Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 10, 2005

Open Weekend Thread

News & views ...

Posted by b on December 10, 2005 at 8:05 UTC | Permalink


Did anyone ever get obese from drinking milk?

School Officials Propose Ban of Whole Milk

Cartons of whole milk would be considered junk food, but baked Cheetos would not, under new rules proposed Friday by Illinois education officials.

The State Board of Education proposed the rules after Gov. Rod Blagojevich asked for a junk food ban in elementary and middle schools.

The new rules focus on the nutritional content of foods rather than broad categories of food.

Because of that, the proposed guidelines would allow 1 ounce bags of baked potato chips, even though all chips are now banned under the board's current definition of junk food. Whole milk would also be banned because of its high fat content, school officials said.

Posted by: b | Dec 10 2005 8:11 utc | 1

Nobody got obese from eating moderate amounts of anything. Nobody became an alcoholic from drinking moderate amounts of alcohol.

Nonetheless, humans are weak willed and easily manipulated, thus the perceived need to control all aspects of their behavior for their own good...

Posted by: ralphieboy | Dec 10 2005 8:49 utc | 2

"Nobody became an alcoholic from drinking moderate amounts of alcohol."

Not true ralphieboy.

Quantity drunk is not the criteria, dependency is. You don't have to be a falling down drunk to be 'alcoholic'.

Posted by: pb | Dec 10 2005 17:09 utc | 3

i thought people didn't 'become' alcoholics for the most part. i thought it was mostly genetic. even if you don't drink you can be an alcoholic, can't you? isn't it a disease?

Posted by: annie | Dec 10 2005 17:17 utc | 4

I will leave the answers to your questions to someone more knowledgable and articulate than I, annie but for me, In my younger life; I became dependent on alcohol to feel 'normal' and although I have not had a drink in 31 years, I still consider myself to be an 'Alcoholic'.

Posted by: pb | Dec 10 2005 17:38 utc | 5

I guess it's a matter of definition, folks: if you have drunk enough alcohol to become dependent on it, then it is "immoderate", just like if you are driving fast enough to lose control of the car it is an "excessive" speed.

Posted by: ralphieboy | Dec 10 2005 19:18 utc | 6

an old gore vidal :

" I mean, to watch Bush doing his little war dance in Congress . . . about "evildoers" and this "axis of evil" -- Iran, Iraq and North Korea. I thought, he doesn't even know what the word axis means."

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Dec 10 2005 19:56 utc | 7

Your 'guess' is as good as mine, ralphieboy.

Posted by: pb | Dec 10 2005 20:01 utc | 8

Most mooners (I dunno about that collective to me it implies something else but NTW) will have been moderately but pleasantly surprised that the Nobel Committee has awarded prizes to humanists such as Harold Pinter (Literature) and Mohamed ElBaradei (Peace). In the past the awards have indicated that the awards committee is a microcosm of the forces which are at play right now in the ME.

That is rather than consistently selecting Laureates whose work has been driven by a desire to further the reduction of conflict and hatred around this ole planet, it seems that for every humanist Laureate, the Committees award a mainchancing misanthrope.

Well nothing has changed. Robert Aumann and Thomas Schelling are winging their way across Europe to grab the big bucks outta Stockholm and continue developing their own personal attempt to reduce human emotions and their subsequent actions to abstractions that can then be 'countered'.

Aumann and Schelling are proponents of 'game theory' that pseudo-science much loved by 'pentagon analysts' because it gives them a rationale for murder.

Schelling of Maryland University was instrumental in promoting game theory to Rand Corp analysts in Washington in the 1960's. The upshot? Well according to a petition to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences signed by about 1,000 intellectuals and academics from Israel, Europe and America which describes the awarding of this year's prize to the two professors as "monstrous" .

" It describes Professor Schelling's theories as directly inspiring the US military strategy in Vietnam, including the indiscriminate bombing of civilians. "This strategy resulted in 2 million civilian deaths and was a complete failure in realising its objectives," the petition says"

Meanwhile Prof Aumann of Hebrew University in Jerusalem and a member of the hawkish thinktank, Professors for a Strong Israel, which believes the Jewish state should retain the occupied territories is pulled up for:

"using his mathematical theories to promote his political views. "Aumann uses his analysis to justify the Israeli occupation and the oppression of the Palestinians," the petition says."

So here we go again. Keep sending out those mixed messages. That way the sheeple will never really get a grasp on whose up who and whose paying the rent.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Dec 10 2005 20:52 utc | 9

Speaking of addiction,>this guy (again) ponders if and when its prettied up as religion, and paraded up and down mainstreet -- is it no longer vice?

Posted by: anna missed | Dec 10 2005 20:53 utc | 10

Medford single mother called back to active duty in Iraq

As Christmas nears, Arndt, 43, is trying to sell the Medford home she says she will not be able to keep on an Army salary of approximately $60,000 a year, and is searching for someone to care for her 13-year-old son, Shane. She expects to train for an 18-month tour of duty that could take her to Iraq or Afghanistan.

Posted by: b | Dec 10 2005 21:08 utc | 11

Lincoln's Melancholy

. . . from one melancholic to others.

Posted by: manonfyre | Dec 10 2005 22:12 utc | 12

Goebbels would be proud of this:
Military's Information War Is Vast and Often Secretive

The media center in Fayetteville, N.C., would be the envy of any global communications company.

In state of the art studios, producers prepare the daily mix of music and news for the group's radio stations or spots for friendly television outlets. Writers putting out newspapers and magazines in Baghdad and Kabul converse via teleconferences. Mobile trailers with high-tech gear are parked outside, ready for the next crisis.

The center is not part of a news organization, but a military operation, and those writers and producers are soldiers. The 1,200-strong psychological operations unit based at Fort Bragg turns out what its officers call "truthful messages" to support the United States government's objectives, though its commander acknowledges that those stories are one-sided and their American sponsorship is hidden.
Lincoln says it planted more than 1,000 articles in the Iraqi and Arab press and placed editorials on an Iraqi Web site, Pentagon documents show. For an expanded stealth persuasion effort into neighboring countries, Lincoln presented plans, since rejected, for an underground newspaper, television news shows and an anti-terrorist comedy based on "The Three Stooges."

Like the Lincoln Group, Army psychological operations units sometimes pay to deliver their message, offering television stations money to run unattributed segments or contracting with writers of newspaper opinion pieces, military officials said.

Read the whole piece and ask yourself: What are the chances this operation is NOT delivering the news I get?

Posted by: b | Dec 10 2005 23:18 utc | 13

ah, i was just coming here to post that story b. they were fairly timid if you ask me.

about those false stories. what about creating them. you know, blowing up a 'good guy' and then blaming it on the terrorists.
this is the elephant not yet mentioned in the stories about rendon/lincoln. although the RS story did sort of refer to it. i thought that rendering of the assasination in panama was interesting. but this story is sort of whitewashed. let's get to the dirt, what do they really DO for those 100 millions?
it can't just be the false news. and we don't have to pay the military psyops w/contractors money. so if the military is doing the legwork....

Posted by: annie | Dec 10 2005 23:44 utc | 14

@ b I don't know while I understand the medford mother's predicament I have difficulty sympathising with her situation.

I'm a single parent have been for a long time and money has been tight from time to time, especially if one is silly enough to imagine any 'welfare state' provides adequately for children with disabilities. However it would never occur to me that salvation could be found in taking a buck from anybody under the proviso that at some time in the future I could be called upon to kill or maim someone else to 'defend my country'.

I realise the woman lives in a culture which continually sends out messages reinforcing the 'nobility' of doing exactly that.

That means to me that this poor woman's story must be told. As any similar stories need to be told, so that others get an opportunity to see the truth of being a 'reservist', weekend warrior or whatever bullshit name is put upon people who choose to profit from putting themselves on the secondary list of paid killers and hoping that they won't be 'unlucky'. Anything which reduces the ability of imperial armies to operate is a good thing.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Dec 10 2005 23:46 utc | 15

Mr. Rendon's business, the Rendon Group, had a history of government work in trouble spots, In the 1990's, the C.I.A. hired him to secretly help the nascent Iraqi National Congress wage a public relations campaign against Saddam Hussein.

this is deceptive because rendon was hired i to create INC not just its PR

Mr. Jones's endeavor stalled within months, though, because of furor over a Pentagon initiative. In February 2002, unnamed officials told The New York Times that a new Pentagon operation called the Office of Strategic Influence planned "to provide news items, possibly even false ones, to foreign news organizations." Though the report was denied and a subsequent Pentagon review found no evidence of plans to use disinformation, Mr. Rumsfeld shut down the office within days.

this is a total sugarcoat job . they skirt around the issue the job became rendons, we just love privitizing illegal activities.Information Operations Task Force

someone here linked to this rendon story.

If Saddam is toppled, a Rendon creation is standing by to try to take his place. The Iraqi National Congress (INC), a disparate coalition of Iraqi dissidents touted by the US government as the best hope for an anti-Saddam coup, has gotten the go-ahead from US officials to arm and train a military force for invasion.

Rendon managed the INC's every move

the Pentagon flooded the major media outlets with reports of a top-secret satellite image that allegedly showed 250,000 Iraqi troops and 1,500 tanks amassed at the Iraqi-Saudi border.

Once again, this was misinformation. When the US military refused to hand the satellite image over to the press, several investigative journalists opted to purchase commercially available, but equally detailed, satellite images on the open market. Shots of the exact same region, during the same time frame, revealed no Iraqi soldiers anywhere near the border. The journalists hired a coterie of experts, including a former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst who specialized in desert warfare imagery, and the verdict was the same: no Iraqis, just desert and a lot of US jet fighters sitting wing-tip to wing-tip at nearby Saudi bases.

this particular passage made me think of the berg video and those strange accents."

There were other basic problems, too. Some of the announcers hired for the radio broadcasts, he says, were Egyptians and Jordanians, whose Arabic accents couldn't be understood by Iraqis.

and of course rendons comment in RS there were operations so secret he can never talk about them

Posted by: annie | Dec 11 2005 0:31 utc | 16

i agree w/you debs. that nice business she has now, was she educated on our dime. the nice house, did she get a preferred loan . it would be one thing if she didn't want to go because her mind is evolved. she could always say she it is against her morals. i don't pity her position.

back to rendon, i don't mean to imply they carry out these operations. ,but even the timing of these last abductions, right after murtha and the polls. its all too convinient. they have their finger on the pulse and i believe they drive the news in more sinister ways than are being reported. working hand in habd w/psyops , blood on their hamds.

Posted by: annie | Dec 11 2005 0:42 utc | 17

Bit sad learning today about Richard Pryor's death.

I will remember him for his appearance on the Mike Douglas Show in '74. Pryor was a "guest host" for a week--an oddity format, like putting David Cross on Oprah! for 5 days straight.

I was just a kid, but was excited someone during my viewing times boldly confronted expectations about etiquette & political probity. He proved to me when I was, like, 12, you could be weird on daytime tv and tell the audience in so many ways they were fuckheads.


Posted by: slothrop | Dec 11 2005 4:54 utc | 18

annie is on to something. We'll never be able to prove it, but I believe it is true.

The more deeply I think about just exactly what news actually is, how it confirms or challenges our social constructs, beliefs, and expectations, how it is selected, how it is filtered (see: Manufacturing Consent), and the hypnotic repetitive ways it is delivered directly into our subconscious; the more sure I am that Baudrillard is right: We live in a completely created artificial "hyper-reality", in essence, a walking "Truman Show" that very few of us are able to see our way out of. All news is part of this "hyper-reality", all news is "massaged" or "created" based upon that "hyper-reality" to some extent or another. Perhaps no one in "civilization" is completely free of this spell, this consensual reality, this collective madness. And then, beyond that, it takes a veritable Zen master to just see reality for what it is, and not interpret it beyond that.

When our life feeds on unreality, it must starve...

So the man who wanders in the desert to be himself must take care that he does not go mad and become the servant of the one who dwells there in a sterile paradise of emptimess and rage.

Yet look at the deserts today. What are they? The birthplace of a new and terrible creation, the testing-ground of the power by which man seeks to un-create what God has blessed. Today, in the century of man's greatest technological achievement, the wilderness at last comes into its own. Man no longer needs God, and he can live in the desert on his own resources. He can build there his fantastic, protected cities of withdrawal and experimentation and vice. The glittering towns that spring up overnight in the desert are no longer images of the City of God, coming down from heaven to enlighten the world with the vision of peace. They are not even replicas of the great tower of Babel that once rose up in the desert of Senaar, that man "might make his name famous and reach even unto heaven" (Genesis, 11:4) They are brilliant and sordid smiles of the devil upon the face of the wilderness, cities of secrecy where each man spies on his brother, cities through whose veins money runs like artificial blood, and from whose womb will come the last and greatest instrument of destruction...

The desert is home to despair. And despair, now, is everywhere. Let us not think that our interior solitude consists in the acceptance of defeat. We cannot escape anything by consenting tactly to be defeated. Despair is an abyss without a bottom. Do not think to close it by consenting to it and trying to forget you have consented.

This, then, is our desert: to live facing despair, but not to consent...To wage war against despair unceasingly. That war is our wilderness.

Thomas Merton
Thoughts in Solitude

Posted by: Malooga | Dec 11 2005 6:36 utc | 19

Banning milk? Why don't the cows form a corporation; then they can lobby on K street. Only in America will they ban milk before they ban Coke and Pepsi.

All primitive societies have eaten liberal amounts of fat with little or no heart disease. The problem lies primarily in the prevalence of far more destructive trans-fatty acids in manufactured foods, as well as the fat profiles of meat and dairy because the animals are genetically engineered, stabled, and grain fed, not range fed, as nature intended, leading to an inbalance in the ratio of omega3/omega6's, causing inflamation of the arteries. Then again, in the old days there was no strontium 90 or heavy metals or pesticides to collect in the fat...But that is a cancer risk, not heart disease.

Posted by: Malooga | Dec 11 2005 6:45 utc | 20

Frank Rich is commenting on the Propaganda. A "liberated copy: It Takes a Potemkin Village

Since we don’t get honest information from this White House, we must instead, as the Soviets once did, decode our rulers’ fictions to discern what’s really happening. What we’re seeing now is the wheels coming off: As the administration’s stagecraft becomes more baroque, its credibility tanks further both at home and abroad. The propaganda techniques may be echt Goebbels, but they increasingly come off as pure Ali G.
Mr. Bush’s “Plan for Victory” speech was, of course, the usual unadulterated nonsense. Its overarching theme - “We will never accept anything less than complete victory” - was being contradicted even as he spoke by rampant reports of Pentagon plans for stepped-up troop withdrawals between next week’s Iraqi elections and the more important (for endangered Republicans) American Election Day of 2006. The specifics were phony, too: Once again inflating the readiness of Iraqi troops, Mr. Bush claimed that the recent assault on Tal Afar “was primarily led by Iraqi security forces” - a fairy tale immediately unmasked by Michael Ware, a Time reporter embedded in that battle’s front lines, as “completely wrong.” No less an authority than the office of Iraq’s prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, promptly released a 59-page report documenting his own military’s inadequate leadership, equipment and training.
In a perfect storm of revelations, the “Plan for Victory” speech fell on the same day that The Los Angeles Times exposed new doings on another front in the White House propaganda war. An obscure Defense Department contractor, the Lincoln Group, was caught paying off Iraqi journalists to run upbeat news articles secretly written by American Army personnel and translated into Arabic (at a time when American troops in harm’s way are desperate for Arabic translators of their own). One of the papers running the fake news is Al Mutamar, the Baghdad daily run by associates of Ahmad Chalabi. So now we know that at least one P.R. plan, if not a plan for victory, has been consistent since early 2003. As Mr. Chalabi helped feed spurious accounts of Saddam’s W.M.D. to American newspapers to gin up the war, so his minions now help disseminate happy talk to his own country’s press to further the illusion that the war is being won.

The Lincoln Group’s articles (e.g., “The Sands Are Blowing Toward a Democratic Iraq”) are not without their laughs - for us, if not for the Iraqis, whose intelligence is insulted and whose democratic aspirations are betrayed by them. But the texts are no more revealing than those of Mr. Bush’s speeches. Look instead at the cover-up that has followed the Los Angeles Times revelations. The administration and its frontmen at once started stonewalling from a single script. Mr. McClellan, Pentagon spokesmen, Senator John Warner and Donald Rumsfeld all give the identical answer to the many press queries. We don’t have the facts, they say, even as they maintain that the Lincoln Group articles themselves are factual.

The Pentagon earmarks more than $100 million in taxpayers’ money for various Lincoln Group operations, and it can’t get any facts? Though the 30-year-old prime mover in the shadowy outfit, one Christian Bailey, fled from Andrea Mitchell of NBC News when she pursued him on camera in Washington, certain facts are proving not at all elusive.

Ms. Mitchell and other reporters have learned that Mr. Bailey has had at least four companies since 2002, most of them interlocking, short-lived and under phantom names. Government Executive magazine also discovered that Mr. Bailey “was a founder and active participant in Lead21,” a Republican “fund-raising and networking operation” - which has since scrubbed his name from its Web site - and that he and a partner in his ventures once listed a business address identical to their Washington residence. This curious tale, with its trail of cash payoffs, trading in commercial Iraqi real estate and murky bidding procedures for lucrative U.S. government contracts, could have been lifted from “Syriana” or “Glengarry Glen Ross.”
Though the White House doesn’t know that its jig is up, everyone else does. Americans see that New Orleans is in as sorry shape today as it was under Brownie three months ago. The bipartisan 9/11 commissioners confirm that homeland security remains a pork pit. Condi Rice’s daily clarifications of her clarifications about American torture policies are contradicted by new reports of horrors before her latest circumlocutions leave her mouth. And the president’s latest Iraq speeches - most recently about the “success” stories of Najaf and Mosul - still don’t stand up to the most rudimentary fact checking.

This is why the most revealing poll number in the Times/CBS survey released last week was Mr. Bush’s approval rating for the one area where things are going relatively well, the economy: 38 percent, only 2 points higher than his rating on Iraq. It’s a measure of the national cynicism bequeathed by the Bush culture that seeing anything, even falling prices at the pump, is no longer believing.

Posted by: b | Dec 11 2005 8:37 utc | 21

Kanan Makiya in a NYT OpEd on Iraq Present at the Disintegration

This guarantees that the more Iraqi provinces opt for regional status, and get it, the more the federal state will shrivel up and die. Moreover, with the exception of those who reside in provinces without oil (or in Baghdad, which cannot join a region), it is in the interest of every populist demagogue to press for regional status, because it is at that level that the lawmaking that truly affects day-to-day life will take place.

The powers of the new regions will be enormous. Not even the Iraqi Army can travel through one without the permission of the regional Parliament. And should there be any doubt about where the whip hand will lie on any issue not explicitly addressed in the Constitution, Article 122 states: "Articles of the Constitution may not be amended if such amendment takes away from the power of the regions ... except by the consent of the legislative authority of the concerned region and the approval of the majority of its citizens."
There is nothing wrong with having strong regions within a federal union. Unfortunately the new Iraqi Constitution fails to inject the glue that would hold such a union together: the federal government. It sets up a regional system with big short-term winners (Shiite Arabs and Kurds) and big short-term losers (Sunni Arabs). It even allocates extra oil and gas revenues to the regions that generate them, on the implicit assumption that because of the political inequities of the past, the state owes the Sunnis of the resource-poor western provinces less than it does the Shiites and Kurds. But these provinces are not significantly better off than other parts of Iraq.

Iraq's Sunni Arabs voted solidly against the Constitution not because they are Saddam Hussein loyalists, nor because they hate the Kurds and Shiites (as some of the insurgents do); they voted against it because by doing away with the central state, which they had championed during the previous 80 years, and penalizing them for living in regions without oil, the Constitution became a punitive document - one that began to seem as if it was written to punish them for the sins of the Baath.
Democracy is not reducible to placing an Iraqi seal of approval upon a situation that is manifestly worsening by the day. The 79 percent of people who voted in favor of a constitution that promotes ethnic and sectarian divisions are unwittingly paving the way for a civil war that will cost hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives. Nothing is worth that.

Without the return of real power to the center, the ascent of sectarian and ethnic politics in Iraq to the point of complete societal breakdown cannot be checked. We cannot fight the insurgency, rebuild Iraq and live in any meaningful sense as part of the modern world without a state. There are no human rights, no law, and no democracy without the state; there is only anarchy and a state of insecurity potentially much worse than what Iraqis are experiencing today. For democracy to emerge out of the current chaos in Iraq, the state must be saved from the irresponsibility of the Iraqi parties and voting blocs that are today killing it.

Posted by: b | Dec 11 2005 9:06 utc | 22

Guardian/Observer: MI6 and CIA 'sent student to Morocco to be tortured'<

An Ethiopian student who lived in London claims that he was brutally tortured with the involvement of British and US intelligence agencies.

Binyam Mohammed, 27, says he spent nearly three years in the CIA's network of 'black sites'. In Morocco he claims he underwent the strappado torture of being hung for hours from his wrists, and scalpel cuts to his chest and penis and that a CIA officer was a regular interrogator.
Western agencies believed that he was part of a plot to buy uranium in Asia, bring it to the US and build a 'dirty bomb' in league with Jose Padilla, a US citizen. Mohammed signed a confession but told his lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, he had never met Padilla, or anyone in al-Qaeda. Padilla spent almost four years in American custody, accused of the plot. Last month, after allegations of the torture used against Mohammed emerged, the claims against Padilla were dropped. He now faces a civil charge of supporting al-Qaeda financially.

Was this the tortured testimony that was the base of the Padilla case?

Posted by: b | Dec 11 2005 9:33 utc | 23

WaPo: Defense Facilities Pass Along Reports of Suspicious Activity

Day after day, reports of suspicious activity filed from military bases and other defense installations throughout the United States flow into the Counterintelligence Field Activity, or CIFA, a three-year-old Pentagon agency whose size and budget remain classified.

The Talon reports, as they are called, are based on information from civilians and military personnel who stumble across people or information they think might be part of a terrorist plot or threat against defense facilities at home or abroad.

The documents can consist of "raw information reported by concerned citizens and military members regarding suspicious incidents," said a 2003 memo signed by then-Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz. The reports "may or may not be related to an actual threat, and its very nature may be fragmented and incomplete," the memo said.
The statement said "U.S. person information" -- reports concerning people in the United States -- "is collected and retained only as authorized" by presidential executive order.
..under its director, David A. Burtt II, CIFA has rapidly expanded its mandate inside the United States as the Pentagon's domestic intelligence activities have grown since Sept. 11.

It is unclear how many Talon reports are filed each year. But just one of the military services involved in the program, the Air Force, generated 1,200 during the 14 months that ended in September 2003, according to the inspector general's newsletter.
Among the types of information worth recording, according to a Talon report guide that accompanied the Wolfowitz memo, are threats or incidents that "may indicate a potential for a threat . . . whether the threat posed is deliberately targeted or collateral." Another trigger for reporting would be attempts by individuals to monitor U.S. facilities, including the taking of pictures, annotating maps or drawings of facilities, use of binoculars "or other vision-enhancing devices" or attempts to obtain "security-related or military specific information."

So what does the military do with this information?

Posted by: b | Dec 11 2005 10:40 utc | 24

They start to wake up: WaPo OpEd: Torture and the Constitution

Europeans and Americans who interpreted Ms. Rice's statements last week as an assurance that the CIA will no longer use waterboarding, prolonged shackling or induced hypothermia in its secret prisons were misled. Administration officials tell us there has been no decision to abandon those practices. Similarly, those who have hoped that the McCain amendment would end CIA abuses, as we have, must lower their expectations. The creation of a legal standard, while essential, probably will have to be followed by an effort to compel the administration to respect it, through further legislation or court action.

Interpreting the Constitution as permitting waterboarding in secret prisons is, to most experts outside the administration, legally outrageous and politically untenable. It means that the Bush administration accepts, in principle, that the FBI may use waterboarding, painful stress positions, forced nudity and other methods on Americans, in American prisons, "in certain circumstances." That's why the Justice Department has classified its memos on the subject and kept its conclusions secret. That's why President Bush and Vice President Cheney have worked so hard to stop the McCain amendment, which would pave the way for legal challenges to their interpretation. They want to give themselves the authority to commit human rights abuses without having to explain or justify themselves to the public, the world -- or an impartial court.

Posted by: b | Dec 11 2005 10:51 utc | 25

Niger forgeries

French Told CIA of Bogus Intelligence

More than a year before President Bush declared in his 2003 State of the Union speech that Iraq had tried to buy nuclear weapons material in Africa, the French spy service began repeatedly warning the CIA in secret communications that there was no evidence to support the allegation.

The previously undisclosed exchanges between the U.S. and the French, described in interviews last week by the retired chief of the French counterintelligence service and a former CIA official, came on separate occasions in 2001 and 2002.
The repeated warnings from France's Direction Generale de la Securite Exterieure did not prevent the Bush administration from making the case aggressively that Saddam Hussein was seeking nuclear weapons materials.

It was not the first time a foreign government tried to warn U.S. officials off of dubious prewar intelligence.

In the notorious "Curveball" case, an Iraqi who defected to Germany claimed to have knowledge of Iraqi biological weapons. Bush and other U.S. officials repeatedly cited Curveball's claims even as German intelligence officials argued that he was unstable and might be a fabricator.
Chouet recalled that his agency was contacted by the CIA in the summer of 2001 — shortly before the attacks of Sept. 11 — as intelligence services in Europe and North America became more concerned about chatter from known terrorist sympathizers. CIA officials asked their French counterparts to check that uranium in Niger and elsewhere was secure. The former CIA official confirmed Chouet's account of this exchange.

Then twice in 2002, Chouet said, the CIA contacted the French again for similar help. By mid-2002, Chouet recalled, the request was more urgent and more specific. The CIA was asking questions about a particular agreement purportedly signed by Nigerian officials to sell 500 metric tons of uranium to Iraq.

Chouet dispatched a five- or six-man team to Niger to double-check any reports of a sale or an attempt to purchase uranium. The team found none.

Chouet and his staff noticed that the details of the allegation matched those in fraudulent documents that an Italian informant earlier had offered to sell to the French.
Chouet said in the interview that the question from CIA officials in the summer of 2002 seemed to follow almost word for word from the documents in question. He said that an Italian intelligence source, Rocco Martino, had tried to sell the documents to the French, but that in a matter of days French analysts determined the documents had been forged.

"We thought they [the Americans] were in possession of the documents," Chouet said. "The words were very similar." The former CIA official said that in fact the U.S. had been offered the same documents in 2001 but had quickly rejected them as forgeries.

The timing is interesting. So when did the CIA get their hands on the forgeries?

Posted by: b | Dec 11 2005 11:19 utc | 26

another little milestone tomorrow. the thousand day war.

Posted by: DM | Dec 11 2005 12:00 utc | 27

GOP Faction Wants to Change 'Birthright Citizenship' Policy

>blockquote> For nearly 140 years, any child born on U.S. soil, even to an illegal immigrant, has been given American citizenship. Now, some conservatives in Congress are determined to change that.

A group of 92 lawmakers in the House will attempt next week to force a vote on legislation that would revoke the principle of "birthright citizenship," part of a broader effort to discourage illegal immigration.

The push to change the citizenship policy is backed by some conservative activists and academics. But it could cause problems for the White House and the Republican Party, which have been courting Latino voters. GOP officials fear the effort to eliminate birthright citizenship will alienate a key constituency, even if the legislation ultimately is rejected by Congress or the courts.

ya think?

Posted by: annie | Dec 11 2005 14:41 utc | 28

Maybe one good thing from the revelation that European nations allowed the U.S. to use airstrips or facilities for torture is that some of these nations will give up information on the Bush junta to distance themselves in the eyes of their populations.

..sort of acts of contrition to keep themselves in office.

I'm sure there are many in power in various countries who know much much more than they are saying, and they, unlike the US, have agreed to abide by international human rights standards.

Stephen Daedelus said "history is the nightmare from which I am trying to awake" in Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man.

I would have to add that the present is equally nightmarish, or worse -- it is a waking dream of horror.

I find it nearly impossible to speak to my family members who I know support Bush. I don't think I can say "happy holidays" without also asking them how they can support torture. I'm sure they don't believe that what is going on is torture because, if it were, then they couldn't support it. Therefore, the torture is not occurring. I'd imagine this must be the twisted logic of many.

That Laing fellow comes to mind...something about insanity being the correct response to an insane world that pretends it is not.

Posted by: fauxreal | Dec 11 2005 15:33 utc | 29

@fauxreal - you are right on the Europeans (ex Brits). They did know what was going but didn´t tell their constituency. There are some fireworks coming.

I don't think I can say "happy holidays" without also asking them how they can support torture.

Not wishing them "happy christmas" may constitute torture (in their view).

Posted by: b | Dec 11 2005 16:02 utc | 30

An interesting The New Yorker portrait on Bin Laden


Posted by: b | Dec 11 2005 18:06 utc | 31

australia, australia, australia

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Dec 11 2005 18:28 utc | 32

Malooga wrote:

annie is on to something. We'll never be able to prove it, but I believe it is true.

The more deeply I think about just exactly what news actually is, how it confirms or challenges our social constructs, beliefs, and expectations, how it is selected, how it is filtered (see: Manufacturing Consent), and the hypnotic repetitive ways it is delivered directly into our subconscious; the more sure I am that Baudrillard is right: We live in a completely created artificial "hyper-reality", in essence, a walking "Truman Show" that very few of us are able to see our way out of. All news is part of this "hyper-reality", all news is "massaged" or "created" based upon that "hyper-reality" to some extent or another. Perhaps no one in "civilization" is completely free of this spell, this consensual reality, this collective madness. And then, beyond that, it takes a veritable Zen master to just see reality for what it is, and not interpret it beyond that.

The mainstream news is actually quite transparent if one can read through it and has other news sources available. Up to a point!

That said, blogger are dependent on mainstream news, they have no other sources, they tire themselves out discussing this or that titbit thrown out by the establisment. They (ie. all of us) are pawns: we can only address what enters the public space through official channels (pravda, faux news, etc.) That is why we are tolerated. No one can really figure things out, no one knows what is really going on, and all the speculation is shoddy, or hilarious (Hi! NSA!)

It is time for pundits, bloggers, commentators, to actually take the news in hand, and create a second network.

Create a world wide base of stringers ... But that would mean open opposition going beyond fire-side chats and rabid Bush banging and empty conjectures. It would mean acknowledging the power structure and attempting to take it over.

Won’t happen.

Posted by: Noisette | Dec 11 2005 19:00 utc | 33

& the worst part of it is - that the very people that cultivate this racism in that country - rupert murdoch & kerry packer - are the first to weep when their lumpen proletarian & middle class take them at their word

that their slag & slave scribblers who imagine themselves ' journalists' carry a terrible responsibility in this affair

in nearly 20 years not one moment of regret in leaving those fatal shores

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Dec 11 2005 19:00 utc | 34

i recommend the osama newyorker piece. first time i got curious about the muslim brotherhood was thru this link posted here a while back i think by uncle or outrage.
one of the highlights of the current newyorker issue is the'hogs wild' story, last night i was splitting a gut reading it! it doesn't seem to be available online, but if you get the opportunity check it out,do. by ian fraiser

Posted by: annie | Dec 12 2005 0:12 utc | 35

Sadly, no one cares.

The stores are filled with people of every color now, veritable bizarre (sic) souk of strangers, all walking up and down the isles in onezes and twozes, holding up the $4 loaf of bread, the $3 can of soup, the $10 bottle of cooking oil, and then putting them back on the shelf. Things they can open, they help themselves to a bite, and then put the package back on the shelf.

There's a festive Argentinian air to it all.

The cash registers ring forlornly, dollar store discounts, mexican rice, beans and off-brand sodas, the inevitable cans of Alpo, a few sweet potatoes, box of sugar cookies, tin of folgers.
Like WWII again, with the ration cards.

'6/6/6 Next Depression! Read The Commandments!', the enquirers shout. 'Jen's Gone Wild', it says.
'President Bush says God Damn The Constitution!'

Outside the stores people stand in layered rags, watching, disheveled, silent, signs, "it's OK to help" and "homeless with children", but, sadly, no one cares. 'Grab a chair and have a drink',
the winos offer, huddled under a leaking canopy,
then look away, nervously twisting their beards.

350,000 H-1B visas, high-tech foreign nationals,
while Ford, GMC and the US airlines lay off an equal number of mechanics and flight attendants.
Not even enough jobs for population growth and age-cohort growth, it's musical chairs now.

Jobs, jobs, jobs! There's jobs everywhere, temp jobs, minimum wage jobs, jobs with no benefits, jobs with no relocation expenses, jobs where you are expected to use your own vehicle, jobs where you buy your own inventory and pay the upline.

President Bush locks down the Mexican border, establishing a National Identity Card program (prefix-"666"), and an expansion of "beds", Fed-speak for medium security detention camps.

They got your number, Raptor and Down the Hole.
Your name, your number, your address, 'citizen, place your hands against the door pads, we are scanning electronically.' Blade Runner 2006.

But, sadly, no one cares.


Posted by: Loose Shanks | Dec 12 2005 1:25 utc | 36

It is time for pundits, bloggers, commentators, to actually take the news in hand, and create a second network.

Create a world wide base of stringers ...

That is the potential that the Indymedia concept holds. And they have created an incredible worldwide technical infrastructure. Unfortunately, in practice, most groups seem to be populated by a bunch of young kids who have no idea the awesome power that could be wielded. There is endless arguing about anarchist power structures that waste time and energy. Also, this serves to alienate anyone who has any connection to the power structure, the would-be Sy Hersh's of the alternative media world, who have enough insider knowledge to really effect fundamental change. And lord knows there are enough professionals who are aghast at current events and would love a place to spill the beans--the kind of stuff that is too explosive for the dailies to touch. Members are far more interested with the "glamour" of media--multimedia, streaming webfeeds, and filming their own videos--and old fashioned gum-shoe reporting is deprecated. So you end up with a self-selecting, self-congratulatory club. With all the focus on collective and anarchist power sharing and decision making structures, it is sadly astonishing how controlling and limiting the results can be. Not that Indymedia has accomplished nothing, they have done good work, and some groups, like NYC, are fairly functional. But compared with what could be done, it is sad.

Posted by: Malooga | Dec 12 2005 1:40 utc | 37

The US has used torture for decades. All that's new is the openness about it.

Naomi Klein nails it, as usual.

Posted by: Malooga | Dec 12 2005 2:10 utc | 38

The enemy of the you!
Psy-Ops Come Home: Anti-war Party = "Defeaticrats"

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 12 2005 4:07 utc | 39

Posted by: GM | Dec 12 2005 6:17 utc | 40

malooga comments on indymedia are reasonable wrt US sites - not for outside world

please have a look around

try bolivia / ireland / germany / spain / italy for starters


Posted by: drunk as a rule | Dec 12 2005 6:41 utc | 41

I watched ">"> 'The Quiet American' tonight,
as was mentioned here by R'giap (I think). Dove tails nicely w/ Naomi Klein's recent article that Malooga
posted earlier. Outstanding controverisal movie. Possibally, here's one reason why:

Graham Greene on The Quiet American:

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 12 2005 7:19 utc | 42

@drunk as a rule


How I need a drink, alcoholic of course, after the heavy chapters involving quantum mechanics. (This is a mnemonic for the first fourteen digits of π, the lengths of the words are the digits)
George Polya

Posted by: Malooga | Dec 12 2005 7:22 utc | 43

You might want to sit down for this one, better, geta stiff drink before reading further:

Marines killed in Iraq shipped home as baggage on commercial flights

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 12 2005 9:40 utc | 44

Although tin-foil hats are obligatory W. Madsen's latest "revelations" are sufficiently detailed to merit further investigation and perhaps even partial confirmation. Unfortunately this is so very much the sort of nefarious corruption I believe to be the true state of "affairs" between various criminal elites, that I have to exercise great restraint and submit it to the community's judgment before believing it. I would dearly love to hear corroboration (or even refutation) of these all too plausible accusations, but for now they remain mere investigatory titillation.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Dec 12 2005 9:46 utc | 45

Video of Australian riots

They certainly LOOK like race riots.

Posted by: zena | Dec 12 2005 10:04 utc | 46

Footage taken by 'white supremacist' thugs at Crunulla

Rapidshare hosted, choose free download and see clip filmed from amid the rioters, introduced as a 'White Nationalist TV' production.

Posted by: zena | Dec 12 2005 10:32 utc | 47

I didn't get any response from the MoA crowd about the SCOTUS decision to undermine the Social Securities Act to reclaim debt that I posted in the last open thread. I guess the message I am picking up, just like the thunderous silence when I try to discuss the bankruptcy reform bill tells me, is that almost nobody on any side of the political spectrum genuinely cares about the impoverished, the sick, or the infirm in our society. It's hard to even call it class warfare when the victim's only complaint seems to be that they aren't the ones pulling the trigger on their own kind.

Well, maybe sometimes they are.

And on that Katrina-related note...

Three months ago, some pretty grand promises were made. Even though it was not an election campaign, poll numbers dictated that some appeasements be made. To date, not only have none of these promises begun to materialise, but Bush the Younger has shifted the focus of every public speech back on to the "War on Terror" or Iraq. Using the words "Katrina", "New Orleans" or "FEMA" in a public speech would remind people of the bad old days of three months ago and might remind them about how the Great Vacationer wasn't up to dealing with an unscripted challenge.

Well, let me just remind everyone that elections in the United States take place in the month of November. Hurricane season ends November 31st. By not addressing how callously they allowed (and are still allowing) poor people in the Gulf Coast region to die now, they will have a much harder time convincing poor people a year from now during the tail end of a new hurricane season.

But then, judging by the non-response I get for the stories with which I led this post, maybe poor people really don't care how badly they are treated. Maybe words really do speak louder than actions to people who have been conditioned not to be able to think critically.

Posted by: Monolycus | Dec 12 2005 13:41 utc | 48

@ Monolycus

At the risk of assuming the seasonal role of Ebenezer Scrooge, I don't find government action to recover an unpaid student loan to be a flagrant abuse of the poor,
although I have no doubt that there are many such
abuses, for example some of those adumbrated in your post. Even worse, I tend to find retrograde but legal political action distasteful, but not such as to bring me to boiling outrage when compared to the horrible illegal butchery being perpetrated in Iraq by that same government. The daily atrocities there are, of course, inflicted and suffered by troops many of whom come from the same economic class that is being squeezed dry
by the tireless efforts of the Bush administration to restore feudalism in the U.S. while bringing "freedom to Iraq". The appropriate response for plutocratic politics is electoral defeat, but traitorous war criminals should be brought before a war crimes tribunal.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Dec 12 2005 14:26 utc | 49

Malooga, I agree with all you say. Most particularly, the arguments about power structures are beside the point, not to mention indigestible.

a place to spill the beans

The problem is that people who have beans to spill know or suspect they can be caught, and it seems that there is little interest in the tech community in providing such a place. I mean a free and secret Live Journal subscription won’t do now will it? Despite the tremendous effect bloggers and Indymedia etc. have had, anti-conspirators (if I may call them that..) are thrown back on geographical proximity, muttering in parks! Ha ha ha.

Today, I heard on the radio that in France some number of people have been arrested “on the suspicion of plotting to commit a future terrorist attack.” Riiight.

I agree with drunk-as-a-rule that there are vast differences between nations. Nevertheless, the result is unsatisfatory, to put it mildly.

I keep abreast of 9/11 news and actions. It is a rather spectacular example that serves to illuminate the various factors at work. There is a lot of meta-discussion in that community about disinfo agents, control of information, and wasteful or distracting internal quarrels. The first and the second are not too important, I feel; and the third is a symptom rather than a cause. All three serve two purposes: a) to keep the debates alive, nay raging; b) to mask the lack of effective action - i.e. action beyond the ‘wake up call’, the demo, the support for representatives who might push the issue forwards, etc. It is as if 9/11 activists were following a model of lobbying for or against some ‘social issue’ such as gay marriage, where facts don’t play much of a role; opinion, calls for justice or a better fairer world, are tantamount. I’m exagerating a bit - they have done a lot - hats off to them; nevertheless, the blue print is the wrong one...

The reasons for that are partly the understandable handicaps: no info. that is not from the mainstream press; no (few?) experts willing to get their hands dirty; whistleblowers who are easily gagged, minor, or too small in number; and no (little?) support from the legal community.

Posted by: Noisette | Dec 12 2005 17:10 utc | 50

@Monolycus almost nobody on any side of the political spectrum genuinely cares about the impoverished, the sick, or the infirm in our society

I really think that what you say is wrong. There is too much stuff out there to cover and/or comment on. When I drop clips in the Open Threads here, I don´t expect answers. It is a news dump and source to me.

If you like to have it discussed, write something up about Katrina and/or the bancruptcy bill and I will put it on the front page.

Posted by: b | Dec 12 2005 17:31 utc | 51


I didn't think that what I was suggesting was shadowy or indirect at all. Essentially, we on the Left have congratulated ourselves about how we "forced" the Bush Administration to put their neo-feudal agenda to reform Social Security on a back burner. In the meanwhile, as Scalia himself admitted in a moment of astonishing frankness, they have simply and effectively repealed H.R. 7260 with this ruling.

The specifics of the case against James Lockhart are irrelevant, and they were not what was on the table, anyway. Preventing Lockhart from eating or getting medicine does not make him more able to pay back his loans; Lockhart paying back his loans isn't the issue. They're prepared to write off $77K if it means they can make headway on undermining the bugbear of Social Security... and squeezing more needy people in the long run while they are at it. Think of this ruling in the same way that Ford made its famous cost/benefit analysis of the Pinto: A recall and subsequent refitting of faulty gas tanks would cost more than paying off the projected number of wrongful death lawsuits out of court, so let the people die. Same thing here with the side benefit of getting a precedent on the books that the Republicans have wanted since 1935. Why should we expect future legislative defeats for Bush to be handled any differently? By hook or by crook, they do tend to get what they want (or, as Rumsfeld would put it, they'll just do what "needs to be done" anyway).

Some impressive sums get tossed around here to justify this feudalism. $33 billion in unpaid student loans sounds like a lot of money until you recall that the war in Iraq has cost us... well, figures that large are constantly changing. Your priority is to stop the senseless killing in Iraq rather than fighting the feudal lords who make it happen here, but where do you think the SSI money they are going to be saving with the precedent of this ruling is going to be going? Old people won't be using it for food or medicine, so we may as well throw it at our ravenous war machine. How's that for the law of unintended consequences?

And while we're talking about feudalism and unintended consequences, what about that damned bankruptcy reform bill that nobody cares about? What has that cost us versus what we are supposed to be saving from those evil private citizens who are trying to make chumps out of the feds by getting out from under crippling debt? Once again, impressive figures get tossed out by the rich about how much poor private citizens are getting away with, but while one Bush signed this act into law, his brother Neil cost the rest of us "$32 million a year, every year for thirty years" (that's $960,000,000 by my count... and that's just one, relatively minor, Bush). Corporate bankruptcy law hasn't changed with this reform; presumably, we have every reason to believe that a private citizen is trying to put one over on us and will devastate the economy, but a corporation that declares bankruptcy should be trusted to be well-meaning and the costs of their little "oopsies" can be comfortably absorbed by the taxpayers.

Look, I agree with you that what is being done to the people of Iraq is monstrous, but I am saying that dehumanising and exploiting the poor here at home is what lays the groundwork (and pays for) that monstrosity. These are not separate and distinct issues. Neofeudalism is what fuels corporate Imperialism.

*sigh* There's pages and pages more to be written about this, and I need to streamline my message a bit more to make it more clear, but, believe me, we are not talking about unrelated things here. This isn't just something distasteful on the one hand, and a crime against humanity on the other. They are all part of a process.

I'll see if anyone is able to tease what I am getting at from this.

Posted by: Monolycus | Dec 12 2005 17:52 utc | 52

"There is too much stuff out there to cover and/or comment on."

I know, I'm just very frustrated, and I wasn't trying to be abusive about people here who do attempt to address as much as they are able. I apologise for being more categorical than I should have been.

Posted by: Monolycus | Dec 12 2005 17:56 utc | 53

Monolycus, i read all the comments at billmon (my first blog) for a year before i ever added anything and then only sparingly. i literally would get so embarrassed by my posts i couldn't go near my computer for fear no one would comment on what i had to say, or disagree w/me. a majority of issues here i do not comment on simply because i don't think i have much to offer, and clearly the level of discourse on many of these posts is beyond what i can contribute. that said, i am like a sponge, my lack of response(here) has no relation to my interest in a topic. sometimes my postings have more relation to the courage i wake up with. thank you for your valuable posts,don't stop,they have effected me personally and the amounts i have been contributing to people less financially fortunate, locally and katrina. everyday i consider people less fortunate. when it is cold outside and i walk by a homeless person, i have a different attitude than i did when i first started hanging here. every little bit helps. keep reminding us.

i urge everyone to see the quite american as well, thanks for the reminder uncle, great movie

hmm, wayne madsen. although i read it w/a grain of salt, somebody has to be running the underground apparatus for redition,arms sales,whatever. he may not be spot on but i have no doubt the thought veins he travels coincide somewhat w/reality. i check his blog a couple times a week.

Posted by: annie | Dec 12 2005 19:30 utc | 54

Look, I agree with you that what is being done to the people of Iraq is monstrous, but I am saying that dehumanising and exploiting the poor here at home is what lays the groundwork (and pays for) that monstrosity. These are not separate and distinct issues. Neofeudalism is what fuels corporate Imperialism.

I am afraid you are right.

Posted by: b | Dec 12 2005 20:30 utc | 55

god these fleas need a dose of Advantage or whatever the current fav for poisoning your pets is.

MoA habitues will be unsurprised to hear that the oiliest man in brit politics, foreign secretary Jack Straw has been unable to find any record in the Civil Aviation files of the CIA applying for permission to use Brit airstrips to refuel planes carrying kidnap victims off to be tortured!

Presumably an experienced bureaucrat such as himself finds it impossible to believe that the US government wouldn't put 'Taking Arab to be tortured' in the purpose of visit space on the agents' arrival cards.

Which as far as Jack Straw is concerned means:
"there was no evidence that US "extraordinary rendition" flights had passed through the UK."

The sad thing is that many people will jump at this opportunity for an 'out'. That way they don't have to acknowledge that brit society hasn't progressed that far from having catholics hung drawn and quartered.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Dec 12 2005 20:43 utc | 56

I realise that the media attention hasn't been too intense on the big bang however despite the fact that it is the largest explosion in europe since ww2, the firefighters have been driven into retreat and the pollution it will cause is likely to poison most Northerners this winter, the only comment that the 'leaders' have made is that it definitely wasn't a terrorist attack.

This despite the fact that when the statement was first made no one had succeeded in getting within half a mile of the seat of the fire. Still haven't afaik.

Remember that "Last week, al-Qaida's deputy leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, urged militant Islamists to attack oil installations in Muslim countries. So britain isn't a muslim country that must be how they 'know'!

A debatable proposition at best but we really need to ask ourselves why the brits were so quick to deny that this could have been sabotage.

"The huge explosions initially sparked fears that there had been a terrorist attack or a plane crash." ....
...."Security sources quickly said there was no indication of "a national security" or criminal connection to the fire."

Well it's good to keep the sheeple in a state of terror. The revelation that Muslim resistance to hegemony was taking the form of destroying assets stolen from them rather than killing innocents probably wouldn't elicit more than a sigh of relief from populations in the countries that had invaded Iraq against the wishes of their citizens.

Can't have that now can we.

Who knows what caused this fire. If it was an act of sabotage by the other side then the truth will be supressed while 'hit squads' fan out murdering people from the organisation believed to have done this.

That way they will have been punished and then hopefully they will go back to targeting innocents thereby preventing many 'thinking citizens' from coming to the conclusion that the war on terror is a 'put up' job designed to conceal USuk's theft.

That's it. Now I'm going back to get my head around how my favourite city (Sydney) in my favourite country (Australia) has been reduced to racist mob violence in less than ten years. There has been a concerted effort to fan the flames of dissension in a society that had been working very hard to be inclusive. If I can put this strategy into some vaguely coherent form I'll try and share it with 'mooners' ("keep yer trousers up in the back there please")

Posted by: Debs is dead | Dec 12 2005 21:08 utc | 57

IRT the big fire by Luton, does anyone else not find it strange that none of the talking heads have pointed out that this happened on 12/11? After 9/11 and 3/11 (Madrid) one could easily see a pattern.

I was struck too by the immediate reports that it was an accident. This when no one had any idea what was happening and after three explosions at a fuel depot. When has it ever happened before that a fuel depot spontaneously bursts into flames? I do think they protest too much.

Posted by: dan of steele | Dec 12 2005 22:25 utc | 58

@dan - may not be an accident

Robb has some doubts too. Unfortunatly, we may never know. But 60 m gallons is quite some fuel.

Posted by: b | Dec 12 2005 22:37 utc | 59

@ Monolycus
I made a poor choice of words with the use of "adumbrated": you were admirably clear, direct, and civil and also in your response as well. I agree in substance with everything you have brought up, but am much less well versed in the economic aspects than you are. Learning what reference points you use to "flesh out" your critique of the consistent hypocrisy of the new robber barons will be illuminating, and I urge you not so much to "streamline your message" as to propagate it.

Like you, I think, I am baffled by the capacity of political hegemons to broadcast their crude, archaic, profoundly anti-Christian, and downright feudal ideology and hear it echoed not only by their conscious shills, but even by many of its victims themselves. The traditional values of solidarity, justice, and charity are all ground into dust by a "free market ideology" which is a both a caricature of classical liberal thought and a veil for rapine. So, I certainly did not wish to blame the victims, and I share what I take to be your hope that this ideology of greed can be overthrown. Indeed, the lock-step uniformity with which the dominant economic theory is promulgated is every bit as blindly dogmatic as classical religion or paleo-marxism. How people can believe that crap is beyond me, but such true believers are legion. ( Although I suspect that your analysis of the issues at play in the college loan case is perfectly correct, I am nevertheless old fashioned enough to think that one should pay one's debts, if honestly contracted. Of course that goes for corporations as well as poor souls, but as you point out the former enjoy a different dispensation.)

I am also in agreement, I think, that the defense budget
serves largely as a patriotic scam to transfer wealth from the poor bastards who fight and pay for American wars to the rich bastards who create and profit from them. But you will, I hope, say these things far better than I can.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Dec 13 2005 9:06 utc | 60


I have spent the past two days trying to compile data in order to submit a piece to Bernhard about this. I am flattered that you suggested that I am well versed in economics, but I have to confess that this is not true. My education was restricted to physical and cultural anthropology and I have always viewed the study of economics with an irrational loathing.

I want to reassure you that I have not put this aside, but I am running into the problem of having laid out the punch line of my thesis above and in looking into this topic I am having difficulties finding the hard data I need to present my case. The Government Accounting Office should have an aggregate sum of all bankruptcy claims within a certain time frame, but that link now redirects to an error message from the DOJ. Also, while I am confident that it was lobbyists from MBNA and a few other credit agencies that were responsible for this Senate bill, I have so far found no official disclosure for that.

The absence of a background in economics, financial law and investigative journalism on my part has turned this into a much greater chore to present than I expected it would be. I want to thank you, Bernhard and Annie for your support and encouragement and I will continue to try to get this put together in as timely a manner as I am able.

Posted by: Monolycus | Dec 14 2005 16:02 utc | 61

@ Monolycus
How refreshing it is to hear that you don't want to present your brief before you have finished gathering evidence! I suspect that is just an indication that we share certain outmoded ways of looking at "reasoned debate".

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Dec 14 2005 16:29 utc | 62

Found what I needed, laid out the salients, tried to keep it brief enough to be readable and open-ended enough not to kill a debate, and sent it off. Now I'm going to bed.

Posted by: Monolycus | Dec 16 2005 3:18 utc | 63


Looking forward to your piece. I enjoy your posts quite quite! (if I neglected to say so before)

Posted by: Malooga | Dec 16 2005 3:24 utc | 64

me too mono -

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Dec 16 2005 3:35 utc | 65

woooo hooo! we're back

Posted by: dan of steele | Dec 16 2005 23:16 utc | 66

cool beans

Posted by: annie | Dec 16 2005 23:19 utc | 67

so what happened bernard? did the blue meanies attack?

Posted by: annie | Dec 16 2005 23:22 utc | 68

looks like something pretty bad happened to the typepad servers. It has taken them quite awhile to get this stuff restored and I applaud them.

Must have been a massive failure.

Posted by: dan of steele | Dec 16 2005 23:27 utc | 69

i hope it doesn't have to do w/anything sinister, sometimes i get a little paranoid, especially after the strangeness of yesterday.

Posted by: annie | Dec 16 2005 23:56 utc | 70">Congress as a Consumer of Intelligence Information

By virtue of his constitutional role as commander-and-in-chief and head of the executive branch, the President has access to all national intelligence collected, analyzed and produced by the Intelligence Community.The President's position also affords him the authority which, at certain times, has been aggressively asserted (1) - to restrict the flow of intelligence information to Congress and its two intelligence committees, which are charged with providing legislative oversight of the Intelligence Community. (2) As a result, the President, and a small number of presidentially-designated Cabinet-level officials, including the Vice President (3) - in contrast to Members of Congress (4) - have access to a far greater overall volume of intelligence and to more sensitive intelligence information, including information regarding intelligence sources and methods. They, unlike Members of Congress, also have the authority to more extensively task the Intelligence Community, and its extensive cadre of analysts, for follow-up information. As a result, the President and his most senior advisors arguably are better positioned to assess the quality of the Community's intelligence more accurately than is Congress. (5)

so much for us having the same info

Posted by: annie | Dec 17 2005 0:03 utc | 71

i'll repeat wm burroughs definition that a paranoid is a person in full possession of the facts

Posted by: r'giap | Dec 17 2005 0:07 utc | 72

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