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14 July 2007

Olbermann on Chertoff's Gut

The Liberal (sic) Democrats (sic) In Action: Hillary and Edwards on Constricting Debate

Click the title of this post for more info.

Unbelievable. Which is to say, not at all surprising -- especially if you remember how the Democrats move heaven and earth to keep Greens out of debates and off ballots.

Funny -- you don't see the Demz going after proven Republican election fraud, but you do see two "front-runners" agreeing to limit debates by excluding the "unserious" candidates.

For my loyal Democratic friends to ponder. Or is this kind of bullshit OK when your favored candidate or party does it?

(Yes, this is from FoxNews. Yes, they have an interest in undermining the Demz. No, that doesn't mean this was somehow faked -- someone would have to prove that to me. Your enemies can tell you unpleasant facts about yourself that your friends never would.)

13 July 2007

From the Desk of Bill Shakespeare...

©2007 Doug Tarnopol

Or: "Thoughts on Having to Write a 'Blurby' Book Proposal in the Early Twenty-First Century, USA"

---

Dear Ms. Brown:

Hi, Tina! It was great talking to you the other day at the Rainbow Room. I'm so sorry, again, for interrupting you, but I just had to tell you about my awesome new play! It must have been a bit embarrassing for you when security threw me out. Thanks for being so gracious, and for telling me to send an e-mail to your office. I've had zero luck shopping this around. I really loved what you did with The New Yorker -- you know, all those stories about the rich and powerful. What we need now is more celebrity creation and worship -- it's an underutilized market.

I'm so happy you're into publishing now.

Anyway, friends of mine have told me to let you know how I came up with this play, what its demographics would be, what genre it belongs to, and what message(s) I'm trying to get across.

One day, I was thinking about the worthwhileness of life, the folly of power, the sexuality that lies underneath family structure, and the unsolvable inverse relationship between contemplation and action when I said, hey, what we need right now is a four-hour-long, discursive play with many long soliloquies.

The eighteenth-century French will hate it, but the Sturm und Drang early Romantics in Germany will worship it. So, try to market it to them in 200 years. Avoid a French launch. Also: much of the vocabulary is quite obtuse, even to an Elizabethan, and the poetry is dizzyingly complex. Perhaps we can publish with a facing translation into a more contemporary idiom, with a snappy, in-your-face, youthful edge.

Here's a proof-of-concept:

HAMLET
To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.
HAMLET
So, like, should I take myself out, or what?
Would it be cooler for me to just suck it up and stop whining
Or should I just start kicking ass and taking names?
If I took myself out, I could, like, totally avoid all the trouble, you know?
That'd be so bitchin'!
But if being dead is like being asleep, then what if I have an endless bad dream?
You know, like a Matrix kind of thing?
That'd be totally bogus.
I mean, since no one can be sure that by takin' yourself out,
You're swallowing the red pill (blue pill? -- don't remember; no biggie),
People put up with a ton of hassles in life --
Like, getting old and shit, high taxes, muckety-mucks talkin' down to you,
Or, like, when you dig someone but they're, like, totally ignoring you,
(Which sucks ass)
Those damn trial lawyers screwing up healthcare,
Or moron-bosses you know you're more competent than,
But who you have to suck up to, 'cause, like, that's the deal.
I mean, say it got out that life-after-death was real, and real fun.
Who'd clean up the trash or my pool, even? -- I mean, someone's gotta do it.
We don't know what happens after death, since no one's ever come back to tell us,
So you might as well get over yourself and just deal.
That might sound like pussying out, but sometimes you have to think things through
Rather than just do it --
No matter what the sneaker tells you.
It sucks because it's hard to do big things when you're so busy thinking...
But what are ya gonna do, hoss, ya know?



Or do it in PowerPoint? Would welcome reactions.

Hamlet is a tragedy, I guess, since everyone ends up dead on-stage at the end.

I think this will appeal to teenagers who have problems with their parents, because, like, you know, don't we all?

People will learn that:
  • life's major conflicts are unsolvable
  • it's quite possible that the examined life actually makes one less happy, but perhaps more wise
  • whether to go on living has no general, objective answer
Which should cheer everybody up and make for good sales.

Hope to hear from you soon! I have a Blackberry, so e-mail is probably best. My cell is messed up now, but it's 666-987-4321 -- for later use!

Thanks for the opportunity!

Best,

Bill Shakespeare
stratford@uponavon.com

©2007 Doug Tarnopol

Profile in Cojones: Kucinich on Iran

This is exactly what is lacking in virtually every other candidate for the presidency -- Ron Paul being a little wing-nutty in his excessive market-libertarianism, but still on the money on Iran. (Gravel, too, agrees.)

Obviously, you need to read this hit piece Pravda-like to see the point, but y'all are used to doing that!

I mean, far be it for anyone to actually care about the proper translation of Ahmadinejad's Persian, or to mention that he doesn't run military affairs in Iran's system, wing-nutty as he may be.

Funny how none of the press-dubbed front-runners do...surely, it's a complete coincidence. Even Saint Obama is happy not to take nuking Iran "off the table." Strange what is allowed or disallowed on that metaphorical Democratic table, ain't it? Again -- don't look for a pattern. That would be a "conspiracy theory." It's all a huge coincidence.

Continue shopping.

Serious Threat of a Widening War In the Middle East and South Asia

1. Turkey has 140,000 troops on the border (over the border, actually), ready to invade Kurdistan.

2. Pakistan is tottering. Holding the lid on Pakistan makes all elements just boil all the more. Some of those elements ain't too pretty. Once again, US policy is bringing about the very thing it fears.

Try to imagine what would happen if Iran, Israel, Syria, Lebanon, et al, start getting into it, too. Israel's house fascist, Avigdor Lieberman, is rattling his saber over Iran -- Israel is apparently close to being able to "deal with the Iranian threat." Whether Israel really has US and EU backing for a strike on Iran is immaterial: Lieberman is calling their bluff. Now they have to come out and say, no way. (Or do so privately.)

Not to mention an Islamic revolution in nuclear-armed Pakistan -- the very thing US backing of the Pakistani military dictatorship is making increasingly likely.

I'm sure India would be perfectly fine with that. I mean, there's no history of bad blood or warfare between India and Pakistan.

Russia and China, too, would be happy to see the US and Israel (the US's local aircraft- and spear-carrier) foment a wider war with its energy partner, Iran. I'm sure they'd do nothing at all, economically, diplomatically, or militarily. In any event, given the rapid cooling of US-Russian relations, the hair-trigger alert of Russian missiles, and Russia's completely legitimate fear of the "defensive" missile shield, it seems like risking a full-scale nuclear war to hold onto Iraq is worth it, no?

By all means, pass the ammunition! Jesus, no doubt, will come soon and make everything all better. He can change blood into oil, I hear tell.

"We're All Gonna Die," By William Rivers Pitt

Friday 13 July 2007

We are all wired into a survival trip now.

- Hunter S. Thompson

Who can forget the incredible scandal that erupted back in May of 2002? Around about the middle of that month, details began to emerge about the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing that specifically warned Bush about Osama bin Laden's determination to strike the United States.

Wait. Actually, everyone forgot, because two days later, the Bush administration unleashed a blizzard of dire warnings about impending terrorist attacks. FBI Director Robert Mueller intoned such attacks were "inevitable," and the Department of Homeland Security announced the imminent, explosive destruction of all American railroads, along with the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty.

Who can forget the incredible scandal that erupted back in June of 2003? Over the course of two days, reports emerged about serious doubts held by the CIA regarding the credibility of the administration's claim Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger. On the heels of this, Congress unfurled its 9/11 report, which criticized all levels of the Bush administration for its performance before and during the attacks.

Wait. Actually, everyone forgot, because the Bush administration unleashed another blizzard of warnings about impending terrorist attacks. Specifically, the Department of Homeland Security warned terrorists were, once again, preparing to attack the United States with suicide missions using commercial airliners as bombs.

Who can forget the incredible scandal that erupted back in December of 2003? 9/11 Commission chairman Thomas Keane declared the attacks of 9/11 should have been prevented. The next day, a Federal appeals court ruled against the administration on the case of suspected terrorist Jose Padilla, stating Padilla could not be held indefinitely without being charged.

Wait. Actually, everyone forgot, because the Bush administration increased the terrorism threat level to Orange and claimed more suicide planes were about to come zooming out of the sky. Six international flights were diverted due to potential terrorist actions of some passengers who were later identified as an insurance salesman, an elderly Chinese woman and a five-year-old boy.

Who can forget the incredible scandal that erupted back in May of 2004? Secretary of State Colin Powell appeared on Meet the Press and stated the intelligence on Iraqi WMD he'd been given for his UN presentation had been "inaccurate and wrong and, in some cases, deliberately misleading." Horrifying new pictures of the torture, rape and murder of prisoners by Americans at Abu Ghraib prison became public. The American military accidentally bombed a wedding party in Iraq, killing 40 civilians.

Wait. Actually, everyone forgot, because FBI Director Mueller and Attorney General John Ashcroft announced they had reports from multiple sources of al Qaeda's "specific intention to hit the United States hard." The threat levels were not raised, but dire warnings of impending catastrophe were offered by the administration for the next several days.

The recipe is simple, like the directions on the back of a shampoo bottle. Damaging reports of Bush administration malfeasance emerge. Warnings of imminent terrorist-borne doom immediately follow, all spread far and wide by said Bush administration. Lather, rinse, repeat.

There are many more instances of this curious timing to be found, but apparently, no one in the administration is concerned this dubious pattern - spreading fear among the populace to change the subject, an act of terrorism itself - might start to wear thin.

Who is going to forget the incredible scandals of June and July of 2007? The Bush administration leaves Nixon in the dust by commuting the prison sentence of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. This action strongly suggests the existence of a quid pro quo between Libby and Bush's people to cover up the criminal activities of powerful officials like Vice President Dick Cheney, who had recently claimed his office wasn't part of the executive branch to avoid handing papers over to the National Archives.

The administration deploys spurious claims of Executive Privilege to avoid subpoenas regarding the patently illegal NSA wiretapping of American citizens. That privilege is extended to deny Congressional access to Harriet Miers, former White House counsel, regarding the issue of fired US attorneys. Contempt charges are threatened against Miers, and the NSA subpoena stonewall comes closer to getting openly challenged in court. Alberto Gonzales is exposed as having lied to the Senate in his testimony about FBI abuses of the Patriot Act.

Few of the benchmarks for success in Iraq are met. Desperate to halt a tide of GOP defections from his Iraq policy, Bush again coughs up the totally discredited link between 9/11 and Iraq, saying, "The same people that attacked us on September the 11th is a crowd that is now bombing people, killing innocent men, women and children." The House again votes to withdraw American troops from Iraq. A new Harris poll on Bush's approval rating is published. The number reads 26 percent.

Wait.

Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff all but guarantees devastating new terror attacks against the United States this summer. He bases this warning on a "gut feeling." White House spokesman Tony Snow threatens that withdrawal from Iraq would bring terrorism "to a shopping mall near you."

Meanwhile, al Qaeda is alleged to be as secure in Pakistan and Afghanistan as they were before 9/11, yet no one in the administration connects this new security to the drain of resources happening in Iraq. Additionally, no one in the administration points out the fact that, if Chertoff's gut is indeed correct, and we are indeed attacked again, responsibility for that attack will fall upon those who manufactured war in Iraq. Never mind the fact that if an attack is allowed to happen, even a minor one, more of our constitutional rights and protections will be eviscerated by the very same people who failed to stop it again.

Will everyone forget about the scandals of June and July 2007 amid these deadly warnings of coming death?

Lather, rinse, repeat.


William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books: "War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know" and "The Greatest Sedition Is Silence." His newest book, "House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation," is now available from PoliPointPress.

12 July 2007

Amy Goodman on Finkelstein and Other Topics...

Part 1

Part 2

The Budget Graph

A visual representation of the discretionary federal budget. A wall poster version is available, too, but on a fast connection, you can roam around the graph with ease.

Start Global Cooling!

My buddy Otto Pohl, journalist, and his wife Anne Sherwood, photojournalist, have started a company selling low-key t-shirts (100% sweatshop-free, made-in-USA) to spread the word on global warming.

Ten percent of proceeds go to the Earth Island Institute, which serves as a kind of "offset" for the emissions produced by the biz. (The EII was one of many orgs founded by the late David Brower.)

Check it out; click the title of this post for more info...

Michael Moore on SiCKO: Part 2 of the Interview with Blitzer



Here's Moore and Dr. Sanjay Gupta on Larry King. Before you watch, here's some background on Dr. Gupta.





John Pilger and Amy Goodman Discuss Freedom Next Time

Freedom Next Time is Pilger's most recent book. Here's an excerpt.



Here's another discussion of the book by Pilger:




Update: Another interview:

10 July 2007

"The High Cost of Libby’s Silence," Amy Goodman

Well put; disgusting situation. Libby paid his $250,000 fine already -- unknown from whose funds, but he's on his way to AEI or suchlike, and isn't exactly a pauper. It's unclear that he can even do community service with a commuted prison sentence, I read.

Compare that to what "The Troops" have to go through, as Goodman details.

How can any sane person support this criminal regime?

FoxNews on Global Warming

Evil, evil people. Is this just the honest airing of wrong opinion or organized propaganda? I know the latter is a "conspiracy theory" to even many of my "liberal" friends, but if the shoe fits....

To be fair: "Fox" has become the catchall for elite media malpractice, inoculating such venerable organs as The New York Times from any hint of propaganda. Oh, heavens, no! -- not that wonderful paper I read along with the rest of the middle management of the country. I mean, they're not a business; they are for truth only -- advertisers and "access" be damned!

I'm so happy Hillary is using Murdoch for fundraising. As we all know, there is never any quid pro quo in such deals. To think so is to wobble off into UFO-conspiracy-land. Of course. (Here's more on the wooing of Murdoch.) Hillary will be shocked when the attacks against her skyrocket, no doubt. Sucking up to Murdoch is not good for what Ailes you; these Clintonistas are either very stupid or very smart. Either way, they are not anything close to "progressives."

Ties to Murdoch bodes well for a second Clinton administration, no?

Wolf Blitzer, Norman Finkelstein, and others on Israel-Palestine: 1989

Plus ça change...

E.g.: The PLO is a terrorist organization; shouldn't be dealt with. Yadda, yadda, yadda. If people had a historical memory, well, it'd be harder to bamboozle them.

Interesting to watch Wolf Blitzer in action, pre-CNN.


Moore on CNN on SiCKO

I'll try to find the set-up for this outburst, but I can guess, especially from Lou Dobbs' obnoxious comment at the end. Anyway, Moore tears Wolf Blitzer a new a-hole.

Update: Here's the hit-piece. It's patently (no pun intended) obvious what the good doctor is trying to do, so I'll make only one comment. The good doctor mentions that Cuba is ranked one or two slots below the US on the WHO ratings of national healthcare systems. Um, yeah, we know: you can see it in the film, even, when they show the list. The point however is painfully obvious (and thus requires flak to distract): compare the economic power of the US to Cuba -- should the healthcare systems be roughly equal? After 45-ish years of economic embargo by the US? This of course is alluded to after the brick is thrown. Sigh.

Another straw man: Moore never said, nor would anyone with two working neurons, that any other nation's healthcare system is "perfect." The point of SiCKO is not that Moore may have gotten a number wrong (but the order of magnitude correct) -- that's what I call "trivial," if it's even true, which I do not assume. The point is that our system of healthcare (sic[k]) is a national embarrassment based on the propaganda and lobbying of powerful industries who do not have the health of their consumers paramount -- profit is paramount. That's what corporations do; any actual benefits are epiphenomenal. Of course, after you have your medical and financial disaster, you're "free" to "choose" another provider -- unless you have no choice at your workplace (usual situation). And surely, the "competitor" will ignore pre-existing conditions! Please.

Here's Moore's rebuttal from his site, which, by the way, I've yet to read.


09 July 2007

Vidal Interview from Italy

Lots of Italian, but you can figure it out, especially since the translator can be heard underneath the speaker. Vidal answers in English, and he's the one we all want to hear, no?

"A President Transformed," Terry Jones

More acidic commentary from the ex-Python.

"Bush justice is a national disgrace," By John S. Koppel

Here is a man with courage:

I realize that this constitutionally protected statement subjects me to a substantial risk of unlawful reprisal from extremely ruthless people who have repeatedly taken such action in the past. But I am confident that I am speaking on behalf of countless thousands of honorable public servants, at Justice and elsewhere, who take their responsibilities seriously and share these views. And some things must be said, whatever the risk.

The views presented in this essay are not representative of the Department of Justice or its employees but are instead the personal views of its author.

John S. Koppel has been a civil appellate attorney with the Department of Justice since 1981.

Orwell on the Bench, Part n

Court Dismisses ACLU Suit on Domestic Spying
Here in the United States, a federal appeals court has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the Bush administration’s domestic spy program. The American Civil Liberties Union had filed the suit on behalf of journalists, academics, and lawyers who feared they had been targeted. In a two to one ruling, the court ruled the plaintiffs can’t challenge the program because they can’t prove they’ve been monitored. The ACLU says it will consider an appeal to the Supreme Court.

Ralph Nader Calls It What It Is: Fascism

Transcript will be up here.

Ralph Nader on Taft-Hartley.

08 July 2007

George Mason and James Madison on Pardons and Impeachment

This is from the transcript of the Virginia ratifying convention; see linked title above. These quotes have been floating around the blogosphere and even elite media since Libby's commutation. Here's the full context -- and, true to form, Mason was concerned with what a ruthless man could do with the commander-in-chief powers...rightly so. Madison's comments, also bolded below, are even more powerful, as he more than any other person was the author of the Constitution.

[The 1st clause of the 2d section was read.]

[[[i.e., the commander-in-chief clause:

The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States; he may require the opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each of the executive departments, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices, and he shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.
]]]

Mr. GEORGE MASON, animadverting on the magnitude of the powers of the President, was alarmed at the additional power of commanding the army in person. He admitted the propriety of his being commander-in-chief, so far as to give orders and have a general superintendency; but he thought it would be dangerous to let him command in person, without any restraint, as he might make a bad use of it. He was, then, clearly of opinion that the consent of a majority of both houses of Congress should be required before he could take the command in person. If at any time it should be necessary that he should take the personal command, either on account of his superior abilities or other cause, then Congress would agree to it; and all dangers would be obviated by requiring their consent. He called to gentlemen's recollection the extent of what the late commander-in-chief might have done, from his great abilities, and the strong attachment of both officers and soldiers towards him, if, instead of being disinterested, he had been an ambitious man. So disinterested and amiable a character as General Washington might never command again. The possibility of danger ought to be guarded against. Although he did not disapprove of the President's consultation with the principal executive officers, yet he objected to the want of an executive council, which he conceived to be necessary to any regular free government. There being none such, he apprehended a council would arise out of the Senate, which, for want of real responsibility, he thought dangerous. You will please, says he, to recollect that removal from office, and future disqualification to hold any

[Page 497]

office, are the only consequences of conviction on impeachment. Now, I conceive that the President ought not to have the power of pardoning, because he may frequently pardon crimes which were advised by himself. It may happen, at some future day, that he will establish a monarchy, and destroy the republic. If he has the power of granting pardons before indictment, or conviction, may he not stop inquiry and prevent detection? The case of treason ought, at least, to be excepted. This is a weighty objection with me.

Mr. LEE reminded his honorable friend that it did not follow, of necessity, that the President should command in person; that he was to command as a civil officer, and might only take the command when he was a man of military talents, and the public safety required it. He thought the power of pardoning, as delineated in the Constitution, could be nowhere so well placed as in the President. It was so in the government of New York, and had been found safe and convenient.

Mr. MASON replied, that he did not mean that the President was of necessity to command, but he might if he pleased; and if he was an ambitious man, he might make a dangerous use of it.

Mr. GEORGE NICHOLAS hoped the committee would not advert to this; that the army and navy were to be raised by Congress, and not by the President. It was on the same footing with our state government; for the governor, with the council, was to imbody the militia, but, when actually imbodied, they were under the sole command of the governor. The instance adduced was not similar. General Washington was not a President. As to possible danger, any commander might attempt to pervert what was intended for the common defence of the community to its destruction. The President, at the end of four years, was to relinquish all his offices. But if any other person was to have the command, the time would not be limited.

Mr. MASON answered, that it did not resemble the state Constitution, because the governor did not possess such extensive powers as the President, and had no influence over the navy. The liberty of the people had been destroyed by those who were military commanders only. The danger here was greater by the junction of great civil powers to the

[Page 498]

command of the army and fleet. Although Congress are to raise the army, said he, no security arises from that; for, in time of war, they must and ought to raise an army, which will be numerous, or otherwise, according to the nature of the war, and then the President is to command without any control.

Mr. MADISON, adverting to Mr. Mason's objection to the President's power of pardoning, said it would be extremely improper to vest it in the House of Representatives, and not much less so to place it in the Senate; because numerous bodies were actuated more or less by passion, and might, in the moment of vengeance, forget humanity. It was an established practice in Massachusetts for the legislature to determine in such cases. It was found, says he, that two different sessions, before each of which the question came with respect to pardoning the delinquents of the rebellion, were governed precisely by different sentiments: the one would execute with universal vengeance, and the other would extend general mercy.

There is one security in this case to which gentlemen may not have adverted: if the President be connected, in any suspicious manner, with any person, and there be grounds to believe he will shelter him, the House of Representatives can impeach him; they can remove him if found guilty; they can suspend him when suspected, and the power will devolve on the Vice-President. Should he be suspected, also, he may likewise be suspended fill he be impeached and removed, and the legislature may make a temporary appointment. This is a great security.

Mr. MASON vindicated the conduct of the assemblies mentioned by the gentleman last up. He insisted they were both right; for, in the first instance, when such ideas of severity prevailed, a rebellion was in existence: in such circumstance, it was right to be rigid. But after it was over, it would be wrong to exercise unnecessary severity.

Mr. MADISON replied, that the honorable member had misunderstood the fact; for the first assembly was after the rebellion was over. The decision must have been improper in one or the other case. It marks this important truth, says he, that numerous bodies of men are improper to exercise this power. The universal experience of mankind proves it.