Monday, January 31, 2005

Down Syndrome child suicide bomber?

These guys are hilarious. They'll just say whatever. Why not make it?:

Down Syndrome, runny-nosed, cheerful little female child whose only the ambition in life was to find democracy

Well, at least the AP got the quote from a reputable source with no stake in making sure the election looked legitimate. But whatever - details, details.

But, at least the AP did some fact-checking. Well, no - but again, those are details. What's important is not whether or not there was a Down Syndrome child suicde bomber - what's important is that is has been said, and therefore, it is 'fact-esque' - and that's good enough to print.

Reminds me a lot of babies being tossed out of incubators. Demonization and dehumanization of the enemy - always the same.

In the infamous words of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, lap it up shmuck!

Friday, January 28, 2005

Carlos Delgado: Role Model

What else is there to say? The dude is against the Iraq War, and he shows it, and offers a hearty F-U to anyone who disagrees with his right to express himself:

An opponent of the war in Iraq, Delgado refused to stand when God Bless America was played last season at games involving his Toronto Blue Jays. Instead, he would stay on the bench or go into the dugout tunnel.

"I wouldn't call it politics, because I hate politics," Delgado said Thursday after finalizing his four-year, $52 million contract. "The reason why I didn't stand for God Bless America was because I didn't like the way they tied God Bless America and 9/11 to the war in Iraq in baseball.

"I say God bless America, God bless Miami, God bless Puerto Rico and all countries until there is peace in the world."

Maybe there are some other brave baseball players, and other professional sports players, out there?

Chemical Weapons and the Flattening of Fallujah

Well, we know Bushco is using mad amounts of depleted uranium. It's poisoning our soldiers (Gulf War Syndrome) and will poison Iraqis for decades to come, but the evidence of Napalm-type weapons and other bizaare weapons is slightly less, if only because the military is not openly admitting to using Napalm - only Napalm-like weapons (to my knowledge, they're admitting this).

Fahrenheit 9/11 gave us one GI's account of seeing little Iraqi girls' noses burned off and other fun stuff. I wasn't that surprised by this since I'd read similar reports in the months before seeing the film, but I wonder how it affected others when they heard that?

Here's a report from an independent, unembedded journalist in Iraq right now - Dahr Jamail - who reports some mornings for Democracy Now! at 8 am M-F. Think I first saw this particular blog entry/article linked from, but I stumbled onto it today from Altercation:

“The soldiers are doing strange things in Fallujah,” said one of my contacts in Fallujah who just returned. He was in his city checking on his home and just returned to Baghdad this evening.

Speaking on condition of anonymity he continued, “In the center of the Julan Quarter they are removing entire homes which have been bombed, meanwhile most of the homes that were bombed are left as they were. Why are they doing this?”

Strange things are afoot in Iraq, and they're not things most Americans would be proud of - at least, I hope not. I know there's about 35% of America that would gladly execute the entire Iraqi population to be rid of the problem of Iraq, but I doubt even they would want innocent women and children to suffer so horrendously via exposure to chemical weapons like Napalm.

As for the flattening of Fallujah, Sy Hersh warned us, the wingnuts approve, and most Americans remain ignorant of what can probably be called, without exaggeration, a genocide - and certainly a war crime.

Vote 'No' on Gonzales

Rumsfeld won't visit Germany - supposedly because the German government refused to quash a lawsuit against Rummy:

Due to Germany’s refusal to halt a law suit against him, United States Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said he will not take part at the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, in February, according to Expatica.

The lawsuit, filed by the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights in December with the Federal German Prosecutor’s Office, accuses Rumsfeld of war crimes and torture in connection with detainee abuses at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison.

Listen, this war crimes/torture travesty goes all the way up to Gonzales, and probably up to President Bush.

I heard Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights this morning on Democracy Now!, and he was pretty convincing. Check out why Gonzales is in over his head:

My view is we're reaching a point in this lawsuit in Germany where something is going to give. We're filing major new papers, actually, today and Monday. One of them, of course, names Alberto Gonzales now as an additional defendant in the case. His testimony is one that really they could have put into a war crimes trial in Germany and said, “You're convicted.” Someone told me this incredible story about Germany and what happened with torture. One of the key people, Keitel, who got a death sentence in Germany was the man who scrawled on a memo to the high command about Russian soldiers that said, “Geneva Conventions? Obsolete rubbish.” Remember the word that Gonzales used to describe Geneva, “obsolete”. And when they sentenced Keitel to death, what they said was one of the reasons we're giving you the death penalty is for basically saying the Geneva Conventions are obsolete. So this is a very serious issue in Germany.

Note that Gonzales has been or will shortly be added to the list of defendants in the lawsuit. Gonzales is in deep shit, and rightfully so. He will soon be officially accused of war crimes, with most of the rest of the Bushies. Our Congress should not be confirming war criminals, nor those officially charged with war crimes.

Gonzales deserves a fair trial - war crimes trial, that is. Rummy and Bush and the rest of them deserve fair trials also, and I hope they're all convicted and sentenced as harshly as the law allows.

UPDATE: Gonzales added as defendant.

Stay Home Rice!

Not sure what all the talk about 'breakthroughs' is about between the monsters and the Palestinians, but Rice is sure to fuck it up.

And why is Rice being sworn in a second time? I mean, wtf? Yeah, I get it - she took a beating for being so fucking incompetent and for lying us into war - but do we need another swearing-in ceremony? Does that void the first? Fucking. idiots.

Tellin ya...she's headed straight to the Middle East and she's gonna try to put a stop to whatever Sharon and Abbas got going on. I'm not sure exactly why Bushco needs that whole Middle East conflict to remain, but I'm sure it has to do with money in the end. Hopefully, if they do have something going on, they can get it in place solidly before she manages to disrupt things.

UPDATE: A commenter made me realize that I should clarify 'the monsters' phrase above, which was indeed, rather sloppy, to say the least. The Israeli leadership, primarily. Sharon and company. That's who I consider to be monsters. As do I consider the current leaders of the United States to be monsters - Bush and company. There are of course, monster citizens of each country - not sure what the percentage is in Israel - 10%? 20%? Here, in the U.S., I gather it's 20-30% - the hard core religious extremist fundamentalist nationalists that support Bush and his policies. So, 'the monsters' in the original post refers primarily to Sharon and his direct political allies, but also his citizen supporters.

And I don't use the term 'monster' lightly. In fact, I do my best not to use it at all, but sometimes it just seems to fit too well - as if no other term will do. Need to expand the vocabulary, though, because I do agree with Brother Cornel, who says that it's essential we keep track of the humanity of the folks whose policies we oppose - even if finding and tracking that minimal amount of humanity is often a daunting task. I listen to civil rights leaders, and anyone else who has experienced war firsthand. They might not always be correct, but they've been there and done that, often in serving a noble cause - and that deserves respect.

Not that I really needed to point out the obviously devious nature of some of Israel's policies, but Raimondo helps us out with a timely article. If you need examples of the monsterishness of Bushco, just read a few posts of the blog you are now reading.

My sincere apologies to anyone who was offended by my sloppy writing. My emotions apparently got the best of me and my sloppy writing made it seem as though I think all Israelis are monsters - that is definitely not the case.

Iraq Elections Enter the Twilight Zone

Ok - there's a lot to complain about, but I couldn't resist when I saw this bizarro headline with subtitle - not that bizarro headlines are uncommon these days:

Iraqi candidates campaign to stay alive
Most stay anonymous as they try to win election

Hey Pete - who'd you vote for - 'anonymous' or 'anonymous'?

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Baghdad Under Control .. by Insurgents

Thanks to Slate (Slate?) for the tip-off to this NYT article:

But Dr. Naqib, a 46-year-old Sunni dentist who opposed Mr. Hussein, will not vote Sunday when Iraqis will have their first opportunity in a generation to participate in an election with no predetermined outcome. It is, he said, far too dangerous when insurgent groups have warned that they will kill anybody who approaches a polling station.

Starkly put, Baghdad is not under control, either by the Iraqi interim government or the American military.

On the bright spring day in April 2003 when marines helped topple Mr. Hussein's statue in Firdos Square, Baghdad, more than any other place in Iraq, was the place American commanders hoped to make a showcase for the benefits the invasion would bring.

Instead, daily life here has become a deadly lottery, a place so fraught with danger that one senior American military officer acknowledged at a briefing last month that nowhere in the area assigned to his troops could be considered safe.

"I would definitely say it's enemy territory," said Col. Stephen R. Lanza, the commander of the Fifth Brigade Combat Team, a unit of the First Cavalry Division that is responsible for patrolling a wide area of southern Baghdad with a population of 1.3 million people.

<cue loser right-wingers talking about 'freedom on the march'>

I think U.S. troops are tired of getting shot up and are refusing, either explicitly or using more creative methods, to go on suicide patrols. They're starting to see that this whole war was a play for Iraq's oil. And though they're still dedicated to Bush, they don't necessarily want to lose their balls for the man. Guess not having the daily dose of Fox really allows one to start thinking clearly...

Callous People

Drudge points us to this article of death and destruction on a California rail line. To me, it's the same old story, repeated thousands of times every year in the U.S. The details are not the same, but the essentials of the story are. The story usually goes something like this:

* girl loves boy.
* boy loves girl.
* girl devastates boy (e.g. sleeps with best friend, leaves boy, etc.).
* boy threatens to kill self/others.
* girl ignores.
* boy kill self/others.

This process could easily be turned around. It could by girl/boy, boy/girl, boy/boy - whatever. What matters is that people involved in love relationships often have a blatant disregard for the feelings of the other person involved - and this can lead to devastating consequences.

Different people snap at different levels of stress/depression/etc. I have no idea what this guy's particular problem was - the article mentions drugs - but let's just say at least one of the people involved decided she couldn't be bothered with making sure this dude didn't go off the deep end:

Alvarez's sister-in-law, Maricela Amaya, told Telemundo TV that he had separated from his wife, Carmelita, three months ago. She said the wife got a court order to keep him away, but he had tried to see his wife and son.

"He was having problems with drugs and all that and was violent and because of that he separated from her," Amaya said in Spanish. "A few other times he went around as if he wanted to kill himself. I said if you're going to kill yourself, go kill yourself far away. Don't come by here telling that to my sister."

So Mr. Amaya and almost certainly a lot of people thought it was OK to treat the now-criminal however they saw fit. So what if he's suicidal? So what if he can wreak havoc on innocents? It's not my problem - just keep the guy away from us.

Could Ms. Amaya have been justified in telling this dude to get away from them? Sure. But at some point I would have hoped that Ms. Amaya would have thought to herself the following:

You know, he doesn't seem too well. In fact, he's pretty much a basketcase. He's running around and screaming and crying and he's foaming at the mouth and he's saying he's going to kill himself, and he's going to kill himself in front of his child and stuff like that ... this is a little bit scary. I'm no health expert, but I'm starting to think that if I continue to be so callous in the way I treat him - he might come after me. Or he might come after my sister and their child. So, if I was smart, I'd probably tell someone about him. I'd better call the cops. Or, I'd better tell him to just calm down and relax and think about things. Or, something - because he's on the edge. He's losing it. Maybe he's already lost it. I'm not worried about him killing himself, necessarily, but I'm worried about him killing me and my sister and their baby - so, even out of purely selfish reasons, I think it's probably a good idea if I, you know, do something different. Try to calm him down - talk him down off that ledge - something. He's scary when he's all hyped up like that.

Well, Ms. Amaya and company got their wish. They were left alone, and their boy went to town on innocents that had nothing to do with Ms. Amaya's fucked-up family situation.

That Juan Manuel Alvarez is the primary person to blame is not in question - he will most surely spend a lot of time in jail or be put to death by the state if he doesn't manage to kill himself first.

But life is complicated. It takes two to tango. It took two to make a marriage. Two to make a baby. And it took at least two to produce the dynamic which led to the tragic death and injury of many innocents. Suffering from Ms. Amaya's cruel rhetoric ("if you're going to kill yourself, go kill yourself far away") are echoing all over California.

Note to Ms. Amaya and company: If someone says they're going to kill themselves, you'd better think about taking that person seriously, you dumbfucks!

People who do decide to kill themselves have nothing to live for, you dumbfucks. When was the last time Ms. Amaya and her cohorts stepped outside her little world to read about, or see on tv, the latest 'crime of passion' where some jealous or broken ex-lover has given up all hope and aims to make things right by suicide, murder, murder-suicide, or some other such travesty?

Fuckin clueless people. It is not OK to excuse these people. They must be held accountable - if not in a court of law then in the court of public opinion. Our world is complicated and tragic enough without having to worry about everybody else's personal lives.

We must educate people about the the costs of being cruel to people who have nothing to lose. We need to tell them:

Listen close you dumbfucks - it's not always all about you. Other people could be in danger here. S/he has nothing to lose. Do you compre-fuckin-hend?

I'm curious now whether there is any law to suggest that people who treat others very cruely can be held accountable - at least financially. This would certainly seem to be the case in a lot of divorce proceedings, but are there other examples that might apply to situations like this train disaster.

In fairness, to me, this particular case would not seem to be a good example, on first look anyways, of something that was prosecutable. But take a hypothetical: Boy cheats on wife with secretary. Wife catches them in the act. Wife pulls out an AK at the local MickeyD's and goes to town on a busload of schoolchildren. Would 'boy' be prosecutable for the crime of 'undue harshness' to his wife, and thus bear some responsibility for her killing spree? Guess I'd need to check out the case law surrounding crimes of passion. I'd definitely support looking at ways make all citizens a little more responsible to the community - and if that means prosecuting people for the crime of 'undue harshness', so be it. Let's talk about it.

How many crimes of passion are there for year in the U.S.? Or, specifically, how many killings? And how many innocents are killed? Looks like the problem is small enough, and the desire to keep government out of our lives significant enough, that social pressure is probably the only answer at this point.

...fixed a couple of typos, and added tags.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Time to pull the plug on Jeff Jarvis

Jeff Jarvis is the supposedly liberal blogger over at I don't know how he got his start - think he was a tv producer or something - but it seems to me his continued existence(?), influence(?) in the blogosphere derives from what little popularity he garners from television appearances. I say this having experienced very little of his blog writing, but I think it's possible to get the gist of someone's blogging skills by reading just a few posts. I wasn't impressed by his blogging a few weeks/months ago when I checked out his blog after seeing him on tv, and now, after stumbling upon a post from December 14, 2004, I'm horrified.

The post, entitled 'Juan Cole is pond scum', is reprehensible not just because it is extremely distasteful, but because I believe it is dangerous. It was a response to Juan Cole's mild analysis post, here. I believe Jarvis's reply is so hateful that it has the potential to provoke violence:

  • The man is pond scum
  • Cole is too deaf, dumb, and blind to see the liberal irony in that
  • you fool
  • Cole continues his spiteful idiocy
  • Just one problem with that, fool
  • Ali does a ... good job of telling Cole ... to go F themselves

  • The 'fool' is Cole - as addressed by Jarvis.

    I'm not sure of the author's goals for the post, but it seems to aim for at least one: make Juan Cole's views go away. How does it aim to do this? Intimidation, I suppose, would be the most immediate result of the hate speech employed by Jarvis.

    Receiving death threats is no fun, I imagine, and my guess is that Cole's popularity has made him a target of the right-wing fundamentalist wingnut crowd. By using hate speech as Jarvis has done he unleashes the wingnuts on Cole - giving them the opening they need to threaten his life without the implicit shame they might otherwise feel for doing something wrong. Now that Cole is no longer human thanks to Jarvis's post, he can be treated like an animal, or worse. Jarvis knows that the world is not made up people who can read his mind - or people who are emotionally stable - we get all kinds here. In this regard, bloggers and all media folks have a responsibility to maintain a certain level of discourse that is honest and decent, because we never know who is reading or watching. Jarvis fails miserably at this test.

    Jarvis's post is so distasteful that, at first, I thought it was satire. I thought this Jarvis dude was trying to make fun of a wingnut who would attack Cole for daring to disagree with the President of the United States. But I'm starting to get the feeling that this Jarvis dude actually authored this post. True liberals aren't afraid of dissent, and as such, encourage open and vigorous debate. Instead of addressing the very mild analysis in Juan Cole's post, Jarvis just goes batty - calling Cole names, using hateful language to describe Cole's intellectual faculties, arguing about things that Cole didn't even address, etc. It's almost like you can see the foam starting to protrude from the corners of Jarvis's mouth as he hacks away at the keyboard.

    Jarvis's hate speech deserves a response. He apparently still gets on all sorts of networks tv and radio stations, including Air American Radio. Anyone who calls themself a liberal and attacks a leading critic and decent guy in such an unseemly manner should not be invited back on that show. For all the many times I've disagreed with Cole, even vehemently, I've never gotten anything but a respectful response. If anything, he's been far too easy on U.S. policies in Iraq and elsewhere. Whenever I disagree with him, it's on this issue.

    Jarvis's comments section doesn't appear to offer comment-specific links, but here's what I wrote:

    Is this is a real blog? 'Deaf, dumb, and blind'? Did someone actually write that? About Juan Cole?

    'My friends'? People take this Jarvis cat seriously?

    I remember seeing this Jeff Jarvis-type dude on tv - he was supposed to be representing something about the blogosphere and then they said he was a liberal, and his blog was I thought, "shoot - never heard of that one". I did run across the site a couple of months later I think, but didn't pay it too much attention, apparently.

    And I don't know how I stumbled upon this site again today, but wow, talk about scary. Wingnut-type hate speech. Pro-Iraq War. Every Iraqi is the friend of this blog's author, apparently. And this dude is supposed to be a liberal? About as liberal as Kaus, right?

    There are some liberals out there who are ignorant and even downright stupid, but the author of this blog post is straight outta Fox hate-stupidity-ignorance-is-bliss-wingnut land.

    I was confused at first because I thought the author of this blog was supposed to be liberal (i.e. smart, relatively well-informed, able to comprehend simple blog posts, compassionate, etc.), but apparently not. Maybe someone's buying, but not me.

    Get help, brah, if this blog is not satire, that is.

    Jarvis should not be making any appearances on Air American Radio until we get that sincere, complete apology - that's for damn sure.

    Communism on the march?

    Freedom, Communism - same thing.

    I guess I'm not overly surprised, but it is - together with being entirely tragic - slightly amusing. The International Republican Insitute - one of many U.S.-sponsored 'democracy aid' organizations is keeping busy in Iraq. So, too, is the International Foundation for Election Systems (wiki page mine, suckas!). The IRI has been linked to the recent Haiti Coup, and I have my suspicions about IFES.

    In any case, they're both meddling in Iraq with our tax money. Let's see what they're up to:

    Funded by U.S. taxpayers, the Baghdad office of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs stands at the ambitious heart of the American effort to make Iraq a model democracy in the Arab world.
    . . .
    The work is in many ways entirely routine for the institute -- as it is for the two other Washington-based organizations that are here advising on the architecture of democracy: the International Republican Institute (IRI), which declined requests for an interview, and the International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES), which along with the United Nations is providing crucial technical assistance to Iraq's electoral commission.
    . . .
    "They're very good," said Jassim Hilfi, a leader of the Iraqi Communist Party who said he had read every word of the institute's Political Campaign Planning Manual and every other publication handed out. "They benefited us a great deal."

    The Communist Party, which predates the Baath Party that persecuted its members for decades, has mounted a vibrant campaign that political observers in Iraq say may outperform expectations in Sunday's balloting.

    "They were quite fair," Hilfi said. "We did not feel there was any segregation or playing favorites. Frankly, I'm very grateful. This was the only support we got from outside the country."

    Hey, I'm glad the Communists are getting some good use of my tax money. At least it's not going to waste. I'm not one to knock Communism (I think it's pretty cool, what I know of it), but most Americans stil view Communism as a relic of the 'Evil Empire', and as such, would probably not be overjoyed at the thought of their money being used to rebuild that particular entity. But you never know - Fox News, it seems, is capable of convincing people of almost anything, so maybe we should give the U.S. multimedia version of Pravda a chance?

    Now, why did the IRI decline requests for an interview? Does that make sense? I mean, are Americans not supposed to know that our tax dollars are going to support Communism abroad? Or, maybe we're just not supposed to know that U.S. elites really don't want a democracy at all - just another client state to serve the interests of U.S. elites? Got me. It's like Gunnery Sergeant Hartman said in Full Metal Jacket (paraphrasing) - the IRI didn't even have the common courtesy to give us taxpayers a reach-around.

    My view on U.S. foreign assistance in promoting democracy is realistic. Instead of running around the world attempting to influence elections by 'training the locals in democracy', I'd prefer we fixed-up our little democracy / oligarchy / whatever. I would, for instance, like to see every voting machine have a paper trail. I would, for instance, like to know that black people could vote with relative ease and success - free from intimidation. And I want their votes to count - not just allow them the ability to go in and cast a ballot - I want the votes to actually count. Things like that.

    So, like Chomsky, I'd prefer the U.S. just stay out of everyone's business. Words are great, but actions occassionally count, too. With IRI linked to the Haiti coup, and IFES operating in just about every country in the world, including at one time or another, all of the countries that the U.S. government was attempting to foment a coup, I'd just rather we just stayed home. We've got enough issues right here in the good 'ol US of A, thank you.

    Proof of IFES-CIA links, or straight-up IFES participation in terrorist actions in other countries is far from conclusive, but I have my suspicions. The current head of IFES, who has been its head since the Reagan years - and, of course, active in central America where Reagan was, to say the least, 'active' - is Richard W. Soudriette - one-time Staff Director for James Mountain (actual name) "outraged at the outrage" Inhofe. Let me see, staff director for extremist right wing loser congressman/senator, appointed head of a quasi-governmental 'democracy' organization under the Reagan administration, active in just about every country before, during, and after coups and other assorted disruptions in power. Yeah - I've got my suspicions. How bout we bring Mr. Soudriette and his cadre of 'election officials' and all their money (our money) back home where it belongs?

    The article also lets slip a couple of other realities on the ground:

    "If you walk into a coffee shop and say, 'Hi, I'm from an American organization and I'm here to help you,' that's not going to help," said one instructor, who was born in Iraq and is well versed in the region's widely held perception of U.S. hegemony. "If you say you're here to encourage democracy, they say you're here to control the Middle East."

    Iraqis know that Bush's pronouncements of democracy in the U.S. are just to maintain the U.S. public's support for his imperial policies.

    And, I thought this was kind of funny, in a tragic Republicans-supposedly-attempting-to-impose-democracy kind of way:

    "People were calling to apologize about being late," the country director said. "The troops were blocking the hotel, but they were waiting outside in the smoke and the wreckage and the body parts."

    Body parts.

    <cue Bush apologists ranting about me not telling the positive stories coming out of Iraqistan>

    Ok - here's one: Approximately 25 million people did not die today in Iraq.


    Tuesday, January 25, 2005

    Sibel Edmonds/ACLU Press Conference

    Sibel Edmonds has enlisted the help of the ACLU to go after Ashcroft/Buscho. If you want to know what happened on 9/11, who allowed it to happen, and who helped to cover it up, show up at this press conference in DC tomorrow.

    Date: Wednesday, January 26, 2005
    Time: 12:00PM-2:00PM
    Location: The National Press Club, Washington, DC

    Also check out Sibel's new website - has lots of good links and is up-to-date.

    Monday, January 24, 2005

    Go FISH

    A leading print propaganda arm of the American elite, the USA Today, tells us in unambiguous terms - we are fucked:

    American and Iraqi forces already are struggling with the military side of the conflict. If the elections go badly and the political side collapses into chaos, Americans will be facing a debacle that easily rivals Vietnam.

    <gulp> Did you just say ... easily rivals Vietnam?

    Indeed, if the estimated 20,000 insurgents succeed in destabilizing Iraq they will send a powerful message to potential future enemies of the United States: Americans do not have the will to wage a successful counterinsurgency.

    <gulp> Did you just say ... the U.S. loss in Iraq will embolden terrorists worldwide to take up arms against the U.S. and its allies because Bush's debacle has shown that the U.S., for all its military might, is actually weak, and can be defeated, just as in Vietnam?

    Much of the Sunni stronghold of Fallujah had to be taken room by room, with some Marines using a counterinsurgency tactic called FISH, or "fighting in someone's house." This entails clearing each room with a hand grenade before searching it.

    Well, at least we're not 'razing the village to save it'.

    Saturday, January 22, 2005

    Inauguration Day 2005 - Protest

    AP pics found at

    Think this one is from the Washington Post - a picture of an undercover police officer (shades of the secret police) dragging away a teenage girl:

    Wanted to make sure folks in China and other places could see we were struggling with them, so put these images on my server as well.

    Extremely proud of all my fellow protesters - especially the folks who took a beating. And especially to the younger folks out there. I was still wetting my bed at the age when a lot of these kids are out protesting - putting their moral courage on display and proving their physical courage. Without excusing the sporadic bits of violent behavior of some of the protesters, these thousands of protesters, especially the younger ones, serve as an example to us all in what it means to be American - to strive for justice and equality - and they provide the antithesis for the moral and physical cowardice of the Bill O'Reillys of the world.

    One nice side effect of all of our efforts will be further exposure of Bush as a very unpopular president within his own country - lowest approval rating for any 2nd-inauguration president in 50 years at 49% - even lower than Nixon's.

    Friday, January 21, 2005

    Washington Post Talking About Hypocrisy?

    Yes. They slam Bush for talking about freedom and all that fluffy stuff, all the while he maintains cozy relationships with the world's dictators who serve his purposes. Daily Kos does some further analysis, referring to State Department documents showing many of our close allies to be the worst of the tyrannies in the world.

    Why, then, is the Washington Post being hypocritical? Because, like George Bush, they are not telling the whole truth. They are 'lying by omission'.

    Everytime the WaPo talks about freedom and open government - condemning any number of countries around the world, but especially Iran - they should remind the American people why the U.S. has no credibility on the issue of freedom and open government when it comes to any government outside of our own. The U.S. is, I would argue, still a beacon of freedom to movements around the world, but those movement know all-too-well that the U.S. has no interest in helping them to achieve their goals, unless there is a very real economic benefit for U.S. elites in doing so. Let's build the case.

    Iran hates the U.S. Why? The American public does not know because the WaPo has failed to properly inform us. The WaPo should also make it clear that George W-loser Bush is not the first U.S. President, and will most likely not be the last, to be a hypocrite when it comes to 'spreading freedom and democracy' abroad. [Can you say ... Reagan?] They are bashing only one U.S. President - making it seem as if the U.S. hasn't, throught its entire history, cavorted (thanks, Condi), with the worst dictators in the world - both Republican Presidents and Democratic Presidents. This is a case of media bias, in a sense, but in another sense it is not. This article would be written about any President who so passionately preaches about freedom and democracy and then does his best to tear it down whereever it is not convenient (Iran, Venezuela, Chile, etc.). By point the finger only at Bush, the WaPo is able to conceal from the American public the larger truth, which is that the U.S. regularly makes these very strong anti-freedom, anti-democracy moves around the world.

    This 'lie by omission' from the WaPo is wholly expected, of course, because the elites of American society will only permit so much free speech to get into the newspapers, but it should still be condemned in the hopes that more U.S. citizens will become enlightened.

    One instance where the WaPo does point out the history of U.S.-Iran relations is here:

    "Saying the status quo is unacceptable is revolutionary," Melhem said. For Muslims, the U.S. legacy on political systems in the Middle East has been most starkly defined by the U.S. intervention in Iran to oust a nationalist movement to put the shah back on the throne in 1953 and by the U.S. failure to act, or even condemn the military, when Algerian generals aborted democratic elections in 1991.

    But as a result, Washington has a long-standing credibility problem -- and the administration will need to take concrete steps to prove it intends to follow through in ways earlier administrations did not. Bush's speech was short on specifics.

    "In the past, every time a U.S. official has talked about democracy and responsible government, people in the region have looked at them and said, 'You're running against a 50-year legacy of doing the opposite.' We grew up understanding that the United States would not tolerate real democracy as we'd end up with governments or leaders or ideologies that were not compatible with the West," Melhem added.

    While it's not the job of the newspaper to reiterate what is well-known to the rest of the world in every single article they ever write on the topic, they are bound to enable the American public to know the truth. This Wikipedia article on Iran does a good job of it:

    In 1953, Iran's prime minister Mohammed Mossadeq, who
    had been elected to parliament in 1923 and again in 1944, and who had been prime minister since 1951, was removed from power in a complex plot orchestrated by British and US intelligence agencies ("Operation Ajax"). Many scholars suspect that this ouster was motivated by British-US opposition to Mossadeq's attempt to nationalize Iran's oil. Following Mossadeq's fall, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (Iran's monarch) grew increasingly
    dictatorial. With strong support from the USA and the UK, the Shah further modernised Iranian industry but crushed civil liberties. His autocratic rule, including systematic torture and other human rights violations, led to the Iranian revolution
    and overthrow of his regime in 1979. After over a year of struggle
    between a variety of different political groups, an Islamic republic was established under the Ayatollah Khomeini.

    We've talked about Operation Ajax on this blog before, but I don't think we've really analyzed it at all. It's very typical of U.S. terrorist operations. A particular country has oil - lots of it - and U.S. and U.K.-based oil firms (Exxon, BP, etc.) have big financial interests in those firms. When a rule of a country does something to threaten the profits of our ruling elites (George and the boyz), they get overthrown. So, what we and the Brits did in 1953 in Iran, we also did in Venezuela in 2002. The 2002 coup against Chavez does not have the kind of supporting evidence as does the 1953 plot againt Mussadegh in Iran, but I think that may be because the Venezuelan coup was reversed shortly after it began.

    This Wiki page on the Shah gives us many more details on the history of U.S.-government terrorism for oily elites. Here's a brief clip of what I would consider to be typical post-overthrown support for the U.S. elites once a new dictator has been installed, but the entire page is very informational, so you should check it out:

    In 1951, Prime Minister Muhammad Mussadegh, a militant nationalist, forced the parliament to nationalize the British-owned oil industry, in a situation known as the Abadan Crisis. Despite British pressure, including a economic blockade which caused real hardship, the nationalization continued. Mussadegh was briefly forced from power in 1952 but quickly returned and forced the Shah to flee. It was assumed Mussadegh would declare a republic, but a few days later the Shah returned and again forced Mussadegh from office on August 19 with U.S. CIA support. Mussadegh was arrested and a new prime minister was appointed.

    In return for the US support the Shah agreed, in 1954, to allow an international consortium of British (40%), American (40%), French (6%), and Dutch (14%) companies to run the Iranian oil facilities for the next 25 years, with profits shared equally. In other words, 0% of control or profits went to Iran. There was a return to stability in the late 1950s and the 1960s. In 1957 martial law was ended after 16 years and Iran became closer to the West, joining the Baghdad Pact and receiving military and economic aid from the US. The Iranian government began a broad program of reforms to modernize the country, notably changing the quasi-feudal land system.

    Why would the Iranian people be mad at the good 'ol freedom and democracy-loving US of A?

    Bay of MiGs

    The internet is awesome. It can be time-consuming like crazy, but it's awesome. If I think I've been lied to - or had some wingnut spew some off-the-wall-sounding propaganda at me - a la Warner Wolf - let's go to the in-ter-net. Yeah - doesn't work - but you get the point.

    I was perusing the net tonight looking for some good Amy Goodman video. The more I get to know her work the more respect I have for her as a journalist. Chomsky and West have both heaped lavish praise on her skills - so that counted for a lot with me. I listened to her show this morning before heading out to the protest and then saw her interviewing some folks at the protest - couldn't figure out who - was killing me. But, in any case, I was curious to know what this chick was really all about.

    I came across some vido clips on the Democracy Now! home page. One clip featured an impromptu interview of then-president Bill Clinton on election day 2000 - when he was pimping Gore and Lieberloser and Hillary. So, he calls into Democracy Now! thinking that Amy Goodman was going to treat him like the king - like th rest of the SCLM - only she treated him like a guy who was collecting a paycheck, just like the rest of us. She got to ask him all sorts of questions, and in all the rambling, there was an exchange about a February 24, 1996 shoot-down of two U.S.-based planes in or around Cuba, supposedly by the Cubans. I thought that was very interesting - it was before my political time, but I wanted to check it out.

    Amy Goodman's question was to ask Clinton for his justification for the Cuban embargo. Clinton said, basically, that his hands were tied because of this shoot-down - he just couldn't do that much about the situation because Castro had really messed things up.

    So, I do some Googling, some reading, some linking, and stumble into a few interesting articles and slowly, but surely, the truth starts to emerge. First, I Google 'castro shot planes down' and find this article stating that there 2 U.S. civilian aircraft shot down - 1 got away. The planes were owned and run by a group called 'Brothers to the Rescue', described in the article as a Miami-based group of Cuban exiles funded by private donations, has flown hundreds of missions to spot Cuban rafters attempting to flee their island nations. Sounds reasonable, I thought.

    Then, I stumble across this near the end of the article:

    Jose Hernandez, president of the Cuban-American National Foundation, call the shootdown "an act of war" by Cuban President Fidel Castro.

    Act of war?! Whoa, doggie!! This article was posted on the net at 9:55 p.m. EST on the day of the incident, and already someone is declaring war? Sounds a little fishy...sounds a little like...the self-inflicted sinking of the USS Maine. The U.S. elites still coveted Cuba - prompting JFK to launch terrorist attacks against the tiny island nation - a.k.a. the Bay of Pigs Invasion - and it should be no surprise that some U.S. big business wanted access to Cuba bigtime. What was really going on here?

    So, I continue to dig. At this point, I'm thinking one of two things - either some CIA-sponsored American terrorists got killed while making another illegal/terrorism run, or some powerful Republicans group of lawmakers with some shady contacts pulled it off. In both cases, the idea would be to drag the U.S. into a war with Cuba - or, more appropriately, the idea would be to give the dumbass American people some reason for conquering Cuba. The American people don't need much to go on - any fig leaf will do (just witness this past invasion of Iraq) - so, I thought the stars might be aligning. The question was, did they pull it off cleanly enough to be able to drum-up support from the gullible U.S. public?

    The other possiblity was that some CIA-sponsored American terrorists just bumbled their operation somehow, and got killed as a result. I wasn't about to form opinions too quickly - I just wanted to continue reading and hyperlinking until the truth, hopefully, fell out.

    Next stop - the website of Brothers to the Rescue (Hermanos al Rescate). Nothing too out of the ordinary. Lots of Spanish. I hate Castro. Etc. Find a link in English titled 'SHOOTDOWN OF BTTR AIRCRAFT'. [BTTR = Brothers to the Rescue] We get this:

    After careful review of the available information and data, obtained by Brothers to the Rescue from expert independent sources and the U.S. government itself, we have enough evidence to prove that the Clinton-Gore Administration:

    1. Had prior knowledge of the attack,

    2. Consented to the shootdown,

    3. Collaborated with Castro’s Cuba to make the crime possible,

    4. Covered up its own participation, by using misinformation and efforts to remove evidence and potential witnesses, and

    5. Refused to indict and obstructed the criminal indictment of Fidel Castro and others responsible for the crime.

    So here's this anti-Castro group saying that Clinton had foreknoledge of the attacks. Interesting. I wonder if the Fox News crowd would have been screaming 'conspiracy theory' at these guys back then? [It was launched on October 7, 1996, so seems it was just a bit late for this little flag-waving, war-inducing incident.] No matter. Did Clinton have prior knowledge? Wow - this rabbit hole is getting deep. Before looking further into these allegations, which I don't have a feeling about one way or the other, i decide to broaden my search - let's get an overview of the evidenciary landscape, first.

    One of the interesting things about U.S.-led assassinations/coups/black ops is that they're pretty good at it, on the whole. [Either that, or they just seem pretty good because nobody has the power to stop them/us when they pull something off - even if it's out in the open.] Not everybody will be in on the loop. Or maybe this is the pro-Big Busines, pro-Republican, anti-Clinton brigade trying to force Clinton's hand.

    Reading some more I find this article on the 'Brothers' site. It's a letter from then right-wing-racist-Republican-Clinton-hating Senator from North Carolina, Jesse 'KKK' Helms. He's demanding an investigation. Maybe this is just a right-wing nutjob case? Maybe it wasn't even a planned nutjob case, it just turned into one when the opportunity presented itself?

    But then I hit this article again, the original from CNN, and in it, the sole survivor of the expedition to Cuba (or the Bahamas, or 'international waters' - more on that in a minute), Jose Basulto, the lone pilot/passenger of his place, oddly enough, doesn't at all seem to make a convincing case, if a case at all, that his boyz were shot down by Cuba:

    Group founder Jose Basulto was on a third plane that escaped the gunfire and returned to Miami.

    Basulto said all three planes had radioed Cuban air traffic controllers to identify themselves and report their intentions to search international waters for Cuban refugees who may be on rafts.

    Basulto described seeing two Cuban MiG fighters approach them while they were at least 20 miles north of the Cuban coast, 8 miles into international waters. Shortly after that, he lost radio contact with the other two Cessnas.

    "I kept calling them both and heard no answer," Basulto said. "At that time we decided to proceed north and go into the clouds for cover, because we feared that something dreadful had happened."

    Basulto said he has given U.S. officials the recording of the radio exchanges with Cuban authorities, which he said would confirm his story.

    OK - I'll buy that Cuba shot down the other two planes, but why does this account sound so unconvincing. It's just...fishy. Was there actually gunfire? If so, why no account in the CNN story? Not even an extremely limited version of events - like a maybe from one of the two downed planes - unless they were literally blown to pieces in mid-air? And were the planes not traveling together? Maybe Basulto took off for Miami and the other two scattered as well, hoping that at least two of them would get away? Maybe they all headed home at the same time and only two got dinged? Or maybe they decided to push their luck with Castro - not taking his warnings seriously? Warnings?! Yes.

    This article says the U.S. was searching for four people known to have been on board the missing flights. I remember reading that only three U.S. citizens had been killed. Which is the correct number? This aricle sheds a little light - only three were U.S. citizens. What nationality was the fourth? Cuban? Who was he? And why was he in the United States? And what was he doing flying with the anti-Castro Hermanos? Interesting.

    This supposed Helms release says three planes were shot down, not two. Probably just a typo, but you can see how people were struggling to find the 'right truth'.

    Finally, we come across an article that doesn't let the Hermanos off so easily:

    Two small planes of the right-wing, Miami-based group Brothers to the Rescue were shot down by Cuban air force fighters off the island’s coast February 24, killing all four occupants. Cuban officials said the planes had invaded the nation’s air space, while the crew of a third plane in the convoy claimed they had not.

    Brothers to the Rescue, ostensibly a group of volunteer pilots looking for Cuban raft emigrants, has focused on overtly political actions against the Cuban government this year. Group planes flew over Havana on January 9 and 13, dropping half a million leaflets urging “non-violent direct action” against the government and prompting Cuban warnings that future flights would meet a strong response.

    Now, it's much more of a he-said/she-said. There will still be political implications, but I feel we're getting closer to the truth. Things are starting to add up.

    The Virginian Pilot tells us that the planes, although shot down in international airspace, were under Cuban air traffic controller jurisdiction. I presume that means the planes were a heck of a lot closer to Cuba than to the United States - just to make sure we maintain some perspective here.

    This article lends credence to my hypothesis that maybe there were no mayday calls because the planes that were brought down were more blown to pieces in mid-air than they were 'shot down'.

    This article talks about how the Hermanos had made at least one propaganda run into Cuba before.

    This independent media report cites all sorts of good stuff, like the repeated FAA warning to the Hermanos, the investigation that was at least opened, if not closer or conducted, by the U.S. if not the FAA regulation rule-breaking that the Hermanos were doing, and some other stuff.

    This article shows that the U.S.-led UN Security Council voted unanimously (13-0) to condemn cuba for breaking international law. The kicker is that there was no punishment - e.g. sanctions - attached to the vote. It was just a war of words. One the U.S. seems to have won. It looks to me like everybody knew the U.S. was lying, but they just didn't care. China and Russian abstained. Why? They didn't want to condemn a fellow Communist country? OK - I can buy that. But they say they abstained because the resolution didn't include any verbal rebuff to the U.S. for allowing the illegal flights to have continued in the first place. OK, I can buy that, too.

    Still, the unanswered question is, where were the planes shot down?

    Here's a document (PDF) from the permanent representative of Cuba to the United Nations listing all of the known U.S. terrorist operations against Cuba from 1990 until about 2000.

    Here's on interesting listing from the document on Mr. Basulto:

    15 May 1991. José Basulto, former Bay of Pigs mercenary, known terrorist and CIA agent, founded the so-called “Brothers to the Rescue” and for that purpose asked the United States President, George Bush, for three United States Air Force 0-2 aircraft,
    the military version of the Cessna, which had been used during the war in El Salvador. Congresswoman Ileana Ros campaigned publicly and lobbied for the three aircraft to be provided. On 19 July 1992, the first photos appeared in the press of the aircraft provided to this counter-revolutionary group with the acronym USAF clearly visible, in an article by the publisher of The Miami Herald, who had flown in them.

    True? No idea, but I'm inclined to believe a document submitted to the UN Security Council. Breaking promises and treaties and spoken words are one thing, but it seems like written words take on a whole new meaning - no country wants to get caught with their pants around their ankles - their lies exposed for the world to see. It's not that a country can't stand once it's caught in a lie, it's just that it's embarrassing - so, most seem to try their best to avoid it.

    Here's the incident in question:

    24 February 1996. “Brothers to the Rescue” launched another foray. Three light
    planes violated Cuban airspace very close to the centre of Havana; two of them were
    shot down. In the 20 months preceding that incident there had been at least 25 other
    violations of Cuban airspace.

    More? Here's an interesting article from the BBC on some lady who is the daughter of a U.S. terrorist who went to Cuba to overthrow/kill Castro, but was killed himself. So what does his daughter do? She sues! And wins!

    Here's an article on the family of the three shot-down American pilots who were able to successfully sue Cuba for money because they were shot down while supposedly on a humanitarian mission.

    If the U.S. and UN have said it was in international waters, then I'll probably have to side with them. This article from the Miami Herald says two important things, according to me: 1)

    The report most significantly concluded that a Cuban MiG-29 jet shot down two of the Brothers' Cessna 337 aircraft in international airspace and not over Cuban waters, as Havana claims.

    and 2):

    U.S. radar data in the ICAO report show Costa also overshot his assigned lane by five miles and that Basulto flew 7.5 miles past his lane and penetrated 1.7 miles into Cuban airspace. At his cruising speed of 150 mph, it takes about 41 seconds to fly 1.7 miles.

    So, the planes were shot down in international waters/airspace, but at least one of them did, in fact, fly into Cuban airspace before being shot down. So, were the Cubans justified in shooting them down? Of course. If a Cuban plane flew into U.S. airspace intentionally I'd chase down it if it took me chasing it all the way to China to accomplish the task. Sounds like there are lots of deatils in this reports, so read up if you're into it.

    So, we really need some source documents. Here is Resolution 1067 (1996) (Shooting down of two civil aircraft on 24 February 1996) (PDF). Check out the language they use in these docs - so absurd - like one long, run-on sentence:

    Noting the resolution adopted by the Council of ICAO on 6 March 1996 which strongly deplored the shooting down of the two civil aircraft and which directed the Secretary-General of ICAO to initiate an immediate investigation of the
    incident in its entirety in accordance with the Security Council Presidential
    Statement of 27 February 1996 and to report on that investigation,

    Commending ICAO for its examination of this incident and welcoming the resolution adopted by the Council of ICAO on 27 June 1996, transmitting the report of the Secretary-General of ICAO (S/1996/509, annex) to the Security Council,

    Welcoming also the report of the Secretary-General of ICAO regarding the
    shooting down of civil aircraft N2456S and N5485S by Cuban MIG-29 military
    aircraft, and noting in particular the conclusions of the report,

    The investigation document from ICAO is here (PDF). This reads differently than I expected starting out:

    The Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)
    yesterday concluded its consideration of the report on the 24 February 1996 shooting down of two United States-registered private civil aircraft with a resolution (see Attachment A) reaffirming the principle that each contracting State shall take appropriate measures to prohibit the deliberate use of any civil aircraft registered in that State for any purpose inconsistent with the aims of the Convention on International Civil Aviation.

    The wording is a little confusing to me, but let me see if I can sum up what I think it says:


    All these articles we've been reading haven't really come out and said anything about the importance of the U.S.'s sponsorship of these terror flights - it's like, they existed, and it's somewhat important, but what's more important is that Cuba didn't follow the rules once it caught the U.S. breaking the rules. But this report from ICAO makes no mistake - first sentence, boom, rightful condemnation of the U.S. Not bad. Didn't mean that truth would ever see the light of day in the U.S. media, but I still gotta give it to the ICAO - they did more than I thought they would.

    This report also doesn't hide the fact that the U.S. knew something was going to go down, if not exactly how and exactly when. [Shades of 9/11???] So that corroborates the Brothers' testimoney/complaint about the U.S. government having prior knowledge. The question is, how much did they know, and when did they know it? That question, my friend, will not be answered in full - I promise - not for a little embarrassing incident like this. And it was an embarrassment for the U.S. - no doubt. That's why Clinton and Burton and Helms and Albright had to work so hard to cover it up. The U.S. was complicit in, at a minimum, attempts to overthrow the government of Cuba - not necessarily an idea you want floating around on the open market. It could tend to ... destabilize things in more areas than you intended.

    The UN Security Council apparently issued a press release on the matter - a.k.a. Press Release SC/6247.

    Why does Dan "Scumbag" Burton's name show up in some places around here? Apparently, the dude gets a lot of cash from the Miami area - even though he's an Indiana congressman. Go figure.

    But you thought that was it? No way, man! Espionage mf! That's right - what international terror-plot is complete without a spy trial?

    Noting the Herald's early report on ICAO's findings, check out this little tidbit:

    In an intriguing aside, ICAO noted the previously unreported presence of a U.S. Navy plane, a P-3 Orion, usually used for submarine-chasing duty, in an area north of Havana on Feb. 24, though far to the north of Cuban airspace.

    Pro-Havana sources in the United States have said a ``U.S. spy plane'' was somehow involved in a plot to use the Brothers pilots to embarrass Cuba.

    Without saying whether the Orion was involved in the incident, the ICAO report includes a statement from the unidentified Orion pilot, who said the crew was performing routine tests with an air-dropped acoustic receiver -- a sonar buoy that listens for subs in the area.

    I mean, that is some bizarre stuff. That brings us back to USS Maine/Bay of Pigs/Operation Mongoose stuff all over again. Unreal. Just when you think you're starting to get to the bottom of something - boom - the rabbit hole just keeps getting deeper! Now wonder we could never figure out conclusively that LBJ killed JFK! U.S. spies, double-agents, covert ops, international law. Wow.

    Want more connections? The Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act is the law passed to institute the embargo against Cuba - whatever exactly that means - i.e. this law is the embargo. Well, let's just say it's also known as the Helms-Burton Act. That Helms and that Burton - the ones making all the war on Cuba speeches? Yep - those clowns.

    ICAO got a brand new building in October of 1996? Wow. Interesting. Hey - I'm just saying it's the kind of thing that could make a guy go a little easier on his sugar daddy. The U.S. pays 22% of the UN budget, followed by Japan (19.63%), Germany (9.82%), France (6.50%), the U.K. (5.57%), Italy (5.09%), Canada (2.57%) and Spain (2.53%). The bazillion other countries make up the other 25% or so of required funding. [Why is the U.S. still in arrears to the U.N.? i.e. why do we have a debt to the UN? That's not right-wing, holier-than-thou, elitist, ethnocentrist snark - it's just a question.]

    To make this international crime-thriller espionage incident all the more real, this CNN article includes a video clip that a cruise ship passenger caught of the aftermath of the shootdown. Video doesn't really show anything - just a black trail of smoke on the horizon - but still, interesting.

    What's a MiG? Check it. Ummmm...don't think I'd want that, or any jet, raining pellets down on my village. I remember all the MiG talk in movies like Iron Eagle back in the day.

    Thursday, January 20, 2005

    DC: No Free Speech Zone

    DC IndyMedia points us to a US Capitol Police press release banning, it seems, free speech:

    Prohibited Items

    Firearms, weapons of any kind, ammunition (either real or simulated), explosives of any kind (including fireworks), knives, blades, or sharp objects (of any length), aerosol sprays, coolers, thermal or glass containers, mace, pepper spray, sticks, poles, pocket or hand tools (such as a leatherman), packages, backpacks, large bags, duffel bags, suitcases, laser pointers, posters, signs, placards (including supports structures), animals other than guide dogs or service dogs assisting handicapped individuals, strollers, chairs, umbrellas, alcoholic beverages, and any other items at the discretion of the security screeners that may pose a potential safety hazard.

    [Bold text, mine.]

    Note - it's not just 'support structures', but posters, signs, and placards. This shit is ridiculous. Fascists. Maybe the prez is afraid of paper cuts. Or maybe he thinks we're going to make him read something.

    The true reason, of course, is Bushco doesn't want anyone out in tv-land to know there are millions of people who vehemently oppose hit elitist, pro-rich agenda. Our posters are not a threat to Bush's physical security, but they are a threat to his policies. If the tv-land audience sees him being disrespected, they'd realize he wasn't a king - and wouldn't be able to so easily deify him in their minds. This would, in turn, lead them to question his policies. That, of course, would be the worst of all possibilities for Bushco, which is why they'll do everything in their power to hide us dissenters from public view.

    I've got my digital camera. Let's get it on!

    Tuesday, January 18, 2005

    Lies My Teacher Told Me

    Dropped an email to the head of the Social Studies (i.e. history) department at what is now my former high school:

    Hi Mr. Freihon,

    I'm a 1991 graduate of Cedar Ridge High School. I recently came across a book called Lies My Teacher Told Me, and was curious if you'd heard of it. I know it's an ominous-sounding title, but after reading it, and A People's History of the United States, I'm inclined to think the title fits - in general. It's not a slam against teachers, per se, as the title might suggest, but more a critique of the institutional problems surrounding our history textbooks and a celebration of courageous history teachers who teach 'outside the book'.

    Almost no amount of teaching 'outside the book' could, it seems to me, make up for the brazen misstatements, half-truths, and lies of omission that I was fed by my history textbooks throughout my grade school years. To say that I'm only angry at having been indoctrinated like this would be understatement in the extreme.

    But, like Mamie Till Mobley, I'm not going to spend a minute hating. Instead, I'm going to help fix the problem.

    Mr. Freihon, is there a problem at all, in your opinion?

    Thanks for your time.


    Brainwashing children? No, I'm not angry. Who's angry? @#$#!$!%#!$%!@#$$% !!!

    Monday, January 17, 2005

    Mike Barnicle: Plagiarist?

    Apparently so.

    There are some things in professional life that are very close to being unforgivable. Plagiarism, for journalists, is one of those things. Sure, we can talk a nice game about forgiveness and second chances, but once you've soiled your repuation in such a dramatic and harmful way, you may not deserve that second chance at being a journalist. If you want to go back to school and become an accountant, or lay bricks for a living - fine - I'm not stopping you. But your dishonesty in public life was bad for our democracy, and you should be severely reprimanded/punished for it.

    The Constitution gives special protection to journalists because of the role this nation's founders had envisaged for them - watchdogs of the government. Being a plagiarising journalist is worse than being a steroid-pumping Olympic weightlifter. A plagiarising journalist, I would argue, is akin to being a bribe-taking politician, because it has the capacity to corrupt our democracy. I don't really care if some cheater loses his/her Olympic medal because of blood doping. I do care if my democracy - if you call can call it that - gets further corrupted. This corruption should be stomped out wherever it occurs. [Armstrong Williams responds: There are others!]

    I was reading about the plagiarising Barnicle on Altercation, here, which pointed us to Alterman's new 'Think Again' column in The Nation, here. Apparently, Barnicle has been hired by MSNBC. Nice.

    I knew the name sounded familiar, and then I saw the face and realized I'd seen him before, for sure, on The Daily Show. [The 'Ruth-Less People' clip, with Rob Corddry, is awesomely funny. Come on, Corddry! But, we digress.]

    It's important to note who's lying to us, how often, and how boldly so we can be sure to weigh any evidence that liar puts before us in the future, and treat it with the appropriate skepticism. If we do not take note of the liars in our midst, we may fall victim to disinformation - as have the majority of Fox News viewers, apparently.

    As to the number of misconceptions held by their audiences, Fox far outscored all of its rivals. A whopping 45 percent of its viewers believed all three misperceptions, while the other commercial networks scored between 12 percent and 16 percent. Only nine percent of readers believed all three, while only four percent of the NPR/PBS audience did.

    Disinformation, of course, is the death syrum of democracy. So, if you think democracy is a pretty good concept, and you want us to attain a higher/better form of it here in the U.S., you should pay attention to who the liars are in the media, and try to stop them from spreading disinformation.

    Mike Barnicle does not deserve the easy opportunity he is being given to fool the public again. But past Barnicle, I'd like to address the cancer that is media corruption (plagiarism being just one form), in general, because it goes to the heart of one of the major problems in our country today - misinformation and the integrity of our media. With so much of the American public so grossly misinformed, we need to ratchet-up the deterrence efforts against bad journalism and the spreading of misinformation and propaganda. Here's my take.

    I believe that, generally, everybody deserves a second chance, but there are exceptions. Sex offenders, in my opinion, generally fall into the category of those not deserving of a second chance. Why? Two reasons. One, from everything I've read on the topic, sexual offenses such as rape are so completely devastating to the rape victim/survivor that our society should decide to not allow an offender the opportunity to commit such a devastating crime again. This SacBee special (which you should read) says that some victims describe rape as 'unfinished murder'. I wouldn't know, but from my reading I'd say that's a pretty good description of the crime of rape. So, rape crimes are inherently devastating to at least a single individual.

    The second reason sex offenders don't, in general, deserve a second chance, is that, again, from everything I've read (which is not 'everything', but it is signficant) many sex offenders can't be reformed until they're castrated in some form - either literally or figuratively. Chemical castration has happened - even here in the U.S., I believe, and I'm guessing physical castration has occurred also - though that may be more a thing of the past - at least in America. 'Figurative castration' can take the form of locking away in prison a sex attacker from their potential victims until such time that the attacker is guaranteed to no longer be able to devastate innocent peoples' lives - like, when the attacker is dead (yes, life sentences without parole are not too harsh a punishment for some of the cases I've read about). Removing the opportunity to rape from the lives of sexual predators is a good thing. Many rape survivors would testify, I'm sure, that they wished their attackers weren't set free after being declared 'reformed' or as having 'paid their dues to society' in the form of some not-long-enough jail sentence. In summary, some crimes are so horrific, and their perpetrators so compelled to commit those horrific crimes again, that they should not ever be given the chance again.

    Similarly, I think we should treat plagiarising journalists very harshly - lock them up, rhetorically speaking - forever if necessary. They shouldn't be allowed such an easy opportunity to corrupt our democracy again. No major media outlets should ever again take seriously a plagiarist (Mike Barnicle), paid propagandist (Armstrong Williams), or lying political hack (Robert Novak). If any of these guys were having a really tough time finding work as faux journalists, I wouldn't have to write this.

    Now, I'll try to prove that plagiarism and media corruption, in general, meets both conditions for 'permanent lockdown' - 1) the devastating nature of the crime, 2) the compulsion for the criminal to repeat their crimes.

    One the first point, what makes plagiarism and other forms of media corruption as dangerous as a sex crime? Well, a single plagiarised/corrupt/lying/misleading article does not devastate a single individual the way a sex crime does, but it can move whole populations of people towards ways of thinking that can be devastating to populations of people. Take all of the fake genetic science articles gemmed up by the Nazi propaganda machine to make their citizenry believe that killing Jews and blacks and gays and Poles and leftists and others was justifiable. Twelve million dead people later, the world decided that media corruption was probably not such a good thing. But media corruption did not start in Nazi Germany, and it didn't end there. [Check out this great new site I just found -!]

    On the second point - whether corrupt media folks are willing to continue their deceitful ways - I would argue this is cleary a 'yes'. Media Matters for America is doing some good work in tracking all sorts of media corruption. Mike Barnicle. Armstrong Williams. Robert Novak. They've got all sorts of good stuff on just about every conservative hack out there.

    The kicker on this second point is that these 'journalists' are rarely, if ever, punished - so they really have no incentive not to lie and distort again. That's very different for sex offenders who know they'll go to jail if they get caught, yet they can't seem to help themselves and commit more crimes anyways. In the case of Novak, at least, he continues to repeat false and misleading statements over and over - regardless of the outcry from his many critics. So, in short, all media corrupticians are almost inherently guilty of this second point because very few of them are ever held to account for their deceptions. They are free to continue their lying, unabated, and they do - at least, Novak has. Barnicle is not quite as guilty, yet is still embarrassing. And I'm not sure what's up with Armstrong Williams yet - he's sure to get a lot more scrutiny now, since he's been outted as a paid propagandist.

    So, do these hacks deserve a second chance? Maybe. But I would argue that at least Novak has had his second chance. He was outted as a liar, given a second chance, and failed to correct the error of his ways. In fact, he's been given a third, fourth, fifth and more chances and he's continued to make false/misleading statements. What can you do when a political hack is running around your neighborhood spreading disinformation everywhere he can? Appeal to the decency that hopefully resides in most of us and say 'this is not right, we need to put a stop to this'. Keep saying it - over and over and over. Eventually, people might see the passion you've displayed and take up your cause.

    We should note that the guy who founded Media Matters for America is noneother than former-Republican-political-hack-liar-extraordinaire, David Brock:

    David Brock is the author of four political books, including The Republican Noise Machine: Right-Wing Media and How It Corrupts Democracy. His preceding book, Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative, was a 2002 New York Times best-selling political memoir in which he chronicled his years as a conservative media insider. Brock serves on the advisory board of Democracy Radio Inc. and is the recipient of the New Democrat Network's first award for political entrepreneurship. He is the President and CEO of Media Matters for America.

    So, does David Brock deserve a second chance? Like Novak, I'd argue he's had his second, and more chances, already.

    So what do we do when the guy stops writing in the traditional sense, and starts his own organization that criticizes some part of the media? I don't know. It's not exactly bricklaying, but it's a position that requires we trust what he's saying/writing, and we have no basis for that trust - none that I can imagine. I guess look at the work, if you are so inclined, and decide if it's worth your effort to discern if he's telling you the truth this time.

    Sounds like a good career plan. Hack for conservative rags - lie - make millions. Then, after you've amassed a small fortune corrupting our democracy, switch sides - start telling the truth - express your profound sorrow - reveal that you've found God - whatever works - then sit back and watch your investment portfolio mature. Nice.

    Some will take offense that I am comparing plagiarism with sex crimes. I am not trying to equate the two. I am, however, trying to make the point that corrupt journalism - in all its nefarious forms - is an extremely serious offense and should be treated as such. No single 'corrupt' article will devastate a single innocent person's life the way rape can (though, I'm sure a case could be made for victims of hate crimes whose perpetrators were driven by corrupt journalism/media/propaganda; e.g. The Turner Diaries), but it can put a chink in the armor of democracy, and together, with hundreds or thousands of other corrupt articles/media, corrupt media can bring down our democracy, bringing untold suffering to entire populations of people.

    Would the U.S. have illegally invaded Iraq if most of the television-watching U.S. population had actually been correctly informed on the situation? Most likely not. The current level of media corruption in our country today is downright scary. We need to wake people up to the tools and techniques that are being employed again them to make them think a certain way. One of the ways we'll do this is to point out the liars in our midst, and here, examine why those liars are so dangerous.

    We, as (hopefully) decent people, should have a reasonable expectation that those caught in the act of plagiarising - one of the high crimes of writing/journalism - will come clean when they are caught. Mike Barnicle did not. He plagiarised on several occassions, was busted, then lied to either his editors (another journalism high crime) and/or his readers (another journalism high crime). Yet his reputation up until a few minutes ago, as far as I was concerned, was 'popular sports-type writer dude from Boston area', but it should have been 'plagiarist. makes shit up. but, he's still a pretty popular commentator. think he got his start doing sports-type stuff up in Boston'. That's a big difference.

    I actually don't know if he's been busted plagiarising again since he was outted, and I'm guessing that answer is no, but I'm not overly eager to find out. I know what I need to know for now, which is if I happen to run across anything from Mike Barnicle, don't waste my time reading it - parsing it for the truths and untruths - because there are lots of other good/interesting writers out there who have taken the time and mustered the efforts and courage to be truthful - or be better liars than Barnicle. Those that tell the truth deserve our respect and our eyes before Barnicle does. Those who have not yet been outted yet are due our righteous and everlasting scorn when they're finally caught.

    Mike Barnicle's story is typical of right-wing hacks in that he used his influence with the monied power-brokers of the conservative media to keep his position - he literally refused to quit. Can you imagine that conversation?

    Editor: Mike, you're a plagiarist and liar. You're fired.

    Barnicle: No, I'm not.

    Editor: Yes, you are.

    Barnicle: No, I'm not.

    And on from there. It's ridiculous. It shows how you can survive as a paid propagandist in the media if you make enough money for them without saying anything overly critical of them.

    Too funny. Or not.

    Sunday, January 16, 2005

    WaPo: Deny Torturer-in-Chief, Gonzalez

    Sometimes, even a corporate-controlled newspaper is allowed to take a stand for minimal human decency. Speaking on Gonzalez' legitimizing of torture, which of course, has already given tacit approval for Saddams around the world to torture their prisoners (including captured U.S. soldiers and citizens), the WaPo has this to say:

    Senators who vote to ratify Mr. Gonzales's nomination will bear the responsibility of ratifying such views as legitimate.
    To the spineless Dems who even contemplated voting for Gulag Gonzalez - don't sweat my vote - you're not going to get it anyways.

    And to those jaded by the MSM (ahem, me), anything is possible - if the WaPo can come out advocating against having an admitted torturer and lawbreaker as the chief law enforcement officer of the United States, then maybe, just maybe our Senators will show enough humanity to do the same. If you haven't made that phone call, written that email, dropped that snail mail yet - now is the time.

    Saturday, January 15, 2005

    Social Security Scare of 2005

    We must act now or else the social security trust fund might end up in Manhattan looking like a mushroom cloud ... or something like that.

    The Bushies spent almost an entire year making false statements, misleading statements, cheating and lying their asses off, to scare Americans into supporting the illegal invasion of another country. Now they're trying to do the same with Social Security.

    Here's how Bush plans to sell his new plan - the same way he and Condi (the original 'mushroom clouder') and crew sold Iraq to the clones:

    The campaign will use Bush's campaign-honed techniques of mass repetition, never deviating from the script and using the politics of fear to build support -- contending that a Social Security financial crisis is imminent when even Republican figures show it is decades away.

    Sounds about right. Lie. Repeat. Repeat again. Once more. And again. Again. And Again. Don't stop now. You're doing good now. Lie again.

    OK - you get the point.

    Over, and over, and over again. From the left (rhetorical left, that is), from the right, from above and below, front and back, from either and all sides. You'll never know exactly what time the attack is going to come, only that it eventually will, because it always does.

    You won't know exactly who it is going to come from, but you know someone is gonna have to deliver it. Occupation soldiers around the world know that the people they're repressing will use any and all tactics available to them to get rid of the oppressors - including breaking any and all norms of behaviour, including the laws of war, armed conflict, Geneva Conventions, etc. Just as guerillas of oppressed countries will use women as human shields to conduct their raids, Bush and his allies will use reporters as human shields for their propaganda. It'll be a guerilla war of propaganda waged against Americans by Americans. And what tactics will the American terrorists use to wage this war?

    "There are a lot of tools we used in the '04 campaign, from regional media to research to rapid response to having surrogates on television," he said. "That whole effort will be focused on the legislative agenda."
    So there you have it. Regional media outlets who are easier to buy off will promote Bush's Social inSecurity plan. Private 'research companies' like CATO, The Heritage Foundation, and the American Enterprise Institute will be paid off to conduct and promote 'research' which, imagine that, says exactly what Bush's folks want it to say. 'Rapid response' organizations paid for by GOP/Republican money, including astroturfing groups, will send out thousands of letters and make thousands of phone calls to people promoting the Bush agenda. 'Surrogates' like the criminal, CIA-agent-outing Robert Novak and the recently-busted Armstrong Williams will promote Bush's agenda on television and in print.

    The Americans doing the attacking are hardly Americans in any positive sense of 'being American'. These people, Bush and his apologists, are the people who supported the Vietnam War, aided Saddam before, during, and after his gassing of the Kurds, and invaded Iraq - all morally reprehensible - all illegal - and all involved should be in jail, still. People who would probably call themselves Americans - people like Bush and his cronies - are hardly American in that they stand for almost no postive values. Decency. Democracy. Valuing human life. Bush and his conservative allies stand for just the opposite of all these things. No amount of words can change that reality.

    Being born into U.S. citizenship hardly does a U.S. citizen make - at least, morally and intellectually. Bush and his supporters may be U.S. citizens by the legal definition of the term, but that's about it.

    Those of you out there who sat through Fahrenheit 9/11 will recognize these scare tactics immediately. The 'War on Terror' was dreamt-up by the powerful elites of our country - Bush and his cronies - to benefit themselves. That's all. If you bother to look at the evidence, you'll see that Bush and his friends are busy making us less safe, rather than more safe - as they claim. You have to start following their actions rather than their words. It requires work - a lot more work - but it's possible. If you start with a healthy dose of skepticism, everything will work out fine. If you start, instead, by believing that politicians are telling you the truth - giving them the benefit of the doubt - you are ruined. And we, as a country, are ruined.

    Those of you there who did not yet watch Fahrenheit 9/11 will once again be duped into dragging your country and its people down. Afraid of a little movie. Disgusting. There's a word for that - moral cowardice. Go rent it from the library if you don't want to put money into Michael Moore's pockets.

    Whatever excuse you use to justify your ignorance is just not good enough anymore. People are suffering tragically for your ignorance. We are all ignorant at some level, but some of us try to achieve enlightenment - however slight. The point is that we try - we're trying to become better citizens. By sitting in front of Fox News exclusively, you stay in your little cocoon of ignorance. This intentional ignorance is not ethical. It is not moral. Change your behavior - if not for the sake of your family and friends, then for the sake of your country - still, however improbably, the leading light of freedom in the world today.

    Here, in Bush's weekly radio address, we note that the weasled one breaks out the scare-mongering talk - using highly-charged words like 'bankruptcy' and repeating them over and over and over to scare us all. He talks about Social Security being 'on the road to bankruptcy' - which is technically true - though that bankruptcy isn't scheduled to happen for another 70 years.

    When was the last time the United States government fixed a problem on time, much less 70 years ahead of time? People would have to be complete morons to believe that Bush wants to fix Social Security. Bush doesn't give a flying fuck about Social Security one way or the other. His supporters despise it, though, and Bush and his cronies see an incredible opportunity to further enrich themselves and their corporate backers - Wall Street, in particular.

    Yet the clones will believe anything Bush says, apparently.

    For you clones out there, let me help you figure it out. It'll go something like this for the next few months:
    * bankruptcy, bankruptcy, bankruptcy
    * massive debts, massive debts, massive debts
    * bankruptcy, bankruptcy, bankruptcy
    * bankruptcy, terror, massive debts
    * mushroom cloud.

    Got it?

    Then, after America is once again scared shitless, the Rethugs will ram a massive tax giveaway and Social Security-busting bill through Congress.

    Mission Accomplished.

    Bush in Babylon: The Recolonisation of Iraq

    That's the name of a book by Tariq Ali that I read before Bush invaded Iraq. One thing is for sure - Tariq Ali was pretty confident that we'd get our asses kicked over there. He's one of the very few - maybe only - guy who seemed almost certain that we'd leave Iraq with our tail between our legs. Give the dude his props.

    Check out his appearance concerning this book on Democracy Now!. It's an eye-opener, even after you think you've heard it all.

    I was reminded of this book when I saw this little article, talking about how U.S. troops fucked up Babylon while trying to defend themselves.

    The book was pretty good, but it had a lot of middle-eastern and Iraqi history which I just couldn't appreciate - it was too complicated. I really liked the author's style, though. Straight. Tough. Some good UK-type prose in there. He seemed to be very much a Chomsky-type guy - just dishing it out to imperialist countries - not giving a flying fuck about who was listening or how much the truth hurt them. You gotta respect that.

    The dude's got a serious vocabulary, and apparently a serious command of history. And he's not from the white/Christian-type English/American background - so we get a whole new perspective.