Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Good News, Maybe: Consumer Confidence Down Again

The BBC headline says it all: US consumer confidence down again. The accompanying article is a bit confusing and chock-full o' spin, as in:
Consumer confidence in the US has fallen for the second month in a row, the latest figures show.
"Consumers are still quite confident despite recent increases in unemployment claims and rising prices at the gas [petrol] pump," said Ms Franco.
All this because
The consumer confidence index for March dropped two points to 102.4, down from a revised 104.4 in February, said the New York-based Conference Board.
Call me when it hits 50.

Why is this potentially good news? I don't know; maybe it isn't. But I've been reading conservatives again, and this week Paul Craig Roberts (who served as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Reagan, was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and was a Contributing Editor of National Review) began his column for CounterPunch this way:
Pray For the Collapse of the Dollar
Now why would we want to do that? More to the point, why would a conservative economist want to do that? In Roberts' words:
The US desperately needs to escape from Iraq before America is sucked into a wider conflict that will necessitate a draft. Once the Bush administration has created so much instability in the Middle East that a rising Islamic revolution is afoot, the stakes will be too high for the US to be able to withdraw.

What might save America from further neoconservative miscalculations is the collapse of the US dollar. A country dependent on foreign financing, as is the US, cannot fight wars that its foreign bankers do not approve. I suspect America's foreign bankers would let the US fight itself into a deep hole before pulling the plug. It is the best way the world has of getting rid of us.
It's strange that he should say that, because I've also been reading Scott Ritter's newest piece at Aljazeera. Ritter has been right about too many things lately to be ignored [not that I would want to ignore him, but there are those who do!] and he has written:
Late last year, in the aftermath of the 2004 Presidential election, I was contacted by someone close to the Bush administration about the situation in Iraq.

There was a growing concern inside the Bush administration, this source said, about the direction the occupation was going.

The Bush administration was keen on achieving some semblance of stability in Iraq before June 2005, I was told.

When I asked why that date, the source dropped the bombshell: because that was when the Pentagon was told to be prepared to launch a massive aerial attack against Iran, Iraq's neighbour to the east, in order to destroy the Iranian nuclear programme.

Why June 2005?, I asked. 'The Israelis are concerned that if the Iranians get their nuclear enrichment programme up and running, then there will be no way to stop the Iranians from getting a nuclear weapon. June 2005 is seen as the decisive date.'

To be clear, the source did not say that President Bush had approved plans to bomb Iran in June 2005, as has been widely reported.

The President had reviewed plans being prepared by the Pentagon to have the military capability in place by June 2005 for such an attack, if the President ordered.

But when Secretary of State Condi Rice told America's European allies in February 2005, in response to press reports about a pending June 2005 American attack against Iran, she said that 'the question [of a military strike] is simply not on the agenda at this point -- we have diplomatic means to do this.'

President Bush himself followed up on Rice's statement by stating that 'This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous.' He quickly added, 'Having said that, all options are on the table.'
I urge you to read the whole article but in any case, Ritter concludes:
based upon history, precedent, and personalities, the intent of the United States regarding Iran is crystal clear: the Bush administration intends to bomb Iran.

Whether this attack takes place in June 2005, when the Pentagon has been instructed to be ready, or at a later date, once all other preparations have been made, is really the only question that remains to be answered.

That, and whether the journalists who populate the mainstream American media will continue to sleepwalk on their way to facilitating yet another disaster in the Middle East.
And of course there's also the question implied by Paul Craig Roberts: What about if the economy implodes before the attack on Iran? Would that prevent an attack or would it simply make it more vicious?

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Palast: Big-Oil 1, Neo-Cons 0

The nomination of Paul Wolfowitz to head the World Bank is not a victory for Mr. Wolfowitz, according to journalist Greg Palast. Instead, Palast argues, it's an indication that his career as a policy-making Defense Department insider has run its course.


Some conspiracy nuts believe the Bush Administration had a secret plan to control Iraq's oil. In fact, there were TWO plans. In a joint investigation with BBC Television Newsnight, Harper's Magazine has uncovered a hidden battle over Iraq's oil. It began right after Mr. Bush took office - with a previously unreported plot to invade Iraq.
And guess what?
Within weeks of the first inaugural, prominent Iraqi expatriates -- many with ties to U.S. industry -- were invited to secret discussions directed by Pamela Quanrud, National Security Council, now at the State Department. "It quickly became an oil group," [according to] one participant, Falah Aljibury. Aljibury is an advisor to Amerada Hess' oil trading arm and Goldman Sachs.
Very interesting indeed. The neocons get the Iraqi expatriate leaders together and try to figure out how to take over Iraq.
by February 2003, a hundred-page blue-print for the occupied nation, favored by neo-cons, had been enshrined as official policy. "Moving the Iraqi Economy from Recovery to Sustainable Growth" generally embodied the principles for postwar Iraq favored by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and the Iran-Contra figure, now Deputy National Security Advisor, Elliott Abrams. The blue-print mapped out a radical makeover of Iraq as a free-market Xanadu including, on page 73, the sell-off of the nation's crown jewels: "privatization… [of] the oil and supporting industries."
Neocons' 'thinking' runs as follows:
if Iraq's fields were broken up and sold off, competing operators would crank up production. This extra crude would flood world petroleum markets, OPEC would devolve into mass cheating and overproduction, oil prices would fall over a cliff, and Saudi Arabia, both economically and politically, would fall to its knees.
Aha! The enemies of mighty USA all falling to their knees at the same time. What a wonderful neocon world it would be.

And of course it was all a flower-throwing fantasy.
However, in plotting the destruction of OPEC, the neocons failed to predict the virulent resistance of insurgent forces: the U.S. oil industry itself. Rob McKee, a former executive vice-president of ConocoPhillips, designated by the Bush Administration to advise the Iraqi oil ministry, had little tolerance for the neocons' threat to privatize the oil fields nor their obsession on ways to undermine OPEC. (In 2004, with oil approaching the $50 a barrel mark all year, the major U.S. oil companies posted record or near-record profits. ConocoPhillips this February reported a doubling of its quarterly profits.)
Are you seeing how this works? Rob McKee is "designated by the Bush Administration to advise the Iraqi oil ministry" and yet he apparently delivers more than advice!
In November 2003, McKee quietly ordered up a new plan for Iraq's oil. For months, the State Department officially denied the existence of this 323-page plan, but when I threatened legal action, I was able to obtain the multi-volume document describing seven possible models of oil production for Iraq, each one merely a different flavor of a single option: a state-owned oil company under which the state maintains official title to the reserves but operation and control are given to foreign oil companies.
Seven flavors of vanilla. And ha! ha! Guess what?
According to Ed Morse, another Hess Oil advisor, the switch to an OPEC-friendly policy for Iraq was driven by Dick Cheney. "The VP's office [has] not pursued a policy in Iraq that would lead to a rapid opening of the Iraqi energy sector… that would put us on a track to say, "We're going to put a squeeze on OPEC."

Cheney, far from "putting the squeeze on OPEC," has taken a defacto seat there, allowing the cartel to maintain its suffocating grip on the U.S. economy.
And so: Paul Wolfowitz is off to the World Bank where he cannot do quite so much damage [or at least that's the plan] and Dick Cheney has "a de facto seat" on OPEC. Say goodbye to the despicable little chicken-hawk. Say hello to the despicable and slightly larger vice president.

Monday, March 28, 2005

And You Thought American TV Was Bad!

Congratulations, USA!! You have freed the Iraqi people from ... something horrible ... and given them something ... even more horrible!

Tonight's evening news broadcast on French public television carried an account of "Terror in the Hands of Justice," a series that is running twice a day on Al Iraqiya, the state-controlled television financed by the U.S., and operated under a contract to a major Republican party contributor.
You tend to get a bit nervous when it says "state-controlled", but as long as it's tied to a "major Republican party contributor" it can't be too bad, can it?


Oh, well... Just as long as there's no appearance of conflict of interest...
This is one of the most appalling TV shows one could possibly imagine, for it blatantly encourages lynch-mob justice and individual acts of revenge against alleged "terrorists"--who are presented as such without benefit of any trial or judicial proceeding.
America the beautiful, forging the new Iraqi order, no doubt. How quaint.
One of the most hate-inducing aspects of this TV series: the confrontations between alleged victims of the "terrorists" or their families, and those who are supposed to have committed the crimes against them. The alleged victims cry for vengeance -- "Do with him what you will, kill him, crush him," cries one hysterical woman into the camera. This highly manipulative (and manipulated) TV series is intended to whip up a lynch-mob mentality among viewers--and it does so to great effect.
[I]t is the use of U.S. taxpayer dollars to fund a TV show that encourages violent, extra-judicial revenge on people who have not been tried or convicted of any crime that stands in sharp contradiction of the Bush administration's claims to have successfully exported "democracy" to Iraq.
They were probably hoping you weren't going to notice that. Or mention it.
The display on television of prisoners without their consent violates their rights under the Geneva Convention -- all the more so when individual and mob violence against those prisoners is incited by the TV show on which they appear. But a defense contractor who got its contracts from pay-to-play contributions to the Republicans is hardly likely to be susceptible to such civilized niceties. "Terror in the Hands of Justice" constitutes another dark chapter in the U.S. occupation of Iraq.
Pardon me? What "occupation"? We're Liberators, not Occupiers, aren't we?

Oops. Maybe not.

Oh well.

You can read the whole article here.

Thanks to Buzzflash for this link and many more.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Chuck Baldwin on "Packaged News"

Sometimes what appears to be a 'lazy blogger' is simply a 'busy blogger'. [Ahem]

I reposted one of Chuck Baldwin's columns recently and got a good response. [As responses go! ;-0]

This column from Chuck Baldwin strikes me as even better. He's as conservative as they come, and the lowly and frozen one is sometimes called a left wing kook. Better make that "lazy left wing kook". I'll bet nobody ever called Chuck Baldwin a "lazy left wing kook". I'll bet nobody ever called Chuck Baldwin any of these things. Yet we agree on so much. It's a strange world, my friends.
"Packaged News" or Propaganda?
By Chuck Baldwin
March 22, 2005

Reuters News recently reported, "President Bush said on Wednesday [March 15, 2005] that the U.S. government's practice of sending packaged news stories to local television stations was legal and he no plans to cease it.

"His defense of the packages, which are designed to look like television news segments, came after they were deemed a form of covert propaganda by the Government Accountability Office watchdog agency.

"GAO, an arm of Congress, said this ran counter to appropriation laws and was a misuse of federal funds."

The federal government's practice of sending "packaged news" to media outlets began under the Clinton Administration. President Bush has not only continued the practice, he has doubled the amount of federal tax dollars that are used for this purpose, spending $254 million in his first term.

The proliferation of the Clinton/Bush "packaged news" policy signals the beginning of the end of a free and independent media (especially television media) in this country! Obviously, this does not bode well for the maintenance of liberty.

Knowing the propensity of national leaders to mislead people and misrepresent truth, our Founding Fathers deliberately intended to keep the press free and independent from the controls and restraints of the federal government. A free press, even a hostile press, bodes well for freedom. A controlled or propaganda press does not.

Virtually every repressive regime of history was first able to obtain control of the nation's major media outlets. After all, if one can control the flow of information, he or she can control the minds and actions of the citizenry. It now appears that our federal government is beginning to do this very thing.

Have readers noticed how the same news stories seem to be carried by the three major networks and by the major cable networks? Does anyone really believe that this is a coincidence?

What should also be obvious to any objective observer is the fact that the major media (with few exceptions) is even more accommodating of the Bush administration than it was of the Clinton administration, Bush's supposed conservatism notwithstanding. The lack of media curiosity and investigative reporting has become so universal that for all practical purposes it doesn't even exist!

With very few exceptions, the major media simply regurgitates the government's spin on a given issue without challenge or question. Now we learn that many media outlets are actually running the federal government's "packaged news" without revision!

Obviously, the real culprits in this story are the media moguls themselves. As with just about everyone else these days, the only consideration that seems to matter with most media executives is financial profit. Subsequently, most news departments are treated like every other department and are expected to turn a profit by any means necessary. This usually translates to layoffs, streamlined budgets, and less funding for investigative reporting.

Believe it or not, however, there was a time when media executives understood that they fulfilled a crucial role in protecting freedom and were willing to allow their news departments to experience financial deficits, if necessary, in order to challenge "the powers that be" and boldly distribute independent information. Critical thinking, even innate hostility, toward government spin doctors is a necessity if liberty is to prevail in any society.

Also problematic to an objective and independent press is the fact that today's media elite come from the same circle of power from whence come most of our political elite. They graduate from the same colleges and universities, are members of the same fraternities and clubs, and share the same group of friends and business partners.

Beyond that, if one bothers to look, he or she will discover that the media and political elite of this country are joined at the hip when it comes to the social and political institutions to which they belong. At the national level, most are members of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and similar organizations.

Now, before anyone dismisses the fact that so many of the political and media elite share membership in the CFR as meaningless or coincidental, ask yourself this question, "What if these same people shared membership in the Christian Coalition? Would anyone view this as meaningless and coincidental?" Hardly.

Another example of the philosophical brotherhood shared by "liberals" and "conservatives" in politics (and in the media) was clearly demonstrated in last year's presidential election. Both President Bush and Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry are members of the super-secret Skull and Bones society. If the media were truly independent and objective, would they not find this interesting enough to investigate?

Unfortunately, the media are not the only ones who refuse to report the facts objectively. "Conservative" spokesmen such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity are every bit as culpable as the major media in hiding or ignoring the truth.

As a result, there is precious little objective, unbiased, investigative reporting going on today! The only exceptions to this general rule are the Internet and certain (usually smaller and under-funded) independent talk radio shows.

The problem with the Internet is that there is so much speculation, hyperbole, and outright falsehood floating around that it often requires painstaking work to discover the truth. The problem with good, objective, independent talk radio programs is that they are usually only found in smaller markets and subsist on meager budgets which make it difficult for them to reach mass audiences.

When it comes to issues affecting liberty, both the preacher and the reporter need to be as independent and truth oriented as is humanly possible. It shouldn't matter to either whether a policy is being promoted by a liberal or a conservative, by a Republican or a Democrat. The only thing that should matter is truth and what is consistent with America's founding principles.

Unfortunately, it seems that America's religious and media leaders have become little more than propagandists for our political leaders. The Clinton/Bush policy of disseminating "packaged news" to our nation's media outlets is merely one example of how our vanguards of liberty have been compromised.

© Chuck Baldwin


Chuck Baldwin's commentaries are copyrighted and may be republished, reposted, or emailed providing the person or organization doing so does not charge for subscriptions or advertising and that the column is copied intact and that full credit is given and that Chuck's web site address is included.

Editors or Publishers of publications charging for subscriptions or advertising who want to run these columns must contact Chuck Baldwin for permission. Radio or television Talk Show Hosts interested in scheduling an interview with Chuck should contact

Please visit Chuck's web site at When responding, please include your name, city and state. And, unless otherwise requested, all respondents will be added to the Chuck Wagon address list.

To subscribe to these columns, send a message to with the words subscribe chuck-wagon in the body of the message. To unsubscribe put the words unsubscribe chuck-wagon in the body of the message.

I would be surprised if Chuck is watching Aljazeera, though ;-(. It's ok, Chuck. The lowly and nearly frozen winter patriot can do that for you. As requested by our very own president himself. Although not in so many words.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Bush Says "Watch Aljazeera"

He didn't use those exact words but last week the president did indicate quite clearly what sort of ... um ... broadcasts we can expect from the mainstream media.

Here is some of the truth that is currently available at Aljazeera, which lately seems more and more like one of the last bastions of responsible journalism...
All is quiet in Falluja, or at least that is how it seems, given that the mainstream media has largely forgotten about the Iraqi city. But independent journalists are risking life and limb to bring out a very different story.

The picture they are painting is of US soldiers killing whole families, including children, attacks on hospitals and doctors, the use of napalm-like weapons and sections of the city destroyed.

One of the few reporters who has reached Falluja is American Dahr Jamail of the Inter Press Service. He interviewed a doctor who had filmed the testimony of a 16-year-old girl.

"She stayed for three days with the bodies of her family who were killed in their home. When the soldiers entered she was in her home with her father, mother, 12 year-old brother and two sisters.

She watched the soldiers enter and shoot her mother and father directly, without saying anything. They beat her two sisters, then shot them in the head. After this her brother was enraged and ran at the soldiers while shouting at them, so they shot him dead," Jamail relates.
This is the kind of story our so-called leaders don't want us to hear.

Speaking of which, guess who says journalists are being targeted? And guess who presented evidence to back her[!]self up? Naomi. Check this out; it's beautiful.
Journalist and writer Naomi Klein has also come under attack for insisting that US forces are eliminating those who dare to count casualties.

No less than the US ambassador to the UK David Johnson wrote a letter to British newspaper The Guardian that published Klein's work, demanding evidence, which she then provided.

The first piece of evidence Klein sent to Johnson was that the hospital in Falluja was raided to stop any reporting of casualties, a tactic that was later repeated in Mosul.

"The first major operation by US marines and Iraqi soldiers was to storm Falluja general hospital, arresting doctors and placing the facility under military control.

"The New York Times reported that 'the hospital was selected as an early target because the American military believed that it was the source of rumours about heavy casualties', noting that 'this time around, the American military intends to fight its own information war, countering or squelching what has been one of the insurgents' most potent weapons'.
This might not be news to some of us, but apparently it was big news to "the US ambassador to the UK David Johnson". Har de har. Well Mister David Johnson you done picked on the wrong journalist there, mister ambassador dude moron sir.

It is wonderful to see somebody waving some truth in the general direction of Ambassador Johnson, and it's great to see this happening in a UK paper. But will Americans ever read about it? Other than the four or five regular readers of this lowly and nearly frozen Winter Patriot, who else in the United States will ever know about this? Who else will ever know about any of the other details that appear once in one article in one edition of one city newspaper and then disappear forever? Like:
The Los Angeles Times quoted a doctor as saying that the soldiers 'stole the mobile phones' at the hospital - preventing doctors from communicating with the outside world."
Would we know this if not for Naomi? Thank goodness for Naomi Klein.
As Dahr Jamail reports from his online diary "doctors are now technically forbidden to talk to the media or allow them to take photos in Iraqi hospitals unless granted permission from the Ministry of Health and its US-adviser".
Thank goodness for Dahr Jamail. And thank goodness for all four or five regular readers, too. You guys rock!

Read the article I've been quoting.

Bookmark Aljazeera.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

A Sad Anniversary

A sad second anniversary: two horrible years and still going with no end in sight. Here just a bit of coverage of a story you probably won't hear about on major American media:

BBC: Worldwide protests mark Iraq war
Protests have been taking place across the world marking two years since the start of the war in Iraq.

Thousands turned out in Japan and Australia to complain about their countries' involvement in Iraq.

Protest marches took place around Europe and similar events occurred in cities across the US.

In a radio address, US President George W Bush defended the war, saying it took place "to disarm a brutal regime, free its people, and defend the world".

More than 4,500 people marched in Tokyo during a visit by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

"The Self-Defence Force [Japan's military] should withdraw from Iraq immediately... and the occupation of Iraq should be stopped," said Ken Takada, a member of civic group World Peace Now.
Aljazeera: Thousands rally against Iraq war
Tens of thousands of people have marched through central London on the second anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq, calling on Prime Minister Tony Blair to get British troops out of the country.

Police said 45,000 people were taking part in the march which wound from Hyde Park Corner past the US embassy to a rally in central London's Trafalgar Square.

Organisers, the Stop the War Coalition, said they hoped that eventually 250,000 people would join the march, one of many being held around the country and across the world to mark the second anniversary of the Iraq invasion.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Big Trouble In Nepal

On the BBC News website there's an article called Nepal 'near humanitarian abyss' and it says [in part]
Conflict between security forces and Maoist guerrillas has left civilians and refugees exposed and often cut off from aid supplies and medical help.
According to the organisations, Nepalese are often denied access to humanitarian and medical supplies because of security roadblocks set up by Maoists.

Children are among the worst affected, it says, with many suffering from a lack of vitamins and essential dugs.

Credible reports have emerged in recent weeks that some women died in childbirth because they were unable to reach medical help, the statement adds.

There is also concern for the fate of 100,000 Bhutanese refugees in eastern Nepal, who are dependent on relief but find the flow of aid regularly blocked.
As some may remember, all the recent trouble sprung up after
Nepal's King Gyanendra seized absolute power and curbed freedoms in February, prompting rebels to intensify attacks.
Hundreds of political activists, journalists, students, human rights defenders and lawyers have been arrested since the king took power in February.

Commenting after returning from a visit to Nepal, ICJ Secretary General Nicholas Howen said: "It was clear during our visit that human rights defenders face a suffocating atmosphere of intimidation and control, where criticism is not tolerated.
And so on. And on and on. Just in case you needed some more really bad news.

Winter Patriot's previous comments on the developments in Nepal can be found here courtesy of The Brad Blog.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

The Oxygen Of Democracy

Information is the oxygen of democracy. Day by day, the Bush administration is cutting off the supply.
An excellent article from Slate describing how the Bush administration is limiting our access to information; even information that was once in the public domain!
[G]overnment information control has gone unenumerated and often unrecognized in the Bush era, as government agencies have restricted access to unclassified information in libraries, archives, Web sites, and official databases. Once freely available, a growing number of these sources are now barred to the public as "sensitive but unclassified" or "for official use only." Less of a goal-directed policy than a bureaucratic reflex, the widespread clampdown on formerly public information reflects a largely inarticulate concern about "security." It also accords neatly with the Bush administration's preference for unchecked executive authority.

No comprehensive catalog of deleted information exists, which is part of the problem. What follows is a representative selection of categories of data that have been withdrawn from public access in the Bush years, with reflections on what they mean...
Please read the entire article here.

Redefining 'Fascism'

This very interesting article traces the historical development of the definition of the "other F-word", the one that's on everybody's lips more and more often these days. The one we thought we had left behind 60 years ago. That one.

Many thanks to the excellent Australian blog Bush Out (by gandhi) for this link. Please pay it a visit and see for yourself. I think you'll understand why I like it so much.

Some day I may write a piece on the destruction of culture through the abuse of language. Maybe tomorrow but not today. For the moment, please just have a look at this:
The meaning of many words changes over time, and it is that development that I seek to trace with dictionaries of varied vintage. For instance, neither my 1913 nor my 1933 editions of Webster’s New International Dictionary even recognizes “fascism.” A more pedestrian 1940 Webster’s defines “Fascisti” in flattering terms as an Italian reform party created “to oppose all radical and revolutionary movements.”

In the wake of the Second World War, Webster’s New Twentieth Century Unabridged Dictionary of 1954 finally defined fascism as “any centralized system of government which [sic] exercises absolute control over industry, commerce, and finance, and which [sic] advocates strongly nationalistic policies, imposes strict censorship, and suppresses all opposition.” By 1980, Webster’s New World Dictionary had further refined fascism as a “rigid one-party dictatorship” evincing “belligerent nationalism, racism, and militarism.” Webster’s Third International Dictionary, published in 1993, goes into even greater detail about “severely nationalistic policies,” “regimentation of industry, commerce, and finance,” “rigid censorship,” and “forcible suppression of opposition.”

How interesting that American dictionaries initially greeted fascism as a positive reform movement. How perfectly typical that those same dictionaries turned hostile to the word immediately after our war with two fascist states.

The frightening part of the evolving definition of fascism is the need to add adjectives and details in order to maintain the pejorative flavor of the word without reflecting on the United States Government. As our country became more nationalistic, fascism had to be credited with “belligerent” nationalism; as the Republican Party became more dominant and intolerant of opposition, the fascist tendency to one-party suppression of opposition had to become the “forcible” suppression of opposition. Similarly, the most recent pre-George W. Bush definition of “totalitarianism” was “centralized control by an autocratic ruler or hierarchy regarded as infallible.”

Now the United States imposes its will with an undeniably belligerent nationalism. Now we see an alliance between government and big business that grows increasingly hostile to the working classes. Now we hear a constant clamor from the right to abridge the First Amendment. Now we are embarked on a new wave of militarism that permeates our colleges and our high schools. Now we have a president who refuses to acknowledge a mistake, and whose reverent followers view his word as law. What hurdles will the next dictionary have to leap in order to distinguish between fascism, totalitarianism, and our own government.
You can read the entire article here.

Chuck Baldwin: Theology Means Little When It Comes To Activism

Chuck Baldwin is about as conservative as you can get, and I disagree with him on a large number of issues, but he makes about as much sense as any conservative I have ever read, and find myself agreeing with him more often than I would have expected. I wrote a nice letter to him one time and now he sends me e-mail every week. Here is his latest, reposted in its entirety, as per his request.
Theology Means Little When It Comes To Activism
By Chuck Baldwin / March 18, 2005

As most of my readers probably know, I am a pre-millennial Baptist. That means I am dispensational in my understanding of eschatology. Yes, Gertrude, I believe in the Rapture. However, many of my Christian friends hold to Covenant or Reformed Theology and are post-millennial in their understanding of eschatology. Still others are Roman Catholic, and some claim no theology at all. When it comes to civic activism, it doesn't seem to make much difference.

Many post-millennialists believe that the reason more of my dispensational brethren are not engaged in the political affairs of this country is because of their theology. I know many Armenians who feel the same way about Calvinists.

The fact is, one can find activists and the apathetic in every theological camp. I know many Calvinists who are totally disengaged when it comes to Christian activism, while dispensationalists are very much engaged. The same can be said of Armenians, Catholics, etc.

Adding more quandary to the formula is the fact that there are many non-Christians who are extremely involved in moral and spiritual causes while many of their Christian counterparts (of any persuasion) are noticeably absent from the public square. This has always amazed me.

How is it that unsaved people can have more discernment and courage regarding the crucial issues impacting our country than saved people? But this seems to be the case many times over.

I even know Mormons (whom I believe are heretical regarding cardinal doctrines of Christianity) who demonstrate more courage and more appreciation for America's founding principles than many of my Baptist brethren. Incredible!

Rather than theology, it seems that personal zeal and courage are the deciding factors that motivate people to activism. If one lacks these, it really doesn't seem to matter what brand of theology he or she embraces.

For example, I often hear people criticizing pastors and churches for accepting the IRS tax exempt status, because they believe this is why pastors and Christians are not involved. However, as a Baptist pastor for nearly thirty years, I see it differently.

In my opinion, the 501(c)3 tax status is only a tree that pastors use to hide behind. If suddenly the tree is removed, they would find another tree to hide behind. The problem is not the tree; it is the cowardice of the one who hides behind it! The same could be said for any other excuse pastors and Christians are using to not engage the culture.

Of course, courage and personal responsibility are virtues that are generated from within; they are not forced from without. One is either willing or not, laws, regulations, and other interferences notwithstanding.

Therefore, I think it is time to stop blaming outside encumbrances or denominational nuances and start putting the blame where it rightly belongs: upon the shoulders of each and every one of us as American citizens (regardless of our theology) to stand for the principles upon which our country was established!

One will find just about every denomination of the Christian faith represented among America's founding generation. Yet, they all accepted their personal responsibility to actively engage the cultural and political direction of the country. So must we!

© Chuck Baldwin


Chuck Baldwin's commentaries are copyrighted and may be republished, reposted, or emailed providing the person or organization doing so does not charge for subscriptions or advertising and that the column is copied intact and that full credit is given and that Chuck's web site address is included.

Editors or Publishers of publications charging for subscriptions or advertising who want to run these columns must contact Chuck Baldwin for permission. Radio or television Talk Show Hosts interested in scheduling an interview with Chuck should contact

Please visit Chuck's web site at When responding, please include your name, city and state. And, unless otherwise requested, all respondents will be added to the Chuck Wagon address list.

To subscribe to these columns, send a message to with the words subscribe chuck-wagon in the body of the message. To unsubscribe put the words unsubscribe chuck-wagon in the body of the message.
I get annoyed when I hear the standard lefty jokes like "How can you tell when a conservative is lying?" because not all conservatives are lying whenever their mouths are moving. Some of them are honest patriots. We don't see eye to eye all the time but they are telling the truth as they see it, and they love this country as much as anyone on the left does. In my opinion, unless the lefty bloggers give them credit for this -- at the very least -- it's gonna be tough to get a broad-based coalition together. And that, after all, may be our only hope. So I continue the hunt for good old-fashioned honest conservatives. I know they're out there.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

US Troops Shoot Iraqi General

Not a good day in Iraq. Turkish Press reports: Iraqi general shot dead by US troops at checkpoint west of Ramadi: police.
RAMADI, Iraq - The deputy commander of the Iraqi army in western Al-Anbar province was shot dead by US troops at a checkpoint Tuesday night, a police officer said.

"The US forces opened fire at 8:00 pm (1700 GMT) on Brigadier General Ismail Swayed al-Obeid, who had left his base in Baghdadi to head home," police Captain Amin al-Hitti said.

"They spotted him on the road after the curfew, which goes into effect at 6 pm," the officer said in Baghdadi, 185 kilometres (142 miles) west of the capital.
They probably thought he was a journalist!

Ambiguous Headline Of The Year!

It's early days, as they say. Much can happen between now and the close of nominations. But our friends at the BBC are leading the parade at the moment, courtesy of this gem:
President Bush nominates hawkish US Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz to head the World Bank
Hawkish? He resembles a hawk? In what way? I couldn't figure it out so I decided to look it up. serves up a number of very interesting definitions of the word "hawk", as detailed below:
  • 1. v. To peddle goods aggressively, especially by calling out.

  • 2. n. Any of various birds of prey of the order Falconiformes and especially of the genera Accipiter and Buteo, characteristically having a short hooked bill and strong claws adapted for seizing.

  • 3. n. Any of various similar birds of prey.

  • 4. n. A person who preys on others; a shark.

  • 5. n. One who demonstrates an actively aggressive or combative attitude, as in an argument.

  • 6. n. A person who favors military force or action in order to carry out foreign policy.

  • 7. v. To clear or attempt to clear the throat by or as if by coughing up phlegm.

  • 8. n. An audible effort to clear the throat by expelling phlegm.
Which of these do you think the BBC had in mind?

Rapidly Falling Apart

Here's another good article from the website of Radio Netherlands:
With the Netherlands having formally ended its military activities in Iraq this week, and the latest news that Italy is to follow suit, the multinational force in that country now appears to be rapidly falling apart.

Following Spain's decision to pull out of Iraq last year, this week has seen the conclusion of the Dutch contribution to the international mission in Iraq. Poland and Ukraine have already announced their intention to withdraw later this year, and now Italy has surprised friend and foe with its plan to implement a phased pullout, commencing in September.

And then Italy

The announcement by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi that his country is to gradually diminish its military presence in Iraq must have come as an unpleasant surprise to Washington. In military terms, it will have a major impact because Italy - with some 3,000 troops - has the fourth largest foreign contingent in the country after the United States, the United Kingdom and South Korea.
In image terms it may be even worse than that.
The term commonly used for the foreign troops in Iraq, the 'multinational force' is deceptive to a certain extent. The factual situation is that there is an Anglo-American occupation force, officially recognised by the United Nations, with additional units from more than 20 other nations which, roughly speaking, are there to lend a helping hand in restoring law and order to Iraq.

Spain's large military contingent was pulled out last year following the parliamentary elections - held shortly after the 11 March terrorist attacks in Madrid - which saw the government of the conservative Partido Popular, part of the coalition with Washington and London that launched the invasion of Iraq, forced to make way for the social democrats, who were totally opposed to the country's military involvement in Iraq.
It's too bad for the 'multinational force' that their Spanish friends were unable to retain power -- apparently elections in Spain are not as easy to subvert as in the USA. Word on the Euro street was that the Madrid bombings were sponsored by the government in an attempt to generate enough fear to get re-elected. If that was the case, it certainly backfired. Anyway, the Spanish Social Democrats will not be sending troops to Iraq anytime soon. And so it goes.

The coalition "appears to be rapidly falling apart". What else is new?

Iraq's Democracy Is A Stacked Deck

Naomi Klein's newest column will be available from two different sources, and in two different versions.

It's called Brand USA is in trouble, so take a lesson from Big Mac in the Guardian Unlimited of March 14th, and Can Democracy Survive Bush's Embrace? in the March 28th issue of The Nation. Aside from the titles, there are several other differences; a shrewder media analyst would be able to list them all and would probably be inclined to speculate as to their origins.

But this lowly and nearly frozen Winter Patriot wishes to draw your attention to a single point Naomi Klein makes about the Iraqi electoral system: It's immensely undemocratic, as befits a systemm of "freedom" designed by occupiers who wish to be seen as liberators.

From the Guardian's version:
[T]he ongoing wrangling over who will form Iraq's next government, despite the United Iraqi Alliance being the clear winner, points to an electoral system designed by Washington that is less than democratic. Terrified at the prospect of an Iraq ruled by the majority of Iraqis, the former chief US envoy, Paul Bremer, wrote election rules that gave the US-friendly Kurds 27% of the seats in the national assembly, even though they make up just 15% of the population.

Skewing matters further, the US-authored interim constitution requires that all major decisions have the support of two-thirds or, in some cases, three-quarters of the assembly - an absurdly high figure that gives the Kurds the power to block any call for foreign troop withdrawal, any attempt to roll back Bremer's economic orders, and any part of a new constitution.
What's wrong with this picture?

Please read the rest of this article.

Robert Parry Nails It Again!

Robert Parry hits another one on the head in his newest article:
Some readers have asked why I started my book about the rise of the Bush dynasty with a chapter set between the two George Bush presidencies, with Bill Clinton explaining why he didn’t pursue investigations of his predecessor’s Cold War crimes. The short answer is that I saw that moment as pivotal to understanding today’s political crisis.

The failure of the Clinton Democrats to fight for an honest record of the Cold War – and to expose George H.W. Bush’s complicity in wrongdoing – opened the door for George W. Bush to enter the White House in 2001. If key documents had been declassified about just a few scandals, such as the Iraqgate arming of Saddam Hussein and the Iran-Contra Affair, that door almost certainly would have been shut for good.

But Bill Clinton saw history as less important than, say, his health-care program, which he thought (naively) might garner some Republican support if he let the elder George Bush off the hook. So, the American people were left with a misleading Cold War history; Clinton never got his bipartisanship; and the way was cleared for a comeback by the Bushes and their neoconservative allies.

Indirectly, the decision to avoid any truth-commission-style accountability after “winning” the Cold War also contributed to the quagmire in Iraq, a budgetary ocean of red ink again at high tide, and a population that wallows more and more in myths and misinformation.
Parry follows this with a short introduction to the untold history of the USA and the Cold War. And he keeps on hitting them. Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. Eventually he gets you to the point where it seems quite natural to see:
If the American people had understood how incompetent and deceitful the neoconservatives had been in the 1980s, that would have made the sale of the Iraq War in 2002-2003 a lot trickier.
If Clinton had released the Cold War secrets, the electorate would have been much better armed to assess how propaganda had come to permeate the relations between the U.S. government and its citizens.
Parry's most recent article is called Beating Bush at 'Information War' and you can read it here.

You can also get lost in the Archives. Sometimes I drop by just to look around. There's a lot of history here. Today, for example, I found a story relating to both this post and my previous item about Chavez and Venezuela and Guatemala in 1954. Just in case you were interested.

And in case you are still interested, there's a previous Winter Patriot piece on Robert Parry and that is here. And of course there are many more links to Robert's excellent work, on the sidebar.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Chavez Throws The Dice

It's a very dangerous move. This is what got him into trouble in 2001. It's also necessary, and it's long overdue. Still, it takes incredible courage to do something like this: Venezuela pushes ahead with land redistribution.
Tuesday saw the government of Venezuela finally begin to implement its programme of expropriating land from the country's major landowners. To begin with, more than 100,000 hectares will be handed over to landless farmers.
The last time President Hugo Chavez moved in this direction, there was trouble.
The measure marks the first practical step in putting the land reform law of 2001 into effect. It was the introduction of this legislation that was one of the main factors behind the mass protests against President Chávez which led shortly afterwards to a lengthy national strike and a short-lived coup against the head of state.
One of the main factors? How many main factors were there? Two. What was the other main factor? The USA.

Oops! That was supposed to be a secret. But it was one of the worst-kept secrets of the decade. Oh well. It's been a worst-kept secret for a century. And it's not as if his own people were against him. They had another election to prove that!
Having won last year's referendum on whether or not he should stay on as president, Mr Chávez now feels strengthened in pushing ahead with the reform
Nothing stands more powerfully in the way of this much-needed reform than the USA -- a country whose current leadership claims to be spreading democracy to the world! But this claim is a lie and it has always been a lie -- the USA has always been a vicious opponent of democracy everywhere in the world, especially in the Western Hemisphere.
There is a tradition of land reform being a key item on the agenda of most left-wing governments in Latin America, where the existence of millions of landless farmers stands in sharp contrast with the existence of huge ranches and estates, many of them with vast tracts of land which are not put to any use at all.
Right. And there is a tradition of sending in the Marines whenever anybody tries to do anything about it. It's an ugly picture -- the vast majority of the people are struggling to grow a handful of rice and beans in the mountains. All the good fertile land is owned by foreigners -- and most of it is not even used. Why does it stay that way? Because the USA likes it that way. But when I say "the USA", please understand that I am not talking about "the people" of the country. Most of them neither know nor care who owns the farmland in foreign countries. It's the "leaders" of the USA who like this; and they will do anything in their power to keep it that way.

There is nothing new about this. It's been going on for a long time. Look at what happened to Guatemala in 1954. A land-reform government [which had come to power during World War II and thereby snuck in "under the radar"] started getting serious about putting the best land back in the hands of "the people" and got overthrown by a CIA-"sponsored" coup. Much of the Guatemalan Army grabbed their weapons and headed for the hills, setting the stage for a "low-intensity", clandestine, undeclared civil war which has raged for decades and torn the country to shreds.

Who owned the land the Guatemalans were trying to "redistribute"? Much of it was owned by the United Fruit Company, the "Chiquita Banana" people. Who owned United Fruit? One large shareholder was John Foster Dulles. What did he do for a day job? Nothing much. He was only the Secretary of State. Did he have any influential family members? Well, his brother Allen was running the CIA. And who staged the attack on Guatemala? Sorry, was that supposed to be a secret, too?

Let's see now ... wasn't Allen Dulles also on the Warren Commission? Yes, that's right, he was one of the commissioners who "investigated" the death of President Kennedy. And was Allen Dulles still running the CIA at that point? No, he had been relieved of his position by the President. So... Why was Allen Dulles chosen to investigate the death of the man who had fired him? Good question!

Next question: Does Condoleeza Rice own any primo Venezuelan farmland?

Monday, March 14, 2005

Now THAT'S a Mandate!

Backers of President Bush were quick to claim a "mandate" after one of the narrowest and least convincing presidential elections in our history. They thought that was a mandate? They know nothing!

In China, they know how to get a mandate! As reported on the BBC News website,
Taiwan has condemned a new Chinese law giving Beijing the legal right to use force against the island if it moves towards declaring formal independence.
China sees Taiwan as its territory and says it reserves the right to use force if "peaceful reunification" fails.

The new law was passed in the final session of the Chinese parliament's annual National People's Congress by a margin of 2,896 to zero, with two abstentions.
One can only wonder what disciplinary actions await the two members who abstained.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

It's Never Too Early

Blogger grabs DFL-friendly domain names read the headline, but it was something else about the article in the [Minneapolis/St.Paul] Star Tribune that rocked my socks the other day.

"DFL" stands for the Democrats (the "Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party") and the Star Tribune news story says an anonymous blogger now owns some website ("domain") names that state Democrats might have wanted for 2006.

The anonymous blogger calls himself "Democrat Exposer" and runs a website called Minnesota Democrats Exposed.

Minnesota Democrats Exposed claims that it is
A blog dedicated to a truthful discussion on the activities, statements, and tactics of Minnesota Democrats.
and that it isn't
created, endorsed, sponsored, or authorized by any political party, candidate, or candidate's committee.
A casual observer might question the latter assertion, but not this experienced analyst.

There's no reason why "any political party, candidate, or candidate's committee" would want to "create, endorse, sponsor, or authorize" Minnesota Democrats Exposed. And I know this because of logical analysis.

It's a site that mostly talks about Democrats. It hardly ever mentions Republicans. So there's no reason why Republicans would want to "create, endorse, sponsor, or authorize" a site like this. Republicans probably don't care about this site at all!

And it never says anything nice about the Democrats, so there's no reason why Democrats would want to "create, endorse, sponsor, or authorize" a site like this either.

The Greens and Libertarians don't make websites like this one. It's not them.

OK. Put two and two together and what have you got? It's Nobody! Nobody would have the means, motive and opportunity to put up a site like Minnesota Democrats Exposed.

That's how I know. Trust me just this once.

Actually I tend to be pretty astute about these kinds of things. I'm starting to think I'm psychotic. I mean sometimes I think I have EXP. Listen: even before I visited Minnesota Democrats Exposed, I had a premonition: that it wasn't going to be a pro-Democratic blog. As it turns out, I was right. Ha! Some things are just too ineffable for words.

So now the question is: Who would go to all the trouble of setting up a very professional-looking site that's all about Democrats but isn't by Democrats or for Democrats? It took me a long time but I finally figured it out. It's just some lone nut with no connection to any group or political party, that's my guess. Probably just a bored professional website-designer who's making so much money he hardly ever has to work. He's got too much time on his hands and this has caused an irrational aversion to Democrats, that's what it probably is.

It's probably just a hoax -- or a joker -- you know what I mean. Unless ... Unless ... Maybe he's actually thinking of posting unflattering material about those particular Democrats, and hoping that his sites get some traffic from unsophisticated surfers who don't know any better. Maybe he's even trying to undermine somebody's campaign. That could be possible, don't you think?

Oh well. Read the article for yourself and see whether anything jumps out at you:
Last update: March 1, 2005 at 7:27 AM
Blogger grabs DFL-friendly domain names
March 1, 2005

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- At least four Internet domain names that potential DFL gubernatorial and U.S. Senate candidates might like to have, including Attorney General Mike Hatch and Patty Wetterling, have been purchased by a blogger to direct visitors to a weblog critical of Minnesota Democrats.

The websites -- including and -- are registered to Domains by Proxy, an Arizona-based company that acts as a front for people who want to shield their website registration information from the public.

The anonymous person who runs Minnesota Democrats Exposed posted a statement Monday saying that he or she purchased the domain names with personal money to increase the site's number of visitors.

"My modest marketing plan was to ensure that citizens seeking information on Amy Klobuchar, Patty Wetterling, or Mike Hatch receive the opportunity to hear the other side of the story at Minnesota Democrats Exposed," the statement read.

Corey Miltimore, executive director of the state Republican Party, said party officials are not involved in purchasing domain names involving state Democrats and have no control over independently run blogs. There is a link to Minnesota Democrats Exposed on the state Republican homepage.

Bill Amberg, DFL spokesman, called the Internet bait-and-switch "the same juvenile tricks Republicans always engage in."

Klobuchar, who is the Hennepin County attorney and is exploring a possible run for U.S. Senate, said: "I think 18 months before an election is a little early for dirty tricks."

Washington bureau correspondent Paul Sand
Did you get all that? Minnesota Democrats Exposed did. There's even a post on the blog breaking the news: Star Tribune Reports On My Spending Spree. So you can read more about it there. Click for yourself and see whether you agree: doesn't it look like a very professional blog? It's probably not sponsored by anybody, though, as you can see from the exhaustive logical analysis above, so don't worry.

The politicians mentioned in the article are three, and I figured we should all know something about each of them, so here goes:

Patty Wetterling may be thinking of running for the Senate. When she ran for Congress, her website was What would be a good address for a senate run? How about ""? Well... that's a pretty good guess, except she can't have it. Because "" is owned by Minnesota Democrats Exposed!

Mike Hatch, Minnesota's Attorney General, might be looking to run for Governor. Who do you think owns ""? Right! Minnesota Democrats Exposed!

Amy Klobuchar might be looking for higher office too, from the sound of things. But that's not my point. My point was provided by Amy Klobuchar herself when she said:
"I think 18 months before an election is a little early for dirty tricks."
Quite an idealistic sentiment, is it not? Very naive, I thought. And that started me wondering: Who is Amy Klobuchar? Is she new to all this?

I glanced at the Star-Tribune again and saw that Amy Klobuchar is the Hennepin County attorney.

And I wondered how far north Hennepin County is -- whether it's isolated and always frozen, or something -- but I found out that
Hennepin County includes Minneapolis and 45 other communities with a total population of more than 1.1 million residents.
That's more than a fifth of Minnesota's population. Oh my goodness!

Earth to Amy Klobuchar!
Earth to Amy!
Earth to Amy Klobuchar!
Come In, Amy!
Do You Read Me?

Oh well, she probably doesn't read me yet, but maybe some day she will. And I hope it's soon. Because Amy needs some help here, and I think I can help her.

Listen, Amy: I've been watching these guys for a long time and I can tell you: It's not too early. It's never too early. There's no such thing. It's not like moose hunting. There's no season for it. It's always in season.

Look at what you're up against! Look at these guys and what they're up to! They never stop thinking of ways to hurt you and they never stop doing it either. I'm not saying you should do the same thing they do. I am saying please get a clue!! You're being taken to the cleaner by an anonymous blogger and he's gloating about it. And he's able to do this partly because you think "18 months before an election is a little early for dirty tricks."

You've got to stop thinking it's like moose hunting, Amy. Try and understand that the people who do these things are going to do them whenever they think they can get away with it. That means always. Today, yesterday, and tomorrow, forever and ever amen. You should know all this already. You're an attorney, are you not?

Yes, Amy. You should know all this already. So please pay attention. I'm not going to say this again:

It's NEVER too early for dirty tricks!

Saturday, March 12, 2005

I'll Give You A Nickel

I'll give you a nickel if you see a story like this on a mainstream American news site. You probably won't see a headline like "Vietnam fury at Agent Orange case" either so you may as well read it here.

In previous related posts Justice Delayed ... May Also Be Denied and Justice Denied ... Finally! we've had foreshadowings of something like this on the horizon, have we not?

But otherwise: Wow! What a surprise!!
Vietnamese plaintiffs have condemned a US court's decision to dismiss their legal action against manufacturers of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.

"It is a wrong decision, unfair and irresponsible," said Nguyen Trong Nhan, vice president of Vietnam's Association of Agent Orange (VAVA).

He said his group was thinking of filing an appeal.

The judge in the case said allegations the chemical caused birth defects and illness had not been proved.

"There is no basis for any of the claims of plaintiffs under the domestic law of any nation or state or under any form of international law. The case is dismissed," said US District Judge Jack B Weinstein.

But Mr Nguyen disagreed.

"Weinstein has turned a blind eye before the obvious truth. It's a shame for him to put out that decision. We just want justice, nothing more.

"This is just another war that could be long and difficult, as was the Vietnam War. We are determined to pursue it until the very end, until the day we will be able to ask for justice," he said.
That's a nice try. But I think they're wasting their money. They'll never get a dime. They might get an appeal but they'll never get a nickel.

Next time the manufacturers can use the Condi defense. All they'll need is a parrot lawyer who can repeat this talking point: "Nobody could have predicted that these people would develop these symptoms from exposure to these chemicals."

Friday, March 11, 2005

Rigorous Intuition on Giuliana Sgrena

The excellent blog Rigorous Intuition has a new post called The Benefit of the Dumb which begins this way:
Blessed is the state that hides its most egregious crimes behind the smokescreen of incompetance.

Consider the attempted assassination of Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena.
Despite the humorous typo in the opening line, it's well worth a read and it's here.

Justice Denied ... Finally!

On March 3, in Justice Delayed May Also Be Denied, your lowly and nearly frozen Winter Patriot wrote:
We are rapidly approaching the 30th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War, and one of the most grotesque of its many grotesque aspects may soon have its day in court.
For the first time since the Vietnam War ended in 1975, a group of Vietnamese people who say they are victims of Agent Orange are suing for compensation.
I've been quoting from an article on the Radio Netherlands website. [...] We might as well read about all this from Radio Netherlands, because it doesn't look as if the American press is having any of it. Oh well. What did we expect?
Yesterday brought this news on the BBC website
A US federal court in New York has dismissed a legal action brought by Vietnamese plaintiffs over the use of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.

The plaintiffs had sought compensation from the firms that manufactured the chemical, which allegedly caused birth defects, miscarriages and cancer.

They said use of the defoliant - to strip away forest cover during the war - was a war crime against millions.

But Judge Jack Weinstein ruled there was no legal basis for their claims. [...]

The civil action was the first attempt by Vietnamese plaintiffs to claim compensation for the effects of Agent Orange, which has been linked to a multitude of heath problems, including diabetes.

However, the chemical companies said no such link had been proved.
Well of course no such link has been proved. How can you prove such a link?

Here are the final few paragraphs of the BBC article:
Agent Orange was named after the colour of its container. As well as herbicides which stripped trees bare, it contained a strain of dioxin.

In time, some contend, the dioxin spread to the food chain causing a proliferation of birth defects.

Some babies were born without eyes or arms, or were missing internal organs.

A group representing alleged Vietnamese victims says three million people were exposed to the chemical during the war, and at least one million suffer serious health problems today.
The final sentence says it all, really.

A group representing alleged victims. These are the kids with the alleged birth defects, and the people with the alleged diabetes and the people whose horribly disfigured faces are only allegedly disfigured. They all had a lifetime of living in a country contaminated by Agent Orange and now they can't prove the Agent Orange caused anything. Maybe all these illnesses were caused by sunspots!

How about a little alleged background? [Click these links for more detailed information]

What's Agent Orange?
Agent Orange is the code name for a powerful herbicide and defoliant used widely by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War. Agent Orange was used from 1961 to 1970 and has disputedly caused serious harm to the health of both Vietnamese and Americans, their children and grandchildren.
Wow so that's the kind of chemical that can "strip trees bare"?
Agent Orange is a roughly 1:1 mixture of the herbicides 2,4-D (2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid) and 2,4,5-T (2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid). These herbicides were developed during the 1940s for use in controlling broad-leaf plants. First introduced in 1947, both of these herbicides had widespread use in agriculture by the middle of the 1950s.
Roughly. But they forgot to mention the secret ingredient: dioxin.
Dioxin is a general term that describes a group of hundreds of chemicals that are highly persistent in the environment. The most toxic compound is 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin or TCDD. The toxicity of other dioxins and chemicals like PCBs that act like dioxin are measured in relation to TCDD. Dioxin is formed as an unintentional by-product of many industrial processes involving chlorine such as waste incineration, chemical and pesticide manufacturing and pulp and paper bleaching. Dioxin was the primary toxic component of Agent Orange, was found at Love Canal in Niagara Falls, NY and was the basis for evacuations at Times Beach, MO and Seveso, Italy.

It's like a bad script from a bad movie.

Somebody put dioxin in the defoliant and it worked even better.

Good. Make it that way all the time.

With dioxin? What will it do to the people?

Who cares about the people? This is a war!! We can always hire a lawyer to say: "They can't prove anything. They can't prove their alleged victims were exposed to the alleged defoliant, and even if they could prove that, they still couldn't prove their alleged victims' alleged illnesses were caused by said alleged exposure."

But nobody could ever prove this kind of connection about anything!


Well at least our justice system did the right thing. It gave the ungrateful litigious Vietnamese thirty years to get their case together before refusing to hear it. That's a generous legal system; patient to a fault! USA! USA! USA!

No court in the USA will ever award damages against the Pentagon for any war crime. It would set a truly "unfortunate precedent"!

As detailed in a post I guest-blogged for the Brad Blog, they won't even allow foreign countries to be sued for damages by our guys. Take a look here: Supporting Our Troops / Tortured POWs Win Judgement Against Iraq; Justice Department Seeks To Overturn It!

to: Popular Mechanics
from: Serendipity
re: 9/11

Three and a half years after the event -- to the day -- Serendipity has published a long new post called Reply to Popular Mechanics re 9/11. It's mostly fairly reserved and somewhat techical, at least compared to these introductory paragraphs:
Some magazine by the name of Popular Mechanics recently came out with an issue in which the main story was called 9/11: Debunking The Myths: "PM examines the evidence and consults the experts to refute the most persistent conspiracy theories of September 11." Really? Upon examination it turns out to be a shoddy piece of disinfo produced in a desperate attempt to defend against the fact that Americans are finally waking up and realizing that 9/11 was an inside job, that about 3000 people died at the hands of elements within their own government.

It is not the intention of this article to defend all of the "Claims" given by Popular Mechanics. Some of them may in fact be ludicrous. This is the "straw man" tactic, where an intellectually dishonest proponent sets up some ridiculous claim, which he attributes to "conspiracy theorists", and then proceeds to knock it down. This tactic is well-known to intelligent people, though apparently Popular Mechanics does not regard its readership as belonging to that class.
The short introductory outburst [which in my view is more than justified], is followed by 16 chapters of very restrained claim-and-response. Very interesting reading. It's been posted chapter by chapter over the past few weeks, and I've been watching it grow (at Serendipity's Most-Recently Added Items) but not wanting to tell you about it until it was finished.

Today the Most-Recently Added Items page finally says:
Reply to Popular Mechanics re 9/11 has been completed.
Hooray! Read it here: Reply to Popular Mechanics re 9/11.

Ask questions about it here too if you wish. ;-)

Axworthy Responds To Blogging

You may recall that Condoleeza Rice heard from Lloyd Axworthy a while ago. I was so impressed with the [very] open letter he wrote last week that I reposted it here: Axworthy Strikes Back

Now there's a new open letter from Lloyd Axworthy at the Winnipeg Free Press. And he's talking to us this time. He's even saying nice things. The headline reads "Blog Diplomacy: Why not bypass the Bushies and talk directly to Americans via the Net?".

It's a good question.

There's a lot to admire here but I especially love his closing paragraph:
So, to all those who have "blogged" me, using this medium to extend the distribution of my 'open letter' beyond our geographic borders, thanks for the encouraging glimpse of a global community united through the common currency of communication and commitment.
Thanks to you too, Lloyd. Rock on!

Please read the entire letter here.

Thanks to Teresa at the Brad Blog for this link!

On The Autopsy Table

The "colourful writing of ... Winter Patriot" has been featured on "Newsclip Autopsy" in a post called "MISTRUTH: New York Times Continues to Stereotype Bloggers".

This is the first Winter Patriot piece to be published on another blog and it's an honor. Or, considering that "Newsclip Autopsy" is run by a friendly Canadian, I should say it's an honour.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

The 'Hunger Winter' Cookbook

From the Radio Netherlands feature show Dutch Horizons:
Sixty years ago, between October 1944 and May 1945, parts of the Netherlands were suffering a severe famine, which became known as the Dutch Hunger Winter.

The food and fuel shortage was the result of a blockade imposed by the Nazi occupiers, who were fighting a losing battle against the Allied Forces. As most foodstuffs had already been rationed since early in the war, the situation quickly became desperate.

In that final war year, 22,000 people succumbed to famine and cold. The War and Resistance Museum in Rotterdam is publishing a book with wartime recipes and people's accounts of what they had to eat to survive, from animal blood to tulip bulbs.
A fascinating article, with an audio link in English. Listening to Radio Netherlands is always a treat for me. See if you like it as well. And check out the links at the bottom of the page.

P.S. Special Hint [free of charge to all friends of the Winter Patriot] -- If you can function in Dutch, you might also visit the War and Resistance Museum in Rotterdam.

Then There Were Two

Monday, and perhaps again later in the week, I may have chided CNN for paying so much attention to the current tribulations of a one-time pop singer. Monday's post noted that CNN was the only 'news provider' in my small sample [five sites in five countries] which was featuring such trivia.

Now there are two. These were the headlines a bit earlier this morning:

Aljazeera: Baghdad police chief killed in ambush

Radio Netherlands: Lebanon's former prime minister to form new government

CBC: Man who shot officers made calls to CBC: RCMP

CNN: The teenager at the center of Michael Jackson's child molestation trial said in court Wednesday [...]

BBC: The boy who accuses Michael Jackson of molesting him testifies that the star showed him internet pornography.

Is there momentum building here. And if so, who's next?

The Capture That Wasn't

A month ago I wrote a post about Jonathan Kenny, The Hero Who Wasn't. He took a bullet in the heart to protect an Iraqi girl, and died instantly, according to the story. There was a minor problem with the story, however: Jonathan Kenney didn't exist. The whole story -- his entire life -- was fabricated. But that didn't keep it out of the local [Colorado] paper, and it was even carried in some regional TV news. This was "amateur propaganda", the product of a very ill young woman's imagination. And when it was debunked, it disappeared as quickly and quietly as could be hoped.

But it brought back memories of a different kind of propaganda. Most Americans probably remember the name of Jessica Lynch. Some may even remember that she was "the first American rescued in Iraq". But how many know that her "rescue" was staged? The false story received tremendous coverage in the American media, which for the most part treated it as true. The fictional tale was even made into a movie, which was shown on national TV shortly thereafter. This story was state propaganda, an officially sanctioned lie. We know this because its life-cycle was so different from that of the Jonathan Kenney story.

Once "we the people" start to absorb an officially sanctioned lie, there is no stopping the process. The more gullible among us fasten onto the official lie and run with it themselves, creating even more "amateur" propaganda. No matter how amateur, this propaganda has staying power, as demonstrated by, a celebration of Jessica Lynch which is at least twice as cheesy as the hats on the fans of the Green Bay Packers.

Cheese or double-cheese. It doesn't matter. Once we adopt an official lie, it can never go away. It becomes part of our cultural history, one more square in the crazy-quilt that makes up our national narrative. Our crazy quilt is composed of an amazing assortment -- all sorts of squares telling all sorts of true and false stories. Every square is unique, but they all have one thing in common. All these "squares" are sanctioned by and for the state, blessed by the major media and absorbed by the people. And so they stay in the quilt forever.

Look at some of these squares closely. Some of the designs are very intricate, and their craftsmanship is extremely sophisticated. This tells us something very important. When you see a state sanctioning intricate, sophisticated lies, lies created with gusto and bravado and woven into the quilt by all the major media, you are looking at a very ill state, in my estimation.

What's new about all this? Nothing. But yesterday, from WHAM-TV in Rochester, New York, there came a story of a Marine who was present when Saddam Hussein was captured. And guess what? No, really! Guess what?

Nadim Abou Rabeh, an ex-Marine Sergeant, was interviewed in Lebanon, and
was quoted in the Saudi daily al-Medina Wednesday as saying Saddam was actually captured Friday, Dec. 12, 2003, and not the day after, as announced by the U.S. Army.
As we all no doubt remember, Saddam was captured in a cave. That was so strange! A friend asked me at the time: "What do you think he was doing in that cave? Did he think he could wait it out?"

I had no idea what he was doing in that cave. It didn't make any sense to me at all, and I've made a point of keeping my eyes open for clues. Well... Umm... Let's see if it makes any more sense this way:
"[W]e found him in a modest home in a small village and not in a hole as announced," Abou Rabeh said.
So how did we see a video of Saddam Hussein being taken from a hole in the ground? Abou Rabeh explains:
"Later on, a military production team fabricated the film of Saddam's capture in a hole, which was in fact a deserted well," Abou Rabeh said.
Oh. So that's what he was doing. Waiting it out. Hanging around waiting for the camera crew to get there so the false raid could begin. Then he could be dragged from the well, filthy and humiliated, and captured on video for all the world.

This could only have one purpose: to create exceptionally powerful propaganda, combining the usual demonization with a unique brand of de-humanization, and providing an image-boost for those who like to portray themselves as superior human beings. [People who live in mansions are much better than people who live in holes in the ground. Everybody knows that, don't you?]

I rarely make predictions, but I hereby predict that the story of Nadim Abou Rabeh will go away very quickly. Even if every Marine who served in his unit on the day when Saddam Hussein was captured were to gather together on the steps of the Lincoln Monument and spend an afternoon chanting "Nadim Abou Rabeh was right; that's exactly how it happened", this story would still go away in the blink of a news cycle. Why? Because it's already been sanctioned. The square depicting Saddam's capture is already an official lie. It's part of the national quilt now and it will never be excised. Why do I think this? Let's just call it "experience".

You can read WHAM-TV's article here. It won't take very long. But you might have to hurry. Like any truth that is contradicted by an officially sanctioned falsehood, this story could disappear in a heartbeat.

Cheers to Nadim Abou Rabeh for speaking up, to WHAM-TV for running the story, and to Cheryl at the Brad Blog for mentioning this story in a comment there.

Wednesday, March 9, 2005

Freedom Of The Net In Trouble Again

See if you think this is bizarre:

A native of Ghana, who later moved to Kenya, was accused of sexual and financial improprieties while working for the United Nations in West Africa. The charges were reported in the Washington Post, which maintains a website, and therefore stories concerning his case are available on the internet. Now, the former UN official, who has moved to Canada, is suing the Washington Post for libel, and a Toronto court has claimed it has jurisdiction to hear the case, because Ontario residents have access to the Post's story via the net.

According to an article on the CBC website,
The 46-year-old man's suit said the newspaper was hurting his reputation in his new home because Ontario residents could read the stories in the Post's web-based archives.
Does this sound reasonable to you, or does it sound like spin? Before you answer, consider this:
The Post has seven paid online subscribers in the province and only one person has ever paid to see the story on the archives, the newspaper says.
This is just my perspective, of course, but I don't see how a newspaper article could significantly damage anyone's reputation if only one person in the entire province of Ontario has ever seen it. But
An Ontario judge ruled last year that the province's court system had jurisdiction to hear the case
and now
CNN, the New York Times, Google, Yahoo, the London Times, the CBC and dozens of other publishers and broadcasters are challenging the judge's decision.

They warn that freedom of expression and the public interest might suffer if people could shop for a country with favourable libel laws anywhere in the world and file suit there to avenge themselves over stories they don't like.
If this case goes ahead, even if no damages are awarded, the proceeding in itself would set what some see as a dangerous precedent.
If Bangoura's lawsuit is allowed to proceed, websites would be reluctant to post any controversial story for fear of being forced out of business by a large libel settlement, media lawyers said.
Left out of the CBC's story, but clearly implied, is the notion that the "large libel settlement" could be handed down by a court which has no jurisdiction over the publisher of the story, no connection with any of the people mentioned in it, and no relevance to the issue at all, except for the fact that one or more people living within the area served by the court could possibly see said story on said internet.

The world-wide web in a shrinking global village brings many surprising results. And the result here could provide one of the most surprising, and most damaging, of them all.

What will happen? I don't know. I can only hope that sane heads will prevail. In my view, freedom of the press is in enough trouble already. But, as always, we shall see what we shall see. Stay tuned.

Is Lebanon Doomed?

In a previous post I asked "Is Syria Doomed?". I still don't know the answer; I think we may all have to wait and see. But now there may be reason to ask the same question about Lebanon.

Robert Fisk asks it in different words in an article published Monday, called "Is Lebanon walking into another nightmare?". Here's a short excerpt:
LEBANON CONFRONTS a nightmare today. As the Syrian army begins its withdrawal from the country this morning, after mounting pressure from President George Bush - whose anger at the Syrians has been provoked by the insurgency against American troops in Iraq - there are growing signs that the Syrian retreat is reopening the sectarian divisions of the 1975-1990 Lebanese civil war.

The first Syrian units are expected to cross the Lebanese-Syrian border at Masnaa before midday and their military redeployment should be completed by Wednesday.

To the outside world, this may seem a victory devoutly to be wished: just two weeks after the murder of the former prime minister Rafik Hariri - a prominent opponent of the Syrian presence in Lebanon - the army of Damascus is pulling out of the country it has dominated for 29 long years. At last, free elections might be held in Lebanon, further proof that - thanks to Mr Bush - democracy is breaking out across the Arab world. Iraq held elections, Saudi Arabia held local elections, President Hosni Mubarak promises a contended election for the presidency of Egypt. So why shouldn't Lebanon be happy?

Have we forgotten 150,000 dead? Have we forgotten the Western hostages? Have we forgotten the 241 Americans who died in the suicide bombing of 23 October 1983? This democracy, if it comes, will be drenched with blood - but the blood will be that of the Lebanese who live here, not that of the foreigners who wish to bestow freedom upon them.
Unfortunately, I believe, we have forgotten many of these things. But the Lebanese people have a much longer memory. Here's Robert Fisk again:
Alas, this is a dark corner of the former Ottoman empire - whose First World War defeat allowed the French to create Lebanon out of part of Syria - which rests precariously upon an understanding between its Christian, Sunni, Shia and Druze inhabitants. All factions came together to mourn Hariri. But now, at night, most - though by no means all - the demonstrators in Martyrs' Square who have demanded a Syrian withdrawal are Christian Maronites. And yesterday, Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, the chairman of the Hizbollah Shia guerrilla movement, a loyal if somewhat unwilling Syrian ally which drove the Israelis out of Lebanon in 2000, called for a massive demonstration close to Martyrs' Square on Tuesday - to support the "unity and independence" of Lebanon, but also to thank the Syrians for their "protection" of Lebanon in bygone years. Nasrallah invited Christians and every other religious group to join their demonstration. But most of those present are bound to be Shias - who, like their co-religionists in Iraq - are the largest community in the country.
And what was the result of this call for a demonstration? Whoa! It's been massive!

On Tuesday, as reported in this article,
Hundreds of thousands of pro-Syrian demonstrators have gathered in Beirut to denounce what they see as Western interference in Lebanon.

The gathering, called by the Shia Muslim group Hizb Allah and its allies, highlights deep divisions over Damascus's role in the country.

The demonstrators chanted pro-Syria solgans a mere 300m from where opposition protesters held daily rallies to demand a complete Syrian withdrawal form Lebanon.
And now, just one day later, Umar Karami, who resigned as prime minister just nine days ago, has been called back to his former post by the Lebanese parliament. According to this piece from Aljazeera,
A majority of Lebanon's parliamentarians have nominated anew Umar Karami to form a new government, political sources said.

A total of 69 deputies from the 128-member chamber on Wednesday chose Karami, a favourite of Syria, in consultations with President Emile Lahud, the sources said in Beirut.

The president, also close to Damascus, was now bound to appoint Karami, who resigned last week under popular and opposition pressure, as prime minister-designate.
This turn of events is so surprising, so momentous, that even CNN is reporting it. Of course, in order to get to their coverage, you have to scroll down past enormous headlines about the Michael Jackson trial.

But it's better than nothing. Even though CNN is seemingly spellbound by the world-shaking testimony at the trial of the one-time pop singer, we are still getting some World News at CNN, including this:
[D]emonstrations shifted Wednesday to the Syrian capital, Damascus, in support of President Bashar Assad, whose government is coming under international pressure to stop interfering in Lebanon's affairs.

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of the city, singing national songs and proclaiming their loyalty to Assad, The Associated Press reported.

"Nobody can get Syria out from Lebanon's heart and mind," a banner read. "No for antagonist pressures against Syria," read another.

The protest follows Tuesday's mass pro-Syrian rally in Beirut, organized by the Iranian-backed Shiite Muslim group Hezbollah.
All of a sudden things in the Middle East are not quite as simple as they seemed last week, when Syrian troops were set to leave Lebanon and "democracy" was "on the march". But what becomes of the power vacuum that will be left in their wake? And has anyone really thought about this other than the Lebanese themselves?

Apparently the foreign policy wonks in Washington have given scant thought to it. At least it seems that way from where I sit. Robert Parry's recent piece, "Neocon Amorality", which we discussed in this recent post, called the neocons for selecting tidbits of information from the chaotic barrage which forms the daily news of the world, using these for their own political advantage and ignoring everything else, including the well-being of the people over whose bodies this "democracy" is allegedly "marching".

To a seasoned veteran such as Robert Fisk, though, none of this may be surprising. As he wrote Monday,
[Y]et again, Lebanon risks becoming a battlefield for the wars of non- Lebanese.

For 30 years, America has tolerated - even supported - Syria's military presence in Lebanon. In 1976, both the Israelis and the Americans wanted Syrian troops in Lebanon - because they would be able to "control" the 300,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon - but now Mr Bush's real concern is Syria's supposed support for the insurgency in Iraq.

The irony is extraordinary: 140,000 American troops occupy Iraq - we shall leave the Israeli occupation forces in Palestinian lands out of this equation - while their President demands the withdrawal of 14,000 Syrian troops from Lebanon.

Democracy indeed!
As your lowly and nearly frozen Winter Patriot has mentioned once or twice lately, I don't have a crystal ball or inside sources. My point here is not to make predictions or even to attempt to explain things. I just want to point you to a few interesting sources which seem fairly reliable, and allow you to read and think and make up your own minds.

As for today's song, I'm afraid I can't resist. This one was written by "The Corporation", but of course it was made famous by a one-time pop singer and his brothers.

The Love You Save

Stop you'd better save me
Stop, stop, stop you'd better save me

When we played tag in grade school, you wanted to be it
But chasin' boys was just a fad, you crossed your heart you'd quit
When we grew up you traded, your promise for my ring
Now just like back in grade school, you're doing that same old thing

Better stop the love you save may be your own
Darlin' look both ways before you cross me
You're headin' for a danger zone

I'm the one who loves you, I'm the one you need
Those other guys will put you down as soon as they succeed
They'll ruin your reputation, they'll label you a flirt
The way they talk about you, they'll turn your name to dirt.

Isaac said he kissed you beneath the apple tree
When Benjie held your hand he felt electricity
When Alexander called you he said he rang your chimes
Christopher discovered you're way ahead of your time

Hold on, hold on, hold on
"S" is for "Save It"
"T" is for "Take It Slow"
"O" is for "Oh no"
"P" is for "Please, please don't go"
The love you save may be your own
Someday you may be all alone
Stop it baby oo, you'd better

Stop the love you save may be your own
Darlin' take it slow or someday you'll be all alone
I'm the one who loves you, I'm the one you need
Those other guys will put you down as soon as they succeed
They'll ruin your reputation, they'll label you a flirt
The way they talk about you, they'll turn your name to dirt.

Better stop the love you save may be your own
Darlin' look both ways before you cross me
You're headin' for a danger zone.

Better stop the love you save may be your own
Darlin' look both ways before you cross me
You're headin' for a danger zone.

Headin' for a danger zone indeed. Or so it appears. Stay tuned.