June 29, 2007

Blackwater Trying to Gain Popular Appeal

The Spy Who Billed Me blog shares with us that Blackwater is now a NASCAR sponsor.

Blackwater is owned and operated by a christian fundamentalist ideologue (Erik D. Prince). Their stock in trade is the use of force, or they might say managing the risk of violence. Actually, it's both.

Blackwater has major contracts with the State Department and other federal agencies to provide security. What happens when there's a contract dispute? Are the contractors going to be more loyal to the agency they work for or to the contract? Who is their ultimate boss, the President of the United States or the CEO of Blackwater?

Well-paid federal employees, or members of the US military, they are far more likely to be loyal to the mission. The commercialization of our security forces is an unacceptable security risk.

Blackwater, and firms like it, are accumulating wealth and power. We need to stop them before they have the influence to force the hand of Congress. The sponsorship of NASCAR by Blackwater is an indication that they are trying to gain popular appeal in mainstream culture. We need to act before they gain un-stoppable momentum.

June 28, 2007

CNN Positive Review of 'Sicko'

Wow. CNN entertainment critic Tom Charity gives Michael Moore's Sicko a very positive review. Granted, like all of the establishment media, Charity has to characterize Moore as a "polemicist" and the "most polarizing filmmaker." It appears that the corruption of the US health care system is so stark that it carries the movie, in spite of being associated with the "controversial" Michael Moore. This is evidenced by Charity's observation:
A little over a year ago, Moore invited citizens to send in their health-care horror stories. Within the week his Web site was inundated with 25,000 emails. If this is anecdotal evidence, it's on a scale worth talking about.

Charity also highlights what I feared might get lost. The fact that the system fails even those who have health care:

"Sicko" begins with three cases illustrating the plight of the 46 million Americans without health insurance, but quickly moves on to address wider concerns about the kind of care reserved for the lucky 250 million who do have coverage.

Charity also pegs the take-away message of Moore. Cut out the middle man:

In a nutshell, Moore's argument comes down to this: the insurance companies are making a killing at their customers' expense. And in this industry, that term is all too literal.

I've not yet seen Sicko, but have heard Moore interviewed twice on DemocracyNow. If ever we had a chance to fundamentally change the US health care system, now is the time. There's one major reason for hope, besides the awakening that will accompany Sicko. That is, the private sector doesn't want to pay for health care any more, and is willing to support a government-based health care system. That's because paying for healthcare it makes private businesses uncompetative with foreign corporations that aren't saddled with paying for their worker's health care.

See Full CNN Review.

June 27, 2007

Blackwater Follows Bush-Cheney Playbook in Three Lawsuits

Guest Conributor: L. Vincent Sebastian

In recent years Blackwater USA, a private military and security contractor, has made the news on a number of fronts due to its involvement in the Iraq War, the global War on Terror, and other foreign policy/ military initiatives of the Bush Administration (see prior postings on Blackwater on this website). Tragic episodes in Iraq and Afghanistan resulted in the deaths of employees of Blackwater and its affiliates, and this in turn led to two high-profile lawsuits against Blackwater. A third lawsuit alleging corporate espionage was brought about by Blackwater against one of its former employees. In each of these suits, Blackwater has followed the three-pronged strategy used by the Bush administration of maintaining secrecy, bullying the opposition, and denying accountability to the bitter end. First, a brief review of the suits:

Lawsuit #1. In March, 2004, four Blackwater security guards were attacked and killed by a frenzied mob as they escorted a supply convoy through Fallujah, Iraq. The families of these employees then sued Blackwater, accusing the company of breaking its contractual obligations to the four men by sending them into hostile territory unprepared and failing to provide them with appropriate equipment such as armored vehicles or even a map. This lawsuit, which had made its way to the Supreme Court in a series of unsuccessful appeals by Blackwater, was recently sent to arbitration. Last month (May, 2007), a federal judge ordered the lawsuit to be decided behind closed doors, allowing Blackwater to avoid public examination of its practices in Iraq. Apparently, the employment contracts signed by these security guards contained an arbitration clause. Arbitration is a non-judicial process that has a number of advantages for Blackwater. There is no right to a trial by jury. The verdict is final and binding. There is no appeal. There is no right to discovery, which means the plaintiffs do not have the same access to internal documents, Blackwater documents. The proceedings are confidential and the outcome is confidential.

Lawsuit #2. Blackwater’s aviation division is being sued by the families of three U.S. soldiers who were killed in a plane crash in Afghanistan in November of 2004. This was a plane operated by Blackwater's aviation affiliate, Presidential Airways of Florida. All six people aboard died, the three Presidential civilian crewmen and the three soldiers. The plane was ferrying the men from an airfield in Bagram, Afghanistan, to Farah, Afghanistan, and was not flying a combat mission. According to the suit, Blackwater sent the men to their deaths in an under-equipped and poorly manned aircraft. The plane lacked even the most basic safety equipment. It had no global positioning system or radar. Its crew did not wear oxygen masks. And its two pilots, who had been in Afghanistan only two weeks and had never flown the route before, failed to take the basic step of filing a flight plan, which led to a delay in finding the wreckage. In late 2006, the National Transportation Safety Board found that unprofessional behavior by the Presidential Airways flight crew was a key cause of the crash. The Board concluded that the crew deliberately avoided the standard route and took a joy ride in another direction, eventually becoming trapped in a canyon and slamming into a mountainside. The unorthodox route contributed to a delay in locating the wreckage. Had rescuers reached the site sooner, one of the servicemen (Harley Miller) might have been saved, the investigators found. Last month (May, 2007), Blackwater was in federal appeals court in Miami today trying to get that case thrown out.

Lawsuit #3. On Feb. 21, 2006 Blackwater filed a lawsuit against former employee Curtis Smith, claiming that Smith gave trade secrets (an accounting system) to Covenant Special Projects, a rival security company in Northern Virginia where Smith now works. Blackwater actually has an affidavit from Smith in which he admits giving away trade secrets. Smith claims, however, that the statement was induced under duress and intimidation in a Blackwater conference room where he was confined against his will. After Blackwater filed suit, Smith countersued Blackwater and its executive vice president, William Mathews, alleging that his affidavit was extracted under duress. The day after Blackwater’s lawsuit was filed, Virginia Beach police raided Smith's home, authorized by a search warrant issued on suspicion of computer fraud and computer trespass, which are criminal offenses. According to the police report, the raid yielded a computer, related equipment and papers. But to date, Smith has not been charged with any crime. This criminal investigation is continuing as the civil case unfolds. Smith says that trade secret in question is a generic technique that uses simple accounting principles and that he gave up no confidential information. Moreover, he says, Blackwater has made it difficult for him to defend himself by failing to specify the trade secrets he is alleged to have stolen, saying that the information is classified. It so happens that the leader of the police raid, Maj. Jon Worthington of the Camden County, VA Sheriff's Office, moonlights as an instructor on Blackwater's Moyock, NC compound, and that the Virginia Beach Police Department leases a training facility there.

The move of the Fallujah lawsuit to arbitration will keep Blackwater away from the light of a courtroom, where many had expected to learn details about this firm and the private army it fields in Iraq and elsewhere. What is interesting is that Blackwater did not make much of disputing the specific allegations of the Fallujah lawsuit. Instead, Blackwater attorneys (which have included former Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr and current White House Counsel Fred Fielding) argued that the company should not face scrutiny in civilian courts because the contracting industry is an extension of the military. That is, they took the legal approach that says, “We can’t be sued.” Blackwater argued in both the Fallujah and Afghanistan suits that it is part of the U.S. “total force” and therefore should be entitled to the same immunity from civilian litigation for wrongful death, for casualties in a war zone, enjoyed by the US military. (In February 2006, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld classified Blackwater and other contractors as legitimate parts of the total force making up the U.S. war machine.)

Blackwater has also tried to block the testimony of witnesses who worked for Blackwater and who are thought to have information that would show that questionable activities took place in the days leading up to the four men being killed in Fallujah. In particular, Blackwater was able to block the deposition of a former Blackwater manager, claiming that this former employee potentially was in possession of information that, if it was revealed publicly, could damage the national security of the United States.

At the same time, however, Blackwater’s lobbyists and PR specialists at the Alexander Strategy Group (the Republican lobbying firm operated by senior staffers of former Rep.Tom DeLay) were in the media proclaiming how it would be inappropriate to apply the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the court-martial system, to Blackwater operatives, because they are civilians. So, Blackwater wants it both ways: the secrecy and immunity enjoyed by the military, but not the military’s system of accountability.

Blackwater uses a secrecy-at-all-costs approach to doing business not only with the courts, but also with the U.S. Congress. “(The Fallujah) incident was a bit of a wake up call to many people to not only the extent of the private security contracting but the questions surrounding it,” said North Carolina Rep. David Price, who helped add increased contracting oversight measures to the defense authorization bill approved recently by the House. Blackwater is notoriously reticent to discuss the details of its business, and Congress has struggled at times to get answers about Blackwater and others in the private military contracting industry. Blackwater has repeatedly refused to turn over documents related to deadly incidents in Iraq and Afghanistan. It has stone-walled to the point of telling Rep. Henry Waxman, chair of the House Government Oversight Committee, that they cannot provide him with documents because they are classified.

Of the three lawsuits discussed above, Blackwater wants only one of them to go to court: the one that it initiated (against its former employee). Here, the corporation has sought to intimidate an individual through a coerced affidavit and a “police” raid carried out by one of its part-time employees. But even here, Blackwater continues its national security-based argument for secrecy.

Other recent commentary: The Bush administration has engaged in private contracting on a scale previously unimagined, and we need to have a handle on it (Rep. David Price). “We're spending an awful lot of money on these companies, and people still can't define their role” (John Pike, a military analyst with think tank GlobalSecurity.org). “The losers in this development are ultimately the American people,” (Jeremy Scahill, author of “Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army”).

End Notes: How connected is Blackwater to the Bush administration and to the Republican Party? In addition to the connections mentioned above, consider the following.

* Since February 2005, J. Cofer Black has been Vice Chairman of Blackwater USA. From December 2002 to November 2004 he was the U.S. Department of State Coordinator for Counterterrorism with the rank of Ambassador at Large. He was a key figure in the rendition program, the government-sanctioned “kidnap-and-torture” program, where suspected terrorist prisoners are sent to third-country locations to be interrogated. Black is also chairman of a new privatized intelligence company called Total Intelligence Solutions that is being bankrolled by Erik Prince, the head of Blackwater. Recently, presidential candidate Mitt Romney tapped Black to be his senior advisor on counter-terrorism.

* Mitt Romney grew up in Michigan and is the son of former Michigan governor George Wilcken Romney (1907 -1995). The elder Romney was the chairman of American Motors Corporation from 1954 to 1962 and was the Republican Governor of Michigan from 1963 to 1969. He was also a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 1968 but lost to Richard Nixon.

* Erik Prince, the head and founder of Blackwater, also grew up in Michigan where his father, Edgar Prince (died 1995) founded a company in 1965 called Prince Manufacturing (Prince Automotive) in Holland, Michigan, which serviced the auto industry. Revenue from this company was used to fuel the rise of the religious right in America. The elder Prince gave seed money to Gary Bauer to found the Family Research Council, where Erik Prince was once an intern. The Prince’s were also significant bankrollers of James Dobson and his group Focus on the Family. Erik Prince was a Navy SEAL (one of the wealthiest people ever to join the SEALS) prior to founding Blackwater. His reason for founding Blackwater was to anticipate government outsourcing of training and firearm-related activity. This closely followed a Halliburton study commissioned by Dick Cheney (as George H.W. Bush’s Secretary of Defense) on how to further privatize the military bureaucracy.


“Afghanistan: Families Sue Private Contractor Over Soldiers' Deaths”
Kristin Collins, The News & Observer, June 14, 2005

“Crew's behavior is blamed for '04 plane crash in Afghanistan”
Bill Sizemore, The Virginian-Pilot, December 7, 2006

“The Rise of Blackwater”
Sandip Roy, New America Media, April 24, 2007

“US: Blackwater lawsuit accuses ex-employee of stealing secrets”
Bill Sizemore, The Virginian-Pilot, May 10, 2007

“Pivotal Family Lawsuit Against Blackwater USA Blocked from Court -- and Moved to Panel with Company Ties”, Amy Goodman, Democracy Now! May 23, 2007

“Blackwater lawsuit over U.S. security contractors killed in Iraq headed for private arbitration” Mike Baker, May 26, 2007

June 24, 2007

Tim Griffin Investigation Requested

In December 2006, Timothy Griffin was named interim U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas. Griffin replaced Bud Cummins, one of the controversial eight fired US Attorneys. Griffin was a Republican political operative who worked closely with Karl Rove. On June 1, 2007, Tim Griffin resigned as his central role in a plot to suppress votes unraveled.

Now US Senators Kennedy and Whitehouse have asked the Justice Department to initiate a formal investigation. According to Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, the investigation request covers four separate issues (See Press Release and Full text of Request):

1. Did voter caging take place to suppress Democratic voters? There is evidence that this tactic was employed by the Republican Party in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections.

2. What was Timothy Griffin's role in the voter caging? There is substantial evidence that Griffin led the plot under the direction of Bush's brain, Karl Rove.

3. How was Timothy Griffin cleared, or vetted, to become an interim US attorney, given the serious allegations that he might have been involved in criminal conduct?

4. When the allegations surfaced within the Justice Department, why was the matter not referred to the relevant authorities for evaluation and potential action?

Contact the US Justice Department: AskDOJ@usdoj.gov

Direct your request to Glenn A. Fine, Inspector General. Urge the Inspector General to conduct a thorough investigation into the request made on June 18, 2006, by Senators Kennedy and Whitehouse, into "Voter Suppression Allegations" and the potential role of Timothy Griffin.


Ring of Fire interview with Sheldon Whitehouse, June 23, 2007.

Press Release and Letter from US Senators Kennedy and Whitehouse to Attorney General Gonzalez requesting an investigation into voter suppression, June 18, 2007.

June 23, 2007

How Many is 3,600 Dead US Soldiers?

The 60 x 60 grid below gives you a quick mental image of the number 3,600. As of June 23, 2007, 3,550 US soldiers have been killed in Iraq. The real images of 3,550 dead soldiers are far more gruesome than this sterile image.

3,600 dead US soldiers how many

The image below represents 3,000 dead US soldiers.

The image below is the Bush Mosaic in Death:

Hope in a Broad Based Backlash

Another in the series on "hope" for changing the aristocratic system.

The corrupt US health care system enriches an elite minority. They use their power and wealth to co-opt both Democratic and Republican parties, thereby securing and expanding their wealth and power. The same thing occurs with other major American industries, most notorious being the ballooning defense and security industries.

These two examples have been exposed in the documentaries "Sicko," by Michael Moore, and "Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers," by Robert Greenwald.

So, where's the hope?

In both cases these corrupt industries are harming, even killing, common people of all political persuasions. I repeat, people of all political persuasions are getting the shaft. Broad based harm translates into potential for a broad based backlash, and this broad based backlash translates into a high probability for changing the aristocratic system.

Therein lies the hope.

June 22, 2007

CIA Domestic Misdirection Operation

The Washington Post reports, "The CIA documents scheduled for release next week, Hayden said yesterday,

provide a glimpse of a very different time and a very different agency.

The word "bullshit" leaps to mind. They want us to believe these records are the worst of it, the "family jewels." (How come the words "bull shit" keep popping into my head?). How 'bout the records on what happened with JFK? Doubt we'll see those records; however, we will see the ones that say RFK led an assassination attempt on Fidel Castro. Will we see the records of how the CIA spied on the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the development of Operation Northwoods? How about the CIA's infiltration of every administration's White House staff? So, who were the plants during the years 1950 - 1970? Doubt we'll see that in this selective release of records.

Oh, we should be happy we live in such an open democratic society. If anyone doubts that this selective release of information isn't itself a CIA domestic misdirection operation, then you must watch a lot of Faux News. ("load of crap" pops into my mind this time for a change of pace).

What do they take us for, idiots? Just because we haven't figured out how to take control of our Country doesn't mean we don't recognize it's being controlled by the wealthy class. We're working on it, and frankly could use a little more help from the CIA.... come on Langley, give a little more help to We The Underdog People. (Bomb CIA Headquarters McLean Virginia Potomac Parkway Sarin GB gas Kidnap assassinate NRO Headquarters, Lee Rd, Chantilly... just throwing in those key words so they'll read the previous sentence and maybe take heart in our cause).

The CIA is surely worse today than back in the 1950s - 1970s. Now the CIA probably doesn't keep records of their plausibly deniable dirty deeds. Has anyone heard about secret renditions? Also, the CIA also has far greater the technical capacity to gather, store and analyze vast amounts information on all of us (business confidential information, financial records, health records, e-mail transactions, video, audio, etc.). Recently, they've gained more "legal" leeway too on warrant less searches and the use of enhanced interrogations, which I strongly urge them to use on President Bush (the CIA not me... that's directed at the Secret Service.... maybe I can get them to read my blog. Very few others do.) Ah damn, I just gave away a big hint on how the CIA infiltrates the White House. No, you won't see the little family jewel about the White House Secret Service CIA moles from the 1950s - 1970s in this selective release of CIA records.


Karen DeYoung and Walter Pincus, CIA to Air Decades of Its Dirty Laundry Washington Post, Friday, June 22, 2007

June 21, 2007

Google Searches of "Will Capitalism Fail"

It's interesting to see that people are regularly searching for the words "Will Capitalism Fail." I wrote a piece on Why Capitalism Will Fail. Combined with my blog statistics tracker, it serves as a little survey tool on the mood of the World regarding the state of capitalism. Once or twice a week someone links to it.

June 20, 2007

Google Searches of B of A Credit Card Scam

I'm struck by the number of people who search for the phrase "Bank of America Credit Card Scam" on Google. How do I know their searching? They hit my blog post and I track my traffic. Here's a typical search string:

www.google.be/search?hl=nl&q=BofA scam on finance charges&meta=

What's more surprizing, although a fair number of my blog posts come up in the top-ten for Google searches, try lebanon damage 2006, this B of A blog post doesn't come up very high. To me, that implies that even more people must be searching for "Bank of America credit card scam" than those that reach my site (most people don't look too far past the first page or two of their google search results before trying another search string.

It would seem that B of A has a credit card scam problem.

June 19, 2007

Sherrod Brown to Switch Vote on Military Commissions Act

From the DownWithTyranny! blog:

As you might know, Senator Sherrod Brown voted for the Military Commissions Act. He has now admitted it was a mistake and will switch his vote.

From Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks. Cenk interviewed Brown today (June 18, 2007) and Brown admitted he had made a serious mistake:

Cenk Uygur: Thanks for joining us Senator. We
appreciate it. I gotta start off with the question
we've had now for over six months, I gotta ask you,
why did you vote for the Military Commissions Act?

Senator Brown: It was a bad vote. I shouldn't have.

Cenk Uygur: Oh, wow. Okay.

Senator Brown: A vote I'll correct ... when it comes.

Cenk Uygur: So, you regret that?

Senator Brown: I take responsibility. It was the heat
of the campaign and I made a mistake.

Cenk Uygur: So, if it comes again you're going to
change the vote?

Senator Brown: You bet.

Sharrod, Sherud, Sherrud, Sharrad, Sherrad

June 18, 2007

Molly and Joe: Bush is an Idiot

Wow. Cool Blue Crescent Fractal Art.

... We return to our regularly scheduled program:

Joe: Sheeez, Bush, the cancer, is a frigg'n idiot.

Molly: No he's not. Bush, the cancer, has gotten his friends rich, and is about to corner Iraq's oil for them too. He's even gotten the damn Dismalcrats to spew his talking points: "Iraqi's have to meet baselines...".

Joe: Like signing a petroleum law...

Molly: ... that gives two-thirds of the Iraqi people's oil to foreign corporations. And, "We can't cut off funds to the troops."

Joe: OK, so, he's a corrupt idiot.

Molly: ... and the Dismalcrats are letting him get away with it. "Steaming pile of vulture droppings," maybe, but not an "idiot."

Joe: It's too hot out for vulture shit to steam.

Molly: You're missing my point.

Joe: No. I get it. Bush, the cancer, is an idiot.

Connie Schultz: HIs Lovely Wife

Thanks to Robert McChesney, and Media Matters June 17th episode, I'm now familiar with Senator Sherrod Brown's Lovely Wife, the articulate, pulitzer prize winning journalist Connie Schultz. I strongly encourage people listen to that show, particularly those who miss Molly Ivins.

Connie Schultz is a columnist with the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Her column is now carried by Creators Syndicate, which still lists Molly Ivins as a writer. She won the 2005 Pulitzer prize for commentary written in 2004. The Pulitzer citation stated the award was for

her pungent columns that provided a voice for the underdog and underprivileged.

Of course, she's just the lovely wife of newly elected, truly progressive and not-afraid-to-speak-his-mind US Senator Sherrod Brown. In 2004, I was pulling for outspoken Iraq war veteran Paul Hackett, before the Democratic machine hammered him, and put in this guy named "Sherrod Brown" as the US Senate candidate. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Brown/Schultz are the real deal. Brown voted against the Iraq war, Brown truly deferred to his wife Connie before entering their race. His belief in himself and honesty to the progressive values persuaded Connie that the sacrifices would be worth it, even if he was a long shot.

And they are in love. I know that sounds a little silly, but listening to her interview with Bob McChesney revealed the power of true love. In other words, a little advice to right-wing hit men; don't piss these two people off... they're in love and that's a force you don't want to mess with. Seriously.

As revealed in her interview with McChesney, Schultz is a clear thinker. This is critical to ensure informative, concise writing. She also has a firm moral compass and stands by her principles. When you listen to her, you can't help but think, "her parents must have been solid people."

She demonstrates this with an anecdotal story. Connie was at an event in which someone introduced her as Sherrod Brown's wife, saying she's one of those women who won't change her name. Her father had just recently died at age 69. She got up to speak and explained her pride in being a Schultz. She was raised by extremely hard working parents from Appalachia who never went to college, who gave up a lot so their children could be somebody. You can be certain there's a man out there who had a rapid conversion in his views on women keeping their maiden name after marriage.

That's where I'll end it. You can have some hope in the future, because Sharrod and Connie are out there slogging away for truth, justice and the American way. Of course,they can't do it without us.

Aside: This blog entry got a slow start... it once looked like this:

I confess that this is a draft blog entry, because while I was writing it I bacame side-tracked on finding a widget for making a slide show that would make Sherrod Brown look like he was clapping. Unfortunately, the clapping slide show doesn't seem to work, and I've yet to do justice to Brown's lovely wife.... but I'm work'n on it.

... if you want him to clap faster, click the [-] minus sign... still trying to figure out how to default to 1 sec....

Picasa SlideshowPicasa Web AlbumsFullscreen

June 17, 2007

The Means are Important

It's too easy to get caught up in outcomes and forget that the means are important, even vital. It's OK to relish the process, even if painful or ugly. We're always in a multi-generational struggle. Take the long view. Remember MLK: "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."

Photo Credit: LINK

Presidential Candidates That Get My Support

So far my 2008 presidential campaign donations have gone to Kucinich, Obama and Edwards. I want to support their voices in the primaries.

I'm pulling for Edwards, with the hope he'll challenge corporate power at the Constitutional level. I have, however, been critical of Edwards for pandering to the Israeli lobby. However, Edwards' true colors are revealed by his vocal warning of Israeli's potential use of nukes on Iran.

Back to Campaign '08. My assessment...

Kucinich unfortunately has no chance,
Obama is inexperienced and would likely be assassinated if elected,
Richardson is worth watching, because he has said all troops out and no US military bases in Iraq (Now there's a campaign promise I predict would be broken).
Hilary is a corporate toady (parasite)... oh, you already knew that. Sorry.

All of that said, I'm registered with the Green Party as another "vote" that sends a message to the Democrats... "You've got competition."

Desire to Hold Detainees Motivates Torture

The US military in Iraq has rules. For example, there were apparently rules against having non-trained interrogators conduct interrogations. So, according to pfc. Evan Knappenberger...
We didn’t call them interrogations. The terminology had to be changed, as is the case with many things we do in the military that we’re not really allowed to do. If you change the name, you can – you are allowed to do it but, because it’s not – it’s the same action, a different name. We call them tactical questionings.

Another set of military rules determines how to handle detainees. In a response to a question from DemocracyNow's Amy Goodman about who's in the room during a "tactical questioning" session, Knappenberger describes his experience:

Well, I can’t really go into specifics, but typically there would be one or two soldiers. At times it would be nobody more than two junior enlisted soldiers, and an Iraqi interpreter, and the suspect.

When asked about the kinds of questions asked he replied by describing the 24-hour rule:

the rule was we could hold these guys for 24 hours without doing any paperwork on them. And at the end of that 24 hours, if we had enough on them,... we’d keep them in. Otherwise we had to release them.

Basically, it's a rule that keeps one-day detentions secret by having no paper work. But, Knappenbergers' next statement that is even more troubling:

The problem then became getting something out of them to keep them.

Hmmm.... Imagine young, junior enlisted soldiers, who likely feel angry about their situation, trying to "get something" on a detainee to "justify" holding them longer. It's a formula for abusive treatment, that is, torture.

Take Action:

If you feel a responsibility to bring this flawed situation to someone's attention, you might consider contacting the US Department of Defense.

June 16, 2007

Silencing the Deeper Attorney Firing Plot

The establishment media would have you think the US attorney firings are a "scandal" highlighted by whether or not Justice Department officials misled Congress or broke laws, whether they replaced attorneys who would more closely implement Bush policies, or at worst, whether the White House was involved. This is the superficial story.

The real story, reported by this blog, is that a much deeper plot is beginning to unravel. That plot has two complimentary elements: 1) To suppress Democratic voters, and 2) A long-range plan to elevate political operatives, "loyal Bushies," to federal judge positions by first appointing them to be US Attorneys, thereby giving them credentials in the future (as if the US Supreme Court isn't already tainted by political operatives).

One small aspect of the story is that, after firing the "eight US Attorneys," the Justice Department tried to silence them. This part of the story IS coming out in the establishment press.

According to the Associated Press, "Mike Elston, chief of staff to Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty [who recently resigned], is the fifth Justice official to leave after being linked to the dismissals of the prosecutors."

Among other things, Elston is becoming known as the hatchet man who tried to silence the fired US prosecutors. As AP puts it, "Elston was accused of threatening at least four of the eight fired U.S. attorneys to keep quiet about their ousters."

According to statements from the fired US attorneys, released by the House Judiciary Committee, Elston was involved in a silencing operation.

Paul Charlton, the former U.S. attorney in Nevada, was given the impression that Attorney General Gonzalez threatened to make public statements about Charlton's poor performance. According to Charlton:

I believe that Elston was offering me a quid pro quo agreement: my silence in exchange for the attorney general's.

AP reports that, "John McKay, former top prosecutor in Seattle, said he perceived a threat from Elston during his call."

And Carol Lam, U.S. attorney in San Diego, said that:

during one phone call, Michael Elston erroneously accused me of 'leaking' my dismissal to the press, and criticized me for talking to other dismissed U.S. attorneys.

Lam's office indicted Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, a senior CIA official and contractor Brent Wilkes who were involved in the Congressman "Duke" Cunningham Scandal. According to AP, "The New York Times has reported that Lam was actively investigating Republican Congressman Jerry Lewis at the time of her dismissal."

A fourth former U.S. attorney, Bud Cummins in Little Rock, Ark., had made a similar accusation in an e-mail released in March, 2007.

Murray Wass reports, "In the e-mail, which he sent to five of his fellow prosecutors, Cummins said that the "essence of [Elston's] message" was that if any of the fired U.S. attorneys had pressed their case in the media or before Congress, senior aides to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales might "feel forced to somehow pull their gloves off" and accuse the prosecutors of ineptitude or poor management."

According to Murray Waas, confidential Congressional testimony reveals that "Elston said that his boss, Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, directed him to place calls to fired U.S. attorneys Paul Charlton of Arizona, Bud Cummins of Arkansas, and John McKay of Seattle, all of whom said they felt pressured to keep quiet."

June 15, 2007

It's OK to Debate the Israel Lobby

Times change. The Israel Lobby can now be analyzed and debated. Although I don't know the motives of the VPRO International "Back Light" organization, it's video is a legitimate contribution to the debate.

Here's the description that accompanies the video:
For many years now the American foreign policy has been characterized by the strong tie between the United States and Israel. Does the United States in fact keep Israel on its feet? And how long will it continue to do so?

In March 2006 the American political scientists John Mearsheimer (University of Chicago) and Steve Walt (Harvard) published the controversial article 'The Israel Lobby and US foreign policy'. In it they state that it is not, or no longer, expedient for the US to support and protect present-day Israel.

The documentary sheds light on both parties involved in the discussion: those who wish to maintain the strong tie between the US and Israel, and those who were critical of it and not infrequently became 'victims' of the lobby. The question arises to what extend the pro-Israel lobby ultimately determines the military and political importance of Israel itself. Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson (Colin Powell's former chief-of-staff) explains how the lobby's influence affects the decision-making structure in the White House.

With political scientist John Mearsheimer, neocon Richard Perle, lobby organization AIPAC, televangelist John Hagee, historian Tony Judt, Human Rights Watch director Kenneth Roth, colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, Democrat Earl Hilliard, Israeli peace negotiator Daniel Levy and investigative journalist Michael Massing.

Research: William de Bruijn
Director: Marije Meerman

June 14, 2007

US Backs Palestinian Executive, Not Parliment

The symbolism is emblematic of the Bush Administation's revolutionary expansion of executive power in the US: Bush backs the Fatah Palestinian executive branch, President Abbas, in his struggle with Hamas, which was elected to lead the Parliment, the branch closest to the people.

Bush can say the word "democracy," but he means the "freedom" of economic power to have its way, which invariably means a minority of the "haves" exploiting opportunities at the expense the majority "have-nots". It flies in the face of the underlying democratic principle of "one person, one vote."

June 13, 2007

The US Attorney Firings Expose a Deeper Plot

The US Attorney firings have exposed two major plots: 1) To supress Democratic voters, and 2) A long-range plan to elevate political operatives, "loyal Bushies," to federal judge positions by first appointing them to be US Attorneys, thereby giving them credentials in the future.

There's far more to this plot, but here's an outline:

The Plot

1. Timothy Griffin helped steal the 2000 election as the legal advisor to the Bush-Cheney Florida recount. Removing Floridians from the voter rolls was a key element in the 2000 election subplot.

2. Timothy Griffin, helped steal the 2004 election, working under the direction of Karl Rove [a] for the Republican National Committee (RNC). Griffin runs a caging list operation [b] to suppress the Democratic vote by removing people from voter rolls and creating false evidence to 1) use in challenging voters and, 2) create an impression of wide-spread voter fraud. Caging is illegal and the RNC has been caught doing it in the past.[c]

3. Republicans inserted a provision into the reauthorized USA PATRIOT Act allowing US Attorneys to be appointed without Senate confirmation. Does this action originate with Karl Rove?

4. Karl Rove and Alberto Gonzalez's Justice Department lead a campaign to create artificial concerns about individuals committing voter fraud. [d]

5. With hyped-up concerns of voter fraud swirling, Rove's operation influences State legislators to pass "Voter ID" laws designed as another prong in the plot to suppress Democratic votes. [e]

6. The Justice Department and White House (Karl Rove) develop a list of US attorneys to be fired, which consists of attorneys who would not go along with the plot to suppress Democratic votes

7. Timothy Griffin was appointed US Attorney in Arkansas, replacing Bud Cummins. The hope being that one day Griffin would become a federal judge to do the bidding of the dark side. He could be counted on to do thier bidding because the dark side has dirt on him (his role in this plot).

The Plot Unraveling:

- Fired US Attorneys are instructed not to speak about the subject publically, but they do speak.

- Fired US Attorney David Iglesias testifies to Congress that New Mexico Senator Pete Domenici illegally called to pressure him to file criminal charges against a Democrat before the 2006 election. Iglesias, the military attorney upon which the Tom Cruise charicter in "A Few Good Men" is based, reports he felt "sick" after Domenici hung up on him.

- Greg Palast interviews former US Attorney Iglesias and reports on DemocracyNow. In addition to not filing charges on behalf of the RNC before the November 2006 elections, Iglesias reports,

They were telling Rove that I wasn’t doing their bidding. I wasn't filing these voter fraud cases.

- The Seattle times reports on Washington Attorney John McKay,

Some believe McKay's dismissal was retribution for his failure to convene a federal grand jury to investigate allegations of voter fraud.

- Rep. John Conyers, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, initiates investigation of Timothy Griffin.

- Timothy Griffin resigns as US Attorney.

- Former Karl Rove aide, Sara Taylor, is subpoenaed to testify to Congress. White House counsel, and failed Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers, is also subpoenaed.

- The US establishment media remains silent, but that can't last too much longer on a story this big, or can it?

- The unraveling continues....


[a] This is known because e-mails with caging lists attached were obtained by BBC when the e-mails were accidently sent to GeorgeWBush."ORG" rather than ."COM" These e-mails include the many sent by Karl Rove from RNC computers that he claimed had been lost.

[b] Cagging works this way to suppress approximately 3 million Democratic votes: Huge numbers of people are identified as likely Democratic voters (using ethnic names and other demographic indicators) who are also likely to be away from their address when the letter arrives (people who use a homeless shelter address as their primary residence, students on vacation and US military personnel in Iraq). Certified mail is sent to them with instructions, "Do Not Forward, Return to Sender" if the person isn't at the address. The returned mail was used by the RNC to develop a "caging list," used to either petition for removal of people from the voter lists or challenge the votes during the election. Duped or corrupt secretaries of state, like Ken Blackwell who oversaw elections in Ohio, go along with the plot. The BBC, and now the US Congress, have these caging lists.

[c] Caging people by ethnicity is a felony under the Voting Rights Act. In addition, the RNC was caught caging in the 1980s and, to avoid criminal prosecution, the RNC
signed a consent order not to engage in any form of caging with the courts. The RNC has surely created means of plausible deniability in this case, but is significantly exposed at this time.

[d] At the direction of Washington, US Attorneys across the Country hold press conferences to generate hysteria about individuals committing voter fraud, despite very little evidence that significant fraud is occuring. Some US Attorneys conduct prosecutions on thin evidence, others refuse to initiate cases despite pressure from the Justice Department.

[e] Although State legislators might have been duped by the intent of Rove plotters, many of the state voter ID laws suppress Democratic votes. For example, the RNC plotters know that, statistically, inner city poor people tend not to have ID and tend to vote democratic. Thus, by requiring two forms of ID, many inner city people who don't have drivers licenses and may not maintain good records, e.g., birth certificates, are prevented from voting.


Thanks to the investigative work of Greg Palast for BBC

Ring of Fire, June 9th, 2007

Democracy Now, May 14, 2007, Investigative Journalist Greg Palast Reports on the Firing of New Mexico Attorney David Iglesias

David Bowermaster, "Was McKay ousted over 2004 election?", Seattle Times, February 16, 2007.

June 12, 2007

Iraqi Deaths: Three Independent Sources

This Entry is a Work-in-Progress

Despite what the establishment media is willing to report, three credible, independent sources estimate hundreds of thousands.

First, everyone should be familiar with what's called the Johns Hopkins Study on excess deaths between March 2003 and July 2006, published in The Lancet British medical journal. The study estimates a range of about 400,000 to 900,000, with a average of about 655,000.

Second, former US military intelligence analyst, pfc. Evan Knappenberger, cites an independent number:

At the time we had concluded that there were close to 3/4 of a million civilian deaths over the course of the Iraq war. Now I would guess it is probably upwards of a million.

Knappenberger bases his statement on his own involvement in intelligence analysis:

I personally read through about 30,000 separate reports of civilian casualties in Iraq and put together a picture over a very long period of time, of the situation around Baghdad as far as what they call SECMAK now, which is sectarian murders and killings. After a month of reading through these reports, we started to get a picture of what was going on. Unfortunately, it was pretty much ignored by the chain of command.

In response to Knappenberger's estimate, Amy Goodman of DemocracyNow made the following statement, leading me to search for a third independent source:

Well that actually coincides with the two studies done most recent, a million, and before that The Lancet, the British medical journal published that study from Johns Hopkins University, saying around 655,000.

Editorial Note: I'm trying to track down Amy Goodman's reference to another study that estimates 1,000,000 excess Iraqi deaths since the US assault.


Johns Hopkins Study Press Release
, October 11, 2006.

DemocracyNow, June 12, 2007.

June 11, 2007

As many as 86% of Guantanamo Detainees Handed to US for Bounties

Professor Mark Denbeaux at Seton Hall Law School has conducted a profile of 517 Guantanamo detainees using data from the US Department of Defense. Among other things, he found that only 5% were captured by the US.

86% were turned over by Pakistan and the Northern Alliance at a time when the US had bounties for the capture of suspected Taliban, al-Qaeda and people's personal enemies that they pawned off on the US as the former.* The detainees were handed over to the US when strong political pressure was on Pakistan and the Norther Alliance to curry favor with the US.

The classification of the detainees breaks down as follows:

8% were "fighters for" a variety of poorly defined organizations.
30% were considered "members of" such groups, and
60% were merely considered "associated with" some organization.
2% had no classification.

55% were deemed not to have committed any hostile act against the US or coalition allies. In other words, the majority of these so-called "enemy combatants" weren't actually "combatants."

Some of the cases are pathetic. In one example, they cite someone who was conscripted to fight for the Taliban (as in forced to join or be executed). So, some guy who doesn't want to be shot, goes to work as a cook's assistant for Taliban forces in Narim, Afghanistan under the command of Haji Mullah Baki. The detainee fled from Narim to Kabul during the Northern Alliance attack and surrendered to the Northern Alliance. "Whew!" Finally freed from the clutches of the crazy Taliban... oops! Now it's off to be tortured and held without charge by the US, because the US has to show it's serious about the "war on terror."

Other "evidence" includes possession of a gun (common in Afghanistan), staying in a guest house *shrug*, captured by bounty hunters*, associated with unidentified groups or individuals.

* Bounty Announcements: "Get wealth and power beyond your dreams. Help the Anti-Taliban Forces rid Afghanistan of murderers and terrorists." or

"You can receive millions of dollars for helping the Anti-Taliban Force catch Al-Qaida and Taliban murderers. This is enough money to take care of your family, your village, your tribe for the rest of your life. Pay for livestock and doctors and school books and housing for all your people." or

Turn in your personal enemy in the chaos of war and make a buck at the same time!

Wow. Isn't the United States of America a shining example of truth and justice?


Seaton Hall Law School report [PDF].

June 10, 2007

A Crack of Honesty from Rick Lynch

Frustration might be leading to more honest statements by Third Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, whose forces control the area of a bridge bombing in Mahmoudiya.

There are tribal sheiks out there who say 'Hey, just allow me to be the local security force. I don't care what you call me. ... You can call me whatever you want [e.g., "insurgent"]. Just give me the right training and equipment and I'll secure my area.' And that's the direction we're moving out there.

In a meeting with reporters, Lynch said contacts with the Sunnis, who make up the bulk of the insurgency, were a matter of pragmatism.

They say: 'We hate you because you are an occupier, but we hate al-Qaida worse and we hate the Persians (Iranians) even worse' ... you can't ignore that whole population.

Lynch's division, he said, had lost 43 soldiers since the beginning of the U.S. troop surge on Feb. 14.


Associated Press, Iraq bridge collapse traps U.S. soldiers, CHARLES J. HANLEY, June 10, 2007.

June 9, 2007

Lou Dobbs: White Supremacist Links

Perhaps Lou Dobbs is a dupe, or just sloppy, but his drum beat against undocumented workers exposes a number of white supremacist links.

Madeleine Cosman, Darling of White Nationalist Anti-immigrant Leaders

One of Lou Dobbs' correspondents reported that there had been about 900 case of leprosy for 40 years, but 7,000 cases of leprosy in the US over the previous three years. The story implied that the increase in this disease was caused by undocumented immigrants. Eventually, Lou Dobbs was confronted by Lesley Stahl of 60-Minutes. His response to Stahl was, "If we reported it, it's true."

Eventually, Dobbs had to issue a correction. Lou Dobbs' producer, Christine Romans, eventually said the Lou Dobbs Tonight program got the figures from Madeleine Cosman, published in The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, a discredited radical right-wing pseudo journal that includes things like friendly book reviews of How To Talk To A Liberal (If You Must) by Ann Coulter, and Minutemen – The Battle To Secure America’s Border by Jim Gilchrist and Jerome Corsi.

Madeleline Cosman appears to have been a darling of white supremacists opposed to immigration. The following two clips give an idea of the source used by Lou Dobbs:

Madeline Cosman: Lou Dobbs' Unreliable Source on Leprosy Statistics

Madeline Cosman: Lou Dobbs' Source Unreliable Source on Leprosy Statistics

Mexican Plans to Recapture the Southwest

When Lou Dobbs reported that the Mexicans had a plan to recapture the Southwest, he used a graphic from the web site of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), the largest white supremacist group in the US (The CCC is considered the successor of the White Citizens Councils, both headed by St. Louis-based Gordon Lee Baum. Basically, Dobbs served as a mouth piece for the CCC in telling this nutty story. Just another "regrettable" mistake or a patter?

Lou Dobbs Tonight: Platform for Joe McCutchen

Joe McCutchen is a member of the CCC and headlined their meeting in 2006. McCutchen, head of Protect Arkansas Now, appeals to skin heads and neo-nazis, as well as the hardcore, boarder patrol anti-immigrant movement. Just Google the guy, and you'll find gems like this (search for McCutchin) and you'll have to wonder why Dobbs would give him a platform.

There are More

I could go on, but the work has already been done for my by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC, 2005). SPLC tracks hate-groups among other things.

Wanna Take Action?

Contact CNN
and provide feedback on the Lou Dobbs Tonight show.

June 8, 2007

Say "No" to Dick Armey Blogging at Time.com

I'm having trouble with my gag reflex today.

Gag #1, I was visiting Time.com bloggers to remind Ana Marie Cox, Washington Editor of Time.com, to continue honoring Molly Ivins by maintaining a high level of integrity in her work. A footnote from Libby trial Judge Reggie Walton, included in Ana Marie Cox's recent blog, made me gag. It referred to attorneys like Alan Dershowitz and Robert Bork as "distinguished" "luminaries." They were arguing that "the Libby verdict could possibly be overturned on appeal because of the "close question" about the constitutionality of the special prosecutor." These men are political operators who exploit and abouse the justice system. Hopefully Walton is just playing nice, and mumbling the same words as I am under his breath.


On June 14 Judge Reggie Walton held a hearing on whether or not Scooter Libby should remain free on bond pending the outcome of his appeal. The Next Hurrah excerpted Walton's response to the brief [2]:

Walton: With all due respect, these are intelligent people, but I would not accept this brief from a first year law student. I believe this was put out to put pressure on this court in the public sphere to rule as you wish. [Reggie pissed]

Robbins: These 12 schoars believe this is a close question.

Walton: If I had gotten something more of substance from them, maybe.

Gag #2, I noticed a photo of Dick Armey looking back at me from the upper right of Time.com's list of bloggers. I was forced to write the the following letter to Time, and urge you to write Time as well mailto:letters@time.com.

Dear Time:

I hope you're not actually paying Dick Armey to blog for Time.com.

Why would you want to give a cloak of legitimacy to one of the Masters of Mean?

In addition to the "Barney Fag" incident, here's another example of the integrity of the man that Time Magazine is now employing (from the piece linked above):

For years, Armey told the story of Charlie, a janitor at North Texas State when Armey taught there. According to Armey, Charlie was a retarded man who loved his job; then in 1977, the federal government raised the minimum wage, and Charlie was fired because the university couldn't afford to keep him on anymore. A month later, Armey saw Charlie in a grocery store with his wife and infant child, buying provisions with food stamps. "My heart's been broken about it ever since," Armey often lamented.

Unfortunately, no one else who worked at the university at the time had any memory of Charlie. What's more, the chancellor explained, janitors at North Texas are state employees, so the federal minimum wage would not have applied to any "Charlie." [1]

Contact Time:



1. Mother Jones The Masters of Mean, Commentary by Molly Ivins, March/June 2002.

2. Department of Justice, Office of the Special Counsel Documents.

June 7, 2007

United States: International Dictatorship

Are we so totally desensitized that the notion of "Secret US Prisons" elicits no ground swell of condemnation?

Joanne Mariner of Human Rights Watch asks, "where are these 39 people now, and what's happened to them since they 'disappeared'?"

"Disappeared." I thought that's what dictatorships did... make people disappear. Actually, knowing the recent history of Central America, I know that the US has a history of making people dissapear; Chile's Pinochet was supported by the US. And, actually, it's corporate power, which runs the US, that is behind the dictatorial behavior of the US government.

We're told we don't live under a dictatorship. That might be technically true domestically, but the United States of America is behaving like a dictator internationally.

Some have theorized that the US dictatorial behavior cannot be stopped from within the United States. They argue that it will have to be stopped from the outside. If so, it would be critical to have a massive internal movement linked with the external one to avoid a major war.


Associated Press, "Report: 39 Secretly Imprisoned by U.S." RAPHAEL G. SATTER, June 7, 2007.

June 6, 2007

KIlled in Iskandariya

Have you seen Reuter's daily "Factbox" on Iraq? I've started using it to update my Statistics on Green Zone Attacks. I'm scanning it today and see "Iskandariya."
Four policemen were wounded when a roadside bomb exploded near a police station in Iskandariya, 40 km (25 miles) south of Baghdad, police said.

Iskandariya is a predominantly Shia town. When Bush proposed his Troop escalation, I thought it unlikely to succeed because it was too focused on Baghdad, among more obvious reasons. Iskandariya, the town few have heard of provides one example of the fact that the war isn't confined to, nor will be won in Baghdad... of course, it won't really be "won." Here's a little dated chronology of incidents in Iskandariya:

On June 19, 2003, a soldier from the 804th Medical Brigade was killed when the military ambulance in which he was traveling was hit by a rocket propelled grenade near Iskandariya. Another attack, on November 9, killed a soldier from the 18th Military Police Brigade. Three more US soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb on January 28, 2004 and another bombing on February 4 killed yet another soldier. [2]

Note, these are US soldier incidents, that is, the tip of the iceberg in one town of many siginficant towns and cities:
Of 18 Iraqi governorates, the US escalation focused on two, Al Anbar and Baghdad. Here's alist of the 18 provinces:

Now the establishment media finally reports that a Bush military war advisor (czar), Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, was skeptical of the surge policy.[3] This was reported in non-corporate, alternative media on May 16 by DemocracyNow:

President Bush has tapped Pentagon General Douglas Lute to be the administration's first war czar. If confirmed by the Senate, Lute will be responsible for overseeing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Lute was selected after several retired generals refused to take the job. The selection of Lute has surprised some because he has repeatedly questioned the size of the U.S. force in Iraq and has criticized the so-called surge. [4]


1. Reuters Factbox for Iraq, May 5, 2007.
2. Art History Club Iskandariya link.
3. Associated Press, June 6, 2007, ANNE FLAHERTY, "Bush war adviser was skeptical on Iraq."
4. DemocracyNow, May 16,2007, News Headlines.

Iskandariyah, Iskanderiyah, Iskanderiya, Iskanderiyeh or Sikandariyeh

June 5, 2007

GOP Ruse on Iraq by Default?

So we hear that GOP leaders and Bush loyalists are concluding that the Baker / Hamilton Iraq Study Group recommendations are the best way to go. That is, take the establishment route. Duh.

Sorry, but "duh" is what comes to mind. The fact that it is supposedly bipartiasn doesn't mean it isn't imperialist, colonial.

Bush is out at the radical edge of the spectrum, making the establishment position seem middle-of-the-roas; the "bipartisan" plan actually constitutes a diplomatic imperial incursion designed to control Iraq. It's just a smarter way of doing it, that is below the radar of the American public. In other words, its a ruse that looks appealing in contrast to the wacko dominionist position of Bush.


Associated Press, June 5, 2007, GOP: Bush should adopt bipartisan plan.

June 4, 2007

Why Capitalism Will Fail

Capitalism will fail for the same reason America rejected Britain; Capitalism consolidates wealth and power, and people want freedom from consolidated power and they want justice through meaningful democracy.

As Martin Luther King, Jr. is quoted,
the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.


Capitalism is not democratic, and in its pure free-market, profit-seeking form, it is technically amoral (if a moral CEO passes up a legal, but immoral profit, a slightly less moral CEO will remove that inefficiency from the market).

But you don't need economic theory to prove capitalism is undemocratic. Our own work place experiences are rife with examples. Decisions are generally made by the higher-ups, and frustration among middle managment and the the workers reflects this undemocratic structure. Everyone has their own stories to tell about this.

On a global scale, transnational corporations fly into a developing world town, cut a deal with a the elite, who typically control the government, extract the natural resources, and pocket the wealth while the mass population gains no benefit at best, or is injured or killed at worst. Same undemocratic phenomenon at a large scale.

After the American Revolution, the Federalist Paper #10 was very open about the fact that a small number of wealthy people held great power. Even if pluralistic democracy was desired, the wealthy elite wasn't going to give up their power immediately. The U.S. Constitution was written with this in mind, to protect the power of the "minority," but to also allow a slow evolution and transition in power to the populace. So the theory goes.

However, corporations came into prominence after the US Civil War. They consolidated power, influenced the centers of government, and have corrupted the evolutionary process described above. But, that's only temporary; King's quote still rules, assuming humans don't go extinct first.

There are more classic reasons given for the eventual demise of capitalism, such as two reason predicted by Marx and Engles [1]:

The first reason is that capitalism basically leads to overproduction. The aim of capitalism is to make everything cheaper and faster. This will eventually lead to overproduction, once the means of production how become efficient enough. The markets will fail, the prices fall.

We see this playing out with the great China production phenomenon. We see capital seeking labor markets, raw materials and sales markets around the world, and creating blowback in the process. This reason leads into the second reason:

The management class will not be able to maintain living standards for the working class. The working class won't stand for it, and the system will change.

Efficient production itself leads to layoffs. US corporations moving jobs to China mean these layoffs are permanent. True, we could produce other "things" in addition to the things that are produced so much more efficiently, like environment-saving services and technologies, but these remain outside of the market, and there is good reason to keep environmental protection outside the market: consolidated wealth can afford to pollute or destroy the environment; only a collective, democratic decision can make environmental protection sacred.

Another argues that DEBT is why capitalism will fail. Others argue that lack of morals is why capitalism will fail, but it could be argued that the lack of morals will simply let capitalism reach its natural conclusion, that is, the reasons given by Marx.

With its eventual demise in mind, one has to wonder about the alternatives to capitalism.... a topic for another time.


1. Sourced on Marx.

why will capitalism fail?

June 3, 2007

Senate Public Funding Bill S.936

The Senate has a "public financing bill" S.936, introduced March 20, 2007 by Richard Durbin (D-Ill) and Arlen Specter (R-PA).

Here's how it works in a nut-shell:

Step 1: Collect Seed Money
+ this is the "operating cost" money
+ Limited to $100 per doner

Step 2: Collect Qualifying Contributions
+ This is like a petition to show the candidate has support
+ Must be $5 each (not sure if the operating donations count toward this)
+ Need 2,000 contributions plus another 500 contributions from each congressional district.

Step 3: Follow Spending Limits
+ After candidates commit to and qualify for public funding, they cannot use private donations or their own money.

Step 4: Comply with Simple Rules

Step 5: Receive Enough Public Funding to Campaign
+ Senate candidates receive $750k plus $150k for each congressional district for the general election.
+ "Fair Fight" funds are provided if a privately funded candidate is highly funded.
+ Smaller amounts are provided for the primary election.

Remember: It's Voluntary
+ Because money has been defined as "free speech" by the US Supreme Court, public financing cannot be mandatory, unless we change the US Constitution.


Public Citizen News, May/June 2007.

June 2, 2007

Dubai Ports Deal not "worst" Example of a Security Issue being Used for Political Gain

Guest Contributor: L. Vincent Sebastian

The following short article appeared a few days ago. I started reading it and then said to myself, "you've gotta be kidding". Everything Tom Ridge is quoted saying about the failed Dubai Ports deal applies even more so to, you guessed it, the IRAQ WAR and the run up to it. In spite of a setback last November, the right wing, corporate propaganda machine hasn't stopped, and the bullhorn of doublespeak hasn't been silenced....

May 31, 2007 (Reuters)

"Former U.S. security boss blasts furore over Dubai Ports"

A former top U.S. security official attacked American politicians over their handling of the disputed Dubai Ports World deal last year, saying it was "the worst example" of a security issue being used for political gain.

Dubai Ports, owned by the United Arab Emirates, became the centre of a bitter debate in Congress after buying assets at six U.S. ports within its $6.8 billion purchase of Britain's Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Co.

The Bush administration approved the purchase of facilities, but lawmakers had security concerns about an Arab state-owned company running U.S. port terminals, and Dubai Ports responded by saying it would sell those U.S. assets.

The uproar "sent the wrong signal to the rest of the world," former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge told a group of Hong Kong businessmen and reporters at an event organized by the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong on Thursday.

"It was a classic triumph of politics over reason, politics over facts," he said. "It was not about security. It was about politics. Like a bunch of lemmings, everyone went off that cliff."

Ridge was the first secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, which was created by Congress in 2002 in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.

He is now a business consultant and adviser to Republican Senator John McCain's presidential campaign.

June 1, 2007

Rice: No Plans for War in Iran

The Associated Press reports that
The U.S. is not preparing for war against Iran and Vice President Dick Cheney supports that policy, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says, taking a swipe at a U.N. official who says he's worried about "crazies" who want to start bombing.
Actually, the US is already at war with Iran, as described below.

The AP reporting makes it sound more like Rice is taking a swipe at Cheney. The fact that Rice needs to single out Cheney exposes the Vice President as a major source of the administratin's lack of credibility. In Rice's words:
The president of the United States has made very clear what our policy is. That policy is supported by all the members of his Cabinet and by the vice president of the United States.

Of course, this isn't the first time the President has said, according to Rice, "The president has made clear that we are on a diplomatic course," regarding Iran. He said the same thing about Iraq, yet had already decided to initiate a war of aggression on Iraq. This is documented in the Downing Street memo of July 23, 2002. It also shows the US gave little thought to post-invasion Iraq:

C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.

Yet Bush regularly gave the American public the false impression that he was following a "diplomatic course" well aftr July 23, 2002, as documented in the Mother Jones Timeline. For example:

December 1, 2001: According to Bob Woodward, Rumsfeld orders [General] Franks to begin work on an Iraq war plan. Bush will meet with military leaders regarding the plan on a regular basis starting late December, despite public assurances that the administration is seeking a diplomatic solution to its showdown with Saddam.

We know there's a plan to attack Iran, because it has been exposed by Seymour Hersh through the establishment media, and of course stated more clearly in the alternative non-establishment media. According to Hersh [1]:

This is not wild speculation. It's simply a fact that the planning has gone beyond the contingency stage, and it’s gone into what they call the operational stage, sort of an increment higher. And it's very serious planning, of course. And it's all being directed at the wish of the President of the United States.

The Washington Post also reported that the "U.S. has drawn up plans for launching tactical nuclear strikes against Iran." [2] According to Hersh, US military leaders have since forced the Bush administration to take this option off the table. It has not, however, necessarily been taken off of Israel's table of military options.

But the "planning" debate is a distraction. According to Retired Colonel Sam Gardiner, US military operations have already been initiated against Iran:

The issue is not whether the military option would be used, but [rather] who approved the start of operations already?.... It's a very serious question about the constitutional framework under which we are now conducting military operations in Iran. [2]

In other words, the US is already conducting military actions against Iran. This is substantiated, in part, by the proxy "terrorist" military actions led by the CIA against Iran. ABC News reports [3]:

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has hired a Pakistani terrorist group that has carried out a series of deadly terrorist attacks inside Iran, ABC News has reported on Wednesday (April 3, 2007).

It is also consistent with advanced military "spikes" in advance of the "official" war of agression against Iraq. The Downing Street memo of July 23, 2002, demonstrates this fact, and the fact that the timing of the Iraq war was planned with electoral politics in mind:

The [British] Defence Secretary said that the US had already begun "spikes of activity" to put pressure on the [Iraqi] regime. No decisions had been taken, but he thought the most likely timing in US minds for military action to begin was January, with the timeline beginning 30 days before the US Congressional elections.
So, the establishment media story is that US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, is assuring the World that the delusional Dick Cheney is on board with a "diplomatic" approach to Iran. However, this little smoke screen can't hide the fact that the US is already conducting military actions against Iran.

Contact The Media (LINK):

Tell the media you want more coverage of what's really happening in Iran. Ask them to interview Sam Gardiner and Seymour Hersh.


1. DemocracyNow, April 12, 2006 Seymour Hersh: Bush Administration Planning Possible Major Air Attack on Iranmo.

2. DemocracyNow, April 17, 2006, Retired Colonel Sam Gardiner on Iran War Plans: "The Issue is Not Whether the Military Option Would Be Used But Who Approved the Start of Operations Already."

3. Downing Street Memo, To: DAVID MANNING, From: Matthew Rycroft, Subject: IRAQ: PRIME MINISTER'S MEETING, 23 JULY, Date: July 23, 2002, as originally reported in the The Sunday Times, May 1, 2005.