Blog Archive

Sunday, November 30, 2003
An Invitation to Violence
Living in South Florida, I had naturally followed many of the stories coming out of the FTAA protests in Miami (photos below), especially the AFL-CIO protests that were marred by an overly-militarized police presence (to say the least). Having experienced similar police militarization during my "Vietnam days", I've come to hate even the sight such police preparations.

On the surface, it is understandable. Out of oftentimes hundreds of thousands of protestors at such gatherings, perhaps only a handful arrive with any violent intent. Still, on those occasions when these few overly-zealous protestors ("bad actors") do succeed in initiating violence, one hardly wants any police officers (or anyone else for that matter) to suffer injury as a result. Hence, the heavy defensive armourment adorned by the police.

The dynamics of crowd control

Still, there are other dynamics that comes into play when crowd control becomes excessively militarized; dynamics of fear. These dynamics of course involve both sides. The police, having been issued such protective equipment by their superiors, clearly understand the message being given from above; these people are dangerous. The protestors, upon seeing such armourment, clearly feel threatened by the display. The intent, of course, is that if each side sufficiently fears the other, a stand-off of sorts will be maintained, and "rational actors" will reject any violence goals. Or so goes the theory.

Of course, people under the stress of fear do not always act as "rational actors", and this is where the problems with over-militarized crowd control occur. With both sides in a naturally "hair trigger" defensive posture, even quite small events can appear distorted and enlarged through this lens of fear. Heavily-armed officers properly attempting to confine a larger-than-expected crowd may appear as attackers to the protestors, and relatively minor altercations within the crowd might appear falsely as the start of a riot to the police.

The "other" dynamic

Yet still, there is another dynamic that comes into play here; the dynamic of overwhelming strength. When two sides are opposed on some issue, both are held in check when each side is allowed to display some comparable advantage over the other. This was the doctrine of "mutually-assured destruction" during the Cold War, and as fearful as that doctrine was, it was nonetheless successful. Each side had its "comparable advantage", and so both kept an arms length distance from each other. It is this very dynamic that breaks however down when the police responsible for crowd control are as militaristically superior to the crowd as they were in Maimi, and indeed as they were at Kent State.

Under this overwhelming strength dynamic, the side possessing it feels little restraint in applying that strength in almost a casual fashion. Meaningless incidents in the crowd become excuses for a show of strength by the police. And this is the danger present in over-militarization of the crowd controllers; that they will use this strength simply because they have it.

Now it is not my intent to bash the Miami police here, though certainly some of their actions went way over what was reasonable. But we must understand that not only are "bad actors" allowed into the protesting group, but they are also present within the controlling group. Neither group has any realistic ability to bar bad actors from their numbers, though both groups do indeed try.

The word from Miami

The protests are over, but already some Miami news pundits are calling for their civic leaders to conduct inquiries regarding police brutality during them. This would seem to be proper and I would certainly support that, but I can hardly imagine that any such investigation would be effective. Buried forever in my mind is that photo from Kent State. [For any who might not remember, it was a heavily-militarized Nation Guard unit that fired on student protestors, killing four of them.] There were inquiries held back then also, but no one was ever charged in these deaths, and no one recieved even a reprimand.

Follow the money

Though I followed the protests themselves, I was somewhat lax in following the subsequent commentary. Avedon Carol at The Sideshow points out one of my omissions:

With the activists recast as dangerous aliens, Miami became eligible for the open tap of public money irrigating the "war on terror". In fact, $8.5m spent on security during the FTAA meeting came out of the $87bn Bush extracted from Congress for Iraq last month.
This is outlandish. The American public was outraged by the $87 billion recent authorization, but properly felt trapped. But this this money was supposed to go to Iraq (and to a much lesser extent, Afghanistan), so how did it end up in Miami being used against protesters of our financial foreign policies?

The answer is fairly simple: Miami wanted help, and the Bush administration diverted funds to provide it; funds that led to the overmilitarization of the Miami response to the protests. We did not intend that the $87 billion be used to supress free speach in America, but the Bush administration clearly played fast and loose with our money. What we believed to be necessary money for our troops in Iraq was actually diverted for rubber bullets shot at our own citizens.

An investigation?

This is where any investigation should start. Certainly the civic leaders in Miami would take any federal monies offered to defray their costs. The alternative would be to tax their own constituents for the police costs of the FTAA meeting. Given that they were given literally a blank check, and given that the Miami respose was an over-militarization, the investigation should start with those who wrote that check. And that kind of investigation will not come out of the check's recipient.

And as Avedon suggests, write your congessmen if this sort of stuff bothers you as much as it does me.

For seniors with drug expenses sufficient to "span the donut" in the new Medicare drug supplement, it would be cheaper to fly them to Canada, put them up in a luxury hotel, and limosine them to a Canadian drug store to purchase their prescriptions.

~ Senator Bob Graham (D-FL, quoted roughly)

Saturday, November 29, 2003
It's time for Bush to go.David Neiwert of Orcinus on growing up conservative, missed invitations, and when politics becomes personal:
It is hardly different in nature from the kind of hate regularly spewed by the cross-burners at Aryan Nations ... There is a special quality to eliminationist rhetoric, and it has the distinctive stench of burning flesh ... (T)his is a large part of what is happening to our national body politic: People in key positions of media and conservative ideological prominence (Coulter, Limbaugh, even Bill O'Reilly) exhibit multiple symptoms of being pathological sociopaths, either antisocial or narcissistic, or a combination of both. And not only their fellow participants in the conservative movement, but mainstream centrists and even liberals are unable to figure out that there is something seriously wrong with these people because they are projecting their own normalcy onto them. They cannot perceive because they cannot believe -- that, above all, these people are not operating within a framework guided by the boundaries of basic decency that restrain most of us.


Friday, November 28, 2003
Monkeys can say 'I Don't Know'
... so holy that he had his daddy pour cooking oil over his head ...Chris Floyd on the recent Patriot Act expansions, anointing with oil, full-contact lap dancing, and a cross-dressing martinet :
Don't kid yourself -- and don't let them kid you. When they come at you with that pious sugar, telling you how they're going to protect you, secure you, keep you free, you better run and check the back door – because that's where their goons will be breaking in. ... All Ashcroft's boys have to do is say, "Boo! Terrorism!" and they can take whatever they want. ... As usual, the power grab was accompanied by earnest pledges that it would only be used in the most extreme cases of genuine terrorist danger. ... This was, of course, the usual load of mule manure we've come to expect ...


Wednesday, November 26, 2003
Via Sideshow, the Dems who voted for this rape of seniors that this presciption drug bill is:
  • Lincoln (Ark.)
  • Carper (Del.)
  • Miller (Ga.)
  • Breaux (La.)
  • Landrieu (La.)
  • Baucus (Mont.)
  • Nelson (Neb.)
  • Conrad (N.D.)
  • Dorgan (N.D.)
  • Wyden (Ore.)
  • Feinstein (Calif.)
Note that last name. Feinstein needs to go. We simply cannot have weak-livered Democrats in leadship positions.
Tuesday, November 25, 2003
The other shoe
America built a prison and put the world on Death Row
By John Kaminski
My life is like a cage of pain. Oh, I'm healthy enough for my age, though I eat too much junk and don't exercise enough. I talk to the most brilliant people, caring people, the ones most aghast at the way the world has become a slick cistern of vicious lies, where the truth is what powerful men say it is, and the old values like honor and sacrifice are laughed at by teenage boys boogie boarding in the surf and trying to figure out a way to live their lives without working. In this still warm November sunshine, trudging aimlessly along a pristine beach, amid shorebirds scurrying for their next meal, I feel like I am on Death Row.

Of course I am embarrassed to say this, with my easy life and available contentment all around me. I am shamed by men like Ernst Zundel, who languishes in his tiny prison cell in Canada, abused by callous guards and corrupt judges, who can speak of the noble nature of mankind and how it is time to organize that urge and rise up against the maniacs who enslave us with their jingoistic doublespeak. How can he, who has so little, see so much freedom, and how can I, who have so much, feel so imprisoned?

Sometimes I imagine I am living the life of the world, and try my darnedest to see where it is going, where things are headed. I haven't seen any dolphins this year, all year. Used to be, last year and before, I'd see them everytime I looked out to sea. But red tide's been in all summer. Shouldn't swim in it. Get a sore throat. But usually it doesn't smell like it sometimes does, when it makes you cough. The blight doesn't keep the tourists away. They're happy enough to have escaped the snows of New Jersey. But it miss my dolphins. It's not a good sign.

And I miss other things, too. Yes, of course that girl who lit my life but insisted I was lying. That's probably a lump of coal that will never leave my throat. But I miss my country, too, the one I was taught to believe meant liberty and justice for all. What a joke that was, when you finally get around to reading how George Washington slaughtered Indians in Ohio or American soldiers went around executing peasants in Vietnam without anybody ever hearing about it until 40 years later.

Of course, of course, and about American soldiers murdering innocent families in Iraq. Operation Iraqi Freedom, right? Freedom from life, is what.

I miss my country, the one I was taught I had. I think soon too I will miss my planet, given the condition of the fractured ionosphere, the particulated air, the poisoned oceans, and the toxic soil. (A friend put her hands in her garden in a well-heeled Sarasota subdivision recently and came out with chemical burns that took weeks to heel.) This is not to even mention the radioactivity being spread around the planet. You know. It's in the bullets. Oh yes, and also in the sperm of the soldiers who come home in one piece.

In the bright sunshine, dimmed somewhat by those curious chemtrails in the sky, I feel like I am on Death Row. And it's more than the doctrinaire existential dilemma of turning 59. Death from old age would be a comfort to look forward to. It's just that more and more I feel hope is being systematically removed from the world. That a great extermination is about to take place. And, through my inattention to things economic and my willingness to speak about my dreams, I am in the lead phalanx on America's inexorable death march toward Camp Ashcroft.

Others I talk to share my malaise. I hope they have more food in their cupboards than I do. But they too will face this moment.

It was compelling to read the other day of the interview in Cigar Aficionado magazine of retired Gen. Tommy Franks saying one more terrorist attack in this country and all Constitutional guarantees will be terminated. It is one of the great satisfactions of my life that ten minutes after the so-called terrorist attacks of 9/11 I exclaimed, "This was an inside job!" It's nice to have been proven right, even though a majority of Americans have yet to catch up with the obvious evidence.

Looking forward to that first Red Alert, where nobody will be allowed to leave their homes, and the military will come around, checking out everybody, house by house, no doubt dragging a few away kicking and screaming. Or, maybe they'll sedate you on the spot.

It was somewhat reassuring today to read a letter from a Wyoming newspaper stating that anybody who would work as hard to prevent an investigation into a crime obviously had something to do with the crime itself. This is a revelation that is slowly dawning on all Americans: that all those people in New York and Washington were murdered, not by Arab terrorists, but by rich businessman and contemptuous bankers, who are all still profiting from the business of mass death.

Yet the realization comes too slow, too late. Not one politician dares even whisper the sentiment. OK, LaRouche.

I am reading increasing signs that the bottom is about to drop out of the American dollar. They're talking bread lines in '04. That will be a great campaign slogan for all those disgusting Democrats who steadfastly refuse to discuss the real issues that are destroying America and the world right before our eyes.

In the meantime, with freedom and the health of the planet precariously hanging in the balance, the needless killing continues: not just in Iraq and Afghanistan, in the Philippines and the Congo ... you know the list - it's long. The needless killing also continues here at home. Did you know that deaths from reactions to properly taken medicines exceeds the totals for auto accidents and cancer? Check out those new designer drug ads on TV and imagine how many extra people they're killing. I love that story about how the death rate goes down when doctors go on strike.

That's the place America has come to, and Americans deserve it, too, because of their sheer, selfish inattention to what has been happening, to what has been done in their names. And as with the extermination of 60 million native Americans that has served as the models for genocides by both Stalin and Sharon, Americans don't really care about who gets killed as long as those sale prices stay low.

It's a sunny day. I feel like I'm on Death Row. I feel like the Earth is on Death Row, and America, George W. Bush in particular, is the executioner.

It feels like the other shoe is about to fall. Will it be an environmental catastrophe, the bursting of the Earth's atmospheric bubble by America's satanic tinkering with the ionosphere, or the collective poison of chloroflourocarbons (or was it fluorochlorocarbons?) denuding our protection from the sun's potentially deadly rays?

Will it be from some designer disease like AIDS or SARS or Ebola suddenly lurching out of control as the American government continues to insist it is tinkering with these poxes only for defensive purposes?

Will it be chemtrails to finally choke the life out of us, or that government-issued bronchitis that everybody seems to have right now? Or will we all die of thirst when all the water supplies are finally privatized and firmly controlled by multinational corporations? Who will make the decision on who will drink and who will not?

Perhaps some new electromagnetic pulse weapon to blow our brains out through our ears in a single, massive moment?

Will we be blown to bits by a suitcase nuke planted by the Mossad and blamed on al-Qaeda? Does everybody know yet that all these explosions all over the world are being carried out by the CIA/Mossad operation known as al-Qaeda? And speaking of that, have you heard anything new out of the official government investigation into 9/11? No, I didn't think so.

Will we be beaten to death, or at least seriously injured like they were on the streets of Miami last week for simply trying to express their First Amendment rights (oops, sorry, we no longer have Constitutional guarantees) and protest the continuing destruction of the American economy?

Will we be spirited away in the middle of the night for pointing out that all those peasants murdered in Afghanistan and Iraq lost their lives for reasons that were demonstrably untrue? Or that the U.S. government prosecutes poor people for misdemeanors committed trying to stay alive, but doesn't prosecute rich people who kill millions and steal millions? That is truly American justice, and maybe should be codified in the Patriot Act. Hell, maybe it already has been.

Will it be the food that will get us, or the Diet Coke? Or will it be our own children who will kill us, recently arrived back from "police action" in Iraq and joining our local constabulary, and eventually treating their own families just like they did those hapless folks in Iraq?

Or will it be starvation, the worst way of all to go. Many already face this problem; many more are sure to in the next few months when prices rise like they did in Argentina and the money is suddenly worth next to nothing.

The other shoe. It's about to drop. The giant leather sole of a combat boot, about to press down on our very own faces. Be sure and listen carefully when it does, when you see the last light of day snuffed out by the giant jackboot of corporate America smashing down on your face. You will hear "The Star Spangled Banner" playing smartly in the background.

This is what the storied history of America has evolved into. Liberty and justice are gone, and the phrase "under God" is a meaningless campaign slogan to anesthetize churchgoers who refuse to think or listen. America's penchant for building prisons is now a worldwide operation. There is no one to stop it ... except you. What chance do we have? We are all on Death Row.

Except for a certain, chosen few - those who are willing to lie, cheat, steal and kill, and take the money for doing it - we are all Palestinians now. America's Autopsy Report: 
The Internet Essays of John Kaminski

John Kaminski is the author of "America's Autopsy Report", available by writing to him. Other columns by him are available here.

By publishing John's views, Benedict@Large does not mean to imply endorsement of each of them. They are published here out of respect for his views and out of respect for his dedication towards those views.

America is a country that now sits atop the precarious latticework of myth. It is the myth that work provides rewards, that working people can support their families. It’s a myth that has become so divorced from reality that it might as well begin with the words “Once upon a time.”


Monday, November 24, 2003
Big Brother redux:
It was all over the blogs and progressive news services, so you've probably run into the New York Times' "F.B.I. Scrutinizes Antiwar Rallies", which released details of FBI efforts to develop "intelligence" at various large-scale demonstrations. Acording to the article, "F.B.I. officials said in interviews that the intelligence-gathering effort was aimed at identifying anarchists and 'extremist elements' plotting violence, not at monitoring the political speech of law-abiding protesters." Sure.

In fact, this could easily be an exact quote from Hoover's Vietnam-era FBI. That's what they swore they were doing back then, but here's how it works: They take names. They take photos. And they don't throw this stuff away when they are done. The put it in files. They put it in your file. Then they say that "you have nothing to worry about if you weren't doing anything wrong." Sure.

The fact of the matter is that having an FBI file creates a presumption of guilt, and worse still, there is no indication in these files as to what the individuals might have be suspected of doing.

"It's a different world after 9/11," says John Ashcroft and his cronies. It certainly is. It is a world where hundreds of thousands are suspects just on the chance that a few might misbehave. And so, as in the Vietnam (and McCarthy) days, we return to the implementation and installation of the Big Brother state, a time when our government fears dissent and everyone who does so ends up in some secret file just for "our own protection".

This is the politics of fear, something we seemed destinined to return to once every generation. And this politics of fear was alive and well last Friday as the energy and Medicare votes distracted our attention from the passage by both the House and the Senate of H.R. 2417, the "Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004". As the bill's title suggests, this is one of the appropriations bills typically passed late in the sessions of both houses. But buried in this bill are cherry-picked provisions from the leaked "Patriot Act II", a bill Ashcroft affectionately calls the "VICTORY Act". Among the provisions (via TalkLeft) from that much detested act that made it into H.R. 2417:

  • Expanded use of national security letters ("sort of" subpoenas, but without the clumbsy necessity of judicial approval) to businesses such as car dealerships, casinos and pawnbrokers.

  • A resumption of funding for the TIA (Total Terrorist Information Awarenss) system, though "only" for continued research (as if they were doing anything else on it when it was defunded).

  • Pilot programs to examine whether analysts from one agency should have access to raw data (what the "Office of Special Plans" used to con the nation into Iraq II) from another and to improve information sharing with state and local governments.

  • A new intelligence office in the Treasury Department to improve coordination (of your FBI dossier) with intelligence agencies on fighting terrorist financing.
One must wonder whether Mr. Ashcroft keeps a copy of "1984" on his desk as his "go to" legal reference.

Naturally, all this comes on the heels of the right wing NewsMax review of General Tommy Franks' Cigar Aficionado interview in which the general says "that if the United States is hit with a weapon of mass destruction that inflicts large casualties, the Constitution will likely be discarded in favor of a military form of government." (I would note that Franks does not appear to be advocating for this, but rather merely cautioning.) His point is well-taken, but I must disagree with him one one point: He characterizes this as some sort of major change in our government when, as we can clearly see with this group in power, it is likely to be but a baby step by the time it happens.

Further comments on TIA:
I've written on TIA over a number of forums, so let me summarize my viability analysis of it here. (Note that this is a technical analysis based on my many (40+) years in systems development, though I will try to keep it in fairly simply terms.)

The idea of TIA is quite simple: Analyze data from many sources in an effort to identify patterns that could be indicative of terrorist activities. There are two high level elements of this that are essential:

  1. Data collection: Identifying desired data sources and obtaining access to them.

  2. Data analysis: Development of algorithms (roughly: programs) that can perform the necessary screening of data and pattern reconition.
Let me address the data analysis first, for this is what most would fear from such a system. What we fear here is not so much that such algoriths can be developed (they likely can), but rather that they will be sloppy in their threat identification process, gathering too many non-threats in the desire to not miss a real threat, or that once the data component is developed, the government will misuse this capability, applying it to free speech dissention activities. Both of these are quite real possibilities, and merely having "checks and balances" in place might well not be sufficient given the hidden nature of cyber-threats. Clearly, abuse of the data collection is almost trivial, and worse yet, undetectable in a sufficient timeframe to prevent harm to innocent parties. And this is our primary concern and a quite real concern.

There is a greater threat in this TIA concept however, and it lies in the data collection aspect of it. (I am not referring to it's misuse here, because I've addressed that above.) This threat lies in the volume of data to be processed. We've all been "WOW"ed by these impressive computing machines that we can buy at astonishingly low prices (in computer terms), and have come to think that they can do anything. If fact, they cannot. Computer sall have breaking points, when what is asked of it simply exceeds its capacity. You've probably run into this as the infamous "blue screen of death" on your own (Microsoft) computer, but it exists on all computers, no matter how large. Your computer is running along just fine when suddenly it just freezes and you've crashed. This is explained by queuing theory, where your computer seeming is running fine right up to its limit when it is really under great stress. Now I am not going to even attempt to explain queuing theory here but to say that it exists (well-documented) and that it explains quite well a number of crashes your home computer probably has experienced. The important point is that all computers have limits, and they behave very badly when they are reached.

There is one element of queuing (and computr) theory that we are interested in however, and that is overhead. Overhead is essentially what your operating system (Windows or whatever) is doing in the background as you work with this or that program and even multiple programs simultaneously (multi-tasking). In fact, your home computer is multi-tasking even when you are using only one program (don't ask), and it is this multi-tasking overhead that eventually brings down stressed computers, as their need to do this outstrips their ability to do so. But what does this have to do with TIA?

What I've essentially been trying to describe here is how computers reach their limits. They reach them via this operating system multi-tasking overhead. They reach them when this component simply has too much to do. And that's where TIA will fail.

In a sentence TIA will fail because in order to be effective, it will have to have a quantity of data that it cannot handle.

Consider what the TIA prospetus is asking for: bank records, credit card records, pawn shop records (?), auto rental records, and even the beyond-belief Google data base. Let's look at this last one.

Google maintains a record of every query you make using it. If you additionally have Google on your browser's tool bar, it records every site you visit. This is certainly a massive data base, but it is one that Google uses only internally (so far) for the ordering of its search results as presented to you each time you make a query. But this would certainly make a tasty treat for TIA if Google were to sell access.

But now we have to consider how access to the Google data base would be implemented by TIA, as well as how TIA would implement access to the many other large data bases it would require in order to be effective. Certainly, this collection of large data bases would have to be spread across multiple computers, and it is unlikely that TIA could actually access the original copies of these data bases. Their access methods would not be compatible with TIA search methodologies. Google access to their own database, for example, is undoubtably serial as opposed to the random that TIA would require. (Serial is record by record in the order in which they appear. Random would be your name as a key, with every record having your name appearing directly.) Serial is trivial, while random introduces a lot of overhead into the data base itself. All of this overhead comes out of the data base and into the computer being stressed. Add to this that multiple computers are storing the data, each with it own overhead relating to the necessary communications that must go on for effective TIA access to all of this data, and you have a failure waiting to happen. The fact of the matter is that TIA wishes to process more data than can be processed by any computer in the foreseeable future.

All of this relates to the inherant danger of TIA from the data base size perspective. In a phrase, no computer or set of computers can handle this data need. They will simply "max out" on what they are envisioning with TIA. They will run into queuing theory.

So TIA, as envisioned, cnnot work. This would seem to be good news, except that is not. What it means is that the ambitions of TIA will be scaled back, and this very scaling back will present our government with hundreds of "false psitives", each one of which will create an FBI (and elsewhere) file on you. In essence, we would be better off with a TIA that did work as opposed to one that does not.

The mega-merger scandals, the S&L scandals, the felony greed of Tyco, Enron, WorldCom and the like, and the more recent raiding of corporate pension funds, public pension funds, 401(k)'s and mutual funds. What's going on? Dick Meyer, Editorial Director of, calls it the predator class, "a professional, well-trained elite, supported by large institutions, that is adept and willing to use corrupt practices to accumulate wealth."    -- via Dr. Menlo @ American Samizdat

Commentary: I've seen rants against right wing pundits on ESPN (!), but then they hire Rush for football commentary. I've seen highly critcal reviews of Ariel Sharon on Haaretz, but you won't much find these in their print version. And now this from CBS. Clearly, these organizations have different public and cyberstate faces. I suppose that this difference is justified by marketing considerations, and that is fine. Still, we are advised to remember that just because we read articles like these on-line in no way indicates that they are also reaching the general public. We still have a long way to go.
Did the Brits also have their own "Office of Special Plans"?
"Operation Rockingham [a unit set up by defence intelligence staff within the MoD in 1991] cherry-picked intelligence. It received hard data, but had a preordained outcome in mind. It only put forward a small percentage of the facts when most were ambiguous or noted no WMD... It became part of an effort to maintain a public mindset that Iraq was not in compliance with the inspections. They had to sustain the allegation that Iraq had WMD [when] Unscom was showing the opposite. ...

"Britain and America were involved [in the 1990s and up to 2003] in a programme of joint exploitation of intelligence from Iraqi defectors. There were mountains of information coming from these defectors, and Rockingham staff were receiving it and then selectively culling [picking out] reports that sustained the [WMD] claims. They ignored the vast majority of the data which mitigated against such claims."


Grabbing the booty and running: Bush
Chris Floyd finds a parallel the American POWs from WWII and Gulf War I in their subsequent treatment by the US administration:
Although the "conquest" of Iraq has unraveled into murderous chaos, at least the Bush Regime is winning its ferocious battle against another dangerous foe: American soldiers who were captured -- and tortured -- by Saddam Hussein's forces in the first Gulf War.

The Bushists' relentless fight to block the American captives from receiving any compensation from Iraq has eerie echoes of a similar move, more than 50 years ago, to prevent American victims of Japanese torture from filing legal claims against their tormentors. The two cases seem tied by a common ulterior motive: protecting war booty used as slush funds for "black ops" and crony kickbacks.


Donald Rumsfeld just said that he had no "metrics" for determining how well his war on terror was going. Perhaps he should drop by the Brookings Institute's Iraq Index: Tracking Variables Relevant to Reconstruction & Security in Post-Saddam Iraq for a lot of his answers, a series of 23 tables aslo available in PDF format.
Friday, November 21, 2003
Following the AFL-CIO march, some protesters threw smoke bombs and set fires. WFOR-TV CBS4
Demonstrators attempt to pull down a fence while protesting the Free Trade Area of the Americas conference Thursday. LUIS M. ALVAREZ/AP
A statue of U.S. President George Bush is toppled in London's Trafalgar Square, Thursday Nov. 20, 2003, in a reenactment of the destruction of Saddam Hussein's statue in Baghdad, as part of a demonstration against President Bush's state visit to Britain. (AP Photo/PA, Sean Dempsey)
Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Via t r u t h o u t, a London Observer article by Ed Vulliamy. I can't even begin to offer a comment on this. These people need to be permanently removed from polite society.
From the Archives: "None Dare Call It Treason"
Perhaps the best on-line article covering Bush v. Gore, the Supreme Court case that handed Bush the presidency. Originally published in The Nation on February 5, 2001, Vincent Bugliosi's article is a classic. If you missed it back then or just want to reread it, this is where to do it.
Sunday, November 16, 2003
David Neiwert of Orcinus follows up on his recent "Creeping Fascism" post with "Hatred, anger, and the 2004 election", in which he addresses the increasing tone of violence in the rhetoric of the Right against those with whom they disagree (us). This is an important topic that I've mentioned a number of times over the past year both in my own posts and in my comments to others' posts. Neiwert presents a good history in this post of the development of this meme recently.

As someone who came of age during the Vietnam protests, I find the parallels between then and now to be most obvious: Now, as then, this violence and eliminationist meme is being fostered by the more extreme conservative pundits. Now, as then, as the Left begins to win the argument by strength of reason and real world events, the disagreement of the Right turns to anger, the anger turns to hatred, and the hatred turns to talk of violence against the Left. Once this meme of violence is firmly established, each of the pundits then seek to "out-do" each other on it, gradually ratcheting up the description of violence, all the while claiming quite disengenuously that they are not actually advocating for this violence. And yet now, as then, there is no other end possible to this; the times may have changed but people remain the same. Then, it was Kent State. Now, it will be somewhere else, but it will be somewhere. And now, as then, the punishment will fall only upon the victims of that violence as the pundits all creep away to hide behind the red, white, and blue of their faux patriotism.

And the chimp smirks because he cannot smile.

Saturday, November 15, 2003
Dreamers and Idiots
From a trio of articles in The Guardian over the last few days, we gain some additional perspective about the high-level political dealings during the run-up to the Iraq War:
In "Bush and Blair - the betrayal" (Sidney Blumenthal, 11/14), we learn that it was not Colin Powell's suggestion that moved Bush into seeking a UN resolution against iraq, but rather Tony Blair's insistence that Bush do so as a condition of Britain's support. We learn that when the last resolution failed, it was Blair who insisted that Bush revive the Israel/Palestein peace process (which Bush had abandoned) for the continued support of Britain. We learn that Tony Blair stuck his neck out irretrievably in the good faith belief that George Bush was a man of his word. Bad move, Tony.

In "Sharon broke vow to Bush" (Chris McGreal, 11/14), we find Ariel Sharon promising Bush to dismantle settlements, but only doing so for photo-ops for the press. Instead (as a leaked memo from the Israeli foreign ministry points out), their claim "that Israel has fulfilled its side of the 'road map' is seen as lacking credibility because not only have we not evacuated the illegal outposts, we are working in every way to whitewash their existence and build more." Sure.

Finally, George Monbiot puts together as no one else can the increasingly desparate peace offers from Saddam during the run-up in "Dreamers And Idiots" (11/12). As Bush said, "It's Saddam's choice" between war and peace. The American people "can know that every measure has been taken to avoid war." Except that it wasn't and we can't. It was the exact opposite to what we were told by George Bush and Tony Blair.

And it wasn't only Saddam who was offering peace. It was also the Taliban in Afghanistan, ... except that George Bush turned them down also. So George Bush, when offered a choice between peace and war, always opts for war. And as always, Muslims are expendable.

So everyone betrays everyone. Blair betrays the British people. Bush betrays Blair and the American people. Sharon betrays Bush and the Israeli people. And always, always, always, ... Sharon and the Lukidites at the bottom of the mess in the Middle East. That's one hell of a way to run foreign affairs.

And the chimp smirks because he cannot smile.

     The 400th U.S. soldier died Friday in Iraq.

Total Fatalities since May 1st "Mission Accomplished" speech: 263
US deaths since July 2nd "Bring Them On" speech: 197

Average Fatalities/Day, October: 1.45
Average Fatalities/Day, November: 4.27

Source: Iraq Coalition Casualty Count

Friday, November 14, 2003
Ashcroft washes blood from his hands.Global Eye -- The Inhuman Stain

Chris Floyd returns with his weekly op-ed:

"There is a horrible scandal eating away the heart of the American body politic. Among the many corrupted currents loosed upon the nation by the Bush Regime, this scandal is perhaps the worst, for it abets all the others and breeds new pestilence, new perversions at every turn."
So what is this scandal? Is it sending people off to foreign lands where we know they will be tortured? Is it our own torture centers overseas? Is it the arbitrary designation of "an enemy combatant"?

No. It's us.

Gore Vidal carries Chris' idea further:
"But then, [Benjamin] Franklin said, it will fail, as all such constitutions have in the past, because of the essential corruption of the people. He pointed his finger at all the American people. And when the people become so corrupt, he said, we will find it is not a republic that they want but rather despotism — the only form of government suitable for such a people."
Bush 'Confesses' Indifference to Lies & Bloodshed in Holy War
"This is no case of bad intelligence estimates or miscalculation. Based on his ideology, as articulated in his speech last week, Bush doesn't care how many lies he must tell or how much blood must be shed to impose the will of the U.S. in Iraq. For him, this is a holy war."
  OK, I'm back.  
Benedict@Large is currently undergoing a re-write. The appearance here will change quite dramatically over the next couple of days. During this time, some of my posts may not look quite right. Sorry for that.

Some new developments:

  • I've set up a parallel blog called Black Box Notes. This site mirrors what some of you have been getting through my e-mails regarding issues surrounding electronic voting. Take a visit there if this issue interests you (it should), and hook up with the RSS/XML feed there to keep track of the latest.

  • I've also publishing for a few weeks on a group blog called "American Samizdat". Dozens of liberal writers drop by there to post from time to time, and I'm sure you'll like it.