Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
April 30, 2006

"Who did betray us ..."

"Wer hat uns verraten
Sozialdemokraten
"

In English:

"Who did betray us
Social-de-mo-crats
"

The slogan above is still shouted these days during left-wing rallies in Germany. Few remember its historic background though.

In Munich, each year, at the end of April, the new summer season beer prices were announced. In 1844, a nearly 30% price hike from 5 to 6.5 pennies led to May 1 protests by workers and soldiers. For lack of clean drinking water, beer was a nessessary part of the local diet. All but two breweries were damaged in the uproar. Days later troops were brought in from outside the city to eventually end the protests. (Source in German. Sitenote: A page on the official City of Munich website mentions a "mere 2 penny hike". This, without giving the base price ...)

On May 1 1886 labor unions in Chicago called for a general strike to achieve an 8 hour workday. During clashes at the picket line, police forces killed some of the workers. This escalated over the next days into the Haymarket riot.

In 1929 the, by then, traditional May 1 labor rallies in Berlin were declared illegal by the Prussian secretary of the interior and the Berlin mayor. Both were socialdemocrats. The  unions supported by the communist party took to the street anyhow. The police was ordered by the above mentioned authorities to stop the peaceful rallies and eventually shot 32 demonstrators and bystanders. Like in Chicago, the rally leaders, but no policeman or politician, were prosecuted. In Chicago, four of them were killed.

After 1929 (and up to today), the split between socialdemocrats and left labor in Germany and elsewhere was never fixed. The Nazis, and the highly concentrated capital funding them, did explorated this weakness to get into power. On May 1 1933 Hitler declared May 1 to be the permanent "national day of labor". On May 2 1933 he declare all labor unions illegal and to be abolished. Today May 1 is still an appropriate reason for commemorating clashes in Berlin.

Tomorow, cities in the U.S. will see large rallies and boykotts (i.e.strikes) by immigrants. I regard these to be in the tradition of labor fighting for its rights. Please support them. 

As the global class war and feudalistic capitalism expand, a reasoned voice in economy science, John Kenneth Galbraith, decided to no longer take part in the discussion. But you can hear him in this 1999 interview and don't miss his son James' thoughtful writing about The Predator State:

But if the government is a predator, then it will fail: not merely politically, but in every substantial way. Government will not cope with global warming, or Hurricane Katrina, or Iraq—not because it is incompetent but because it is willfully indifferent to the problem of competence. The questions are, in what ways will the failure hit the population? And what mechanisms survive for calling the predators to account? Unfortunately, at the highest levels, one cannot rely on the justice system, thanks to the power of the pardon. It’s politics or nothing, recognizing that in a world of predators, all established parties are corrupted in part.

Another fitting piece here is William Pfaff's recent reasoning on Why Europe should reject U.S. market capitalism.

In the United States, the new model of corporate business has evolved toward a form of crony capitalism, in which business and government interests are often corruptly intermingled, the system resistant to reform because of the financial dependence of both major political parties on contributed money.

Frequently described by its supporters as a progressive step in the development of a new international economy, the political-economic system that has evolved in the United States has proved regressive in crucial respects, as well as inefficient and abusive of the public interest.

Pfaff is right, but why should only Europe reject this model. China, India, Japan and,  most important, the U.S. itself should reject this pervers predator market capitalism.

As you take up the proud May 1 tradition in one way or another, please keep in mind the slogan cited at the begin of this creed.

It's a never ending long war the Rumsfeld puppet openly declared on global labor and any kind of social responsibility. We the people will win, but on that way, we may be betrayed even by a party we think we can trust.

Posted by b on April 30, 2006 at 04:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (53)

WB: The Boogie Thang

Billmon:

It occurs me that the "Deep Throat" in this particular scandal might turn out to really be a deep throat.

The Boogie Thang

Posted by b on April 30, 2006 at 01:21 AM | Permalink | Comments (6)

April 29, 2006

WB: And the Band Played On

Billmon:

And the Band Played On

Posted by b on April 29, 2006 at 05:40 PM | Permalink | Comments (46)

WB: Oxymorons

Billmon:

The phrase "homeland security" is rapidly replacing "military intelligence" as the textbook example ...

Oxymorons

Posted by b on April 29, 2006 at 01:09 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Assurance About The Absence

Court Denies Mother's Right of Custody

.. the mother is unable to make progress in her efforts to provide assurance about the absence of undeclared improper relations and activities of her daughter.

---

Pope Orders to Continue Exorcist Procedures

.. the church is unable to make progress in its efforts to provide assurance about the absence of undeclared evil issues and activities of Satan.

---

Iran defies UN on nuclear program, sparking calls for action

The [IAEA] report said: "Because of this and other gaps in the agency's knowledge including the role of the military in Iran's nuclear program, the agency is unable to make progress in its efforts to provide assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran."

Any more examples? Give it a try.

Posted by b on April 29, 2006 at 12:22 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

WB: Liberal Prosecutors ...

Billmon:

Boy, you gotta imagine law-and-order conservatives are going to be up in arms about this latest outrage  ..

Liberal Prosecutors Let Known Drug Offender Go Free

Posted by b on April 29, 2006 at 12:23 AM | Permalink | Comments (10)

April 28, 2006

WB: Cheaper By the Dozen

Billmon:

But there are two sides to every gestalt, and you can also argue that America's ability to dump $800+ billion into a hole in the desert without suffering a hasty financial and economic collapse (or even the kind of inflation seen during the Vietnam War) shows how enormously strong, and prosperous, the empire really is.

Cheaper By the Dozen

Posted by b on April 28, 2006 at 03:32 PM | Permalink | Comments (11)

Weekend OT

No distinguished Moonart this weekend, but Neil Young's Living With War and your regular news & views.

Posted by b on April 28, 2006 at 01:08 PM | Permalink | Comments (54)

WB: Nine Fingers

Billmon:

As long as it's only a contracting scandal (with the added fillips of sex and spies) this really isn't much more than a surreal variation on standard operating procedure in Jack Abramoff's Washington -- even if the call girl angle does get the cable news juices flowing (so to speak.)

But it's at least possible that the intersection of sex, money and official secrecy will turn this story into something much more special. Who knows? Depending on how high the guest list goes for Wilkes's poker-and-prostitution soirées, this might even become the redneck equivalent of the Christine Keeler affair ..

Nine Fingers

Posted by b on April 28, 2006 at 12:57 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Locksmith Made Me Torch My Neighbor's House

Your Honor,

let me first thank you for the opportunity to defend myself.

I am here accused of having burnt down my neighbor's house.

Did I do so? Did I set fire on my neighbor's house?

Sure, I did. And I have never tried to hide that fact. Did this fire catch other houses too? Yes it did and I am really sorry it took down your house too, but then, yours, like the others, was an old and crumbling houses anyway.

But that is all not to the point. I am the wrong one to be accused here and that is why I reject any guilt in this case.

The only one who should be here in handcuffs and indicted is the locksmith. He is guilty of catastrophic mischief.

Let me tell you why.

I was always suspicious of my neighbor. He obviously didn´t like me building that new wall because, so he said, I didn´t raise it on my own ground.

My neighbor even said, it would be better if I would just move away. That was quite threatening to me. Why would he ask for this? Just because my kids bully around a bit? Or just because of some stupid wall?

So I had reason to fear that this threatening neighbor might be preparing something bad, or outright criminal, like a stink bomb in my garden or even to tear down that wall - or worse.

Indeed said neighbor was observed using candles. Though he says those were for lighting, I was always suspicious he might intend to use them for something else.

Now what about the locksmith you may ask. Why should he be rightfully accused as I hereby demand?

Let me explain.

While my neighbor was dangerously lighting candles in his house, there was always the chance for me to just jump over the wall, rush into his house and to brush him up some. I always had the ability to go into his house and to dust up his furniture a bit, if you will, and to take away those candles and matches.

But a few days ago this changed. Aforesaid neighbor was seen talking to the locksmith and it was heard that the locksmith did promise to sell him locks. With such locks my neighbor would have possibly locked up his house.

To my knowledge, and thanks to god, those locks were yet not delivered, at the time of my deed, but there was this serious risk that they might get installed later on.

Just imagine that situation. With locks on my neighbors house, how would I have had any future chance to storm in and prevent him from burning candles? And from using matches?

So by selling locks to my neighbor, the locksmith made it impossible for me to keep control over future circumstances near to my home. All this while my neighbor was bad-mouthing me.

There was only one chance left and I had to act immediately. I had to torch down my neighbors house before he would be able to lock it up. If those locks would ever have been into place, to then try to get in would have been just too risky.

So please accuse and condemn the locksmith, he percipitated all of this. Send him to jail, deprive him of his rights. But don´t you dare to put any guilt on me for doing what just had to be done.

Thank you

---

That, dear MoA reader, is an argumentation few lawyers and judges would defend or accept.

But there are U.S. law professors who argue that the arsonist in the above case is fully justified. That, indeed, he had to set fire to his neighbors home. And that the locksmith should be prosecuted.

Today, Rosa Brooks, professor at the University of Virginia School of Law and op-ed writer for the Los Angeles Times is propag(and)ating such logic:

LET ME TELL YOU about the next war.

It will start sooner than you think — sometime between now and September. And it will be precipitated by the $700-million Russian deal this week to sell Tor air defense missile systems to Iran.

When the war begins, it will be between Iran and Israel. Before it ends, though, it may set the whole of the Middle East on fire, pulling in the United States, leaving a legacy of instability that will last for generations and permanently ending a century of American supremacy.
[...]
Iran's nuclear facilities are dispersed and well-concealed, making a preemptive Israeli strike far more difficult this time around. But there's no reason to doubt Israel's willingness to try.

Of course, there's no firm evidence that Iran has offensive nuclear capabilities. And even a successful military strike against Iran would be a risky move for Israel, potentially igniting regionwide instability.
[...]
But Russian brinksmanship is about to remove Israel's incentive to pursue a peaceful diplomatic path.
[...]
The upcoming deployment of Tor missiles around Iranian nuclear sites dramatically changes the calculus in the Middle East, and it significantly increases the risk of a regional war. Once the missile systems are deployed, Iran's air defenses will become far more sophisticated, and Israel will likely lose whatever ability it now has to unilaterally destroy Iran's nuclear facilities.

The clock is ticking for Israel. To have a hope of succeeding, any unilateral Israeli strike against Iran must take place before September, when the Tor missile deployment is set to be completed.

Assuming for a moment that her scenario is correct, what is professor Brooks solution to the situation?

Should Israel be restrained from starting a war and "ending a century of American supremacy?"

Should the President put some pressure on Prime Minister Olmert to prevent such an unliateral attack?

Of course not, Rosa Brooks argues. The only one to possibly blame here is the locksmith, i.e. the Russians. And there is the immediate need to use some sticks and carrots to make them stop their "catastrophic mischief".

A quiet but firm U.S. threat to boycott the G-8 summit in July in St. Petersburg might inspire Russian President Vladimir V. Putin to freeze the missile transfer. And a promise to facilitate Russian entry into the World Trade Organization might even get Russia's oil and gas oligarchs on board.
[...]
Unfortunately, the Bush administration appears to be asleep at the wheel, too distracted by Iraq, skyrocketing gas prices and plummeting approval ratings to devote any attention to Russia's potentially catastrophic mischief.

Brooks argues that Country A, selling a defensive weapon system to country B, to discourage an unlawful unilaterally attack by country C, should somehow be responsible for such an attack.

An argument of such third-party culpability for a war might have some justification, if some country A sells weapons for obvious offensive use, like long range F-16I's and "bunker buster" bombs.  It is the equivalent of selling flamethrowers to those grumbling neighbors.

But to argue for punishing the locksmith is purely partisan, illogical and exposes a frightening disregard for any legal objectivity.

Posted by b on April 28, 2006 at 08:25 AM | Permalink | Comments (5)

WB: Sex Pistols

Billmon:

Justin Rood at TPM is the one who connects the dots and decides they spell G-O-S-S.

It's only an educated guess -- but also a reasonable one, given that Brent Wilkes and Mitchell Wade, the two contractors involved, were manuevering to stick their dicks in the intelligence community's contracting honeypot as well as the Pentagon's. Goss's previous jobs as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and vice chairman of the low-key but powerful House Rules Committee (which controls the flow of legislation to the floor) obviously would have made him an extremely attractive piece of bowel material to a couple of intestinal parasites like Wilkes and Wade.

Sex Pistols

Posted by b on April 28, 2006 at 04:20 AM | Permalink | Comments (19)

WB: Squealer

Billmon:

If Fitz wants to go after Cheney, he needs something a little more down to earth -- like obstruction of justice, conspiracy to obstruct justice, etc.

Whether Karl can give him these things is another story, one that has yet to be told. Like I said, this may all still be about getting Scooter (although Libby could also just be a rest stop on the road to Cheneyville). But if Fitz decides to let Rove off, or taps him lightly on the wrist, in order to get what he thinks he needs to prosecute the foulest son of a bitch to inhabit the vice president's office since Spiro Agnew copped a plea, then all I can say is more power to him.

Squealer

Posted by b on April 28, 2006 at 01:11 AM | Permalink | Comments (10)

April 27, 2006

War Costs

The non-partisan Congressional Research Service has made a new estimate for the costs of the War on Iraq and War on Afghanistan. Like often, the Washington Post, in reporting this buries, the lead and the day's real headline in the second last paragraph of a page A16 story:

Of the total war spending, the CRS analysis found $4 billion that could not be tracked. It did identify $2.5 billion diverted from other spending authorizations in 2001 and 2002 to prepare for the invasion.

To my knowledge, this makes the CRS report the first official one to confirm the invasion of Iraq has been actively persued since 2001. Old news you may say, but so far there were only anonymous sources and very few named people who had alleged this.

Now this is officialy acknowledged in a non-partisan report to Congress. Why does that fact not deserve an A01 headline?

To answer that question seems to be above my capabilities.

So let us take a look at the reported CRS estimate. It does include some money for diplomatic issues, but not longterm health and benefit costs for veterans like some other recent studies did.

The CRS comes away with $320 billion for Iraq after the recent emergency spending bill will have passed. But that is only the money needed up to this point. Even with troop reductions beginning this year, CRS estimates the total costs for War on Iraq and Afghanistan at $811 billion. Though troop number were much higher then, the inflation adjusted Vietnam total was a cheap $549 billion.

Still, this is only some $6,300 per taxpayer, $105 per month over 5 years. The U.S. will not go bankcrupt spending this, but it is an investment that is unlikely to give a good return, if any at all.

The more important economic impact is through gas prices. The war tax or "risk premium" included in crude prices these days may be some $25 per barrel or, with U.S. consumption at 22 million barrels per day, $550 million per day. Over five years this accumulates to a decent 1 Trillion (that is a one with twelve zeroes) U.S. Dollars.

Part of this sum, like part of the war costs, will go back to U.S. pockets. But only to those people who own Exxon Mobil or Halliburton shares.

This is probably the biggest transfer of wealth from the people to an elite the world has ever seen.

What is most disturbing to me in the CRS study is the intransparency of the spending.

"Although DOD has a financial system that tracks funds for each operation once they are obligated -- as pay or contractual costs -- DOD has not sent Congress the semiannual reports with cumulative and current obligations for [Iraq] and [Afghanistan], or estimates for the next year, or for the next five years that are required by statute," the CRS noted.

The Defense Department is, illegally, blocking any oversight.

The report goes on to outline a series of "key war cost questions" for Congress to pursue and "major unknowns" that CRS has not been able to answer: How much has Congress appropriated for each theater of war? How much has the Pentagon obligated for each mission per month? What will future costs be? How much will it cost to repair and replace equipment? And how can Congress receive accurate information on past and future troop levels?

CRS is the Congress' and the people's controlling element that must find answers to these questions. I find it incredible that they are not able to do so, even if they put specific efforts into it.

Of the total war spending, the CRS analysis found $4 billion that could not be tracked.

Could not be tracked? Four billion? That may be small change in the bigger picture, still, where did Rumsfeld spend that money?

Your guess?

Posted by b on April 27, 2006 at 04:09 AM | Permalink | Comments (21)

April 26, 2006

WB: Blessed Addiction

Billmon:

Blessed Addiction

Posted by b on April 26, 2006 at 03:36 PM | Permalink | Comments (29)

WB: Snow Job

Billmon:

Snow Job

Posted by b on April 26, 2006 at 11:48 AM | Permalink | Comments (36)

Lost Cause

Why are Rice and Rumsfeld in Baghdad?

To bend some arms and legs, either SecState or SecDef should have been enough. But Rice bending Iraqi arms one way, Rumsfeld the other way, changes nothing.

There is a ongoing struggle between R. and R. on responsibility for the political process in Iraq.

"We just want to make sure there are no seams between what we're doing politically and what we're doing militarily," Rice told reporters on her plane en route to Iraq. "Secretary Rumsfeld and I are going to be there together because a lot of the work that has to be done is at that juncture between political and military."

Celebrity Deathmatch in the Green Zone?

The official reason Rice is giving for her visit does not sound quite right.

"This is the Iraqis' time," Rice told reporters traveling with her. "This is the time to support the Iraqi government of national unity. It will be up to the Iraqis to determine how this moves forward and we're going to be there very much in support of them."

It is up to the Iraqis to ignore both Secretaries as they will.

There is, by the way, no government of national unity. So far a candidate for the Prime Minister has been named, but neither has he selected a cabinet, no one is even named for defense and interior, nor has he been elected by the parliament. Those processes will still have major hurdles and the government, if created at all, will be as partisan as possible.

But the trip is not to help Iraq anyhow, it is the "last chance" to save the project.

There was an atmosphere in her entourage that this visit offered perhaps a last chance to reverse some of the mistakes of the last three years in providing security for Iraq, getting the oil and power systems back and curbing sectarian hatreds and corruption within the Iraqi government.

None of these mistakes can be reversed with the U.S. administration interfering. Iraq is a lost cause, the war against the resistance can not be won.

Unfortunately, like in Vietnam, it will take years until that is acknowledged.

Posted by b on April 26, 2006 at 10:39 AM | Permalink | Comments (10)

April 25, 2006

WB: Profiles in Chicken Shit II (GOP edition)

Billmon:

Conservatism these days is a burnt out hulk — intellectually adrift, compromised by power, hopelessly hooked on pork, desperate to stay just one step ahead of the voters (not to mention the Justice Department.) And that's what the conservatives are saying.
[...]
The [Republicans] could even try telling the truth: That sky-high gas prices are the product of many forces, including the economic rise of China, our national allergic reaction to conservation, the security nightmare of trying to protect a far-flung global energy infrastructure, and, most of all, the inevitable fact that the supply of light sweet crude is finite, and production is probably nearing its peak.

Profiles in Chicken Shit II (GOP edition)

Posted by b on April 25, 2006 at 01:44 PM | Permalink | Comments (12)

Leading By Example ...

... and playing politics with the the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Under pressure from angry drivers and leaders in both political parties, President Bush said today he was taking steps to at least slow the rising price of gasoline.

He said that deposits of oil in the nation's strategic petroleum reserve would be halted for the summer to increase supplies available to the public.
[...]
The president traveled in a 14-vehicle motorcade to deliver his speech at a hotel in Washington. A pool reporter noticed that the prices posted at an Exxon station near the Watergate building complex were $3.29. $3.39 and $3.49 a gallon.
Bush to Halt Deposits to Oil Reserve
WaPo; April 25, 2006

---

Q Sir, Senator Kerry has suggested halting shipments to the emergency oil reserves. Your energy bill is a long-term strategy. What are some short-term steps that can be taken?

THE PRESIDENT: If people had acted on my energy bill when I submitted it three years ago, we would be in a much better situation today.

Secondly, we will not play politics with the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. That Petroleum Reserve is in place in case of major disruptions of energy supplies to the United States. The idea of emptying the Strategic Petroleum Reserve plays -- would put America in a dangerous position in the war on terror. We're at war. We face a tough and determined enemy on all fronts. And we must not put ourselves in a worse position in this war. And playing politics with the Strategic Petroleum Reserve would do just that.
President Discusses Iraq, Economy, Gas Prices in Cabinet Meeting
White House; May 19, 2004

Posted by b on April 25, 2006 at 12:22 PM | Permalink | Comments (10)

WB: The Politics of Scarcity

Billmon:

Moral of the story: superpowers that have to import 10 million barrels of oil a day can't indulge in Wilsonian foreign policies, or even maintain the pretense of indulging in Wilsonian foreign policies — at least, not for long. Addicts can't afford to be idealists. Just ask any of the other junkies.

The Politics of Scarcity

Posted by b on April 25, 2006 at 03:35 AM | Permalink | Comments (20)

April 24, 2006

OT 06-36

Currents ...

Posted by b on April 24, 2006 at 02:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (103)

The "Syndromes"

Groucho pointed to two papers by Anthony H. Cordesman. The first one was published December 31, 2002 and is titled: Planning for a Self-Inflicted Wound: US Policy to Reshape a Post-Saddam Iraq (PDF).

The hardest part of war is often the peace, and this is particularly likely to be the case if the US goes to war with Iraq. It is not that the US is not planning for such contingencies; it is the quality of such planning that is at issue. Unless it sharply improves, it may well become a self-inflicted wound based on a series of “syndromes” that grow out of ignorance, indifference to Iraq’s real needs, and ethnocentricity.

The twenty some detailed "syndromes" include the:
* "We Know What We're Doing Syndrome"
* "US as Liberator Syndrome" or "Best Case War Syndrome"
* "Democracy Solves Everything Syndrome"
* "Let’s All Ignore the State’s Present Role in the Economy Syndrome"
* ...

He closes:

If we rely on miracles and good intentions, or act as occupiers rather than partners, we are almost certain to be far more unhappy on the tenth anniversary of the next war as we were on the tenth anniversary of the Gulf War.

Cordesman did look at the war planing and did forsee nearly all the mistakes that would happen during the War on Iraq. He missed a few though, like the contracter debacle and the pleight of the 35,000 foreign slaves they are using, so maybe even he was too optimistic.

In the second paper published on April 17, 2006, American Strategic, Tactical, and Other Mistakes in Iraq: A Litany of Errors (PDF) he details some of the errors that have been made and sums up:

The US cannot go back and change its behavior in Iraq, and in many cases it cannot now compensate for past errors. Its best hope is to pursue the strategy it is already pursuing in spite of risks that at best offer an even chance of limited success.

There are two lessons to learn from this he says:

National security challenges cannot be "spun" into victory. They must be honestly addressed, hard decisions must be taken, and the necessary resources must be provided.

and

If the US is ever to repeat an experience like Iraq, or successfully fight what it now calls the "long war" against terrorism and extremism, it needs ruthless self honesty and objectivity.

He now has the record to prove he has been right in his warnings before the War on Iraq. Are there enough people in power in the U.S. administration that do learn his lesson and will act to prevent the War on Iran that is about to start?

As fauxreal pointed out, there is some movement in this direction, but the bamboozlement is getting stronger.

The "syndromes" may "win" again.

Posted by b on April 24, 2006 at 12:46 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

Drumheller

by fauxreal
stolen from a comment

I did read an interesting comment that bin Laden may have appeared to undercut the 60 Minutes appearance of Tyler Drumheller who put the case forward to voters that the Bush junta knew the reasons they gave for war were lies, and thus the invasion of Iraq was a violation of the Nuremberg Principles. (That thus is my conclusion, but one that flows naturally, imo, from a war based upon lies, dressed up as defense when it was, in fact, an act of aggression. Yo, Poland.)

Josh Marshall makes the interesting point that, given Drumheller's statements, the legislators who investigated the Iraq war claims covered for those lies and also deceived the American people.

To me, this is all an extension of the Constitutional crisis that began with the 2000 elections. I knew no good would come from it, but I had no idea things could be this bad.

Digby has a post that talks about the calls to arrest people who are telling the truth. Criminalization of dissent. Digby links to Robert Parry, who notes calls for imprisoning journalists (Bill Bennett), charging generals with sedition (Moonie Times) and as Parry notes:

The firing of CIA officer Mary McCarthy and the threats of criminal charges against various dissenters are just the latest skirmishes in the political war over who will decide what Americans get to see and hear.

The other signal to Bush’s critics, however, is this: If they ever thought he and his administration would accept accountability for their alleged abuses of power without a nasty fight, those critics are very mistaken.

From Harper's, regarding the current power struggle: 

This former senior officer said there “seems to be a quiet conspiracy by rational people” at the agency to avoid involvement in some of the particularly nasty tactics being employed by the administration, especially “renditions”—the practice whereby the CIA sends terrorist suspects abroad to be questioned in Egypt, Syria, Uzbekistan, and other nations where the regimes are not squeamish about torturing detainees. My source, hardly a softie on the topic of terrorism, said of the split at the CIA: “There's an SS group within the agency that's willing to do anything and there's a Wehrmacht group that is saying, 'I'm not gonna touch this stuff'.”

The analogy is regular army against Hitler's bodyguards. He used the SS to gain power, not just fight wars or run extermination camps. The Wehrmacht attempted an assassination, the July 20 (1944) plot.

The military evaded political meddling during most of the Third Reich's history. Most of its leadership was politically conservative, nationalistic and hoped to reconquer territories that had broken away from Imperial Germany. Hitler had promised to rebuild Germany's military strength and officers were mostly sympathetic towards the National Socialist movement. Political influence in the military command began to increase later in the war when Hitler's flawed strategic decisions began showing up as serious defeats for the German army and tensions mounted between the military and the government. Not only did Hitler appoint unqualified personnel to lead his armies, but also gave to his commanders impossible orders, such as to shoot all officers and enlisted men who retreated from a front line.

(From the Wehrmacht link at the July 20 entry.)

And, going back to the question of that German politician mentioned by Uncle $cam, Laura Rozen, at War and Piece, mentioned Drumheller on April 2, 2005. This is an article to go back to, considering the appearance of Drumheller. It concerns "Curveball" and intelligence sources who discredited him and those who shielded him. That article, and the link to Der Spiegel, question whether or not someone in German intelligence helped Bush fabricate evidence.

Several weeks later, Drumheller discovered that his warning had been ignored when his executive officer brought him an advance copy of Powell's Feb. 5, 2003, speech to the U.N.

Drumheller said he then arranged a meeting in McLaughlin's office and described what the German operative had told him over lunch several months earlier. After listening for 10 minutes, Drumheller said, McLaughlin responded by saying, "Oh my! I hope that's not true."

McLaughlin, who retired in January after 32 years at the CIA, said he did not recall the meeting and denied that Drumheller told him Curveball might be a fabricator.

"I have absolutely no recall of such a discussion. None," McLaughlin said in a statement Friday. "Such a meeting does not appear on my calendar, nor was this view transmitted to me in writing." He said he was "at a loss" to explain the conflicting accounts.

But another red flag appeared. On Jan. 27, 2003, the CIA's Berlin station warned in a message to headquarters that Curveball's information "cannot be verified."

Drumheller, meanwhile, said he never heard from McLaughlin or anyone else to confirm that Curveball's material had been deleted from Powell's speech. So when Tenet called him at home on another matter the night before Powell was to speak in New York, Drumheller said he raised the Curveball case.

"I gave him the phone number for the guy he wanted," Drumheller recalled. "Then it struck me, 'I better say something.' I said, 'You know, boss, there's problems with that case.' He says, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah, I'm exhausted. Don't worry about it.' "

Posted by b on April 24, 2006 at 10:11 AM | Permalink | Comments (10)

April 23, 2006

WB: Threat Projection

Billmon:

Threat Projection

Posted by b on April 23, 2006 at 01:18 PM | Permalink | Comments (18)

April 22, 2006

WB: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? +

Billmon:

II. Bladder Control

I.  Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Posted by b on April 22, 2006 at 02:46 PM | Permalink | Comments (9)

Quod Licet Jovi ...

This is an unmodified part of a screenshoot of the current National News page of the LA Times website.

Funny how these two stories appeared right next to each other.

Now, who are these leakers? Should they not be fired too?

The C.I.A. would not identify the leaker, but several government officials said it was Mary O. McCarthy, a veteran intelligence analyst who until 2001 was senior director for intelligence programs at the National Security Council, where she served under Presidents Clinton and Bush.
...
Public records show that Ms. McCarthy contributed $2,000 in 2004 to the presidential campaign of John Kerry, the Democratic candidate.

But maybe they leaked for the right reason. Like in Good Leak, Bad Leak.

Posted by b on April 22, 2006 at 07:48 AM | Permalink | Comments (6)

Weekend OT

News & views ...

Posted by b on April 22, 2006 at 01:40 AM | Permalink | Comments (51)

April 21, 2006

China



Various portraits mixed form photos of yesterday's visit of Hu Jintao to the U.S.

(bigger pic)

Update (Apr 22, 2006, 11:40 AM)

Hu's visit to the U.S. was an embaressment, but not for China. The question is not about "ass-kissing China", but about decency. Wearing sunglasses, like Cheney did during Hu Jintao's speech is an insult nearly anywhere in the world, though somehow, most Americans don´t get this.

Not giving Hu the honor of a full fledged state visit, as his two predesessors enjoyed, is without common reason. He didn´t get dinner, just lunch. The Chinese flag was not raised like foreign flags usually get raised when foreign chief of states, bloody dictators or elected leaders, visit the White House.

The Falung Gong journalist/heckler was known by the Secret Service to have heckled before. She wasn´t there by accident.

(BTW: Now even the left and the press is protesting that her 'free speech rights' are not honored while a foreign guest speaks. Falung Gong is a cult lead by a megalomanic homophobe that endangered the Chinese state. Would a German neonazi journalist have the right to heckle Merkel when she visits the White House?)

But let us point to the real problem. The U.S. owns the state of China about $200 billion plus in bonds. Maybe the same sum is owned to Chinese banks and private citizen in from of bonds an mortgage backed securities. The U.S. advises China to revalue the Renimbi and to consume less oil - neither will happen. To try to embarrass Hu into concessions like the U.S. did, immediately backfired. The way she looks, Rice did get that.

Indeed the combination of these advises is idiotic. A higher valued Renimbi would result in cheaper oil for Chinese consumers and thereby for higher oil consumption. But the real bad advise is the trick the U.S. pulled off against the Japanese and now tries to do on the Chinese.

In the 1980's the U.S. pressed Japan to let go of currency controls of the Yen - they did so. The Yen did rise sharply and the Japanese suddenly felt very rich. An asset and property bubble followed and when that bubble, like all bubbles, inevitably deflated Japan felt into stagnation and only now is about to climb out of that state.

Did that help the U.S.? In shortterm it did. The U.S. had do work less to pay back their  Japanes owned bonds. But look at GM and Toyota now and see the longterm foolishness. The Japan did lose a lot of money and opportunity through that misguided revaluation. Why would China repeat that mistake?

As of China bashing my advice to the U.S. is easy. If you don´t like China to sell to the U.S. just stop buying. As an alternative introduce trade barriers and reap the consequences.

The problem is not China, the problem is overconsumption by the U.S. on the state and personal private level. Unless that stops, China will be the winner.

Posted by b on April 21, 2006 at 04:36 PM | Permalink | Comments (35)

By Annie


by annie
full view (180kb)

Posted by b on April 21, 2006 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (14)

WB: Hip Hop

Billmon:

Oh when the frogs go marching out

Hip Hop

Posted by b on April 21, 2006 at 12:44 AM | Permalink | Comments (15)

April 20, 2006

Don't Do It At All

You really have to appreciate what Scott Ritter says in this recent interview with the San Diego Citybeat. Though I have to say, it is not only the Americans who have these reflexes.

Q: You’ve said Americans aren’t against the war in Iraq because it’s wrong; you say they’re against it because we’re losing. Is it just that Americans don’t like getting their asses kicked?

RITTER: I’m saying Americans don’t know enough about anything to have a well-informed opinion; this is all superficial. At the end of the day, yeah, we don’t like to get our asses kicked. We have a lot of national pride that’s based around the notion that we can kick anybody’s ass—we’re the biggest, baddest boys on the block. And in Iraq, we’re not winning, so a lot of Americans have their ruffles up. I guarantee you, had we invaded Iraq, had it gone easily—let’s say it went as easily as it appeared to go; we got rid of Saddam, we bring down the statue and peace and prosperity breaks out—there’d be a small, little element in the so-called anti-war movement; they’d be screaming about violation of law, etc. They’d be shouted down by the vast majority of Americans who would thump their chests with national pride and say, “No, we did the right thing. To hell with international law. We got rid of Saddam. We’ve instilled democracy. And it’s a good thing we did.”

Of course, things have gone sour, and now a lot of Americans are jumping on the bandwagon of “Hey, we shouldn’t have gone there.” But, again, at what point in time, I ask these newfound converts to the anti-war movement, did this become a bad war?

Like Ritter, this (pdf) study from the Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College, suggests, the mistakes were not troop sizes, or the dissemblance of the Iraqi army. The mistake was the idea of war itself.

Though the critics have made a number of telling points against the conduct of the war and the occupation, the basic problems faced by the United States flowed from the enterprise itself, and not primarily from mistakes in execution along the way. The most serious problems facing Iraq and its American occupiers-- "endemic violence, a shattered state, a nonfunctioning economy, and a decimated society"--were virtually inevitable consequences that flowed from the breakage of the Iraqi state.
[...]
Rather than "do it better next time," a better lesson is "don't do it at all."

I am not very optimistic, that this lesson has been, or will be learned. I would also suggest, that the War On Iraq is only part of a much bigger strategy, that includes Iran and Syria and finally, as explained her, the perceived arch rival China.

A real needless "Long War" that will be fought with even more kick-ass mentality and will be lost with a lot more whining than we are hearing now.

Posted by b on April 20, 2006 at 02:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (21)

WB: Profiles in Chicken Shit

Billmon:

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go scrape the rest of it off my shoes.

Profiles in Chicken Shit

Posted by b on April 20, 2006 at 05:32 AM | Permalink | Comments (21)

April 19, 2006

WB: Happy Jack & If It Quacks Like a Duck

Billmon:

II. If It Quacks Like a Duck

I. Happy Jack

Posted by b on April 19, 2006 at 05:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)

WB: The Spiral Conflict

Billmon:

Part of the problem is that it's becoming harder and harder to tell where "domestic political agendas" leave off and messianic religious obsessions take over. It's entirely possible that Bush's repeated references to saving Israel are simply in his script — that talk of war in the Middle East, if not war itself, really is part of Rove's cynical strategy for mobilizing the base. But I'm not sure how much comfort to take from that thought. To paraphrase the Frank Herbert quote I posted a couple of weeks ago: When politics and religion ride in the same chariot, there's an awfully good chance that bodies will end up going under the wheels. And whether it's the driver's fault or the horse's isn't likely to matter to those who get crushed.

The Spiral Conflict

Posted by b on April 19, 2006 at 04:16 PM | Permalink | Comments (27)

OT 06-34

Other news and views ...

Posted by b on April 19, 2006 at 08:42 AM | Permalink | Comments (71)

The Euston Manifesto - Bad Beer in a Bad Pub

by Malooga

[Comments on] 

The Euston Manifesto

[or what drinking bad beer in a bad pub can do for bad political argument.]
[Louis Proyect has some excellent background about the Manifesto]

For a Renewal of Progressive Politics
[sort of like the urban renewal of the sixties]

A. Preamble

We are democrats and progressives [or were twenty years ago, before we climbed aboard the CIA payroll]. We propose here a fresh political alignment [Bedding down with right wing fascists, pretty fresh, huh?]. Many of us belong to the Left [or claim we do], but the principles that we set out are not exclusive. We reach out, rather, beyond the socialist Left towards egalitarian liberals and others of unambiguous democratic commitment. [I believe that Clinton called it triangulation.] Indeed, the reconfiguration of progressive opinion that we aim for involves drawing a line between the forces of the Left that remain true to its authentic values [As we define them to be.], and currents that have lately shown themselves rather too flexible about these values. [Who just might end up in Gitmo, if you get my drift.] It involves making common cause with genuine democrats [™], whether socialist or not.

The present initiative has its roots in and has found a constituency [conspiracy] through the Internet, especially the ‘blogosphere’. It is our perception, however, that this constituency is under-represented elsewhere — in much of the media and the other forums of contemporary political life. [Yep, there just aren't enough “leftist,” pro-interventionist, zionist, imperialists out there on the web, in think tanks, or in the op-eds, these days. That nasty Chomsky, and his sidekick, Zinn, are taking up all the column inches.]

The broad statement of principles that follows is a declaration of intent. [Broad principles are so much more clear, and unassailable, than petty details.] It inaugurates a new Website, which will serve as a resource for the current of opinion it hopes to represent and the several foundation blogs and other sites that are behind this call for a progressive realignment.

B. Statement of principles

1. For democracy

We are committed to democratic norms, procedures and structures — freedom of opinion [Between the center-right and the far right, as long as it is in 15 second, or shorter, clips.] and assembly [In caged boxes and “free speech zones”; under the watchful eye of masked, leather booted, unaccountable, taser and tear gas wielding “friendly neighborhood cops.”], free elections [Or at least as “free” as the last two Presidential elections have been.], the separation of legislative, executive and judicial powers [The only way they have been separated the past six years is that they are not actually physical Siamese twins. They work for each other, hunt with each other, cover for each other, and, in some cases, sleep with each other.], and the separation of state and religion. [Under god.] We value the traditions [myths and lies] and institutions, the legacy of good governance [Nothing but solid, good ole governance behind the myriad foreign interventions, the largest jail population in the world, the ecological devastation, the exploding cancer rates and lack of health care, and the poor and starving.], of those countries in which liberal, pluralist [Well, we ARE allowed to argue about abortions and flag-burning.] democracies have taken hold.

2. No apology for tyranny

We decline to make excuses for, to indulgently ‘understand’, reactionary regimes and movements for which democracy is a hated enemy [Whether we support them, or not.] — regimes that oppress their own peoples and movements that aspire to do so. [Can anybody say, “Patriot Act?” How about “domestic surveillance?”] We draw a firm line between ourselves and those left-liberal voices today quick to offer an apologetic explanation for such political forces. [Like the Democrats in the Senate, who ratified the Act.]

3. Human rights for all

We hold the fundamental human rights codified in the Universal Declaration to be precisely universal, and binding on all states and political movements, indeed on everyone. Violations of these rights are equally to be condemned [Do I hear echoes of  Jeane Kirkpatrick's “moral equivalence here?] whoever is responsible for them and regardless of cultural context. We reject the double standards with which much self-proclaimed progressive opinion now operates, finding lesser (though all too real) violations of human rights that are closer to home [I believe Chomsky's formulation is that, while it might be easy for us to criticize China's violations, and vice-versa, that gets us nowhere. We are most responsible for, and have the most control over, our own actions. Good enough for Noam, good enough for me.], or are the responsibility of certain disfavoured governments, more deplorable than other violations that are flagrantly worse. We reject, also, the cultural relativist view according to which these basic human rights are not appropriate for certain nations or peoples. [They are, and we will enforce them, by golly!]

4. Equality

We espouse a generally [Is that a yes, or a no?] egalitarian politics. [Should be possible since  Buckley v. Valeo states that money does not equal free speech.] We look towards progress in relations between the sexes (until full gender equality is achieved), between different ethnic communities, between those of various religious affiliations and those of none, and between people of diverse sexual orientations — as well as towards broader social and economic equality all round. [Ah, that lovely word, progress. It falls so softly off the tongue, especially when it is the last dying word of the still hopeful oppressed.] We leave open, as something on which there are differences of viewpoint amongst us, the question of the best economic forms of this broader equality [Hmm, unalloyed capitalism might work, but then again, so might neo-liberalism, fascism, feudalism, autocracy, and oligarchy. This is one of those tough decisions we will just have to reserve judgment on.], but we support the interests of working people everywhere and their right to organize in defence of those interests. Democratic trade unions are the bedrock organizations for the defence of workers’ interests and are one of the most important forces for human rights, democracy-promotion and egalitarian internationalism. Labour rights are human rights.[Have we accidentally slipped into the Communist Manifesto?] The universal adoption of the International Labour Organization Conventions — now routinely ignored by governments across the globe — is a priority for us. [Just don't criticize America.] We are committed to the defence of the rights of children, and to protecting people from sexual slavery and all forms of institutionalized abuse. [We're just mealy mouthed bout the conditions that cause this oppression.]

5. Development for freedom

We stand for global economic development-as-freedom [That's a mouthful. Freedom for who? The indigenous, or the displaced campesinos?] and against structural economic oppression and environmental degradation. [OK, more development, less degradation, got it.] The current expansion of global markets and free trade must not be allowed to serve the narrow interests of a small corporate elite in the developed world and their associates in developing countries. The benefits of large-scale development through the expansion of global trade ought to be distributed as widely as possible in order to serve the social and economic interests of workers, farmers and consumers in all countries. [I thought we were already benefiting those displaced farmers by letting them work in machiladoras for seventy hours a week, while we feed them GMO corn.] Globalization must mean global social integration [Ulp. Don't tell my indigenous friends that they must “socially integrate” their cultures.] and a commitment to social justice. We support radical reform of the major institutions of global economic governance (World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund, World Bank) [I thought we supported the death penalty for murderers in this country? Well, let's not go overboard and throw out the baby with the bilgewater. Anyway, it's good to know that we Progressives support “global governance.”] to achieve these goals, and we support fair trade, more aid [Agribusiness demands it.], debt cancellation and the campaign to Make Poverty History. [Progressively. Is that like a “War on Poverty?” Maybe we could bomb the poor.] Development can bring growth in life expectancy [It can also shorten your life expectancy by ten years, as it did for the men of the former Soviet Union.] and in the enjoyment of life, easing burdensome labour and shortening the working day. [Whoa there, whose working day has been shortened lately, except for the downsized temp workers?] It can bring freedom to youth [freedom = factory], possibilities of exploration to those of middle years [when you are fired and forced to move.], and security to old age [Especially after we privatize Social Security]. It enlarges horizons and the opportunities for travel [Which you just might need to do, since air travel is the single worst contributor to global warming], and helps make strangers into friends [Koombayaa!]. Global development must be pursued in a manner consistent with environmentally sustainable growth. [How?]

6. Opposing anti-Americanism [This is called “Burying the Lead.”]

We reject without qualification the anti-Americanism now infecting so much left-liberal (and some conservative) thinking. This is not a case of seeing the US as a model society. We are aware of its problems and failings. [But we will carefully avoid mentioning them in this document.] But these are shared in some degree with all of the developed world. [Which, I guess, absolves us from having to confront our failings.] The United States of America is a great country and nation. [Simply grrreat, Marge. Mix me another Martini while your up] It is the home of a strong democracy with a noble tradition behind it and lasting constitutional and social achievements to its name. [Those lasting achievements are eroding faster than the frescoes in Fellini's “Roma.”] Its peoples have produced a vibrant culture that is the pleasure, the source-book and the envy of millions. [Million$, is the operative word in that sentence. Or is it, “commodification?”] That US foreign policy has often opposed progressive movements and governments and supported regressive and authoritarian ones does not justify generalized prejudice against either the country or its people. [No, after we destroy your country, and kill, jail, and torture your relatives, you are EXPECTED to love us for it. Somehow, I think there might be a pattern hidden in that sentence.]

7. For a two-state solution

We recognize the right of both the Israeli and the Palestinian peoples to self-determination within the framework of a two-state solution. There can be no reasonable resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that subordinates or eliminates the legitimate rights and interests of one of the sides to the dispute. [In other words, the interests of an expansionist settler state, which has engaged in ethnic cleansing and occupation must not be subordinated to the interests of a people who have been ethnically cleansed and occupied. That should make for a “reasonable” solution.]

8. Against racism

For liberals and the Left, anti-racism is axiomatic. We oppose every form of racist prejudice and behaviour: the anti-immigrant racism of the far Right [Should we let everyone who wants to enter this country in? Wouldn't any limits be racism?]; tribal and inter-ethnic racism [Which we, alone, are qualified to identify, judge, adjudicate, intervene in, and punish.]; racism against people from Muslim countries and those descended [sic] from them, particularly under cover of the War on Terror.The recent resurgence [What evidence is there for this resurgence?] of another, very old form of racism, anti-Semitism, [Burying the lead, again. “Very old?” How quaint an implication of historical continuity.] is not yet properly acknowledged in left and liberal circles. [Just how many more op-eds in the New Pravda would make it properly acknowledged for you?]  Some exploit the legitimate grievances of the Palestinian people under occupation by Israel, and conceal prejudice against the Jewish people behind the formula of ‘anti-Zionism’. [Where do I start here? Acknowledging Palestinian grievances is exploitation? Conflating the actions of a state with the people, so that if we oppose the state, is now evidence of prejudice against a people? The formula of Zionism? Not international law, like UN 242? Where's the Listerine?] We oppose this type of racism too [Well, you certainly defined it.], as should go without saying. [Then don't say it.]

9. United against terror

We are opposed to all forms of terrorism. The deliberate targeting of civilians is a crime under international law and all recognized codes of warfare [What if we claim that it was not deliberate, but simply collateral damage, as we do in Iraq and Afghanistan?], and it cannot be justified by the argument that it is done in a cause that is just. [Like Bush tries to do with our invasion of Iraq. This sounds like one of Rumsfeld's mad projections. The US is directly responsible in the deaths of 500,000 Iraqis during sanctions, and estimates of up to 300,000 since the invasion. This is over 3% of the total population. Wounded are many times more. Palestinian deaths outpace Israeli by about 10 to 1. Even if we count the deaths from 9-11, deaths of Westerners at the hands of Moslems are a minuscule fraction of the deaths of Moslems at the hands of US and Israelis. But note which is mentioned and criticized here.] Terrorism inspired by Islamist ideology is widespread today. [So is going into other people's heads and deciding for them what inspires them. Anyway, it couldn't be some more mundane cause, like being occupied and murdered, could it?] It threatens democratic values and the lives and freedoms of people in many countries. [It is certainly true that the US war in Iraq is rebounding and corroding democratic values in the US itself.] This does not justify prejudice against Muslims [No, it doesn't justify it, but slyly, this formulation does its best to incite it.], who are its main victims, and amongst whom are to be found some of its most courageous opponents [and quislings]. But, like all terrorism, it is a menace that has to be fought [O.T. Logic: More retributive killing is the answer.], and not excused.

10. A new internationalism

We stand for an internationalist politics and the reform of international law — in the interests of global democratization and global development. [Always in the interests of endless development, here.] Humanitarian intervention [Dance, Bill and Wes], when necessary, is not a matter of disregarding sovereignty, [we maintain] but of lodging this properly within the ‘common life’ of all peoples. [Gag me with an Anarchist pretzel!] If in some minimal sense a state protects the common life of its people (if it does not torture, murder and slaughter its own civilians, and meets their most basic needs of life), then its sovereignty is to be respected. But if the state itself violates this common life in appalling ways, its claim to sovereignty is forfeited and there is a duty upon the international community of intervention and rescue. [We might do well to look at ourselves in the mirror first, here. It is also the duty of the free press to manufacture consent by twisting information and vilifying the official enemy.] Once a threshold of inhumanity has been crossed, there is a ‘responsibility to protect’.  [But there is never a responsibility to go back and analyze who originally supported the wayward regime, installed the irrational leader, or equipped and armed its military. That could get uncomfortable. Nor is there any responsibility to avoid more killing by NOT intervening. That would not be fun. Again, we are judge, jury and executioner, here.]

11. A critical openness

Drawing the lesson of the disastrous history of left apologetics over the crimes of Stalinism and Maoism [Let's go back 50-80 years to kick the left in the butt, but ignore Vietnam and Central America.], as well as more recent exercises in the same vein (some of the reaction to the crimes of 9/11 [Anyone who wasn't enthralled in a jingoistic orgy.], the excuse-making for suicide-terrorism [Oh yes, I remember this argument well. Anyone who earnestly asked, and tried to answer the question, “Why do they hate us?” was "excuse-making.”], the disgraceful alliances lately set up inside the ‘anti-war’ movement with illiberal theocrats [resistance against occupation is futile unless you are sanctioned by the National Endowment for Democracy.]), we reject the notion that there are no opponents on the Left. We reject, similarly, the idea that there can be no opening to ideas and individuals to our right. [Which side are you on, boy, which side are you on? Look, if you progressives feel more comfortable with the ideas of the right, why not just come out and say it?] Leftists who make common cause with, or excuses for, anti-democratic forces should be criticized in clear and forthright terms. [Those who supported the invasion of Iraq, and subsequent refusal to hold elections.] Conversely, we pay attention to liberal and conservative voices and ideas if they contribute to strengthening democratic norms and practices and to the battle [or myth] for human progress. [For a clearer sense of what really constitutes progress for the left, than this thin screed offers, see James Petras' recent article, “Center-Left" Regimes in Latin America.]

12. Historical truth

In connecting to the original humanistic impulses of the movement for human progress [again], we emphasize the duty that genuine democrats must have to respect for the historical truth. Not only fascists, Holocaust-deniers and the like have tried to obscure the historical record. One of the tragedies of the Left is that its own reputation was massively compromised in this regard by the international Communist movement [Hey, at least they had National health care. Seriously though, whatever errors the left made over communism are nothing compared to the Orwellian distortion over Central America, Rwanda, Yugoslavia and the current “War on Terror.” Nor is it a drop in the bucket compared to conventional non-partisan history as it is taught in our schools. See, “Lies My Teacher Told Me,” by  Dr. James W. Loewen], and some have still not learned that lesson. [But we will keep berating you until you do learn it. Have you figured out what side we are really on, yet?] Political honesty and straightforwardness are a primary obligation for us.

13. Freedom of ideas

We uphold the traditional liberal freedom of ideas. It is more than ever necessary today to affirm that, within the usual constraints against defamation, libel and incitement to violence, people must be at liberty to criticize ideas — even whole bodies of ideas — to which others are committed. [Just be mindful of what we said earlier that criticizing Israel is tantamount to that “very old form of racism, anti-Semitism,” and that  attempting to understand Islamic anger is really “the excuse-making for suicide-terrorism.”] This includes the freedom to criticize religion: particular religions and religion in general. Respect for others does not entail remaining silent about their beliefs where these are judged to be wanting. [I think this means that we should feel free to draw doodles of Muhammad, and call Moslems “Islamo-fascists” with impunity.]

14. Open source

As part of the free exchange of ideas and in the interests of encouraging joint intellectual endeavour, we support the open development of software and other creative works and oppose the patenting of genes, algorithms and facts of nature. We oppose the retrospective extension of intellectual property laws in the financial interests of corporate copyright holders. The open source model is collective and competitive, collaborative and meritocratic. It is not a theoretical ideal, but a tested reality that has created common goods whose power and robustness have been proved over decades. Indeed, the best collegiate ideals of the scientific research community that gave rise to open source collaboration have served human progress for centuries. [This one is about as explicable as Bush railing about human trafficing at the UN.  I mean, open source is nice and all, but why not mention drug manufacturers refusing to provide drugs for the AIDS sufferers of Africa, or why not mention some of the weapons treaties we pulled out of since we are talking about openness. Why not talk about demilitarizing space, rather than claiming that we own it. Why not develop all scientific research openly and collectively? In any event, I think that the current trend in software, at least as far as Uncle Bill is concerned, is to give it away for free, but restrict usage through spybots, and charge massively for support and services.]

15. A precious heritage

We reject fear of modernity [and the consequent rights of the indigenous everywhere], fear of freedom [I think this means people's rights to live under a non-democratic government, should they choose to do so.], irrationalism [Are you sure about this one, check your previous logic.], the subordination of women [Unless their unsubordination is progressive. Again this progressive sounding bit of totalitarianism denies the rights of traditional societal structures to exist.]; and we reaffirm the ideas that inspired the great rallying calls of the democratic revolutions of the eighteenth century: liberty, equality and solidarity; human rights; the pursuit of happiness [Unfortunately this idea often descends into disquisitions for good wine, onanism, and property rights. I would much rather see the older Iroquois democratic ideal of responsible stewardship of the Earth mentioned here.] These inspirational ideas were made the inheritance of us all by the social-democratic, egalitarian, feminist and anti-colonial transformations of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries [And are being taken away from us much more rapidly under the Clinton, Bliar, and Bush neo-liberal transformation.] — by the pursuit of social justice, the provision of welfare, the brotherhood and sisterhood of all men and women. None should be left out, none left behind [Regardless of their wishes]. We are partisans of these values. But we are not zealots. [One man's partisan is another man's zealot.] For we embrace also the values of free enquiry [Except about 9-11], open dialogue and creative doubt [Don't hear much doubt here], of care in judgment [sic] and a sense of the intractabilities of the world. [Much as we “Progressives” might try to manipulate things to our progressive advantage.] We stand against all claims to a total — unquestionable or unquestioning — truth. [Before we descend into post-modern mush, let us recall that these guys were pretty clear about the truths that one shouldn't seek to understand terrorists motives or say anything which AIPAC might construe as “anti-semitic.”]

[Let me take out my hankie and dry my eyes a bit before I continue.]

C. Elaborations

We defend liberal and pluralist democracies against all who make light [Or earnestly criticize.] of the differences between them and totalitarian and other tyrannical regimes. But these democracies have their own deficits and shortcomings. The battle for the development of more democratic institutions and procedures, for further empowering those without influence, without a voice or with few political resources, is a permanent part of the agenda of the Left. [Yes, but how? The devil, as they say, is in the details.]

The social and economic foundations on which the liberal democracies have developed are marked [Are they marked, or is that the hallmark?] by deep inequalities of wealth and income and the survival of unmerited privilege. In turn, global inequalities are a scandal [A scandal, I tell you!] to the moral conscience of humankind. Millions live in terrible poverty. Week in, week out, tens of thousands of people — children in particular — die from preventable illnesses. Inequalities of wealth, both as between individuals and between countries, distribute life chances in an arbitrary way. [Yes, yes, yes. But why do you bright fellows happen to think this is? And what do you propose should be done about it? That is the crux of the matter. The rest of this is just embroidered boilerplate.]

These things are a standing indictment against the international community. [The entire international community equally? Maybe the US more? Maybe corporations? Maybe the WTO, IMF and World Bank guys, combined with the economic hitmen and the supporting militaries.] We on the Left, in keeping with our own traditions, fight for justice and a decent life for everyone. [How?] In keeping with those same traditions, we have also to fight against powerful forces of totalitarian-style tyranny that are on the march again. [Well, at least a persistent jingoism shines through. Are you really prepared to fight the encroaching totalitarian tyrannies of the Bush regime?] Both battles have to be fought simultaneously. One should not be sacrificed for the other. [But if one must be sacrificed, it is pretty clear from the tone of this document which it would be.]

We repudiate the way of thinking according to which the events of September 11 2001 were America’s deserved comeuppance, or ‘understandable’ in the light of legitimate grievances resulting from US foreign policy. [There is nothing understandable about others' hostility to us. Got it. Actually, I am beginning to suspect that the war in Iraq, rather than 9-11, is America's deserved comeuppance.] What was done on that day was an act of mass murder, motivated by odious fundamentalist beliefs and redeemed by nothing whatsoever. No evasive formula can hide that. [After listening to David Ray Griffin, I am not very sure about what was really done on that day. But I do understand that you guys are mining the “9-11 changed everything” meme, which most of us have forgotten, for all it is worth.]

The founding supporters of this statement took different views on the military intervention in Iraq, both for and against. We recognize that it was possible reasonably to disagree about the justification for the intervention, the manner in which it was carried through, the planning (or lack of it) for the aftermath, and the prospects for the successful implementation of democratic change. [This is all “rooting for our team” tactical disagreements. What I would like to know is, how many of you oily liberals agree about the illegality of “preventive” war, and this war in specific. How many of you agree that one country has no right to invade another sovereign country that is not threatening to attack it? And how many of you guys are really foolish to believe all this hooey about democracy, when there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that we ever planned anything but installing a new puppet leader? If you want to be thought of as serious thinkers, and not serious drinkers, you need to address these questions.] We are, however, united in our view about the reactionary, semi-fascist and murderous character of the Baathist regime in Iraq, and we recognize its overthrow as a liberation of the Iraqi people. [Well, I guess you addressed it then. The point here is that it is irrelevant whether you recognize the overthrow of the Baathists as a liberation or not. It is up to the Iraqis do decide how they recognize it, and I don't think you belligerent dunces really want to hear their answer.] We are also united in the view that, since the day on which this occurred, the proper concern of genuine liberals and members of the Left should have been the battle to put in place in Iraq a democratic political order and to rebuild the country’s infrastructure [How sweetly patronizing of you!], to create after decades of the most brutal oppression [I believe that by brutal oppression you mean the Kissenger engineered war with Iran, followed by our first war with Iraq, followed by sanctions. Prior to all of that, Iraq was the gem of the Middle East, a center of higher education with the greatest percentage of PHDs in the world, and nationalized health care.] a life for Iraqis which those living in democratic countries take for granted — rather than picking through the rubble of the arguments over intervention. [War crimes on the level of Nuremberg are blithely dismissed as “rubble of the arguments over intervention." The sweet joys of Liberalism!]

This opposes us not only to those on the Left who have actively spoken in support of the gangs of jihadist and Baathist thugs [Reagan preferred the phrase “freedom fighters” to “gangs” and “thugs.”] of the Iraqi so-called [do you mean self-called, perhaps?] resistance, but also to others who manage to find a way of situating themselves between such forces and those trying to bring a new democratic life to the country. [No doubt of the puppets motives at least.] We have no truck, either, with the tendency to pay lip service to these ends, while devoting most of one’s energy to criticism of political opponents at home (supposedly responsible for every difficulty in Iraq), and observing a tactful silence or near silence about the ugly forces of the Iraqi ‘insurgency’. The many left opponents of regime change in Iraq who have been unable to understand the considerations that led others on the Left to support it, dishing out anathema and excommunication, more lately demanding apology or repentance, betray the democratic values they profess. [Betray democratic values? By disagreeing with you? You are on quite a little snit here, especially for someone who has made every effort NOT to share your treasured “considerations” in engaging in war crimes. I think the more pertinent consideration after reading this delightful little paragraph, is to ask in what manner you “progressives” differ from the most totalitarian and fascistic strains of the far-right in your views on Iraq? Is it that you are bombing them for “democracy,” while the right is bombing them for oil? Pray tell.]

Vandalism against synagogues and Jewish graveyards and attacks on Jews themselves are on the increase in Europe. [Really?] ‘Anti-Zionism’ has now developed to a point where supposed organizations of the Left are willing to entertain openly anti-Semitic speakers and to form alliances with anti-Semitic groups. [You don't have to put quotes around  ‘anti-Zionism.’ It is true. Many people, including many Jews, are against Zionist ideology as well as the policies of the Israeli government. That is called democracy, my Liberal friend, not anti-Semitism.] Amongst educated and affluent people are to be found individuals unembarrassed to claim that the Iraq war was fought on behalf of Jewish interests, or to make other ‘polite’ and subtle allusions to the harmful effect of Jewish influence in international or national politics — remarks of a kind that for more than fifty years after the Holocaust no one would have been able to make without publicly disgracing themselves. We stand against all variants of such bigotry. [Maybe it is not bigotry. Maybe, as in the John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt article, there is a compelling case to be made. Here it is you that is betraying the democratic values you profess.]

The violation of basic human rights standards at Abu Ghraib, at Guantanamo, and by the practice of ‘rendition’, must be roundly condemned for what it is: a departure from universal principles, [Try war crime on for size.] for the establishment of which the democratic countries themselves, and in particular the United States of America, bear the greater part of the historical credit. [Nice rhetorical trick to find a way to complement the US in a sentence about Abu Graib!] But we reject the double standards by which too many on the Left today treat as the worst violations of human rights those perpetrated by the democracies, while being either silent or more muted about infractions that outstrip these by far. [Usually committed with American support or complicity. Have to agree with Uncle Noam here, that America – and its proxies – are the worst perpetrators of violence in the world.] This tendency has reached the point that officials speaking for Amnesty International, an organization which commands enormous, worldwide respect because of its invaluable work over several decades, can now make grotesque public comparison of Guantanamo with the Gulag [In quality, yes; in quantity, not so far], can assert that the legislative measures taken by the US and other liberal democracies in the War on Terror constitute a greater attack on human rights principles and values than anything we have seen in the last 50 years, and be defended for doing so by certain left and liberal voice.

D. Conclusion

It is vitally important for the future of progressive politics that people of liberal, egalitarian and internationalist outlook should now speak clearly. We must define ourselves against those for whom the entire progressive-democratic agenda has been subordinated to a blanket and simplistic ‘antiimperialism’ and/or hostility to the current US administration. [Anti-imperialism is not simplistic, nor harmless, in the least, regardless of how you seek to derogate it. And calling the progressive-democratic agenda to be imperialism, albeit clothed in populist guise, is to reveal what you have here so ardently sought to obfuscate.] The values and goals which properly make up that agenda — the values of democracy, human rights, the continuing battle against unjustified privilege and power, solidarity with peoples fighting against tyranny and oppression — are what most enduringly define the shape of any Left worth belonging to.

[It is hard to understand just how you would attempt to implement this progressive agenda -- “the values of democracy, human rights, the continuing battle against unjustified privilege and power, solidarity with peoples fighting against tyranny and oppression” -- while, at the same time, defining yourself against “hostility to the current US administration,” as they represent the very pinnacles of “unjustified privilege and power in the entire world. If you call yourselves progressives, yet show no hostility to the current administration, perhaps, by your reckoning, they are progressives too.  As Orwell mused in “Animal House, “Man is the only real enemy we have.”]

Posted by b on April 19, 2006 at 05:31 AM | Permalink | Comments (53)

WB: Sanity is Optional

Billmon:

Once you switch, you never go back.

Sanity is Optional

Posted by b on April 19, 2006 at 01:17 AM | Permalink | Comments (7)

April 18, 2006

The Ever Lasting Zarqawi

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: [...] I think we just have to accept it, that people have a right to say what they want to say, and to have an acceptance of that and recognize that the terrorists, Zarqawi and bin Laden and Zawahiri, those people have media committees. They are actively out there trying to manipulate the press in the United States. They are very good at it. [...]
Rush Interviews Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld; April 17, 2006

-----

One internal briefing, produced by the U.S. military headquarters in Iraq, said that Kimmitt had concluded that, "The Zarqawi PSYOP program is the most successful information campaign to date." Kimmitt is now the senior planner on the staff of the Central Command that directs operations in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East.
Military Plays Up Role of Zarqawi; WaPo; April 10, 2006

So we know Zarqawi is comitted bullshit but still used. So what about bin Laden and Zawahiri is really real?

I don´t know. Do you?

Posted by b on April 18, 2006 at 03:24 PM | Permalink | Comments (30)

WB: Peanut

Billmon:

.. Jimmy Carter didn't nuke the Iranians ..

Peanut

Posted by b on April 18, 2006 at 02:41 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

WB: The Flight Forward, Part 2

Billmon:

[T]here is real risk that key players in the crisis — Iranian as well as American — are fundamentally misreading the situation. They may not understand that their counterparts on the other side are perfectly willing to escalate, because they actually want war, or at least are pulled in that direction by their own political and/or strategic dilemmas.

However, there is an even more terrible risk here, which is that both sides in this crisis may want a war, although for different reasons. And when both parties to a confrontation like this one want a war, they usually get one.

The Flight Forward, Part 2

Posted by b on April 18, 2006 at 01:34 AM | Permalink | Comments (21)

WB: Autumn Leaves

Billmon:

"I trust I've made myself clear," McClellan added.

Autumn Leaves

Posted by b on April 18, 2006 at 01:32 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

April 17, 2006

WB: The Flight Forward

Billmon:

Fear of WMD may indeed be at the root of a war with Iran, if that's really where we're heading. Or it may simply be reprise of Wolfowitz's "bureaucratic reason." The past few years have taught us a lot about mixed motives. But it seems at least possible that what the neocons – and Bush – are really hoping to "preempt" is the collapse of their grand scheme in the Middle East. In other words, it may be the United States, not Iran, that is preparing to "lash out" – in a deliberate, calculated war of aggression.

The Flight Forward

Posted by b on April 17, 2006 at 02:34 AM | Permalink | Comments (29)

April 16, 2006

Easter Walk

Of what my late father handed me down, I most value some books and a habit.

Each Easter, after a long walk through the woods, he and I opened volume 2 of his 1864 Gotha edition of Goethe's collected works and read Faust, the Easter Walk.

The scholar Faust, he later sells his soul to the devil, is haunted by his thrieve for godlike knowledge. Thinking of suicide, happy Easter songs from outside his study remember him not on religion, but on happy moments in his childhood and stop him. He takes a Sunday walk with his student Wagner and remarks:

Loosed from their fetters are streams and rills
Through the gracious spring-tide's all-quickening glow;
Hope's budding joy in the vale doth blow;
Old Winter back to the savage hills
Withdraweth his force, decrepid now.

Thence only impotent icy grains
Scatters he as he wings his flight,
Striping with sleet the verdant plains;
But the sun endureth no trace of white;

Everywhere growth and movement are rife,
All things investing with hues of life:

Though flowers are lacking, varied of dye,
Their colours the motly throng supply.
Turn thee around, and from this height,
Back to the town direct thy sight.

Forth from the hollow, gloomy gate,
Stream forth the masses, in bright array.
Gladly seek they the sun to-day;
The Lord's Resurrection they celebrate:

For they themselves have risen, with joy,
From tenement sordid, from cheerless room,
From bonds of toil, from care and annoy,
From gable and roof's o'er-hanging gloom,
From crowded alley and narrow street,
And from the churches' awe-breathing night,
All now have come forth into the light.

Look, only look, on nimble feet,
Through garden and field how spread the throng,
How o'er the river's ample sheet,
Many a gay wherry glides along;

And see, deep sinking in the tide,
Pushes the last boat now away.
E'en from yon far hill's path-worn side,
Flash the bright hues of garments gay.

Hark! Sounds of village mirth arise;
This is the people's paradise.

Both great and small send up a cheer;
Here am I man, I feel it here.

Posted by b on April 16, 2006 at 02:19 PM | Permalink | Comments (40)

WB: This is Not a Drill

Billmon:

It's already obvious: This one's going to be a unitary executive special – right down the line. The administration's vanished political capital leaves it no other way. When you've got nothing, you've got nothing to lose.

So what, exactly, is there for Congress to ask the "hard questions" about? And what answers would it get, other than: "That's classified," or "That's a privileged executive branch communication"? And how is a rubber stamp Congress supposed to stop a war that officially isn't on the drawing boards? Particularly when the Republican majority hopes – or at least understands – it could be the magic bullet, so to speak, that saves their sorry asses this November?

This is Not a Drill

Posted by b on April 16, 2006 at 02:47 AM | Permalink | Comments (19)

WB: Payback

Billmon:

The difference, I think, between left and right is that the right has no rational justification to feel any of these things, and yet many, if not most, conservatives continue to wallow in the mindset of a besieged minority.

Liberals, much less radical progressives, really are a besieged minority in this country. So why is it suddenly considered front-page news that they're acting like one?

Payback

Posted by b on April 16, 2006 at 02:43 AM | Permalink | Comments (5)

WB: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Billmon:

[T]he practical effect is to create a movement that can only engage with reality on a very narrow front – on a set of issues that is compatible with the increasingly warped and extreme meanings the cult has developed for itself. The propaganda ministers of the Republican Party, meanwhile, have made it their business to learn this code and to manipulate it in ways that will whip the faithful into a frenzy – while at the same time appealing to a broader, less indoctrinated audience that is also concerned (not fanatical, but concerned) about such issues.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Posted by b on April 16, 2006 at 02:37 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

April 15, 2006

OT 06-33

Could we have an easter/spring solstice/renewal thread?

Posted by b on April 15, 2006 at 03:29 AM | Permalink | Comments (70)

April 14, 2006

WB: Munich

Billmon:

The irony is that when America was in the best possible position to dictate a deal (an ultimatum, really) to the Iranians – after the fall of Bagdad three years ago – was also the point when the Cheney administration was least willing to even think about negotiations. Such is the price of hubris.

Those opportunities have all passed us by. Instead of a moderate reform president and a group of nervous ayatollahs anxious to cut a deal, we now have Ahmadinejad – and the dawn of what might well become an explicitly fascist regime in Iran, or at least a very close substitute for one.

Munich

Posted by b on April 14, 2006 at 06:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (19)

WB: Rummy Punch

Billmon:

The chances that Dick Cheney will fire his old boss and ideological comrade in crime are only slightly higher than the chances that Rumsfeld's removal would lead to even a minor improvement in the situation in Iraq. It's almost like asking Cheney to fire himself.

To be honest, I think the pair of them would get rid of Junior before they would ever consider stepping down. This absolute determination to hold on to office at all costs may seem bizarre, considering how old and sick these guys are -- and how much shit is coming down on their heads every day -- but it's just the way these things work.

Rummy Punch

Posted by b on April 14, 2006 at 02:46 AM | Permalink | Comments (35)

WB: A Practical Joke

Billmon:

A Practical Joke

Posted by b on April 14, 2006 at 12:18 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

WB: New Pravda No More?

Billmon

But it appears to be beyond Sanger's brain wattage to ask the obvious question: If talk of war serves the administration's diplomatic purposes, why are they working so hard to try to knock it down now? The logical answer is that the war talk -- and the war planning -- is real, but public discussion of it is at this point is premature, i.e. not part of the media plan.

New Pravda No More?

Posted by b on April 14, 2006 at 12:14 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

 
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