December 31, 2006

2006 GDAEman Blog Retrospective

Working backwards from December, 2006.....


Iraqi blogger Riverbend Ponders: Is the Iraq Debacle Intended? I offer several perspectives.

The Justice in Executing Saddam Hussein. Fairness demands equity. For his execution to be fair, those who have committed similar crimes must also be tried and punished (Bush and Olmert).

World War III: Has it Started? I say no, but we're well on our way.

Sure, he's a democrat, but Edwards Speaks Truth to Power. This one has a link to the introduction of Lawrence Goodwyn's seminal book on the populist revolt in the late 1800s.

Funny. Hussein attacks a small town of Dujail in 1982, kills 148 people and he gets hung. Prime Minister Olmert of Israel attacks an entire country, kills over 1,300 civilians, destroys the county's infrastructure and.... ? ? ? Olmert and Hussein Cross the Same Line on Disproportionate Actions. I guess we just have to wait 25 years.

If you're a mother and haven't gotten around to protesting the Iraq war, this might be just the incentive you need: Iraq's Damaged Children.

Merry Christmas Bonuses on Wall Street. NY Times article about end-of-year bonuses in the financial sector, averaging $600,000. Nice little stocking stuffer. Imagine the wealth of the people handing out these bonuses.

Video link to Bush's One Fingered Victory Salute.

Even the pundits on the left are going a bit soft. A Critique of Christian Parentis' Critique of the Iraq Study Group report.

The behind-the-scenes Deal Baker is Offering Bush for going along with the Iraq Study Group report.

The story of how Kucinich Saved Cleveland Muny Light.

A Radical Poem entitled, "Let us Rant."

We all know it, but can we articulate why the Iraq War is Illegal? Here's the answer in the words of the British diplomat in charge of the middle east during the US and UK run-up to the Iraq war. "The investigation", referenced below, has started... and it began in Britain.

This one is worth looking at if only to see the side-by-side timelines of the Iraq and Vietnam wars. I was surprised by what I saw. Iraqization and Predicted Length of Iraq War.

PLEASE add to this; I'm sure it's not complete. Bush Extreme Actions List.

Look. We really need to strive to have Bush indicted for war crimes. It's the least we can give back to the rest of the World. It starts with serious investigations, which will take on a life of their own (with a little nudge from the public). Bush and Conspirators Should be Investigated for Crimes Against Peace

So many predictable commentaries from the pundits on the Iraq Study Group report. I felt the need to step back and look at it in a broader context. The Iraq Study Group Report: Plutocratic Damage Control

Senator Brownback is a Joke. That was my thought when he announced his intention to run for the Republican presidential nomination.

Republicans are worse than Democrats. You can't "compromise" with them, because they don't leave room to negotiate. How do you "meet half-way" on taking an irreversible step towards killing the Social Security Program? That's the premise behind Why the 109th Congress Could Not be Bipartisan.

It's easy to dismiss Democrats, but I have to give credit to Senator Leahy, who is to a Probe Dangerous Government Traveler Screening Program. Have you heard of the government's Automated Targeting System, or ATS? I hadn't until Leahy exposed it to the media.

A dip into pop-culture with a piece on Lindsay Lohan and Robert Altman's Death.

"Chavez Buying Votes" provides a quote from Greg Palast's book.


Huge Ineffective US Military, is a telling quote by Chalmers Johnson, author of "Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire," and "The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic." The entry includes links to reviews of these two books.

In this open letter to the Washington Post, I suggest that Charles Krauthammer's Pay Should Be Docked, thereby giving him more time to spend checking his facts. Krauthammer repeated a discredited claim about Hugo Chavez making an anti-semitic comment.

Regardless of Nukes, this brief essay describes why the US is likely to be funneled down a path into war with Iran. War in Iran = Spreading of the Iraq War.

Mahatma Ghandi and Martin Luther King would be proud,"Gaza Human Shield" is an inspiring story. Not sure I'd stand in front of the IDF.

Shocking, but true: 20% of Republicans Support Bush Impeachment.

List of US Corporations with Offshore Tax-Havens. We need to challenge their corporate charters... the death sentence for corporations.

"War is a Racket" the full text of Marine Major General Smedley Butler's famous essay.

Must'a been in a "full text" mood... Here's the full text of the lyrics to The 1913 Massacre by Woodie Guthrie.

Damn it! This blog was supposed to focus more on economic issues. Oh well, here's a contribution to that end. In Debt We Trust is a documentary by Danny Scheckter. This blog entry reflects on the topic at two levels.

A Parting Shot at Rumsfeld... with and original comic strip!

A challenge: Do Democrats have Cajones? I doubt it, so that leaves the job to average people.

.... BUT, at least the Democrats can say they have a plan. The Democrats To Do List.

Back when "they" decided to try Saddam Hussein for his retaliation against the town of Dujail for an assassination attempt on his life, it was said this case was chosen because it was easy to prove. It was also noted that Fallujah is Bush's Dujail, and that who ever chose the case against Hussein might be laying the groundwork for similar charges against Bush. This piece expounds on the US military incursions into Fallujah.

Brad Will: Rest in Justice


I'd love to have other people contribute to this piece entitled, Etrajudicial Executions in Iraq. I think it has potential. What do you think?

" Maliki: America's Man in Iraq." Remember when Nixon said, "I am not a crook" ? Well, in what felt like a scripted moment, Maliki said, "I am not America's man in Iraq." OK. A little warning to Maliki. The US disposes former friends who are no longer "their man," e.g., in 1961, Diem was America's man in Vietnam. In 1963, with US approval, he was overthrown and executed along with his brother. Kinda like Saddam, Noriega, and a long list of others.

"Silenced Majority" points out the obvious about our "liberal" media, with polling data on public sentiments about Bush's War, etc.

"Kill Bush" Note the quotation marks. These are NOT my words, and I'm very careful to point that out in this curious assessment of the internet records on that phrase.

There really are courageous heros in the US military, and some of them haven't gone AWOL. Vokey and Cerveny: True Americans will introduce you to two, if you aren't already familiar with them.


We all need to say it loud, clear and often, "US Keep your Hands off Hugo Chavez."

So, Arnold Schwarzenegger is a racist. I get close to the edge myself on this one entitled, Arnold's Blood. I hope Austrians aren't too offended.

This Big-picture Activist Straregy is laid out in a blog entry entitled " Take it to a Higer Level." If ever there was a time, we're living it.

One indication of the damage done by US-Israel to Lebanon is reflected inRelief Resources Provided to Lebanon. This is just a snap shot, a small fraction of the relief; it's very telling.


Network Neutrality for the internet is a HUGE issue that is in play. This is a "Take Action Now" issue, so I've tried to make it easy for people by identifying the Senate Swing Votes on Network Neutrality and providing a link to the Senate contact information.

Faux News military analysts talk tough about Iran. This entry, Bush Leading the Nation into Another Trap: Iran should put a chill into anyone who contemplates attacking Iran. If nothing else, the map showing how big Iran is compared to Iraq should give pause.

Yes, the US has lost the war in Iraq. The private intelligence analysis outfit, Stratfor, basically comes out and says it. As do many of my posts, I link to the source for readers to see the full context.

Iraq and The Length of World War II, the title speaks for itself. This entry comes with a bonus goofy picture of Bush.

For those who like literature, Freedom and Fear is a reflection motivated by a passage in Alan Paton's "Cry, The Beloved Country," set in 1940s South Africa. I've typed the passage for others to read.

Federal U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor struck down President Bush's warrantless surveillance program. This commentary includes links to Taylor's decision and an analysis by Glenn Greenwald.

Another US soldier says "Hell no," and went AWOL. Acutally, Sergeant Ricky Clousing was a bit more eloquent than that, leaving a quote by Martin Luther King. about the primacy of conscience over being expedience and cowardice.

Thomas Friedman is a pompous weenie. There I said it, and it makes me feel better (try it out loud in front of a mirror). The Buzz of Justice Served is an open letter to Friedman, suggesting that the "buzz" he heard among Syrian journalists, in response to Hezbollah's strong military response to Israel, is a reflection of their desire to see justice served. It includes the partial transcript of Friedman's comments.

In Cuban Propaganda Campaign I ponder how the US would react if Cuba announced a propaganda campaign, of relative proportion in size to what Republicans were proposing to foist against Cuba.


The Lebanon Damage Report 2006 was my most significant work this year. It is linked to a number of related subjects, including Lebanon: Village Damage by District, a work in progress, Lebanon Damage: Roads and Bridges,
Impacts of Cluster Munitions,
which includes a link to a summary of US Prohibitions on Israeli use of cluster munitions.

I commented on the military reviewing its procedures regarding detainees following a Supreme Court ruling that the Geneva Conventions should apply in the conflict with al-Qaida. It seemed to me that they were preparing to say, "Gee, we didn't know the Geneva Convention applied, but we'll do better in the future." It reminded my of the phrase, "Ignorance of the law is no excuse."

In relation to Lebanon, former diplomat, Edward Peck, was interviewed on DemocracyNow! and discussed the "selective morality" of Israel. My piece on the topic is 425 and Selective Morality, which includes a link to the interview and a Wikipedia bio on Peck that I started.
In Remember Qana 1996 and 2006, prompted by another massacre of civilians in Qana, Lebanon, I reflect back on the massacre in 1996, with a link to a graphic video from that time.


June was a slow month for me. But in this open letter to the Associated Press, I point out that Al-Zarqawi is a Bit Player in Iraqi Insurgency. Though he did have a lot of money.


Hey. I just call'm the way I see'm. William Arkin: Apologist. What celebrity payola pundit isn't an apologist? Has anyone read "Cable News Confidential"?

Our country is supposed to be led by civilians. In another example of what makes the United States a military empire, our generals are giving policy speeches. So I emplore, Generals, Stop Making Political Speeches.

I'm reminded to update this one. I've been tracking the growth in the number of times the following exact phrase comes up via a Google search: "Time for Cheney to Resign."

It's important to give constructive feedback to the news wires when you see sloppy journalism. Case-in-point: AP's Pete Yost and Supposed Intelligence.

Here's another one.... AP's Jack Stokes and the Salvador Option in Iraq. Gotta wonder if Negroponte has helped instigate death squads in Iraq like he did in Central America.

Sticking with the theme of open letters, here's another one: Open Letter: Georgetown and Feith.


What's cool about this one is that the corporate media was FINALLY coming around. Deliberately Misled. A video grab of NBC/Wall Street Journal poll results in which 57% of Americans believe they were "deliberately missled" by Bush into the Iraq war.

Think globally, act locally. They're doing it in cities and states across the Nation. Illiniois Resolution to Impeach Bush.

With a blog, you can make up your dream headlines: "General Miller Indicted." I want my blog to be #1 on Google when this headline is for real. He's the guy that "Gitmoized" Abu Ghraib, after bringing torture to Guantanamo Bay. Good links, particularly to an Famous Signal City Interview with Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, the scape goat of Abu Ghraib.

Why Tom Delay Resigned.


Scalia Not Impartial on Hamdan, and the photo of him giving the Italian version of the finger. Also includes a link to contact the US Supreme Court.

One of my blog entries got translated into Korean and back into english. The result could get me in trouble with the Secret Service: The Citizen Will Show. In a way it's poetic.

Gary Hart Calls on "the people" to Check Bush "Tyranny." It's easy to dismiss politicians, but here's a case in which one is really speaking honestly. It is a sign of the scary times in which we live.

One reason the Democrats took back control of Congress: Si se Puede by the Hundreds of Thousands. Protests by those concerned about immigrant's rights were HUGE and sustained. Truly historic.

Censure Bush for Violating 4th Amendment. It must be done to set the record straight.

I'd write more about the real estate bust, but it's become such a popular and well-covered topic. The Biggest Fear in Real Estate. What's not being said is that major institutions, like pension funds and large banks, are deeply invested real estate investments. As goes the real estate market goes the US and world economy. It's too big to let fail, so the US tax payers will get stuck bailing out people who will walk away with great amassed wealth.

This was a strange one. Remember the United Arab Emirites port deal? It was strange when Dubai asked the US to review it for a second time as a security risk. DP World Requests Second Review?


You're invited to add to this list. I'm sure I didn't get them all. Bush Failures.

Haiti's Preval and the Rule of Law. The picture of the beach looks nice. Notice the helicopter in the background.

MUST KNOW US History: Operation Northwoods.

The Democrat's mantra... at least it was supposed to be. Immediate Phased Redeployment: Republican Lite? UK journalist Robert Fisk had a funny line about "redeployment." Goes something like, "You'll hear a lot about "redeployment" in the coming months. It's like Napoleon's redeployment from Moscow, or Britain's redeployment from Dunkirk, or Custer's last redeployment."

Actor Richard Dreyfuss got it right. Impeachment Articles: An Obligation.

I hear I'm in a documentary where I'm being escorted out of a theater repeatedly saying, "Anne Coulter is a Joke" to applause. So is Michelle Malkin: The Asian Anne Coulter.


Lieutenant General Michael V. Hayden, USAF, former Director of the National Security Agency (NSA), argued that the warrantless spying was necessary to "Detect and Prevent" potential terrorist acts. I'm not buying it. Jonathan Landay, with Knight Ridder, should be nominated for journalist-of-2006 for his exchange on the 4th Amendment of the US Constituion. Hayden got it wrong.

You like Hampden's quirky ways? Baltimore Neighborhood Proposal to Limit Corporate Power. Keep the franchise chains off the Avenue.

Another example of a mainstream figure speaking truth to power. Revolutionary Power. You really should read this excerpt from the introduction to Paul Krugman's book, The Great Unraveling... that is, if you like getting chills down your spine.

The Big Lie: Are We Living One?

YIKES! It just keeps getting scarier. Consolidation of Pentagon Power. At least Stephen Cambone (an honest to god fascist) is leaving with Rumsfeld.

That's it!

December 30, 2006

Riverbend Ponders: Is the Iraq Debacle Intended

In her blog post of Dec. 29 Riverbend posed the question, "Is the US crushing Iraq on purpose?" I've wondered the same thing myself.

Noam Chomsky argues that the US was able to achieve its objectives in Vietnam by crushing that nation, but the same is not true in Iraq. (I could dig up his reasoning if you'd like).

Greg Palast, BBC investigative reporter, argues that the US wants to limit Iraqi oil production to keep oil prices up. He has documentation that is pretty convincing. This perspective supports the contention that the US is creating chaos on purpose.

Creating crises as a way to maintain dominance is a well established management technique. I suspect that we might be witnessing a case in which this concept was being applied by the US, and like a contolled burn in forest management, it has gotten out of control.

Update: January 6, 2007

I ran across the following, which sheds some potential light on the question:

"All criminals who survived the Fallujah crisis after committing genocide and other war crimes were granted higher ranks," Maj. Amir Jassim from the Ministry of Defense told IPS. "I and many of my colleagues were not rewarded because we disobeyed orders to set fire to people's houses [in Fallujah] after others looted them."

Jassim said the looting and burning of homes in Fallujah during the November siege was ordered from the Ministries of Interior and Defense.

"Now they want to do the same things they did in Fallujah in all Sunni areas so that they ignite a civil war in Iraq," said Jassim, referring to the Shia-dominated ministries. "A civil war is the only guarantee for them to stay in power, looting such incredible amounts of money."


[1] Dahr Jamail with Ali al-Fadhily, October 2006, Govt Death Squads Ravaging Baghdad

The Justice in Executing Saddam Hussein

Saddam Hussein was tried and hanged for his disproportionate actions against the town of Dujail. That alone was the official justification for his execution, without consideration of gassing Kurds, secret police, torture or other acts for which he could have been tried.

It has been argued that Fallujah is Bush's Dujail. But it can also be argued that the accumulated whole of the war crimes in Iraq is Bush's Dujail.

Prime Minister Olmert of Israel has his own Dujail. It's called the disproportionate assault and collective punishment of Lebanon in July 2006.

If Justice is blind and balanced, then we should, someday, witness Bush and Olmert being punished for their Dujails.

December 29, 2006

World War III: Has it Started?

My attitude is, if you have to ask, it probably hasn't started. But, don't let that stop you from reading on.

A friend called the other day. He said WWIII had started on that day. A second friend later said it has been under way for several years already, Newt Gingrich agrees, as do others who think we're already at war with China. Some saw the July 2006 US-Israeli assault on Lebanon as an indication of World War III.

I suspect it depends on how you define a world war (Here's a bible-thumper's attempt). A founder of the elite Delta Force, retired Command Sergeant Major Eric Haney, says, "We have fomented civil war in Iraq. We have probably fomented internecine war in the Muslim world between the Shias and the Sunnis, and I think Bush may well have started the third world war, all for their own personal policies." [3]

The first friend said that the signal was Thailand's'move on currency controls. He argued that such extreme moves are so rare that they indicate open warfare, a challenge to US domination. He said the recent coup, supported by Thailand's King, was in anticipation of this kind of severe state action. He argued that the US debt, flooding the world with dollars, creates excessive amounts of investment capital that must find a place to go. In other words, Thailand is rejecting US dollars, saying in effect, "Go create speculative bubbles somewhere else."

It's hard to argue with the logic, but my take was less sinister with regard to the United States. It might be that hedge fund managers were engaged in a pump and dump of Thai currency, or maybe it's just a market frenzy. Either way, perhaps Thailand was simply trying to protect their economy from a market failure of excessive speculative capital.

"The later is true," said my first friend. However, it's also true that Thailand is poking laissez faire economics in the eye, and is saying, "US dollars go away." Given the fundamentalist way the US embraces neoliberal economics, and the consequences to the US of other countries following Thailand's lead in shunning US dollar flows, he argues that Thailand is drawing a line.

So, I asked, "If we're at war, what are the alliances?" He said that the US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel are allied against the rest, with varying degrees of polarization and a great deal of jockying still ongoing. Seems a bit too simple for my taste. For example, it could be argued that Ethiopia is allied with the United States, and where do South Korea and Japan stand?

It's true that many countries are easing away from the United States; put another way, the US is becoming isolated. This is for several reasons. First, the US is viewed as a "bully," for example using very heavy-handed tactics, and bribes, to secure votes in the United Nations, and being associated with discredited captial market liberalization policies of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) responsible for economic debacles.[1] As is common in relationships with bullys, other countries have been acting more gingerly toward the US; they don't want to get too close, but they don't want to get on the bad side of the US.

Second, the US has committed crimes against peace by conducting an illegal war of aggression in Iraq. Leaders of some countries are wary of the potential for guilt by association with the United States.

Third, by its military failure in Iraq, the US has exposed its weakness. James K. Galbraith makes a profound observation. He says, "Bush and Cheney have done more than bungle a war and damage the Army. They have destroyed the foundation of the post-Cold War world security system, which was the accepted authority of American military power. That reputation is now gone." He goes on to note our alliances are now vulnerable.

That is coming to pass. Japan is seeking to increase its military capacity in recognition that it cannot depend on the United States.

Another hint comes from Robert Fisk, who recently dined with Australian Army generals in Canberra. [4] "What people are asking all over the middle east is, if the Americans are going to pull out of Iraq, what happens to the Gulf States? Well, they [the US] can say, "Oh well, we'll remain in ships off shore, etcetra, etcetra. Be sure we'll be told that Americans are merely redeploying from Iraq, as in Nepoleon's redeployment from Moscow, or the British redeployment from Dunkirk, or Custer's last redeployment. But, I'll show you how far the tsunami waves go from this development. I mean, I, I'm very frightened about what's gonna happen if and when the Americans leave, even though they've got to leave.

"I was giving a lecture, as series of lectures, in Canberra, the Australian capitol six months ago now. I was invited to dinner one night by an academic and he brought a number of Australian Army generals to dinner, a private dinner.... These guys were talking and one of them said to me, "You realize Mr. Fisk that down here we're thinking of, you know, doubling the size the Australian Army." and I said "What?! You're just a big desert surrounded by a finge of gardens and you wanna double the size of your army?" And he explained it very clearly. This is what they're discussing in miltary college, of course, Army college in, in Canberra. He said, "Look" he said, "The Americans are gonna pull out of Iraq. There going to, because they've lost." The Australians have got soldiers in Iraq, so they know this... And [the general said] "If they do that, they may withdraw their Pacific shield from South East Asia, and then we could be on our own." He said, "North of us we have the largest populated Muslum country in the world." Indonesia. "and they could be in Sydney with armor in 24-hours. We need to double the size of the Army."

Fisk continues, "Now this shows you that what is happening Fallujah and Ramadi and Baghdad is having an echo way out, thousands and thousands, you know, 18, from here even more, 20 hours flying time out of here. They're worried about this. And there I was, sitting as the cicadas chirped away outside in the garden thinking, "My God. This IS going to have an effect."

Where does this leave us? I don't think World War III has started in earnest. There won't be any debate about symantics when it does. A summary of the damage to the Soviet Union in WWII makes my point: 70,000 villages destroyed, 1,700 towns, 32,000 factories, 40,000 miles of rail road track, 16 million people dead (Soviets lost 78,000 military in the battle for Berlin alone); Greece two-thirds of its merchant fleet lost, one-third of its forests destoryed, etcetra, etcetra. [5] True, survey results, published in the "Lancet" journal, estimates 654,965 excess Iraqi deaths (with a range of 392,979 to 942,636) between March 2003 and July 2006. This, and incentives for the the US to drift into Iran, suggests we might be well on the way to World War III.

This discussion started with economics. James K. Galbraith had an additional forshadowing statement. Refering to the newly exposed US military impotence, he said, "As these paper tigers start to blow in the wind, so too will America's economic security." [2] When a great empire begins to crumble, and if you read Morris Berman you'll know what I mean, it often flails violently in desperation. Add to this the US plans to expand its combat forces, and investments in new nuclear bunker-busters and other military technology. China is presently justifying its plans to expand its military capacity. We've noted Japan and Australia. Of course, North Korea now has the bomb. Pakistan got it fairly recntly, and the US is offering to give enriched uranium to India, creating the potential for that nation to use its uranium enrichment capacity for developing more nuclear weapons. There are pressures for NATO countries to expand their military capacities, often with support from the US. NATO is now deeply committed in Afghanistan, creating more pressure for military enhancements.

In other words, the world militarys are being built up. That, combined with troubled economic waters ahead, argue strongly for keeping a watchful eye on world leaders who have a track record of getting the world in to wars. If Einstien was right, common people will want to prevent World War III: "I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones." - Alber Einstien.


[1] Additional Reading on IMF's Discredited Policies:

Washington Post, July 29, 2004. Web Link

[2] March-April 2006 issue of Mother Jones magazine.

[3] Delta Force founder: Bush may have started World War III, RAW STORY interview by David Kronke, Friday March 24, 2006 Web LINK

[4] Flashpoints Radio interview with Robert Fisk, December 18, 2006. Web LINK which has a link to audio of the interview.

[5] Postwar: A history of Europe Since 1945, Tony Judt, Penguin, 2005.

December 28, 2006

Edwards: A Man of the People

The people of America are fortunate to have a true leader, like Edwards, take on the challenge of running for president. Edwards speakes truth to power, which is refreshing in this era of corporate plutocratic dominance.

He will be challenged as "protectionist" and worse by the powers-that-be, starting with those in the Democratic Party.

He deserves the working-people's support, if only to send a clear message to the corporate and political elite: "We're here. Ignore us at your own fate."

Edwards Speaks Truth to Power

True, like other national candidates under that have to contend with the potential of unwarranted corporate media feeding frenzies, Edward has to be cautious about what he says. However, unlike most candidates, he is the best at speaking truth to power.

Edwards is a populist in the finest tradition described best by Lawrence Goodwyn. This is a tradition of true participatory democracy, contrary to negative connotations placed on the word "populist" by some historians (the chairs of which were probably funded by plutocrats).

The policy underpinnings of populist movements rest on an understanding and appreciation of economic forces. It isn't a sterile view of economics as the center of the world, rather it views economics in its proper role relative to other social aspects of our world, family, self-respect independent of monetary standing, appreciation of natural wonders, artistic expression, genuine compassion. The spirit of this view is what Martin Luther King would later call a “sense of somebodiness.” It views economics as an engine that can enable social aspirations, not as an end in itself.

One of the greatest taboos in society today is to challenge corporate globalization, founded on neo-liberal, free market, Washington consensus economic theory. Edwards has taken a stand in opposition to corporate globalization. He knows it is a naive view of economics at best, and a cynical power grab of the worlds resources by a plutocracy at worst. Evidence suggests the later is true, though many half-informed peopled are enamored by the supposed theoretical underpinnings of free market fundamentalism, such as the notion of comparative advantage, introduced by David Ricardo.

By challenging this taboo subject head-on, Edwards is speaking truth to power. If for no other reason, Edwards deserves the distinction of being called a true leader.

December 26, 2006

Olmert and Hussein Cross the Same Line on Disproportionate Actions

According to the Opinion* in the verdict against Saddam Hussein, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert crossed a very similar line, thus commited crimes in his July 2006 decisions to assault Lebanon. However, in the case of Olmert, his actions were leveled against an entire county not just one town. See: Lebanon Damage Report 2006.

"Saddam’s main defense was that as a leader, he was entitled to take action against a town that had tried to assassinate him and was populated by insurgents and terrorists allied with Iran at a time when Iraq and Iran were at war. The Opinion* details why the actions taken against the town of Dujail and its inhabitants “was not necessary to stop an immediate and imminent danger” and how the actions were disproportionate to the threat. In this way, the Opinion makes clear that there is a line to be drawn in every country’s fight against terrorism, and that Saddam and the other defendants crossed that line."
-- Source: Observations on the Dujail Trial Opinion, By Michael P. Scharf, co-author of SADDAM ON TRIAL: UNDERSTANDING AND DEBATING THE IRAQI HIGH TRIBUNAL (2006)

* On December 4, 2006, the Iraqi High Tribunal publicly issued the long-awaited English translation of its Opinion supporting the November 5 Judgment in the Dujail Trial – the first trial of Saddam Hussein and seven co-defendants. Available at: Iraqi High Tribunal Opinion

Iraq's Damaged Children

This article pretty much speaks for itself.

Report on the impact of the Iraq war on the children.

Independent journalist Dahr Jamail has also written and spoken recently on the topic of the children's plight in Iraq. Here's a blog entry of his from December 14, 2006.

December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas Bonuses

December 25, 2006
Wall St. Bonuses: So Much Money, Too Few Ferraris

It’s a brisk Wednesday morning in the windy caverns of Wall Street and Sarah Clark’s toes are cold.

Dressed in a purple flight attendant outfit, Ms. Clark, a 26-year-old model, is trying to entice recent bonus recipients at Goldman Sachs into using a charter plane service, handing out $1,000 discount coupons to people in front of the investment bank’s Broad Street headquarters.

“Where am I going?” asks one man, heading toward the Goldman building. “It’s your own private jet,” says Ms. Clark with a smile. “You can go wherever you like.”

For Wall Street’s elite, the sky may well be the limit.

In recent weeks, immense riches have been rained upon the top bankers and traders. After a year of record profits, investment houses like Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers and Morgan Stanley are awarding bonuses as high as $60 million. And a select group of hedge fund managers and private equity executives may be taking home even more.

That is serious money. And the serious luxury goods markets are feeling the impact.

Miller Motorcars, in Greenwich, Conn., is fielding more requests for the $250,000 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano than it can possibly fill. One real estate broker laments a dearth of listings for two clients trying to spend $20 million on Manhattan properties. Financiers already comfortably settled in multimillion-dollar apartments and town houses are buying $5 million apartments for their children. Vacation homes, usually bought and sold in the spring, are now hot this winter, including ones in private resorts like the Yellowstone Club in Montana near Yellowstone National Park.

“Last year, everybody bought Ducatis,” said one investment banker, referring to the Italian motorcycle. “This year it’s vacations. I’m on my way to St. Barts,” he said, en route to the airport. Like most bankers, he spoke on the condition that he not be identified, because he was not authorized to talk to a reporter by his company.

The 2006 bonus gold rush has re-energized some luxury markets. The Manhattan real estate market, for example, had softened; sales of apartments fell 17 percent in the third quarter this year compared with a year ago, according to the Corcoran Group.

Then came bonus day. Last week, Michele Kleier, president of Gumley Haft Kleier, received a call from a hedge fund manager in his late 30s. He had spent $6 million on an apartment two years ago and, with his bonus, wanted to upgrade. His new price range? “Not more than $20 million.”

Ed Petrie, a broker at Sotheby’s in East Hampton, N.Y., is now fielding two bids for $8 million to $10 million properties in exclusive Georgica Pond — properties that have been on the market since the spring. “The fall was relatively slow and then suddenly, with news on bonuses, there has been quite a bit of activity,” he said.

Many brokers noticed not just the bonus effect, but the bonus-anticipation effect. Buyers who sat on the sidelines in 2006, waiting for real estate prices to come down, saw news of outsized bonuses and started signing deals to pre-empt any price increase driven by new Wall Street payouts.

“Part of our recent increase in sales activity has been buyers not in financial services trying to beat the bonus rush,” said James Lansill, senior managing director at the Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group.

Once the bonus rush started, Mr. Lansill witnessed a trend he had never seen in his 14 years in the business: people who had signed contracts for apartments under construction 5 to 6 months ago were doubling the size of the properties they were purchasing.

In the last three weeks, the Corcoran Sunshine Marketing group sold the last four apartments in the Richard Meier apartments at 165 Charles Street in Greenwich Village. The last one to go: a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment with 2,350 square feet that sold for just under $7 million.

Patricia Warburg Cliff, senior vice president and director for European sales at the Corcoran Group, said that until recently, 2006 had been characterized by calmer, more informed buyers. “Now there’s a feeling, ‘I need to sign because I don’t want it snatched away,’ ” she said.

Adding to the spending spree is a rash of young hedge fund analysts, first big bonus checks in hand, scooping up the $2 million to $3 million starter apartments (most popular features: glass walls, marble bathrooms and kitchens — likely to go unused — with top-flight appliances).

“We love hedge funds, they are our favorite people” Ms. Kleier said. “They don’t feel like the money is real and they don’t mind spending it — they don’t mind going up by $500,000 or $1 million increments.”

Hedge fund analysts are not the only ones celebrating bonus season. Private equity firms like the Blackstone Group and Kohlberg Kravis & Roberts helped fuel a record deal-making year.

Private equity’s deal-making has trickled down to Wall Street in two ways. For one, the banks served as advisers on the deals and financed them, raking in enormous fees. (Kohlberg Kravis is said to pay more than $700 million a year in fees to the Street.)

But bankers also see a pay effect: top executives insist they must pay up because of the danger that their best dealmakers could leave for higher-paying private equity firms or other hedge funds considered more flexible and fun.

Those young, single hedge fund managers are bringing holiday cheer to car dealerships as well. This year, drama surrounds the very limited production of the Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano, a car with 612 horsepower that can go from zero to 60 miles an hour in 3.6 seconds. “It is the most sought-after car ever made,” said Richard Koppelman, president of Miller Motorcars. With a waiting list of 50, Mr. Koppelman expects to get only one.

Who will be the lucky customer? “It’s very difficult,” he said. “We try to take care of our best clients.”

Private planes, or shares of them, are also on the rise, with demand for charter planes at one company up 40 percent to 50 percent among financial services executives. “There is a noticeable difference this year compared to the past, especially in the financial sector,” said Jeffrey Menaged, founder and head of Chief Executive Air, the company that hired Ms. Clark for the day. A typical price for a charter flight is $30,000.

Sales of “jet cards,” a sort of debit card for private flying, increase during bonus season, Mr. Menaged said, as executives lock in last year’s gains with guaranteed comfort for the new year.

Exotic destinations are also being pitched to the Wall Street ultrarich. Unlimited Speed started Victory Lane in November, a 3,000-acre development in Georgia for motor racing aficionados. Along with a 4.5 mile racetrack, the development also has a 1,600-acre nature preserve, equestrian facilities, a golf course and spa. It already has 27 reservations, a quarter of them coming from Wall Street, said Andrew Goggin, president of Unlimited Speed.

Not everyone on Wall Street is getting multimillion-dollar bonuses. The average managing director — who stands at the top of Wall Street’s hierarchical food chain, but far from rock-star status — will be getting $1 million to $3 million, which will likely be stashed in savings as memories of the 2001 bear market remain fresh.

“I’m putting it in the bank because I know next year I could be out of a job,” said one managing director at a leading bank.

For hedge fund traders and managers, markets were rough in the spring and summer, and some did not make gains until stocks rallied this fall.

“It was a terrible year,” said one young hedge fund professional. “I am going to the movies with my bonus. By myself."

At cocktail parties, comparisons to 1999 abound. That year marked the height of the technology boom and the eve of a painful crash. “It feels a little bit like the top,” said another banker.

The morning Goldman Sachs announced record fourth-quarter and 2006 earnings, Lloyd C. Blankfein, chairman and chief executive, implored his employees — many whom would directly benefit from the bountiful earnings — to avoid excess.

“As stewards of the firm’s reputation, I ask each of you to remember that our actions — inside and outside of the office — reflect on Goldman Sachs. Even a perception of arrogance hurts all of us,” he said in a voice mail sent to the entire firm.

Back handing out vouchers in front of Goldman, Ms. Clark wondered why there weren’t more people coming to work during the early hours.

Then, at 7:30 a.m., a black Mercedes pulled up, depositing Mr. Blankfein in front of Ms. Clark. The night before, he had been awarded a $53.4 million bonus.

She offered him a voucher. “How are you?” he said, smiling quickly but refusing the voucher.

“I guess he didn’t want it,” she lamented.

December 24, 2006

December 21, 2006

Comcast Demands SSN for Cable Service

Letter to City Cable Franchise Administrator:

Today I contacted my local cable monopoly, Comcast, to purchase service. They refused to provide me service without receiving my social security number (SSN). As the local implementing agency of Comcast's federal license, I'm writing to ask that this practice be terminated.

Alternatively, please provide me with the statutory or other authority for requesting the information; whether disclosure is mandatory or voluntary; what uses will be made of the information, as required by the federal Privacy Act. (See Exhibit I below).

Because Comcast is a monopoly, the consequence of my not providing this personal information is exclusion from what has become a basic service; access to information via the local cable system. Given the leverage of their monopoly position, Comcast should not be able to demand my SSN, for which there are limitations on such requests (See Exhibit II, below).

Furthermore, I should not be required to "trust Comcast" with my private information. I do not trust Comcast, or any corporation. I have rational basis for this mistrust, given recent debacles of private information falling into the hands of identity thiefs (Veteran's Administration and ChoicePoint to name two of a growing number of examples).

When the SSN was created, the federal government promised that the number would NOT become a personal ID number. Comcast's rationale for demanding my SSN is that they want to catch people who have not paid past bills and who have moved. Comcast should not be able to demand everyone's personal information simply to eek out a few more dollars from the small number of people who have moved and failed to pay prior bills. This is not a sufficient rationale for demanding my SSN or denying me access to cable service to which they have the privilage of a monopoly franchise.

I appreciate your assistance on this matter.




US Senators
US Congressional Representative
Baltimore City Council President
Maryland General Assembly representatives
State Attorney General's Office, Consumer Protection Division
State Public Service Commission
Comcast Corporation Headquarters
Social Security Administration, Regulatory Policy
Federal Communications Commissioners: Martin, Copps and Adelstein
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Exhibit I - Statutory or other authority for requesting the SSN information

The Privacy Act regulates the use of SSNs by government agencies. When a Federal, State, or local government agency asks an individual to disclose his or her Social Security number, the Privacy Act requires the agency to inform the person of the following: the statutory or other authority for requesting the information; whether disclosure is mandatory or voluntary; what uses will be made of the information; and the consequences, if any, of failure to provide the information.

Exhibit II - Situations where an SSN might be required

* Internal Revenue Service for tax returns and federal loans
* Employers for wage and tax reporting purposes
* States for the school lunch program
* Banks for monetary transactions
* Veterans Administration as a hospital admission number
* Department of Labor for workers’ compensation
* Department of Education for Student Loans
* States to administer any tax, general public assistance, motor vehicle or drivers license law within its jurisdiction
* States for child support enforcement
* States for commercial driver’s licenses
* States for Food Stamps
* States for Medicaid
* States for Unemployment Compensation
* States for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families
* U.S. Treasury for U.S. Savings Bonds

December 20, 2006

Critique of Christian Parenti's ISG Critique

Christian Parenti's, piece "ISG: Defeat With Honor," undermines my confidence in him as a writer and progressive voice. It suggests that Parenti is falling into a main stream mind set. The Nation magazine should guard against being captured in a similar way.

He says, "...I am not so convinced by much of what I am reading about it from writers on the left." Me niether, and I include Parenti in the mix. Broadly speaking, Parenti's thesis, reflected in his title, states the obvious (just a variant of "stay the course lite," as he characterizes other progressive voices). I have a better title for a progressive message, "ISG Report: Plutocratic Damage Control." Why is it better? For one, it places the word "plutocrat" into the public discourse. I had a conservative blogger praise me on an essay in which I said, "But to the plutocrats we are the unwashed masses that they need to divide and conquer."

Second, the ISG report is more broadly about damage control, not just in Iraq; defeat with honor is just one element of a bigger picture. A title should capture the broader essence, not just a quip.

But the reason I was moved to write this letter relates to specifics. First, Parenti might think that Rush Limbaugh is "totally correct," but giving Limbaugh credit for anything is counter productive. It gives credit to Limbaugh's reasoning, which is almost always suspect. Why praise this vile man when there are other choices a writer can make?

Second, Parenti summarizes some of the ISG's criticisms of Bush. He says, "...the Pentagon has had very few analysts who have been working on
knowing the enemy." The "enemy?" Whose enemy? The plutocrats' enemy? My enemy? A better choice of words, particularly from a paid professional progressive voice, would be "insurgency."

On the positive side, Parenti provides a good synopsis of the ISG report. He hits key points that caught my attention as I read the report ($2 Trillion ultimate price tag when "tail costs," like veteran's benefits, are considered). He notes the Baker-Hamilton "Asessment" section is refreshingly harsh. Parenti asks, "So why do they do this?" Perhaps some of the old guard fear what Marxists used call to a “legitimation crisis.” The ISG report "Assessment" section is designed to appease the agitated public by tossing us an honest bone for a change. It's this aspect that progressive writers should expand on. Instead, they seem to be playing the "I'm a better muddy-middle analyst than the payola pudits." A good thing, but the wrong game IMHO.

I ask Parenti, and others in his position, to reflect on their own "obfuscating vernacular." Seriously. I truly suspect that the success and the growing celebrity of progressive writers might be affect their judgement as progressive voices. We cannot afford that erosion at this time.


The Nation online, December 18, 2006.
Iraq Study Group Report

December 19, 2006

The Deal Offered to Bush by the Baker-Hamilton Plutocrats

Baker-Hamilton represent a lot of very powerful people. They are offering Bush the following deal:

Accept the Iraq Study Group recommendations in whole and we'll stick with you (help get you out of the mess you got into).

Reject our offer and we walk. This will allow the masses to indict you for crimes against peace. (Why do you think Bush Sr. has been breaking down crying in public lately? It's a real-life Greek tragedy playing itself out).

December 17, 2006

Kucinich Saves Cleveland Muny Light

Kucinich does more than blow hot air. In the 1970s, he stood ground against the plutocrats to prevent privatization of Cleveland Muny Light, saving residents tens-of-millions. He ultimately received an award from the citizens of Cleveland for this courageous, principled stand, for which he knew he would get hammered.

Attack on Muny Light: In the 1970s, Kucinich researched FirstEnergy's predecessor, CEI, attack the City's (people's) electric company. Kucinich exposeed CEI's efforts to put Muny Light out of business. In the 1970s, CEI was subjected to an antitrust review that revealed it had committed numerous violations of federal antitrust law. The review determined that CEI blocked Muny Light from making inftrastructure maintenance repairs. This was done by lobbying the Cleveland City Council make the Muny Light bonds uncompetative. The delay in repairs caused Muny Light to have to purchase power. CEI then worked behind the scenes to block Muny Light from purchasing power from other power companies. CEI became the only power company Muny Light could buy from. At that point, CEI sharply increased and sometimes tripled the cost of purchase power to Muny Light. As a result, Muny Light began to lose money. CEI used Muny Light's weakened operational and financial condition (which they created) as evidence of the public system's lack of viability and as proof that the only way the people of Cleveland could have reliable power was for the city to sell its electric system to CEI.

The antitrust review cited one incident when during a period of inclement weather, Muny Light asked CEI for a special transfer of emergency power. The transfer of power was conducted in such a way so as to cause an outage on the Muny Light system. CEI used the incident as further proof of the City's inability to operate a municipal electric system.

Corporate Media Role: Throughout this period, the Cleveland media, which received substantial advertising revenues from CEI, crusaded against the city's ownership of a municipal electric system.

Monopoly Nearly Forms: In 1976, CEI finally succeeded in getting the mayor and the council of Cleveland to agree to sell Muny Light, giving CEI a monopoly. At that time, Kucinich was clerk of the Cleveland Municipal Court, a citywide elected office. He organized a civic campaign to save Muny Light. People gathered signatures in freezing rain to block the sale.

Kucinich Runs for Mayor:He ran for mayor of Cleveland on a promise that if elected, his first act would be to cancel the sale of Muny Light. He won the election. He cancelled the sale. CEI immediately went to court to demand that the city pay 15 million dollars for power which it had purchased while CEI was running up charges to the city. The previous mayor had intended to pay that light bill by selling the light system and simultaneously disposing of a 325 million dollar antitrust damage suit. Kucinich's election not only stopped the sale, but kept the lawsuit alive.

Plutocrats Collaborate: The Muny Light issue came to a head on December 15, 1978, when Ohio's largest bank, Cleveland Trust, the 33rd largest bank in America at that time, told Kucinich that they would not renew the city's credit on 15 million dollars worth of loans taken out by the previous administration unless he would agree to sell Cleveland's municipally owned utility to CEI.

On that day, by that time, the sale of Muny Light was being promoted by both Cleveland newspapers, virtually all of the radio and TV stations in town, the entire business community, all the banks, both political parties, and several unions, as well as a majority of the Cleveland City Council. All Kucinich had to do was to sign his name to legislation and the system would have sold and the city credit "protected." The chairman of Cleveland Trust even offered 50 million dollars of new credit if he would agree to sell Muny Light.

Kucinich's Principles: "Where I come from it matters how much people pay for electricity. I grew up in the inner city of Cleveland. The oldest of 7 children. My parents never owned a home, they lived in 21 different places by the time I was 17, including a couple of cars."

"When I was in the board room with the Chairman of Cleveland Trust Bank, I was thinking about my parents counting their pennies and I could hear those pennies hitting the enamel top table. So, I said no to the sale of Muny Light to CEI."

Cleveland Forced into Default by Plutocrats: At Midnight, Cleveland Trust put the City of Cleveland into default. Later, it was revealed, that Cleveland Trust and CEI had four interlocking directors. Cleveland Trust was CEI's bank. Together with another bank, Cleveland Trust owned a substantial share of CEI stock and had numerous other mutual interests.

Public power was saved in Cleveland But Kucinich paid the high-price of Courage: He lost the election in 1979 with default as the major issue. Most political analysts considered his career over. He had been asked many times by other politicians why he just didn't make the deal and sell the light system, especially when his career was on the line. Kucinich said, "I believe that there are, in fact, some things more important than the next election."

After he left City Hall, he couldn't get a job in Cleveland, he almost lost his home, and his marriage fell apart. According to a US Senate Subcommittee studying organized crime in the Mid-Atlantic states, Kucinich had survived, through sheer luck, an assassination plot.

Cleveland Trust changed it name to AmeriTrust. The new mayor changed the name of Muny Light to Cleveland Public Power.

Muny Light Thrives: In 1993, the City of Cleveland announced that it was expanding Muny Light. It was the largest expansion of any municipal electric system in America. I had been long gone from major elected office.

A Cleveland Plain Dealer contacted Kucinich and told him that people were saying that the expansion could not have happened without him making a decision to save the system. People in Cleveland began to say that Kucinich was right not to sell Muny Light and they asked him to come back to accept an award of appreciation. So he did. He ran for State Senate in 1994 on a slogan "because he was right" with little rays of yellow light shining behind his name on my campaign signs. He was one of the few Democrats to unseat a Republican incumbent that year in a state election.

Two years later, he was one of the few Democrats to unseat a Republican incumbent to gain election to Congress. His campaign signs had a light bulb behind his name with the words "Light up Congress."

Heavily excerpted from text by Dennis Kucinich.

December 16, 2006

A Radical Poem

Let Us Rant

You invade our private discourse
with warrantless warrantless surveillance.

You detain our friends in Oaxaca
with no charge nor trail.

You own so much, it grows out of proportion
with less left for more of us.

You coopt our culture of music, dress, verse
with profits from selling it back to us.

Your national candidate wins every election
with a two-party system you've captured.

You own our friends in police uniforms
with payment of their salaries and benefits.

You create Hippocrates of our medical professionals
with a middleman built into your health system.

You're on the inside and in the know
with your access and privilages.

You create academic studies to persuade
with access to university wings of your name.

You investigate great crimes
with hand-picked friends who will not tell.

You dominate the mass discourse
with licenses we let you have.

You ride great corporate stallions
with charters we let you have.

You have great power
with the consent that we give.

You have such a good thing going
with a balance so clever.

You should study revolution
with means to dampen fires of resentment.

You should let us rant
with hours of artful diversion.

December 15, 2006

Iraq War Illegal

Carne Ross*, First Secretary in the UK Mission to the United Nations in New York from December 1997 until June 2002, has testified that the Iraq war was illegal. He bases this on two reasons expanded on below:

1) No United Nations Authorization.
2) US and UK initiated war actions via no-fly-zone attacks before US declared Iraq was not complying with UN resolutions.

The following are exerpted from Carne Ross' tetimony to the Butler Inquiry [1].

1) UN Resolution 1441 did not alter the basic framework for inspections established by the earlier UN Resolution 1284. Resolution 1441 did not authorise the use of force in case of non-cooperation with weapons inspectors. [T]he UK sold 1441 in the Security Council explicitly on the grounds that it did not represent authorisation for war.

Later, after claiming that Iraq was not cooperating, the UK presented a draft resolution seeking authority to use force. The resolution failed to attract support.

The UN charter states that only the Security Council can authorise the use of force (except in cases of self-defence). Reviewing these points, it is clear that in terms of the resolutions, the subsequent invasion was not authorised by the Security Council and was thus illegal. The clearest evidence of this is the fact that the UK sought an authorising resolution and failed to get it.

2) The No Fly Zones (NFZs) were never authorised by the Security Council, but we would justify them on the grounds (as I recall it, this may be incorrect) that we were monitoring compliance with resolution 688 which called for the Iraqi government to respect the human rights of its people.

However, reading the press in the months leading up to the war, I noticed that the volume and frequency of the attacks in the NFZs considerably increased, including during the period when UNMOVIC was in country inspecting sites (ie before even the UK/US declared that Iraq was not complying). I suspected at the time that these attacks were not in self-defence but that they were part of a planned air campaign to prepare for a ground invasion. There were one or two questions in Parliament about this when the Defence Secretary claimed that the NFZ attacks were self-defence. His account was refuted at the time by quotations by US officials in the press and by later accounts, including Bob Woodward's "Plan of Attack", which confirmed that the attacks did indeed comprise a softening-up campaign, of which the UK was an active part.


[1] Transcript of Carne Ross Testimony to Butler Inquiry

* Who is Carne Ross: Ross was First Secretary in the UK Mission to the United Nations in New York from December 1997 until June 2002. He was responsible for Iraq policy in the mission, including policy on sanctions, weapons inspections and liaison with UNSCOM and later UNMOVIC.

During that time, he helped negotiate several UN Security Council resolutions on Iraq, including resolution 1284 which, inter alia, established UNMOVIC (an acronym Ross coined late one New York night during the year-long negotiation). He took part in policy debates within HMG and in particular with the US government. He attended many policy discussions on Iraq with the US State Department in Washington, New York and London.

December 14, 2006

First One Hundred Hours

It used to be the first 100 days. Next time, it will be the first 100 minutes.


The Democratic Party Priorities:

Intelligence Oversight Recommendations of 9/11 Commission Check
Ethics and lobbying overhaul Check
Raising the federal minimum wage Check
Cutting interest rates on student loans Check
Making health care more affordable Check
Cutting subsidies to the oil industry. Check


Expanding research into embryonic stem cells

December 13, 2006

Iraqization and Predicted Length of Iraq War

We'll be lucky to be out of Iraq in six years. The Vietnam War time line provides some clues.
Vietnam Iraq War TimelinesConventional wisdom is that the Iraq war is evolving more rapidly than the Vietnam war. This might be based on a perception of more rapid growth in public opposition to the Iraq war. However, the US has been at war with Iraq since about 1990, with military actions occurring before the October 2002 Joint Iraq Resolution. (See References to Iraq No Fly Zone). The Vietnam conflict involved a similar period of covert US intervention prior to formal escalation.

For purposes of comparing time lines, the October 2002 Joint Iraq Resolution is analogous to the 1964 Tonkin Gulf Resolution of the Vietnam War. Significant numbers of US troops entered Iraq in March 2003, Marines entered Vietnam in 1965; the time lines match.

In 1966, veterans of past wars were staging protests in New York City and burning their discharge papers. The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) issues a report claiming that the US military draft places "a heavy discriminatory burden on minority groups and the poor." The group also calls for a withdrawal of all US troops from Vietnam. Just a year into the escalated war.

In 1968 the Americans become aware of the Mai Lai Massacre. The timing is similar to Americans becoming aware of the massacre in Haditha, and other atrocities, in 2006.

It was about four years after the Tonkin Gulf Resolution that the 1969 Policy of "Vietnamization" was announced. Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird described a policy of shifting the military burden onto the South Vietnamese Army and away from the United States. It will have been about four years to reach a similar milestone of Iraqization of the war (Oct. 2002 to Jan. 2007*).

The time lines are actually quite similar. The number of casualties is not. In Vietnam, by 1969 about 47,000 US lives were lost. In Iraq, the number will be about 3,000.

Now what happens? Analogous Iraq dates are in parentheses. In 1969 (2007), concurrent with the "Vietnamization Policy," massive demonstrations occurred in Washington, DC. Secret bombing of Cambodia initiated by Nixon.

In 1970 (2008), troop levels were significantly reduced.

In 1972 (2010), Nixon cut troop levels in Vietnam and escalated bombing. Kissinger says "peace is at hand."

In 1973 (2011), cease-fire is signed in Paris. Last troops supposedly leave Vietnam.

In 1975 (2013), Americans evacuate the US Embassy.

One year after announcing the Vietnamization Policy US troops were reduced. It took three years from that point to reach a cease-fire. Two more years and the US was out of Vietnam. That translates to six-years from the January 2007 announcement of the Iraqization Policy to come.

Noam Chomsky says the Iraq war is NOT like the Vietnam war in significant ways. US plutocratic objectives could achieved by crushing Vietnam and leaving it a wreck. Wrecking Iraq won't achieve US plutocratic goals in Iraq. If he's right, the US will NOT be out of Iraq in six years.

Notes and Sources:

* Military commanders who met on December 12 2006 with Bush sought more advisers to train the Iraqis, not more U.S. combat troops in Iraq. They also urged the administration to pour significantly more funding into equipment for Iraqi security forces, according to a defense specialist familiar with the meetings. (Iraqization policy to be formally announced in January, 2007). Web LINK

Al-Maleki Take Note:

1963, Diem Overthrown, Murdered. It doesn't fit with the parallel time line laid out above, but...... With tacit approval of the United States, operatives within the South Vietnamese military overthrow Diem. He and his brother Nhu are shot and killed in the aftermath. About a year before, Johnson had visited Diem, assuring him that he was crucial to US objectives in Vietnam, calling him "the Churchill of Asia."

Text from the Vietnam Time line used liberally above.

December 12, 2006

Journalist Yasser Salihee: Suspicious Killing in Iraq

Journalist killed after investigating US-backed death squads in Iraq

By James Cogan

1 July 2005

On June 24, Yasser Salihee, an Iraqi special correspondent for the news agency Knight Ridder, was killed by a single bullet to the head as he approached a checkpoint that had been thrown up near his home in western Baghdad by US and Iraqi troops. It is believed that the shot was fired by an American sniper. According to eyewitnesses, no warning shots were fired.

The US military has announced it is conducting an investigation into Salihee’s killing. Knight Ridder has already declared, however, that “there’s no reason to think that the shooting had anything to do with his reporting work”. In fact, his last assignment gives reason to suspect that it was.

Over the past month, Salihee had been gathering evidence that US-backed Iraqi forces have been carrying out extra-judicial killings of alleged members and supporters of the anti-occupation resistance. His investigation followed a feature in the New York Times magazine in May, detailing how the US military had modeled the Iraqi interior ministry police commandos, known as the Wolf Brigade, on the death squads unleashed in the 1980s to crush the left-wing insurgency in El Salvador.

The Wolf Brigade was recruited by US operatives and the US-installed interim government headed by Iyad Allawi during 2004. A majority of its officers and personnel served in Saddam Hussein’s special forces and Republican Guard—veterans of killings, torture and repression. The unit has been used against the resistance in rebellious cities such as Mosul and Samarra, and, over the past six weeks, has played a prominent role in the massive crackdown ordered by the Iraqi government in Baghdad codenamed “Operation Lightning”.

On June 27, Knight Ridder published the results of its inquiry in an article jointly written by Salihee and correspondent Tom Lasseter. The journalists “found more than 30 examples in less than a week” of corpses turning up in Baghdad morgues of people who were last seen being detained by the police commandos.

The men, according to the central Baghdad morgue director Faik Baqr, had “been killed in a methodical fashion”. The article reported: “Their hands had been tied or handcuffed behind their backs, their eyes were blindfolded and they appeared to have been tortured. In most cases, the dead men looked as if they’d been whipped with a cord, subjected to electric shocks or beaten with a blunt object and shot to death, often with single bullets to their heads.”

A grocer in west Baghdad told Salihee that he had been detained by police with a man named Anwar Jassim on May 13. “When we were in detention, they put blindfolds and handcuffs on us. On the second day the soldiers were saying ‘He’s dead’. Later we found out it was Anwar.” According to the medical reports at the Yarmuk morgue where police dumped his body, Jassim had a “bullet wound in the back of his head and cuts and bruises on his abdomen, back and neck.”

Police commandos reportedly told the morgue director to leave the corpse “so that dogs could eat it, because he’s terrorist and he deserves it”.

In a second case, a brigadier-general in the Iraqi interior ministry related that his brother had been detained during a raid on May 14, in a working class Sunni suburb in Baghdad’s west. His body was found the next day bearing signs of torture. Witnesses told the general that the abductors “came in white police Toyota Land Cruisers, wore police commando uniforms, flak vests and helmets” and were armed with 9mm Glock pistols.

Glock sidearms are used by many US law enforcement agencies and have been supplied to Iraqi security forces by the US military.

The article also cited a third case. The body of Saadi Khalif was brought to Yarmuk morgue by police commandos several days after he was taken from his home by police on June 10. Saadi’s brother told Knight Ridder: “The doctor told us he was choked and tortured before they shot him. He looked like he had been dragged by a car.”

An article in the British Financial Times on June 29 provided further evidence of police commando atrocities. Mustafa Mohammed Ali, from the western Baghdad suburb of Abu Ghraib, told the newspaper he was detained by the Wolf Brigade on May 22, during the build-up to Operation Lightning. He alleged that he was held for 26 days.

The article reported: “He spent the first day in a barbed wire enclosure with hundreds of other detainees, without food, water or toilet facilities... On the fourth day, the interrogations began. Mr Ali says Wolf Brigade commandos attached electrical wires to his ear and his genitals, and generated a current with a hand-cranked military telephone.”

According to the figures given to the Financial Times, only 22 of the 474 people seized from their homes during the Wolf Brigade sweep in the Abu Ghraib area are still being held. Those released allege they suffered systematic abuse. “Mass detentions and indiscriminate torture seem to be the main tools deployed to crush an insurgency that could last ‘five, six, eight, 10, 12 years’ according to Donald Rumsfeld, US defence secretary,” the newspaper commented.

In light of the evidence gathered by Salihee, significant discrepancies in the official figures for Operation Lightning in Baghdad raise further concerns about the fate of detainees. In early June, the Iraqi government reported that 1,200 had been detained. Just days later on June 6, this was revised downward to just 887, with no explanation. Some of the deaths referred to in the Knight Ridder article coincide with this period.

Suspicions of wholesale killings

The revelations about the conduct of the Wolf Brigade lend credibility to the claims made by Max Fuller, in a feature headlined “For Iraq, ‘The Salvador Option’ Becomes Reality” and published by the Centre for Research on Globalisation.

Over the past nine months, a terrifying new development in Iraq has been the discovery of dozens of bodies dumped in rubbish heaps, rivers or abandoned buildings. In most cases, the people had suffered torture and mutilation before being killed by a single shot to the head. The US military has consistently reported that the victims were members of the Iraqi army or police. The media has universally reported the mass killings as the work of anti-occupation terrorists.

Fuller noted, however: “What is particularly striking is that many of those killings have taken place since the police commandos became operationally active and often correspond with areas where they have been deployed.”

In Mosul, for example, dozens of men were detained by the commandos last November, as part of a US-led operation to bring the city back under occupation control. Over the following weeks, more than 150 tortured and executed bodies were found. In Samarra, dozens of bodies appeared in nearby Lake Thartar in the wake of operations by the commandos in that city.

From February through to late April, more than 100 bodies were recovered from the Tigris River south of Baghdad—one of the most rebellious areas of the country. The Iraqi government initially claimed they were villagers who had been kidnapped by insurgents in the village of Maidan. This has since been discredited. The victims are from a range of towns and villages, including Kut in the north and Basra in the south. Police in the area told the San Francisco Chronicle that many of the dead had been “motorists passing through the area when stopped by masked men bearing Kalashnikov rifles at impromptu checkpoints”.

Other killings have been discovered in Baquaba and the Syrian border town of Qaim in the aftermath of counter-insurgency operations by US forces and their Iraqi allies. Fuller also noted the suspicions surrounding the assassination of well over 200 university academics, most of whom were opponents of the US occupation of Iraq.

Dozens of bodies have been found over the past two months in Baghdad. In May, the Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS)—the main public Sunni organisation opposed to the occupation—directly accused the Wolf Brigade of having “arrested imams and the guardians of some mosques, tortured and killed them, and then got rid of their bodies in a garbage dump in Shaab district” of Baghdad. AMS secretary general Hareth al-Dhari declared at the time: “This is state terrorism by the Minister of the Interior.”

The very existence of the Wolf Brigade underscores the criminality of the US occupation and the utter fraud of the Bush administration claims to be bringing “liberation” and “democracy” to Iraq. Many of the commandos would have been involved in murder and torture on behalf of Saddam Hussein’s regime. The American military deliberately recruited them in order to make use of their experience in mass repression and has directly modeled their operations on those of right-wing death squads in Central America.

The main US advisor to the Wolf Brigade from the time of its formation until April 2005 was James Steele. Steele’s own biography, promoting him for the US lecture circuit, states that “he commanded the US military group in El Salvador during the height of the guerilla war” and “was credited with training and equipping what was acknowledged to be the best counter-terrorist force in the region”. In a 12-year campaign of murder and repression, the Salvadoran units, trained and advised by people like Steele, killed over 70,000 people.

In his speech on June 28, George Bush declared his administration was working with the Iraqi interior and defence ministries to “improve their capabilities to coordinate anti-terrorist operations” and “develop their command and control structures”. The evidence is beginning to emerge that this means paying and equipping former Baathist killers to terrorise, torture and murder Iraqis who are believed to have links to the popular resistance, which an unnamed US analyst estimated for the June 27 edition of Newsweek had “as many as 400,000 auxiliaries and support personnel”.

The killing of journalists seeking to document or expose allegations of state-organised murder has accompanied every dirty war against a civilian population. Since the US occupation of Iraq began, dozens of reporters, cameramen and other media workers have been killed by American-led forces in suspicious circumstances that were never independently investigated.

Two more Iraqi journalists have been killed in the days since Yasser Salihee’s death. On June 26, Maha Ibrahim, a news editor with a television station operated by the anti-occupation Iraqi Islamic Party, was shot dead when US troops opened fire on her car as she and her husband drove to work. Two days later, Ahmad Wail Bakri, a program director for Iraqi al-Sharqiya television was killed by American troops as he reportedly tried to drive around a traffic accident in Baghdad.

December 11, 2006

Bush Extreme Actions List

"This is really the calling of our time — that is, to defeat these extremists and radicals,... an important part of laying the foundation for peace," the president said Monday. Bush: Look in the Mirror.

This, coming from someone who...

+ Started a war of Aggression
+ Misrepresentation of Intelligence to Justify War in Iraq
+ Abused War Powers to Justify Erosion of Civil Liberties
+ Initiated Warrantless Domestic Spying
+ Claims Common Article III of the Geneva Convention is Obsolete
+ Detains People Indefinitely without Due Process

+ Renditions People to Secret CIA Prisons
+ Renditions People to Countries Known to Conduct Torture
+ Used False Testimony Secured by Torture for Propaganda (Colin Powell UN Testimony)
+ Has Advocated and Conducted Torture
+ Withdrew from the Anti-ballistic Missile Treaty
+ Nominates Extreme Judges
+ Signing Statements indicating he won't follow laws.
+ Considers the Extreme Regligious Right to be his Base
+ Uses Harsh Retribution Against Countries & People that Oppose Bush Actions
+ Exposed a CIA Asset (Valarie Plame)
+ Surrounds himself with Extreme Advisors
+ Maintains Power through Election Fraud
+ Silences Government Scientists
+ Preventing Disclosure of White House Visitor Log

December 10, 2006

Richard Hugo Rorschach Approach to Writing

So, I'm reading The Trigger Town, by Richard Hugo. "Lectures and Essays on Poetry and Writing," said with a British accent and head thrown back. And I'm thinking this guy seems a bit forced in the way he advocates writing in a way that's not forced. He asks his "reader" to imagine a town and to pretend they know nothing of town but what they see. He implies we need to get into that mode when writing on subjects with which we ARE familiar. OK.

But he goes on with an example:

"That silo, filled with chorus girls and grain"

OK. I'm thinking, it's ... a bit forced. Then, I read his words, "I just said that line (Reader: Don't get smart. I actually did just write this down in the first darft of this.)" OK. don't get defensive...

Call me a skeptic. But I'm thinking, "He might do better to advise keeping one's ego out of their writing." He advises a "bare your soul" approach to writing.

I can't help but think his blurting phrase above reads like a Rorschach test. "So Dick, got "silos" and "chorus girls" on your mind? Sit down. Maybe you'd like to talk about this."

Yea, you can see the analyst now. I guess that's one approach to writing. I's sure the CIA would love it if everyone would indulge in that activity.... might keep the Secret Service working on overtime given the angst people feel inside about our current president.

Enough said. I suppose, sometimes, it's helpful to engage in Rorschach writing; particularly if suffering writer's block.

* In World War II, Richard Hugo served as a bombardier in the Mediterranean. Hugo flew thirty-five combat missions and reached the rank of first lieutenant before leaving the service in 1945. Gotta give him credit for that.

December 9, 2006

Bush and Conspirators Should be Investigated for Crimes Against Peace

The principles of the London agreement of August 8, 1945, for the trial of major European war criminals, and the accompanying charter of the International Military Tribunal (Nuremberg Principles) should be applied to George W. Bush, the signatories of the Project for a New American Century, and others who conspired to commit fraud in marketing the Iraq war to the US Congress and general public.

Crimes Against Peace*:

i) Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances;

(ii) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i).

Other Nuremberg Principles:

The charter enacts the principle that individuals rather than states are responsible for criminal violations of international law and applies to such lawbreakers the principle of conspiracy by which one who joins in a common plan to commit crime becomes responsible for the acts of any other conspirator in executing the plan.

It also prohibits the plea of "acts of state" as freeing defendants from legal responsibility, the charter refuses to recognize the immunity once enjoyed by criminal statesmanship.

Soldiers and officers who are refusing to serve in Iraq are supported by the charter principle, which provides that orders of a superior authority shall not free a defendant from responsibility. [1]

During the Nuremberg trials, the chief American prosecutor, Robert H. Jackson, stated:

"To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole." [2]

In this view, despite statements by both Democrats and Republicans that much of the violence in Iraq is the blame of the Iraqis themselves, the ultimate responsibility for these accumulated evils are those who conspired to start the war of aggression against Iraq.

A former federal prosecutor named Elizabeth de la Vega has drafted a hypothetical indictment of President Bush, Vice President Cheney and other top officials for tricking the nation into war and for conspiracy to defraud the United States. The evidence and arguments are laid out in a new book entitled United States v. George W. Bush, et al.. [3][4]

But George W. Bush and his immediate conspirators may not be the only people who are exposed to legal action. Some British citizens are probably also culpable. In addition, some U.S. members of Congress could be legally exposed.

The U.S. Congress passed the 2006 Military Commissions Act, which among other things revises the 1996 US War Crimes Act to provide retroactive protection to George W. Bush and his conspirators. The War Crimes Act establishes serious punishments for people in the Executive Branch who violate the Geneva Conventions, including the death penalty for grave breaches. This recent action by Congress exposes their concern that certain people in the Executive Branch may be guilty of such crimes. Some have argued that Congress members who voted for this Act could be tried as accomplices under principles of obstruction of justice.

The Iraq War is Illegal

"The UN charter states that only the Security Council can authorise the use of force (except in cases of self-defence). ...[I]t is clear that in terms of the resolutions presented by the UK itself, the subsequent invasion was not authorised by the Security Council and was thus illegal. The clearest evidence of this is the fact that the UK sought an authorising resolution and failed to get it."
-- Carne Ross [5]

Sources, Notes and More Links:

* The definition of "crimes against peace" was first incorporated into the Nuremberg Principles and later included in the United Nations Charter. The United States has adopted the UN Charter as a treaty, ratified by the US Senate. Treaties form part of the "supreme law of the land" under the Constitution, Article VI, Clause 2.

[1] Much of the material preceding this reference number is taken directly from Yale University's Avalon Project.

[2] Wikipedia. Crimes against Peace, Nuremberg Principles.

[3] DemocracyNow! December 8, 2006.

[4] Text of the IndictmentCommondreams November 29, 2006, from

[5] Transcript of Carne Ross Testimony to Butler Inquiry

Who is Carne Ross: Ross was First Secretary in the UK Mission to the United Nations in New York from December 1997 until June 2002. He was responsible for Iraq policy in the mission, including policy on sanctions, weapons inspections and liaison with UNSCOM and later UNMOVIC.

During that time, he helped negotiate several UN Security Council resolutions on Iraq, including resolution 1284 which, inter alia, established UNMOVIC (an acronym Ross coined late one New York night during the year-long negotiation). He took part in policy debates within HMG and in particular with the US government. He attended many policy discussions on Iraq with the US State Department in Washington, New York and London.

British Diplomat's suppressed document lays bare the lies behind Iraq war

The Crime of War: From Nuremberg to Fallujah, a review of current international law regarding wars of aggression, Nicholas J.S. Davies.