Saturday, June 30, 2007

Team B, RPI, and Fascism

This article is guest blogged/written by John Fudjack. John has an excellent website up which allows you to research the Neo-Cons - The Rest of the PNAC Iceberg

Team B, RPI, and Fascism by John Fudjack

In the tradition of "Team B", intelligence work in recent years has been transferred from CIA employees to private contractors:

"[last month] ... a procurement executive from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence gave a PowerPoint presentation at a conference in Colorado and let slip a staggering statistic — private contracts now account for 70 percent of the intelligence budget". Source

Who are these contractors? In 2004 'Democracy Now!' reported that -
"the CIA has begun quietly funding federal research into surveillance of internet chat rooms as part of the so-called war on terror. Some of the research is being done at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y.". Source

Putting 2 and 2 together, it is reasonable to surmise that among the private contractors who are receiving this massive infusion of funding coming from the intelligence budget will be technological schools like RPI. As the NY Times piece quoted above points out:

"As it happened, the dot-com bubble had burst shortly before 9/11, cutting loose a generation of technology entrepreneurs who, when the government came calling, were only too happy to start developing new data-mining algorithms and biometric identification programs. New startups began sprouting in the suburbs around Washington. The number of “contractor facilities” cleared by the National Security Agency grew from 41 in 2002 to 1,265 in 2006. It was a gold rush, a national security bubble."

The phenomenon that the Times piece is describing is not only a large-scale 'outsourcing' of intelligence work, it is a profound SYSTEMIC change of tremendous significance - nothing short of a complete privatization of intelligence that renders private corporations the lead players in what used to be government functions:

"...Two-thirds of the Department of Homeland Security’s senior officials and experts have departed for private industry. Michael Hayden, the C.I.A. director, worries that his agency has become 'a farm team for these
contractors.'” Source

This is a dream-come-true, I imagine, for George H.W. Bush, who in 1976 was the director of the CIA, and the architect of 'Team B'. And for the neocons who have returned to power in the administration of his son, George W. This, of course, includes Paul Wolfowitz, who was a member of Team B in 1976, and Dick Cheney, who has demonstrated a strong commitment to the privatization of the U.S. military.

When the word fascism came into use in Italy early in the twentieth century it was originally understood to mean, by definition, a system in which the government was, in essence, run by the private corporate sector. Mussolini said, “Fascism should more properly be called corporatism, since it is the merger of state and corporate power.” Source

Friday, June 29, 2007

Article of Interest

A few interesting articles from the past few days:

Poll: GOP support for Iraq war beginning to waver

"Thirty percent of Americans polled say they favor the war, the lowest level of support on record. Two-thirds are opposed."

"Anti-war sentiment among Republican poll respondents has suddenly increased with 38 percent of Republicans now saying they oppose the war."

"Moreover, 63 percent of Americans are ready to withdraw at least some troops from Iraq. Forty-two percent of Republicans agree."

There is a certain frustration that comes along with this dwindling support for the Iraq occupation. The good side is that Bush political supporters eventually seem to get the message that there is no specific plan, no end in sight, and no good reason to continue with this atrocity. The bad news has to do with the degree of severity that these same people have to witness before they change their tune. We have called Iraq a total disaster for so long that these descriptions have now lost any shock value or meaning.

Report: Wasteful Government Spending at All Time High

The report blames the rise in bad spending on a sharp increae in noncompetitive contracting and a general increase in the use of private companies to perform government functions.

The figure has more than tripled since 2000..

What was the drone of the Republican Party, "tax and spend liberal." One can only vomit at the hypocrisy. The Republican Party at present hasn't a leg to stand on, other than its own imaginary and mythical one. It is now the party of torture, waste, and ineptitude.

The speech I want the Democratic nominee to give

Written by Theodore Sorenson, the speech writer for President John F. Kennedy. Sorenson is now retired and writing his memoirs.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Jewels

The CIA has released a salient document called the "Family Jewels."

The document describes CIA involvement in some very dirty business up to and around 1973.

You can find the link to the documents HERE

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Fat Chance


Picture: "When roadies were real men"

This is flat out gross, or should I say fat out gross. (not the picture, the article)

Tyson, Syntroleum set to announce new plant

"Tyson Foods Inc. and Syntroleum Corp. are set to announce plans for a $150 million plant that would turn fat from Tyson plants into fuel, The Wall Street Journal Online reported on Monday."

My heart goes out to the people living downwind of that plant. The words hideous and stench come to mind.

Happy to report that recently I've gone vegetarian with a once a week exception for the occasional can of sardines or a flillet of salmon.

Anyone looking for improved health through diet might consider the low glycemic diet.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Mozart - Lacrimosa

We lost an excellent friend this last week. We all will face death, that's for sure. Till then, we try to create a more peaceful world.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Efficient?

Browsing around the Department of Energy website, you can't miss the positive and hopeful tone. Terms like "energy efficiency" and "energy smart" abound. You can learn about alternative fuel vehicles, hybrids, fuel cells, etc etc. The designers of this website left nothing to chance. This would be a positive feel good experience for bright American citizens.

I set out on a modest search to find out how car miles per gallon and gas prices are doing under the Bush administration. I went to American cars only. Let's keep this thing red, white, and blue. I compared a few models from the year 2000 to the same models from the year 2007.

2000 Chevy Impala
17 MPG (city)
27 MPG (highway)

2007 Chevy Impala
21 MPG (city)
31 MPG (highway)
.....

2000 Ford F150 2WD 8 cylinders
11 MPG (city)
15 MPG (highway)

2007 Ford F150 2WD 8 cylinders
13 MPG (city)
18 MPG (highway)
.....

2000 Dodge Caravan 2WD 6 cylinders
16 MPG (city)
23 MPG (highway)

2007 Dodge Caravan 2WD 6 cylinders
17 MPG (city)
24 MPG (highway)
.....

2000 Jeep Cherokee 2WD 6 cylinders
15 MPG (city)
20 MPG (highway)

2007 Jeep Cherokee 2WD 6 cylinders
16 MPG (city)
20 MPG (highway)

The winner of the above is the Chevy Impala with an increase of 4 miles per gallon in both city and highway driving over a period of 7 years. Let's also give a huge round of applause for the Cherokee for increasing fuel efficiency one entire mile per gallon in city driving only over a 7 year period. This is like thanking a thug for only breaking one arm.

That's called Yankee know how - not about creating fuel efficiency but about keeping the oil industry happy as a pig.

How have gas prices changed from 1999 to 2007?

price of gas in January of 2000 about $1.33 per gal for regular
price of gas in June 2007 about $3.10 per gal for regular

Recapping, from 2000 to 2007 the Impala, F150, Caravan, and Cherokee have improved in fuel efficiency from 1 mile to as many as 4 miles per gal, and in some cases fuel efficiency(?) has remained the same. None have gotten worse, three cheers for that, and I'm sure President Bush views that particualr fact as a positive sign. From the beginning of 2000 to 2007 the price of gas has more than doubled. Correct me if I'm wrong here, but something smells fishy in an era of dwindling resources and raised recycling consciousness.

Incidentally the Department of Energy is slated to receive $24.3 billion for 2008.

Somebody out there is fighting tooth and nail on our behalf. Like a scrappy lightweight they are knocking efficiency sense into Detroit at a stunning rate of one mile per decade.

What will the price of gas be in 2014? Three times what it is now? That would be $9.50 maybe $10 per gal for regular. That F150 should be up there in the 15 to 20MPG range by then.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Unborn Gitmo Baby Wins Right to Habeus Corpus! Bush Blasts Court Decision!

Examine the "Executive Orders Issued by President George W. Bush." This is found on the White House website.

Under that heading you will come to Executive Order: 2007 Amendments to the Manual for Courts-Martial, United States.

Here are just a few excerpts from some of the amendments made to the Manual for Courts-Martial authorized by George Bush -"By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America" - 0n April 18, 2007

Sec. 2. Part IV of the Manual for Courts-Martial, United States, is amended as follows:

"(f) Article 119a attempting to kill an unborn child"

"44a. Article 119a -- Death or injury of an unborn child...'

"...conduct had that injury or death occurred to the unborn child's mother."

"(ii) the accused intended to cause the death of, or bodily injury to, the unborn child."

"3) If the person engaging in the conduct thereby intentionally kills or attempts to kill the unborn child..."

The term "unborn child" is written 38 times. This is of course the terminology of the anti-choice movement. Although the document makes it clear that there is legal abortion, you will see that reference 2 times.

Those favoring female sexual rights continue to monitor the way that the common language of this administration exclusively draws from the religious right and makes it all a matter of fact.

The Bush administration adjusts science to meet the needs of fundamentalists and calls the human fetus and embryo, an unborn child.

Another intention is to ascribe the same legal rights held by American citizens to the human fetus. Ultimately the movement is to make abortion illegal. The Bush administration continues to find areas that bring the legal language into that realm.

This occurs even with a Democratic majority in Congress.

Here are a few previous Bush administration policies and plans that act to establish the fetus as a person with all due legal benefits.

From 2001: Bush Plan Allows States to Give 'Unborn Child' Medical Coverage

"The Bush administration has drafted a new policy that would allow states to define ''an unborn child'' as a person eligible for medical coverage under the Children's Health Insurance Program."

From 2002: Government Gives Fetuses 'Unborn Child' Status

" Abortion opponents got a morale boost from the Bush administration Thursday when Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson announced that fetuses would henceforth be redesignated as "unborn children."

From 2004: President Bush signed the "Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2004" into law...

"UVVA is the first federal law to recognize a fertilized egg as a crime "victim"..." source


As absurd as the title to this article is, if you follow the logic of the Bush adminstrations' own policies, this is in the realm of possibility.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Louis Armstrong - What a Wonderful World

Friday, June 22, 2007

Hillary Flips, Flops, and Canoodles


Hillary Clinton at the "Take Back America" conference had this to say about Iraq:

"The American military has succeeded, it is the Iraqi government which has failed to make the tough decisions that are important for their own people," Clinton said."

This is the exact same lame and utterly contemptuous talking point used by Bush apologist and cheerleader Mitch McConnell who last Sunday on 'Face the Nation' said:

"The Iraqi government has been a pretty big disappointment, we've given them an enormous opportunity here over the last 4 years to have a normal country and so far they haven't been able to take advantage of this opportunity and our commitment will not be there forever."

What, is there some kind of dark back room truce signed by this slippery group of fork tongued corporate shills to tuck the Iraq debacle all nice and neatly folded away into bye bye night night land. Hillary what are you thinking?

This happens when US military: 14 troops killed in 2 days Anybody remember these young men and women now dying at an alarming rate. Guess what? Its been an alarming rate all along.

The question is simple, what exactly is the difference between the leading candidate of the Democratic Party for President in '08 and the fundamentalist Bush crew?

Apparently there is no difference on the divisive issue of the decade.

I can't vote for Hillary Clinton. Ralph Nader recently called her a "coward." She is trying to smooth her way into the hearts and minds of the conservative crowd. Good for her, that's great politics, but what exactly does she stand for? I can tell everybody in the world exactly what they want to hear, but at some point that crap don't fly.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Driving Commandments

I must say, I really approve of this. The Vatican has released the ten commandments for driving:

Vatican's 'driving commandments'

"Thou shalt not drive and drink", "thou shalt not make rude gestures behind the steering wheel" and "help accident victims" are among the 10 recommendations for motorists."


Very recently I was driving towards my house. Suddenly the SUV in front of me stops. I am following about 15 feet or so behind so I immediately stop, nor can I swerve and go around them because its a busy one lane in each direction road.

The SUV driver throws it into reverse and smashes right into me. I got a dented bumper and a sore neck out of the deal.

The driver had the decency to pull over. He had balloons in the back of his SUV blocking his view so he didn't see me.

The irony was that the balloons had "get well soon" written on them.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The 'Momento' Administration's New Lead Actor

Bush administration point man du jour and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) answered questions on 'Face the Nation' this last Sunday, June 17th -Father's Day.

The PR job that he strung together with the sole intention to reframe Bush as without fault - without even a hint of blame - for the debacle called the Iraq occupation/civil war, and to get the utterly disastrous 2000 to 2006 Republican do nothing Congress and Senate off the hook for Iraq, was infuriating. There is no other explanation for these talking points, notions crafted to sound authoritative and plausible but based in pure dishonesty. This is the type of political stunt that shows contempt for the American people. Its about preserving party identity by ameliorating failure.

Let's take a look at some of his fairy tales.

"The Iraqi government has been a pretty big disappointment, we've given them an enormous opportunity here over the last 4 years to have a normal country and so far they haven't been able to take advantage of this opportunity and our commitment will not be there forever."

Here is what we do know; poor idea to even get into a war in Iraq, absolutely no post war planning to pacify the shocked and awed country in 2003, no neo-con forethought to deal with a civil war foretold by anyone who bothered to investigate that possibility, clueless about an insurgency, and on and on and on. The rehashing itself is tedious but clearly necessary to refute such blatant propaganda. As often as this type of revisionism occurs, we need to bring forth reality more.

The list of screw ups, bad planning, torture!, deception, wasted money, all that stuff - no - the Iraqi government blew it. The Iraqi government is really the problem with Iraq. How obvious, it was there all along. How could we possibly have missed that one. Thank you Senator for clearing up 5 years of failed Bush policy, if you can call it a policy.

Another McConnell quote from Sunday:

"..forward deploy so we can still go after Al Qaeda which is all over Iraq and still a serious threat to us here at home. By being forward deployed, of course we have a better chance of protecting us here at home which is the whole point of being on offense since 9-11."

If at first the B.S. doesn't succeed, try try again. The old we are fighting them there so we don't fight them here baloney is an ageless slogan beauty. It gets dressed up over and over. Throw on some new shoes, and that rotten carcass plays the part of Cinderella and he gets to mention 9-11 to boot.

Where do you start? Senator, it was the invasion of Iraq that brought Al Qaeda to that country. Bush might as well of sent out handwritten invitations to Osama for this legacy defining catastrophe. Al Qaeda is pinned down in Iraq?

"...Al Qaeda is reported to have a global reach, and the countries where it maintains a presence include Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Turkey, Jordan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Syria, Xinjiang in China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Myanmar, Indonesia, Mindanao in the Philippines, Lebanon, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Yemen, Libya, Tunisia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechnya, Dagestan, Jammu and Kashmri, Sudan, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Azerbaijan, Eritrea, Uganda, Ethiopia, as also in parts of the West Bank and Gaza. The dispersed nature of Al Qaeda cadres around the globe has provided Osama bin Laden command over a global terror network with capabilities to carry out lethal terrorist attacks."

That list doesn't even mention Europe, site of some of the worst attacks. But this Senator seems to have the short term memory issue of the main character in 'Momento.'

Now along comes this: Suicide Bomb Teams Sent to US, Europe

"Teams assigned to carry out attacks in the US, Canada, Great Britain and Germany were introduced at an Al Quaeda traing camp graduation ceremony help June 9."

An implication of McConnell's quote is that we have George Bush to thank for pinning Al Qaeda down in Iraq - dream on.

Final McConnell quote:

"...The President himself has spoken favorably of the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group..."

From back in December of 06. the titles of the articles alone say it all:
Bush Dismisses Key Recommendations of Iraq Study Group Report

Conservatives attack Iraq Study Group report as "surrender," "not a serious document"

Bush Aides Seek Alternatives to Iraq Study Group’s Proposals, Calling Them Impractical

With the surge heading in reverse off a cliff, the old Iraq Study Group plan has been dusted off and is being paraded around by the same people that virtually laughed at it.

I am not going to defend the Iraq Study Group plan, that's another story. This Senator is grasping at straws, this is putting a pretty ribbon on a pile of garbage. Expect to hear these three fictional talking points for an extended period of time. They will surface in Republican Presidential candidates as well. Painting a smiley face on a bomb crater is the tactic.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Breach


We watched the film 'Breach' last night. Good film, if you like - thriller - suspense - FBI good guy/bad guy stuff, this is for you.

The film is based on a real story about Robert Hanson, the worst counter spy that the US ever had to deal with. He was a square up, Catholic, conservative sort who also happened to like to give the most profound secrets of the US government to the Russians.

It took years for the FBI to catch this mole. The film involves the last 2 months of his work at the FBI in Washington DC. This period ended with his arrest.

Its a curious study in personality type, and makes one wonder what it is that causes someone to want that level of danger in their lives.

I stumbled across this story on Judge Donald Thompson. Its another case where the person involved in criminal activity is right in the center of the structure that is supposed to provide the leading edge of integrity, just like Hanson at the FBI.

Oklahoma judge accused of using sexual device in court

"District Judge Donald Thompson violated the code of judicial conduct "by his repeated use of a device known as a penis pump during non-jury and jury trials in his courtroom and in the presence of court employees while serving in his capacity as a district judge," Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson wrote in a petition filed Wednesday with the Court of the Judiciary."

"The sound of Thompson using the pump was heard by a number of witnesses, who said that the noise sounded "like air being pumped or released" from a blood pressure cuff."

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Heart Sutra



"Thus have I heard. Once the Blessed One was dwelling in Rajagrha at Vulture Peak mountain, together with a gathering of the sangha of monks and a great gathering of the sangha of bodhisattvas. At that time the Blessed One entered the samadhi that expresses the dharma called "profound illumination," and at the same time noble Avalokitesvara, the bodhisattve mahasattva, while practicing the profound prajnaparamita, saw in this way: he saw the five skandas to be empty of nature."

"Then through the power of the Buddha, venerable Sariputra said to noble Avalokitesvara, the bodhisattva mahasattva, "How should a son or daughter of noble family train, who wishes to practice the profound prajnaparamita?"

"Addressed in this way, noble Avalokitesvara, the bodhisattva mahasattva, said to venerable Sariputra, "O Sariputra, a son or daughter of noble family who wishes to practice the profound prajnaparamita should see in this way: seeing the five skandas to be empty of nature....."

Note - This is a translation of the first 3rd of the Heart Sutra only. The monk is able to produce three tones at once. Try to do it yourself. The Heart Sutra is an important prayer in the Buddhist tradition.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Evolution in Iraq

As the occupation/civil war in Iraq continues to spiral in all directions, the tactics used by security providing mercenary groups evolves.

In my web searches I stumbled across this North Carolina based company: Granite Tactical Vehicles

They build several versions of a vehicle they call the "Rock."

From the company's website:

-4x4 SV- Medium Mine Protected Vehicle built with a Monocoque V-hull.

-Built to provide superior protection for high risk agencies. Seats 4-6 Team Members and with its modular design

-it can be configured to support your needs.

According to this article found on MSNBC: Iraq contractors face mounting losses - As security work and attacks increase, so do casualties

"...Its new armored "Rock" vehicles are built on Ford F-550 chassis and are favored...because of a V-shaped hull that provides better protection against roadside bombs...at least one incident every mission..."

The "Rock" comes into production because of the changes made by the Iraqi insurgency in their attacks on occupation forces - private or US military.

The security business in Iraq is a dynamic business field. A quick read of the article shows that as the occupation/civil war continues, security firms are adapting to the types of weapons that are readily aimed at them.

The employees of these firms are attacked on a daily basis. Initially no one suspected that the insurgents would go after them as well. Call it one of the oddities of war.

If you are interested in working for one of these firms in Iraq you can try: Jobline - Jobs in Iraq

"All the jobs are outstandingly well paid with salaries ranging from $60,000 to $175,000 a year...in addition there are costs of living allowances and free transport from the USA, there and back. Former Armed Forces service personnel is especially welcome."


Perhaps this little perk will help you go the extra mile:

"Remember, if you stay 330 out of 365 days than your Foreign Earned Income is free of Taxes in the USA"

Not much on the site about the dangers involved.

There doesn't seem to be a lack of people out there interested in doing the security work in Iraq.

If you are interested in reading through the resumes of those interested in working in Iraq try: Seeking Security and Law Enforcement Job in Iraq

-12 years in the Corps.
-I have been in the Danish army for 12 years.
-I have over 14 years of law enforcement experience.
-ex uk forces served in iraq kosovo bosnia and northern irealand looking for security work


With so many mercenaries in Iraq, does the situation occurs where the mercenaries might give "friendly fire" to US troops? The short answer is yes.

Marines Jail Contractors in Iraq

"...the (private security) convoy was jailed without charges on the evening of May 28...Earlier that day, Marines had reported "receiving small arms fire from gunman in several late-model trucks and sport utility vehicles"

The article goes on to describe the treatment the security company prisoners received while in Marine custody. The word "OUCH" comes to mind.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Kronos Quartet - Foxy Lady

Friday, June 15, 2007

Tragedy in the Numbers

Republicans abandoning Bush - NBC/WSJ poll: President’s, Congress’ ratings drop to lowest levels ever

"... Bush’s approval rating is at just 29 percent. It’s a drop of six points since April, and it represents his lowest mark ever on this question in the NBC/Journal poll...Back in April, 75 percent of Republicans approved of Bush’s job performance, compared with 21 percent who disapproved. Now, only 62 percent of Republican approve, versus 32 percent who disapprove."

This poll is indicating that even the primary pillar of Republicans and Conservatives, loyalty, erodes when the leader is decidedly flawed.

I applaud Republicans for recognizing that this president is not good for the country, and that is a mild way of stating the facts.

It is difficult to point to one piece of legislation from this president, that benefits the people of the US. If I had to point to one major issue which this president affects, it would be the over all mood of the country.

People are pessimistic and frightened by this president. The mood of the country is bad. Bush has put a thick layer of rust on the wheels of advancement and progress. There is a sense of casualty, disrepair, abandonment of the people by its leader. The sense of ease is gone. We need much better.

The Republican elite who decided to force this president on the US are the real culprits. Their contempt for democracy, equality, stability, and a fairer distribution of wealth is fundamental to their cause. Bush carries that torch and in so doing has made that elite bunch richer beyond anyones' imagination. The rest of us, the remaining 99.9% have been forced into an atmosphere of fear and diminished expectations.

Its time to get mad, and take back our country. This our country. We are Americans, we are the patriots.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Outer Space


Fascinating article on Mars.

The wet planet: There was life on Mars (probably)

Scientists now say that an ocean several miles deep once covered a third of the surface of the planet, enough water to support the origin and evolution of life. The red planet, they said, had once been a deep blue, just like Earth. By Steve Connor

I've had this personal fairy tale about how the strife in the Middle East ends. A meteor large enough to destroy Israel, the Gaza, and the West Bank, is on its way. Instead of fighting each other, people have to look up and contemplate their mortal fragility now directed from outer space. Suddenly the endless conflict loses importance and only a shared understanding takes over.

Recall the positive side of 9-11 directly after, when people temporarily forgot about the next Joey Buttafuoco pot boiler and focussed on the need for humanity in its essential aspect. It didn't last long, but I was sorry to see it disappear.

These diversionary tales on TV which embrace the stars, power elite, and fast fame jailbirds are bogus. I trashed my TV about a year ago. Suddenly I have more time, I'm more productive, and I don't miss a thing about it.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Libby

This article is making its way around the web.

Prosecutor wants Libby imprisoned now

Basically Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald wants Libby to report to jail for 30 months ASAP.

Libby will not serve a second in jail. He is far too connected to the right wing pro war hard liners to have any risk of imprisonment for something so "minor" as aiding in the outing of a deep cover CIA agent for a political purpose. Something that in ordinary terms is called treason.

Think back to Iran Contra Gate. The chief criminals of that debacle are now creating policy for Bush.

Anyone who thinks there is an equal justice system in place that will take the well connected to the same place that the street punk goes, is dreaming.

Libby will be pardoned by Bush. I am also sure that the decision to do this has been in place for a long time.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Mixed Up

The news as always is mixed. The movement towards and away from civilization continues.

It is good to see that the courts are starting to reject the alternative legal system established by Bush and company to bring the so called enemy combatants to trial.

Judges and the country in general appear to be waking up to the fact that the present legal system in place for a few hundred years is adequate.

The military commissions act of 2006 which removed the right of habeus corpus from those at Gitmo may soon be a thing of the past. It will be noteworthy to see which Republican senators will reject reinstating a right that western civilization has used for 600 hundred years.

On Monday the courts also ruled that no American citizen can be relegated to the new Bush legal system and have their right of habeus corpus removed. Many suspect all Bush policy will eventually find equal repudiation.

On the other hand, the drive to war with Iran appears to be getting louder. If you thought Iraq 2 was bad, Iran 1 will be the mother of all American messes. It is easy to sense the need for Bush to establish his legacy. That legacy is a series of wars which will bog the US down for years, providing huge reserves of taxpayer money for war profiteers supplemented by a huge debt load because taxpayer resources alone are not sufficient. The other main desire is to completely remove the semblance of democracy that still exists.

As I have said all along, the main reason to bring impeachment charges to Bush and company is to tie his hands till his present reign runs out.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Albania, The Uighurs, Terrorism, and Torture

George Bush goes to Albania and is hailed as a great leader. The red flag goes up right there.

Bush's visit to Albania will thank a country loyal to his policies

"Albania has cooperated with the United States in foiling terrorist attacks on U.S. targets and has sent troops to Afghanistan and Iraq, but in accepting the five Uighurs (men held in Gitmo found to be innocent) - Muslims from northwestern China - and an Uzbek, Egyptian and Algerian it's performed a service that no other ally would do."

Why is Albania of all places, a noted supporter of Bush policy? Why did Bush go there? Are there really Albanian troops in Afghanistan and Iraq? And who are the Uighurs and what are they doing in Albania?

George Bush is greeted by Albanian Prime Minister Dr. Sali Berisha. A brief portrait of Berisha reveals:

He was re-elected to that position in 2005 having previously served as Prime Minister from 1992 to 1997.

Berisha came to the Albanian forefront in the early 90s bringing a Democratic Party into power after an Eastern European communist regime that lasted decades. The one time communist card carrying and pointedly authoritarian Berisha was aided in this period by The United States. Berisha pushed Albania into a privatized economy during the 1990s but that policy horribly failed and consequently dragged the population into more financial chaos. Berisha resigned from office in 1997 following the crisis. During that period, Albania's chief export was its own unemployed people. Albanians worked abroad and sent money home. Emigrant unemployed Albanians remain a problem in parts of Europe especially in Greece and Italy. Immigration problems seem to follow this president everywhere.

From a 1998 BBC piece: Anatomy of a leader: Dr Sali Berisha

"...his rapid liberalisation of the economy brought hardship for many Albanians and riches for the only the select few."

Berisha did manage to get one of the centerpieces of neo-liberalism into Albania during his 90s stint, that would be a Coca Cola plant.

The full text of Berisha's greeting is posted on the White House website.

The Uighurs are Muslim natives of western China. That part of China borders on Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Uighurs call the area East Turkestan but that is an unofficial name. The Uighurs are bad news to the Chinese. The Uighurs want religious freedom and independence consequently they are labeled as terrorists by the Chinese. Human rights activists view the Chinese broad use of the "war on terrorism" as an excuse to crush the Uighurs. Source One is reminded of the Chinese disembowelment of Tibet.

Twenty Uighers were held at Guantanamo Bay. In May of 2006, five were released, found to be no threat and of no danger to anybody, even the military had known they were innocent for a long period of their imprisonment. So rather than see these men create another embarrassing international situation for the Bush administration by having an eventual court trial that would expose an unlawful detention and by sending them back to China where they would face further imprisonment by the Chinese as terrorists there, they were shuffled off to Albania! This is completely valid according to the Bush rules of "the war on terrorism" - one day you're in China, another in Pakistan, now you're bundled off to spend 5 years in Cuba at Gitmo as an enemy combatant, then your are fortunately resettled in Albania! Sound good to you? Source

"The US state department called Albania's offer to resettle the men, "an important humanitarian gesture"."

Take it from those who know what humanitarianism means.

So exactly how big is the Albanian effort in Afghanistan and Iraq? There are 120 Albanian troops in Mosul and 30 Albanian troops in Afghanistan. Clearly they are frontrunners in the President's coalition. This may sound sarcastic but its also true. Such loyalty must be rewarded. Source

There are roughly 150,000 troops in Iraq with another 100,000 from the mercenaries. 120 divided by 250,000 gives us a figure of .048%. The Albanians represent slightly less than one twentieth of one percent of the troops in Iraq (1/20th of 1%).

Rumsfeld visited Albania back in September of 2006 and got the full royal treatment - music to his ears and the Iraq occupation effort. Source

“Let me declare here, Mr. Secretary, that the Albanian armed forces will stay on the side of the American armed forces in Iraq until the mission will be over...We want to be real partners of the American armed forces.”


The praise and support for America by the Albanians goes a long way back. Albania is one of the poorest European countries and stands to economically gain from American support. You give a little, you get a little. The presidential support for Kosovo is part of it. American military support for the Kosovo Liberation Army also is part of it. Source There is a large Albanian population in Kosovo, they share a border. In this trip to Albania Bush exclaimed, "Sooner rather than later you've got to say `Enough's enough _ Kosovo is independent...'"

As far as foiling terrorism, the results are mixed - Albanian terror arrests criticized This particular story deals with a suspect on the American blacklist who may not have done anything at all, except that in arresting him Albanians gained American favor.

One last tip on Albania -

"Amnesty International remains concerned that torture and ill-treatment of detainees are common in Albania...The trafficking of women and children for forced prostitution and cheap labour continued, although arrests and prosecutions for trafficking markedly increased..."

All this occurs as world opinion falls flat on Bush as the emissary of democracy. Bush Is Losing Credibility On Democracy, Activists Say. Fortunately the USA can count on Albania.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Ten

We saw "Ten Questions for the Dalai Lama" today.

I recommend it, its a documentary with visually appealing footage of India and Tibet. Also there are many scenes of Dharmasala, home of the Dalai Lama in India - the Tibetan government in exile

You will get a sense of the occupation of Tibet by the Chinese, in some ways I think its the best and clearest story about that takeover.

The Chinese are destroying the Tibetan culture piece by piece. The Tibetans are second class citizens in their own country with Chinese replacing Tibetan as the primary language.

The Dalai Lama as always is completely charming and wise. His answers are direct and inspirational. His main message is always non-violence. It remains the same.

One thing that the film once again brought to my attention was the theme of a free and open society with freedom of expression and speech. This is a fundamental basis for happiness in a society.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Clip from 'Noqoyqatsi' with music by Philip Glass

Friday, June 08, 2007

"What"

Thursday, June 07, 2007

What? - Part Three

Inspiration

One of the things I notice is that people have a great deal of internal pressure built up surrounding the brutal attacks on the fabric of America that Bush and company have perpetrated.

Get some people talking and soon the fury and tangible anger are present. From the events surrounding 9-11, to Iraq, to the unitary executive, to faith based initiatives, attacks on basic rights like habeus corpus, and on and on, the rejection of the Bush administration is off the chart. No president has lowered themselves so deeply to the mandate for impeachment.

The work needed to reverse and squelch the type of damage already done will take time and tremendous effort. So it is something that happens over the long haul. It is a matter of deciding that you need to do more than simply exist within the material comfort that the USA presently offers, if you are a 'have got.'

We all need to become involved in the ongoing process that we call democracy plus we need to maintain our well being. It needs to be part of your daily things to do list.

Voting

This is a huge issue. No need to go into the details of how the voting process is corrupted and abused for partisan interests. Voting reform is urgently needed. We need verifiable ballots, paper trails, larger voter turnouts, and no more Republican insiders willing to use the Rovian bag of nasty tricks for our own good - utterly contemptuous and so deserving of years in prison.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

What? - Part Two

Personal

Confronting the Bush administration is confronting the authoritarian personality.

At it best, the authoritarian wants simple top-down hierarchical structure. Sometimes you might need a clear cut leader. Loyalty is a prerequsite for the authoritarian.

The authoritarian doesn't need logic, facts, or rationality because they speak from a position of unequaled self righteousness. They can't be challenged. Think Coulter. She is possessed with an irreproachable divinity. Possessed as in, 'need of an exorcism.'

At its ugliest, the authoritarian becomes the sadist. Its important to make a very clear distinction between adults engaging in consensual activities, sexual or not, and an authoritarian sadist. The authoritarian sadist could care less about your consent.

Recall the smiling face of the 'soldier' in Abu Ghraib standing next to the torture victims like a hunter proudly standing next to a dead elk trophy. These people were chosen for that because they want to do that. They are the authoritarian with major pathological tendencies.

How do you deal with the sadist? Its an age old question. One on one, you have to decide for yourself and know what you are doing. You can ignore, talk around, meet head on and try to overpower, try to outsmart, get your comeuppance later on after the fact like a well placed lawsuit.

Someone like Chomsky overwhelms them with pure intelligence and a massive internal library of knowledge. Someone like Jon Stewart slays them with biting satire.

Personally I believe the way the deal with Bush is impeachment. Recall that in some circles Bush is the closest thing to God. He is well insulated from the disdain that the majority hold for him. He also seeks the unlimited power of the unitary executive. Impeachment is his greatest fear.

There are personal things that you can do that lighten your dependence on the authoritarian corporate structure that controls American politics. This would run from being completely off the grid, to choosing where you purchase your gas (Exxon helps fund the American Enterprise Institute) to being active in your local community, to making a pain out of yourself to your local congressperson and senator, to finding creative ways to express your political needs. Some people can do this with song for example. Everybody tries to find their thing from protesting to writing legislation etc etc.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

What? - Part One

This comment was made on my article 'Stupid, Secretive, Surly, and Sadistic' at Smirking Chimp.

"...you've stated the obvious, now, what can be done about it. How are "We The People" to do anything that would diminish the power that this president has already taken. How do we "rise above the MSM"? I read, like you and the above commentators, and sit here and wonder to myself "what?" Where's the path that will lead us back to a place called Democracy?"

I decided to take the bait.

Level

There is the idea of the range of your influence. People can influence the debate at various levels, and all levels are important, necessary, and effective.

There is the neighborhood and regional level, the state level, the national level, and the world level.

I know the name of the governor of my state, most of the people in NY know that, but I really can't remember the name of the governor of Maine. I know about the Dalai Lama but I'm sure he doesn't know about me.

So knowing the range of your influence is good. Although we don't like limitations, sometimes knowing at least your present limitation can help you channel your efforts in the best way, using your energy efficiently and wisely. And it may help to jumpstart you into becoming active in some way. Your activity might be small, but it is effective. Don't forget that tiny acts sometimes have worldwide resonance.

As a beginning writer, I work at the neighborhood and regional level. I am in the progressive debate with a small group. That's fine with me and I love doing that. Writing is also the component that I have the most interest in and a desire to become more adept at.

to be continued.....

Monday, June 04, 2007

One Year Anniversary

Sande is celebrating its one year anniversary. The name 'Sande' was chosen to celebrate and honor my brother William who passed away in 2004. He was called 'Sande' by his friends. He was very politically active and extremely well studied in politics, while simultaneously being an outstanding and remarkable visual artist.

One year ago I decided to write or post one item per day and then simply see what would happen.

I had two primary interests; to see if my writing skills would improve if I committed myself to writing each day, and to see if my understanding of the political subject matter would also improve.

What has developed is a keener interest in writing and a keener interest in the subject matter. I can say that working at a practice like writing on a daily basis does improve facility and I hope that if you have such an interest, that you set up the time and make the commitment. After all, its important to mine your interests and see if they hold promise.

I have worked on music and art for over 40 years and I have some familiarity with what a commitment can and can't yield.

Six weeks ago, I sent an article over to Smirking Chimp to see if they would have any interest. The response was positive and so now I post an article about every 4 to 5 days or so at that site and consequently to a large group of readers.

The posts seem to get picked up from there and copied onto other blogs.

My writing tactic is changing. I concentrate on one or two larger article each week and post less detailed articles on the other days. I utilize information from the smaller articles in the larger.

Writing is cool. Feeling like you are helping the political debate along even on this minor level is cool. Challenging the dominant notions which are often times incompletely understood and are usually far more complex is cool.

They say the second year is harder. We shall see.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Stupid, Secretive, Surly, and Sadistic

Part One - Stupid and Secretive

"Civilization is peace, war is barbarism." Frederic Passy winner of the first Nobel Peace Prize in 1901. More on nonviolence

When Karl Rove stated that after 9-11, liberals wanted to get bin Laden into therapy whereas conservatives wanted to kill bin Laden, he was half correct. After 'shock and awe', liberals wanted therapy, not for bin Laden, but for Bush, Cheney, Rove, the neo-conservatives, and the neo-neanderthal chest thumping right. We still do. The Nation, Rove on the Couch

There is an repugnant phenomenon taking place in public discourse. A public figure can make a mud slinging statement and then he or she can simply sit back, relax, and watch the mud take on a life of its own. This is aided by a magnificently flawed main stream media, ever on the lookout for insults, points of contention, friction, hysteria, and all things salacious and consequently newsworthy.

No one bothers to go to the source and challenge the original mud itself. If you've got the microphone then you must be a demigod, and who can argue with that.

For example, look at one clear statement from GW Bush.

From CNN on 2-25-04 Bush calls for ban on same-sex marriages

"But Bush said the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act and laws banning same-sex marriage in 38 states "EXPRESS AN OVERWHELMING CONSENSUS IN OUR COUNTRY FOR PROTECTING THE INSTITUTION OF MARRIAGE."

The polls do slightly back Bush on this issue, at this point in time. Polls on gay marriage

What is noteworthy about the statement is that it loudly exclaims the fundamental point that Bush understands the notion of an overwhelming consensus. Well gee, if Bush understands the notion of an overwhelming consensus then why are American troops still in Iraq? Polls on Iraq The overwhelming consensus wants the troops out of Iraq.

The President is playing the 'alert to the overwhelming consensus card' and the 'stupid to the overwhelming consensus card' at the same time. Such is the prerogative of a decider. Yet he gets a pass on both counts. No one bothers to point out the dissonant, partisan, and polarizing decision making process. Its like a bad joke told without the punch line.

The articles on the secretive nature of the Bush administration are coming out in bushels:

Secrecy Under Scrutiny "The pace of classification has escalated dramatically year after year and has now reached a record level--nearly 16 million new secrets annually......We will simply assume that the most important political decisions are out of reach and beyond our ability to affect."

White House Follows New Path to Secrecy "In the past year, lawyers for President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney directed the Secret Service to maintain the confidentiality of visitor logs, declaring them to be presidential records.... The decision made the logs exempt from a law requiring their disclosure to whoever asks to see them."

Notice that the decision once again exempts the Bush administration from the law, placing Bush and Cheney above the law even though they are supposed to be working for us. Being above the law is a theme of this White House. Actually becoming the root source of all law appears to be this administration's goal.

National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive

Here Bush sets into motion the final piece of the dictator in waiting scenario. The directive allows Bush to take control of all branches of the government in an emergency.

The list does not bode well:
-An administration with the least popular President in decades, who is simultaneously removed from any of the implications of that non popularity.
-An enemy that is ill defined, diffuse, and can pop up anywhere.
-Iran, which is clearly in the gun sights, and already primed by the main stream media as the new sharpest point of the axis of evil.
-A proclivity towards squelching dissent, removing basic American rights like the right of Habeus Corpus, along with illegal surveillance and wiretapping.
-A Presidential personality that does not do well with outside advice, democratic process, or diplomacy except when partisan objectives are possible.

And here's the biggest problem - This is all a big secret, nobody knows about it except for the progressive blogosphere.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Women in Art

A clip sent from a friend. I don't know who produced it.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Gore on Impeachment

Al Gore recently was quoted as being opposed to efforts undertaken to impeach Bush.

Al Gore against any attempt to impeach Bush

"...due to lack of "time" and "consensus."

Of all the presidents, George Bush is the most deserving of impeachment.

The list of reasons to begin that particular process is vast.

The most important reasons are to restore credibiity to the political process in America, and to restore confidence in the U.S. Constitution.

Bush has trampled both.

I often wonder what drum beat Bush listens to that allows him to so deliberately violate the laws of this country.

There is the ugly sense that he holds himself above the ordinary laws of the nation, as if he were some kind of demigod.