Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
August 21, 2006

OT 06-80

News, views and other issues ...

Posted by b on August 21, 2006 at 5:21 UTC | Permalink


At Guantanamo, Caught in a Legal Trap

6 Algerians Languish Despite Foreign Rulings, Dropped Charges
Completely absurd - a court in Bosnia had declared the men innocent. The US did kidnap them to Guantanamo but has found them to be innocent too. The only reason for not releasing them is not to admit an error.

Posted by: b | Aug 21 2006 5:25 utc | 1

The War Nerd gloats a bit, but has it right:

Posted by: SteinL | Aug 21 2006 5:35 utc | 2

Their bodies as weapons

The US military is now a mercenary force. In addition to hired militias and "independent contractors", we have a draft: a poverty draft. That's why the army is disproportionately comprised of ethnic minorities seeking education, healthcare, housing. But there are other perks. Teenage males, hormones surging, are taught to confuse their bodies with weapons, and relish it.

One training song (with lewd gestures) goes: "This is my rifle, this is my gun; one is for killing, one is for fun." The US air force admits showing films of violent pornography to pilots before they fly bombing raids. Feminist scholars have been exposing these phallocentric military connections for decades. When I wrote The Demon Lover: The Roots of Terrorism, I presented evidence on how the terrorist mystique and the hero legend have the same root: the patriarchal pursuit of manhood. How can rape not be central to the propaganda that violence is erotic - a pervasive message affecting everything from US foreign policy to "camouflage chic" and glamorised gangsta styles?

Posted by: b | Aug 21 2006 6:17 utc | 3

The rifle/gun chant goes back to way before Chesty Puller. I think one has to have been in the military to understand the relationship you "get" with your weaponry.

But there's no doubt that some devious OPS were run on the soldiers that went into Iraq, to prep them for the assault. To a man they thought Saddam was behind 9/11, and that they were there to exact vengeance. We're paying the price for that misinformation threeplus years in.


Posted by: SteinL | Aug 21 2006 6:49 utc | 4

SteinL -

Thanks for posting that "War Nerd" Gary Brecher had another column up. He is gloating, yes; he is very entitled.

The number of Hezbollah dead is not known, I have seen no number from news about Hezbollah (maybe they don't want to demoralize the IDF too much more?). Brecher's idea that it may be about the same as that of the IDF is plausible.

I just want to add that early on, the Israelis seemed to think that Hezbollah had penetrated their security system. They were certainly listening in on Israeli military radio.

Doubtless everybody worldwide is, will soon be, studying Hezbollah methods carefully.

Posted by: Owl | Aug 21 2006 7:23 utc | 5

@Owl - actually, the Israelis could have spared themselves a lot of pain if they had studied the manuals for insurgency tactics that the U.S. itself has produced.
When in the military (northern NATO), we got stacks of reading materials dealing with how to mount effective counter-operations against conventional armed forces, in terrain that is quite similar to that in the south of Lebanon. What the Hezbollah has been doing is according to the book - though adding AC to their underground caves shows some foresight and an eye for comfort! :-)

No secrets there - these are techniques that have been developed and improved in Vietnam, Czechenia, Afghanistan (against the Russians), former Jugoslavia and (of course) in Iraq these last few years.

It's Israeli hubris that landed them in this mess. Hezbollah just did the sensible thing. And all those fatcat military contractors whose goal is to siphon off as much money as possible from the Pentagon will have to reassess, I think.

Posted by: SteinL | Aug 21 2006 9:22 utc | 6

Adding: And can you imagine what moving into Syria or Iran is going to be like?

The NeoCons truly and severely really are crazed moonbats.

Posted by: SteinL | Aug 21 2006 9:23 utc | 7

Then and Now

Maybe (just maybe), Hezbollah are defending all, and have foiled the crazies move on Syria, Iran, WWIII (or whatever).

Posted by: DM | Aug 21 2006 10:31 utc | 8

Guys in Pentagon must be shitting their pants after this war, if BushCo really intends to go after Syria and, more importantly, Iran. They just got the demo in Lebanon.

And the war nerd alas brought up the logcial conclusion, the one pretty much everyone on the planet should really worry about:
"It's hard to say who gains in the long run. Short term, sure, Hezbollah wins big. But in the long run, maybe what's happened is that the day when genocide replaces the farce called "CI Warfare" just got a lot closer."
As I said 4 weeks ago to friends, after seeing the last Ken Loach movie about the Irish independance war and civil war, and in direct reference to Iraq and Lebanon, when you get 3/4 of the people against you and you face a guerilla, you've lost and should get out as soon as possible, unless you're ready to kill into submission half or more of the whole population.
The bad interesting times are only beginning...

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Aug 21 2006 12:35 utc | 9


Yeah, war nerd's analysis was really good.

All these Hez tactics go back a long time.

One person over at Pat Lang's took it all the way back to Churchill's first line of defense against a threatened land invasion of Britain by the Germans in 1940.

Thanks for the article.

Posted by: Hezzie Grrl | Aug 21 2006 13:00 utc | 10

Who says history doesn´t repeat itself?

A Tortured Past

Now, declassified records show that while the Army was working energetically to discredit Herbert, military investigators were uncovering torture and mistreatment that went well beyond what he had described.

The abuses were not made public, and few of the wrongdoers were punished.

Tufts' agents found that military interrogators in the 173rd Airborne repeatedly beat prisoners, tortured them with electric shocks and forced water down their throats to simulate the sensation of drowning, the records show.

Soldiers in one unit told investigators that their captain approved of such methods and was sometimes present during torture sessions.

In one case, a detainee who had been beaten by interrogators suffered convulsions, lost consciousness and later died in his confinement cage.

Investigators identified 29 members of the 173rd Airborne as suspects in confirmed cases of torture. Fifteen of them admitted the acts. Yet only three were punished, records show. They received fines or reductions in rank. None served any prison time.

The accounts of torture and the Army's effort to discredit Herbert emerged from a review of a once-secret Pentagon archive.

The collection — about 9,000 pages — was compiled in the early 1970s by an Army task force that monitored war crimes investigations. The files, examined recently by the Los Angeles Times, include memos, case summaries, investigative reports and sworn witness statements.


Lasting Pain, Minimal Punishment

Bumgarner detained the three Vietnamese and marched them to a secluded spot, where he and one of his men opened fire. Then they searched the bodies, removing identification papers, a watch and a wedding ring.

Next, Bumgarner dragged the bodies close together and told the other soldier to detonate a grenade near the heads.

Afterward, Bumgarner reported that three enemy fighters had been killed in action and led his team back to their base.

The incident, and others detailed in declassified Army records, show how a violent minority within the 173rd Airborne Brigade abused Vietnamese citizens with little or no fear of punishment.

A military court convicted Bumgarner of manslaughter, reduced his rank and cut his pay. But he served no prison time for the killings. He remained in Vietnam and, approximately six months later, reenlisted for another tour.

Posted by: b | Aug 21 2006 13:57 utc | 11


KURTZ: One other note. On RELIABLE SOURCES two weeks ago, "Washington Post" Pentagon reporter Tom Ricks said he'd been told by U.S. military analysts that Israel was leaving some Hezbollah rocket launchers intact because the killing of Israeli civilians provided an image of moral equivalency in the war.

"Post" editor Len Downie, responding to a letter from former New York mayor, Ed Koch, says he told Ricks he should not have made those statements.

Ricks told the "New York Sun" that he accurately reported the comments from analysts but that, quote, "I wish I hadn't said them, and I intend from now on to keep my mouth shut about it."

Posted by: b | Aug 21 2006 15:16 utc | 12

from war nerd

i posit they had an idea hizbollah was primarily underground. this however would not have provided them w/an opportunity to use the excuse of human shields (a tactic they have used repeatedly on the palestinians and obviously a well worn propaganda tool) to devastate the infrastructure. they didnt't anticipate the negative pr and global reaction. the methods idf used had a devastation impact, surely they knew the human cost.

the killing of Israeli civilians provided an image of moral equivalency in the war.

lebanon is set back 20 years. they gambled, they lost part of the gamble, not a total loss, the impression of loss. a pr loss. they didn't take much of a beating w/blood or treasure.

Posted by: annie | Aug 21 2006 16:27 utc | 13

sorry, somehow i lost those war nerd quotes i was referring to.. here

if the Israelis had caught on to what Hezbollah was up to, ......Intelligence is everything. ...the best and most ruthless intelligence agencies since the USSR went bankrupt. But they had no idea what was waiting for them over the border. That's incredible, the most shocking news of all.

i think they knew very well where hizbollah was

Posted by: annie | Aug 21 2006 16:31 utc | 14


Thanks for the article on Lt. Col. Anthony Herbert, and reminding me of him.

The Army, itself, does a pretty good job of Swift-boating when it has the incentive.

There are 127 copies of Herbert's book Soldier, at Abe Books, starting at $1.00. The book is well worth a read.

Posted by: Hezzie Grrl | Aug 21 2006 16:32 utc | 15

In response to a comment by b several days ago about "anti-war" author, David Grossman:

Israeli war opponent's son killed in Lebanon fighting

In a deeply Israeli tragedy, Uri Grossman, 21, the son of one of the nation's most prominent writers and peace activists, has been killed in fighting in Lebanon.

Throughout Israel's first war in Lebanon, from 1982 until 2000, and during the first intifada in the late 1980s, his parents, David and Michal Grossman, were ubiquitous protesters at antiwar rallies and demonstrations. Most often they came accompanied by their two young sons, Yonatan and Uri.

Occasionally, said Galia Golan, a founder of Peace Now, David Grossman would declare a "writing strike" and disappear to work on one of his growing list of novels and books of essays. "But even then, if something important came up, if olive trees being uprooted or if anything happened in Hebron, he was always, always there," she said.

Last Thursday, David Grossman, the author of such international bestsellers as "The Smile of the Lamb" and "See Under: Love," and a book-length political treatise, "The Yellow Wind," about Israel's occupation of the West Bank, joined the other two titans of Israeli letters, Amos Oz and A.B. Yehoshua, to publicly proclaim their opposition to the continuation of the current war in Lebanon.

On Aug. 6, the three wrote a public letter calling for Israel to accept a mutual cease-fire with the Lebanese.

"We supported Israel's right, when faced with ongoing missile attacks upon its civilian population, to embark upon this war," said Nissim Kalderon, a university professor, who signed the appeal. "But once Lebanon announced its seven-point plan, including the deployment of Lebanese soldiers in the south, we saw no point in continuing a military campaign, and no point in endangering more soldiers' lives."

Then, Kalderon said, "the very thing we most feared came to be."

On Saturday, Uri Grossman, a soldier serving in a tank unit, was one of 24 Israeli casualties in fierce clashes with Hezbollah. News services identified him as a 20-year-old sergeant. His brother, Yonatan, himself recently released from an armored tank unit and currently traveling in Colombia, could not be found immediately, so following Israeli custom, the announcement of his death was held back all day Sunday.

Beneath the formal silence, however, Jerusalem buzzed as the unmentionable piece of news floated among the friends of one of Israel's most reserved celebrities.

Speaking as he left the Grossman home, Yehoshua said, "David is like my younger brother. For some days now I've been worried about Uri and calling daily, and this morning, when I called to ask how he is, Michal simply said, 'He was killed.'"

Yehoshua stopped and could not continue speaking.

Reached at his home, Oz requested to be allowed "to mourn in silence."

On Sunday night, Channel 10 in Israel broke the news of Uri Grossman's death.

David Grossman, 52, slight and soft- spoken, is often described as the anguished conscience of Israel.

Menachem Brinker, a literary philosopher, described him as "the consummate public intellectual." Grossman, he said, was "the first who brought the figure of an Arab into Israeli letters, in 'The Smile of the Lamb,' and he brought much needed artistry into our new traditions."

Brinker described "The Yellow Wind," an uncompromising examination into Israel's policies in the occupied West Bank, as "the worst indictment produced by an Israeli Zionist writer against the occupation, commensurate with Norman Mailer's 'Armies of the Night' in terms of its importance."

Meir Shalev, another renowned Israeli novelist, is a good friend of the family. "It is awfully sad that a man has striven for peace his entire life, publicly and as a writer, should have to live through such a tragedy," Shalev said.

He described a tour the two men undertook 10 days ago, reading in Hebrew and Arabic from their children's books to Galilee youngsters living in shelters because of this current war.

"We chatted like two parents," said Shalev, whose son, Michael, was recently released from military service.

First, let me confess that I haven't read any of David Grossman's novels. I'm sure they must be well written and moving.

Still, one must admit that being a "Zionist for peace" is a bit like being the champion hot dog eater campaigning for slim waistlines -- you can campaign all you want, but the territory you take up continues to get larger. This is not an impartial judgement: Peace activists in the US, who "support their country," face the same dilemma.

But it must be noted that Grossman, along with Oz, Yehoshua and other "peace" activists of the Israeli left suported this war. Most assuredly, enduring only 26 days of Israeli flailing and blundering before they conveniently chose to come out against the war is to be preferred to the actions of the anti-war John Kerry, who led three years of missions into the killing zones of Vietnam and Laos before his flaccid but ever-opportunistic conscience finally stood at attention.

As The Other Israel notes:

At least, the stifling atmosphere of "national unity" which characterized the past weeks seems to have decisively dissipated. "The Big Three" of Israeli literature - "Amos Oz, A.B. Yehoshua and David Grossman - have come out against the war, three weeks after they had endorsed it in public. (Some 60 younger authors, who opposed the war from the first minute, had been constantly snapping at these three's heels). Also, the magnitude of the Lebanon invasion and its similarity to the fiasco of 1982 (except that the guerrillas now seem much better organized and armed...) at last nudged mainstream groups such as Peace Now and the Meretz Party out of their complacency and the "support from the left" which many of their leaders gave to this vicious war on its inception.

Surely, as Chomsky famously noted during Vietnam, the role and duty of the public intellectual (and even one supposses, "reserved celebrities" who are the "anguished conscience of Israel", as Grossman is generously described) must be to tell the truth at all costs, most especially if it contravenes government propaganda. But the statement he finally signed is a pack of liberal lies -- and being their liberal does not in any way excuse lying or exageration.

"We supported Israel's right, when faced with ongoing missile attacks upon its civilian population, to embark upon this war..." But that is a complete rewriting of history -- not in any way differing, or less morally detestable, than Bush's claims that Saddam "kicked the weapons inspectors out."

We know that Israeli provocative border incursions were over 100 times more numerous than those of Hezbollah. We know that this action was planned for several years and signed off on by the US. We know that, as initially accurately reported, the skirmish which became the casus belli, occured on Lebanese territory, not Israeli. It was only after behind-the-scene blandishments that corporate media changed their initially accurate reports to state that the conflict began on Israeli territory. We know that Hezbollah was able to monitor Israeli military communications, and so was prepared for the Israeli total war against the sovereign state of Lebanon, destroying 75% of its roadways and bridges. We know all this. But when the Israeli "Peace faction" boils all these facts down they miraculously reduce to "Israel's right, when faced with ongoing missile attacks upon its civilian population, to embark upon this war." Hitler couldn't have said it any better.

But Grossman could. To quote from an article in Haaretz, "Prominent Israeli authors say oppose expansion of IDF assault:"

Grossman rejected claims that the Zionist left has been rendered embarrassed and confused by the war. "I do not feel confused. We had a right to go to war, but then things got complicated, and not in a way that worked in our favor.

"...things got complicated, and not in a way that worked in our favor." That's the moral cry of "the anguished conscience of Israel" you are hearing folks. Please don't block the exits while rushing to nominate this ethical titan for the Nobel Peace Prize.

(Of course it is no better here in the US, where liberal intellectuals bemoan the fact that Bush's policies are destroying our empire, our hegemony over the rest of the world -- as if that's a BAD thing.)

In both cases we can clearly see the true function of the sanctioned "left" in society: They are the ones chosen to lend a moral imprimateur to aggression, and then to again invoke morality when their side is losing.

A few more quotes from Haaretz should clarify this conclusion:

"The literary people who are sitting here thought that Israel initiated a just war," said the organizer of the joint briefing, Professor Nissim Calderon. "After yesterday's cabinet meeting, they feel that the decision to widen the war is mistaken, and that [we] need to go from a military operation to a diplomatic operation."

The so-called "anti-war" crowd ALWAYS favors "just" wars, just don't "widen" them. They are ALWAYS in favor of bombing entire apartment buildings full of innocent women and children, as long as it is done with "justice," and not "widened."

"Lebanon is our neighbor forever, it isn't Vietnam nor is it some Soviet republic," Yehoshua said. "Thus, there's a need to be more careful with it, not to destroy it." Yehoshua said he called upon the government to renew negotiations with the Palestinians.

In other words, countries that are not your neighbors, like Vietnam, "some Soviet republic!", or perhaps Iran, might not "need such care," and could be -- morally -- destroyed.

Oz again: "On the first day of the operation, it was said that its goal is to deploy the Lebanese army along the border," Oz said. "As time went by, bizarre and unreasonable objectives popped up, such as crushing Hezbollah totally, and wiping out the axis of evil - goals which are not within our abilities. Siniora's seven-point plan is a turning point."

More lies. The destruction of Hezbollah WAS the originally stated intention. In any event, as long as one quibbles about intentions, one doesn't have to face up to killing -- until it is your own son.

Yehoshua said Israel has reached a true crossroads. "No one is happy to go to battle," he said. "We know that Israel doesn't have its eyes set on conquerings. We were at the Litani River twice, and we don't have any need to be there a third time. But now, there is an initiative by the prime minister of Lebanon which offers to deploy the Lebanese army all along the border with Israel."

"We know that Israel doesn't have its eyes set on conquerings." This is the Israeli left speaking, but it could just as well come out of the mouth of Bibi Netanyahu. The occupied territories and the Golan Heights aren't "conquerings?" Israel left Lebanon voluntarily the first time because it wasn't interested in "conquerings?"

One might expect some honesty from the left, but clearly one might have to wait a long time -- or a few more military defeats -- before one's forlorn expectations are ever gratified.

Well, at least the left is known for its compassion, its understanding of others.

Oz said the cycle of hatred exhibited by extremist Islam is different than that which characterizes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Hezbollah, Oz said, seeks to destroy Israeli society, and "Israel was right in that it responded to the provocation militarily."

That's right, Amos, tell 'em: Those orientals are different from us! And while you are busily channeling Bernard Lewis for us about the baseless "cycle of hatred exhibited by extremist Islam," always remember to throw in the small white lie where it will least be seen: Israel was the one provoked.

In any event, the Israeli "Peace" crowd has no problem with military responses. One might think that even the hawks would be wise enough, as they are in the US, to suggest a fig-leaf of negotiations first, before one resorts to state terror.

But apparently the Israeli "Peace" crowd still has a thing or two to learn from that great American General and Statesman, Colin Powell. Remember him?

Posted by: Malooga | Aug 21 2006 16:46 utc | 16

Thanks Maloog - good one.
Steve Clemonts points out that there is something very nasty brewing in Japan: Japan's Right-Wingers Out of Control

For the US - if the aim is to keep China subdued, why not let Japan take them on. I am sure the US pols will support this (until the consequences arive).

Posted by: b | Aug 21 2006 17:04 utc | 17

One of the many things that I find truly stupid about standard anti-zionist western "leftie" rhetoric is the careless floating of terms like "genocide". What IDF does in WestBank and Gaza is revolting, but it is not genocide. But as "war nerd" points out, when counter-insurgency warfare fails, there is one high tech power tactic left - as the Japanese showed in China when they demonstrated that the sea of guerillas could be emptied with some effort even in the most populous nation. Gideon Levy points out that the right wing government has an incoherent position between "withdraw" (politically unacceptable) and "transfer" that nice euphemism that will certainly become more popular in Israel following this defeat. "Transfer" will rapidly devolve into actual genocide. And if anyone thinks this will result in serious long-term problems for Israel, they should talk to Karadic or to the governing party in Serbia. War crime trials are for countries that lose wars - and even then, rehabilitation is only a generation away (c.f. Japan).

Posted by: citizen k | Aug 21 2006 17:24 utc | 18

Thanks for your post Malooga.

"We supported Israel's right, when faced with ongoing missile attacks upon its civilian population, to embark upon this war..."

This is not just a complete rewrite of history as you said, it is also a desperate attempt to seek shelter and relevance in Moral Superiority.

Anything that derives from underlying Moral Superiority is sure to fall under its weight.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Aug 21 2006 17:41 utc | 19


Nice explantion of the path from transfer to genocide.

Still, we are not so sure that anyone will win this war. "Pyrric victory at any cost" could become the rallying cry for the whole capitalist class pretty soon.

Posted by: Malooga | Aug 21 2006 17:45 utc | 20

Floyd on a roll - this is good read it: It's Bigger Than the Neo-Cons

For what's the underlying implication of the "neo-cons über alles" meme? It's that hard-core, down-and-dirty inside operators like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld--who have spent their entire adult lives at the dark heart of the government-corporate-warbiz-spygame power nexus--are actually innocent lambkins led astray by the wicked blandishments of Richard Perle. It's that the world-striding oil barons, Wall Street dynasts and CIA scions of the Bush Faction are just wide-eyed rubes bamboozled into acting against their own interests by the dazzling sophistry of William Kristol and Michael Leeden. It's that no U.S. administration would ever undertake the kind of rapacious policies we've seen in the last five years--unless they'd been tricked into it by wily Zionists and their ideological outriders. It is, in short, our old friend "American exceptionalism," decked out in dissident drag.
The reality is that Iraq was invaded because a powerful faction of the old-line American Establishment wanted to do it and the rest of the Establishment--the Democrats, the media, the "respectable" intelligentsia--countenanced the crime. The belligerence and oppression of the hardline Israeli government in Lebanon and Palestine are receiving unquestioned--and armed--support from the United States because this suits the larger strategic purposes of the "global dominance" faction of the Establishment, and the domestic political purposes both of the Democrats, heavily reliant on Jewish-American backing, and the Republicans, dependent on their rabidly pro-Israel evangelical base.

It is the American elite-- pursuing, as always, the enhancement of its own power and privilege, heedless of the consent of the governed or the genuine interests of the American people (or the Palestinian people or the Israeli people or the Lebanese people or the Iraqi people)--that bedevils us. The emergence of the cretinous neo-conservative cult is just a symptom of a deeper moral corruption coursing through the dominant institutions and structures of American society. The body politic is rotting from the head.

he is right - I was (a bit) wrong on this emphazising the neocons. But maybe that is a thought process that needs to be taken also with the general public?

Posted by: b | Aug 21 2006 18:29 utc | 21


I linked to the article previously on another thread.

What is fundamentally at stake is understanding the role of the intellectual in society, and how society runs, in general.

Intellectuals do not run society. Wealthy people do. They set up the think tanks which then hire and fund these intellectuals. This shields the wealthy from direct political exposure. The intellectual's job is coming up with the best and most convincing rationales with which to befuddle the general public. If they are good enough at it, they can follow the revolving door into government and take a hand at the wheel. You can call this running things, and they are running the propaganda arm of government, but the policy arm runs very differently.

The policy arm also has its farm teams among the think tanks and universities. Cronies like Wolfowitz and Summers follow the revolving door between campus and government, as cronies like Cheney and Rumsfeld revolve between business and government, and those like Panetta revolve between think tanks and government, and those like Powell between the military and government, and those like Rubin between Wall St. and gov't, and those like Stephanopolous between the media and government.

The neo-cons came from both the PR and the policy wings of the think tanks. But they don't run things without taking orders from above.

What does that mean? It means that there needs to be a certain amount of consensus, or at least complacency, between all the factions I named above: Business, Finance, Academia, Military, Media, Think Tanks, Government. (It is that lack of consensus which is holding Bush back on Iran, and which we experience as the odd Scowcroft article, or whistleblower.)

But it also means that the wealthiest get the biggest votes by far -- which is only natural since they run the corporations through interlocking directorships, they fund the universities through grants and government contracts, they justify the military with weapons contracts, they fund the think tanks, they handle everyone else's money, they own the media, etc. Everyone else's fancy jobs, and reputations, depend upon them.

So Floyd is correct in naming Cheney, Rumsfeld, and most especially, Baker, as top honchos. Kissenger and Bush I have certainly ascended to those ranks. They have now amassed their own capital, and through organizations like the Carlyle Group, control of others capital. They also have amassed a spiderweb of connections in all areas of power which I named. Their leadership has been tested and their judgement is trusted by others.

But there are many other names on those interlocking corporate directorships that you might never see, or recognize as wielding power. Folks like Lee Raymond of Exxon; Tom Kean, formerly Gov.of NJ and head of the 9-11 cover-up comission; and many, many others. If you really want to understand power, read the names on the corporate directorships.

People used to talk about the influence of the Grahams, who owned the Washington Post, which took down Nixon for a few pecadillos. They talked about the Taylors in Boston. The Shulzbergers still control the NY Times, and of course Murdoch, and a handful of weapons manufacturers, own almost everything else. PBS is largely controlled by corporate and foundation money, mainly agribusiness, manufacturing, and mining. Media ownership, which is so important for molding and controlling public opinion, what Chomsky calls "manufacturing consent," is now highly consolidated in so-called "democratic" nations. (And of course, it is the succesful functioning of this media in misinforming the public that is the primary difference between so-called "democratic" nations and totalitarian nations. Violence and repression are merely the consequences of a failure to control the masses in both systems.)

Then there are those who have amassed great wealth through one principle undertaking, Billmon's hedgehogs: Gates, Buffett, The Waltons, etc.

Finally, one tier below this are the regional fortunes: the small media empires, the large privately held businesses, the largest car dealerships, etc. Local wealth has the most control over state and city politicians, and through them, the federal government.

That is a very simplified outline of how power really works, and where intellectuals and neo-cons fit in.

Bush is just an actor. Condi is still a token shoe model trying to prove her way into the club. Powell is stuck in triple AAA until he retires. The neo-cons are the technicians of empire -- still a good paying secure union job, with possibilities for promotion to management for a talented few. But that's all.

A good source is William Domhoff's Who Rules America?

Posted by: Malooga | Aug 21 2006 19:36 utc | 22

Thanks again Malooga.

But lets not forget the priesthoods. Imagine if they could walk through the "revolving doors" too.

Along with the scholars & merchants, back in the days they "manufactured consent" pretty good too. Consent as in underlied by Moral Superiority.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Aug 21 2006 20:39 utc | 23

Ah, yes, the priesthoodlums -- I forgot about them. They're in the PR wing, and some of them can be more effective there than the neo-cons.

About a week or two ago I wrote a detailed post distinguishing the different types of PR and their respective class constituencies.

The neo-cons talk to what Michael Alpert calls "the co-ordinator class",the professionals. The priesthoodlums talk to the proles -- which is one reason why so many of them are completely clueless about how the world is organized.

Posted by: Malooga | Aug 21 2006 21:12 utc | 24

Is it just me or is this a bad idea?

A mix of bacteria-killing viruses can be safely sprayed on cold cuts, hot dogs and sausages to combat common microbes that kill hundreds of people a year, federal health officials said Friday in granting the first-ever approval of viruses as a food additive.

FDA Says Viruses Safe for Treating Meat

Apologies if this has been posted before - I haven't been keeping up with the posts lately.

Posted by: Rick Happ | Aug 22 2006 3:12 utc | 25


Yes, yes... and then the snakes will eat the rats, and then we will bring in some Congolese mountain gorillas to eat the snakes! This is plan can't fail!

Posted by: Monolycus | Aug 22 2006 3:17 utc | 26

Condi is still a token shoe model trying to prove her way into the club.

@Malooga, you're not giving Condi enough credit. She was provost @Stanford, where she did a very creditable job, on the Board of Exxon (& god knows what else), and here's she's stuck trying to mediate btw. the NeoNuts & the Realists. She may not ascend to the Kissinger level, but she's far above Powell who was never anything but an ass-kisser, promoted 'cuz he's a docile token black who knew how to take orders & make the bosses look good. Note when they were grooming Powell, even tho he's a guy & a retired general, no one ever dared appoint him to a position that required seriously high level functioning - like say Princeton Provost - as they did Condi.

I'm really tired of this sexist derision of women for their clothes. I don't know any woman who wouldn't think they'd died & gone to heaven if they had male privilege of owning 3 good suits & matching shoes. Period end of clothes discussion. They're screwed if they don't spend endless effort varying their wardrobes to enliven the room, and derided if they do.

Posted by: jj | Aug 22 2006 3:44 utc | 27


I really don't see this as a productive direction to be moving in. It's very much the same argument that Ann Coulter uses after she says something ridiculous and stupid... she defuses it by inviting comments about her hair and clothes in an attempt to make others the "shallow" ones.

The fact is, Condi Rice is a purely opportunistic evil who is more than happy to use issues like race and gender to get her foot in the door. She is as happy to be exploited as the administration is to exploit her.

I suppose I'd best get used to these debates... 2008 is coming up and I'm sure there are a lot of people who are going to be excusing Hillary's warmongering neo-con policies because she happens to be a woman and a member of the DNC instead of a white, male Republican. As if that makes any difference.

For my part, I don't care what the chromosal arrangement of the totalitarian sociopath happens to be... I agree that it's a waste of our time to mock Condi's "bitch boots" just as it was a waste of time to mock J.Edgar Hoover's six-inch stiletto pumps... when our target is the wearer and not the garment. But shallow and superficial is as shallow and superficial does, and the fact that the esteemed Dr. Rice went shoe shopping on the day New Orleans was being drowned says more about her values than merely her taste in footwear.

Of course you are right to say that Rice's gender and race should not be issues, but Rice's gender and race aren't really at the heart of criticisms that she is a clothes horse. Like it or not, overt flamboyance does say a bit about someone's materialist, arrogant values.

Nobody made jokes (as far as I know) about Jeane Kirkpatrick or Margaret Thatcher's respective choices in apparel, because neither of those two evil people provided much there by way of distraction. Maybe they would have gotten farther if they had... any time anyone questioned any new evil proposal they brought to the table, they could have gone off about how their detractors were being sexist.

Posted by: Monolycus | Aug 22 2006 4:18 utc | 28

pro·vost Pronunciation (prvst, -vst, prvst) n. Abbr. Prov. 1. A university administrator of high rank. 2. The highest official in certain cathedrals or collegiate churches. 3. The keeper of a prison. 4. The chief magistrate of certain Scottish cities.

Provost? We're supposed to be impressed because this despicable war crimninal who would in a just world be answering for her crimes in the Hague was a fucking provost? She enthusiastically helped lie us into this ruinous, murderous clusterfuck in Iraq is all I need to know about her.

Oh, that and the fact that she once opined that there's nothing more important than Israel's security. Fuck her.

Posted by: ran | Aug 22 2006 4:33 utc | 29

I'm not saying she's shouldn't be tried w/the rest of them, I'm objecting to the sexist dismissal of her as "a token shoe model". My point was only that Powell was only ripped for what he did, and she's far more competent than he ever dreamed of being.

Similarly, Judith Miller was the brunt of viciously sexist attacks, while Bob Woodward, who was far more dangerous was allowed to skate, although he still works for WaPo, and doubtless is very important in shaping it's direction, although he's become the goddamn Court Historian.

There's always a reason for objecting when the sexism is pointed out - it's always besides the point - although people blather endlessly about racism, although all they mean by that is that colored boys aren't being accorded the same status as white boys. Y..a...w...n...

Posted by: jj | Aug 22 2006 4:46 utc | 30

Competence is not a word that comes to mind when I think of Condi, sorry.

Granted she polishes a mean apple and has managed to ingratiate herself with a president who, if you take away his family name and connections, is at best an assistant night manager at Denny's (before getting shitcanned for showing up drunk once too often).

But I'm straining to see anything besides lying and ass kissing that she's any good at. And she's not even a very convincing liar.

Posted by: ran | Aug 22 2006 4:56 utc | 31


Nice find. How's that song go? She swallowed the mouse to catch the spider, she swallowed the spider to catch the fly, she swallowed the fly to catch the virus, but I don't know why she swallowed the virus, perhaps she'll die.


I don't give a shit what Condi wears, as long as she is not publicly picking out her wardrobe when levees are flooding and one million people are being made homeless, and dislocated; the majority, permanently. She as good as said "Let them eat cake," by her actions last year. That's what I am derogating her for.

By the way, while she may be a very bright, talented, and articulate woman, intellectually she's a hack. Her one book from academia was co-authored (ghost written) and remarkable only for its lack of original insight or analysis. She was universally hated at Stamford. (Provost is a hack job, its a paper pusher. Where I went to school the dolts who got tenure but then had nothing to say intellectually winded up as Provosts. Being a respected published professor who has broken real academic ground is a real job in a university.) She balanced the budget on an accounting trick -- stealing money from the state universities (I guess that qualifies as business experience in the Bush administration). And it was Chevron she served on the board of. She was not picked for her ability, nor her compllete lack of legitimate business experience -- that's not what members of boards of major corporations are expected to do.

Condi was picked out long ago, before all this stuff, first by Joe Korbel, Albright's father, then later by George Schultz, who was the original James Baker behind the scenes master of the universe Bechtel man. They were looking for a bright articulate, souless, conservative black woman, who had no scruples in lying about anything in the service of power in order to build black Republican support. They found Condi. She didn't earn the provostship, or the board appointment, they were given to her in order to groom her for higher service. By the way, show me anyone else who spent as many years in academia as she did with as meager a peer-reviewed, published academic output, and making full professorship without a single exclusively written book to her credit.

And there is nothing racist or sexist in what I just said. The same applies twenty times over for George W. Bush, who possesses none of Condi's intelligence, ability to think on her feet, and articulateness -- given his board memberships, given his ownership of the Rangers, and ghostwritten his book.

Condi is not mediating between the Neo-Cons and the Realists, nor is she mediating between the Israelis and the Lebanese. She isn't doing anything. (That's a good thing. Under her neglectful leadership South America is finally seeing an upturn in its fortunes.) In other cabinets, Sec'y of State was a real job; in Bush's administration all cabinet positions are rubber-stamp jobs. Power resides higher up. Same with Snow, all of them, they are salesmen.

Powell is another token water-carrier, I agree. But to say he never had to function is patently false. He was senior military assistant to Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger, where he assisted during the invasion of Grenada and the raid on Libya -- both successful military actions by the empire's standards, as I recall. He oversaw 28 separate military crises, including desert storm, gulf war I. He was National Security Advisor and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

I'd say the two are remarkably similar in their spineless obsequiousness, and willingness to serve power at all costs.

By the way, Condi's father was against the Vietnam War, a level of humanity which apparently did not rub off on her. Of course, he was against that commie radical MLK and the Civil Rights movement.

Posted by: Malooga | Aug 22 2006 5:03 utc | 32

Gee, I thought "tokin shoe model" was a compliment, a step up from her record at the NSA and State, sort of like calling Dick Cheney an "accomplished hunter".

Posted by: anna missed | Aug 22 2006 5:07 utc | 33

I see everyone came to my defense while I was composing my post. Thanks.

Judith Miller did far more to screw the public by helping to get this war under way than Bob Woodward ever did. Let's not forget that, in addition to also being a wholly owned subsidiary of Israel, Judy Miller was also the resident "anti-terror" and biological weapons expert at the New Pravda for years, also appearing on numerous TV shows lying about weapon capability and culpability, and just generally drumming up as much fear as possible for our false "War on Terror." (Really a war to create terror.)

Bob Woodward's forte is at the other end of the crime -- covering the raw exposed asses of those in power who just committed unmentionable, illegal and immoral, acts.

Posted by: Malooga | Aug 22 2006 5:17 utc | 34

And Bush an accomplished Segway rider.

Posted by: Malooga | Aug 22 2006 5:18 utc | 35

P.S. I'd much rather receive substantive criticism of my longer, more well thought out, pieces, than picky criticisms of the metaphors I employ.

Posted by: Malooga | Aug 22 2006 5:22 utc | 36

Paul Krugman (liberated here

Yesterday The New York Times reported that the Internal Revenue Service would outsource collection of unpaid back taxes to private debt collectors, who would receive a share of the proceeds.

It's an awful idea. Privatizing tax collection will cost far more than hiring additional I.R.S. agents, raise less revenue and pose obvious risks of abuse. But what's really amazing is the extent to which this plan is a retreat from modern principles of government. I used to say that conservatives want to take us back to the 1920's, but the Bush administration seemingly wants to go back to the 16th century.

And privatized tax collection is only part of the great march backward.

In the bad old days, government was a haphazard affair. There was no bureaucracy to collect taxes, so the king subcontracted the job to private ''tax farmers,'' who often engaged in extortion. There was no regular army, so the king hired mercenaries, who tended to wander off and pillage the nearest village. There was no regular system of administration, so the king assigned the task to favored courtiers, who tended to be corrupt, incompetent or both.

Modern governments solved these problems by creating a professional revenue department to collect taxes, a professional officer corps to enforce military discipline, and a professional civil service. But President Bush apparently doesn't like these innovations, preferring to govern as if he were King Louis XII.

Posted by: b | Aug 22 2006 5:47 utc | 37

What can't they privatise and convert to base thugery?

Posted by: Malooga | Aug 22 2006 6:22 utc | 38

Yeah, Rick Happ, I almost posted about the FDA and it approval of the use Viruses, but after years and years of entropy, it's almost pointless to post such things anymore.

Maybe, I'm just getting burnt out again, as they say in AA, it's the incomprehencable demoralization of lows that America has reached under these jackels. These lows just keep getting lower. One would think there is a bottoming out w/this crew, but it just never ends.

A friend of mine believes Cheneyco has set America back 50 years, and I have to disagree with em, because I suspect when it's done there will be no America.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 22 2006 6:33 utc | 39

Responding to Bernhard's number 37 with a sad shake of my head.

Well, the US is discovering how efficient a privatised military can be ("contractors", "mercenaries"... you say "potato", I say "projectile"), but no matter how badly they screw things up, at the end of the day there is no oversight or regulation. Of course the administration wants to privatise social and emergency services (er, eliminate social services and privatise the Praetorian Guard) because cost-efficiency and efficacy is not nearly such a priority to these people as a lack of transparency.

Privatising debt collection is the next logical step towards neo-feudalism that they began with the passage of such "consumer protection" acts (nudge, nudge) as last year's bankruptcy bill. Yes, this represents a giant leap backwards. No, that won't stop them. All the while, they will, despite their hideous record of turning everything they have touched into shit, produce ridiculous and uncompelling arguments about how they are doing us a favor ("Yes, I stabbed you in the back... but you look so pretty in red!") which will be repeated uncritically by the regular suspects on the Right and analysed overcritically by the usual suspects (us) on the Left.

Why even bother pretending anymore? Why do they even bother with the half-assed justifications and rationalisations? It isn't like coming out and saying "Let them eat cake" is going to change anything, so why are they still even playing the game? Why play the game with the lack of transparency? Is there really some poor sod somewhere who is going to behave any differently if they openly thumbed their noses at us instead of just sniggering at us behind closed doors or while they think the cameras are off?

I just don't get it.

Posted by: Monolycus | Aug 22 2006 6:44 utc | 40

Catherine Austin Fitts rips Al Gore for gross omissions.

George Orwell once said that omission is the greatest form of lie.** Gore's omissions in An Inconvenient Truth are so extraordinary that it is hard to know where to start.
Watching An Inconvenient Truth is more useful for understanding how propaganda is made and used than for understanding the risks of global warming (I am not qualified to judge the scientific evidence here -- I am assuming that Gore's presentation on global warming is sound).

The fundamental lie that Al Gore is telling comes from defining our problem as environmental -- in this case global warming, whereas our environmental problems -- as real and important as they are -- are but a symptom of the problem, not the problem. Gore defines our problem as "what." He is silent on "who." For example, Gore does not ask or answer:

* Who is doing this?

* Who has been governing our planet this way and why?

* Cui bono? Who benefits?

* Who has suppressed alternative technologies resulting in our dependency on fossil fuels? Why?

* Who has generated how much financial capital generated from this damage?

* How did things get this bad without our changing? How much was related to fear of and dirty tricks of those in charge?

* How do we recapture resources that have been criminally drained and use them to invest in restoring environmental balance?

Utah Phillips once said, "The earth is not dying. It is being killed, and the people killing it have names and addresses." In one sentence, Utah Phillips told us more about global warming than Al Gore has told us in a lifetime of writing and speaking, let alone in An Inconvenient Truth.

Needless to say, Gore offers no names and addresses. Gore's "who" discussion is limited to population. He seems to imply that the issue is the growth in population combined with busy people being shortsighted, leading to some giant incompetency "accident." That makes it easy to avoid digging into the areas that would naturally follow from starting with "who" – which should lead to dissecting the relationship between environmental deterioration and the prevailing global investment model that is such a critical part of the governance infrastructure and incentive systems.

Gore walks us through timelines showing the global warming of temperatures. By defining the problem as simply environmental damage, and shrinking the history down to temperatures, there is no need to correlate environmental deterioration with the growth of the global financial system and the resulting centralization of economic and political power. The planet is being run by people who are intentionally killing it. Their power is their ability to offer all of us ways of making money by helping them kill it. Hence, understanding how the mechanics of the financial system and the accumulation of financial capital relate to environmental destruction is essential. If we integrate these deeper systems into an historical timeline, authentic solutions will begin to emerge. But Gore omits the deeper systems and the lessons of how we got here and in so doing closes the door on transformation.

For example, there is no place on Gore’s time line that shows:

* the creation of the Federal Reserve:

* the movement of currencies away from the gold standard:

* the growth of non-accountable fiat currency systems:

* the growth of consumer, mortgage and government debt;

* the growth in the superior rights of corporations over people and living things;

* the growth of "privatization" (which I call “piratization”);

* the subversive and sometimes violent suppression of renewable energy, housing and transportation technologies and innovations;

* the growth of the offshore financial system and the use of that system to launder and accumulate vast sums of pirated capital accumulated through the onshore destruction of communities.

Understanding the fundamental imbalance of the corporate model -- where enterprises have the rights of personhood, but not the finite existence of people or the legal responsibilities and liabilities -- and the corporate model's economic dependence on subsidy that drives up debt, economic warfare and the destruction of all living things is a critical piece to developing actions to reverse environmental damage. Al Gore is a man that has made money for corporations his entire life. He is a member in good standing of the Tapeworm and his current lifestyle and this documentary are rich with the resources that corporations can provide.

There is also no personal accountability. Al Gore has not “come clean.” There is no discussion of Gore's role in the Clinton Administration in facilitating worldwide economic centralization and warfare, and with it genocide and environmental destruction -- for example, there is no mention of The Rape Of Russia or the driving out of Washington of an investment model proposing to align places with capital markets to create a win-win economic model that he intimates is possible. For more, see my recently published case study on Tapeworm Economics, and the competition between two economic visions during the Clinton Administration, "Dillon, Read & the Aristocracy of Prison Profits".

The documentary ends with a long list of things that we can do. Many of these items are on my list. We all need to come clean in the process of evolving towards sustainability. However, without a new investment model and the governance changes that automatically follow, the result of An Inconvenient Truth is to teach us to be good consumers of global oil and consumer product corporations and banks and -- we are supposed to intuitively understand -- vote for Al Gore or the candidates he endorses. Gore draws us down a rabbit hole, which leaves us even more dependent on the people and institutions that created and profited from the problem in the first place. What that means is that the real solution will be significant depopulation. The viewer is left to preserve a bit of the shrinking American bubble to protect us from having to face the depopulation solutions underway (See above links on “The Rape Of Russia” and “Dillon , Read & The Aristocracy Of Prison Profits”.)

The way a tapeworm operates inside our bodies is to inject a chemical into its host that makes it crave what is good for the tapeworm and bad for the host. An Inconvenient Truth is an injection from the Tapeworm. Don’t see it and crave a new round of what has not worked before. Things are not hopeless. There is no need to waste time and money adoring and financing the people who are killing the planet, or counting on the politicians who protect them.

To get you started, let me recommend that you take the money and time that you would spend watching An Inconvenient Truth and invest it in reading or watching a few of many authentic leaders with useful maps and solutions that are leading to serious ecosystem healing and transformation:

I haven't been able to take Al 'Earth in the Balance' Gore seriously since he cast the tie-breaking vote for NAFTA.

(C.A. Fitts is dead on here as usual. I almost screamed this in the theater when 'An Inconvenient Truth' was ending with upbeat rock music and suggestions about turning down our thermostats and recycling.

Missing from Al Gore's sterile eco-disaster warning filled with psychic shock-absorbers to prevent appropriate response was who the perps are that are still killing the planet and his hand in it.

** Finally, not only has the use of the strategy of omission of information long been used, especially by government, as a ubiquitous method of how government really works, but the Bush venture has taken it out of the norm and squared it to the nth power and standardized it.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 22 2006 6:57 utc | 41

Sounds like she's been reading Bookchin ;-)

2nd Solari link of the day.

Posted by: Malooga | Aug 22 2006 7:23 utc | 42

Mapping the Real Deal: The American Tapeworm

worthy of it's own post imo...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 22 2006 7:32 utc | 43

In the long list of "people are too stupid to live", the Brits are gonna show us they're big players.
Tories lead the polls.
So, Brits rightfully realise that Blair and his NeoTory party have endangered the whole country with their bloodthirsty warmongering, yet when it comes to dumping Labour, they're now ready to vote for the greater of two evils, the Tories, who would have been even worse than Tony when it comes to wage war on evil bearded Muslims?
I mean, how can they on one hand realise that the terror alerts are either a bunch of horse manure or the proof Tony just put everyone's life at high risk for personal profit - and a political hard-on -, and on the other hand NOT see that the Tories would fuck up things just as badly, and would probably be insane enough to attack Iran first and not wait for Olmert or Bush to push the button? Is it something in the water that makes people so delusional and blind?

(of course, in the "too stupid to live" category, BlairCo beats the whole UK population, by having been stupid enough to believe that an obviously fake terror alert - as in there was no risk in Hell that any terrorist left would go ahead with their embryonic plan - whose main effect is to piss off tourists in tourist season with insane airport measures would actually boost their popularity and/or make the people cower in fear and bow to their master)

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Aug 22 2006 7:39 utc | 44

Also, with regards to my comments above about Al 'Save the Earth' Gore, when I saw his utter lack of integrity in his actions during the moore movie, where he stood silent while so many people from the black districts tried to get someone to listen to them, I nearly lost it. It is a goddamn good thing I wasn't there that session, I would have surely went to jail that night...

Also, meant to leave an appetizer from CAF's Tapeworm:

The other day, a natural healing practitioner explained the strategy used by a tapeworm to prosper. A tapeworm, she said, injected a chemical into its host that triggered a craving by the host for what the tapeworm wished for its dinner. By managing it’s hosts desire, a tapeworm manipulated its host to set aside self-interest and please its parasite. And so the tapeworm proceeded to consume its host’s energy and health, with the host doing most of the work.

The story of how a tapeworm parasitically eats away at its ecosystem came at a moment when the math lover in me was having an adverse reaction to the description of America as the new Roman Empire that seems to be inspired by the recent occupation of Iraq. The investment economics of American imperial conquest work more along the lines of the tapeworm than of the Romans.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 22 2006 7:43 utc | 45

Gates Foundation Among MediaNews Lenders

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was among a few dozen banks, insurance companies, mutual funds and others entities that loaned $350 million to MediaNews Group Inc. for its purchase of four newspapers from publisher McClatchy Co.

The Seattle-based Gates Foundation, the world's largest philanthropy with an endowment of about $30 billion, contributed an unspecified amount of money toward the transaction, according to an Aug. 8 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission by MediaNews Group. Others listed as contributors include General Electric Capital Corp. and Blue Shield of California.

Spokeswoman Monica Harrington said she could not confirm how much the foundation had contributed to the loan. A message left with the foundation's investment team Monday was not immediately returned.
Denver-based MediaNews, a privately held company headed by William Dean Singleton, bought the Mercury News and Contra Costa Times to establish itself as the largest newspaper publisher in the San Francisco Bay area. Hearst Corp. bought the Monterey and Minnesota papers but is turning both over to MediaNews in exchange for a stake in MediaNews' operations outside the Bay Area.

MediaNews already owns the Oakland Tribune and a cluster of suburban papers in the Bay Area. Its other properties include The Denver Post, The Salt Lake Tribune and The Detroit News.
The Gates Foundation awarded about $1.36 billion in grants last year, much of it for public health initiatives in developing countries. In the United States, its donations focus on education and technology in public libraries.

The foundation's loan to MediaNews is part of a broad investment portfolio designed to fund the endowment. The foundation's assets include more than $4 billion in stock in companies including oil behemoths BP PLC and Exxon Mobil Corp., club warehouse chain Costco Wholesale Corp., and pharmaceutical makers Merck and Co. and Schering Plough Corp., according to a recent SEC filing.

Posted by: b | Aug 22 2006 9:06 utc | 46

Gates Foundation: Helping the world, one murderous investment at a time.

Look at that list of corporations. Does any one of those represent your vision of what the world should look like in the future? It's almost a top ten list of the world's top environmental marauders.

The capitalistic vision of charity is more than tapeworm-like -- it is positively cannibalistic: We will eat our hands to feed our feet,or some sort of madness. Gates' father was reputed to be a pretty nice guy. How did he ever manage to raise such a psychopath?

When I was working in software, I watched his company gobble up smaller companies like a shark, solely in order to keep their superior technologies off the market and not competing with MS's inferior technologies. Everything good was devoured, while pure shit emerged from the Microsoft end.

Posted by: Malooga | Aug 22 2006 13:14 utc | 47

"When I was working in software, I watched his company gobble up smaller companies like a shark, solely in order to keep their superior technologies off the market and not competing with MS's inferior technologies. Everything good was devoured, while pure shit emerged from the Microsoft end."
This is the essence of capitalism. Capitalism doesn't involve progress or making better lasting products, it's about making sure that the current crap can go on as long as possible because true innovation would cost too much to readapt to it. Despite all the trash they took, people like Kondratieff were onto something with the cycle theories.

And we're speaking of Bill Gates. The guy who when once asked "What are Microsoft's strategy and goals to remain the best-selling company?" didn't reply "we aim to make better products" or "we want to please the consumers", but instead replied "To utterly crush and destroy competition".

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Aug 22 2006 13:42 utc | 48

Oil Profits Help Russia Pay Off Soviet-Era Debt

21 Eight years after it defaulted on more than $40 billion in debt and slid into financial chaos, Russia transferred $23.7 billion to the Paris Club of creditors Monday, wiping out the last of its Soviet-era debts and underlining the extent to which oil and gas revenue has transformed the country's finances.

The state-owned bank Vnesheconombank transferred the money, including a $1 billion early payment fee. The debt clearance, plus a repayment in 2005, will save the country more than $12 billion in interest payments on debt that was not due until 2020, the Finance Ministry said in a statement.

"The early settlement with creditor countries was possible thanks to the Russian Federation's growing financial and economic might," the ministry said, adding that the payment "would strengthen Russia's international authority."

In May 2005, Russia paid back $15 billion and began negotiating to clear the rest of its debt to the creditor group.

Russia said it was prepared to become one of the 19-member Paris Club's lenders. "We are ready to extend credits to other countries," said Sergei Storchak, deputy finance minister.

In 1998, with oil selling at $14 a barrel, the country defaulted on debts and devalued the ruble. In 1999, Russia's public debt amounted to 96 percent of its gross domestic product. Following Monday's payment, it will fall to 9 percent, officials said.

Russia is now the world's largest exporter of natural gas and the world's second-largest exporter of oil. With prices at historic highs, the country is swimming in cash.

"We used to live with our hand held out for many years," President Vladimir Putin said in an Internet question-and-answer session with Russians last month. "But now the Russian economy can not only repay debts but do so ahead of time."

The ministry statement said the repayment would improve Russia's reputation as an honest borrower and help improve the country's investment climate.

Foreign currency and gold reserves stand at nearly $280 billion, the third largest in the world, and the economy is growing at around 6 percent annually. The government projects a $55 billion budget surplus next year.

The new wealth is particularly visible in Moscow, a veritable boomtown, although large parts of the provinces remain mired in poverty. The government is accelerating its capital and social spending while trying to keep a check on inflation; it has placed $82 billion in a rainy-day account known as the Stabilization Fund.

But some analysts fear that, because the Kremlin is so buoyed by the influx of petrodollars, it has little incentive to foster the kind of political competition and economic diversity that can sustain the country's boom over the long haul should oil prices, or demand for Russian energy, falter.

How about that -- paid back $39M in a little over a year. The wonders of Bushonomics! Bush looked into Putin's eyes and saw his soul; Putin looked into Bush's eyes and saw huge blinking -- dollars signs!

And, they are increasing social spending. I love the last line -- it's exactly the same as the throwaway lines about about the benefits of communism that ended all of Pravda's articles. Only now it is the so-called "free" western press that must end all stories with an obligatory line about how only unbridled capitalism will triumph in the end.

Posted by: Malooga | Aug 22 2006 14:10 utc | 49

including a $1 billion early payment fee Wowser!

Posted by: DM | Aug 22 2006 14:44 utc | 50

nigeria too recently paid off the paris club. ended up paying $12.4 billion on $30 bill worth of loans. big oil deals w/ china & price increases on oil made the payoff feasible.

Posted by: b real | Aug 22 2006 15:29 utc | 51

Ah, Bill. One murderous investment at a time is right. The psychopathology is right there in the Foundation's African adventure, because it's all about preserving intellectual property rights - on medicines as for software. Compare and contrast the actions of Brazilians, who busted open drug patents on the basis that AIDS is a public health emergency, and have one of the most successful AIDS/HIV prevention programs in the world (and got to head the WHO as a result).

Plus, I saw Ted Nelson give a talk in London a while back, who swore blind that Bill bought what became the Microsoft OS for about $30,000. On such foundations are empires built.

Posted by: Dismal Science | Aug 22 2006 15:51 utc | 52

Can we bash Clarence Thomas now, please?

Posted by: Hezzie Grrl | Aug 22 2006 16:20 utc | 53

Can we bash Clarence Thomas now, please?

that bars on the 101 block

Posted by: annie | Aug 22 2006 16:28 utc | 54

Plus, I saw Ted Nelson give a talk in London a while back, who swore blind that Bill bought what became the Microsoft OS for about $30,000.

That information is correct.

Everybody was using CP/M as operating system for PC-loke systems at that time. IBM tried to meet with the CP/M developers to make a deal to use it on the very first IBM/PC. But the guys were on the beach instead of the office - it was a sunny day you know.

IBM then came into contact with a Basic programmer who was working on a Basic compiler (trivial stuff). He said he had an alternative.

So the programmer went and made a fast deal with some freak who had programmed an alternative to CP/M - very low tech stuff all of this by the way. Instead "copy drain: source:" the alternative Disk Operation System accepted "copy source: drain:".

Well Billy boy made a deal with that guy, turned around and marketed it to IBM. IBM guys shrugged and put it on their machines. Billy boy got rich. End of story.

In case anybody needs a CP/M manual, a IBM-DOS 2.0 technical handbook or the source code for the IBM/PC bios - its all still on my bookshelf.

Posted by: b | Aug 22 2006 16:37 utc | 55

Department of Divine Irony:
According to the excellent blog Anecdotes from a Banana Republic a certain well known Soviet song is played all over Beirut at "victory parties": Katyusha.
(Click on the link to download the mp3 file, revel in Soviet nostalgia and snigger at USrael...).

Posted by: Guthman Bey | Aug 22 2006 16:54 utc | 56

shout out to anyone in europe or beyond who has better access to news reports - my sister who works for USAID is in kinshasha. she wrote a frightening email yesterday and today is reporting things calm there. i am concerned she is doing this to keep me from calling USAid and the state department because calm is not what i am reading in online news reports. if anyone sees anything consequential and credible in european or other sources, please let me know - email me directly if you prefer. they evacuated the foreign diplomats. there is no plan at the moment to evacuate foreigners, yet TIME published an article - "will congo vote war"? any news/thoughts/suggestions are welcome. bottomline i do not trust my government to what is right for its citizens. all one need do is look at katrina and the shoddy evacuation of us citizens from lebanon a few weeks ago. thanks in advance.

Posted by: conchita | Aug 22 2006 16:59 utc | 57

wow, you've been doing this shit a long time, b.

Posted by: Malooga | Aug 22 2006 17:52 utc | 58

@conchita - From what I did read in the German press (they have reporters on the ground):

Yesterday when the first round vote tally was ready to be made public, fighting broke out after some hassle between followers of Bemba and Kabila.

Bemba did get some 22% in the first round of the vote, Kabila some 48%, all other candidates less then 10% each. A runoff election between Bemba and Kabila will come on October 29. After that, I expect a civil war and your friends should be prepared to run.

There were some fire fights yesterday in the capital Kinshasa between Bemba followers and Kabila's presidential guard. Things started over an argument and ended with the guards shoting light artillery at Bemba's place. But it soon stopped.

Things for now have come down and may stay calm until the final election in late October. Then the second round of the presidential election will take place with only Bemba and Kabila on the ballot.

The east of Congo had taken the brunt of the last 10 years or so of war. They now had very high (suspicious high) voter turnout and voted massively for Kabila.
The west of Congo including the huge capital of Kinshasa did not feal so much of the war years. Now they had low voter turnout but Bemba took his votes there.

I saw a map where the differences were striking - essential putting the country in two equal sized halfs.

Whoever will win the run-off election will (justified) say the other guy tempered the votes. Then the fighting will start. The international troops there will take off pretty soon after that. Just too many natives around.

Both Bemba and Kabila are more or less gangsters who want to fill their peresonal, their families, their tribes pockets with the bribes the international companies pay to cheeply emtpty the huge natural resources of the country without paying the general public.

To understand a bit why the "country" is difficult one reporter wrote something like this:

There are more than a dozend languages spoken in Congo. Bemba and Kabila do each know several of these languages. But they have not one common language they could use to talk to each other.

Posted by: b | Aug 22 2006 18:08 utc | 59

@Malooga - I did build my first flip-flop and a shift register when I was twelve - quite some time ago. I would have beaten Bill in a programming contest any time. But unlike Bill, I never did learn to market things. So he did get rich and I did not.
Sometimes that sucks.

Posted by: b | Aug 22 2006 18:15 utc | 60

Posted by: Ensley | Aug 22 2006 18:37 utc | 61

b and ensley, thanks very much. it does sound better on the ground, a mess, but a quieter mess. i also noticed that i either misinterpreted one of the articles i read, or perhaps it was misleading - the foreign diplomats were only evacuated from bemba's home not from congo. evacuation at this point is probably questionable anyway since the airport has been closed. ellen spent 3 years in afghanistan and never sent such an alarming email as she did yesterday. it probably didn't help that her office was open yesterday when the rest of kinshasha stayed home. thank you both again.

Posted by: conchita | Aug 22 2006 19:26 utc | 62

Guess Operation Yellow Elephant didn't pan out.

So many young war supporters, so few willing to put their own sorry asses on the line.

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Marine Corps said Tuesday it has been authorized to recall thousands of Marines to active duty, primarily because of a shortage of volunteers for duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Posted by: ran | Aug 22 2006 19:50 utc | 63


What does your sister do for USAID?


I don't think you'd be very happy changing places with Bill Gates. But if you had 1/10,000 of his fortune, you would probably be very happy.

Posted by: Malooga | Aug 22 2006 19:57 utc | 64

malooga, ellen does public health work. on this assignment she is dealing with aids issues. in afghanistan she headed up a women's health program which focused on decreasing deaths in childbirth through a midwifery initiative.

Posted by: conchita | Aug 22 2006 20:30 utc | 65

Not that I give too much credence to poll numbers, but how did this happen at the same time this is going on?

Although CNN (for what they're worth) is calling a 12 point rise "slight", it still seems to me to be coming out of thin air. I'm beginning to wonder if US politicians have broken more than the American economy, the concept of international justice and the experiment of democracy. They seem to have broken the principle of causality as well.

Posted by: Monolycus | Aug 22 2006 23:22 utc | 66

Almost. Sharkey, aka bill Gates, bought CPM-DOS, that he subsequently sold IBM on, for $50k.

But the background story is told in one of the most famous books in the Computer Field, The Mythical Man Month. A great read.IBM wrote the OS for their IBM 360, their big Mainframe, inhouse. It almost bankrupted the entire company. Thus they were determined not to repeat that mistake again on these little turds. The only reason they even pursued PC's is all their accounts w/banks etc. were bugging them for these little buggers they could put on their desks, 'cuz they were tired of the totally declasse IT guys having so much power in their organizations. Into this vacuum stepped Sharkey.

They came to regret the power that MicroTrash developed & finally wrote a system for their PC's, OS-2. but it was too late in the game & never caught on.

Posted by: jj | Aug 23 2006 0:29 utc | 67

The other day, a natural healing practitioner explained the strategy used by a tapeworm to prosper. A tapeworm, she said, injected a chemical into its host that triggered a craving by the host for what the tapeworm wished for its dinner. By managing it’s hosts desire, a tapeworm manipulated its host to set aside self-interest and please its parasite. And so the tapeworm proceeded to consume its host’s energy and health, with the host doing most of the work.

Unca, even further, or elaborating perhaps, if you really crave a food, chances are good that you are allergic to it, because said allergy triggers an endorphin high to provide a compensatory source of energy for yr. system that's being depleted by the food you are allergic to!

Posted by: jj | Aug 23 2006 0:38 utc | 68

The Mythical Man Month -- one of the first books I read when I got into the field.

That's true with allergies. Check your pulse and bp if in doubt -- they will rise with reaction.

Some say it works the same way with people.

So, no pleasure, no excitement, no craving -- that's the best -- if you don't die of boredom!

Posted by: Malooga | Aug 23 2006 2:01 utc | 69

If it is Sharkeys machine,

Where perchance is Rachael Ward?

Posted by: Hezzie Grrl | Aug 23 2006 2:21 utc | 70

"How about that -- paid back $39M in a little over a year."

It's not only Russia, the world economy as a whole has been having the biggest synchronized boom, well probably of all times, in the years since 2003. Circumstancial evidence: an article in the Wall Street Journal a few months ago pointed out that between 2003 and the end of 2005 70% of all outstanding IMF loans have been repaid, while no new loans have been made, for lack of distressed countries. The IMF has been cutting staff like crazy, because they are running out of income. In the article, one IMF officer outlined a brave new future for the fund as a macro consultancy organisation.
Look Ma, Chucky is becoming a Kindergarten teacher!

Posted by: Guthman Bey | Aug 23 2006 2:24 utc | 71

The IMF has been cutting staff like crazy, because they are running out of income.

That's what's called a crisis of global capitalism. They're working hard to remedy that. Kick the old rulers out and bring in some new poor rulers who are looking for some bakshish. War is always good.

Anyway, precious little, if any, of these "bon temps" have roulezed down to the hoi-polloi in the form of social services.

Posted by: Malooga | Aug 23 2006 2:36 utc | 72

taking up some of the slack, here's my avuncular contribution for the day
Company trying to get under soldiers’ skin

A microchip company with powerful political connections is lobbying the Pentagon for the right to implant chips under the skins of the nearly 1.4 million U.S. military personnel.

VeriChip Corp., which is based in Florida and planning to offer its stock to the public soon, has been one of the most aggressive marketers of radio frequency identification chips.


Now the company is “in discussions” with the Pentagon, spokeswoman Nicole Philbin said. She added that VeriChip wants to insert the chips under the skin of the right arms of U.S. servicemen and servicewomen. The idea is to be able to scan an arm and obtain that person’s identity and medical history.


VeriChip hopes that the chips will replace the metal dog tags that have been worn by U.S. military personnel since 1906.

The company has political muscle in the form of Tommy Thompson. A former secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, Thompson is a partner at the lobbying law firm of Akin Gump and is a director of VeriChip.

Thompson said he’s sure that the chip is safe and that no one — not even military personnel, who are required by law to follow orders — will be forced to accept an implant against his or her will. He has also promised to have a chip implanted in himself.

But reached for comment Friday, he wouldn’t say when he was going to have the implant.

“I’m extremely busy ...” he said.

from wikipedia

Former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson, who sits on the board of directors of VeriChip's parent company Applied Digital Solutions ... holds a considerable share of the VeriChip

Posted by: b real | Aug 23 2006 3:00 utc | 73

Re: Tapeworm Talk

Some scientists recently proposed that parasites were, in fact, the "top of the food chain" and that we other organisms evolved specifically to be vehicles for them.

Interesting. We do seem to have the predisposition for it. I used to have regular fights with a day-trader friend of mine who insisted that welfare recipients were "social parasites", whereas I insisted that that distinction belonged to the leisure class (whether you define the leisure class as merely bourgeois, or if you expand that, as I do, to include highly overpaid, but useless, CEOs). By my reckoning, the Bush Dynasty represents the penultimate achievement of human parasites.

The analogy of how a tapeworm influences behaviour chemically is illustrative, but there are better examples. Take the humble Sacculina carcini, which does not have a common name because few people want to get to know it any better. It's an amorphous crab parasite that injects itself into its host where it grows "roots" into every part of the crab's body. It then steers its host in the same way that we would steer a car... it takes over the motor functions of the crab who then becomes a zombie slave. If the host crab is male (which is unsuitable for the parasite to reproduce), it changes the host into a female. The crab will no longer moult or be able to regrow appendages as healthy crabs do... it's short, unhappy life is dedicated exclusively to foraging for food for its parasite with no nutrients going towards its own survival any longer. Kind of like what Halliburton does to congress.

Posted by: Monolycus | Aug 23 2006 4:34 utc | 74

August 2000 Discover Magazine article Do Parasites Rule the World?, by Carl Zimmer.

Posted by: Monolycus | Aug 23 2006 4:42 utc | 75

Clueless Joe on Microsoft:"This is the essence of capitalism. Capitalism doesn't involve progress or making better lasting products, it's about making sure that the current crap can go on as long as possible because true innovation would cost too much to readapt to it."

Microsoft gets it money from the Federal Protection of Copyrights of its so-called intellectual property. I would not describe such a monopoly, or any state protected monopoly, as classical capitalism.

As an aside from Microsoft's issues, I fear a socialism and economic system that so many here seem to wish for. I now literally live in terror in my "democratic" socialist/nazi-like Homeowner Association as do thousands of others in this country who have lost their Constitutional protections to their property. Property rights are a foundation to the U.S. Constitution. Unfortunately times have changed, families in homeowner associations are literaly losing their homes by numbers greater than most can even imagine. Some are just terrorized from jealous or over controlling neighbors and sell quietly. Many homes are lost thru non-judicial foreclosure. I live in a rural area, yet even here, 95% of the homes or lots for sale are in "democratic" homeowner associations. Regarding labor and products, I have worked for myself in my own business for almost 20 years and have developed, manufactured and sold thousands of products, to people's great satisfaction, without seeing any need for socialism or Marxism to better what I produced. My employees were "not exploited" as Marx would say, in fact, they fared better than I. I know many other successful small and medium size businesses that have done likewise. I have developed and copyrighted very innovative software also, only to have the right to sell it taken away because I couldn't afford the lawyers to defend against large corporate lawsuits suing my company for bogus copyright infringement. My software was written in house, and was totally original...didn't matter, the Corporate giants rule. After the first World Trade Center bombing, I stood in Federal Court in NY before the same Fedral Judge as did those defendants. Their trial was from Monday thru Thursday, my trial was on Friday and the bombers' papers were left laid out on the court desk where I sat. I was facing Contempt of Court for Copyright infringement - the first words out of the Judge, before I ever spoke, was that he had no qualms at all about throwing me in federal prison. The civil damages being asked of me were about 6 million dollars. Corporatism, in my opinion, is not a proper definition of capitalism. Specifically, Intellectual property has become a vile curse for the common American.

The worship of capitol is without a doubt, evil. Unrestrained Capitalism can become just as burdensome to the individual as any other economic system. Governments should provide for the "general welfare" as the preamble to the U.S. Constitutions clearly states. Heaven forbid if Gates held the intellectual property right or patent to the cure of cancer or aids.

Posted by: Rick Happ | Aug 23 2006 5:28 utc | 76

What ever happened to "Provide for the General Welfare"?
Health-care trade groups trying to discredit Muchael Moore's new film.

Posted by: Rick Happ | Aug 23 2006 6:04 utc | 77

Sorry for typo error, no slur intended in post above;
Muchael should be Michael.

Posted by: Rick Happ | Aug 23 2006 6:06 utc | 78

"But it’s not only the uninsured who suffer. Of the more than 1.5 million bankruptcies filed in the U.S. each year, about half are a result of medical bills; of those, three-quarters of filers had health insurance."
Health Care: It's What Ails Us

Posted by: Rick Happ | Aug 23 2006 6:19 utc | 79

Specifically, Intellectual property has become a vile curse for the common American.

@Rick, sounds horrific. How does this system work? Microtrash et al come in, offer to buy you out under condition you show them the code. Then offer you a pittance, or threaten to develop it themselves & sue you? What's the "intellectual property" system?

Posted by: jj | Aug 23 2006 6:34 utc | 80


Technically speaking, I dont think anyone here is advocating the dictatorship of the proletariot as a solution to anything. Corportism, in itself is not negative, in that the capitalism can manifest itself in various degrees of ethical (social) responsability as say in the netherlands; socialist democracy, germany; social corporatist democracy, U.S.; liberal corporatist democracy. Socialism and Capitalism in varing degrees make up most western welfare capitalist states, with ethics being the variable. The current health care crises (or foreign policy) in the U.S. is indicitive of where we (in the U.S.) might stand stand on the ethical graph. The exceptionalist (libritarian) myth in america is nothing more than a stalking horse for the extream corporatism of liberal fascism. Sorry.

Posted by: anna missed | Aug 23 2006 8:45 utc | 81

Malooga at 22, you forgot the hand of the illegal economy, closely tied to the PTB: drugs, human trafficking and arms. One can’t cover everything..thanks for the good posts.

Rice’s gender and race should not be an issue, I agree. It is interesting to note though that the pair - white man (a suit, heh, to mention clothes) - subordinate black woman (smarter! - hardly difficult there) mirrors the structure of US society in an odd way.

Black women don’t hold much power in the US; white women don’t either, really. Black women, however, do earn more than white women. Both as measured in average hourly wage (the difference is small, but it’s there) and yearly income (bigger difference, because they also work harder, longer hours, more jobs.) Sorry no refs. - some professional reading I did last year. Seen under that angle, she is not a token, but the representative of the second most powerful group in the US (when these are narrowly defined by gender ‘race’ and bucks.) The token would have been Powell. Powell rose in the ranks of one of the few avenues open for black men, a state controlled one, whereas Rice competed sucessfully in civil society, even if she was given several legs up. Btw, I have heard from colleagues she was loathed in academia. Anyway, it is a bit of a bore discussing this, as these people are not hired for their capabilities, but in function of their smarminess (and color etc.)

Posted by: Noirrette | Aug 23 2006 11:35 utc | 82

This passage from the Independent on 22 Aug. 2006, about Katrina, caught my eye:

The report claims many large companies established 'contracting pyramids', with each layer skimming money. It highlighted the $500m contract awarded to Ashbritt to remove debris, which worked out at $23 per cubic metre of rubbish moved. In turn, it hired C&B Enterprises to do the work for $9 per cubic metre, which in turn hired Amlee Transportation which was paid $8 per cubic metre. Amlee hired another company for $7 a cubic metre. Finally, the work was done at $3 per cubic metre by a haulier from New Jersey.>link

Laugh or cry?

Posted by: Noirette | Aug 23 2006 11:43 utc | 83

Robert Fisk has an article in the Independent which is accessible by all and since it doesn't involve the massacre of Shia but of Xtian Lebanese Fisk has finally bought the blowtorch to bear on those responsible without any of the equivocation he has been demonstrating lately.

It makes pretty sobering reading on a few different levels as it covers what happened in the lead up to and the hoffifying execution of one of the last and most senseless massacres that the IDF perpetrated in Lebanon before the cease-fire took effect. The attack on refugees from the xtian village of Marjayoun which Billmon wrote about in his Kibuki Offensive piece.

IN case anyone has any doubt about who was pulling the strings in this conflict this para will inform them:

"Locked in his room, Daoud now called Fatfat again and Fatfat called the Lebanese Prime Minister, Fouad Siniora, who, by chance, was talking to the US ambassador to Beirut, Jeffrey Feltman. Feltman - either via the State Department or directly to the US embassy in Tel Aviv - told his diplomats to call the Israeli Defence Ministry; and they swiftly replied that there should be no Israeli troops in Daoud's barracks. But the Israelis in Marjayoun refused to believe what Daoud told them."

Apparently the local command of the IDF thought he was dealing with the "Arab lies" he's been indoctrinated about, when he heard that the bosses back in Washington didn't want any xtians slaughtered so close to peace breaking out!

Here is a part of what his racist disbelief of Arabs caused:

"There are few marks on the road where the missiles hit the innocents of Marjayoun. But there are the memories of what happened immediately after the Israeli airstrike on the convoy of 3,000 people after dark on 11 August: a 16-year old Christian girl screaming "I want my Daddy" as her father's mutilated body lay a few metres away from her; the town mukhtar discovering that his wife, Collette, had been decapitated by one of the Israeli missiles; the Lebanese Red Cross volunteer who went into the darkness of wartime Lebanon to give water and sandwiches to the refugees and was cut down by another missile, and whose friends could not reach him to save his life. . ."

You know in the end it doesn't really matter if Rummy is going to resign or be pushed if diebold add on 2 or 3 percentage points or whether Olmert gets the flick in favour of Netanyahu. Or what theory of why this is happening finds favour this week. Personally I reckon attributing any sort of long term vision thing or plan to the assholes in the US and Israel who perpetrated these crimes is giving them credence by insinuating they know what they are doing.

They don't have a clue and are trying to hide their ignorance and stupidity with brutality, an old trick which never works long term.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Aug 23 2006 12:24 utc | 84

PARIS (Reuters) - One of the main tasks facing a U.N. force in Lebanon will be to ensure that no arms are smuggled across the borders to Hizbollah, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said on Wednesday.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on Tuesday that the deployment of international troops on the Lebanese-Syrian border would be a hostile act.


The French never learn. If they really do this, they are reintroducing Syria into the heart of domestic Lebanese politics. For Assad this is a dream come true.

Posted by: Guthman Bey | Aug 23 2006 12:53 utc | 85


In my case, it was not Microsoft,though Microsoft does use similar tactics. I was dealing with Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich a large publishing company with a main headquarters in NY, NY at the time. My company, out of Wisconsin, had developed and sold WISC-R Analysis, a software program for analysis of the Wechsler Inteligence Scale for Children. (IQ)
My program was rated #1 by the National Association of School Psychologists at the time. A purist, I did not beleive in software copy protection, and the source code was open. That changed somewhat when one of our School Psychologists, the man whom we originaly developed the program with, was approached at a convention by someone who tried to sell him a pirate copy of the Happ program for a reduced price. I kept the code open except for an active transistor hardware/software lock that I designed to plug into the ports of the Apple/PC computers. (BTW, another tactic commonly used back then was a tiny hole in the floppy disc which interacted with locking software to enable use. I experimented with that also.)

Anyhow, the Lawsuit ended with me agreeing to not sell or distribute my program anymore and 3 thousand dollars in cash. The crux of the suit was important in its implications and I have felt guilty for caving in to this day. Similar guilt feelings for caving in a recent lawsuit involving Weyerhaeuser and HOA's a couple of years ago. But maybe discretion is the better part of valor.

Posted by: Rick Happ | Aug 23 2006 13:11 utc | 86

@Rick @ 86.

That for sharing.

Posted by: Ms. Manners | Aug 23 2006 13:32 utc | 87

Should have been thanks above.

Posted by: Ms. Manners | Aug 23 2006 13:33 utc | 88

Finally, the work was done at $3 per cubic metre by a haulier from New Jersey. Who probably dumped it illegally in the Meadowlands for that price. No doubt there were human bodies involved.

I think that the issue here is that the rules of capitalism are breaking down. There has always been cronyism, but in the scheme of things, it had historically been subservient to capitalism. Now, this is reversed and we live in a Phillip K. Dick kind of world. The Soviet Union crumbled from this disease, and the cure was worse: replace the collectivism of corporatism, or in their case Sovietism, with Oligarchism, which tends to be more ruthlessly efficient. That's what they are trying to do here too, but our psuedo-democratic system requires more buy-in, hence the cronyism.

Malooga at 22, you forgot the hand of the illegal economy, closely tied to the PTB: drugs, human trafficking and arms.

Good point. Very essential for the smooth functioning of the other parts.

Rice's gender and race IS an issue because she functions in a public relations role, both to the external world, who we are trying to sell on the benefits of "democracy;" and to the domestic world, where some level of public consent is still needed to institute very unpopular policies. Nobody's arguing that Rice, and Gonzalez, and Yoo, are not bright -- just that they were selected and groomed for their public roles, which involve selling out their constituencies. This is equally true with white politicians, like Bush, selling out the interests of the majority of white Texans. Frist, on the other hand, was born a bona-fide member of the elite, and so didn't need to be selected and groomed -- he bought his way in, and serves his own interests directly. The issue is being in a public role and what that represents. One level lower, like Addington, or where Rice was in Bush I, and you are no longer playing a public role, hence, it is not an issue.

Corportism, in itself is not negative, in that the capitalism can manifest itself in various degrees of ethical (social) responsability as say in the netherlands; socialist democracy, germany; social corporatist democracy, U.S.; liberal corporatist democracy. Socialism and Capitalism in varing degrees make up most western welfare capitalist states, with ethics being the variable.

You are talking about two systems -- corporatism and socialism -- which you maintain are then mixed into a type of practical capitalism; and you appear to be saying that, to the extent that socialism prevails in the capitalist mix, greater levels of ethicism are realized, i.e. Socialism is the ethical component to capitalism, and corporatism is therefore unethical -- thus contradicting your original assertion. Huh?

In any event, both corporatism and capitalism are clearly negative systems, for neither take the environment into account, create public "externalities" in the quest for profit, and require endless growth. (See "The Corporation," or join the Bookchin discussion.) It doesn't matter how pretty and clean the streets of Ghent are, or how decent the medical care and pensions of Frankfort are. Both countries rank among the leaders in pollution and global warming gases per capita (and when the Gulf Stream finally falters, they will be about as desirable to live in as Central Russia), and of course, all this "beauty" is built on the backs of the supplier nations of Africa and Asia. If the residents of Dominica grow bananas for the EU, why do they live on $4K/yr without benefits, while residents of the EU live on ten times that amount plus benefits? And it has nothing to do with technology -- in Vietnam and Haiti there are high-tech factories where the same rules apply. It is because of thuggish trade rules which are anything but ethical, unless you remember the block bully beating you up when you were seven as a particularly ethical event.

. How does this system work? Microtrash et al come in, offer to buy you out under condition you show them the code.

Usually they buy a similar company, than sue you for trumped up copyright infringement in a case you can't ever hope to afford to defend against their endless battery of lawyers. Then they make you an offer you can't refuse, and so you sell out for a small percentage of what you felt your company was worth.

@Rick Happ:

There are tyranical Homeowner Associations, and this is a valid problem; fortunately, it is limited to a small segment of the country. Nobody is telling the boys in the 'hood what color their awnings should be.

Regarding labor and products, I have worked for myself in my own business for almost 20 years and have developed, manufactured and sold thousands of products, to people's great satisfaction, without seeing any need for socialism or Marxism to better what I produced. My employees were "not exploited" as Marx would say, in fact, they fared better than I.

Perhaps you are both exploited. You could lose everything you have worked for your entire life because of illness -- is this fair? You are lucky to have found a comfortable niche in the capitalist order, much like Denmark has done as a country. But, surely, you are not implying that anyone, and everyone, could do what you have? If that is true, shoot mean e-mail and set me up. I owned small businesses and was an employer for a nuber of years, and I was proud of how I treated and paid my employees. But it is getting harder and harder to pay people living wages, as competition increases and disparities of wealth increase. I ran food businesses and managed a coop. Precious few are willing to pay 3% more so that the people they buy food from can live like huan beings. Believe me, I know.

Heaven forbid if Gates held the intellectual property right or patent to the cure of cancer or aids.

I fear that is just what he and Buffett are angling to do through their little foundation.


Legion of Little Helpers in the Gut Keeps Us Alive

In fact, it's time to stop thinking of yourself as a single living thing at all, say the scientists behind the new work. Better to see yourself as a "super-organism," they say: a hybrid creature consisting of about 10 percent human cells and 90 percent bacterial cells.

"The numbers might strike fear into people, but the overall concept is one we have to understand and adjust to," said Steven Gill, a microbial geneticist who helped lead the study at the Institute for Genomic Research in Rockville...

Scientists have long recognized that the number of human cells in the body is dwarfed by the 100 trillion or so bacteria living in and on it. It's a daunting reality obscured by the fact that human cells are much bigger than bacterial cells. For all their numbers, bacteria account for only about three pounds of the average person's weight.

It is important to distinguish between "top of the food chain" and "top of the evolutionary chain," and other such chains, and to recall the following from freshman biology:

The various forms of symbiosis include: -
parasitism, in which the association is disadvantageous or destructive to one of the organisms and beneficial to the other (+ -)
mutualism, in which the association is advantageous to both (+ +)
commensalism, in which one member of the association benefits while the other is not affected (+ 0)
amensalism, in which the association is disadventageous to one member while the other is not affected (- 0)

Posted by: Malooga | Aug 23 2006 13:35 utc | 89

"Locked in his room, Daoud now called Fatfat again and Fatfat called the Lebanese Prime Minister, Fouad Siniora, who, by chance, was talking to the US ambassador to Beirut, Jeffrey Feltman. Feltman - either via the State Department or directly to the US embassy in Tel Aviv - told his diplomats to call the Israeli Defence Ministry; and they swiftly replied that there should be no Israeli troops in Daoud's barracks. But the Israelis in Marjayoun refused to believe what Daoud told them."

Which is why Angry Arab refers to Siniora as the Pierre Laval of Lebanon. Yeah, killing A-rabs is O.K., but don't kill Christians (unless the are also Palestinians).

As an aside, my male cat's name is Achmed Mushman (full name: Commodore Achmed Peabody Mushman III), or Mr. Mush for short, but lately I have taken to calling him Achmed Fatfat, or Mr. Fatfat, as it is such a great name for a cat.

Posted by: Malooga | Aug 23 2006 13:46 utc | 90

@Rick (BTW, another tactic commonly used back then was a tiny hole in the floppy disc which interacted with locking software to enable use. I experimented with that also.)

I had a plasticgonimoeter and a needle in my deskdrawer for that. Whenever a copy of Dbase was needed ...

Posted by: b | Aug 23 2006 14:08 utc | 91

anna missed,

I beleive that the type of Corporatism that Americans are beholding to in the U.S. is very negative, negative for individuals and for the general welfare of this nation. I shouldn't limit my criticism to the U.S., as it is a global problem. Personaly, I have no qualms with individuals working together as a Corporation, but I do have qualms with such a virtual entity, having more "rights" and "influence" than the common citizen. This is not an "exceptionalism" phenomena of the people but I assume you are saying this is the mindset of our corporate/government leaders and not a myth to them. I wouldn't use that as a reason or excuse. Regarding the common wage earners, your spelling Proletariot is more correct because I think "riot" may be indicative of our future unless things change. When I was young, the word Proletariat seemed a poor descriptive term of a large middle class which then had real earning power and were not mere corporate/governed slaves or tapeworm hosts as we appear to have now become. Not being a political scientist (science?), nor do I claim to be one, I just wished to express my own personal comments on the sad state of ecomonmic affairs facing us all.

Posted by: Rick Happ | Aug 23 2006 14:28 utc | 92

We will not be silenced

More government fun with our t-shirts.

Posted by: citizen | Aug 23 2006 14:44 utc | 93

None of us are political scientists, we are all just sharing our beliefs and trying to substantiate them. Your contributions are greatly appreciated. Most political scientists I have read are no more, and usually less, rigorous and honest than we are here.

It does appear that we have some computer scientists in the bunch -- or, rather, old and wise deck-hands.

Posted by: Malooga | Aug 23 2006 14:53 utc | 94

Hezbollah`s Thermobaric Arsenal

Iran Sanctions Could Fracture Coalition

It was always going to be tough for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to hold together her fragile coalition of world powers trying to rein in Iran’s nuclear ambitions. The Israel-Hezbollah war in Lebanon has made that job harder.

While Iran’s official response to the package of carrots from the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China was, at 21 pages, voluminous, the key point is that Iran’s leaders did not agree to suspend enrichment of uranium, the central demand of the coalition.

Now the question is whether Ms. Rice, who returned from vacation this week and was studying Iran’s response, can keep the coalition together to take out their sticks against Iran.

That will not be easy, in part because the entire United Nations Security Council is supposed to vote on the sanctions package. While only the permanent members can veto, the rising fear, particularly among European diplomats, is that smaller countries on the Council are so angry over how the United States, and now France, have handled the Lebanon crisis that they will give Russia and China political cover to balk against imposing tough sanctions.

While France, for instance, has been almost as insistent on a tough stance against Iran’s nuclear program as the United States, France has also in recent days alienated many members of the Security Council by offering only 200 troops to a peacekeeping effort in Lebanon.

“The Lebanese situation has caused a lot of bad faith and I think that will play into this,” said one European diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity under normal diplomatic rules.

Getting the group to punish Tehran was always going to be difficult. Russia and China have deep economic interests in Iran and dislike the blunt instrument of sanctions. And the West must tread carefully because any sanctions levied in the place that could actually hurt Iran — its energy sector — would ratchet up already high global oil prices and end up harming the West.

That was the tough road Ms. Rice faced even before the Lebanon crisis began. Now, “Lebanon has proven that there’s no military solution to the problem in the Middle East,” said Trita Parsi, the Iranian-born author of “Treacherous Triangle: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran and the United States,” which Yale University Press plans to publish next year.

While there is no talk among the world powers right now about hitting Iran militarily, European diplomats in particular said they worried about a downward spiral if the sanctions did not work. “They’ve been dragged into three wars over there by the U.S.,” Mr. Parsi said, referring to Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon. “They don’t want a fourth.”

Bush administration officials have said Ms. Rice received assurances in June that Russia would, at a minimum, sign on to a first phase of weak sanctions if Iran refused to suspend uranium enrichment. Those sanctions would most likely include a ban on travel by Iranian officials and curbs on imports of nuclear-related technology.

United States officials have worked hard to portray their coalition as united, and disputed suggestions that the group could fracture. “Will there be some slippage? Sure,” one senior Bush administration official said, speaking on condition that he not be identified because he was not authorized to talk publicly. But, he said, “I don’t think there’s any question that there will be a resolution on sanctions.”

But the initial sanctions will undoubtedly be too weak to be effective, said some diplomats, who also predicted trouble if the United States tried to prod Russia and China to take aim at Iran’s energy sector. Iran sits on some of the largest known oil reserves, but is forced to import more than 40 percent of its gasoline because it does not have the refinery capacity it needs.

What is more, China and Russia both have energy companies invested in Iran, and they, along with European countries, would likely think hard before agreeing to prohibit the purchase of Iranian oil or to limit investment in Iran’s petroleum industry.

And if Iran has indeed held out the possibility of having talks about suspending uranium enrichment, as some reports indicated, that could further fracture the coalition.

The United States, Britain, France and Germany planned to meet Wednesday to discuss the Iranian proposal and the prospect of drawing up a sanctions resolution. But it is notable that the meeting will not include Russia and China.

Meanwhile, smaller Council members are suffering from enforcement fatigue, analysts said, made worse by the specter of figuring out how to implement the Council’s resolution calling for a cease-fire between Hezbollah and Israel in Lebanon and the eventual disarming of Hezbollah. Iran has emerged stronger from the Lebanon crisis by showing the world that it is capable of wreaking havoc through its support of the Hezbollah militants.

“Lebanon makes this worse because it creates an environment where the Iranians can say, ‘If you push us, we can cause real trouble and heartache for you,’ ” said George Perkovich, director for nonproliferation at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.

The Iraq war has demonstrated the peril of going after strong regimes, and Israel’s failure to destroy Hezbollah “erased any doubt people had about what happens when you get real tough with bad actors,” he said.

Going after Iran when Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon all remain unresolved would be an enforcement challenge for world leaders, he said.

This article makes clear that it was in both sieds interests to fight a proxy war in Lebanon BEFORE Iran replied to the US proposal. Both sides bet on this war to help them. One side won. Even the NYTimes implicitly admits this.

Posted by: Malooga | Aug 23 2006 15:17 utc | 95

Today’s right-wing French lang. Swiss paper, a serious and cautious sheet, reports hunger riots in Gaza City. Thousands of unemployed rioted and attacked PA offices and a bloodbath between Hamas militias and these rioters was avoided miraculeusement.

The Israeli blocage has been stiffened. At the Karni passage, where food goes in and out Gaza, 3 000 tons of fruit and vegetables are refrigerated but already more than a week old, soon to perish. Israel refuses to produce its own paperwork, for ‘security’ reasons. In the port of Eilat, 3 800 lambs bought by Palestine have been blocked for 15 days, ‘many’ have already died, from dehydration.

That might get the animal rights people moving?
On 2 Sept. the 165 000 PA employees, unpaid now for 6 months, go on strike. That means the schools won’t open.

(article not on the net and a quick google didn’t turn up anything similar.)

Posted by: Noirette | Aug 23 2006 16:11 utc | 96

@Malooga, #95

More on Iran, day after August 22

News is what people want to keep hidden; everything else is publicity.
-Bill Moyers, journalist (1934- )

Posted by: | Aug 23 2006 17:05 utc | 97

I truly don't know what will happen in Gaza and Palestine, but it is becoming more terrible by the day.

If you can't use the word genocide for Israeli actions, what word can you use?


Now the Americans have to herd cats after the Israeli loss.

Amy had a good show on cluster munitions today. If Hezbollah had been firing them onto Haifa and Jerusalem things would have ended even quicker.

Posted by: Malooga | Aug 23 2006 18:00 utc | 98

Maybe I was not clear,
As I see it (& I may be wrong, but)captalism is the general economic foundation of western welfare states, that regulate the flow of capital. The state defines the flow of capital through regulation. The state decides, through the mode of regulation/taxation/(re)distribution(of wealth) the degree of "socialism" in the state. Or rather, how "socialist" the state is, ethically speaking. Ethics is the hinge upon which the degree of socialism within the a state swings. States deemed "socialist" (like say, Norway) are simply states that regulate the flow of capital more to the benifit of the common good(ethics). States deemed "capitalist" (the U.S.A.) regulate the flow conversly, but should still be considered a "welfare state" because its capital regulation still acts to the benifit of a recipient. Which in the U.S.A. is the corporate entity, which allows, and to use Nader's seemingly contradictory term, can be seen as an example of "corporate socialism" -- where the capital regulation table is tipped toward the benifit ofthe few (corporate players). Because other welfare states are also necessarily bound into intimate relations with corporations, they also are "corporatist," acting in concert with with corporate interests, but mediating (regulating) them with a greater degree of social responsability (ethics). In the U.S.A. the libratarian rubric of exceptionalism is a tool that eshews the mechanics of state regulation, presuming that government de-regulation is the purveyor of (more) "freedom" for the individual, less legislated morality, and therefore both more efficient, and by de-facto, considered ethical. But because the corporate entity in the U.S.A. has achieved the status of personhood, comensurate in equality with the individual, we have here a kind of hyper-corporatism -- whereby corporate ethics (or the lack of) are dissiminated as the model (for the individual). In this clueless joe is right in that corporate ethics trend toward monopolization, might makes right -- and our friend Rick Happ is screwed because the modality of american corporatism, personified as it is, puts Rick in an undefensable position of not being big enough to compete.

Posted by: anna missed | Aug 23 2006 19:05 utc | 99

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