Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Stop arming Israel

There is the world according to the "news" and there is the real world:

See Stop Arming Israel by Philip Giraldi, March 31, 2009

"Washington’s connivance in Israeli war crimes does grave damage to America’s interests both overseas and at home. Osama bin Laden has repeatedly cited America’s blind support of Israel as one of his justifications for terrorist attacks against the American people. Opinion polls suggest that foreigners who dislike the United States frequently do so because of Washington’s support of Israel. Scenes of Israeli abuse of the Palestinians are a staple of nightly television throughout the Muslim world, where America is seen as Tel Aviv’s enabler. If Obama truly wants to do what is right for the American people, then he can take no more significant step than cutting off arms sales to Israel."


Want to learn something about the Zionists? Read this: The Deception Tango by Uri Avnery

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To Reduce Violence, End the Drug War by David R. Henderson

"When Prohibition ended in 1933, organized crime left the liquor industry – and so did violence."


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Amy Goodman on ‘Standing Up to the Madness’

"The “Democracy Now!” host talks about her book, the state of activism and why “the media are the most powerful corporations on Earth—more powerful than any bomb, more powerful than any missile.” "



Bill

Monday, March 30, 2009

Spate of spies and viruses

I'm not going to list these "things", but I will say that I'm seeing way too much discussion and attention to them these days. I see different reasons for this, one is that I've no doubt there really are evil hackers out there. The other is that our greatest fear, the greatest enemy of the freedom and potential of the Internet is the people who have seized power in Washington, Wall Street and our information supply. They will not give up that power, and the sooner we understand the depth of this problem, the better. The sad truth is that the more powerful the Internet becomes as an agent of real democracy, the harder they will plot and work to stop (read: control) it.

In the meanwhile, these evil programs exist, so what do we do about them?

First, we identify where the responsibility actually lies. First and foremost is with the creator of the Operating System: Microsoft for people using Windows. Since most people are using Windows, I'll skip Linux et al because they are relatively minor players.

Why Microsoft 1st? Because the operating system is the core software of our machines, and only Microsoft has access to the code that comprises this core, and therefore the knowledge to protect it, it's file system and our computers.

No, the operating system cannot stop you from creating/changing/deleting files on your computer, or from sending and receiving data over the Internet, nor can it stop a malicious program you've installing from doing these things. What it can do is protect itself from unauthorized change. This is the first and most significant step: an operating system that cannot be altered without Microsoft's and your concurrence.

There are different ways to achieve this. One is the concept of "virtual machines", which could - if Microsoft wants to - be a built-in feature of Windows. When you boot your computer, it boots to VM, which in turn loads and runs a virtual copy of Windows. Since Windows is now being run from memory (RAM and ther paging system), any changes to it disappear when the copy of Windows is shutdown. This is one way. Another would be for Microsoft to write software, as part of Windows, that has information needed to inspect the components of Windows to make sure they are unchanged since receipt from Microsoft. I personally prefer VM.

This covers the Operating System. What about the Internet? First of all, your Operating System should never allow the Internet access to your hard drive without your specific permission on a file by file basis (turn this off at your peril).

What about programs you install - which, once installed and launched can do anything they please? You don't install programs willy-nilly. You only install programs from trusted sources.

Lastly, consider this: computers are very cheap these days. Hundreds, not thousands of dollars. This means you can buy an extra, cheap computer for Internet use, and keep your other computers off the Internet until useful and effective protections are implemented. Yes, your email system, for example, would be on the 'exposed' machine, but assuming you never click email attachments, you can backup your email (e.g. Outlook PST) from this machine to another without risk.

Look, I'm not a "security" expert or person, but I have spent a lifetime working with computer software. What I do know are 2 things: (1) technology created this problem and technology can solve it, and (2) powerful people don't want the Internet becoming a stronger force for our democratic purposes. The hysterical article I pointed to at the beginning was run by the NY Times - you do remember it was the NY Times who helped lead the charge to the invasion of Iraq, right?


Bill

Read this stuff - and protest!

Look at this pie chart of the Federal Budget and ask yourself if this is what you thought it was - and what you think it should be.

Here's an article on Iraq you should see.

And John J. Mearsheimer asks: Please tell me, where is Israel headed?

We've been - and are being - duped on a massive scale!


Bill

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Pakistan

Read this article: The ‘New’ Strategy - Did Obama Expand the War Into Pakistan? Is The Real Change a Massive Escalation Into Pakistan?

And this article on Obama's Afghan quagmire deepens, and this one by Ray McGovern entitled Welcome to Vietnam, Mr. President

What could possibly explain this stumbling?

Why is this "war on terror" continuing and expanding, long after it's been thoroughly discredited by anyone with half a brain? If you still don't get it, you must understand this: you cannot defeat an enemy you cannot even identify. How do you know what someone BELIEVES IN? You don't, and you can't. This so-called "war on terror" is an ideological war, between people who believe this versus people who believe that.

What makes it so very terrible? A military invasion against such an "enemy" is itself making MORE enemies. Let me say that again: the more people you kill and maim, the more others will join against you. Do you think for even a moment that we could get away with killing a million or so Iraqi's and then expect them to treat us as friends? Do you think that killing another million or so Afghan or Pakistan people will work - or will it create more enemies then we have now?

Who is nuts here?

Do you know the population of Pakistan is over 150,000,000 people? If only 1 percent of that population hates us enough to take up arms against us, that is 1,500,000 people. If only 1 percent of that 1 percent is capable of significantly harming us, that's 15,000 people. Why can't anyone understand the impossibility of defeating such an enemy?

Do you understand that escalating the military solution in that part of the world is only feeding it?

You know why American's aren't talking or thinking like this? The NEWS isn't saying it. And if it's not on the NEWS, it's not NEWS.

Where is this going? War begets war, and hatred begets hatred. We're inviting exactly the one thing we don't want!

What's underneath all this? What force drove us to invade Iraq in the first place? Was it really stumble-bum Bush and his close advisers, or was it something much bigger?

I'm not going to spell this out for you, because to do so invites the fury of the powerful. What I'll do instead is ask you to do some googling, read for yourself about AIPAC and the NeoCon gang and their connections with "NEWS". Ask yourself if it's possible they are still in power, long after Bush-the-face is gone. Check out how Obama handled AIPAC. Check out how what really happened in Gaza didn't make it into the "NEWS". See if you can find a single major media player taking a stand against Israel, and ask yourself why.

Once you start searching and reading, you'll see there are 2 worlds, one feed into your brain by the "NEWS" and the other being very, very different. Justin Raimondo, who I admire for his knowledge and analysis thinks this is starting to change.

And Iraq? It's not over by a long shot. Read this article and this article, to understand what the so-called "surge" was really all about.

On the "really all about" front, imagine this: that the robbery of America by the banks and Wall Street was really a diversion from this larger campaign for military authority in the Middle East, and that this just happened to, incidentally, enrich a group of people. Gotta ask yourself: are they that smart, are we that stupid, or what?

What can you actually do about any of this? Read Tom Hayden's article here, it's got a list of things you can do.

Bill

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Expectation of Privacy

What does privacy mean to you?

Here's an article that discusses this subject: It's Time to Drop the 'Expectation of Privacy' Test by Bruce Schneier.

I think the subject of privacy is a foremost example of where computers can work for us or against us. Computers, by any word, are at the forefront of the invasion of our privacy. What if it were turned around - what if computers were our first line of defense?

How's that? Imagine that we each have a virtual profile (which of course we already have, for those with privileged access), and imagine that we can decide, each of us, how private we want to be. We could, for example, update our profile to indicate that we don't want any marketing company collecting any data at all about us. Conversely we might love getting all those marketing materials in the mail and our email boxes. Fine, then update your profile to let them bring it on.

We're just beginning to broach this subject, to get our minds around the scope of it, to consider it's nature, which we have to do first before we can consider what to do about it.

For a long time I've argued we need a Constitutional amendment specifically on the subject of privacy. As we see in this article, the 4th amendment is being rallied around as if it addresses this issue, our needs, and somewhere in there lies the answer. I don't think so.


Bill

Friday, March 27, 2009

Something to be proud about

Check this out ...
Which one of the slides in this show, by Jim Webb's office is your personal favorite?

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The Madoff caper. Who was fooled?

After all the front page news stories and major news coverage time on Bernard Madoff comes this story that says the $2.6 billion it has on hand is enough to satisfy all legitimate claims by victims of the money manager's $65 billion Ponzi scheme.

How long did it take investigators to figure out the stolen money could be found? Was it known early on that the money would be found? Was this whole big ... huge ... gigantic ... mega-story just another hyper-sensational, muck-raking diversion in the first place? If so, what other stories would it have stolen thunder from?


Bill

This Crisis Is Way Bigger Than Dead Banks and Wall Street Bailouts; breaking with Israel

An important article on the economy:

This Crisis Is Way Bigger Than Dead Banks and Wall Street Bailouts

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In Dick Cheney was right By Joe Conason:

"Of the roughly $11 trillion in federal debt accumulated to date, more than 90 percent can be attributed to the tenure of three presidents: Ronald Reagan, who used to complain constantly about runaway spending; George Herbert Walker Bush, reputed to be one of those old-fashioned green-eyeshade Republicans; and his spendthrift son George "Dubya" Bush, whose trillion-dollar war and irresponsible tax cuts accounted for nearly half the entire burden. Only Bill Clinton temporarily reversed the trend with surpluses and started to pay down the debt (by raising rates on the wealthiest taxpayers)."

Think about this.

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AIG is chump change -- let's find corporate America's hidden billions By Joe Conason

"It's time to reform offshore banking, and see what untaxed wealth big business is hiding in overseas tax shelters."

...

"But what reason other than evasion could there be for Goldman Sachs Group to set up three subsidiaries in Bermuda, five in Mauritius, and 15 in the Cayman Islands? Why did Countrywide Financial need two subsidiaries in Guernsey? Why did Wachovia need 18 subsidiaries in Bermuda, three in the British Virgin Islands, and 16 in the Caymans? Why did Lehman Brothers need 31 subsidiaries in the Caymans? What do Bank of America's 59 subsidiaries in the Caymans actually do? Why does Citigroup need 427 separate subsidiaries in tax havens, including 12 in the Channel Islands, 21 in Jersey, 91 in Luxembourg, 19 in Bermuda and 90 in the Caymans? What exactly is going on at Morgan Stanley's 19 subs in Jersey, 29 subs in Luxembourg, 14 subs in the Marshall Islands, and its amazing 158 subs in the Caymans? And speaking of AIG, why does it have 18 subs in tax-haven countries? (Don't expect to find out from Fox News Channel or the New York Post, because News Corp. has its own constellation of strange subsidiaries, including 33 in the Caymans alone.)"

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Breaking With Israel A new turn in US foreign policy? by Justin Raimondo

" .. The Israelis and their amen corner in this country have been embarked on a longstanding campaign to gin up a US-Iranian confrontation, just as they did in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, but this time the Lobby is being much more overt about taking a leading and very visible role in the agitation."

...

"... Up until now, however, our policy has been based entirely on the dubious axiom that Israeli and American interests are identical, a principle that unites the entire Muslim world against us."

Why isn't there any discussion (read: criticism) on Israel going on in the US?

Here's a quote from CounterPunch Diary in an article entitled Obama's Fall Guy By ALEXANDER COCKBURN

McCarthyism and Middle Eastern Studies

"Viciously strident on some campuses, deviously low-key on others, there’s a McCarthyite campaign in full spate across higher education in the U.S. today. In the sights of the witch-hunters are junior and senior faculty targeted as “anti-Israel”, as terror-symps, as leftists. For every headline case, like Norman Finkelstein or Joseph Mashad or Juan Cole there are three or four less publicized smear campaigns, methodical onslaughts to derail a hiring, head off a tenure appointment, disinvite a speaker, fence off the campus from all dangerous thoughts. The consequence: a climate of fear, of methodical censorship, of cowardice."

So, the deal is: disagree with Israel and it's soldiers in our society, and you get the treatment.

Is this true even in the art world? Maybe so. According to this article
discussing Caryl Churchill's new play "Tell her the truth",

"The now-rote hysteria with which non-Israeli criticism of Israel is met--most recently dismayingly effective in quashing Chas Freeman as President Obama's nominee to chair the National Intelligence Council--has a considerable and ignoble record of stifling opinion and preventing unintimidated, meaningful discussion, in the cultural sphere as well as in the political."

and "In the decades since, American discourse around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has only become more vituperative and polarized, as the New York Theatre Workshop learned three years ago when it announced, and then retreated from, plans to present My Name Is Rachel Corrie. "

and further in the article is this mention: "Hence efforts to shut down exhibitions of Palestinian art all over the country, most notoriously, perhaps, in 2006, when Brandeis University officials removed paintings by Palestinian teenagers from a campus library exhibit, "The Arts of Building Peace." "


Bill

Thursday, March 26, 2009

William Polk on Afghanistan

Quoting from: William Polk on Afghanistan

"Through his intimate familiarity with Afghanistan, experience with Vietnam during the Kennedy Administration, and research on the history of insurgency and counter-insurgency, Polk has concluded that "we shouldn't be there at all." "

" "I look in vain for a place where we have succeeded militarily against guerilla warfare," he said. "… I think the more people we put in there, the more people are going to get shot at." He said Afghans who help Americans will be viewed in the same way as Loyalists during the American Revolutionary War -- they were despised even more than the British. "

"Even more powerful, however, were the lessons Polk drew from his experiences with Vietnam. "Always the idea was with a few more troops and a little more time we will solve the problem," he said. "… We were so sure that we knew how to do everything in Vietnam." He said the extent to which we didn't know what we were doing was made abundantly clear when a Marine Corps Colonel informed Polk that one could purchase a tank in the marketplace in downtown Saigon. "

"The government that we were trying to promote was so corrupt that they were selling their opponents all the arms to kill us with," Polk said. He noted the corruption today in the Karzai government -- its involvement in the drug trade, for example -- and the consequent willingness of more and more Afghans to once again accept the Taliban as an alternative that "doesn't steal."

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In case you didn't know this already from numerous accounts, here's another
Israel: White Phosphorus Use Evidence of War Crimes (VIDEO)


Bill

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Fontline: ten trillion and counting

I'm a really big fan of PBS and it's various shows and documentaries, Frontline included, or perhaps especially.

This Frontline report makes it very clear the financial disaster we'd headed for is larger and more severe then anyone is talking about today - yet the evidence is plain enough.

There are 2 pieces missing from their report that would make all the difference:

1. They didn't even mention military spending, as in "As of 2009, the United States government is spending about $1 trillion annually on defense-related purposes"

2. They point to "entitlements" instead, as the main culprit, specifically to social security (which - excuse me - we and our employers paid into) and, more specifically, to health care. Excuse me, but why is everyone taking it for granted that the cost of health care is untouchable? Maybe someone should read this?


Bill

GAO: More Expensive to Leave Iraq Than to Stay

In this article:
GAO: More Expensive to Leave Iraq Than to Stay

"The report concludes that despite the enormous costs associated with fighting the Iraq war over the past six years, Congress should expect costs to actually increase as the Obama Administration moves through its so-called pullout plan."

It's a whole lot worse then that. Neither Obama's plan nor the GAO report take notice of the most glaring fact of all: anti-American occupation sentiment will prevail in Iraq just as it did in Vietnam. The North Vietnamese believed to the end that they were fighting a civil war to reunify their country, and while the Iraqi's aren't as freverently nationalistic, they are certainly as against being occupied, and there are many millions of Iraqi's deeply affected by the killing and destruction wrought on their country by the invader/occupier. Not too long ago polls showed the overwhelming majority of Iraqi's wanted the occupier to leave. Maybe the number has lessened now, but not because they love the occupier, but because they fear the result of being left in the throes of a lawless result - they are between the rock and the hard place.

Someday, when the dust finally does settle, someone is going to ask "what were the real reasons for the invasion of Iraq, that cost us and the Iraqi's so very dearly"?

Why isn't this question being asked now?


Bill

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Tax reform

Proposition: that every nickel in tax money collected by all levels of gov't should be traceable by the taxpayer through the system, right down to each individual payee on every check the gov't writes.

Computers and the Internet make this possible, easily.

The point is gov't transparency- and that's not going to happen without being able to follow the money.


Bill

Health care reform

Why isn't there a movement to reduce the cost of health care? Why are these costs being taken for granted, when they can be challenged in several key ways?

Does it really take 8-10 years to train someone to fix a broken bone or handle many of the procedures we're locked into paying full fledged doctors for? Absolutely not, and it's rubbish to believe it does.

Why isn't the Dept of Health engaged with building a massive database of all known health care information for public access. Knowledge is power. How did it get locked up?

Why aren't there independent (and certified/regulated, but large scale, highly competitive) labs that we can, on our own, send blood and tissue samples to for analysis - without paying a doctor?


Bill

Ism's and labels

Capitalism, socialism, and all of the other ism's are junk labels.

They each denote philosophies, none of which actually exist. In America we have not only these two labels at work, but others as well. Yet call someone a capitalist or a socialist and you're sure to provoke an argument.

Labels are part of the duping process, and they defy common sense. So why do we still use them? We use them because they are pushed into our faces on a daily basis by muckrakers.

You want to earn more because you work harder or smarter? Fine. Who in their right mind would begrudge you? So, what's the problem?

The problem is that money makes money, and in "pure" capitalism, like the game of Monopoly, eventually the winner owns it all. That's the nature of uncontrolled, unbridled capitalism: fewer and fewer winners and more and more losers.

Unless you're living in a cave somewhere you've heard the stories about how the top 1 or 2 percent of Americans own most of the wealth. This is exactly what happens over time and should come as no surprise to anyone.

So, what do we do?

Because the situation has reached critical mass, redistribute wealth and re-start with a greatly simplified and progressive tax code. That's the concept, and people smarter then us need to implement it.

The great and concentrated fortunes of today were built on the blood, sweat and tears of our ancestors - ALL of our ancestors. Computers, lights-out factories, giant farming machines, etc. etc. weren't invented by the rich in our lifetime, they are the cumulative result of generations of inventors. These amazing and wonderful inventions below in large part to all of us.

Here, read this article on what's happening.

Bill

What Happened to the War?

This article, What Happened to the War? by Laurence M. Vance, is timely because Mr. Vance says exactly what's been in my mind.

"The war is still making terrorists and enemies of the United States. Although Fred Barnes wrote (in the Weekly Standard) that the invasion of Iraq was "the greatest act of benevolence one country has ever done for another," we know that it was instead, as Lt. Gen. William Odom, former director of the National Security Agency, described it: "The greatest strategic disaster in U.S. history." "

"The war is still draining the treasury. The cakewalk that was supposed to cost $50 billion has bled U.S. taxpayers for almost a trillion dollars. About $12 billion was spent fighting the Iraq war each month last year. It costs about $390,000 to deploy one soldier to Iraq for one year. The cost for a lifetime of support and medical care for each severely wounded American soldier is in the millions."

"The war is still resulting in the deaths of Iraqis – thanks to the U.S. invasion and occupation and the genocide we unleashed. The latest estimate of the number of Iraqis who have died in the war instigated by the Bush administration, and continued by the Obama administration, is about 1 million. Additionally, there are the millions of Iraqis who are wounded, disabled, displaced, homeless, refugees, widows, or orphans."

"The war is still destroying the lives of American soldiers and their families. Many thousands of U.S. soldiers have been severely wounded. Hundreds of these have had limbs amputated. Untold numbers suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Defense Department doctors have recently reported that there may be as many as 360,000 U.S. soldiers who have suffered wartime brain injuries. Some returning soldiers will spend the rest of their lives unable to hold down a job. Others will live out their days as physical and/or emotional basket cases."

Read this and this and this on the mentality that suckered us into this war in the first place.


Bill

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Internet's future

The writing is appearing on the walls:

Top Internet Threats: Censorship to Warrantless Surveillance

The greatest invention in all of history is under assault.

If we do nothing, we'll lose it.

The Nation and others are trying to save newspapers, but I disagree. I don't see any future in printed newspapers and the Big Money machines behind them. Good riddance I say. Our efforts should be focused on preserving Internet neutrality and achieving universal access. Splitting our efforts between printed newspapers and the Internet would divide us, and the wouldn't help one bit.

Quoting from an article by Ralph Nader:

The wise early twentieth century judge, Learned Hand, gave us the compass. He wrote these words: "Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it."


Bill

Helen Thomas, and more

There are very, very few journalists I have any respect for. One is Helen Thomas.

In What are U.S. goals in Afghanistan? she says:

"He would leave 50,000 Americans in Iraq to cope with the resistance there. Such was the folly of President George W. Bush, who invaded Iraq after his hawkish neoconservative advisers told him we would triumph in a few weeks."

"To this day none of Bush's reasons for attacking Iraq have held up to examination. There were no weapons of mass destruction, no Iraqi ties to al-Qaida and no threat to the United States."

"There have been no apologies from Bush or his cohorts."

She then very reasonably argues that we didn't learn from Vietnam, that Afghanistan is the graveyard of empires, and that "Sooner or later American presidents should learn that people will always fight for their country against a foreign invader. And peace should be the only goal."

Somebody better listen, but here's the plan for Afghanistan.

But then, reading Obama and the Neocon Middle East War Agenda
by Stephen J. Sniegoski who says:

"All of this can reasonably lead to the question: Will Obama's Middle East policy differ significantly from that of the neoconservatives who were the driving force for the war on Iraq and have fashioned a broader Israelocentric Middle East war agenda? (The neoconservatives are the subject of my recent book: The Transparent Cabal: The Neoconservative Agenda, War in the Middle East, and the National Interest of Israel). Obama himself does not appear to be completely aligned with the neocon position as was John McCain. However, the President's close advisors, such as David Axelrod, Rahm Emanuel, Dennis Ross, Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton, tend to be ardently pro-Israel and hawkish, reflecting a neocon orientation, even though none of these individuals are actually neocons."

..

"And Obama would undoubtedly be pushed in this belligerent direction by the neoconservatives outside his administration and the hawks within, as well as by Congress under the sway of the Israel Lobby. Given Obama's record so far, it seems highly unlikely that he would resist. American hardline policies such as a naval blockade or the bombing of Iranian nuclear facilities would inevitably spiral into a full-scale war."

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Glen Greenwald, who I have a growing like for, writes about The virtues of public anger and the need for more He seems to have trouble getting his mind around the fact that very few sensible people get through the handful of barons that have editorial control over our national information supply. Maybe he knows this, but has yet to talk about it?

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On what happened in Gaza ... and another story here and another here. Remember Rachael Corry?

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Bill

Friday, March 20, 2009

Was the Bailout Itself a Scam? ... more

Was the Bailout Itself a Scam? By Paul Craig Roberts

"After Washington’s trillion dollar bank bailouts and trillion dollar gratuitous wars for the sake of the military industry’s profits and Israeli territorial expansion, there is no money for Social Security and Medicare."

"The US government breaks its contracts with US citizens on a daily basis, but AIG’s bonus contracts are sacrosanct. The Social Security contract was broken when the government decided to tax 85% of the benefits. It was broken again when the Clinton administration rigged the inflation measure in order to beat retirees out of their cost-of-living adjustments. To have any real Medicare coverage, a person has to give up part of his Social Security check to pay Medicare Part B premium and then take out a private supplemental policy. The true cost of Medicare to beneficiaries is about $6,000 annually in premiums, plus deductibles and the Medicare tax if the person is still earning."

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Dreyfuss: Cheney belongs in jail


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End Times—The Death of the Fourth Estate contains excerpts from this very important work.

"We can no longer trust that our journalists are reporting the news without underlying corporate or governmental agendas. The US government deregulates radio and right-wing Clear Channel gobbles up available frequencies. Journalists are embedded and the war in Iraq is a noble one. Whether the information is fabricated, one-sided, or illegally obtained, recent scandals like those involving Judy Miller and Robert Woodward only serve to underline the point that journalistic integrity is not what it used to be."

"Enter Jeffrey St. Clair and Alexander Cockburn. Their newest effort, End Times, presents a detailed scrutiny of the "quality" print press and leading corporate media in the last decade, detailing a disastrous sequence of misrepresentation, suppression, ignorance, and a willful embrace of the government's agenda. The book traces the impending disintegration of what are now "old media" and looks toward the emergence of an entirely new landscape of mass communications: one that includes a more populist approach to information dissemination."

Another major story about the "news" that's been suckering us for so long
The Death and Life of Great American Newspapers

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Israeli Soldiers Expose Atrocities in Gaza

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One Soldier's Tale of How War Drove Him Crazy

The Most Pervasive Combat Injury Among U.S. Soldiers is Invisible -- and the Pentagon Has Tried to Keep it That Way

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Was Eliot Spitzer Taken Out Because He Was Going to Bust AIG?




Bill

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Iran as viewed by Independent Lens

Caught a show yesterday on Public Broadcasting's Independent Lens called ARUSI PERSIAN WEDDING I urge you to check your local listings for it.

The film documents a marriage between an Iranian man and an American woman. Maybe half the film covers the social aspects of the union, and the other part talks about the history of Western involvement with Iran.

Once again the colossal difference between what our "news" is telling us, and the truth, is laid out for all to see - if you'll just take the time to watch this show.

As it happens, there's also an article Loving Our Enemies, The People of Iran in today's commondreams, by John Dear on the subject of Iran. Merging his timeline of events with those in the show only sharpens the picture.

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Speaking for what happens to soldiers sent to fight a war nobody (except the warmongers) believes it, Soldier suicides skyrocket and The Most Pervasive Combat Injury Among U.S. Soldiers is Invisible -- and the Pentagon Has Tried to Keep it That Way and Military Rape Reports Rise, Prosecution Still Low , and Our National Report Card on War by Olga Bonfiglio



Bill

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

From Iraq to AIG, and much, much more

In this article, From Iraq to AIG, Pierre Tristam says what anyone who has given this matter any thought is thinking.

I see more to it. It's just too convenient that we happened to have this financial meltdown completely independently of the cost of the Middle East invasion, with it's 1-3 (and counting) trillion dollar price tag financed by putting our future into debt.

Now I'm no financial high-roller, but I have been following events, and what I'm seeing is that we're being bamboozled again. That is, the cost of that invasion to date + it's future (it's far from over) costs are the major driver for financial ruin, but it's being covered up with snake oil that just happens to have the attribute of not being traceable to anyone at all.

Isn't that slick? How hard is it to imagine the prime movers behind this high-fiving themselves on how clever they've been once again. First they duped us into that invasion, and now they're duping us about the financial disaster it created.

There's another piece of this story that's never discussed: America is as strong as America FEELS. When we're right and feeling it, there is nothing we can't do. But we're not right today on these major issues, we've been duped and therefor as wrong as if we ourselves made the decisions. We couldn't or failed to stop them. This carries a psychological effect that's far more important then the money. We should all be hanging our heads in shame for what we've allowed that gang to pull off in our good name. There are too many of us who, if we don't see what our concerns in the headlines, think that we must be mistaken - because if we are right about something it would be in the news. Read the above and ask yourself if you think there is a connection between the staggering cost of that invasion and all of the other financial disasters that just happened to be going on now.

If you're still reading, now ask yourself this question: is it possible that the mindset behind the monstrous lies that we know of - is behind still more lies? If the word 'disinformation' is more palatable, then use it, but the result is the same: we've been duped and we're still being duped - in HUGE ways.

I've pointed to this one before, but will again, as a perfect example of how the duping process works. It works because very clever people have spent lifetimes practicing the art of spinning stories, minimally to establish reasonable doubt, or plausible deniability, but that's just entry level. Going for the gusto is to get behind the media machine's controls and use it to make people think D, E and F are more important then A, B and C. But that's too nice. In practice they've sent our children to kill and die for their cause, literally robbed us blind, and now they've got us believing our money simply disappeared, can't be found, and nobody is responsible.

What's really killing us? We have no means of connecting with each other. Some people have lost children, others their jobs, others their 401k retirements, and God knows how many other ways individuals have been hurt by this gang, but the way things have been setup, each is in a "compartment' by themselves, left alone to wallow in their own personal disaster.


Bill

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

How to combat terrorism

Excuse me for re-stating the obvious.

We can't defeat terrorism, so more then we can defeat hatred or win a war on drugs.

These are fundamentally stupid notions, advanced by those who own the printing presses and stand to gain from these nonsense crusades.

What (all) we can do about terrorism is:

1. Acknowledge and correct the underlying hatred that drives terrorism. For example, the hatred towards America in the Middle East. We all know why it's this way, we just don't talk about it.

2. Bolster the International Court with a police force and the mission to go after international terrorists.

3. Rid the world of the weapons we created and now we fear so much. How stupid is that?

4. Use our knowledge and resources to build goodwill around the world. That is, lead by example.

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Juan Cole on the #%$@(%& Cheney

Remember Rachel Corrie


Bill

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Freeman Affair

To my great surprise, Charles Freeman hasn't faded away as quickly as he emerged. One can only credit the Internet, because without it he'd certainly be vanquished.

The Freeman Affair

"Of accusations from the generally right-wing groups and individuals who claim to represent the Jewish community in official Washington, he [Freeman] wrote: "

"There is a special irony in having been accused of improper regard for the opinions of foreign governments and societies by a group so clearly intent on enforcing adherence to the policies of a foreign government – in this case, the government of Israel. I believe that the inability of the American public to discuss, or the government to consider, any option for U.S. policies in the Middle East opposed by the ruling faction in Israeli politics has allowed that faction to adopt and sustain policies that ultimately threaten the existence of the state of Israel. … This is not just a tragedy for Israelis and their neighbors in the Middle East; it is doing widening damage to the national security of the United States."

...

Then Robert Dreyfuss says: "Judging by the outcome of the Charles W. ("Chas") Freeman affair this week, it might seem as if the Israeli lobby is fearsome indeed. Seen more broadly, however, the controversy over Freeman could be the Israel lobby's Waterloo."

"A wry, outspoken iconoclast, Freeman had, however, crossed one of Washington's red lines by virtue of his strong criticism of the U.S.-Israeli relationship. Over the years, he had, in fact, honed a critique of Israel that was both eloquent and powerful"

...

"The essence of Rosen's criticism centered on the former ambassador's strongly worded critique of Israel. (That was no secret. Freeman had repeatedly denounced many of Israel's policies and Washington's too-close relationship with Jerusalem. "The brutal oppression of the Palestinians by the Israeli occupation shows no sign of ending," said Freeman in 2007. "American identification with Israel has become total.")"

See the word TOTAL there?

TOTAL didn't happen just from victory in Washington, although a key contributor, it's also very much the product of the propaganda machine that American's have been calling the "news". Yeah, the lot of them. Want a list? Look no further then the "news" organizations behind the pump-up for the invasion of Iraq. Not enough? Then look for those who squished coverage of the murderous rampage in Gaza. Still not enough? Look to see who supported Charles Freeman.

Also see this article in Alternet, in which Robert Dreyfuss asks asks "Is This Last Gasp for the Israel Lobby and the Neocons?"

And this article on Zionism.

Once you open your eyes and tie these pieces (Washington political power + the "news" propaganda machine) together, you'll see the nature of this destructive force for what it is: a plague of arrogance and belligerence against the very values that shaped America.

You want a solution? So do I. What is it? To oust this gang and their cohorts from power and to put it's leaders on trial for war crimes.

Why the urgency? Read this about Iraq, this about Iran, this about the Rape of Washington, this about yet another 30 billion of our tax money being dished out while the agenda continues unabated.

This very important article asks if "The US Is Facing a Weimar Moment"


Bill

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Obama can be neither ignorant nor complicit any longer

Naivety

He failed to appreciate the enormity, significance and nature of America's core problem

This is evidenced by his not putting this gang on trial for war crimes, but instead attempting to unify with them. He read that Lincoln brought opposing forces into his cabinet, so he thought he could do the same thing.

Just how wrong, how naive, he was - has yet to play out, but we already see indicators here and here that he's incapable. There is another possibility, that he's complicit, in which case calling him naive is far too generous.

Where are we headed now? Let's take a look around: Russia, Korea, China, China, China, the world economy, Afghanistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Pakistan, Africa, Israel, The world at large.

What must Obama come to terms with? That the arrogant, belligerent attitude of neoconservatism struck America like a plague, and he can be neither ignorant nor complicit any longer.


Bill

Friday, March 13, 2009

Charles Freeman's Victory

Quoting from Justin Raimondo's article Charles Freeman's Victory
Forced to withdraw, he took the Israel lobby down with him


"Freeman himself said it best in his statement explaining his withdrawal:

"The libels on me and their easily traceable email trails show conclusively that there is a powerful lobby determined to prevent any view other than its own from being aired, still less to factor in American understanding of trends and events in the Middle East. The tactics of the Israel Lobby plumb the depths of dishonor and indecency and include character assassination, selective misquotation, the willful distortion of the record, the fabrication of falsehoods, and an utter disregard for the truth. The aim of this Lobby is control of the policy process through the exercise of a veto over the appointment of people who dispute the wisdom of its views, the substitution of political correctness for analysis, and the exclusion of any and all options for decision by Americans and our government other than those that it favors."

Here's AlterNet's take , and The Washington Post's, and Robert Dreyfuss

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In this article China: The Next Big Enemy? Justin examines the pump-up of a clash with China over access to the China sea, which is very interesting. What he doesn't speculate on is why this flare-up is being puffed. Could it be diversion from the faltering crusade in the Middle East? Could it be yet another move to excite Americans to pump more gas into the mighty military machine?


Bill

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Ray McGovern reports

In Obama Caves to Israel Lobby, Ray McGovern says:

"Not one to mince words, Freeman spelled out the strange set of affairs surrounding the flip-flop and the implications of what had just happened. Borrowing the pointed warning from George Washington's Farewell Address against developing a "passionate attachment" to the strategic goals of another nation, Freeman made it clear that he was withdrawing his "previous acceptance" of Blair's invitation to chair the NIC because of the character assassination of him orchestrated by the Israel Lobby."

...

"The aim of this Lobby is control of the policy process through the exercise of a veto over the appointment of people who dispute the wisdom of its views…and the exclusion of any and all options for decision by Americans and our government other than those it [the Lobby] favors."

...

"Foreign policy analyst Chris Nelson described the imbroglio as a reflection of the "deadly power game on what level of support for controversial Israeli government policies is a 'requirement' for U.S. public office." Before the flip-flop on Freeman was announced, Nelson warned, "If Obama surrenders to the critics and orders Blair to rescind the Freeman appointment, it is difficult to see how he can properly exercise leverage, when needed, in his conduct of policy in the Middle East. That, literally, is how the experts see the stakes in the fight now under way." "

Also see Freeman blames Israel lobby for his exit

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In the "put 2 and 2 together" department, consider this article By John W. Whitehead: The Groundwork Has Already Been Laid for Martial Law and ask yourself if you believe, as I do, that with the support of the millions of people who now hate us for what we've done in the Middle East, some number of them will attack us, and that it's only a matter of time - and then seriously consider the pieces of the picture coming together, what this will mean for us. And, if you can, consider how fast all this can happen.

The fog

There is a "twilight zone" fog that stands between everything you see in your daily life and the world of horror that engulfs millions and millions of people in other places. I know of this fog because I've flown through it once (Vietnam). In the time since, I never would have thought that fog would grow and come our way, but it's there on the horizon - and it's unmistakable.

Can well-intentioned people make the fog go away? Yes, but not without considerable effort. What's the first step? In my estimation it would involve putting Bush, Cheney and the leaders of the Neocon gang on trial for war crimes. Doing so will be a statement to the world that we have come to our senses and realized that we've been massively duped and are taking steps to bring justice to the criminals behind the scheme to seize military authority in the Middle East. The first step will beget the second: to do everything we possibly can to make amends for the destruction they've wrought. It will take a monumental effort to undo the damage and put out the fires of hatred they've started and fueled in our good name, but we must do this!


Bill

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Charles “Chas” Freeman, defeated by AIPAC

Freeman Withdrawal Marks Victory for Israel Lobby

""The whole anti-Freeman effort was engineered by the people who fear that Obama will abandon current policies toward Israel from acceptance of the occupation to forceful opposition to it," M.J. Rosenberg of the Israel Policy Forum wrote on the Huffington Post."

Glenn Greenwald writes that Charles Freeman fails the loyalty test

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For an article discussing the consequences of the removal of a personality like Freeman from the equation, see What Israeli Peace Process? by Franklin Spinney


What is so deeply wrong about this matter? It reveals corruption in the core workings of our gov't, and once corruption sets in there is no way of knowing how widespread it is. What, for example, is the relationship between this corruption and the grand scale robbery of our treasury by Wall Street?

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Helicopters, Cover-ups and War Crimes

'Officials up and down the chain who awarded the contract knew that they were doing something extraordinarily wrong.'

"The evidence, however, indicates that the contract was more specifically a payoff to the Italian government for supplying the forged documents showing Saddam had obtained weapons grade uranium from Niger. President Bush famously used this fraudulent "yellowcake" intelligence to justify launching the war."

In The Helicopter That Paid For Bush’s War, "You may have heard about the scandalously overpriced presidential helicopters the U.S. had ordered from Italy, but did you know they may have been a payoff for forged intelligence used to sell the war in Iraq? It’s all a part of “a web of conspiracy and deceit,” says journalist Paolo Pontoniere".

------------------------------


Bill

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Surveillance

This article:
Breaking the Taboo on Israel's Spying Efforts on the United States by Christopher Ketcham goes in depth about wiretapping and spying in the U.S. and is a must read.

“Whether it’s a Democratic or Republican administration, you don’t bad-mouth Israel if you want to get ahead,” says former CIA counterterrorism officer Philip Giraldi. “Most of the people in the agency were very concerned about Israeli espionage and Israeli actions against U.S. interests. Everybody was aware of it. Everybody hated it. But they wouldn’t get promoted if they spoke out. Israel has a privileged position and that’s the way things are. It’s crazy. And everybody knows it’s crazy.”

Realize this: these technologies are progressive. Next month, next year, in the years to come, they will only get more advanced.

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Iran: A Convenient Scapegoat by Philip Giraldi

"For them, Iran is a potential threat that has been demonized for years in the United States, and no one has ever lost votes by attacking the mullahs. Quite the contrary. To give Obama his due, he probably would like to see talks with Iran succeed, but he is assuming the worst and hedging his bets. He wants to have the powerful Israeli lobby on his side whichever way he turns. Clinton's unwillingness to negotiate is somewhat simpler. She is a faithful disciple of the Israeli lobby who does her annual pilgrimage to the AIPAC convention and says all the right things. She will not do anything that looks like accommodating the Iranians."

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Update on the progress of the American media's war on Christianity can be seen here



Bill

Monday, March 9, 2009

Charles “Chas” Freeman, continued

Pro-Israel lobby’s ire at Obama nominee

Charles Freeman, Roger Cohen and the changing Israel debate by Glenn Greenwald

And some quotes from Signs of Progress - And danger by Justin Raimondo:

"The "realist" wing of the Obama administration, centered in the intelligence community and the diplomatic corps, looks to someone like Charles "Chas" Freeman, whose appointment as head of the National Intelligence Council would place him in a key position. Freeman was picked by Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, whose spokeswoman made sure to let the Washington Times know that the president had no prior knowledge of the appointment. Freeman's sin, in the eyes of the Lobby, was to promote The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, the seminal book by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt that diagnoses the deforming effects of Israel's American amen corner on our policymaking process."

"The president's left-wing supporters want action on the Israeli-Palestinian front, and expectations are high: a new understanding of the "special relationship" is a prerequisite for success. Yet the administration is extraordinarily sensitive to criticism from the Israel lobby, which has gone on a jihad against Freeman, throwing everything in the book at him, and then some. The chosen theme of their hate campaign, in this case, is to portray Freeman as an agent of foreign powers – Saudi Arabia and China, so far. This charge, coming from the Israel lobby, is a hoot and a half – especially when one considers that the first voice to be raised against Freeman belonged to none other than Steve Rosen, the former AIPAC top lobbyist awaiting trial on charges of espionage on behalf of Israel (see this timeline)."

But read the article itself, which is supported by links.

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On the financial system meltdown comes this article, $5 billion in lobbying to Congress got the finance industry lucrative legislative favors that paved the way for Wall Street's devastating collapse. By Robert Weissman

I have one comment to add: the 3 trillion dollar (to date) military crusade in the Middle East is more central to our looming crisis because we can fix Wall Street by putting the people responsible in jail and fixing the laws they've fanangled, but the millions of people who hate us now will hate us for a very long time to come.

---------------------------------------------

Beware: Korea

N. Korea warns intercepting 'satellite' will prompt counterstrike

Why? The warmongers are in need of a major diversion from the (coming) utter failure of their invasion of Iraq, and there no better way to do that then pump up a war somewhere else, be it Afghanistan or Pakistan or Korea. The specific theater doesn't matter as much as that it be something. They aren't going to give up their military crusade in the Middle East or lose focus on the road to conquering Iran, but they need a diversion to mix up the status quo and pump up the military rah-rah spirit to get the juices flowing again.

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The future of the human race, if we survive war, is outlined in a bleak presentation by Chris Hodges in We Are Breeding Ourselves to Extinction

No, Chris! You're missing something: that space is our destiny, so we better get busy working on it. That is, unless you want to get on the warmonger bandwagon and kill countless people for selfish ends. In the grand scheme of things, it makes perfect sense that humans would eventually overpopulate the planet - just around the time that science provides a way to deal with it. Let's not be ignorant, short-sighted or foolish anymore.


Bill

Friday, March 6, 2009

Finally someone is asking good questions

From The Wall Street Criminals Are Still Running Free, Stealing Billions

1.Why isn't Bernie Madoff behind bars?

2.Why hasn't Congress thrown Roland Burris out of the Senate on his lying ass?

3.Why hasn't Fitzgerald reeled in Blago yet, instead of letting him run around giving interviews and signing book contracts?

4.Why hasn't the Attorney General Holder filed scores of civil recovery actions to reclaim for taxpayers the billions in excess salary and bonuses pocketed by the people who lost/squandered the life savings of millions of Americans?

5.Why hasn't Congress or the administration introduced and passed legislation requiring the above?

6.Why haven't Wall Street wheeler dealers who got us into this mess been fired and/or indicted instead of bailed out?

7.Why is it that only ordinary citizens are feeling the full impact of the chaos these movers and shakers caused?

In short, why are the very people whose actions ignited a worldwide depression still sitting pretty, at least compared to their victims? (That would now include taxpayers.)

I don't know about you, but I want the administration and Congress to do two things at once; start repairing the damage cause by hurricane Bush, and punish the few -- maybe as few as 100 -- individuals, like Mazillo, Madoff, Sanford et al, who aided, abetted and profited at the expense of everyone else.

--------------------------

Missing from this short list:

8. Why isn't Bush and the Neocon gang on trial for murder and war crimes?

9. Why are we still feeding the Israel war machine? A Gaza story

10. Why haven't we busted up the "too big to fail" empires, so they aren't too big to fail?

11. Why haven't we busted up the handful of media empires who've suckered us into that war (which is NOT over!)?

12. Why haven't we removed the influence of Big Money from the election process?

13. How can we live with ourselves when over a billion people don't even have potable water? One example


Bill

Charles “Chas” W. Freeman Jr. - a breath of fresh air?

From Intelligence Chairman Freeman Stirs Israeli Ire

"A rarity in Washington, the secret was kept well until the announcement from National Intelligence Director Dennis C. Blair: His deputy as chairman of the National Intelligence Council is Charles “Chas” W. Freeman Jr., a Chinese-speaking iconoclast with a brilliant analytical mind that is anathema to the Israel lobby and the neocons."

..

"Another conclusion, guaranteed to raise Israeli hackles, is Freeman's long-held belief that the terrorism the United States confronts is largely because of "the brutal oppression of the Palestinians by an Israeli occupation that has lasted over 40 years and shows no signs of ending." Accurate or not, this same refrain is heard from scholars to politicians to journalists in Arab and other Muslim capitals the world over."

..

"Mercifully for Freeman, his job is not subject to Senate confirmation. Had it been, he would have been axed with a nod from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee."

From Setback for pro-Israel hawks in US:

"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - "The brutal oppression of the Palestinians by the Israeli occupation shows no sign of ending ... Israel no longer even pretends to seek peace with the Palestinians, it strives to pacify them ... American identification with Israel has become total."

"These are excerpts from a 2007 speech by Charles (Chas) Freeman, a former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, whose appointment as chairman of the National Intelligence Council was announced on February 26 and is turning into a test case for the strength of Washington's right-wing pro-Israel lobby."

"Signs are that its influence might be waning under the administration of President Barack Obama. Does that mean the days of unquestioning American support for Israel are coming to en end? Probably not. But the furious reaction to Freeman's appointment from some of the most fervent neo-conservative champions of Israel points to considerable concern over the possible loss of clout."

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In Obama's War Justin Raimondo says

"Illusions die hard. Especially the ideological kind. When the illusion of Barack Obama, the peacemaker, is finally dispelled, we are going to wake up and find ourselves waist-deep in a war that will soon threaten to dwarf the disastrous invasion of Iraq, both in human and material cost."

"The Europeans, too, have more respect for history, having suffered from an excess of it; perhaps they'll remember the fate of the previous would-be conquerors of the proud Afghan people: the Russians, the British, the Golden Horde, and even Alexander the Great. They all failed, and the bones of their centurions are dust beneath the feet of a warrior people. In that kind of terrain, against that kind of enemy, there is no such thing as victory – there is only a question of how long it will take for them to drive us out – or whether we go bankrupt before that happens, and be forced to withdraw. The Europeans, with their keen sense of history, know this, and I doubt very much that they'll be lured into sending large numbers of their armed forces into Afghanistan."

...

"Of course, back then, the battlefield of the neocons' choice was Iraq, but that was just a prelude to the main act, the ultimate goal of the War Party in America: the conquest of proud and mighty Persia, the seat of an ancient empire that once extended from the Bosporus to the Indus and rivaled the Romans in its military prowess and cultural sophistication. Iran is a big country, nearly four times the size of Iraq, with more than twice the population, and its people will fight. There is no question of us occupying the country: it would require more resources than even the US could muster – an occupation force surely of over one million, at the very least, and the prospect of a very long war that would last, perhaps, far longer than our ability to wage it. Yet we have said that Iranian possession of nuclear weapons – or perhaps having the mere capability to produce nukes – is grounds for war. So what kind of suicidal policy are we pursuing?"

"There has been a lot of talk about the Israel lobby lately: its power, which is often decisive, was unchecked during the Bush administration, as we gave unconditional and unquestioning support for the Israeli government's every action. A recent book by Professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, documents the key role played by de facto agents of a foreign government in catalyzing and shaping the exercise of American power. They point to the alliance of neoconservatives, pro-Israel lobbying groups on Capitol Hill, and born-again Christian fundamentalists out in the heartland as a tripartite alliance that puts Israel's regional agenda over and above distinctively American interests in the Middle East and beyond. Their book shows how the neoconservatives moved with alacrity after 9/11 to maintain that Israeli and American interests were and always would be in such perfect symmetry as to appear identical. "We are all Israelis now" was New Republic editor Marty Peretz's response to the terrorist attacks, and US foreign policy subsequent to that signal event was conducted in a largely Peretzian manner. This close alignment didn't begin to fray and diverge until the latter days of the Bush administration, when the Israel lobby and its neoconservative auxiliary – fresh from their conquest of Iraq – began to take up the cry of "On to Tehran!" Bush, having been burned by the neocons once, wasn't about to go through that again: "Fool me once"…

"In any case, the Bushies weren't going along with the program, and so they were unceremoniously dumped by the neocons, who came out in public denouncing their former Great Leader, and complaining that the Revolution had been betrayed. About what you might expect from a lot of ex-Trotskyists – but that's another story …"



Bill

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The saddest story

I've seen, heard and read a lot of sad stories in my 61 years, but this one ranks right up there.

It's showing on PBS Nova, called "A Walk to Beautiful" about "Three Ethiopian women with childbirth injuries find solace at a special hospital in Addis Ababa."

War and destruction are horrible, but we rebuild. Killing is horrible, but the dead aren't suffering anymore. What makes this story and it's backdrop so very sad is that it's about the long-term misery and agony of some women, who for no reason of their own, happen to live in one of the poorest countries on Earth and were bitten by just one of the many afflictions that plague this poverty-stricken country.

And this is our shame, because we allowed, and continue to allow, the spending on trillions of dollars for a pointless, useless crusade for military authority in an area of the world few of us even care at all about - while just a fraction of this money could provide doctors and hospitals to eliminate this scourge.


Bill

Musings on the sinkhole

Military Dominance in Mideast Proven a Costly Myth by Gareth Porter

U.S. Military Aid to Israel By KATHLEEN and BILL CHRISTISON

Iran in the Crosshairs by Gareth Porter & Ray McGovern

Iraqi Children Bear the Costs of War by C├ęsar Chelala

Obama and Israel's Military: Still Arm-in-Arm by Stephen Zunes

How Close the Bush Bullet by Robert Parry

Buying the war by Bill Moyers


Bill

Iraqi deaths

Also from War Comes Home to Britain by John Pilger:

"In January last year, a report by the respected Opinion Research Business (ORB) revised an earlier assessment of deaths in Iraq to 1,033,000. This followed an exhaustive, peer-reviewed study in 2006 by the world-renowned John Hopkins School of Public Health in the US, published in The Lancet, which found that 655,000 Iraqis had died as a result of the invasion. US and British officials immediately dismissed the report as "flawed" – a deliberate deception. Foreign Office papers obtained under Freedom of Information disclose a memo written by the government's chief scientific adviser, Sir Roy Anderson, in which he praised The Lancet report, describing it as "robust and employs methods that are regarded as close to 'best practice' given [the conditions] in Iraq." An adviser to the prime minister commented: "The survey methodology used here cannot be rubbished, it is a tried and tested way of measuring mortality in conflict zones." Speaking a few days later, a Foreign Office minister, Lord Triesman, said, "The way in which data are extrapolated from samples to a general outcome is a matter of deep concern."

"The episode exemplifies the scale and deception of this state crime. Les Roberts, co-author of the Lancet study, has since argued that Britain and America might have caused in Iraq "an episode more deadly than the Rwandan genocide""


Bill

What's happening in Britian

In War Comes Home to Britain John Pilger writes:

"Freedom is being lost in Britain. The land of Magna Carta is now the land of secret gagging orders, secret trials and imprisonment. The government will soon know about every phone call, every email, every text message"


Bill

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Excerpts, March 4, 2009

Some excerpts from Wars, Endless Wars by Bob Herbert:

"In short, we're committed to these two conflicts for a good while yet, and there is nothing like an etched-in-stone plan for concluding them. I can easily imagine a scenario in which Afghanistan and Iraq both heat up and the U.S., caught in an extended economic disaster at home, undermines its fragile recovery efforts in the same way that societies have undermined themselves since the dawn of time - with endless warfare."

...

"We've already paid a fearful price for these wars. In addition to the many thousands of service members who have been killed or suffered obvious disabling injuries, a study by the RAND Corporation found that some 300,000 are currently suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or depression, and that 320,000 have most likely experienced a traumatic brain injury."

"Time magazine has reported that "for the first time in history, a sizable and growing number of U.S. combat troops are taking daily doses of antidepressants to calm nerves strained by repeated and lengthy tours in Iraq and Afghanistan."

"Much of the country can work itself up to a high pitch of outrage because a banker or an automobile executive flies on a private jet. But we'll send young men and women by the thousands off to repeated excursions through the hell of combat - three tours, four tours or more - without raising so much as a peep of protest."

...

"The United States is on its knees economically. As President Obama fights for his myriad domestic programs and his dream of an economic recovery, he might benefit from a look over his shoulder at the link between Vietnam and the still-smoldering ruins of Johnson's presidency."

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What are the people with their hands on the levers of what's left of American power doing these days?

From Associated Press comes this release today: Clinton criticizes Iran as a threat in the Mideast, which says in part:

"U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is criticizing Iran for promoting terrorism and trying to intimidate its neighbors and others in the Middle East."

"Clinton says Iran poses a serious potential missile threat not only to Israel but also to the United States' European allies and to Russia."

This is our Secretary of State talking. Do YOU think Iran represents a threat to America? I don't. In fact I don't think Iran represents one iota of threat to America. But this is what we're hearing from people we've invested our future with.

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From Radical Rethink Needed in Washington Philip Giraldi says:

"Harvard economist Joseph Stiglitz has estimated that the total cost of the war in Iraq alone will exceed $3 trillion, and that war is not over yet."

"The U.S. defense budget is 40 percent of the world's total for military expenditures, even though there is no real enemy to fight."




Bill

Monday, March 2, 2009

Suing for liberty and freedom

Today's question is: how does one go about suing the federal gov't for liberty?

Liberty, you know, as in "freedom", as was written in "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" - that liberty.

Why would one sue for anything that's already guaranteed?

Because the concept and the implementation has faded and will soon disappear altogether.

How is that?

Computers. Dossiers.

One of the more compelling stories in Christianity recalls Christ challenging people about to throw stones at a sinner. He said "let he who is without sin throw the first stone", and nobody threw the first stone.

Why? Obviously, nobody was without sin.

Well, that was true then, and it's true now. None of us are without sin. I know people who in their lifetimes sinned quite a bit, so much so that if they were brought to trial for every sin, they would have been in jail since teenage years.

But that didn't happen. Why? Because they didn't get caught for every sin, obviously.

Well, times have changed, rapidly and dramatically. Nowadays, through the "miracles" of forensics, cameras, recorders, the Internet, computers, and God knows what other recording devices are online and being brought online (to fight "terrorism", of course), enough information is being stored about each of us that, given motivation, a person with access to this information could probably find sins about anyone put under that looking glass. Oh, sure, there are Mother Teresa's out there still, but what about the person who, say, smoked a little pot last week in a friends house, Or cashed a check a little in advance, or went through a stop sign, or cursed someone out who happens to be in a privileged group, etc.

The point is that people commit crimes (and "crimes") all the time, but they are rarely caught. It's commonplace for people involved with criminal justice to say "we caught him this time, but he probably did this many times before until we finally caught him", and the whole criminal justice system reflects this way of working. Indeed, it has to, because if everyone were caught for every crime, most of the country could consist of jails. But the system works because catching people every now and then serves as enough of a deterrent for others to think twice.

I'm not proposing that we use our new technological capabilities to catch every wrong doer. It wouldn't fly for the reason cited above. So let's get past that.

But this brings us to the problem part.

The problem part is that modern technological capabilities make possible - indeed, they exist already, today - virtual dossiers on each of us. A person with access and authority to this information system can pull up your dossier and search it for clues or strings or *something* to either (a) nail you straight away, or (b) begin closer surveillance in some aspect of your life to beef up the information recording feed for the a future review. Maybe your car's movements haven't been tracked as such before you became a suspect, so that part is fixed and now you can't drive anywhere without being tracked. Maybe it took some extra instructions for a satellite, of many some extra instructions in a computer program that looks at traffic light recording cameras, or something else.

With the recording in place, perhaps enhanced for your non-benefit, watching your dossier from time to time, eventually something comes up to nail you.

Now let me get to the crux of the problem: there will be two kinds of people in the near-future world, those with access to these dossiers and those without. A new kind of class difference, those in the "information class", with access to these dossiers and controls over beefing them up, and everyone else.

Let's say that you're a writer, or a researcher, and you're pursuing what you think is criminal behavior by some authority figure, or group in authority, and they get wind of your investigation. Would they use whatever power they have to stop you? Would they have access to your dossier? Would they beef up survelinece of you to beef up that dossier and improve the chances of nailing you?

All of the above.

You know, some of us wonder - or should be - exactly why nobody in gov't is standing up the special interest groups who have done so much harm to America. Be it the military invasion of the Middle East or the economic meltdown, there have been monumentally large crimes committed to make these things happen. Where were the watchdogs while this was going on? Surely there had to be some. But they were silenced, weren't they. How do you think that happened, that people who truly cared about America and it's people could have been uniformly, to a one, silenced?

Power. What is the nature of power, anyway? Have you ever heard the expression "he who runs the information runs the show"? If you haven't, here you have it.

So, what's the post all about? It's about going to court to stop what's happened and is happening, because those dossiers take away one of our most fundamental, unalienable rights: the right to liberty. We can't be free at the same time that a whole class of people have access to our dossiers and can find something to hang around our neck should we do something simple like talk badly about them.

Sure, our Constitution and Bill of Rights didn't talk about this kind of power - and protecting us from it - simply because it didn't exist. But it does exist now, and now is the time to renew the spirit in which this right was defined and update it.

Is it already too late? Possibly. But whether it's too late today or not, this ability is growing by the day.

Footnote: I am qualified to talk about what computers are capable of. Today I work with Windows and the Internet, but I've also spent more then 2 decades as an IBM Systems Programmer, and three years of that working with software that monitored the performance of large computer systems. Can they eat everything on the Internet? For breakfast, without breaking a sweat.


Bill

The state of affairs

I've said and written - many times - that America's spirit has been damaged by the gang who signed the PNAC and seized enough power in Washington and Wall Street to act out their paranoid and selfish plans for conquest in the Middle East.

I don't have time or the resources to write another book on the subject, so I'm very thankful for the work of others who have contributed more then enough testimony and material to make this case beyond any reasonable doubt.

Now our economy is in shambles, we have a tidal wave of homeless people, 1 in 31 U.S. adults in prison , hundreds of thousands of our children are engaged in a never-ending war in 2 countries, with Pakistan and Korea in the line-up (and who knows where else), and modern day veterans getting essentially the same treatment as Vietnam veterans (the only difference being the "news" pump-up that soothes the psyche of the masses, but does nothing at all for the veterans themselves).

There is one piece (unintended on the part of those who made this happen) of good news: the age of materialism is on the block and we're seeing new forms of social networking (this is one of them) with the potential to bring people together. Today it's a loose assortment of devices, but if you think about it, you can see the mechanics forming that, left to it's own devices, will eventually lead to a new form of voting and a re-birth of the concept of democracy. This can't happen fast enough.

Back to today, and the biggest act we can take to restore America's spirit and vitality: put Bush and this gang, the people responsible for the invasion of Iraq, on trial for war crimes. I know, I keep going back to this demand long after everyone is tired of hearing it.

Why is this so important?

This is so important because this gang severely damaged America's spirit, and our path to recovering this essential ingredient of what made America great requires we do this.

With their crusade for authority in the Middle East, they duped America into believing false concepts, the most important of which is the notion of preemptive war as acceptable behavior.

Preemptive war, striking a perceived enemy before he can strike you, was not only a blatantly false idea as it applied to Iraq, but is the core premise for calls to strike Iran or Pakistan or Korea or whatever other perceived enemy is on the horizon.

Someone should, and I will here, point out a glaring core fallacy: they promoted this concept to the point of actually using it only in the Middle East. Sure, they talk about preemptive war as a solution for problems with Korea, and now I hear Mexico (of all places), but the only place they actually pulled the trigger on is in the Middle East. If this concept does have universal application, then China, Columbia, Mexico, Russia would all be subject to the pump-up and the action. But you know as well as I do that the only place they actually pulled the trigger on is the Middle East. There's a huge difference between talk and action: talk is for Korea, action is for the Middle East.

Are you connecting the dots and seeing the big picture - of how very duped we've been?

If you can see, then you should also see the need to put Bush and this gang on trial for war crimes, mass murder and torture being components of this picture, but also the damage done to entire countries, millions of people, our veterans and our economy. Comprehending the magnitude of their crimes must take into account the totality of the damage they've wrought.

Their scheming and their actions damaged far more then people and places: they damaged our very spirit. Yes, we have great resources, and we probably can recover financially, but if we don't repair the damage to our spirit, we'll sink without ever knowing why.

If you've gotten this far, you must be wondering why something this important isn't it in the "news", with lots of people talking about it. That is, of course, unless you run the "news", in which case you wouldn't want to call attention to your own complicity, would you?


Bill

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Africa, our plight, and justice

If you know me, you'll know that I spend a lot more time complaining about how Big Picture things are then crowing about how right I was.

Going back to the time of the "news" pump-up for the invasion of Iraq, I was feverishly writing to my programmer friends that it was a major mistake we would seriously regret and that a far better plan would be to solve the problems in Africa, and then the world would be on our side, simply because far fewer people would hate us if we indulged in humanitarian efforts then war.

Today, I read this article in Newsweek, that says in part:

"When retired Navy Adm. Dennis Blair took over as Obama's "intelligence czar" in January, he told his staff he wanted concerns about the recession at the top of his annual "worldwide threat assessment" to Congress. Among the questions: Would Russia be destabilized? What about China and India? Does a huge new humanitarian crisis loom in Africa?"

Note the "Does a huge humanitarian crisis loom in Africa" part. This is precisely what I foresaw coming, and what we should have done something about, instead of murdering hundreds of thousands of innocent people so the neocon gang could take out an enemy of Israel and stake their claim to authority in the Middle East.

Not only was their Middle East conspiracy an utter failure; not only is Africa bearing the brunt of the world's hardships, but the trillion dollar, bottomless military spending boondoggle and criminal financial dealings in banking and Wall Street have the entire world at the doorstep of depression.

We can get out of this mess. We can recover. The are two ways to do this: one is to slog it out and crawl out of this pit without ever acknowledging the neocon's role in what happened. The other way is to embrace the concept of justice and put that gang on trial for the war crimes they've suckered America into committing for their cause and their enrichment.

How do you put hundreds of people on trial? It was done at Nuremberg.

You'll notice the "news" (our propaganda machine) is allowing a piece of the concept of justice to (barely) inch it's way forward: the matter of putting Bush and Company on trial for torturing people. Excuse me, but while that aspect of justice is well deserving, there is a far Bigger Crime that begs justice: the criminal invasion of Iraq. Where is this story in the "news"? Nowhere to be found.

How would that be? Is the entire notion of justice for all the monstrous crimes committed in the Middle East to be reduced to the torture angle? How is that possible?

It's possible because the "news", if you recall, was the mouthpiece for pumping up the invasion in the first place. That is, the "news" was part of the scheme all along. Of course they aren't going to allow any fingers to be pointed in their direction, so they'll give us our "justice" by allowing some talk of pursuing the torture angle, and puff that into the whole story. But we know better, or should. Yes, the torture was a horrible part, but it's NOT the whole story, and it's NOT the big deal. The Big Deal was the invasion of Iraq and the lies that made it happen.

Someone will ask "if it's that big, where you you start?"

Vincent Bugliosi has written a book outlining the legal framework for doing it. Yes, he focuses exclusively on Bush, but he knows, and we should know, that the prosecution of Bush will open that whole box, because Bush isn't about to go down alone.


Bill