April 29, 2007

Main Street Economy vs Wall Street Economy

Oh, the economy is doing great. The Dow Jones Average just passed 13,000.

Another interpretation has it that the US Federal Reserve is facing a crisis, and that the Dow Jones is a reflection of that. Seems like a conundrum until one considers the following chain of events.

Back in 2002 the stock market took a dive. A lot of money ran out of stocks and into real estate, swelling a speculative bubble of historic proportions. Now, the real estate boom is deflating and is causing defaults among home owners, mortgage companies and global anxiety reflected in a worldwide stock plunge back in March 2007. The Federal Reserve stepped to buy bonds, thereby pumping money into the banks that sell the bonds, which in turn put some of this into stocks, and Voila! Wall Street economics look great. Unfortunately, it's artificial, and the people on Main Street aren't sharing in the so-called great economic situation.

Worse, the Fed is stuck between an rock and a liquidity hard place. This is a new version of "stagflation." The Fed wants to tighten money supply due to inflation concerns; however, it's forced to increase money supply for the reasons described above. In other words, the economic situation is out of control. Add on top of that the global imbalances in which the US has become a major debtor nation with a weak tax base by which to service its debt, and the Wall Street economic indicators start to look pretty hollow.


On May 6, 2007 we read the following in an Associated Press article:

Still, worries linger about stagflation — slowing growth amid soaring prices — and what the Federal Reserve would do about it.

We also read the following, which reflects the disconnect between the Main Street Economy and Wall Street Economy:

Recently, it has seemed as if nothing can derail the stock market's climb....on Friday, reports that Microsoft Corp. might be mulling a buy of Yahoo Inc. nudged stocks higher despite lackluster jobs data.


April 28, 2007

April 28 Nationwide Impeachment Protest

My small contribution to the April 28, 2007 Nationwide impeachment protest. The theme of the day is spell it out, the word "IMPEACH" everywhere on April 28.


April 27, 2007

HR 333 Impeach Dick Cheney

Congressman Dennis Kucinich's articles of impeachment against Dick Cheney provide a focal point for citizens to express their views about the corrupt Bush regime.

A Paraphrased Synopsis of the Articles of Impeachment

The articles of impeachment contend that each of Cheney's actions have undermined the national security of the United States.

Article 1 - False Claims of Iraqi WMD: Cheney purposefully manipulated the intelligence process to deceive the citizens and Congress by fabricating a threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to justify the use of the US Armed Forces against Iraq.

Article 2 - False Claims of al Qaeda Connection to Iraq: Cheney purposefully manipulated the intelligence process to deceive the citizens and Congress about an alleged relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda to justify the use of the US Armed Forces against Iraq.

Article 3 - Threats of Aggression Against Iran: Cheney has violated his constitutional oath by openly threatening aggression against Iran absent any real threat to the United States.

To see the entire Articles of Impeachment and supporting Documentation CLICK HERE

The Court of Public Opinion Rules Impeachment

You might find some counter-points to right-wing talking points to be helpful:

1. "The threshold for impeachment is high." Not True. Laws need not be violated in order to justify impeachment. Do the actions undermine the government's credibility? Has the official failed to carry out constitutionally mandated duties? Does the American public want the official removed? That is sufficient to meet the threshold.

2. "Bush's term in office is nearly over." This is less about expelling Cheney from Office than it is about accountability. A citizen-based impeachment movement helps maintain the integrity of our country's principles, and deter abuses of future leaders.

3. "Impeachment would be a distraction of Congress." Bush and Cheney's abuses are so extreme that impeachment is warranted despite the distraction it would cause.

4. "Impeachment is inappropriate when our Nation is at war." The US is engaged in a chosen war of aggression in Iraq, founded on false pretenses, which are part of the charges against Bush and Cheney. The Bush administration has created an Orwellian war stance to boost their executive power. The "time-of-war" argument has no credibility in this case.

Flex Your Citizen Muscles:

It's vital to create "buzz" in the halls of Congress and the corporate media editorial board rooms. The links below facilitate your involvement in doing that.

Media Contacts

Contact the US House of Representatives

Contact the US Senate

H.R. 333, House Resolution 333

April 26, 2007

Inside the NYC Beltway Mentality

It's not every day I blog from NYC. It occurs to me that there's an "inside the beltway" analogy for New York City. You see it in the devolution of the quality of information in the New York Times. You also see it at CBS (See "Update").

Example. Does Jeffrey Gettleman and his editors at the Times recognize the irony of the front page piece from April 25, 2007 entitled "People Who Feed Off Anarchy in Somalia Are Quick to Fuel It"? The US has fueled it and feeds off of it. The US has opened another front in the Mid-east War, See the Map. The US is now operating under the cover of Chaos; they couldn't do that with the Islamic Courts maintaining order in Somalia.

The coalition Islamic Courts, who were not all fundamentalists, had begun to bring a sense of order to Somalia before the US covert operations, supported by Ethiopia, created the current chaos. Prior to that, the US CIA had backed the Somali war lords who fostered the kinds of things Gettleman describes in his article. Note the "Oil Factor In Somalia," a 1993 article.

The US-installed Somali Prime Minister, Ali Mohammed Ghedi, recently told the Dow Jones News Network that Somalia is welcoming back multi-national oil compaines with similar oil production sharing agreements that the Bush Administration is pushing for in Iraq. Companies seeking new or renewed contracts include Conoco-Phillips and Royal Dutch Shell. Ghedi said,
The [Somali] parliament will approve the new oil laws in two months.

I recall arriving in Washington DC in the mid-1980s to discover that stacks of resumes from Ivy League schools were a common feature of congressional offices. Few of these people were hired, but those that were spent much of their time angling for career advancement, and had little interest in the issues of the day (Star Wars and the US covert war in Central America). Very few of these people had any honest understanding of the atrocities being committed in Central America at the time by US backed death squads. Naive, superficial and as a result, dangerous, because they effectively run Congress.

The same holds in New York City. Of course, I didn't have to come up here to recognize this. It's just that being here heightens my awareness to it.

This phenomenon can be generalized: The political and economic elite are, for the most part, uniformed. True, there are insiders who are fully informed, who call the shots on the use of force to advance and maintain power, but they are the minority.

But, even some of those closest to the execution of that power fail to realize what they are doing. They are the pawns and those in denial. It's not hard to fall into that trap, particularly when you're isolated as people become when wrapped up in the fast pace of NYC upper rank activities, like reporting for the Times.

I could go on with examples, but will use just one. Richard Khanlian of Santa Fe, NM questions whether the US "success" in Iraq can be any different than the Iraq of Saddam Hussein in light of US military complicity, and participation in similar behavior. Khanlian was prompted by the NY Times April 22 front page article, "3 Suspects Talk After Iraqi Soldiers Do Dirty Work."

In general, those "inside the beltway," "inside the Manhattan buzz zone," what I call the inside crowd, are swept up in a dangerous current. They need to step back and ask themselves some sobering questions and act on their basic values.


High Tech Parent, Jadegreen, provides another example. Remember the Katie Couric plagiarism espose'? Jadegreen followed up the follow-up. In doing so, Jadegreen refelects on the following comment by Katie Couric:
this was a very unfortunate incident because the person who did this is a lovely person, but clearly inexperienced about the tenets of basic journalism.
Jadegreen points out the obvious, if one stops to think about it; how is it that a person who attains the privilage of writing for the CBS anchorperson is "inexperienced about the tenets of basic journalism"? The answer lies in the thesis that America is in decline, which was my initial reaction to the Couric scandal and the general point of this essay, with superficial NYC insiders providing more evidence.


DemocracyNow, April 27, 2007, "The Most Lawless War of Our Generation" - Former UN Spokesperson on Somalia.

DemocracyNow, Tuesday, April 3, 2007, 400 Die in Mogadishu's Worst Fighting in 15 years.

DemocracyNow, Tuesday, January 9, 2007,
U.S. Launches Targeted Assassination Air Strikes in Somalia, Many Reported Killed.

DemocracyNow, hursday, December 28, 2006,
Conflict in Somalia: Islamic Courts Abandon Mogadishu as UN Warns of Humanitarian Crisis.

Flashpoints Radio, Knight Report, April 26, 2007: Somalia oil information.

April 25, 2007

Do the Democrats Want their Iraq Legislation to "Succeed"?

The Democrat's legislation on Iraq funding exemplifies the adage that politics is the art of the possible. The non-binding, do litte or nothing legislation is summed up by the Associated Press as:

Troops could remain in Iraq after the 2008 date but only for limited non-combat missions, including counter terrorism operations and training Iraqi forces.

In other words, it's not a proposal to withdraw troops, because everyone knows that "counter terrorism operations" can mean anything (typically a dirty war), and that "training Iraqi forces" includes joining them in the field. Recall the Vietnamization policy of training South Vietnamese began in 1969 and US troops didn't finally leave until 1973 or 1975 depending on what you mean by "leave" (See Timeline).

Ironically, we are hearing reports from the McClatchy newspapers, via DemocracyNow! that:

the U.S. military has quietly made a major policy shift in the war. Military planners have abandoned the idea that training Iraqi troops will enable American soldiers to start coming home soon. The military believes that U.S. troops will have to secure the country largely on its own. The Pentagon has not announced the change but evidence has been building for months that training Iraqi troops is no longer the focus of U.S. policy.

Difficult to know what to make of that...

... and by now everyone has also pondered the thoughts that 1) "enduring" US bases will remain in Iraq (enduring is a new term being used by the US government in place of "permanent"), and 2) Bush and the oil men are seeing victory in Iraq in the form of the immanent petroleum legislation pending in the Iraqi Parliament.

My prediction of when the US will leave Iraq is about six years from now, based on comparing the Vietnam War timeline with the Iraq War timeline. I'm not sure I believe the prediction myself, but the timeline comparison is interesting.

Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern has his own predictions. On the April 23, 2007 Flashpoints radio program, McGovern said not to worry about "enduring" US military bases. "We may be able to have permanent military bases for a year or two, it's not going to be possible to keep them. It's just not possible in this day and age to invade an occupy a country the size of Iraq with 140,000, or if you put in 500,000 it still wouldn't work." He cites 1.3 billion "ticked off" Muslims, porous boarders, General Petraus's book on counter insurgency.

We keep hearing the Democrats say that this is Bush's war. True, politics is the art of the possible. But, if McGovern's prediction is right, that the situation will unravel on its own, the Democrats probably don't want their withdrawl proposal to "succeed." If they got their way, then, when the whole thing unravels, the right wing noise machine, and compliant corporate media, will pin the blame on the Democrats.

Prediction: Quagmire conditions in Iraq will continue for a long time.


1. Associated Press, April 25, 2007, Democrats predict they can win Iraq vote

2. DemocracyNow! Headlines for April 20, 2007

3. Flashpoints Radio, April 23, 2007.


April 23, 2007

Corruption within World Bank?

I don't claim to know "the facts" about Wolfowitz's supposed career advancement of his girlfriend at the World Bank. However, the issue is a big deal because of the weight that the World Bank places on preventing corruption when it makes funds available. If the World Bank is itself corrupt on the surface, what can be expected from those to whom the Bank makes loans?

That said, most people realize that the World Bank was captured and corrupted, long ago, by transnational corporate interests.

April 21, 2007

Stop Blaming the Iraqis for US Crimes Against Peace

The right wing noise machine has gotten to a lot of people. The machine wants us to believe Iraqis are barbarians, and despite US good will, they are destined to fight with each other. This is the foundation of the US exit strategy; "It's OK to abandon primitive, dark-skinned Arabs that don't want democracy. We tried, but these uncivilized people don't appreciate our sacrifices."

No mention of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) undermining Iraq's civil and security structure, no mention of the CPA opening Iraq's economy to looting by transnational corporations (as if there could be fair competition when 12-years of sanctions made Iraqi company's weak), no mention that the US created a power vacuum, no mention that Ambassador Negroponte and Colonel James Steele introduced the Salvadoran death squad model in Iraq, no mention that the US aggressive war of choice triggered this chaos and constitutes a crime against peace.

No mention that the US is responsible for the chaos and for reparations to Iraq, but that the US is in such deep debt that it will be hard to convince US tax payers to fund reparations. Instead, the so-called "leaders" on both sides of the political spectrum would have us believe that the Iraqis are to blame, so we don't owe them anything.

My experience in Washington suggests that the heads of most people in Washington are spinning with day-to-day deadlines. They have not stopped to think about what I've written above. If they took the time, they might realize that imposing benchmarks on the Iraqis is unfair. Granted, the Iraqis must take the lead in solving the problems facing them; however, the US is responsible for creating many of the problems and is thus responsible for the financial support to enable a process to resolve them.

Update: Unfortunately, the "blame-the-Iraqi" framing of reality has been adopted by the Democratic leadership: "Meet our benchmarks or else."

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.

In other words, Bush and the US citizens are responsible for "the accumulated evil of the whole."

April 18, 2007

Sandcastle and Blue Sky


So I'm talking to my dad and he's lamenting the fact that we are so totally fucked. Him, because he's getting old enough to be contemplating death, and the rest of us 'cuz we're really on the brink of crossing the point of no return: runaway greenhouse effect.

So, sometimes, ya just gotta spend a little time building a sandcastle.


Deviant Art Page More photos of the same and more.

April 17, 2007

Swimming with the Inside Crowd

I've gotta get off this Katie Couric kick....

This post was inspired by an exchange I had in the comment section of a post on High Tech Parent blog regarding Katie Couric's Plagiarism problem.

greebs said:

My version was simply "this is pathetic."

When it comes down to it, anyone making $15 million as a journalist should really be doing his or her own writing. That's a hard argument to work around.

greebs post.

My satirical response attempts to arugue around it:

greebs, didn't you get the memo? Oh, I guess you're not part of the inside crowd.

Well, it SAYS if you're really rich, you get other people to do things FOR you. You can even get other people to pay your taxes to fund the war.

That's how it works now. It's really cool. I sold some stock recently, that I picked up on a good tip, using a loan from a good friend, and then flipped it now I'm IN. Now we have a new maid named Lolita who's really awsome with the kids. Njuen does the garden, even when we're at our place in Paris, don't need to ask, he just takes care of it. Bjork has been maintaining my blog... I just send him e-mails with the theme, and he does the rest.

I have a friend who can get YOU in too. All you have to do is... well, we better talk about this off-line, if you know what I mean ;-)

April 16, 2007

Imus vs Couric by Technorati Graphs

CBS has been in the spotlight lately due to the gaffes of Don Imus and Katie Couric. Clearly, the Imus "Nappy-Headed Hoe" issue has been bigger than the Katie Couric Video Notebook plagiarism issue, but how much bigger?

Technorati's records of blog site postings that mention "Imus" vs "Katie Couric" give some indication from the perspective of the blogosphere.

The upper graph to the right shows blog postings that include "Katie Couric." It shows a small baseline of activity surrounding a couple of spikes in the range of 300-400 hits per day. The second spike is a result of the library card story taken from a piece by Jeffrey Zaslow that appeared in the Wall Street Journal.

The lower graph shows blog postings that include "Imus." It shows little or no baseline of activity, but a huge surge reaching nearly 14,000 at its peak.

So, "how much bigger?" The Imus story was about four to five times bigger than the Couric story at the peak.... assuming the Couric story has played out.

April 15, 2007

Step It Up 2007: Ice Melting

The following is my contribution to Step it Up National Day of Climate Action on April 14th, 2007.


Couric Debacle Prompts CBS to Increase Web Quality Control

According to the New York Times, CBS news will be taking a closer look at its web content. This is a result of the Katie Couric library card plagiarism Video Notebook fiasco, which has spawned intense scrutiny by bloggers and others.

This site recently highlighted other video notebook entries that are questionable, including a background on Barack Obama, and Couric's undercount of Iraqi civilian deaths.

The CBS action was brought to my attention by The New York State of Mind blog site.

My original response to the Couric plagiarism incident
was to view it as just one more example of the slow devolution of American culture. I've probably spent too much time on this issue. However, it is worth people voicing their opinions to CBS News on this general state of affairs. To that end, here's a link to contact CBS News.

Contact CBS News:

Web E-Mail Form for All CBS News Programs

Evening News E-Mail: evening@cbsnews.com

CBS News
524 W. 57 St., New York, NY 10019
Phone: 212-975-4321
Fax: 212-975-1893

LINK to Media Contacts in General


After Couric Incident, CBS News to Scrutinize Its Web Content

Published: April 12, 2007

CBS News said yesterday it planned to install a new level of editorial oversight to its Web site since revelations that the CBS anchor Katie Couric read a plagiarized commentary on the site last week.

CBS has fired the producer who wrote the piece for Ms. Couric, and said yesterday it was investigating to see if the producer, whose name CBS has not disclosed, had written any previous commentaries for Ms. Couric that had been plagiarized.

The commentary, about how children use libraries in a world increasingly dominated by the Internet, was clearly inspired by a piece written the previous month in The Wall Street Journal. A Journal editor called the similarities to the attention of CBS News on Monday, and executives there, reading the two pieces, immediately concluded that they were basically identical.

CBS News executives said they were stunned that anyone would so blatantly copy someone else’s work. The incident is an embarrassment for the news division, and comes at a time of continuing struggle for Ms. Couric’s newscast to be competitive with NBC and ABC in the evening-news ratings.

The videotaped commentary, which was used in a section of the CBS News Web site called “Katie Couric’s Notebook,” but which also was sent out for use by CBS television and radio stations, was removed from the CBS site, and the network issued what it called a correction, saying it should have noted that “much of the material” had come from the newspaper.

As described by Sandy Genelius, the spokeswoman for CBS News, the process of creating the 55-second essays that were included in the “Notebook” feature involved a meeting between Ms. Couric and a group of producers from the Web site and her going over dozens of suggested topics for the daily commentary.

Asked whether Ms. Couric had read the article in The Wall Street Journal, Ms. Genelius said, “I believe she did not.” Ms. Couric was not available for comment.

All television news anchors read scripts for their newscasts that are prepared by staff members, but the anchors almost always rewrite these themselves.

A spokesman for ABC News, Jeffrey W. Schneider, said that on ABC’s Web site commentaries were written only by the contributor whose name was on that commentary.

Allison Gollust of NBC News said she was not aware of any NBC Web contributions that were written by anyone other than the person whose name was attached to it. “We certainly do not have anyone on the staff whose job it is to write something like that for one of our anchors or correspondents,” she said.

Tax Help


Courtesy of Toothpaste for Dinner by Drew.

April 14, 2007

Katie Couric and CBS Perpetuate Undercount of Iraqi Civilian Deaths

So, how many inaccuracies can be found Katie Couric's Video Notebook? Here's another.

On March 19, 2007, Katie Couric reported 50,000 Iraqi civilian deaths, despite the well-known Lancet study citing an estimated 654,965 additional deaths in Iraq between March 2003 and July 2006 (the low end of the estimated range was about 400,000).

A Johns Hopkins School of Public Health web site states:

The mortality survey used well-established and scientifically proven methods for measuring mortality and disease in populations. These same survey methods were used to measure mortality during conflicts in the Congo, Kosovo, Sudan and other regions.

The Guardian reports:

Scientists at the UK's Department for International Development ... concluded that the study's methods were "tried and tested". Indeed, the Johns Hopkins approach would likely lead to an "underestimation of mortality".

The Ministry of Defence's chief scientific adviser said the research was "robust", close to "best practice", and "balanced". He recommended "caution in publicly criticising the study".

We know that people are buried quickly in the Islamic tradition, leading to lower reporting of deaths to officials. We know that the mass media is unable to report on vast areas of Iraq due to increasing violence, again leading to under reporting.

So, why does Katie Couric and CBS continue to report a number that is an order of magnitude lower than the best available estimate? Partly because of the human capacity for denial. Partly because corporate media insiders live in a celebrity bubble; they and their wannabe helpers are isolated from realities that would allow them to believe the numbers of additional civilian deaths could be so high. Perhaps to avoid accepting responsibility as a democracy for such a gross crime against humanity.

Another Couric Video Notebook Error?

Noted as "A sign of the declining modern media," among other things, d-day blog finds another Katie Couric Video Notebook misrepresentation (no video on this one). How many more are there?

On April 13, 2007, d-day blog reports, in Zombie Lies that Katie Couric's video notebook repeated the rumor that Barack Obama had been educated in an Islamic madrassa. Compare the original and revised versions. This was reported on by media matters. In particular, they expose CNN's Glenn Beck for perpetuating the rumor.


Katie Couric Notebook Entry
Obama's Background, April 11, 2007: Note it has been Corrected.

Huffington Post, Eat the Press for the before and after comparison.

April 12, 2007

Couric: Faux Journalist Reflects Twilight of America

It is one more sign of the decline of America.

CBS News said this week the April 4 installment of "Katie Couric's Notebook" consisted mostly of passages lifted verbatim from a Wall Street Journal column by Jeffrey Zaslow that was published in March.

Rigor and professionalism has given way to false appearance and the bottom line. For a highly-paid news anchor to blunder into plagiarism is unacceptable in a first-rate nation, which is the point. The U.S. is fading in the same way Rome, Spain and Britain faded from preeminence.

Morris Berman, and others, are writing books on the decline of the American Empire. A review of Berman's "The Twilight of American Culture," sums it up:

Morris Berman discusses the decline in American life, evidenced by growing class inequities, the deterioration of literacy, and the pervasiveness of anti-intellectualism.

The deterioration of literacy is exemplified in this case by a failure to recognize plagiarism. Couric didn't even write the video essay, despite the impression given that she does.

Here's another example of the decline, a failure of accountability:

The producer responsible for Couric's piece was fired on Monday night, hours after the Journal contacted CBS News to complain.

"Couric's" piece? First, it was phony theater, foisted on the American public; Couric wasn't mouthing a memory about her library card. She was mouthing someone Else's memory about their library card, written by an as-yet nameless producer (UPDATE: Now named as Melissa McNamara).

Second, if it's truly "Couric's piece," isn't she also responsible? Apparently not in the twilight of America, where it's OK for CBS to give the impression that it is "Couric's piece." It was faked, like most of what passes for journalism on corporate media as the American Dark Ages approach.


Reuters, April 12, 2007, CBS says Couric unaware video essay plagiarized.

Melanie Ho, Review of Berman's "The Twilight of America."

See Also:

Regret The Error, a blog that was cited in the Reuters article.

The Daily Background
, a blog that was cited in the Reuters article. Raises the question of double-plagiarism. What The Daily Background calls "double-plagiarism" I call "phony theater."

High Tech Parent on Couric

On the ligher side, gotta take a look at the visual on Milk Was a Bad Choice


April 11, 2007

Michael Albert on the Importance of Hope in Social Movements

Michael Albert recently shared an insight on Robert McChesney's radio program Media Matters. Albert is the co-founder of South End Press, Z Magazine and ZNet. He is the author, most recently, of Remembering Tomorrow: A Memoir, and is well known for the book Parecon: Life After Capitalism.

Albert began by discussing the difference between today's social movement and that of the 1960s. Back in the 1960s people were outraged when discovering the institutionally corrupt Government/Corporate power system. But, people believed that they could do something to change it.

Today, people are far more aware that government/corporate imperialism is not an accident. In fact, they have become cynical and have evolved to assume its just the way things are, its inevitable, that you can't do anything about it. So, naturally, people don't want to waste their time forming a movement they perceive would be a waste of time.

A key role of social movement activists is to communicate to people that there is an alternative to injustice and indignity, a different way to organize society and its institutions. Activists need to lay out that vision, and identify reasonable steps in that direction so people have hope.

The key is to give people hope that a better future is possible. People need to believe that being part of today's social movement is not a waste of time. It's also helpful to recognize Martin Luther King's selfless operating principle; the means are as important as the ends. King captured this principle in his famous quote:
I am convinced that we shall overcome because the arc of the universe is long but it bends toward justice.


Media Matters, April 8, 2007, Interview with Michael Albert.

April 10, 2007

Bush's New "New Way"

Talk about slow bleed. Watching Bush wallow in Iraq is painful; I can only imagine how much more painful it is for those with loved ones directly involved, or preparing to ship out.

I'm prompted by the recent unofficial announcement that 15,000 troops might be held over for an extra 120 days. If they stay, some will die, some will be maimed, some will be traumatized, some will miss milestone family events. And for what?

The unapproved statement (authorized spin or unauthorized leak?) says:

[General] Petraeus believes the troop increase President Bush announced in January has produced some momentum in fighting violence in Iraq, Petraeus wants to maintain troops at that level past the summer.

Bait-and-switch aside, Why? What's the plan? Well, actually, the plan keeps changing. Below are three morphed strategies.

Bush's generals tell us there isn't a military solution to the mission (what ever that has morphed into). So, I Googled Bush Plan Iraq.

At the top of the list is a May 2004 speech: "President Outlines Steps to Help Iraq Achieve Democracy and Freedom". In that plan, Bush outlines "five steps in our plan to help Iraq achieve democracy and freedom":

We will hand over authority to a sovereign Iraqi government, help establish security, continue rebuilding Iraq's infrastructure, encourage more international support, and move toward a national election that will bring forward new leaders empowered by the Iraqi people.

Not to mention annihilating Fallujah in a war crime differing from Saddam Hussein's Dujail massacre only in that more people were killed when Bush punished Fallujah. Hussein was hung for Dujail.

Next on the Google list is a November 2005 speech: "President Outlines Strategy for Victory in Iraq." The strategy is outlined having three elements.

On the political side, we know that free societies are peaceful societies, so we're helping the Iraqis build a free society with inclusive democratic institutions that will protect the interests of all Iraqis. We're working with the Iraqis to help them engage those who can be persuaded to join the new Iraq -- and to marginalize those who never will.

On the security side, coalition and Iraqi security forces are on the offensive against the enemy, cleaning out areas controlled by the terrorists and Saddam loyalists, leaving Iraqi forces to hold territory taken from the enemy, and following up with targeted reconstruction to help Iraqis rebuild their lives.

And on the economic side, we're helping the Iraqis rebuild their infrastructure, reform their economy, and build the prosperity that will give all Iraqis a stake in a free and peaceful Iraq. In doing all this we have involved the United Nations, other international organizations, our coalition partners, and supportive regional states in helping Iraqis build their future.

A critique: First, freedom doesn't guarantee peace. Second, the security forces failed to hold territory, and alienated the the Iraqi public creating more insurgents according to the CIA. Finally, the US tried to impose corporate globalization onto the Iraqi economy, resulting in exploitation and an economic collapse. The UN and others have mostly stood on the sidelines due to growing insecurity and the US attitude of "Its my way or the highway.

The next on Google's list is a Washington Post article voicing scepticism about Bush's next new strategy dubbed "The New Way Forward In Iraq." Like his falsely advertised Prescription Drug Program, Bush low balled the number of troops that would be needed for a surge.

What does the new "New Way" strategy include?

Establishing More Than 45 "Joint Security Stations" Throughout Baghdad.

Stepping Up Training The Iraqi Army And Police

Enhancing Our Civilian And Diplomatic Efforts

And of course,

Ordering Reinforcements Of More Than 20,000 Combat Forces To Iraq

Emphasis on the "more than."

The originally advertised 21,500 doesn't count 2,000 military police needed to manage about 20,000 additional detainees. It doesn't count troops that have quietly been added to bring the surge number closer to 30,000. Now we read that 15,000 troops will be held over for an additional 120 days, or that Bush has authorized extending combat tours to 15-months (three more months of Iraqi roulette).

The blogosphere was reporting, about a month ago, that there aren't enough combat forces to meet the 21,500 troop call-up; the only way to meet those numbers would be to extend the tours. The blogosphere can claim another correct prediction.

Here's a link to my optimistic prediction on how the Iraq war will play out. My other prediction is that the "New Way" out of Iraq will be through Iran:

Bush can't continue occupying Iraq, because it incites unacceptable violent resistance. Bush can't leave, because his failed mission would increase Iran's power in the region with great influence over a Shia-dominated Iraq. So, where does this leave him? It leaves him with the option of attacking Iran to weaken that nation before leaving Iraq. Unfortunately, the Democrats face the same reality.

I'm not alone in this later prediction.

April 8, 2007

Senator Ben Cardin on Military Commissions Act

A letter from Senator Ben Cardin:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the treatment of detainees and the trial of suspected terrorists by the U.S. Government.

In September 2006, I voted against H.R. 6166, the Military Commissions Act. Both the House and Senate passed this bill and President Bush signed it into law in October 2006. When it comes to establishing procedures for trying suspected terrorists, Congress has an obligation under the Constitution to enact legislation that will be upheld by the courts. Congress acted on H.R. 6166 as a result of a June 2006 Supreme Court decision. The Supreme Court in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld struck down the President's military commissions, stating that they violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Geneva Conventions. The Court noted that Congress, not the President, has the authority under Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution to "define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations." I voted against H.R. 6166 because I am concerned
that the courts will strike down the Military Commissions Act, too.

Perhaps the biggest problem with the Military Commissions Act is that it eliminates the fundamental legal action by which detainees can seek relief from unlawful imprisonment, known as habeas corpus, and permits the Federal Government to
hold detainees indefinitely without charge, trial, or the right to an independent hearing to weigh the evidence against them. On February 13, 2007, Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) introduced S. 576, the Restoring the Constitution Act. This bill, which was referred to the Committee on Armed Services, restores habeas corpus for
individuals held in U.S. custody and overturns many of the provisions of the Military Commissions Act. I will give this bill careful consideration and I anticipate that the Senate Judiciary Committee, on which I sit, will hold hearings on it, too.

I strongly support our government's efforts to isolate, track down, and deter, or capture those individuals who are planning terrorist attacks against the United States. We must bring these terrorists to justice swiftly. I was disappointed that the House leadership failed to reach out to Members on both sides of the aisle
last year in crafting the Military Commissions Act. We should heed the warning given by former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State Colin Powell, who argues that "the world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against

The 9/11 Commission recommended that "the United States should engage its friends to develop a common coalition approach toward the detention and humane treatment of captured terrorists." New principles might draw upon Article 3 of the
Geneva Conventions. Allegations that "the United States abused prisoners in its custody make it harder to build the diplomatic, political, and military alliances the [U.S.] government will need." I believe the Military Commissions Act undermines the protections of the Geneva Conventions and, by weakening our moral authority,
makes it harder for us to work with allies to win the war against terrorism and protect Americans.

I share the concerns of many current and former military officers who testified to Congress that any weakening of these protections will place American soldiers at risk if they are captured. I am pleased that in December 2005, Congress adopted Senator John McCain's (R-AZ) legislation and outlawed the use of torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment by U.S. personnel, which would endanger the treatment of our American soldiers who are held captive. But I am disappointed that this legislation allows the use of statements obtained by some of this prohibited behavior to be admissible in court.

We must join with our allies to win the war against terrorism and bring terrorists to justice. Our Constitution contains the very values we hold dear that make us proud to be Americans, and which motivate our soldiers to lay down their lives in defense of this country. I have sworn to uphold and defend our Constitution
and to protect our democracy. The Military Commissions Act takes a step backward, is inconsistent with the rule of law, and will make it harder to work with our allies to build an effective coalition to defeat terrorism.

Five years after the 9/11 attacks, it is inexcusable that not a single one of the terrorists who planned the 9/11 attacks has been brought to trial. Congress must ultimately discharge its constitutional duty to create military commissions that are
consistent with the rule of law and that will produce convictions of terrorists that will be upheld by our courts.

April 7, 2007

Global Climate Change: Mortal Jeopardy

Came across a good blog entry at Is America Burning blog on the recent UN report on Global Climate Change.[1] It has some interesting links to multi-media information.

A while back, media reform expert Robert McChesney had a guest speaking about Global Climate Change on his MediaMatters radio program. Bob said, something to the effect, that he has difficulty dealing with the subject of global climate change, because the discussion inevitably leads to depressing feelings associated with contemplating our own extinction.

As I listened to McChesney, I heard the words, and understood them. But on Saturday, April 7, I felt the words and was reminded of his comment. Listening to the DemocracyNow! podcast for April 6, their headlines included the following:

A new United Nations report on climate change warns that global warming could cause more shortages of food in Africa, more severe weather events in Europe and the United States, the decimation of coral reefs and the disappearance of the ice caps.

and the following:

A new study in the journal Science is predicting rising temperatures here in this country will likely result in a permanent drought throughout Arizona and the Southwest by the year 2050.

While listening, I realized that I was a little nauseated; this is a common response to thoughts of one's tenuous mortal jeopardy. In this case, it's all of humanity's mortal jeopardy.

As I watched polar bears swimming at the Baltimore Zoo recently, I was reminded of documented cases of their drowning due to melting ice at the North Pole. You can do something to save the polar bears. Submit Formal Comments to make the U.S. Government list the Polar Bears as "threatened and endangered" due to the loss of their icy habitat from global climate change.


1. The report was written by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which consolidates the work of 2,500 scientists from the around the world.

2. DemocracyNow April 6, 2007 Headlines.

3. Polar Bear SOS.

April 6, 2007

Scary Collection of Subprime Mortgage Links

If you're curious about the unraveling subprime mortgage market, take a look at this list of articles.



April 5, 2007

Subprime Scandal: Don't Blame the Victims

It's so predictable. Soon you'll be hearing politicians and corporate media pundits repeat the following over and over:

"We feel bad that people are loosing their homes to foreclosure, but they should have known better than to take on more debt than they could afford."

Many of the people who are loosing their homes will go along with this half-truth and drop their heads in guilty shame. They won't realize that they are victims of the The cancer stage of capitalism.[1]

Wealth has been consolidating into the hands of fewer people and corporations over the past few decades starting with policies of the Regan administration. It continued through policies of the Clinton (DLC) Administration, including support of corporate globalization and the 1996 Telecommunications Act. Then, the dot-com bubble burst and corporate corruption, symbolized by Enron, resulted in capital flight from Wall Street. This forced investment wealth to find a new home, and much of it fled to real estate; not just buying property, but investing in mortgage backed securities. Now, not only are subprime mortgage holders feeling pain, but pensions, university endowments, insurance companies and some of the largest commercial banks that are over-invested in the real estate bubble are soon to feel the pain (40 mortgage companies have recently filed for bankruptcy).

Corporate-sponsored Congressional deregulation of the financial and real estate industries allowed the real estate and associated finance industrial complex to run amok (get corrupt). Not only did money run to real estate, but money was created from thin air in the form of people taking out loans literally on top of loans on top of artificial equity, which fueled more speculation until this iterative cycle inflated an artificial real estate bubble of historic proportions. This led to artificially high real estate prices; how many of us have heard friends say, "I couldn't even afford to buy the house I live in. Glad I bought it when I did." Predatory lenders continued to lull people into signing mortgage loans for these over-priced homes. Profit-driven lenders convinced people that these exotic mortgages were the norm, and the only way anyone could afford to buy a home these days, suggesting that "every one's in the same boat."

So, is it really fair to blame people caught in default for over-priced homes, and simply look the other way from Congress, Bush's regulatory agencies, Wall Street, get-rich-quick scammers and the corporate media that has watched this travesty unfold without saying anything? Is the media really that clueless, or are they just part of the keep-quiet inside crowd?

One more prediction; it's certain that several members of Congress on both sides of the isle are implicated in this mess, just like the Savings and Loan tripple-scandal of the 1980s. The first scandal was the corporate-sponsored Congressional deregulation of the Regan era. The second scandal was the corporate corrupt exploitation of the deregulated markets. The third scandal was that Congress hid their blame buy bailing out the irresponsible industries with government bonds. That resulted in tax payers not only paying for the binge of the S & L scammers, but paying interest on the government bonds to.... those who are wealthy enough to buy the bonds... including those who profited from the S & L scams.

Will the public ever learn? We need to put some people in jail, regardless of their political affiliation.


1. This is a reference to John McMurtry's book, The Cancer Stage of Capitalism. The US economy has evolved to a stage in which few tangible products are created. Instead, accumulated capital is moved around in speculative activities that are disconnected from the real economy. This can result in many dislocations, such as commodity prices being driven up by hedge funds, hitting small farmers with prices that don't make "economic" sense and threatening their existence.

April 4, 2007

Shaquanda Cotton Case

Why was a 14-yr old girl sentenced for up to seven years in detention for shoving a hall monitor?

DemocracyNow reports,

Texas Releases Teenager Jailed for Shoving School Aide
In Texas, state officials have decided to release a 15-year-old girl who was serving a seven-year prison sentence for shoving a teacher's aide in her school hallway. Shaquanda Cotton was released on Sunday after spending a year in a prison. Her release came after weeks of protests over her sentence. Supporters say Cotton was unfairly punished because she is African-American and because of her mother's previous involvement in a group that fought discrimination against black students. Shaquanda, who had no prior criminal record, was convicted on one count of assaulting a public servant last year. The teacher's aide was not injured and the incident's details are under dispute. The judge in the case -- Chuck Superville of Lamar County -- has been accused of double-standards after he sentenced a fourteen-year old white arsonist to probation. The head of the state's juvenile prison system has also announced plans to review the sentences of all 4,700 juveniles in state custody.

Lamar County Judge Chuck Superville sentenced her to "until she meets state rehabilitation standards or reaches her 21st birthday." [1]

"Dennis Eichelbaum, an attorney for the Paris school district, said the U.S.
Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights has vindicated the district by finding no evidence of discrimination in three cases. Five other investigations remain open." [1]

Follow-up - April 12, 2007

Ran across the following that might be of interest:

Judge Superville explains his thoughts on verdict of 14 year old’s case in Paris Texas


1. "Uproar over Texas teen's imprisonment," by Paul J. Weber, Associated Press (Tue Mar 27, 200 9:20 PM ET).

Wikipedia on Shaquanda_Cotton


Ensuring Executive Branch Accountability

"The Supreme Court has long recognized that the power to investigate and the attendant use of compulsory process are inherent in the legislative function vested in the Congress by Article I of the Constitution." [1]

"Unlike executive branch agencies, the White House has no inspector general to
investigate abuses and it is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act. Only Congress can provide appropriate oversight and accountability."

"the Congressional Research Service reports that presidential advisers have
testified before congressional committees at least 73 times since 1944—including
individuals occupying the most senior positions in the White House from Chiefs of Staff to National Security Advisors to White House Counsels." [2]

"... on the current investigation of the circumstances surrounding the firing of the U.S. Attorneys. At stake is a question of whether there was interference in the administration of justice for political ends."

"Simply put, issues surrounding the administration of justice are paramount and constitute the heart of a legitimate legislative inquiry."

"It has been said many times in the course of this affair that U.S. Attorneys “serve at the pleasure of the president.” As a matter of law, this is a non-debatable proposition. Once confirmed, they can be removed for any reason, or for no reason at all.

But that cannot be the end of the story. The fact that the president has the power to
remove them doesn’t make it proper for him to do so. Depending on the reason for his
actions, it may be highly improper and even illegal."

"If the president fires a U.S. Attorney to obstruct or interfere with a pending
prosecution or to influence the course of a prospective prosecution, he has crossed the line. Such interference is not only improper but depending on the circumstances may be illegal as well."

Attorney General Robert Jackson said in 1940, “The [93 US] prosecutors ha[ve]
more control over life, liberty, and reputation than any other person in America. His
discretion is tremendous.” [3]

"Once they take their oath of office, the 93 U.S. Attorneys are the personification of the system of justice in this country. If that system is to command popular respect, they must be beyond reproach."

"This is the concern which makes it imperative that this committee get the facts [from the White House] so it can determine precisely what happened in these cases" of fired U.S. Attorneys.


These are excerpts and citations from the testimony of John D. Podesta Before the Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law, U.S. House of Representatives Hearing on “Ensuring Executive Branch Accountability” March 29, 2007

1. e.g. McGrain v. Daugherty 273 US 135 (1927); Sinclair v. United States 279 U.S. 263 (1929); Watkins v. United States 354 U.S. 178 (1957)

2. Harold C. Relyea and Jay R. Shampansky, Presidential Advisers’ Testimony Before Congressional Committees: An Overview, CRS Report for Congress (April 14, 2004).

3. Robert Jackson, The Federal Prosecutor, Address Delivered at the Second Annual Conference of the United States Attorneys (April 1, 1940).

April 3, 2007

Davos Dilemma

Naomi Klein recently said,

There was a phrase that came out of the Davos conference this year. Every year, there’s always a big idea to emerge from the World Economic Summit in Davos. This year, the big idea was the Davos dilemma. Now, what is the Davos dilemma? The Davos dilemma is this: for decades, it's been conventional wisdom that generalized mayhem was a drain on the global economy, that you could have an individual shock or a crisis or a war that could be exploited for privatization, but on the whole -- and this was the Thomas Friedman thesis -- there needed to be stability in order to have steady economic growth; the Davos dilemma is that it's no longer true. You can have generalized mayhem, you can have wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, threats of nuclear war with Iran, a worsening of the Israeli occupation, a deepening of violence against Palestinians, you can have a terror in the face of global warming, you could have increased blowback from resource wars, you can have soaring oil prices, but, lo and behold, the stock market just goes up and up and up.

According to DemocracyNow, "Naomi Klein recently spoke at an event in New York celebrating the launch of Jeremy Scahill's first book, "Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army." In her talk, Naomi Klein spoke about the privatization of the state."


DemocracyNow, April 2, 2007, "The Worse Things Get in Iraq, the More Privatized This War Becomes, The More Profitable This War Becomes" - Naomi Klein on the Privatization of the State.

See Also:

The Problem with Privatizing War


April 2, 2007

Harry Reid: Cut the Funds for Iraq War

Dear Senator Reid:

Yes. Cut the funds for the Iraq war. Nobody buys the line that "cutting the funds = cutting support to the troops" except those stuck inside the Beltway bubble (including corporate media).

If the Democrats lead, the Nation will follow.

April 1, 2007

Bensky's Law

Larry Bensky's law applies to journalists:

The more they pay, the less you say.

"If you look at Katie Couric and the network anchors pulling down seven figures, even eight figures, that axiom would seem in general, with some exceptions, to be true.

And the flip-side, people in public radio, under paid as they are, often volunteers getting paid zero, they not only often have a lot more to say than the big ticket anchors, but more importantly, they allow and enable those who have a lot to say to get to the microphone, and that's just crucial."

Observations of Norman Soloman interviewed April 1, 2007 on Media Matters on WILL Radio from the Campus of the University of Illinois, in Urbana.