Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
March 15, 2005

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News, views, opinions ...

and a link to the forerunner.

Posted by b on March 15, 2005 at 10:49 UTC | Permalink

Comments

Another good piece by conservative money manager Jim Puplava of Financial Sense: Recognition, Revaluation, & Reallocation

It´s about energy and oil, what the US should do and doesn´t do and about the investment consequences.

Posted by: b | Mar 15 2005 11:07 utc | 1

The Legitimacy of US Foreign Policy ....prominent intellectuals' articles on legitimacy. I still think power peeps pick and choose whatever sounds best to a focus group and could care less about any real legitimacy. Those that know better are stuck having to go along with party bosses who could put them out of office or are burdened with some misplaced sense of loyalty.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Mar 15 2005 15:28 utc | 2

Calling Alabama Moonies:

How to write like a conservative. by Steven Ward

Posted by: beq | Mar 15 2005 16:46 utc | 3

21st Century Color Revolutions; Orange in the Ukraine. Red, White and Cedar Green in Lebanon.

Follow the money; US Taxpayers, China Flag Makers, Colorful Mass Protestors, Freedom on the March.

Posted by: Jim S | Mar 15 2005 17:00 utc | 4

I've been thinking about this issue for a while, and feel like I'm finally ready to have Jerome, Bernhard, and everyone else here who understands these issues better than I do (which would be pretty much everybody) tell me where I'm going wrong in my reasoning:

Given the current situation, I do not see how the US economy, and by extension the world economy, can avoid an extended and painful economic downturn. The US trade and budget deficits require the US to borrow trillions of dollars, much of it from foreigners. At the risk of oversimplifying, foreigners send the US goods and money, and in return get little pieces of paper. So long as they're willing to accept these pieces of paper in return for real things, everything's fine. At some point, though, foreigners are going to value those pieces of paper less. When that happens, the US dollar starts to decline (as it has already done), as foreigners want more dollars in return for the real goods they're supplying. I said this was oversimplified -- bear with me.

In the short run, a falling dollar will feed inflation, as imports cost more. Theoretically, over the slightly longer run, imports will fall and domestic production of formerly imported goods will rise. US exports will also rise, and things will balance out. In reality, the US manufacturing base can simply no longer provide whole broad classes of goods like clothing and electronics. Mostly, though, the US can't substitute domestic for foreign oil (whatever hopeless exaggerations about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge the Bush Administration tries to peddle). If the US can't substitute domestic for foreign goods, either prices go up or consumption goes down. If consumption goes down, retail sales fall. Places like Wal-Mart are heavily dependent on cheap imported merchandise. If that merchandise isn't cheap, at some point Wal-Mart's customers just quit buying.

Higher import prices, especially for oil and other raw materials, will also drive up business's costs. Again, theoretically US business would substitute domestic for foreign products. If it can't, though, it must pay higher costs. It can either pass those costs along to its customers -- causing further inflation -- or try to absorb higher costs. Businesses may be willing to accept lower profit margins, but when low margins turn into losses, costs have to be cut somehow. In such a situation, business traditionally turns to labor as its most cuttable expense, sinc US workers have very few real job protections. So unemployment, which is already almost certainly higher than the official 5.4% or whatever, climbs.

The other effect of a falling dollar is to raise US interest rates. Remember, the US must borrow billions of dollars to finance its twin budget and trade deficits. With the dollar falling, investors will require higher interest rates to compensate.

The whole "prosperity" of the past four years has been built almost exclusively on very low interest rates. In fact, real interest rates in the US may well be negative now. If interest rates rise significantly, the entire foundation of the US economy is undermined. Consumers are already overstretched; the US savings rate is supposedly a measly 1.5%, but may in fact be negative. Outstanding consumer debt is greater than GDP. As consumers face rising interest rates, they will have to cut consumption, since they can't easily cut their interest payments on mortgages, home equity loans, and credit card debt. The Bush "recovery" was the result almost wholly of consumer spending. If consumer spending falls, the recovery must falter.

Higher interest rates will have a direct impact on two pillars of the US economy -- new home construction and property values. The recovery was fueled largely by new home construction. With higher interest rates, new housing starts will fall. At the same time, US consumers have relied heavily on rising property values to allow them to convert equity to current consumption through mortgage refinancing and home equity loans. As interest rates rise, property values will stop rising, and at some point begin to decline. Because their house represents most Americans chief financial asset, the average American will watch their net worth level off and then fall.

Of course, higher interest rates will also impose yet another cost on business. This should lead to declining investment and employment. At the point where consumers will need more income to offset higher interest expense, they will have less income, as business cuts spending on labor.

Finally, higher interest rates will increase the government's cost of borrowing. Interest expense already represents the third largest comonent of US federal government spending. With higher interest expense, the government will either have to cut other spending dramatically, or watch the budget deficit grow even higher. The only places in the federal budget with enough money to offset higher interest expenses are defense and Medicare/Social Security, but the Bush Administration is unlikely to cut defense, and Medicare is politically difficult right now. Social Security in fact is not a problem, for reasons that are too complicated to go into here, but you will hear it mentioned. The net result is that the budget deficit will almost certainly grow, both because of higher interest expense and declining tax receipts from an economic slowdown.

So you have declining consumer spending, declining business activity, reemergent inflation, and a growing budget deficit. At some point, the downturn in the United States affects the rest of the world. And none of this assumes any significant outside event, such as sharply higher ($80/barrel) oil prices, much less a major terrorist attack, a nuclear attack by North Korea against Japan, or the Rapture (just kidding about the last). The outcome looks to me to be a significant extended period of economic difficulty comparable in some ways to the Great Depression.

So please, please tell me why I'm wrong, so that I can continue to look to the future with untroubled optimism.

Posted by: Aigin | Mar 15 2005 17:20 utc | 5

Thanks for that Algin. It presents the outline very succinctly. The questions are when, and how bad? I'm guessing soon, and pretty painful.

Has anyone seen persuasive arguments that things might be ok? I haven't.

Posted by: Colman | Mar 15 2005 17:33 utc | 6

The big problem come from China. A diary at Kos quotes a Dept of State person who said the Chinese are out right telling the US to shut up over Tiawan or they start selling treasuries. This was also covered on Lou Dobbs last night. They have us by the ass.

Thats what happens when you deal with the Chinese. They are still communist. They are still totalitarian. The US and the rest of the mixed economy countries forget that. (The US isn't near the somewhat mised economy it was) The Chinese have an agenda and with their new found economic power theyare going to carry it out. They are being more agressive to Taiwan, are establishing patrols through shipping lane to the middle east and are making overtone to US oil suppliers.

The US is in big f---ing trouble.

Posted by: jdp | Mar 15 2005 17:52 utc | 7

AIPAC controls ME policy.

Posted by: OkieByAccident | Mar 15 2005 18:08 utc | 8

thanks aigin.

Posted by: slothrop | Mar 15 2005 18:22 utc | 9

@jdp The big problem come from China. A diary at Kos quotes a Dept of State person who said the Chinese are out right telling the US to shut up over Tiawan or they start selling treasuries. This was also covered on Lou Dobbs last night. They have us by the ass.

Thats what happens when you deal with the Chinese. They are still communist. They are still totalitarian.

Now don´t tell me the US would behave different if they were able to put pressure on China. If they pressure China to not deal with Venezuela they would do so. This has nothing to do with communism or totaliarism but is just pure powerplay.

Posted by: b | Mar 15 2005 18:32 utc | 10

@Aigin - that is a possible scenario though there can always be some thing working out differently.

There are some more negative aspects possible.
- The privat pension system in the US is near a catastrophy. The Pension Insurance Fond will have to take over many companiy pension plans and will essentially dump the cost on the society.
- Fannie and Freddie are acidents waiting to happen.
- In the last 30 years every Fed interest rising cycle has ended in a recession.
- A LTCM derivate mishappening could blow through the financial markets.
- Another war is possible

There are some other outcomes possible too.
- Congress stops further spending and increases taxes
- Fannie and Freddie stop lending mortgages
- The US leaves Iraq
- A law forbids management payments above 20 times of the lowest worker payment (and forbits options)
- Greenspan announces a "target" Fed rate defined as real inflation (not the stupid cpi) + 200 points

and there are probabilities.

Posted by: b | Mar 15 2005 18:42 utc | 11

via Sky News

Italy will start withdrawing its troops from Iraq in September, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has said.

"We will begin to reduce our contingent even before the end of the year, starting in September, in agreement with our allies," he said in an interview on state television.

Mr Berlusconi said he had spoken with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and had concluded that public opinion in both countries favored a troop withdrawal.

Italian deputies voted by a large majority this week to maintain Rome's 3,000 troops in Iraq for another six months, mirroring the approval of the upper house Senate last month.

Berlusconi's centre-right government deployed the peacekeeping force in June 2003, following the US-led invasion of Iraq.

Italy has 3,000 troops in Iraq, the fourth largest foreign contingent after the United States, Britain and South Korea.

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Mar 15 2005 19:22 utc | 12

Part of the real agenda on Iran:

Bush Seeks to Ban Some Nations From All Nuclear Technology

Behind President Bush's recent shift in dealing with Iran's nuclear program lies a less visible goal: to rewrite, in effect, the main treaty governing the spread of nuclear technology, without actually renegotiating it.

In their public statements and background briefings in recent days, Mr. Bush's aides have acknowledged that Iran appears to have the right - on paper, at least - to enrich uranium to produce electric power. But Mr. Bush has managed to convince his reluctant European allies that the only acceptable outcome of their negotiations with Iran is that it must give up that right.

In what amounts to a reinterpretation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, Mr. Bush now argues that there is a new class of nations that simply cannot be trusted with the technology to produce nuclear material even if the treaty itself makes no such distinction.


I am not sure that the Europeans agreed that Iran has to give up any right. I have yet to find a clear statement that says so. All I have seen is much much softer.

But this is Bush perception management. When the Europeans will point to a compromise of controlled enrichment in Iran, Bush will blame them for breaking their word.

Thats one part. The other is why should any nation allow for this unilateral rewrite. That's beyond me.

Posted by: b | Mar 15 2005 19:31 utc | 13

@CP - thats good news. From now on they will serve freedommisu at the white house.

Posted by: b | Mar 15 2005 19:41 utc | 14

How to destroy the Earth

This is not a guide for wusses whose aim is merely to wipe out humanity. I (Sam Hughes) can in no way guarantee the complete extinction of the human race via any of these methods, real or imaginary. Humanity is wily and resourceful, and many of the methods outlined below will take many years to even become available, let alone implement, by which time mankind may well have spread to other planets; indeed, other star systems. If total human genocide is your ultimate goal, you are reading the wrong document. There are far more efficient ways of doing this, many which are available and feasible RIGHT NOW. Nor is this a guide for those wanting to annihilate everything from single-celled life upwards, render Earth uninhabitable or simply conquer it. These are trivial goals in comparison.

This is a guide for those who do not want the Earth to be there anymore.

Posted by: b real | Mar 15 2005 20:38 utc | 15

b,

My point is the US has been anti-communist, their form of government is supposed to be everything we're against, but then the US turned around and basically created the Chinese economy, now its going to bite the US in the ass. The Chinese are pulling the power play, and as stated on Lou Dobbs last night on his show, we can't do a thing about it.

If we're not against communism, why aren't we trading with Cuba. Because greedy businesses saw creating a Chinese market as a way to get richer, plus cheap labor kept in line by totalitarians.

Posted by: jdp | Mar 15 2005 20:54 utc | 16

If we're not against communism, why aren't we trading with Cuba.

This is not about communism at all in my view. It´s about doing business and Cuba would probably not be a good business (to much resistance to be expected).

That China is totalitarian has some thousand years of cultural and surviving aspects. If China would not be totalitarian it would most probably break up in ethnicies and these would fight it out about resources. With 1.3 billion people this could easily cost 10-20% of them their life and the other 80-90% would only have misery. Would you support that?

I do think China is on a way of its own and hope they find some compromise between efficient market operations and total control without breaking up - some kind of social agreement - maybe more social than democracy by $s like in the US. So far there are very smart people taking care of this. Much smarter than drunken Jeltzin's thugs supported by US free marketers who plundered the country into a social catastrophy with that harshly falling mafia economy.

Would Iraqis be better off with a slowly faltering Saddam than a colonial US occupation? In my view they would.
Are Russians better off with a Putin than a Jeltzin? Yes.
Are Chinese better off with current totalitarian regime than ethnic wars. Yes.

In all cases I can think of better people, better methods, better behaviour. I am very angry about Saddams killing of the Marsh Arabs, Chechnia, Tibet. But how are the odds to get a better outcome without producing even greater crimes?

This may sound like appeasement. I am all for supporting movements into the more free directions in those countries, but I am harshly against anybody arguing for a shock therapy or war. This inevitably ends in catastrophic situations with very vague outcomes - usually not positive ones for the people. (I do see the war results walking through my city here even 60 years after the city was bombed to dust.)

US now bashing China for producing cheaper than the US itself is simply stupid. Who is buying at WalMart? Chinese folks? If you don´t buy the stuff they will not produce it.

If the US would not go into collective debt to consume more than they produce, it would have no reason to complain.

This is the millionair heroin addict living is his penthouse blaming the farmer in Afghanistan for growing the crop that receives the best price. The farmer wants his family to eat some half chicken every fortnight. The millionair is blaiming him for the cost of his daily bacon and steak and heroin shot.

No I don´t blame the farmer.

Posted by: b | Mar 15 2005 22:03 utc | 17

LOL! I remember in the early Bush 1st term, the Chinese were being portrayed by W as the evil enemy. FOx News went along, and soon Busheeple were grumbling about not buying anything made in China. Meanwhile Powell was trying to fix presidential gaffes re Taiwanese independence.
Then Wall Street explained the deal to Bush: chinese slave labor is good for American profits. Next thing you know the Chinese premier was being feted at the ranch. China was not included in the axis of evil speeches, dropped from the talking points, and the busheeple forgot about boycotting goods made in China. French goods became the sheeple's substitute target.

Posted by: gylangirl | Mar 15 2005 22:03 utc | 18

"The US forces opened fire at 8:00 pm on Brigadier General Ismail Swayed al-Obeid, who had left his base in Baghdadi to head home," police Captain Amin al-Hitti said.

"They spotted him on the road after the curfew, which goes into effect at 6pm,"

If anyone in Iraq retained any doubt about which side to stay the hell away from, this should clear up those misunderstandings. Our soldiers do not think anyone there is on their side, which means it is far past time to bring them all home - or straighten up, fly right, and declare war on Iraq.

Posted by: Citizen | Mar 15 2005 22:16 utc | 19

Sorry for not being clear above - U.S. soldiers shot Iraqi General Al-Obeid dead.

Posted by: Citizen | Mar 15 2005 22:19 utc | 20

While I have forgotten much of my Chinese history to years of neglect and to much beer, I do remember college profs, one fron Korea for political science and one from China in history. The Chinese have always followed Confusion values which always embraced hierarchy.

My big beef is that US business has put the US in a position where we cannot even leaverage ourselves for foriegn policy goals. Are we going to let a democary in Taiwan be taken over and turned totalitarian before our eyes? I hope not, but with the situation we are in, it may be beyond us. The domino effect may still exist.

I hate to tell you b, but with greater affluence the old chinese ethnic division will come to the top again.

Posted by: jdp | Mar 15 2005 22:23 utc | 21

Could this be the way to frame the Iranians? Would the neocons be so devious? Anthrax in the mailroom

Posted by: dan of steele | Mar 15 2005 22:34 utc | 22

jdp,
It seems clear to me that even a very unfavorable integration of Taiwan into the nation of China would be better for just about all Taiwanese citizens than even a victorious war. Do we really need to "spread democracy" more - no matter the cost? Are Hong Kong and Macau such pits of despair to warrant such a war?

Watch the Taiwanese politicians. Even the ethnic Taiwanese nationalists seem to prefer to keep China placated. Who are we to quote Mme. Albright about how many non-Aryan lives democracy is worth?

Posted by: Citizen | Mar 15 2005 22:39 utc | 23

Aigin - it's a good summary of what I expect.

Posted by: Jérôme | Mar 15 2005 22:42 utc | 24

okay, not "quote"
but let's not mime her either.

Posted by: Citizen | Mar 15 2005 22:43 utc | 25

in the 1980's china helped the u.s. fund the mujahideen in afghanistan and arm pakistan w/ nukes & assorted weapons, which carried over into the 90's. in 2001 the communist party opened the party doors to the capitalists and by december of that year had joined the wto. the dod rewrote the quadrennial defense review rpt after 11 sept to shift focus from china as the #1 enemy to the more ambiguous "terrorists", alleviating the problematic issue of targeting a nation make great leaps into western capitalism & opening its markets to frothing international businessmen. and it wasn't like china provided a real military threat to fortress america, having a military budget of 1/8th of the pentagon's, w/ prob 150 strategic nuclear weapons (compared to 6,000+ in the u.s.) and a max of 30 icbm's @ early 2002. wall st drooling over finally getting @ that market surely played a part in downplaying any animosity, but the manufacture of a more malleable enemy after the collapse of the soviets, enabling increased defense spending & corp cronyism, shows me just how little merit any charges of ideological friction hold up to & how much opportunism leads the way.

Posted by: b real | Mar 15 2005 22:47 utc | 26

b real,
agreed. Our ME enemies are already factored in, and the only way to do new profiteering is to add enemies. And new "revenue streams" are where the big campaign donations and free media campaigns come from.

Posted by: Citizen | Mar 15 2005 22:58 utc | 27

And why is Taiwan's democracy so damn important? Could it be the $20 billion in military purchases promised by President Chen?

The Brookings Institute's Erich Shih was clear in 2004 that Taiwan's elevated purchases since the first W administration came into office makes sense for politicians and businessmen, not military planning.

Regarding missile defense, it is hardly a secret that Taiwan’s mili- tary lacked enthusiasm for the Patriot PAC-3 lower-tier system and the associated long-range detection radar due to its cost and concerns about its effectiveness. The PAC-3 system was not designed to inter- cept high-altitude incoming missiles, and the combined effectiveness of these systems in countering potential saturation attacks is yet to be proven. Also, the planned deployments of PAC-3 batteries would only cover three major cities, leaving the rest of Taiwan’s population and military installations vulnerable to missile attacks. However, these purchase requests, which were made during President Lee Teng-hui’s tenure, were widely seen at the time as helping to pave the way for Taiwan’s integration into a future U.S.-Japan-Taiwan missile defense net. Furthermore, the public believed that Taiwan had been pres- sured by the U.S. Department of Defense and defense contractors to purchase these weapon systems. The Taiwan military, by and large, opposed these purchases, and was ultimately overruled by the political leadership, which subsequently did business with the U.S.

Taiwan's Military Transformation

Posted by: Citizen | Mar 15 2005 23:14 utc | 28

So b real, we just sit back and let democracies fall. I think we need more democracy (not Bushie type fascist rule). Not by war, but by using our markets for leaverage. Business is so greedy and have invested so much into china, they don't even care about what our countries should stand for. Thats the rights of people to have free elections and rule themselves without out sside interference.

Hong Kong is a terrible example. That was a contract that ran out and it is also an example of how business contract takes precidence over human rights. That is shamefull.

Posted by: jdp | Mar 15 2005 23:20 utc | 29

jdp, i don't disagree w/ you that this is a big problem, but i think the only force at work is pure, unbridled greed, not capitalists vs. communists (two sides of the same coin, imho) or one myth vs another. btw, the united states has never been a democracy, which makes it even more ludicrous that the captain of the bushCo cheerleading squad uses such assumptions in his cheers (and even more disgusting that he doesn't get called to the floor on it.. or booed off the court)

Posted by: b real | Mar 15 2005 23:37 utc | 30

didn't realize that there were so many libertarian pov's at that previous link, maybe this one addresses the issue of republic vs democracy w/o the ideological baggage.

Posted by: b real | Mar 15 2005 23:46 utc | 31

jdp,
Exactly so. Business contracts do take precedence over human rights, every day. What I am proposing here is that we not pretend that Taiwan will be rescued because it is a democracy. Taiwan's best hope is to keep making itself valuable to China, because China has very short supply lines to Taiwan. My sense is that the Taiwanese government and civil society is doing a good job of this, and the U.S. is much more likely at this point to screw up the good work being done now to gradually reconcile the antagonists.

I gather democracy matters to both of us, but it should be clear to us all by now that war and elections per se do not produce democracy. What might? A broadening sense that anyone who is in Taiwan (or any country in question) has a just claim to be right where they are, and should be defended when they defend themselves publically. It is disastrous to leap from this idea to the notion that nations can be treated like citizens. Hong Kong may not be pretty, but as sausage goes it looks pretty good.

"Democracy" is a scarecrow when we talk about Taiwanese-Chinese relations. It is not driving US policy.

Posted by: Citizen | Mar 15 2005 23:55 utc | 32

U.S. catches China transferring WMD technology to Iran

Posted by: Jigsaw fan | Mar 16 2005 1:17 utc | 33

American agricultural policies in occupied Iraq

Posted by: Subsidy hunter | Mar 16 2005 1:52 utc | 34

A series of unfortunate events: The Iraq edition.

Those lucky enough, or maybe unfortunate enough to report from the occupied Iraqi capital after March 2003, must have noticed how things have changed. It seems as if for every torn poster or knocked-down statue, there should be a checkpoint erected and manned by frightened or angry US troops ready to open fire without warning.

And they often do, killing entire families on the spot under various pretexts: "The car was speeding", "the driver wouldn't respond to various signals," "the passengers acted suspiciously," and so forth.

A Newsweek photo gallery, recently posted at MSNBC.com and titled "Suddenly Orphaned", brings to life one of the tragically frequent "incidents" experienced by Iraqi civilians at the hands of occupation troops. A "speeding" car was acting "suspiciously" in the Iraqi town of Tal Afar. The driver was "ordered" to stop, yet "failed" to do so, despite clear "hand signals", and "warning shots".

The well trained soldiers "had no other choice" but to open fire, killing a mother and father of six. Soldiers quickly "assessed" the situation, dragging six little blood-spattered kids out of the car, forced them to their knees before the US troops, whose feet, were also splattered with the Iraqi civilian blood.

How can they possibly expect us to believe that the killings of tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians at the hands of the US military were a series of unfortunate events?

Posted by: Deafening silence | Mar 16 2005 1:55 utc | 35

Is anyone aware of significant anti-war demonstrations planned for this weekend, the 2nd anniversary of this ill-fated invasion?

Posted by: Maxcrat | Mar 16 2005 2:06 utc | 36

Aigin,
you missed the part with the peasants grabbing their pitchforks and ipods and storming the castles and the white house, thus ushering in a new era of relaxed matrilineal/anarchistic commensalist societies. :)

But seriously, what might offset the later part of the scenario is the ways power might shift as a consequence of the first part. The New Deal followed the crash for a reason.

Posted by: A swedish kind of death | Mar 16 2005 2:16 utc | 37

in his dossier on john bolton on yesterday's counterpunch, irc policy director tom barry points out that, beside a lot of personal and professional ties w/ certain parties in taiwan,

The neoconservative camp generally regards U.S. policy toward Taiwan as a bellwether for the degree of U.S. commitment to Israel . According to Bolton , writing in January 2000 for AEI: "That the PLO is a more consequential player [than Taiwan ] in the United Nations speaks volumes [about] the organization's detachment from reality."

maxcrat - yes. there's not a large mainstream buzz on this (go figure), but the turnouts are expected to be large & expectations for this year's demo in fayetteville nc are running high. get out the pots & pans and hit the streets.

Posted by: b real | Mar 16 2005 3:54 utc | 38

maxcrat, b real,

With any luck Karl Rove will permit the Shi'ites and Kurds to 'reach an historic settlement' any moment now, thus burying all the 2nd anniversary of the Iraq invasion demonstrations that are planned for the weekend of March 19th under a torrent of 'Wonderful news!' and 'See? It was worth it!' headlines.

Posted by: Cynic | Mar 16 2005 4:15 utc | 39

With what malice and cold fury is Silvio Berlusconi now treating his old friend "Bush" (as he's taken to calling him on TV)? With no evident warning in advance, Il Cavaliere announces on Porta a Porta that he's been talking to his other good friend, Mr. Blair, and that both have agreed to abandon Iraq as soon as possible (news, we have to assume, for at least some of those folks in Washington). He calls the shooting of Calipari "a serious mistake", and happily assures the Italian nation that "Bush" will soon be telling the unvarnished truth about the entire disaster to the whole wide world. As indeed he shall: because if Bush doesn't tell the truth--the one furnished, anyway, to Berlusconi by the Italian investigators--then Berlusconi will simply go back to Porta a Porta and tell it to the Italian people in his own words. Maybe we've seen this before in the movies, but never in real life.

Posted by: alabama | Mar 16 2005 5:05 utc | 40

If there be Laws Against Distributing Domestic Propaganda


The United States Information Agency was disbanded in 1999. All of its functions were transferred to the Secretary of State i.e. Condiliar Rice. The Department of State has since established a Bureau of Public Diplomacy the mission of which is to disseminate propaganda in foreign countries, particularly Muslim nations.

This is the exact language in the law which governs dissemination of information within the United States:
"The Secretary is authorized, when he finds it appropriate, to provide for the preparation, and dissemination abroad, of information about the United States, its people, and its policies, through press, publications, radio, motion pictures, and other information media, and through information centers and instructors abroad. Subject to subsection (b) of this section, any such information (other than ''Problems of Communism'' and the ''English Teaching Forum'' which may be sold by the Government Printing Office) shall not be disseminated within the United States, its territories, or possessions, but, on request, shall be available in the English language at the Department of State, at all reasonable times following its release as information abroad, for examination only by representatives of United States press associations, newspapers, magazines, radio systems, and stations, and by research students and scholars, and, on request, shall be made available for examination only to Members of Congress. (b) Dissemination of information within United States

(1) The Director of the United States Information Agency shall make available to the Archivist of the United States, (You Know the Bush appointee...) for domestic distribution, motion pictures, films, videotapes, and other material prepared for dissemination abroad 12 years after the initial dissemination of the material abroad or, in the case of such material not disseminated abroad, 12 years after the preparation of the material."

The reference in the United States Code is:
Title 22 Foreign Relations and Intercourse
Chapter 18 United States Information and Educational Exchange Programs
Subchapter 5 Dissemination Abroad of Information About The United States
Section 1461 General Authorization

Section 1461 of the Smith-Mundt Act specifically prohibits the United States Information Agency from disseminating any materials it has produced within the United States and its territories for a 12-year period. This act was passed as an amendment to the Freedom of Information Act, after Congress expressed concerns over "publicity." The USIA produces materials on the United States government, it's plans and activities, and the Congress does not want these potentially sensitive materials to be available to the American public until some time has passed. This ban on domestic distribution has since been reinforced several times by Congress. It was challenged by a group of journalists and researchers who were demanding access to a series of documents produced by the USIA. The District Court (in 1996) and the Appellate Court (in 1998) both ruled in favor of the USIA, further upholding the stipulations of Smith-Mundt. The case was Essential Information, Inc vs. United States Information Agency.

Why then is The Bush administration, rejecting an opinion from the Government Accountability Office, which said last week that it is legal for federal agencies to feed TV stations prepackaged news stories that do not disclose the government's role in producing them.

That message, in memos sent Friday to federal agency heads and general counsels, contradicts a Feb. 17 memo from Comptroller General David M. Walker. Walker wrote that such stories -- designed to resemble independently reported broadcast news stories so that TV stations can run them without editing -- violate provisions in annual appropriations laws that ban covert propaganda. (via The Hardest blogging woman in the blogsphere Susan over at suburban guerrilla)

State Propaganda: How Government Agencies Produce Hundreds of Pre-Packaged TV Segments the Media Runs as News

P.s. This on the hills of Gannon, Armstrong, Miller, and ... and...????


Posted by: Uncle $cam | Mar 16 2005 5:50 utc | 41

Addendum:
Presidential Decision Directive PDD 68 On 30 April 1999 President Clinton issued a secret Presidential Decision Direction -- PDD 68 -- ordering the creation of an International Public Information (IPI) to address problems identified during military missions in Kosovo and Haiti, when no single US agency was empowered to coordinate US efforts to sell its policies and counteract bad press abroad. The IPI system is geared towards prevention and mitigation of crises and operate on a continuous basis. PDD-68 is evidently intended to replace the provisions of NSDD 77 "Management of Public Diplomacy Relative to National Security" issued by President Reagan on 14 February 1983. No text or factsheet for this PDD has been released. About the same time
and USIA, The United States Information Agency Homepage was dismantled...

Anybody see anything wrong w/this picture???

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Mar 16 2005 6:06 utc | 42

Question for all you French(wo)men and Francophiles:

Nicholas Sarkozy:
What is the deal? Is he a positive or negative force in French society? Why is he so popular with the French people currently? Will he become the next President?

Posted by: Ben P | Mar 16 2005 6:25 utc | 44

I live in France and have not been able to access Daily Kos for many hours. Is the site down? Or has Chirac blocked it in France after Jerome's critical diary yesterday?
LEP

Posted by: LEP | Mar 16 2005 7:43 utc | 45

LEP,

Kos is having DNS problems. You can view Kos using IP address,

http://69.9.161.200/

or read this diary on how to login and post,

http://69.9.161.200/story/2005/3/15/221032/675

Posted by: aemd | Mar 16 2005 8:51 utc | 47

Bless you,aemd.
LEP

Posted by: LEP | Mar 16 2005 9:18 utc | 48

I think it depends who you choose to read. It wouldn't have occurred to me that there is a huge imbalance, because I have a fair few women among the authors I read regularly. About a third? This doesn't seem surprising to me since my list is biased towards technology sites which are more likely to be written by men. Actually, I probably couldn't tell you the sex of quite a number of authors I read regularly. Doesn't cross my mind.

I suspect the web reflects society: if there are less women writing on-line the causes are not of our making.

Posted by: Colman | Mar 16 2005 9:53 utc | 49

Blogs and gender varies depending on the kind of blogs, imho. Punditry blogging, or news and political blogging, is mostly male and mostly white. Live-journals and "this is my day" diary blogging seems to be more female than male, though it may be close to 50/50 - didn't check all of them obviously -, and this kind of blogging is far more numerous than our Moon / Billmon / Atrios / Cole blogging.

Alabama: Both Blair and Berlusconi are in deep trouble with their elections, and they're in a couple of months (April for Italy, probably May for UK). Silvio would probably lose big time, unless he mimicks Schroeder and decides to embrace his people's deep anti-war and anti-Bush positions. Bliar was supposed to keep his seat, but latest polls show that the stupid British voters begin to go with the tories, thinning the margin between old tories and New Tories (that is, New Labour, if you prefer) - what baffles me is that they don't go to the Lib-Dems, which should be a viable 3rd party by now.
Calipari's death is the straw that broke the Italian camel's back. It's not as horrific and tragical as the Madrid bombings but can have the same kind of consequences politically. Fini and Berlusconi aren't complete fools and saw what happened to Aznar when he tried to use that to his advantage.

Posted by: Clueless Joe | Mar 16 2005 10:14 utc | 50

Murder suspected in 26 Iraq/Afghan prison deaths – New York Times.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - At least 26 prisoners have died in U.S. custody in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2002 in what Army and Navy investigators have concluded or suspect were acts of criminal homicide, the New York Times reported on Tuesday, citing military officials...

Posted by: Murder Inc. | Mar 16 2005 10:21 utc | 51

9/11 bonanza gets underway: 'Pentagon flag' that wasn't there sells for £371,300

Posted by: Impressed vulture | Mar 16 2005 10:55 utc | 52

Both Blair and Berlusconi are in deep trouble with their elections

God, I bloody well hope so. I hope Bliar gets kicked from here to eternity for decimating our 1,000-year-old plus tradition of habeas corpus with his "control orders", let alone for decimating Iraq. If my fellow Brits vote for the Tories, fuck 'em (I'm leaving anyway if we don't vote to ratify the EU constitution/join the euro).

In a related development, Portugal just voted in its first-ever majority Socialist government (sworn in, March 12th) that includes Diogo Freitas do Amaral as foreign minister - you remember, the one who compared Bush to Hitler in 2003.

Forward, not back!

Posted by: Ineluctable | Mar 16 2005 12:31 utc | 53

According to this poll (published in La Reppublica), over 90% of Italians want Italian forces out of the coalition in Iraq.

Posted by: Ineluctable | Mar 16 2005 12:48 utc | 54

CJ - Aren't Italian elections next year.

As regards gender, I think we are blessed here at MoA with a nice balance amongst the posters between male and female, as well as between continents, which allows for many various viewpoints and perspectives.

Btw - if any of you think the front page topics are too focused on the same issues (energy, Iraq, Bush) and are missing issues that you would like addressed (more often or at least once in a while) drop me a line with suggestions. As you've seen, I tend to use the snacks dropped by you guys in the threads for new posts, so please continue to do so, and don't hesitate to flag stuff for me (or Bernhard)

Posted by: Jérôme | Mar 16 2005 13:05 utc | 55

''We will begin to reduce our contingent even before the end of the year, starting in September, in agreement with our allies," Berlusconi said yesterday during a talk show on state-run television.

A withdrawal ''will depend on the capability of the Iraqi government to be able to assume responsibility for security," he said. But it was the first time he had set a tentative timetable for a pullout. He said he had ''spoken about it" with British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Berlusconi made no mention of notifying President Bush.

From Juan Cole, who picked it up this mornng from the AP.

Posted by: alabama | Mar 16 2005 14:01 utc | 56

Does anyone but me feel that Karen Hughes' new position as Diplomat and Public Relations guru in the State Department is really an early start to the 2008 campaign to put Condi Rice in the White House? Didn't she perform the same function for Bush as Governor?
Why is there no effort in Congress to make sure the next election has verifiable results?

Posted by: lrkr | Mar 16 2005 14:39 utc | 58

Iraq, dopo elezioni gennaio "missione compiuta" – Berlusconi

Berlusconi says it's time to talk of 'withdrawal' from Iraq

ROME (AFP) - Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said the time had come for Rome to "begin to discuss" with the government of Iraq and its allies "the possibility of a gradual withdrawal" of Italian troops from the country....

Italy "has no plans to withdraw Iraq troops", Downing Street

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi had been quoted as saying he would begin a progressive withdrawal'' of his country's 3,000 troops from September.

That sparked fears more British troops would have to be sent to replace the Italian contingent.

But British Prime Minister Tony Blair's official spokesman insisted today "What has become clear is that Prime Minister Berlusconi's remarks have been misinterpreted".

Downing St denies Italian withdrawal from Iraq

Downing Street has said that Italy has no plans to withdraw its troops prematurely from Iraq.

Ah, semantics, precise parsing, careful lexical analysis, late night pleading and threatening 'phone calls, retractions dressed up as clarifications - it's what makes the world go 'round.

Posted by: Nuance spotter | Mar 16 2005 14:40 utc | 59

President Bush to name Paul Wolfowitz to head World Bank. Details coming. - CNN Breaking news.

- The guy does not know shit about macor economy and/or finance and banking

- The guy is hated around the world

- The guy is perfect to further ruin the U.S. reputation

Posted by: b | Mar 16 2005 14:41 utc | 60

Buyer balks, ‘Pentagon flag’ back up for sale

Posted by: Unimpressed vulture | Mar 16 2005 15:31 utc | 62

CU, feeling pressure for corruption in its sports program and a rightwing firestorm over prof ward churchill's extracurricular comments on workers of mass destruction, has decided that above & beyond the in-house pr staff and the outside one it retains, it also needs a good ($350/hour) pr consultant to massage the media. so who do they hire? none other than strom thurmond's old press secretary and ex moonie times reporter (and master gardener) christopher simpson. he smoothed over bobby knight's image in indiana, but somehow i don't get the feeling that ward's situation will get the same focus.

Posted by: b real | Mar 16 2005 15:34 utc | 63

Pentagon denies US troops killed Iraqi general

Posted by: Nugget | Mar 16 2005 15:43 utc | 64

umm.. my bad. simpson stuck it to knight. 'profane. rude. intimidating.' i'd better get back to what i actually know something about ;-)

Posted by: b real | Mar 16 2005 15:48 utc | 65

Le chef du gouvernement italien Silvio Berlusconi a déclaré mercredi qu'il n'y avait "aucun malentendu" entre lui et le Premier ministre britannique Tony Blair concernant le souhait de Rome de débuter en septembre le retrait progressif du contingent italien d'Irak."Avec Tony Blair, il n'y a eu aucun +misunderstanding+", a dit M. Berlusconi en utilisant ce mot anglais. "Nous nous sommes très bien compris avec le Premier ministre britannique", a-t-il renchéri.Plus tôt dans la journée, le porte-parole de Downing Street avait affirmé que "ce qui est clair, c'est que les remarques du Premier ministre Berlusconi ont été mal interprétées".

So, are we to suppose that Bush read the papers, freaked out, and put in call to... Blair? Is he no longer on speaking terms with Il Cavaliere?

Posted by: alabama | Mar 16 2005 15:50 utc | 66

The quote comes from Le Monde.

Posted by: alabama | Mar 16 2005 15:52 utc | 67

The perils of blowing things up: Sex doll sparks post office bomb alert.

...The man told police he had wanted to return the doll because it kept turning itself on at the wrong moment....

Posted by: Schadenfreude | Mar 16 2005 16:04 utc | 68

The president said he had spoken by telephone to Berlusconi earlier in the day and they talked about both Iraq and Bush's recommendation of Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz to become head of the World Bank.

"He wanted me to know there was no change in his policy that any withdrawals would be done in consultation with allies," Bush said.--AP

Bush hastens to assure us that he's on speaking terms with Il Cavaliere.

Posted by: alabama | Mar 16 2005 16:08 utc | 69

Wolfowitz. That little dried shit of a toady? That arrogant war criminal? That philosopher king of thieves and liars? How dare the fucking Americans appoint that man to any world body? How dare they send him to any world body other than the Hague as a defendant?

These people do not expect to ever leave power.

Posted by: Colman | Mar 16 2005 16:11 utc | 70

Colman, when McNamara went to the World Bank from the Pentagon, it wasn't seen as an upward, or even a lateral, move; I think this holds for Wolfowitz as well (granted that he's only a "deputy secretary").

Posted by: alabama | Mar 16 2005 16:31 utc | 71

Sure, this would normally be a demotion, or at least a retirement present, but in this case I rather worry that the intention is to ensure that the WB can be used as an effective tool for the administration.

Posted by: Colman | Mar 16 2005 16:38 utc | 72

Michael Winship: 'The hubris of the Hammer'

I've also developed a deeper appreciation of Cicero, the great orator, politician and lawyer. He was eyewitness to some of Rome's most momentous events, a contemporary of Pompey and Julius Caesar who ultimately lost his life when he ran afoul of the aforementioned Marc Antony.

Think of Cicero as a combination Thomas Jefferson and Johnny Cochran. He was an eloquent defier of tyranny and injustice, yet in the courtroom, he was capable of the basest smears and innuendos.

Defending a client against the accusations of a rich man rumored to be in an incestuous relationship, Cicero was not above rattling him during cross-questioning by saying, “And so you told your wife - I'm sorry, I meant your sister - I always make that mistake."

Recent goings-on make one of Cicero's aphorisms freshly relevant: “Most people recognize nothing as good in our life unless it is profitable,” he wrote, “and look upon friends as so much stock, caring most for those by whom they hope to make the most profit.”

It rings true because of the continuing hijinks of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, aka The Hammer for his heavy-handed influence-mongering. Day-by-day, new reports surface about ways in which Rep. DeLay allegedly has abused power and accepted favors from those for whom he seems to care most -- corporate interests.
...

Monday's Washington Post quoted “a Republican political consultant close to key lawmakers:” “If death comes from a thousand cuts, Tom Delay is into a couple hundred and it's getting up there."

The Romans were kinder. They let guilty politicians open a vein and get it over with quickly.


Posted by: Fran | Mar 16 2005 16:42 utc | 73

The people in Iraq are clearly worse off today than they were under Saddam Hussein.

They are worse of economically, they are worse of politically and they are less safe and less secure.

Regarding day-to-day life, food continues to be in short supply, electricity, even in Baghdad is often only available for two hours at a time, petrol prices have increased ten times and there are lines waiting for the limited supply, the sanitation system and sewage system isn't operating, the health care system is in shambles and most of the destruction wrought by the U.S. invasion has not been repaired. Unemployment has doubled to 60 percent as Iraqis watch U.S. contractors do work they should be doing as part of the U.S. corporate invasion of Iraq. Through our puppet government we've taken over the oil industry and through Paul Bremer's decrees U.S. corporations are taking over virtually all aspects of the Iraq economy. And, the insurgency puts many Iraqis at risk adding to the risks created by the U.S. military. But, there are more newspapers!

Posted by: Unhappy anniversary | Mar 16 2005 16:44 utc | 74

The approaching 'big story'.


Ali al-Dabagh, a member of the Shiite clergy-dominated United Iraqi Alliance, which won the most seats in the elections, said Tuesday that Shiite, Kurdish and Sunni Arab politicians would meet after the deputies are sworn in "to finalize things. We need two to three days to announce an agreement."


Perfectly timed to banish all the marches protesting on the second anniversary of the American invasion off the front pages.

Posted by: Cynic | Mar 16 2005 17:06 utc | 75

It's days like this that make me want to lose all patience with Americans.

Patrick Lynch, President of the New York's 36,000-strong police union has told an audience including Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams that he doesn't consider the PSNI a normal police force like the NYPD. "I don't consider them police officers. They are soldiers trying to keep our people down for standing up for what is right," the Irish Times (subs needed) quotes him as saying to cheers from the audience.
From the Irish Times, via Slugger O'Toole.

The PSNI being the Police Service of Northern Ireland, which took over from the much hated RUC, and don't seem to be doing too bad a job of things really.

Incidentally, for a nation that's all worried about terrorism, how come they've allowed their citizens to fund IRA terrorism for years? In fact, how come they have allowed their citizens to support terrorism against their closest ally?

Posted by: Colman | Mar 16 2005 17:29 utc | 76

From Bloomberg:


Under Wolfowitz, the Bush administration may now try to narrow the focus of the World Bank, returning the international lending institution to its roots of primarily financing large infrastructure projects and limiting the practice of handing out zero-interest loans, Meltzer said.


The lender, the largest financier of projects in developing nations, broadened its scope under Wolfensohn, who sought a more ``humanizing'' role for the bank, according to Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize-winning professor at Columbia University and former chief economist of the World Bank.

Now, what companies would benefit from massive infrastructure projects. Let me think.

Posted by: Colman | Mar 16 2005 17:32 utc | 77

any mention in this speculation on the WB nomination of wolfowitz's close ties/allegiance to israel?

Posted by: b real | Mar 16 2005 17:52 utc | 78

http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0304-34.htm>Ten Reasons Why Wolfi Should have the Job

there is only one bright spot in this scenario and that is that any illusions anyone may have harboured about the WB, its motives, its intentions, its purpose, its structural role in world politics, will now be laid to rest. this is truth in advertising -- with a vengeance.

and yes, I do think the Yanks consider -- with typically Imperial grace -- that any "world" or "global" position is inherently inferior to a position in the domestic power structure, closer to "the people who matter" (and the Money).

Posted by: DeAnander | Mar 16 2005 18:11 utc | 79

BBC: US hawk named to run World Bank

Mr Bush said Mr Wolfowitz was "a man of good experience" and a skilled diplomat who had "helped manage a large organisation" during his time at the Pentagon.

Privately, current World Bank president James Wolfensohn had made it clear that he had wanted to continue but failed to get White House backing.

He was appointed by Democrat former President Bill Clinton, and will be leaving on 1 June after 10 years in charge.

The White House began notifying other nations of its choice earlier in the day.

Posted by: Fran | Mar 16 2005 18:45 utc | 80

Chimeric Experimentation: dubya, ahead of his time:

Some researchers are speculating about human-chimpanzee chimeras - creating a humanzee. This would be the ideal laboratory research animal because chimpanzees are so closely related to us. Chimps share 98% of the human genome, and a fully mature chimp has the equivalent mental abilities and consciousness of a four-year-old human.

Posted by: beq | Mar 16 2005 18:54 utc | 82

U.S. Senate: 9 banks helped Pinochet hide wealth.

Posted by: Sic semper tyrannis | Mar 16 2005 18:57 utc | 83

British government behind fake BBC ‘news’ reports

Posted by: Lord Haw Haw | Mar 16 2005 21:07 utc | 84

If you want to get ahead be a whore: ex-U.S. army interrogator disciplined over techniques now teaching soldiers in in Fort Huachuca.

WASHINGTON - (KRT) - An ex-Army interrogator punished for sexually humiliating detainees at the Guantanamo prison is now teaching soldiers interrogation techniques, the New York Daily News has learned.

Former Staff Sgt. Jeannette Arocho-Burkart, 37, is an instructor at the Army Intelligence School in Fort Huachuca, Ariz., despite being reprimanded in 2003 for her sexually taunting tactics that included smearing fake menstrual blood on terror suspects, according to four sources who knew her there.

"She did get in trouble," confirmed one former colleague at Gitmo. "Huachuca could probably do better."

Posted by: Miss Lonelyheart | Mar 16 2005 21:13 utc | 85

Back when the BBC was the BBC, they produced the definitive documentary on Pearl Harbor that I finally saw online the other night. Google "Sacrifice at Pearl Harbor". You can watch online, or buy the video.

There is no question that USgov knew in advance, but did not tell the Navy & Army Commanders in Hawaii. (Kimmel & Scott). Not only had the code been broken, but Sec. of State Cordell Hull met w/journalist a week in advance & informed him that Pearl Harbor would be bombed by Jap. Dec. 7. Excellent documentary.

Also interesting, was the discussion of how Wash. was continually warned. 9/11 Echoes loudly in ones ears...As Bu$hCo. said this is Pearl Harbor 2. Sho' enough....

Posted by: jj | Mar 16 2005 22:23 utc | 86

and i read that the investigation after pearl harbor concluded that the problem was that the army & navy needed to communicate better w/ each other. army/navy. fbi/cia. stick w/ what works.

Posted by: b real | Mar 16 2005 22:33 utc | 87

@aigin et al

http://www.counterpunch.org/roberts03162005.html>P C Roberts appears to be colouring way outside the neocon lines these days

"Free market" economists and US politicians are blind to the rapid transformation of America into a third world economy, but college bound American students and heads of engineering schools are acutely aware of declining career opportunities and enrollments. While "free trade" economists and corporate publicists prattle on about America's glorious future, heads of prestigious engineering schools ponder the future of engineering education in America. [...]

According to the Los Angeles Times (March 11), the percentage of college graduates among the long-term chronically unemployed has risen sharply in the 21st century. The US Department of Labor reported in March that 373,000 discouraged college graduates dropped out of the labor force in February--a far higher number than the number of new jobs created.[...]

Misled by propagandistic "free trade" claims, Americans will be at a loss to understand the increasing career frustrations of the college educated. Falling pay and rising prices of foreign made goods will squeeze US living standards as the declining dollar heralds America's descent into a has-been economy.

Meanwhile the Grand Old Party has passed a bankruptcy "reform" that is certain to turn unemployed Americans living on debt and beset with unpayable medical bills into the indentured servants of credit card companies. The steely-faced Bush administration is making certain that Americans will experience to the full their country's fall.

except I suspect they won't, not really. the full extent of their country's fall is being felt right now by Iraqis, Colombians, Haitians, etc. -- the subject peoples whom the fading empire is http://www.commondreams.org/headlines02/0324-04.htm>squeezing and http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0315-26.htm>robbing as it tries to preserve its "street cred," fill its drained coffers, open coerced markets for its merchant and financier class.

Posted by: DeAnander | Mar 16 2005 22:44 utc | 88

Have to admit the Wolfowitz thing made me laugh. As if w says:' "they think that was audacious, wait'll they get a load of this." As if decisions can only be made if these appear successively outrageous.

Brecht, from From the "Deutsche Kriegsfibel" [German War Primer]

... 15 Those at the top say: / This is the way to glory. / Those at the bottom say: / This way to the grave.

...

18
When the time for marching comes, many do not know / That their enemy marches at their head. / The voice that commands them / Is the voice of their enemy. / The one who talks of the enemy / Is himself the enemy.

G. Gordon Liddy for Assistant secretary of defense?

Posted by: slothrop | Mar 16 2005 23:24 utc | 89

slothrop

another very dark day in this most sullen world & i too am reminded of brecht

quand la maison d'un grand s'écroule
beaucoup de petits sont écrasés
ceux qui n'avaient point part au bonheur d'un puissant
ont souvent part à son malheur. le char qui tombe
entraîne l'attelage en sueur
avec lui dans l'abime

bertolt brecht
quand la maison d'un grand sécroule (traduction jean baudrillard)


si cet homme irremplaçable fronce le sourcil
deux royaumes chancellent
si cet homme irremplaçable meurt
l'univers s'inquiéte comme un mére
qui n'a plus de lait pour son enfants
si cet homme irremplaçable ressucitait une semaine après sa mort
on ne luis trouvent pas, dans tout l'empire
une place de portier

bertolt brecht
a l'annonce qu'un puissant homme détat est tombe malade
(traduction : baudrillard)

so many times these last months i have been thinking of brecht in california writing his elegies for this & that but mostly for the dark times

& these days are so dark & deander is correct to be insistent - because the darker aspect of this worl today privileges against a future - & future of our breaths & we should be reminded that there is not an eternity & we should be reminded of the bloddy costs of the policies of the cheney bush junta

week after week. gangster after gangster. negroponte - the assasins ally, then bolton this maniac who wouldn't know a border if it hit him over the head & now wolfie - thefrightening demonchild of the right - he has that 'damienesque' quality of not being 'quite there' especially when he is being rocketed in hotels in baghdad

when this burlesque of barbarie has reached it end - if it shall - in our lifetimes - & i cannot see that today, this night - their reign seems both endless & infinite & i have to go & reread stan goff to lift my spirits a little - to see that it can come to an end

& i remember with joy - the ignimonious fall of saigon to the national liberation armies & all the rats fleeing the ship & you can see the rats faces & knopw their names in that moment & i feel it can happen again - that the people can rise from their intertia - that they can rise above their fear & do things to combat this criminal administration

have just read an article in vanity fair about the black woman who tried to stop the pure gangsters of hallibiurton at the defence department & am reminded there are people of conviction & a morality who will not allow themselves to be coerced into criminality & i i fire my hope a little - but there is so very far to go - so far - & so necessary

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 16 2005 23:56 utc | 90

New open thread please?

http://www.plustech.fi/Walking1.html>My Gawd -- it's the Imperial Walker!

I'm sure the IDF will order a few for tearing down Palestinian orchards...

Posted by: DeAnander | Mar 17 2005 1:57 utc | 91

saw that beast a couple years back. unless it sprays gunfire or napalm, should be pretty easy to take down (=

and today's vote on anwr means that it's imperative now to build alliances w/ the alaskan tribes.

Posted by: b real | Mar 17 2005 4:30 utc | 92

Coalition of the what?

Ranks begin to thin in coalition of the willing

HOW THE NUMBERS ADD UP

STAYING: US 150,000 (military personnel); Britain 8,850; South Korea 3,600; Italy 3,000; Australia 900 (up to 1,350 by April); Romania 800, up to 900; Japan 600; Denmark 500; Bulgaria 380; El Salvador 380; Georgia 300, up to 800; Mongolia 180; Azerbaijan 150; Latvia 120; Lithuania 100; Slovakia 100; Czech Republic 90; Albania 70; Estonia 50; Tonga 40; Kazakhstan 30; Macedonia 30; Moldova 25

GOING: Netherlands 1,500; Ukraine (1,650 leaving by October); Poland 1,700 (reducing by half)

GONE: Spain 1,300; Thailand 460; Hungary 300; Honduras 370; Dominican Republic 300; Nicaragua 115; Portugal 127; New Zealand 60; Philippines 50; Norway 10


Posted by: Fran | Mar 17 2005 5:00 utc | 93

Timothy Garton Ash:

The birth of Europe - Our challenge to the anti-Europeans is: where's your story of the future?

Le Goff's book ends with Europe beginning to take over from China as the avant garde of technological modernity, and setting out to conquer the world, starting with America. Now America is the world's leading power, while China is coming back up again with the force of a rising piston. This relative decline of Europe is another reason for hanging together rather than hanging separately.

Meanwhile, within our own continent we have an amazing story to tell. It's the story of the most successful peaceful spread of freedom in recent history. Thirty years ago, General Franco still ruled Spain, and my Spanish publisher was battling with the fascist censor. Sixteen years ago, in spring 1989, my Polish publisher was still battling with the communist censor. Last year, the front line was in Ukraine. In each and every case, the causes of Europe and democracy marched together. The EU may not itself be very democratic, but it's the world's most successful promoter of democracy.

Change always provokes a reaction. Yesterday, I was answering questions from Polish Eurosceptics which could have come straight from the UK Independence party. These opponents of the EU are as much Europeans as we pro-EU Europeans are. In fact, in their very nationalism they are more characteristically old-European than they know. The difference is this: we new, sceptically pro-EU Europeans have a great story to tell - a story that is about the past but also about the future. Our challenge to these old, doggedly anti-EU Europeans is: we hear your story about the past, but where's your story about the future?


Posted by: Fran | Mar 17 2005 5:11 utc | 94

Sweet sufferin' Jaysus.

Commondreams headline this evening: "162 House Democrats Vote to Give Bush $81 Billion More for Iraq War; How Did Your US Rep Vote"

some of these guys and gals need to get out the O volume of the dictionary and refresh their familiarity with the meaning of the word "opposition," as in "opposition party." Amurka really is a one-party state at present.

you know, just once I would like to toddle off to bed after catching up on the news/blogs, in a state other than speechless disgust.

Posted by: DeAnander | Mar 17 2005 5:51 utc | 95

The opposing forces aren't parties, DeAnander, nor classes, either. It's hard to say what they are, or even where they're coming from. One instance at the moment concern's Bush's famous "bubble": everyone notices the diligence with which his people round up the faithful and keep dissenters at bay . But no one much notices the determination, even the dedication, of others who've shunned those meetings. Consider the five Republican Alabama congressmen who shunned the bubble earlier this week in Montgomery. I call this a gesture of "opposition," and it comes from Bush's supporters. Republicans, on a daily basis, seem to be staying Bush's blood-stained hands in ways that we may never understand or imagine. I think that Berlusconi's recent actions are also a push-back in this vein. Rich fascists can be, and have been, hurt by Bush as much as anyone else, because he hurts every person he touches--like-minded persons included. Bush is a hurtful man.

Posted by: alabama | Mar 17 2005 6:40 utc | 96

Alabama wrote: Republicans, on a daily basis, seem to be staying Bush's blood-stained hands in ways that we may never understand or imagine.

Yes. That is my intuition also. I have nothing concrete (links) to back it up.

America IS a one party State. The democratic opposition is fake, although many Democrats are sincere and well meaning people. Democrat Pols. play their role nice and gather the money, prestige, position in return for services rendered to the State. (State with a dollar sign.) They are subservient, number two on the money ladder, the honey pot. Kerry agreed (I surmise) to serve Amerika by standing, provided he and his wife were not bothered afterwards. --Which was respected.

Dean was not clued in enough (Israel, etc.) and too bushy tailed. The Scream killed him quick. Those events show that all that is required is a patsy to play a role. Minor figures, such as Kuchinich, are tolerated, even encouraged, legitimised, funded, because they polarise attention, gather believers, reinforce the myth of a functioning democracy. Apparently, the US public never notices that their all out support (or lackaidisical vote) has no impact whatsoever. They keep telling everyone the playing field was fair, they could express their opinion, and -duh- they lost.

It is OK with them.

Posted by: Blackie | Mar 18 2005 19:34 utc | 97

Karl (ABC USA)- whoever he is - is probably as good as they come. This is a problem!

KARL: But do you stand by your statement that North Korea is an outpost of tyranny?

(Really good question as North Korea say they will not attend talks until Rice apologizes.)

RICE: I think everybody knows what life looks like in North Korea, and everybody knows what kind of system rules in North Korea. And so as I said, "I'm not going to let the North Koreans change the subject."

Wow! Nice work. She doesn't answer the question by saying that she is not going to let the North Koreans change the subject.

KARL: Today in Afghanistan, ....

Good work Karl ! She didn't answer to question. No point in saying 'well you haven't answered the question, will you apologize or not?'. Nope - help her out. Change the subject. You didn't really want an answer did you. No. You just want to fill up your column. Who gives a shit.

Posted by: DM | Mar 19 2005 0:16 utc | 98

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