the press is free to print what is given to them, likewise, the electronic/television media.

It is a very successful control method. The problem with corruption is that it can work so well, so smoothly.

The sad thing, for me, is that many, many Americans do not understand what is wrong with this picture. Not a thought for where it leads. With no understanding regarding the relationship between democracy and a free, independent press. Or media, if you will.

Ignorant of historical precedents, that would indicate the great dangers in the path that America has taken, both at home and abroad. Ignorant of their own history and the nature of their own democracy, many Americans seem helpless. Unable to think clearly, living with the ubiquitous presence of the Corporate media/propaganda machine.

America is being spoon fed crap from the White House, delivered to homes, dinner tables, bedrooms and lunch counters every where, by the many, many organs of the corporate media. Yum, yum, eat up America. You can hardly turn it off and get away from it.

So what am I getting at? I am getting at the fact that the people in the elite White House press corps, have completely sold themselves. And the ignorant malleability of American mind that I describe, is something they individually and collectively have real responsibility for. Very direct responsibility. For the individual, no amount of excuses alters the reality of what you do and the effect it has in the objective world.

I certainly don't blame the media for all the county's ills. There is blame enough to be spread far and wide. But the virtual death of independent media, at the hands of media giants, has concentrated the ownership of nearly every thing you see, hear, or read, into just a few hands. A small group of hideously wealthy men, with common interests and driven by the same market forces. An important thing to remember

They can never share the interests of the millions of ordinary Americans but they own the people who can sell the idea that Corporate America is America. Sell the idea that ordinary Americans somehow benefit when the mega corporations own and control the streets of the world. A big profit for Haliburton is somehow a victory for Americans?

Wave the flag and praise the lord while your jobs are outsourced by the same Flag waving American Corporation. The same corporation and corporations that want to use your kids, in their thousands, to clear the ground and make the mid-east safe for corporate exploitation.

Of course, it is never, never described that way. The reality is clouded by a peculiar 'boosters' variety of quasi patriotism. Bumper stickers, car magnets, bracelets. Just like the football booster crap I used to sell door to door when I was a kid. Sold bags of University of Alabama and University of Auburn pennants, bumper stickers , key chains, all that booster shit. Sold a lot of it

I suddenly liked college football a lot more, especially Alabama's team because their stuff sold way bigger than anything else

It's one thing to sell sports teams in such fashion but boosterism is antithetical to patriotism. It is short lived and marches how ever the wind blows it. It can only follow. But, it can be led.

So, in truth, I have no sympathy for those who sell out so big. The sell out is big because
of the enormity of the intellectual and moral responsibility that is abdicated. Because the results are far reaching and long lasting.

I don't usually make direct analogy between George Bush and Hitler but I will say something about one aspect of their mass appeal to their respective nations.

When the Nazis were at their popular zenith, the German people were, in a sense, bought by the Nazi "Economic Miracle" that had greatly improved the lives and living standards
of the German people. The workers, the middle class, and the elites. There is nothing like economic success, after a long and terrible period of enforced poverty, to win the hearts and minds of a people. To take a nation from despair to illusions of grandeur in a very short time, buys a lot of political credit.

Perhaps, given that the contemporary American economy is in ruin, and diving deeper into debt, with a will, and given that so many things are going wrong, costing so much, and causing so much damage, blind boosterism and religious fear and 'faith' are all you really have to sell.

If and when that wears thin, you have your Homeland Security apparatus, armed with the multiple applications Patriot Act, to keep the plebes from gumming up the plan. The march to corporate utopia must not falter, hesitate, or turn aside for a minimum of four more years.

The media plays a big role in this resurrection of the old totalitarian monster. The individuals who facilitate this process of corruption, knowing exactly what they do and the stories they don't tell, doing so for rank, privilege, and serious recompense, bear responsibility.

I will have this thought in mind every time I see a story from a "White House Correspondent".

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The Gannon/Guckert story is No Mere Sex Scandal

I've been avoiding talking about the Jeff Gannon/ Jim Guckert scandal. Partly because everyone else is writing about it and partly because I've been slow to realize how important and how big the story is.

Watching the George Bush Takes Over the World saga, has put a razor edge on my natural cynicism. The breaking story of a gay prostitute masquerading as a White House press correspondent, to help sell what ever soap the president was currently pushing, was completely in character with this administrations' usual mode of operation.

Yet another example of the Bush gang stacking the deck. Dealing only with the corporate media that knows to 'play ball' and or replacing legitimate reporters with trained stooges who present Republican propaganda as real news.

But this story is proving to be much more than yet another insidious propaganda ruse that is an everyday part of the Bush administration.

There is no doubt that the administration knew who and what Gannon/Guckert is. He has been a Republican activist since the days of George Bush senior. There is mounting evidence that Gannon's activities, in the world of male prostitution, went beyond selling his own body and also into supplying male prostitutes and even minors to Republican big wigs.

This is still speculative as more evidence must be obtained and some questions need to be answered. But it is starting to look ugly, once again, for the 'moral purity' party.

For me, the story gets really strange and interesting when we discover that Gannon is a person of interest in the 'outing' of a CIA operative, Valerie Plame. It seems that in the course of an interview with Ms. Plame's husband, Gannon let on that he knew things about the case that he should not have known.

Now we learn that Gannon was one of only six people who saw the documents containing the information about Ms. Plume, that was leaked. Blowing her cover, ending her CIA career and compromising any agents that were known to know her. This is a serious crime.

The question that immediately comes to mind, one that has not been adequately answered, is how and why was a man like Gannon, with no journalistic credibility, was given access to such documentation. Who vetted him for such trust?

Paranoid Supreme George Bush does not allow serious access to legitimate reporters he doesn't know and trust. Gannon was not a legitimate reporter. He wrote for one web site yet had access given few other reporters. Bush and his handlers knew Gannon and trusted him for their own reasons, while no one else, including the Secret Service and the FBI had a clue who he was. If you believe the FBI and SS were ignorant of the man and his other proclivities, I have a seasonal property in sunny Florida that I would like to tell you about. I'm practically giving it away.

OK, link time. So you know I'm not making up this weird tale as I go. One thing I repeatedly see from the actions of Bush and the neocons, is that truth often seems much stranger than fiction. To paraphrase Richard Franklin; That's because the truth isn't heard that often.

This is a link to a thread at Thom Hartmann's excellent site. The poster has put a lot of information and links together that are of some interest. The post starts with a copy of a letter Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, a ranking member of the House Rules Committee, has sent to President Bush, asking him to explain to Congress and Americans why this fraudulent individual was repeatedly cleared by the White house staff. In order to allow him to infiltrate the legitimate press corp.

It is a good question. Yet another good question we are not likely to get a straight answer to.

Below Rep. Slaughter's letter is a copy of an open letter addressed to Representative Slaughter by her local newspaper, the Niagara Falls Reporter. The letter exposes their own discoveries regarding Gannon and ask the representative why such blatant gerrymandering of the White house Press Corp is being allowed.

As more than one writer has asked: How is it that it took bloggers twenty four hours to find out who this man is and what his other activities are, yet, the FBI and Secret Service allowed this man into handshake/pistol distance of a very paranoiac president, without knowing who he is in minute details?

Maybe they did, but if so, his pass came from the very top. The only way to circumvent the tight control of the press, around the president.

On one hand we have yet another example of bought media in the White House. Something this administration gets caught at, with alarming regularity. Going so far as to hire their own shill and insinuating him into the White House Press corp, the most elite job in journalism, signifies that this administration and this president will stop at nothing to control the media.

For those who don't already know, Gannon never worked for a newspaper or any other media outlet. He writes, or rather did write, for one right wing web site.

Here are some other links regarding Gannon/Guckert. Be warned, some of the links are cached web sites Gannon used to advertise his many escort services. $200 per hour or $1,200 for a week end of his special attention. This one has quite a number of links, some a bit on the lewd and rude side. If you are sensitive to naked guys, don't look. You have been warned.

If you want to see just how deadly serious this story may get, check this out. . It is an interview with Joe Wilson, a conservative critic of the Bush administration, whose wife, a veteran and well placed CIA agent, had her cover blown by a leak from high up in the Bush White House.

We learn in this interview, that Gannon/Guckert , the phony journalist and rent boy, was one of only six people who had access to those documents. Using a false name and telling Mr. Wislon that he was a conservative, "not a neo-conservative", Gannon was able to interview Wilson. The story that came from it was a hatchet smear job that had little to do with the interview and everything to do with White House revenge. It was in this interview that Gannon/Guckert clearly revealed that he had seen the secret documents.

The roll this shill was playing for the white house regarding this affair is, as yet, not known. There is no excuse for revealing this kind of potentially dangerous information to a man like Gannon/Guckert. Either he had no security clearance, which appears to be the case, meaning some one very high up put damaging secret documents in this man's hands for political reasons. Or he did have clearance meaning the FBI and Secret Service are lying. This is like Kerik only much worse.

There appears to be no end to the political corruption of this president. A man who can't take a hint of criticism, keeps long enemies lists, and believes in avenging the tiniest slight. Wilson's wife was considered "fair game" by the white house because of Wilson's conservative criticisms of the Bush government.

Given that Gannon may have the keys to a few Republican secrets, given that he loves to talk, and given that prostitutes are very easy targets, Gannon is now at the top of my list of people most likely to disappear, without a trace.

This batch of Republicans and their neo-con allies seem to corrupt and weaken everything they touch. Will America survive their touch?

Thursday, February 17, 2005

The American Condition

There is an important sense in which I am no longer an American. I have lived outside the country for thirty five years. Being part of a culture that in many ways is more aware of and more connected to the world outside the US, has seriously altered my perspective on many things, particularly how America is viewed by the objective world and how Americans perceive themselves in that context.

I grew up in 'wrong side of the tracks' Alabama. A product of my class and Southern culture, I was an all American, Jesus loving, redneck, racist, flag worshiper of the first water. I couldn't wait to grow up to join the army to be like my dad.

Marx said that being determines consciousness. I am a long way from my origins. My former junior Nazi self seems almost a dream at times, but the fact remains that for whatever changes have occurred, I am a product of that place and time. Having been away for so long, I view it from the perspectives of both a citizen and a foreigner.

I do not share the contempt that much of the world feels for Americans. I share some of it, of course. It is difficult not to feel some contempt for such willful ignorance in a people. But having grown up on the low end of the working class, in the deep south, I understand the nature of that ignorance and how everything in the environment perpetuates the helpless ignorance of so many Americans.

I also see, very clearly, the hard reality of why a functioning democracy actually requires educated aware citizens to remain a democracy.

The checks and balances system that has worked for so long, has been over whelmed. Every branch of government is under direct control of, or under serious pressure from neo-conservative Republicans.

With that checks and balances system broken, leaving the constitution unprotected and unenforceable, it is up to the citizens of the country to bring the government back in line with basic democratic principles. The citizens of America, in their ignorance, hubris, and lack of will, are simply not up to the task. Many have no understanding of what has been stolen from them and therein lies the true danger of ignorance.

Reading the news, one is assailed with the evidence of the systematic destruction of all traditional American values, as this neocon/corporate coup continues to gain power in the state and the over the thinking of the American people.

Today, I want to bring to your attention three news items that I believe combine to paint a picture of this new Imperial America idea. From the growing white power movement that sees the political and cultural climate of America is ready for them, to the organized moral panic movement that blindly supports this corporate power grab and helped keep Bush and his wealthy cronies in power, to the latest White House budget. A budget which spells out in dollars and cents the real social and political goals of the Bush gang.

From the Los Angeles Times, a story by Stephanie Simon about a white supremacist group making efforts to bring its violent racist ideology to the American mainstream. The story, titled Neo-Nazis Aim to Upgrade PR is reprinted HERE, at

A quote from the beginning of the article:
St. Louis - White supremacist groups around the country are moving aggressively to recruit new members by promoting their violent, racist ideologies on billboards, in radio commercials and in leaflets tossed on suburban driveways.

Watching with mounting alarm, civil rights monitors say these tactics stake out a much bolder, more public role for many hate groups, which are trying to shed their image as shadowy extremists and claim more mainstream support.

Watchdog groups fear increased violence from these organizations as they grow. But perhaps an even greater fear is that the new public relations strategy will let neo-Nazis recast themselves as just another voice on the political spectrum - even when that voice may be advocating genocide.

In deed, the National Alliance, the organization responsible for the advertising campaign mentioned in the article does openly advocate the killing of non-whites, especially Jews. A quick look at their web site will confirm the violent nature of the organization. I don't like to make a link to these creeps but it is an educational glimpse of the mentality involved.

Sick but intelligent minds that wish to resurrect the Nazi cause and introduce their dangerous, violent ideology to the American mainstream. They believe that conditions in America are right for them. They may be correct.

Scapegoats are all the rage in America today. Blame for Americas woes is being laid on every one, except those actually responsible for the terrible state of the Union.

The Christian Right blames gays, all Muslims, and titties on TV. Bush blames an already defeated enemy who happens to have a lot of oil and nothing to do with the events of 9/11. Suddenly, almost everyone is a threat to national security. Even veterans benefits are a "drain on National Security". Old folks are a threat as long as Social Security is functioning. Of course, during the election campaign, wimpy old Kerry was a threat to national security.

The Nazis ? Well, you may be surprised but to hear it, but the Nazis blame the Jews. Bush is a Puppet of Israel and the neocons are rich Jews, controlling and ruining America for their own perverted interests. Reading some of their articles, you see that there are some bright if twisted minds involved in the leadership of the National Alliance. If you check out their discussion forum, you get a look at the kind of mindless violent brown shirt loser types that they appeal to.

It strikes me as odd that these hate filled people can advertise their hate and urge people to see all non whites as dangerous enemies and even advocate the killing of Jews, all in the name of the First Amendment. While university professors who raise too many questions regarding Americas dangerous actions, lose their jobs and are vilified in the mainstream media.

It would appear that first amendment protections are only for those whose ideas are in line the thoughts of our Fearless Leader.

Every one seems to have the 'final solution' in mind.

Now, speaking of final solutions, let's head down to the Florida panhandle, an area that has become the epicenter of the Christian right.

This article, Rapture Awaits in the Florida Panhandle, is by Tom Harpur, a leading Canadian theologian.

A quote from the article:
(at the conference)There were stunning statements about humans having been only 6,000 years on Earth and other denials of contemporary geology and biology. And we learned that the Rapture, which could happen any second now, but certainly within the next 40 years, will instantly sweep all the "saved" Americans (perhaps one-half the population) to heaven, leaving the United States as "a Third World country" with the European Union becoming the revived Roman Empire.

But these fantasies were harmless compared with the hatred against Islam that followed. Here are some direct quotes: "Islam is an intolerant religion - and it's clear whose side we should be on in the Middle East." Applause greeted these words: "Allah and Jehovah are not the same God ... Islam is a Satanic religion ...We will never be able to understand their (Muslim) mentality ... They're going to attack Israel for certain. ..."

Gary Frazier shouted at the top of his lungs: "Wake up! Wake up!" And roughly 800 heads nodded approval as he added that the left-wing, anti-Israel media - "for example, CNN" - will never tell the world the truth about Islam. According to these three and the millions of Americans they lead, Muslims intend ultimately "to impose their religion on us all."

Think about how the world looks if you are one of the millions who have fallen for this political scam dressed up as a religious movement. If you actually believe that any minute now, when the things you set in motion seem to be at their worst, poof, you are going to be magically transported to safety, high above the ruined earth, where you get to watch and cheer the millions burning in the fires started by your leaders, with your support. If you actually believe that, then you also believe you bear no responsibility for your actions.

What is this, the religion of no money down, no payments until after the rapture, when the 'good people' have split the scene, leaving the bill they've rung up? That alone speaks volumes about the morality of these people.

Now, if you have any doubts about the political nature of this theology, think about this. In spite of the slavish literalism of these preachers, the idea that the universe was created in seven twenty four hour days, the earth is only six thousand years old and fossils are faked creations of evil scientists, they leave that literalism behind when it suits their purpose.

For recruitment purposes, they left out a very important biblical number regarding how many are actually qualified for the rapture. I will repeat a line quoted from above as it is important political adaptation these 'saints' have made for themselves.

the Rapture, which could happen any second now, but certainly within the next 40 years, will instantly sweep all the "saved" Americans (perhaps one-half the population) to heaven, leaving the United States as "a Third World country" with the European Union becoming the revived Roman Empire.

How interesting that about half of America will suddenly pop up to heaven when the shit gets deep. Approximately the number that voted for Bush. How very comforting to believe your vote will get you into heaven while the rest suffer for a wrong vote.

However, in the Book of Revelations, from whence most of these strange ideas originate, it clearly states, in Revelations chapter 7 verse 4:

And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.

The number sealed are the number to disappear in the 'rapture'. Now, 144,000 may have seemed like a big number at the time it was written but that isn't even a medium sized town in America. If you continue to preach what the bible says, that only 144,000 are chosen, the sense of security given your followers is suddenly gone. Millions of Christians but only a virtual handful make it to 'home free'. That number, no matter its source, is not good for business.

A huge number that includes half of America gives one the sense that one might be in that number. Odd again because the number was not chosen at random by the early writer. It says, further along in the passage, that there will be 12,000 taken from each of the 12 tribes of Israel. Unless you believe that half the population of America belongs to the original twelve tribes, then you have yet more problems. If you can count, it gets even less likely that your vote for Bush will get you into heaven.

The most important idea in all of this is the belief that Christian right politicos bear no responsibility for what they do and what they support. The destruction of the worlds forests, oceans, and air will only bring about the rapture that much quicker. Implying, very strongly, that war and environmental destruction are God's work. Completely justifying evil, in the name of their Republican God. Why, letting the logging companies clear cut the earth will only bring Jesus back sooner.

To poison the earth is a good thing that will help bring back Jesus. However, a mega war in the Mid-East is the only way to ensure his return, according to these Christian Brown Shirt types.

You know our war time president says a hearty Amen to that idea.

The third in this group of articles, that paint a picture of the American political and economic reality, is an article about who and what got the axe in this governments' budget.

Here are a list of programs cut from the federal education budget. Take a look, it is very revealing. Almost every thing axed in this budget were programs intended to assist the poorest and most needy, while permanently relieving the very wealthy and many corporate groups utterly free from taxes.

This is only the list of high school programs getting the boot. The total education rip off is longer. You can view the entire list of federal cuts at This Is What Tax Cuts and Stupid Wars Cost

High School Program Terminations: Vocational Education State Grants, Vocational Education National Activities, Tech Prep State Grants, Upward Bound, Talent Search, GEAR UP, Smaller Learning Communities Perkins Loans: Capital Contributions and Loan Cancellations, Regional Education Laboratories, Safe and Drug Free Schools State Grants, Ready to Teach, Parental Information and Resource Centers, Alcohol Abuse Reduction, Foundations for Learning, Mental Health Integration in Schools, Community Technology Centers, Exchanges with Historic Whaling and Trading Partners, Foreign Language Assistance, Excellence in Economic Education, Arts in Education, Women's Educational Equity, Elementary and Secondary School Counseling, Civic Education, and Star Schools.

Makes you feel right smart being an American, don't it?

While reading the lists, keep this in mind: Not one penny was taken from the 100 million tax dollars wasted on the destructive, counter productive Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage programs. No sir, this bit of government largess, that has destroyed comprehensive sex health education in American public schools, while fattening the coffers of various well to do Christian propaganda groups, is sacred and politically important. In fact, Abstinence Only Christian morality classes, got three time more from this budget than from the 2001 budget. Ah, the smell of American Christian morality. Or is that a pig farm?

So we cut arts, civic education, mental health programs, alcohol abuse programs, and safe and drug free school programs while continuing to pump money into so called "faith initiatives' for a sex misinformation program that benefits no one but the president's pet religious supporters. Money taken directly out of other education programs of much greater value.

Teen pregnancy and STD and HIV rates continue to climb well ahead of Canada and European countries that use real comprehensive sex health education in their public schools. But in America the great, that would be a waste of money. The health of our kids is much less important than the health of our giant pharmaceutical companies that sell the expensive HIV drugs. It would be economically unfair to the drug corporations teach these kids to protect themselves. Besides, Jesus don't like it.

And that seems to sum up the New American way.

The 'good people' have dumped all responsibility for the world in their preparations for a magical disappearing act that will save them from the consequences of their own stupid, self serving actions. The president considers himself to be one of the ones that will avoid the horrors set in motion by himself and his wealthy cronies. Straight up to his rich daddy in the sky.

I suppose that needles will suddenly enlarge, to let the camels through the eye and the wealthy into heaven. In the new American version of Christianity, the rich folks are sitting in luxury class on the rapture train to heaven.

The Bush government makes a stab at reducing the deficit by cutting education and poor Americans out of the budget while continuing to borrow ruinous amounts for his war, his Social Security scam, and his huge spy and security money pits.

Mean while, protecting those who benefit from the dismantling of America from any cost. Making sure that generations of ordinary Americans will be stuck with the endless cost of the irresponsible borrowing of our Christian President. So much for good stewardship.

The most violent race hate groups feel that mainstream America is ready to accept them. It certainly looks like they are correct. They have very much in common with what mainstream America has been molded into.

An obvious reference to "Tomorrow Belongs to Us", a popular Hitler Youth song, the Nazi National Alliance slogan is "The Future Belongs to Us".

The future of America looks pretty dismal from where I sit. Something only a Nazi would feel at home in. Utter ruin.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

A Civilian Torture Trial

A civilian CIA contract employee, charged with abusing Iraqi prisoners, is on trial in Federal Court. This is the first trial stemming from the torture scandals to appear in civilian courts. So far, all the trials have been in military courts where defendants have fewer defense options.

In the courts martial trials, defendants were not allowed to call testimony from the officers who gave them their orders. Neat, eh?

This however is a civilian court and the defendant David A. Passaro, 38, will be able to site statements made by top White House officials, in his defense.

The article is by Scott Shane and was originally printed in the N Y Times. It is reposted in an easy to read, printer friendly format at .

A quote from the article:
" Mr. Passaro, a former Army Special Forces soldier from North Carolina was hired by the C.I.A. in 2003 to capture fighters from the Taliban and Al Qaeda and question them at a base at Asadabad, in northeast Afghanistan.
He was charged in June with four counts of assault, accused of using his hands and feet and a large flashlight to beat a prisoner named Abdul Wali over two days. Mr. Wali, who had turned himself in to the American military after learning he was under suspicion of firing rockets at the base, died in his cell on June 21, 2003. Mr. Passaro is not charged in his death.
In court papers, Mr. Passaro's lawyers say the interrogation was considered urgent because Mr. Wali might have had information that could protect the American military from further rocket attacks. "

It is impossible for me to say anything in this man's defense. He does not deny his actions, so, some level of guilt is presumed, even at this point. He does not argue that he did not do what he is accused of, he is arguing that he had reason to believe he was following orders as expressed by government officials and the president. One assumes that Mr. Gonzalez' senate testimony is involved.

The story from which the charges emerge, in itself is, rather strange. A man learns that he is wanted for questions regarding recent attacks. Trusting fool, he turned himself in to the police to answer their questions. However, the poor sap didn't know anything that the Americans wanted to know and on the off chance that the man who brought himself forward might know something else, they beat him without mercy for two days. That's two days ladies and gents. On the third day, he died. Supposedly from a heart attack.

By the new Gonzalez definition, it's only torture if you intend to kill the person. After systematically beating the man for two days, the victim dies in his cell. The CIA interrogator cum torture master, is not responsible for the death because we wasn't trying to give the man a heart attack, if in deed, that is what the man died of. We will never really know, will we?

Of course, it remains to be seen if the court will even allow the defense. Civilians charged with crimes still have more rights than a citizen in the military. At the same time, if convicted the CIA contractor could face a much stiffer sentence, under the Patriot Act.

It is difficult for many to see right now but I do believe that in a few years these charges are going to end up in international courts where executive privilege and such barriers to justice and information, will have no power.

I don't expect to see this happen very soon. America is still too powerful, but that power is, in the long term, waning. This neocon push for power and complete control of America and the worlds oil supply is doomed. The cost is going to break America. In the long run, the personal fortunes amassed by these political criminals will not protect them from the world. Their corporate masters will happily sacrifice everyone of them if that is the small cost of maintaining business with the rest of the world.

George Bush is a great puppet leader figure for now, but he will make an equally great scapegoat if things continue to go so badly.

Another telling and interesting tid-bit from the article:

" In court papers filed in December, Mr. McNamara, a federal public defender, objected to the use of the USA Patriot Act of 2001 in prosecuting his client. Among its provisions was an expansion of the government's power to prosecute crimes committed at United States facilities overseas.
"To subject Mr. Passaro to prosecution for actions taken in battle and in furtherance of this wartime mission under a criminal statute not intended for battlefield application violates the United State Constitution, contravenes Congressional intent, and turns the Patriot Act on its head," Mr. McNamara wrote."

The argument being, it would appear, that the Patriot Act was not intended to be used against agents of the government. For those of you steeped in hubris, who believe that the Patriot Act was never intended for 'good' people like yourselves, take note.

The Patriot Act is a political weapon that the government will use in anyway convenient to the purposes of those in power. It is the proverbial two edged sword that cuts either direction it is swung in.

When you who still support this power grab by Bush and his neo-conservative handlers, realize the mistake you made, remember when you weren't worried about all the extra powers the state has given itself.

The only bright spot in this present case is that for the first time, the master 'minds' of this decent into barbarism, may be mentioned in federal court in connection with their crimes. We can hope.

Links to more stories regarding this case.

Go here to read the actual charges against David Passaro

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Warsaw Ghetto Revisited

I wish to direct your attention to an infuriating article by Dahr Jamail. Mr. Jamail is one of the very few independent journalists in Iraq. The article is based on interviews with survivors including a local doctor.

Click here to read the article. If you don't read the article, what comes next will make less sense. You need to see what the world is reacting to. The hatred these people have learned for America, its soldiers, and even its people.

There are no excuses for what American money and military power is doing to the people of Iraq. Good guys do not murder families in their beds. Good guys do not kill children.

I'm not just talking about the bombings. Reports of American troops murdering civilians in Fallujah are common. The few survivors uniformly tell very believable tales of murder and sadistic brutality on the part of American Imperial Storm Troopers.

A quote from a doctor who worked near Fallujah during the American siege.

"One of my colleagues, Dr. Saleh Alsawi, he was speaking so angrily about them. He was in the main hospital when they raided it at the beginning of the siege. They entered the theater room when they were working on a patient...he was there because he's an anesthesiologist. They entered with their boots on, beat the doctors and took them out, leaving the patient on the table to die."

This story has already been reported in the Arab media.

The doctor tells me of the bombing of the Hay Nazal clinic during the first week of the siege.

"This contained all the foreign aid and medical instruments we had. All the US military commanders knew this, because we told them about it so they wouldn't bomb it. But this was one of the clinics bombed, and in the first week of the siege they bombed it two times."
He then adds, "Of course they targeted all our ambulances and doctors. Everyone knows this."

What kind of country and what kind of people visit such terror on a civilian population? What kind of people specifically target ambulances and civilian doctors? What kind of nation makes war on children, the elderly, women, and anyone with the wrong colour of skin, to obtain control of their natural resources?

Savages and barbarians. Savages and barbarians do those kinds of things in the name of 'liberty', corporate wealth, and in the name their savage gods. Ignorant blood stained barbarians who roll their war machines over ancient Babylonian floors, like drunks doing dough nuts in a parking lot. Mindless savages defiling the very cradle of human civilization. Not understanding what is crunching under their combat boots.

These crimes will not be easily forgiven. The US has taken steps to assure that they will not be charged with war crimes by most of the worlds poorest nations, the very ones most likely to become victims. Such agreements are part and parcel to the ruinous 'loans' made to the leaders and native elite of said countries.

But Humpty Dumpty is headed for a very hard fall. As Americans used to be fond of saying, "The bigger they are, the harder they fall."

The American economy is in serious trouble. What very little responsibility the government takes for the welfare of its people, is being systematically shut down. For budget considerations.

I have said before, that there will be a very large price to pay for this insane deficit and for relieving the wealthy of all financial responsibility. Like all countries who become saddled with so much debt, social services are the first thing to go in the quest to repay the money borrowed. Borrowed and burned by the government and the corporate pigs at the public trough.

The only part of America that has a chance of coming out of this war better off, are the same big corporations that are bringing us this war. The same ones now urging Congress to re-institute the draft. The very same corporations that are moving all of the decent jobs to offshore factories while maintaining their American tax breaks.

They want to put your sons into uniforms and send them to the killing fields for the benefit of no one but those self same corporations and their shills in government.

At the same time, we are told it is "necessary" to cut veterans benefits including the expensive medical care many of them will need. Well, it is a budget consideration and what do these soldiers and their families expect? If he is dumb enough or slow enough to get himself wounded, he is now a drain on 'National Security'. And an enemy if he or his family go whining and complaining.

Meanwhile, we are busy teaching the people of Iraq, the Arab world, and the world at large, to hate us. We are working hard for it and will not be denied.

Hasn't America become a wonderful country? A veritable model for the world.

America is dangerous but it is also weak and ill prepared for the battle it has started.
The giant has brittle bones and doesn't seem to know it.

Monday, February 07, 2005

The Slow Turn of the Conservative Worm

My sister sent a very interesting article today regarding the personal cost of war that the media largely ignores. The article is doubly interesting because it appeared on a conservative web site, The American Conservative. Web site for the magazine of the same name.

The article in question is the Walking Wounded by Fred Reed. It is a damned good read and contains some real wisdom in his observations regarding the crucial difference between the war in Iraq and the last big military adventure, Vietnam.

A short quote from the article:
"People say that this war isn’t like Vietnam. They are correct. Washington fights its war in Iraq with no better understanding of Iraq than it had of Vietnam, but with much better understanding of the United States. The Pentagon learned from Asia. This time around it has controlled the press well. Here is the great lesson of Southeast Asia: the press is dangerous, not because it is inaccurate, which it often is, but because it often isn’t. So we don’t much see the caskets —for reasons of privacy, you understand."

This article is well worth the read. While you're at it, introduce yourself to a strange and interesting mind, in the person of Fred Reed. Fred Reed on Everything. Fred claims to be wacko but compared to what passes for sanity in the US of A these days, wacko is more rational. At least in Fred's case.

Fred is very much his own guy so you can decide what political category he does or doesn't fit. I think he's sort of an old style two fisted liberal but he might poke me out for saying that.. Seeing that 'liberal' has changed meaning three times since the era of that variety of liberal. Hell, these days we don't distinguish liberals from commies, anarchists, or egalitarian billionaires like Jimmy Carter. How they all got into the same camp is a great mystery but it makes as much sense as any of our current political and theological terminology.

Fred paints a true picture of the unpleasant reality for returning vets. Men who are returning in sizable numbers but are completely ignored by the corporate/government sanctioned media. These kind of stories reveal the lie of honor and respect afforded the people we send to do the dirty work.

Thrown body, soul, and mind into literal hell to "protect America'" and "Liberate" the Iraqis, they are dumped like used tampons when they are too wounded to be of further use. Sure it's an ugly image but it is an ugly fact of life for these patriotic young men we pretend to honor and cherish. Until they lose their hands and can no longer do the dirty work.

Fred, like many smart and worthy writers, seems to believe that the political cost of reintroducing the draft will ensure it will not happen. I hope he is right but if you've been reading this blog you know I believe the draft is absolutely inevitable.

PNAC will have its way with congress. If you don't get the reference, check my last post for details and the links. It is not possible to maintain present commitments and support future foreign policy goals with the present military. Stop loss programs and using up your reserves so early in the campaign comes with a heavy payback ticket regarding future manpower needs.

It is important, to the persons responsible, to keep Americans ignorant of the real cost of this adventure in Imperial governance. It is bad for recruitment, among other things.

The fact that this timely piece should appear on a site such as the American Conservative, is significant. Or so I believe. Traditional conservatives are beginning, just beginning, to question their support for these radicals that have a strangle hold on American democracy.

The coming draft is a dangerous game but there are two choices. Bush and the neocronies can pull back from the brink and find new approaches or they can reintroduce conscription.

The tricky part will be how to reintroduce deferments. Without deferments, even a tame media can not hide the universal threat.

But the media will play ball. At first the draft will be a temporary measure. Draftees, congressional spokespersons will proclaim, will only be used for non-combat roles, to free more regular army for combat duty. Then only conscripts who 'volunteer' are sent to combat and eventually, just like in Vietnam, some terrible event will happen, requiring thousands of conscripts being fed to the on going effort.

I am convinced of the inevitability of this, not because of Vietnam, but because of the state of the American Army and Marine Corps and the size of the thankless task before them.

That appears to be the choice, back off or renew the draft. For a "war time president" who has never made a mistake, backing off is not an option.

Friday, February 04, 2005

American Students and PNAC Demands

A lot of comment has been generated about a recent poll that suggests that a significant number of students are completely ignorant of or even hostile to basic First Amendment rights. If you are not already familiar with the story, hit this link to a short article at Doug Ireland's excellent blog.

You can read a more detailed article and download a PDF copy of the entire report HERE.

In a nutshell, the report, based on a survey of 100,000 US students, found that a third of them felt the First Amendment, goes "too far". Nearly half felt the government had a right to approve news stories before they are published.

This, of course, has caused distress among forward thinking adults. Comments often reflect dismay and even despair for a generation of 'Hitler Youth' being turned out by American schools.

I understand and can see the possibilities of the worst scenario but I believe this news may not be as new or as darkly ominous as it may seem.

These sort of surveys have been done before and similar results have been achieved. If such a survey been administered at my school at age 15 or younger, I and many of my contemporaries would have expressed similar ideas, based on a grossly overstated respect for uniforms and government authority.

Many of our ideas came from movies and stories about WWII and even 50's monster movies where the soldiers, G-Men , and the police stood against unknown enemies. and always protected the public good. Heck, if the local police got taken over by the aliens, you knew you were in serious trouble. Youth can be trusting that way.

The kids of the late fifties and early sixties, who had the same confusions about patriotism and the importance of civil liberties, later became some of the stalwarts of the Youth and Anti-war movements. of the sixties and early seventies.

I am not discounting the misgivings people have about these results but I am trying to put it into a perspective other than the purely political.

Given the non-stop wash of broadcast and cable propaganda bombarding the American public and given that youth is particularly tuned to the media, it is not surprising that American youth and adults have so little regard for the "liberty" they believe their enemies want to take from them.

We are getting into the real nuts and bolts reasons why an informed public is necessary for a democracy to function as a democracy. It is a learning process and every generation has to learn it again. Just as each preceding generation must learn and help pass on to the next.

My generation has failed the next. We learned our own lessons regarding the American right to express your beliefs, in opposition to the predominant culture, the police, and the state, in our resistance to Vietnam and conscription. Then we went to sleep or devoted ourselves to more renumerative pursuits such as becoming Republican functionaries.

One of the most radicalizing factors of the Vietnam era was the draft. It became impossible to ignore the real world as it relentlessly pursued you in the form of the Selective Service Board.

Middle class post grad students lived in terror of dropping low enough in their GPA to expose themselves to the draft. Working class kids mostly waited until they were abducted. by the hawk faced women that ran the local draft board with their hard eyes and angry, form typing fingers.

It is easier to maintain the fantasy belief that all is OK in America, that it will turn out alright if we just buckle down and hold the course. If we just believe in George and the version of God he claims to champion.

That is, until the real blood and money price of it all starts really coming home. Get ready boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen, the price is coming home and the price is going to be high. The pay off, just rhetoric in the face of real cost.

Below is a link to a letter, a wish list, if you will, sent to the American Congress by PNAC, Project for a New American Century. A Corporate/Neocon power bloc whose past officers read like a who's who of the present government.

"Dick Cheney, Vice President of the United States, former CEO of Halliburton; Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense; Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary of Defense; Elliot Abrams, National Security Council; John Bolton, Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security; I. Lewis Libby, Cheney's top National Security assistant". To name a few.

Enormously wealthy, powerful, and connected in Government, PNAC got everything it wanted from the wish list it presented Congress in 2,000. This time, in a letter presented a week ago, PNAC is telling congress it is time to enact the draft again if they, meaning the PNAC, are to achieve their immediate and long term policy goals.

Here is a short quote from the PNAC letter to the Congress. The word draft is never used but the meaning is very clear.

"So we write to ask you and your colleagues in the legislative branch to take the steps necessary to increase substantially the size of the active duty Army and Marine Corps. While estimates vary about just how large an increase is required, and Congress will make its own determination as to size and structure, it is our judgment that we should aim for an increase in the active duty Army and Marine Corps, together, of at least 25,000 troops each year over the next several years.

Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution places the power and the duty to raise and support the military forces of the United States in the hands of the Congress. That is why we, the undersigned, a bipartisan group with diverse policy views, have come together to call upon you to act. You will be serving your country well if you insist on providing the military manpower we need to meet America's obligations, and to help ensure success in carrying out our foreign policy objectives in a dangerous, but also hopeful, world."

Read the entire PNAC letter here PNAC wants the congress to produce and pass a bill to start the draft. PNAC doesn't want the president to introduce the legislation, they want Congress to do it, to share the blame.

I expect a number of conscripts will be in Iraq for New Years eve , next year. To beef up the military enough to hold present positions and be able to invade another middle eastern country, (long term policy goals) many, many boots will have to be filled. The Army and Marines are playing catch up right now. The stop loss program can not extend the fighting ability of men for ever.

When conscription does begin, I will not be surprised if the enlistment is extended to more than the two years expected during Vietnam. Two year conscripts will rotate out too fast to be effective. Requiring drafting ever greater numbers, upping the political risk.

While I share the concerns of many, regarding the beliefs of our younger citizens, I believe the next two years may provide the reality cure for many of those students as they and their friends become fodder for the slaughter.

There are too many questions that Americans are not asking themselves. An uncle of mine, a farmer, oft said that, "you can talk to a mule until you are red in the face. Sometimes you gott'a hit it in the head to get its attention".

In this case, it is history and the New Imerial America that shall be smacking the mule on the head, hard and often. Perhaps its attention will be gotten, in the time to come.