Blog Archive

Saturday, January 31, 2004
Deaniac Delight
For those who can't get enough of Howard Dean, he's scheduled to be on Meet The Press this Sunday for the entire hour. I wonder how he managed that. Do you suppose they're feeling a little guilty over running the scream thing 637 times?
I think of the question Thomson described in his 1968 piece. Once, Henry Stimson, secretary of war for William Taft, Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, was asked: How can we bring peace to the world?

Stimson answered: "You begin by bringing to Washington a small handful of able men who believe that the achievement of peace is possible. You work them to the bone until they no longer believe that it is possible. And then you throw them out -- and bring in a new bunch who believe that it is possible."

Friday, January 30, 2004
If you are a U.S. Citizen who lives or has an address within the United States, you can use this link to:
  • Register to vote in your State;
  • Report a change of name to your voter registration office;
  • Report a change of address to your voter registration office; or
  • Register with a political party.
You must also have an inkjet or lasar printer and Adobe Acrobat Reader. (You can get Adobe Acrobat Reader here.) This link will provide you with a completed voter registration application for your state, and (optionally) a pre-addressed envelope to your voter registration office. [Note: If zip code selection doesn't work for you, use the state selection option.]

This on-line registration service is provided by the Democratic National Committee, though you need not register as a Democrat to avail yourself of it. I've used it myself (to alter my party affiliation), and it's quite easy.

From Robert B. Reich and the New York Times, what the Democratic primary is really all about:
The dismal fifth-place showing by Senator Joseph Lieberman in the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday serves as both reminder and motivator to the other Democratic presidential candidates on what it will take to win in November. For so long now, everyone has assumed that recapturing the presidency depends on who triumphs in the battle between liberals and moderates within the party. Such thinking, though, is inherently flawed. The real fight is between those who want only to win back the White House and those who also want to build a new political movement ? one that rivals the conservative movement that has given Republicans their dominant position in American politics.
By now, I'm supposed to be settled in on this: Anybody But Bush. After all, it is hardly a secret that I despise the man. The trouble is that I can't sign on to anything that simple simply because it is that simple.

You see, I am a Movement Liberal, and I am tired of getting my head stomped on for the last 20 years by the radical ideologues of the Movement Conservatives. The Presidency is not enough for me. They've wanted my head, and now I want theirs.

But isn't Anybody But Bush better than Bush, you ask? Think about it. What chance will a non-Movement Democrat have with a Congress and Supreme Court stacked with Movement Conservatives? If you thought what they did to Clinton was bad, remember, they have further consolidated their power since then, and they are going to be mad as hell if Bush gets beaten. (It couldn't after all be Bush's fault, could it?)

But that's only the start. Greenspan is going to extraordinary lengths to hold together the jobless recovery until after the election. After that, all bets are off. And where Bush has positioned the country, you can almost bet on a severe crash. If a Democrat is in, that Democrat will get blamed, and the Movement Conservatives will further entrench themselves. The worst of all possible worlds.

So no, it is not sufficient to simply win the Presidency; we must also bring along our "Movement" if we do. If the Democrats want to simply put up a "safe" candidate, then I just can't go along. Better to vote for Bush and have the chance that way of sweeping out the Movement Conservatives as they finish wrecking the economy and launch war after war. And if worse comes to worse, we can all just have four more years of fun trying to impeach the bastard.

[Permanent link to this article.]

BuzzFlash Reader Commentary:
ABC Replays "The Scream" in Context
I don't know if any of you saw it, but ABC news (Peter Jennings) tonight replayed the Dean scream without the effect of the sound-blocking microphone (so the crowd could be heard) and the scream was not audible over the sounds of the crowd. It was stunning. You might want to watch for a story on this.

Diane Sawyer did the story and said they noticed that Dean was using a microphone like they use in the ABC GMA studios, which blocks background sound. So they found videotapes of the event and realized the scream was completely inaudible. Also, all the news organizations admitted they had replayed it too much with one exception -- NBC. Even Fox and CNN backed down, but not NBC.

The admission, even lacking NBC, is appreciated, but no one dared to ask the obvious question: Did they effectively lose New Hampshire for the Dean campaign?

Of course, you already are aware of what "The Scream" looked like in context if you watched the QuickTime movie I linked to below.

From The BLACK CoMMentator:
Howard Dean has joined the list of victims of U.S. corporate media consolidation. Dean shares this distinction with Dennis Kucinich and the people of the formerly sovereign state of Iraq, among many others. Dean was stripped of half his popular support in the space of two weeks in January while John Kerry – tied in the polls with Carol Moseley-Braun at seven percent just two months earlier – rose like a genie from a bottle to become the overnight presidential frontrunner. Both candidates were shocked and disoriented by the dizzying turns of fortune, and for good reason. Neither Dean nor Kerry had done anything on their own that could have so dramatically altered the race. Corporate America decided that Dean must be savaged, and its media sector made it happen.

This commentary, however, is not about the merits of Howard Dean. If a mildly progressive, Internet-driven, young white middle class-centered, movement-like campaign such as Dean’s – flush with money derived from unconventional sources, backed by significant sections of labor, reinforced by big name endorsements and surging with upward momentum – can be derailed in a matter of weeks at the whim of corporate media, then all of us are in deep trouble.

The New York Times reports of a new study handed to Maryland voting officials [25 pages, 167 KB, PDF] regarding Diebold e-voting security. The difference between this and earlier studies is that this is the first study of the Diebold systems under conditions found during an election. Four key findings:
  • There are numerous vulnerabilities through which these systems could be hacked.

  • Some of these can be addressed prior to the March primaries.

  • Some additional vulnerabilities can be address prior to the November general election.

  • Ultimately, Diebold election software has to be rewritten to meet industry security standards.
In his usual statement of denial, Bob Urosevich, president of Diebold Election Systems, said this report and another by the Science Applications International Corporation "confirm the accuracy and security of Maryland's voting procedures and our voting systems as they exist today." This however was hardly the tone expressed by several members of the "red team".

"We were genuinely surprised at the basic level of the exploits" that allowed tampering, said Michael Wertheimer, the Red Team leader and a former security expert for the National Security Agency. Referring to the inconsistent application of security, he added, "It's like washing your face and drying it with a dirty towel."

William A. Arbaugh, an assistant professor of computer science at the University of Maryland and a member of the Red Team exercise, said, "I can say with confidence that nobody looked at the system with an eye to security who understands security." He added, "It seemed everywhere we scratched, there was something that's pretty troubling."

[Additional coverage from the Washington Post. Other article supposedly appear on NPR and Wired News, but I haven't found them yet.]

Paul Krugman:
Where's the Apology?
George Bush promised to bring honor and integrity back to the White House. Instead, he got rid of accountability. ...

So where are the apologies? Where are the resignations? Where is the investigation of this intelligence debacle? All we have is bluster from Dick Cheney, evasive W.M.D.-related-program-activity language from Mr. Bush — and a determined effort to prevent an independent inquiry. ...

In any case, the point is that a grave mistake was made, and America's credibility has been badly damaged — and nobody is being held accountable. But that's standard operating procedure. As far as I can tell, nobody in the Bush administration has ever paid a price for being wrong. Instead, people are severely punished for telling inconvenient truths. ...

Still, the big story isn't about Mr. Bush; it's about what's happening to America. Other presidents would have liked to bully the C.I.A., stonewall investigations and give huge contracts to their friends without oversight. They knew, however, that they couldn't. What has gone wrong with our country that allows this president to get away with such things?

Why do I think Paul already knows the answer to that queston.
... who sits in the ghoulish mire he's
created and calls himself good.Chris Floyd:
A man in Lawrence, Kansas walks into a day-care center. He has a gun in his pocket but nobody sees it. He goes up to the second floor, where the preschool kids are having their afternoon snack of cookies and juice.


The room is filled with smoke and the sharp tang of freshly gutted meat. The man takes a desultory look around, shrugs his shoulders, then sits down on the snack table. When the police come and ask him why he did it, he answers forthrightly, without a shred of guilt or unease, as if it were the most natural thing in the world:

"Somebody said the guy who runs this place might attack me someday. I had questions that needed to be answered: Did he have a gun or a knife -- or nothing? We must be prepared to face our responsibilities and be willing to use force if necessary."

The cops roll their eyes -- another nutball. "So," says an officer, humoring him, "did he have any weapons?"

The killer shakes his head. "Nah, don't look like it. But he could have had some. What's the difference? ...

"That's all they have left as a public defense: the ravings of a man who killed for no reason, who sits in the ghoulish mire he's created and calls himself good."
The 30-year-old Buddhist nun, who grew up in a Tibetan village near the foot of Mount Everest, fled to the United States last August after family members had been tortured and friends jailed for their faith, she said. But when she arrived at Dulles International Airport and requested asylum, federal immigration officials detained her and placed her in the local jail in this small city outside Richmond.

Sonam, who is known by that one name, has been here ever since except for a brief visit last November to a court room in Arlington where a federal immigration judge granted her asylum. But even as she was hugging her attorney in celebration, the lawyer from the Department of Homeland Security announced that she was appealing the case.

Feeling safer yet?
December 13, 2003

40 year veteren CIA asset is handed over to US occupation forces in Iraq by an unknown Iraqi group.

Ladies and gentlemen,

   . . . We've ALWAYS had him.

~ Music by Frank Sinatra.
~ Flash animation by Eric Blumrich [1.1 Meg]
~ Oil wars by Big Oil
Something Truly Terrifying
The following is a paid op-ed ad that appeared in the New York Times by the Washington Legal Foundation, a lobbying group comprised of the most powerful law firms in Washington who represent the largest global corporations. It accepts no summarization:

In All Fairness
The State of Our Union

America's celebration of the new year was shadowed by stark reminders of the perilous world we now live in — unprecedented security measures, grounded flights, and specific threats of impending catastrophic attacks. While most Americans firmly support the war against terrorism, some professional activists and opportunistic politicians began 2004 with a resolution to keep homeland security efforts tied up in a legal straitjacket. And sadly, they are manipulating one of America's most respected institutions — the judiciary — to do it.

These ideologues remain convinced that their absolutist view of "civil liberties" must always prevail over Americans' right to live free from terrorism. No aspect of our government's security operation is immune from activists' carefully planned and executed campaign. Relentless attacks on public officials dedicated to protecting our lives have fueled activists' profitable fund-raising drives. Special interest groups and lawyers then invest their overflowing war chest in lawsuits and mean-spirited public relations advertising opposing everything from major military actions overseas to the review of airplane passenger manifests. Even moves to modernize outdated intelligence gathering techniques have met with paranoid claims that government is running roughshod over everyone's rights.

Worst of all, however, is the activists' use of litigation to impose the rules of our overprotective criminal justice system on the president's military decision making. Terrorists are enemy soldiers without a government, not ordinary criminals. Yet, ideological lawyers have convinced some federal courts that unelected judges, and not our Commander-in-Chief, should have the last word on how our military can detain captured terrorists. One appeals court in New York City made the incredible declaration last month that since America has not been formally declared a "zone of combat," federal officials must charge a captured terrorist with a crime or release him.

While judges and activists quibble over legal niceties, our despicable enemies are pondering how to take advantage of their newly created constitutional rights in the next attack. One can only hope the U.S. Supreme Court, which will review these matters soon, reminds judges that our Constitution doesn't authorize them to run military operations.

Creating national insecurity

It would seem that for some professional activists, 9/11 is a distant memory. Why else would they want to constrict America's ability to protect its citizens? But the terrorists' war is far from over. Their fanatical ambition to kill innocent Americans and cripple our economy has in no way subsided. Preempting the next terrorist attacks on our soil remains a daunting task. And there is no margin for error.

So it's time we got our priorities straight. Do we defer to the ideologues' rigid agenda of absolute "civil liberties" for all, including our enemies, or do we trust government officials and our military to use their powers wisely and protect us from the horror terrorists can unleash?

These people are crazy. Just flat out crazy.
A PDF is available here.

Via Avedon from and an original post at The Great Divide.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Light posting for a few days.

Damn Flu!

Monday, January 26, 2004
A contest! A contest!
Do you have 250 family members, friends, associates, and colleagues who can afford to give $2,000 to President Bush? Do you have a name for people who do? Then this contest's for you.
Children Must Play
A bit of a follow-up on my earlier post with an assist from StageLeft.

In that post, I linked to a Telegraph/UK article where David Kay essentially reversed himself when he claimed that he doubted Iraq had any WMDs for years before the war, this time saying that "some components of Saddam's WMD programme" had been moved to Syria. Now why Saddam (or any dictator) would want to simply give anything like this away, especially to a neighbor, is beyond me and perhaps beyond rationality itself. Be that as it may, consider Kay's statement itself. If it is true, then it also most certainly is classified. If it is classified, then Kay could not say it to the Telegraph/UK without the permission for someone in that beehive of Neoconism, the Department of Defense. And even if it were disinformation, he'd still need DoD approval to say it.

From StageLeft now comes a statement by Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Pat Roberts that there is "some concern Iraqi weapons of mass destruction had gone to Syria." One more finger pointing at Syria.

Now, on Syria's part comes the denial by Syrian Minister Ahmad al-Hassan: "This (allegation) is meant to mislead (the public opinion). So long as there were no weapons of mass destruction (found) in Iraq itself how can they be in Syria?" Of course, he's right on both points here. But then al-Hassan continues, "They are seeking to cover their failure," but here he is at least partly wrong. Sure, it would be nice to have a cover story for the failure, but in light of Kay's new allegation (reversal), clearly, there is a greater purpose: Syria is being set up.

O.K., I made that allegation in the earlier post, but wait. Just a while back, National Security Advisor, Condi Rice was denying the Syrian allegation: "... I want to be clear: So far we do not have indicators that can be considered authentic and serious that this had taken place." And just Saturday, Secretary of State Colin Powell was dancing around Kay's earlier statements saying that Iraq hadn't had WMDs in years; dancing, but certainly neither denying them nor updating them with Kay's latest allegation. What? Didn't he get the memo about Syria?

Of course, Powell didn't get any memo about Syria, because there was no memo about Syria. What's going on here is that we're back to the same old games where DoD is trying to whoop up the fever for (another) war by making end runs around State and the NSC. Forget the fact that DoD has amply demonstrated that it doesn't know how to run one of these wars, being a Neocon is never having to say you're sorry.

Children Must Play.

Which gets to the real point here. Bush is clearly trying to run for re-election as some sort of skilled Commander-in-Chief, and yet he can't even manage his own immediate staff. No doubt he is not even aware that his children are once again fighting, and one might easily suspect that he still doesn't even know about the first time. This is a skilled Commander-in-Chief?

No. This is the man Paul O'Neill descibed; disengaged and uninvolved. A "blind man in a roomful of deaf people". And he is also the man with his finger on the trigger of the most powerful arsenal in the history of the world.

Don't Count on It. Inclusion's Mostly an Illusion in the Primary System
The selection of each party's presidential candidate isn't now and never has been a matter that involves a majority of each party's members. Even now with a large system of state primaries, a relatively small percentage of voters have all the clout. Rhodes Cook of the Washington Post takes a look at why this happens and explains why the parties should consider changes.

Commentary: It's been my contention here proviously that parties are (and should be) free to choose whatever method they deem fit to select their candidates, and Cook indeed shows this to be the situation, illusions to the contrary. This "freedom of choice" however is not really "free", as all choices have consequences. As Cook points out here, a consequence of the current choice of systems is depressed voter turnout, a result that both parties then seek to "correct" during the general election campaign, each doing so with mixed results.

As Cook equally points out, the current system of candidate selection is hardly the only one we have ever used, and indeed, earlier systems clearly had better voter turnouts. Neither Cook nor I feel that returning to some earlier system is some panacea for low voter turnout rates, but there is an idea here worth considering: The party that develops the candidate selection system most effective in activating their membership will likely fare far better on election day.

This article first appeared on Black Box Notes.

Sunday, January 25, 2004
The President may think that his underfunded No Child Left Behind Act is "opening the door of opportunity to all of America's children", but the Republican-controlled Virginia House of Delegates apparently wants to close whatever door it is that Bush is seeing. By a vote of 98 to 1, the House passed a resolution calling on Congress to exempt states like Virginia from the program's requirements. Rupublicans were unanimous in support of the resolution.

Update: Per the Daily Mislead (Monday, January 26, 2004):
Virginia isn't the only state with a Republican legislature that has raised questions about the federal funding of the No Child Left Behind law. Ohio recently commissioned a study that found the No Child Left Behind law would cost Ohio $1.5 billion annually. Washington's contribution last year to Ohio totaled $44 million.

At least four other states, Utah, Vermont, North Dakota, and Indiana, have commissioned studies to determine how much it costs to comply with the law. This is viewed as a step towards considering rejection of federal funding in order to avoid what they perceive to be harsh penalties for failing to meet the standards of the law.

President Bush promised to increase funding in this year's budget by an additional $1 billion , a figure that is still approximately 27% below full funding for the program.

The Independent/UK:
Whatever the outcome of the Hutton inquiry and the vote on top-up fees, the central charge this paper has consistently made against Tony Blair is that he took this country to war in Iraq on a false pretext. Raymond Whitaker and Glen Rangwala list 50 statements on which history will judge him and his US partners.
A longer list could be made, but this one triangulates quite well.
Oh, my God!

Saint Wesley Clark

But wait! There's more! ... And more!
Arthur Silver, The Light of Reason: Well, leave it to the most hawkish of the hawks to prove my point ... that nothing -- not the facts, not the disintegration of all their arguments for war with Iraq in the cold light of day, not the fact that our military is close to the breaking point now -- nothing will slow the hawks down in their plans to "remake" the Middle East.

Not content to leave bad enough alone, David Kay has some news for us, beyond the fact that with regard to Iraq's "large stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons in Iraq": "I don't think they existed." No, Mr. Kay has this additional tidbit to impart:

David Kay: We are not talking about a large stockpile of weapons. But we know from some of the interrogations of former Iraqi officials that a lot of material went to Syria before the war, including some components of Saddam's WMD programme. Precisely what went to Syria, and what has happened to it, is a major issue that needs to be resolved.
No, David, that is not what has to be resolved. What needs to be resolved is if some components of Saddam's WMD programme went to Syria, where the hell are the rest of them? Some "former iraqi officials" could tell you that some WMD components went to Syria, but they couldn't tell you where any of the rest of them were?

No, no, no. This doesn't even begin to make sense. This is too transparent. This is the Neocons trying to set Syria up. And they don't give a damn if Syria has WMDS or not. Just like they didn't give a damn if Iraq did or not.

And then there is this:

UPDATE: David Kay will be interviewed on the NBC Nightly News on Monday.
The Daily Outrage:
The Military Penalty
"... when you and your friends see a man or woman in uniform, say, 'thank you'. (Applause.)"
-- George W. Bush in his State of the Union

I'm just guessing, mind you, but I'd bet that a lot of those Reservists we sent over to Iraq were making some good overtime before they got called up.

Well, you know those overtime rule changes that the Chimp said "Screw you" to Congress and the American public and put in anyways? One of the rule changes in there widens the definition of "professional" so that it denies overtime pay not just to those with four-year degrees -- but also those who have accumulated work experience "equivalent" to college. And guess what qualifies as one of those "equivalents". You got it. Military service.

Something nice for the guys to come home to: Sorry, bud, you no longer qualify for overtime pay.

Way to "support the troops", Chimpster.

Saturday, January 24, 2004
A heartfelt -- no -- abject -- no -- craven apology to the right from the left for our campaign of hate, anger and malice against God's own president.
We come to you not just as sinners but as supplicants, begging not just forgiveness but inclusion. There's a reason God named the right the right: Because it's right. You have a monopoly on the truth, and you always have and you always will.

We see that now. We really do.

Looking for that silver lining:
Wars 'useful', says US army chief
Army Chief of Staff General Peter Schoomaker:
"There is a huge silver lining in this cloud," he said.

"War is a tremendous focus... Now we have this focusing opportunity, and we have the fact that [terrorists] have actually attacked our homeland, which gives it some oomph."

He said it was no use having an army that did nothing but train.

Let me get this straight. Pete is over here in the Pentagon while we have 150,000 troops in war zones? I wonder how much they agree with him?

Just one more "bring 'em on" moment.

The annotated Richard Perle:
U.N. Should Change -- or U.S. Should Quit
The world body's rules prevent America from answering threats.
An LA Times guest commentary by our Neocon friends, Richard Perle and David Frum, resident fellows of the American Enterprise Institute and coauthors of the Armagedon instruction manual, "An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror" (which I commented on here).

You've really got to hand it to these guys. They are consistent. They've been calling for our exit from the UN since before Ronald Reagan. But the "tooth fairy"?

The United Nations is the tooth fairy of American politics: Few adults believe in it, but it's generally regarded as a harmless story to amuse the children. Since 9/11, however, the U.N. has ceased to be harmless, and the Democratic presidential candidates' enthusiasm for it has ceased to be amusing.
And then they throw down the gauntlet:
The United Nations has emerged at best as irrelevant to the terrorist threat that most concerns us, and at worst as an obstacle to our winning the war on terrorism. It must be reformed. And if it cannot be reformed, the United States should give serious consideration to withdrawal.

The U.N. has become an obstacle to our national security because it purports to set legal limits on the United States' ability to defend itself. If these limits ever made sense at all, they do not make sense now.

Wait a minute, Richard. They don't make sense now? Isn't that code for post-9/11? But you never wanted us in the UN ... ever!

But allow me to digress. I attributed this to Perle, because Frum probably wrote the article (and the book -- he was a speechwriter for the Chimp), but the ideas all belong to Richard "Prince of Darkness" Perle, who is a consultant to Rummy and, let's not forget, a very rich arms broker. No conflict of interest there, is there, Dick?

But there's more:

The trouble is that the U.N. defines aggression in outdated ways. For the U.N., "aggression" means invasion across national borders. Send Nazi shock troops into Poland -- that's aggression. Give sanctuary to thousands of anti-American murderers, as the Taliban did in Afghanistan, that's not aggression.
You're confusing me, Dick. As I recall, the UN wasn't standing in our way on Afghanistan. And how many countries joined us? Nah. It would be easier to count the number of countries that didn't. A bit of revisionist history there, Dick.
In other words, under U.N. rules, the U.S. is obliged to let terrorists strike first before retaliating -- and might even be prohibited from striking second.
Come on, Dick. The UN listened to your case on Iraq, and you just didn't make it. Remember? The WMDs? And now you're blaming them because you couldn't make your case? Well, Dick, where the hell are they? You know. The WMDs?
We need new rules recognizing that harboring terrorists is just as much an act of aggression as an invasion and that those who are targeted by terrorists have an inherent right to defend themselves, preemptively if necessary.

Of course, it won't be easy to persuade the U.N. to adopt these changes.

Well, of course not, Dick. You shot your credibility on the WMD issue. 15,000 people dead, and you want another chance?

And finally:

In a little more than a decade, our world has been transformed, first by the fall of the Soviet Union and then the events of 9/11. Everything has changed -- except for the U.N. It remains an invention of a vanished era, designed to solve vanished problems.
Uh, Dick? You mean countries can't invade other countries in a pre-emptive fashion anymore? Weren't you watching last March?

Listen up, Dick. You too, Dave. Spend a little time brushing up on your composition skills. Otherwise, you just might end up getting published in the LA Times and looking STUPID.

Oil and politics make an intoxicating cocktail ­ addictive, but with deadly consequences. It has always been so.

Just look at the events of the past three decades: the rise of OPEC in the early 1970s and its spectacular initial success in setting global oil prices; the 1973 Arab oil embargo that shook Western economies to the core; last year’s US-led invasion of Iraq, a country that happens to possess the world’s second-largest oil reserves, after Saudi Arabia. Not to mention the often repeated call by neoconservatives in America to “occupy” Arab oil countries.

Just a few weeks ago: the arrest of Russian oil tycoon Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky, head of the Yukos energy firm, when he “defied” a Kremlin directive by trying to sell a major stake of his firm to ExxonMobil.

To understand the meaning of the Kremlin’s move against Yukos, it is important to appreciate that ExxonMobil is one of the world’s two largest corporations, along with General Electric, and the biggest of all oil companies. It is therefore a major player in American politics.

The bottom line in all these episodes is the same: Oil is the one strategic commodity of the world that governments, from superpowers to minor states, will never allow to be free of political control.

Big boys play rough.
Globalism, corporatism, imperialism, neoconism; the goal's all the same, and you ain't part of it. Arundhati Roy of The Nation declares war against the New American Century.
In the great cities of Europe and America, where a few years ago these things would only have been whispered, now people are openly talking about the good side of imperialism and the need for a strong empire to police an unruly world. The new missionaries want order at the cost of justice. Discipline at the cost of dignity. And ascendancy at any price. Occasionally some of us are invited to "debate" the issue on "neutral" platforms provided by the corporate media. Debating imperialism is a bit like debating the pros and cons of rape. What can we say? That we really miss it? ...

This brutal blueprint has been used over and over again across Latin America, in Africa and in Central and Southeast Asia. It has cost millions of lives. It goes without saying that every war Empire wages becomes a Just War. This, in large part, is due to the role of the corporate media. It's important to understand that the corporate media don't just support the neoliberal project. They are the neoliberal project. This is not a moral position they have chosen to take; it's structural. It's intrinsic to the economics of how the mass media work.

A lengthy look at what your life will be like in the New American Century, ... if you live long enough.
In many places across George Bush's America, you may be losing your ability to exercise your lawful First Amendment rights of speech and assembly. Increasingly, some police departments, the FBI, and the Secret Service are engaging in the criminalization--or, at the very least, the marginalization--of dissent.
The Progressive takes a look at the problem, and it's probably worse than you think. The account of the Miami FTAA protests is especially chilling.
A New Target
So what did you expect? John Edwards does a surprizing second in Iowa and pulls into the lead in New Hampshire polls, and BAM! the Mighty Wurlitzer kicks in it's slander machine. Try this title from The Weekly Standard: Two-Face John Edwards is a Clinton-style golden boy.

So what is the Standard's problem? It seems that Edwards hasn't named his campaign contributors. Well, wait a minute. All of that is reported quarterly by law. So Edwards waits until then? So does Bush.

But, oh no, it must be those evil trial lawyers sending Edwards money. Well duh? He was one. You might expect them to like his candidacy.

I'll tell you. If this is the best that Bill Kristol's boys can do against Edwards, they should save their typespace. I would have been ashamed to put my name on such a shabby article.

Either the president doesn't get it, or he is deliberately ignoring the hard times that have enveloped millions of Americans on his watch.
Bob Herbert takes up John Edwards' two-America theme:
"One America that does the work, another America that reaps the reward. One America that pays the taxes, another America that gets the tax breaks. . . . One America — middle-class America — whose needs Washington has long forgotten. Another America — narrow-interest America — whose every wish is Washington's command."
While the corporation has the rights and responsibilities of ”a legal person”, its owners and shareholders are not liable for its actions. Moreover, the film explains, a corporation's directors are legally required to do what is best for the company, regardless of the harm created.

What kind of person would a corporation be? A clinical psychopath, answers the documentary, which is now playing in four Canadian theatres.

Remember, always, when dealing with the Bushes: Follow the money, not the mouthing.Chris Floyd:
To carry out this choice bit of war profiteering, Halliburton hooked up with Altanmia Marketing of Kuwait. Altanmia was given exclusive rights to ship Kuwaiti gasoline to Iraq -- "even though it had no prior experience transporting fuel," U.S. Congressional investigators report. So what is the firm's actual expertise? Investments, real estate -- and acting as "representative agents for companies trading in military and nuclear, biological and chemical equipment," The Wall Street Journal reports.

In other words, Halliburton's new partner traffics in the essential elements of WMD -- the very stuff whose spread and sale the United States is ostensibly dedicated to stopping around the world. Ostensibly. But as always with the Bushists, the rhetoric of "security" is a thin rag to cover their unquenchable thirst for state-supported brigandage.

"Remember, always, when dealing with the Bushes: Follow the money, not the mouthing."
Paul Krugman:
Democracy at risk
Now imagine this: in November the candidate trailing in the polls wins an upset victory — but all of the districts where he does much better than expected use touch-screen voting machines. Meanwhile, leaked internal e-mail from the companies that make these machines suggests widespread error, and possibly fraud. What would this do to the nation?

Unfortunately, this story is completely plausible.

Krugman also gives Bev a nod.

This article and many others on electronic voting and other voting issues appear on:
Black Box Notes
Friday, January 23, 2004
Testing sifts out cheap labor for service economy
Greg Palast on the SOTU:
"By passing the No Child Left Behind Act," you said, "We are regularly testing every child ... and making sure they have better options when schools are not performing."

You said it ... and then that little tongue came out; that weird way you stick your tongue out between your lips like the little kid who knows he's fibbing. Like a snake licking a rat. I saw that snakey tongue dart out and I thought, "He knows." ...

The testing is a con. There is no "better option" at the other end.

"He knows." It's simply a way to weed out the kids that are expensive to educate, frustrate them into quitting, and insure a supply of poorly-paid labor.
The problem has always been what President Eisenhower loosely called “the military-industrial complex.” That is, if the USA comes to terms with all the rogue states of the world who were aligned with Moscow or Beijing in the Cold War, there would no enemies to guard against or to defeat if they were deemed imminent threats. Public support for defense spending would dry up and the Pentagon would wind up living on crumbs, as it was in the 1930's.
Jude's article points to My Secret Talks With Libya, And Why They Went Nowhere by Gary Hart (remember him?), in which hart documents his own negotiations with Libya in 1992. The Libyan government wanted a lifting of our sanctions against them and a normalization of relations, and were willing to put "everything will be on the table" simply for an assurance that this process would commence in an honest fashion.

This was not to be however. Bush, Sr. refused all solicitations by the Libyan government. Hart questions why:

I anticipate (sic) obvious questions in response to these facts. Why me? The only plausible explanation is that I had publicly condemned (based largely on my experience on the Church committee, which revealed previous assassination plots) President Reagan's attempt to assassinate Gaddafi by long-range bomber in 1986. Was I singled out? Not really; others had been approached. Do I believe the offer was rejected because the Swiss would demand jurisdiction over the bombers in the 40 feet between airplanes? Not in the least. Was the offer rejected because the intermediary was a Democrat? The first Bush administration will have to respond to that question.
And he concludes:
This account suggests, and strongly so, only one thing: We might have brought the Pan Am bombers to justice, and quite possibly have moved Libya out of its renegade status, much sooner than we have. At the very least it calls into serious question the assertion that Libya changed direction as a result of our preemptive invasion of Iraq.
Claim vs. Fact analysis by the Center for American Progress
The Center for American Progress has perhaps the best point-counterpoint to the State of the Union address. Also available in PDF and other formats.
So much for the rosy State of the Union assessment. The Kurds got some of their oil-rich territory taken away, and the Shiites have caught on to the idea that real democracy would put them in power. The Sunis? Well, they started out with a bad attitude, and it hasn't gotten any better.

Now if Karl Rove can just figure out how to postpone the civil war until after the elections. Here's a hint, Karl. Toss 'em all some no-bid contracts.

Avedon has a problem with calling people "religious extremists":
We usually say "religious extremists", which is a neat phrase, I guess, except that it already relies on the idea that the people we're talking about are advocating an extreme version of the religion they claim to espouse - not that they have twisted the faith beyond all recognition, but that they are adhering to it so intensely that they are becoming an annoyance and embarrassment to the larger faith's own adherents. ... This presentation has long offended me and, worse, I think, gives an unearned legitimacy to these versions of our faiths. ... I feel I'm on pretty safe ground in saying that whatever these people are, they are not actually extreme Christians - they are something else.
Avedon offers some thoughts on who these people are and what the really want, and even has a new word for them.

When you're finished with "Thanaticists", continue along with There is a Libertopia, which is an update to Avedon's "Why I'm not a libertarian" post (which I wrote about here). The original article she quoted, Libertarianism Makes You Stupid, points out that Libertarians have it easy; they can spout their ideas, but since those ideas have never actually been implemented (there is no "Libertopia"), they have never been held to the ravages of reality.

In this follow-up, blogger "Lightning" points out (accurately, I think) that there is indeed a Libertopia, and it's name is Russia. Avedon has more.

If you continue right on, you'll see that Avedon next linked to three of my articles over at American Samizdat. Hey, Avedon, not a bitch but a beg. I'm really over here, and so are those same articles and a number more. I like being a guest there, but could you toss those hits my way over here?
Thursday, January 22, 2004
Around the Blogs:
Was Afghanistan an Optional War?
Those of you who have been having around this blog for a while might remember last summer when I went on my "CakeGate" sebbatical for well over a month. At that time, I was looking into how the uranium claim got into last year's State of the Union address, posting my research in the form of a flowchart and a timeline. If you in turn followed the development of that timeline, it was quite obvious that I had expanded my scope of reseach, eventually landing in Afghanistan.

Anyways, I ran into a mostly unrelated discussion on Afghanistan on Matthew Yglesias. The comments however strayed into my expertise on the subject when they either claimed or assumed that the Afghanistan War was necessary because of 9/11. That was too much, and so I challenged that assumption. The counter-challenge from luisalegria:

With all due respect, a gas pipeline through Afghanistan is so obviously unfeasible that I find it incredible that so many have spoken of it with such seriousness.

Who on earth would spend so much money traversing such horrible terrain just to place such an expensive hostage to fortune among a population so highly skilled and motivated in the art of blackmail ? Every tribe, clan, and disaffected band for a thousand miles would be able to threaten this indefensible pipeline. Much shorter pipelines in Pakistan are barely able to operate for the same reason.

My response to luisalegria and a summary of what my "CakeGate" research led me to in Afghanistan:
The desire to run a pipeline thru Afghanistan is due to the fact that the alternative pipeline route for Caspian Sea oil runs through Iran. Washington does not want that for quite obvious reasons. UNOCAL doesn't want that because they can't legally contract with Iran.

In fact, UNOCAL attempted to contract with the Taliban in the late 90's, but ended up being cut out of the deal. That left the US with absolutely no ownership interest in Caspian Sea oil.

The US addressed this in the summer of 2001 (pre-9/11), telling the Taliban that they could either accept "a carpet of gold or a carpet of bombs"; either they cut us in on the pipeline or we would go to war against them. In August of 2001 (still before 9/11), the Pakistani Times reported that a US invasion of Afghanistan would occur "by 10/15/2001 at the latest" due to concerns about the onset of winter. This was clearly reported to bin Laden.

Then came 9/11. What was meant to be a war that did not attract much press coverage now became a war that would attract a lot of press coverage. The Taliban then offered up bin Laden, but of course we could not accept him because then we would have to call off the already planned war. That war began on 10/6/2001, just 9 days before the cut-off date predicted in the Pakistani Times. Less than a month after 9/11, we executed an invasion of Afghanistan fully co-ordinated with the Northern Alliance, a military feat that would have been impossible had the invasion ramp-up not been in progress well before 9/11.

A month later, we installed former UNOCAL employee Kamal as the new leader of Afghanistan. During December of 2002, hidden from the press by the run-up to Iraq, Kamal signed a new pipeline contract. UNOCAL got a 36.4% share in it. UNOCAL does not however build their pipelines. That is subcontracted out ... to Halliburton.

Now note, I did not disagree with luisalegria about Afghanistan being a terrible place to build a pipeline, and indeed, Ted Rall's recent Pipe Dreams supports both this and my allegation that Afghanistan was an optional war.

This is a big story in and of itself; that the Afghanistan War, like the Iraq War, was an "optional" war. But it was pre-emptive also, and I use the term "pre-emptive" here in a very measured fashion, as do I the term "optional".

And that is the bigger story. If Afghanistan was optional, how in fact could it also have been pre-emptive? Just what is it that was being "pre-empted"? A "big story", indeed.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004
President Bush is visiting Ohio today to trumpet a $500 million job training/education proposal announced in his State of the Union address. But the president has recently proposed to cut almost $700 million out of the same job training and education programs he is now touting.

As part of his new proposal, Bush said last night "I propose increasing our support for America's fine community colleges." Last year, however, the president sought to cut $230 million out of vocational/community college education, along with "eliminating funding for technical education." When lawmakers tried to restore the cuts in April, Bush was adamant that the cuts be preserved, and his allies in the Senate voted down the funding. The president also recently eliminated all $225 million in funding for youth job training grants.

The other key piece of Bush's proposal involves college funding. The president said last night, "I propose larger Pell grants for students." But he did not mention his recent decision to "cut the Pell Grant program by $270 million" - a move his own Education Department admits will cut off 84,000 students, and reduce grants for "an additional one million students."

WASHINGTON - A House committee recommended legislation Wednesday that would provide for fast special elections if a terrorist attack killed or incapacitated many House members.

The measure would require expedited elections under "extraordinary circumstances" when the speaker of the House announces that vacancies in the 435-member chamber exceed 100.

The bill stipulates that parties choose candidates within 10 days of that announcement and that state elections be held within 45 days.

The legislation has also been approved by the House Administration Committee and now goes to the full House for consideration.

Pardon me, but can someone tell me why this is necessary? If more than 100 members of the House are suddenly dead, why in hell do we need a full House in 45 days to do anything? Like we are going to be worried about proportional representation a month and a half after a terrorit attack that kills over 100 representatives? Just pass the war resolution, and leave the rest of anything off the table until we all get our heads back on. Whatever else needs to be done can be fully handled through the martial law that would most certainly be declared.

Pardon me if I smell a rat.

This article previously appeared on Black Box Notes.


"America provides the firepower; we provide the bullshit."

~ British playwright David Hare   

Black people get crappy health care. You can read that in lots of places. But the one place you won't read about it is in a new study of racial disparities in health care released by the federal government.

George Bush doesn't want you to know. And so Health and Human Services didn't tell you.

George Bush didn't want you to know about the quality of asbestos-tainted air at Ground Zero after 9/11. And so the Environmental Protection Agency didn't tell you.

George Bush doesn't want you to know that there is no link between abortion and breast cancer. And so the National Cancer Institute won't tell you that anymore.

George Bush doesn't want you to know that there is no link between education about condom use and increased sexual activity. And so the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention won't tell you you that anymore.

SOTUHere's what George Bush wants you to know.

Some people lie by omission. Some people lie by comission.

George Bush is good at both.

The better State of the Union:
The Democratic Response
The text of the Democratic response to President Bush State of the Union speech, delivered by House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota.
Daschle: "When I was driving around South Dakota this summer, I met a nurse in Sioux Falls who has cancer. She told me that she couldn't afford the $1,500 a month her drugs cost. She told me that she was going to die, that she was a lost cause. But, she said, we must solve this problem; don't turn more people into lost causes."
Bush still doesn't get it.
After the Election, Of course
No, he didn't bother to mention this in the State of the Union speech, but of course, when he asked for the last $87 billion for the Iraq War, he did mention how long that money would last. A simple check of the calendar back then would have easily shown that he was planning to come back right after the election for another dip at the empty well.
Selling Public Policy as a Commodity
I cannot over-sell this article, whose alternate subtitle (over at CounterPunch) is "How a Theology of 'Free Markets' Destroyed the Party and Brought Calamity to the Nation", is probably more to the point of the theme of this article as it moves towards its final single-sentence conclusion. Repeated below in its entirety.

The GOP, Inc. - Selling Public Policy as a Commodity
by Richard W. Behan

The G.O.P. was once a respectable political party, giving voice to cautious citizens who saw much to protect in the affairs of the nation. The Democratic Party offered a forum for less sanguine citizens to disagree and seek reform, and in the healthy conflict between the two a robust democracy served the nation well.

Neither party was rigidly ideological, driven passionately to impose a set of beliefs, as the Taliban, say, imposed Islam in prewar Afghanistan. Both parties respected democracy.

Except in their Orwellian rhetoric, the Republicans no longer do, and the G.O.P. has withdrawn from serving the nation at large. About 25 years ago it became the political arm of "Movement Conservatism," and today it promotes not the general welfare but the commercial interests of corporate enterprise.

Movement Conservatism is a self-serving and socially malevolent cabal of mega-corporations, right-wing think tanks in Washington, their archconservative foundation benefactors, and an intricate nationwide network of linkages in the communications media, religion, higher education, and law. It has been called the "conservative labyrinth," and common to all its elements is a theology of "free markets," an ideology coming to full bloom in the Administration of George W. Bush. Today, the G.O.P. seeks to impose it at every turn.

In the abstract, and historically, "free markets" are hugely appealing.

In the primitive markets of The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith's seminal book of 200 years ago, there was absolute parity in bargaining power between autonomous consumers and subservient, proprietary producers. There were enough of both, competing among and between each other, that no one on either side could fix the market price. Prices were set only by the aggregated bargaining of the market as a whole, and hence were powerful signals of social preferences.

Smith detailed how such "free markets" assured the socially optimum allocation of raw materials, capital, labor, goods, services, and incomes, "as if by an invisible hand."

"Free markets" so conceived still enchant the simplistic and determined thinking of Movement Conservatives, especially as they perceive and attack "government intervention" in the markets. They choose to ignore, however, 200 years of subsequent economic history.

"Free markets" today are a fantasy, because contemporary markets are wholly dominated by corporate, not proprietary enterprise, and characterized by its features: among others, by administered prices, branded goods and services, transnationalization, vertical integration, wholesale externalization of costs, consolidation by mergers and acquisitions, the instantaneous and international mobility of capital, and the subjugation, by ubiquitous advertising, of consumer sovereignty. Corporate domination of "free markets" has destroyed the ability of markets to make socially optimum allocations, but none of this seems to penetrate the minds of Movement Conservatives. Nor do they see that trumpeting "free markets" gives free reign to corporate license. (A cynic might suspect otherwise.)

There is nothing socially optimum about the calamitous conditions in the nation today.

A dangerous, unjust, and growing gap between rich and poor festers ominously. Public education is collapsing. Homelessness is rampant. Health care is denied 16% of our citizens. Real wages are stagnant or declining. The nation's physical infrastructure is crumbling. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, eleven percent of American families are not adequately fed,[1] while an epidemic of obesity, diabetes, and other "lifestyle diseases" ravishes the rest of society. State and municipal governments retrench in fiscal panic, and federal deficits transcend anything ever known. Our economy survives only by exporting high-paying jobs and importing daily a billion dollars of foreign capital_to finance not investment, but consumption. For the first time ever we have invaded a sovereign nation without provocation, sundering the world community and enraging much of it. In approximately 25 years, this is what Movement Conservatism has delivered, while trumpeting "free markets."

Public policy is malfunctioning. It is no longer fashioned to promote the welfare of the nation at large, but to create, enhance, or protect the profit opportunities of American corporations.

Two things occurred in sequence to enable corporations first to intervene and then to dominate politics, just as they have come to dominate markets.

Political campaigning switched, in the 1960's, from party-centered rallies and print media to candidate-centered television_which was vastly more expensive. Then, in the 1970's the campaign finance laws were rewritten, political action committees were authorized, and corporate PAC money soon flowed in floods. Today, about * of all campaign financing comes from corporate sources, and it is not contributed as a public service.[2]

Often the payoffs are effected with infuriating arrogance.

Noncompetitive contracts come to mind, for the Halliburton and Bechtel Corporations to rebuild Iraq. The purchase of energy policy by the Enron Corporation is another example. Yet another is the Medicare Prescription Drug and Modernization Act, signed by President Bush on December 8, 2003.

This law so heavily subsidizes the pharmaceutical and health insurance industries nearly 700 lobbyists were deployed to see it enacted.[3] At the photo-op signing ceremony, President Bush was joined by five Senators and five Representatives. Together, these eleven public servants accepted more than $14 million in campaign contributions from the health and drug companies.[4] (Roughly half went to Mr. Bush.) Among other provisions, the law makes it illegal for Medicare, using its market clout, to bargain down the cost of drugs, and effectively prohibits senior citizens from buying their prescriptions at far lower prices in Canada. Public policy to serve corporate well being? What, conceivably, else? Free markets at work?

Public policy is now a commodity, to be exchanged for value received.

The fantasy of "free markets" is politically expedient for Republicans and economically rewarding for their corporate clients. It suggests that parity still exists between producers and consumers, making palatable any policy said to increase the freedom of the market. (Deregulating markets for electricity comes to mind. Think Enron.) Such policies tend to increase only the freedom of corporate producers, typically at great expense to consumers. (Ask any Californian.) Only a malcontent would accuse Republicans of seeking this result intentionally.

How did the "free market" fantasy destroy the Republican party? First it had to be institutionalized as a coherent, secular theology, and that was done with skill, dispatch, money, and patience as Movement Conservatism took shape.

In the writings of Friedrich von Hayek (The Road to Serfdom, 1944), and his student Milton Friedman (Capitalism and Freedom, 1962) the ideology was at hand. Free markets, not governments, should regulate the affairs of society: that is the extent of the argument. "Government is not the solution," a devotee proclaimed, "government is the problem." And that is the extent of the vision.

Nuanced thinking is not a trademark of Movement Conservatism, however, and the need to apply the ideology was seen to be acute in the 1960's and '70's. The nation's campuses were percolating with protest, the result of anti-business, "liberal" faculties encouraging their impressionable students. On the national stage Nader's Raiders were mounting successful attacks on what they alleged were excesses of corporate capitalism.

A seminal critique of the nation's leftward drift was written in 1971 by Lewis F. Powell, Jr., a corporate attorney, a former president of the American Bar Association, a member of 11 corporate boards, and eventually a Supreme Court Justice. The "Powell Manifesto" saw the future of the free market at stake, and advocated a confrontational counterattack. It would become a long term, comprehensive, nationwide campaign to implant the "free market" paradigm, focusing on four primary arenas: higher education, the mass media, politics, and the court system. The "Manifesto" was widely circulated and it would achieve stunning success.

First Adolph Coors was persuaded. Beginning with a quarter-million dollar gift in the early 1970's he transformed the obscure Analysis and Research Association into the Heritage Foundation. It has prospered with Coors funding ever since, channeled through his Castle Rock Foundation.

Endowed with corporate profits from the past, other archconservative foundations also established right-wing think tanks in Washington in the '70's and '80's or strengthened existing ones. In addition to Castle Rock, twelve other foundations form the financial core of Movement Conservatism. They are the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the Carthage Foundation, the Earhart Foundation, The Charles G. Koch, David H. Koch, and Claude R. Lambe foundations, the Phillip M. McKenna Foundation, the JM Foundation, the John M. Olin Foundation, the Henry Salvatori Foundation, the Sarah Scaife Foundation, and the Smith Richardson Foundation.[5]

The Heritage Foundation is the largest and best financed beneficiary, but many others are familiar. The American Enterprise Institute, the Cato Institute, the Manhattan Institute, Citizens for a Sound Economy, the National Association of Scholars, Accuracy in Academe, the Media Research Center, and Accuracy in Media are prominent on the national level. Less well known are hundreds of "free market" cells scattered nationwide, all funded by these few foundations. (One such is F.R.E.E._the Foundation for Research in Economics and the Environment. It provides week-long indoctrinations into "free market" ideology, at luxury resorts near its home in Bozeman, Montana.. The invited participants, with all expenses paid by F.R.E.E., are federal judges.)

The top 20 conservative think tanks spend about $150 million a year, but not on short-term projects. Coordinated by an umbrella group, the Philanthropy Roundtable, they concentrate on a long-term ideological program: sustaining and expanding the free-market paradigm, and enshrining it in public thought, action, and policy.

Taking shape in the late '70's, Movement Conservatism became a sort of economic Taliban, absolutist in conviction, righteous, and anxious to impose its ideology on the American people. It found its vehicle in the presidential candidacy and election of Ronald Reagan, and over the next eight years Movement Conservatism and the Republican Party came to be coterminous.

There was little resistance. Since the Republican Party traditionally has been the party of commerce and finance, Movement Conservatism had only to sell an appealing ideology to a receptive constituency. As the pursuit of "free markets" came to mean "corporate well being," the transaction was consummated. The Republican Party took on the ideology, and also assumed a commercial function: marketing public policy as a product. It became the G.O.P., Inc., and forfeited its role as a party of the people.

President Reagan's agenda came almost whole-cloth from the Heritage Foundation. His massive tax cut slashed current revenues, but Reagan shoveled trillions of dollars to corporations in the defense industries anyway. In so doing he added twice as much to the national debt as all his predecessors combined, from George Washington to Jimmy Carter.

This was the first shot from the most vicious and despicable weapon in the arsenal of Movement Conservatism: pile more and more indebtedness onto future generations so that debt service increasingly forecloses public expenditures for anything else. The stupendous deficits of George W. Bush preordain a starving public sector for decades to come.

In 1988 the Democrats learned how effectively corporate financing can facilitate television-based campaigns. A lot of money can make Willy Horton a household name. And so by 1992, dominated by the Democratic Leadership Council, the Democrats veered sharply toward the center, seeking corporate financing for the Clinton campaign. Clinton delivered, enthusiastically embracing "free trade," a global version of the free market fantasy. The Democrats were flirting with their own transformation to corporate status, and they continued in 2000, running free-trader Al Gore and Joe Lieberman, once chairman of the DLC.

Ralph Nader's Greens couldn't see much distinction between the G.O.P., Inc., and its Democratic emulators, and they high-centered the election. The Supreme Court, sporting a couple of Movement Conservatives on the bench, did the rest.

Some Democrats today are openly critical of a centrist, corporate-friendly stance for the party. Others still cling to it: the threat remains.

This is how the GOP, Inc., sells public policy as a commodity today.

45 million Americans have no health care coverage, as President Bush, on Heritage Foundation cue, undertakes the privatizing of Medicare. The greater his success, the more the Hospital Corporation of America will benefit. HCA operates the country's largest chain of for-profit hospitals, but can't make enough money honestly when Medicare is public. The company has paid $1.7 billion in fines for overcharging Medicare and Medicaid, the largest fraud settlement ever. HCA was formed by a Mr. Thomas Frist. One of his sons, Thomas Jr., earned $160 million a year as CEO. Another son, William, has a $26 million interest in HCA, and he is the Majority Leader of the United States Senate. Health care corporations and PAC's have contributed over $2 million to William Frist's campaigns.[6] Mr. Frist engineered a provision in the Homeland Security Bill shielding the Eli Lilly drug company from liability lawsuits. Lilly contributed $1.6 million to Senate election campaigns in the 2000 election cycle, 79% to the G.O.P., Inc. And now Mr. Frist has steered through the Senate the Medicare Prescription Drug and Modernization Act. Drug sales are expected to increase, under the law, by $13 billion a year.[7]

The American Enterprise Institute, the Cato Institute, and the Heritage Foundation have crafted or influenced virtually the entire programs of both domestic and foreign policy for the George W. Bush Administration. They display the intricate personal networks_mutually beneficial and self-serving_that characterize Movement Conservatism.

Mr. Jeb Bush, the President's brother, served as a Trustee of the Heritage Foundation. Virginia Lamp Thomas is the Director of Executive Branch Relations there. Jeb Bush's father appointed Ms. Thomas' husband to the Supreme Court, which decided the 2000 election in favor of Jeb Bushs' brother. Privatizing Medicare and public education are two of the targets at Heritage.

Mr. Rupert Murdoch served on the Board of The Cato Institute. He owns Fox Television News and the Weekly Standard, virtual house organs of the Bush Administration. Mr. Murdoch's application to acquire Direct TV was finally approved by the Federal Communications Commission, chaired by Colin Powell's son Michael. The approval was delayed because Mr. Murdoch's communications empire exceeds the national media ownership cap of 35%. The Republican House raised the cap with a rider on the Omnibus spending bill to 39%--precisely the number Mr. Murdoch needs.

Charles Koch is a founder of the Cato Institute. His brother David is a Director. The Cato Institute wants to privatize both Social Security and the federal public lands. Charles and David own Koch Industries, a $35 billion oil company indicted in 1999 for cheating on its federal-land oil leases. It faced charges of $214 million. The Kochs and their employees contributed generously to George Bush's several campaigns. David Koch and his wife gave $487,500 exclusively to Republican candidates in the 2000 election cycle. In that cycle Koch Industries contributed over a million dollars, 90% to the G.O.P., Inc.[8]

The Clinton Administration charged Koch Industries with $352 million in pollution and hazardous waste violations. The Bush Administration dropped the charges when Koch Industries agreed to settle for $332 million less. Shortly after that, the Bush Justice Department settled the lease-cheating case for $20 million, saving Koch Industries another $194 million.[9]

The Kochs have given handsomely to the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. So did Enron CEO Kenneth Lay. Wendy Gramm, Senator Phillip Gramm's wife, was an ardent deregulator at Mercatus, and sat on Enron's Board of Directors.[10]

Mr. Lay in turn was a Trustee of the American Enterprise Institute. He no longer is, but more than half the current trustees are CEO's of American corporations, including Dow Chemical, State Farm Insurance, Mead Westvaco Corporation, American Express, Merck & Co., Motorola, and Exxon/Mobil.

Vice President Richard Cheney has been a Trustee of the American Enterprise Institute. His wife, Dr. Lynn Cheney, is currently a senior staffer there. So is Richard Perle, a chief architect of the National Security Strategy that drove the invasion of Iraq. So is Michael A. Ledeen who, grateful for Perle's work, reveled in the success of the Iraqi war. "Every ten years or so," Ledeen said recently, "the United States needs to pick up some crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business."[11]

The Annual Dinner of the American Enterprise Institute was held last February 26th, in Washington. The featured speaker was President Bush, who "...delivered a historic address on the need for a new government in Iraq and the role it could play in spreading democracy in the Middle East." [12] Soon thereafter, justified by a threat we now realize he fabricated, Mr. Bush picked up Iraq and threw it against the wall.

[1] "Household Food Security in the United States, 2001." U.S. Department of Agriculture, ERS Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Report No. FANRR29, October, 2002.

[2] See website, at

[3] See Public Citizen Congress Watch, June 2003

[4] See Center for American Progress, "The Progress Report, December 9, 2003."

[5] See "How Conservative Philanthropies and Think Tanks Transform US Policy," by Sally Covington, in Covert Action Quarterly #63, Winter, 1998.

[6] See "The Bad Doctor; Bill Frist's long record of corporate vice," by Doug Ireland, in the L.A. Weekly, January 10-16, 2003.

[7] See "Understanding the New Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit," published by Families, USA, Nov. 25, 2003

[8] As reported in "Oil & Gas: Top Contributors," at

[9] As reported in "Koch Industries and the Pollution of the Bush Whitehouse," at

[10] See "Bull Market," by Garance Franke-Ruta, cover story in the Washington City Paper, March 8-14, 2002

[11] As quoted in "The Demonstration Effect," by Lewis H. Lapham, Harper's Magazine, June, 2003, p. 11

[12] Described on the American Enterprise Institute website, at

Richard W. Behan's latest book is Plundered Promise: Capitalism, Politics, and the Fate of the Federal Lands (Island Press, 2001). For information about the book go to Behan is currently working on a more broadly rendered critique, Citizens, Arise! A Patriotic Call to Retrieve Our Democracy.

This essay is deliberately not copyrighted, so permission to reproduce it is unnecessary.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004
Today the President gives his annual address. As the election battle begins, how does his first term add up?
I usually like to write something like this up after the SOTU, but today's Independent sums it up quite nicely. Sixty-seven wonderful things you should know about the REAL state of the Union. You know, the stuff Bush didn't mention?
Why Dean's Iowa showing doesn't matter
... and might even be a blessing
From a comment by Chad Robinson to a Billmon post on this:
You know what the truth of the matter is? Dean was not going to fix all of our problems and bring forth a paradise of Heaven on Earth repleat with a choir of angels and dewy sunlight pouring over the endless fields of ambrosia and groves of whatever would look most picturesque. Wasn't going to happen. If elected, his job is to reverse specific policy decisions implemented by the current administration and their supporters in Congress... that's it. That's all any of us want him for. Clark, Edwards or Kerry can do exactly the same if they win.
This really is it in a nutshell. Stop the bleeding. Stop the craziness. The rest of that stuff about Heaven on Earth? Well, we'll get to that, ... but first things first. And the first thing is cleaning up the mess.

So if you're for Dean, stay with him. Someone else? Stay with him. This whole thing has just begun.

On the good side:
  • More media: Spending more on the primary means spending less on the general election, BUT, there is a LOT of free publicity coming with all of this media attention, and a tight primary will create a lot more of it than one that is decided early.

  • Less media: Up until now, the press has been on a feeding frenzy against Dean, supposedly because of his front-runner status. With Dean's third place showing, any attempts by them to continue this will show their efforts to be personal instead of professional. Further, they can't simply transfer their venom to Kerry because Clark and Lieberman are now in the race and have good head starts in New Hampshire.
So, yes, Karl Rove may have scheduled the State of the Union to take the focus off the Democratic candidates, but he's now only going to have that advantage for a single day. With a tight five-way race in New Hampshire, exepect a lot of Democrats on TV this week telling the country how they can make it better. And not only that:
  • Less Karl Rove: Rove now has the same problem that the media has. If he keeps going after Dean, it will be totally obvious that Dean is who he fears most. On the other hand, if goes after others but leaves some of them out, he'll be sending an equally clear message of who he doesn't fear. And if he goes after no one, well then we'll just have the nightly news to ourselves for a week!
So if you're a Deaniac, cheer up. Iowa might prove to be the best thing thatever happened to him. And no matter who you support, a tight race could be the best thing that could happen to the Democrats.
Monday, January 19, 2004
Gems from Avedon at The Sideshow ~
  • Why the Bible Belt supports Bush's big-dollar marriage push: This is just too funny. Avedon quotes extensively from a Newsday article that takes note of the fact that conservative Christians have a much higher divorce rate than atheists and agnostics. Avedon's cut is funny enough, but the original will have you rolling.

    As Avedon concludes however, it's not nice to laugh at other people's troubles, but maybe they should stop marrying their cousins?

  • Why I'm not a libertarian (Just scroll down from the above link): I'm not a libertarian, but as Avedon points out, it easy for many of us liberals to find common cause with those who are and visa-versa; there is a shared commitment to individual rights. Avedon offers some quite worthwhile comments on her feelings on this, but the bulk of this article is long excepts from a 1997 article by Seth Finkelstein called Libertarianism Makes You Stupid. While I think the article title is a bit overblown (there are some libertarians out there doing seriously good writing), this article is perhaps the best deconstruction of the flaws of libertarianism that I've seen to date. I won't get into its line of argument here, but if you're ever arguing political philosophy with a Libertarian, you'll want to have this article bookmarked. There is a definite reason why Avedon has kept it handy for so long.

  • Not from Avedon, but worthwhile in light of the Libertarian article above. Libertarianism is regarded as quite conservative and quite to the right of center. Even its adherents acknowledge that it is well to the right of mainstream conservatism (as opposed to the "New Right", ... which most Libertarians detest, by the way). So how to explain the newly-emerging bond between Liberals and Libertarians? After all, they are almost polar opposites on the scale.

    In fact, it is the scale itself that is the probem. By it's one-dimensional nature, you can only be left of center or right of center, and nuance is excluded. Enter The Political Compass.

    What the political compass does is add a second dimension to one's political orientation. I won't explain that here because the site starts out with a test to place the visitor on this two-dimensional scale, and they don't want the test results to be prejudiced by foreknowledge of what they are trying to measure. That said however, I found it pretty much nailed my view of myself, and though a few personal friends complained about their scores, I found those scores to be pretty much in line with how I viewed their politics.

    Anyways, the test is fun, and you'll be placed among a chart of major political personalities. (For the record, I'm really close to the Dalai Lama.) If you haven't taken this test yet, go ahead, have some fun.

    [Note: If you've taken the test before, they've added a new chart with all of the Presidential hopefuls on it.]

What's wrong (and what is starting to get right) in the Democratic Party. Avedon has her head up on this.

She also wondering who she should kill.

A growing number of Americans see the
election as a chance to reclaim the truth.
If it is Gore Vidal, it hardly needs an introduction:
It is often hard to explain to foreigners what an American presidential election is actually about. ... Since the US media are controlled by that corporate America which provides us with political candidates, an informed electorate is not possible. What the media do well is not analyse, or even inform, but personalise a series of evil enemies, who accumulate weapons of mass destruction (as we constantly do) to annihilate us in the night out of sheer meanness.
Polls are rigged and anti-war rallies are ignored by the media:
I addressed 100,000 people on Hollywood Boulevard. The press pretended no one much was there that day, but a subversive picture editor ran a photo of the missing (in print) 100,000 anti-war protesters, stretching from La Brea to Vine Street and filling up the boulevard.
Take a tour into the mind of one our most outspoken patriots.