Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Fix Is In!

Banana Republic North: In the past few days, John McCain has stopped campaigning in states which were once seen as toss-ups; Barack Obama has started campaigning in states which were once seen as safe for McCain; Obama has picked up a major endorsement and a huge funding increase; McCain's campaign has been caught trying to pull off perhaps the most despicable political dirty trick since 9/11; McCain has been pandering to the ultra-rich; and -- according to the latest polls -- support for Obama has been imploding!

Obama's lead over McCain has dropped from 12 points on Thursday to 10 points on Friday, 9 points on Saturday, and 5 points on Sunday.

That's a seven-point decrease in three days. How can that happen?

Consider this: It's far easier to rig the polls than it is to rig the election.

How? The pollsters talk to a small and carefully selected group of people. They can get whatever result they want, just by tweaking the sample. And they do. All the time.

Consider this, too: the election could never be stolen unless there were polls indicating it would be close. Then all they need is a last-minute gaffe, or surprise, or al Qaeda videotape; and the pundits can claim this was the difference in a race that was otherwise too close to call.

Can't happen here? Try again! It happened four years ago. It happened eight years ago. It has happened in countless congressional elections in the past decade, and you can already smell it happening again.

And so ... Election Day approaches, with all the appeal of a multi-train collision.

The police are ready for action, and so is the army. Are you?

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Stunning: What It Looks Like When A Political Candidate Tells The Truth

If you live in California's 14th Congressional district, you have an opportunity that is -- tragically -- unavailable to most other Americans. You can vote for a Congressional candidate who has the courage -- and the knowledge -- to say the things that Democrats would say if they really represented Change, or Hope, or even Audacity:

"On 9/11, three skyscrapers were felled by two planes. World Trade Center 7, the Patriot Act, the Financial Crash, the Bailout, all share characteristics of controlled demolitions, criminal fraud, and treason. We the people, need courage to seek and speak the truth. We need to investigate the big lies. We need to arrest, impeach the terrorists. We need to defend our Constitution, our rights, our lives. I am Carol Brouillet, Green Party Candidate for Congress and I approve this message. Vote Green for Truth, Peace and Justice."
Are you interested in more? Check out her website: Carol Brouillet for Congress

Read about what she's been doing to promote truth and justice.

Read Carol's explanation of why she's running, and how 9/11 changed her approach:
Prior to 9/11 my main issue was global economics, the monetary system in particular, which has probably caused even more deaths, and suffering than the recent wars. Unfortunately it sometimes takes a crisis to get people's attention and to get them to look at things that they have never questioned or thought deeply about. In the 90s I had written extensively, spoken, organized many conferences about money, but to seriously change the system, I realized one had to change the belief system of the whole world, a daunting, if not impossible task.

Perhaps that is why I took on the issue of 9/11, I saw how it could transform the way most Americans think about their country, the world, the systems that we live under, if they realized that they had been lied to, tricked, into supporting imperial wars, and the expansion of a police state that threatened rather than ensured their liberties and lives. Actually, educating the public about 9/11 was easier than educating the public about global economics and money, so I took on the challenge, and also did my best to include a more holistic understanding of how 9/11 was but a facet of a deeper, more systemic problem that required understanding and transformation. The financial crash, however, is getting people's attention and they are beginning to realize that there is something greatly amiss.
Want more? Take a look at this statement from Carol Brouillet via KTVU television.

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Desperate Measures For Desperate Times: McCain Panders To Bush's Base

Derrick Jackson of the Boston Globe gets it almost right in his editorial, "McCain's blatant pitch to the rich":
JOHN MCCAIN went to New Hampshire this week at a time when voters understand the limits of their state motto "Live Free or Die." They know the economy is dying on fat cats living far too free. Barack Obama leads in state polls by 7-to-13 percentage points.

Undaunted, McCain played the greed card. "Barack Obama wants to, quote, 'spread the wealth around,' " McCain said, with fingers in quotation marks as the audience booed at St. Anselm College in a speech shown on television. "We don't need government 'spreading the wealth. . .' " he said. McCain uttered variations of spreading the wealth 12 times.

He was cheered when he said, "The redistribution of wealth is the last thing America needs right now."

In Ohio, McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin, called Obama "Barack the wealth spreader" and continued to drop the S-word: socialism.
There's a problem with the Palin/McCain campaign, and those with eyes can see it easily: there's what they say, and then there's what they do. And what they say makes no sense...
The problem for McCain, Palin, and the Republicans is that the majority of Americans beg to differ. Redistribution in some form is the first thing people want after two decades of runaway pay disparity between CEOs and workers, tax loopholes so wide that two-thirds of American corporations paid no income tax from 1998 to 2005, and the banking system now getting $700 billion from us to bail out its incompetence. All this while healthcare, gasoline, and college tuitions gobble up any raises regular folks get.
... and what they do shows quite clearly that they are our enemies.
These developments are so identified with the Republicans that every tactic McCain uses to escape them ends up with him making a mockery out of the party's claims to values. McCain's Ohio mascot Joe the Plumber turns out to be Joe the Unlicensed Plumber who owes back taxes. Palin is the self-proclaimed pit bull with lipstick, but the Republican National Committee was so freaked that the shtick was that of a hick that they Barbied her up at Nieman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue for $150,000. Talk about spreading wealth around. Not many hockey moms or wives of Joe the Plumber can drop three times the national median household income to look civilized.

Meanwhile, a CNN poll this week shows Obama leading McCain on the question of who would better help the middle class, 60 percent to 36 percent. A Washington Post/ABC News poll has the same question as 59 percent to 31 percent Obama. Obama has pulled away from a virtual tie with McCain on who would better handle taxes, into double-digit leads in some national polls. On who best will handle either the economy or the current fiscal crisis, Obama is beating McCain roughly 53 percent to 39 percent.
Only a miracle can save McCain's campaign now, but miracles are always available. How about a little terrorism?

As Derrick Jackson points out, when
McCain rails against spreading the wealth in America, he runs right back to the man he says he is running away from, President Bush. In 2000, Bush the candidate greeted the well-connected audience at the Alfred E. Smith political roast in New York by acknowledging them as the top 1 percent. "This is an impressive crowd, the haves and the have mores," Bush said. "Some people call you the elite. I call you my base."

McCain is too late to turn that joke into serious political strategy.
Say what?

It wasn't a joke; it is a "serious political strategy", and it has carried the day in America for most of the past 30 years. But it might not be enough to compensate for the other shortcomings that are clearly visible in the Palin/McCain ticket, and in their campaign:
A recent survey by the American Affluence Research Center in Atlanta found the nation's wealthiest 10 percent to be tied at 48 percent each for McCain and Obama. What once was a campaign of a senator who reached across the aisle on campaign financing and global warming is now stoking selfishness into the silly zone.

Well, it would be silly except for the implications. If McCain is telling America's rich that their gains are utterly decoupled from the wealth disparities of fellow Americans, what does that foretell about foreign policy in his administration? The rest of the world has already told us. The Pew Global Attitudes Project found vastly more confidence in Obama than McCain.
That's a very generous way to phrase it. The rest of the world is much more scared of McCain than they are of Obama. But that doesn't mean they have any confidence in the Democrat. Those of us who have been paying attention have no confidence in him at all.
This is, of course, no concern to a campaign whose slogan is "America First." It is rapidly sounding like "Me First." How patriotic. That is too much even for the limited-tax Live Free or Die state.
Wanna talk about patriotic? How about this? (This, too!) Their lying knows no bounds; and it doesn't have to, because they're Republicans.

(Here is one of the biggest differences between the parties, in my view, and it's one of style: Democrats sometimes tell the truth, especially when they're talking about Republicans. But Republicans never tell the truth about anything, even -- especially! -- about the Democrats.

None of this is news; more than 50 years ago, in the midst of another rancid and rancorous campaign, Adlai Stevenson offered a solution to the animosity, saying if the Republicans would stop lying about the Democrats, the Democrats would stop telling the truth about the Republicans.

And to a certain extent -- sadly -- the Democrats have stopped telling the truth about the Republicans. But the Republicans have held fast to their long-established strategy. And it has worked for them. But I digress. The more important point here concerns redistribution of wealth.)

All systems of government redistribute wealth. It's inevitable. Every piece of legislation pertaining to tax law -- or any other aspect of the economy -- steals money from somebody and gives it to somebody else. What matters is the direction in which the money flows.

Some governments steal from the poor to give to the rich. Some do the opposite. In America, the government has been doing the opposite for a long time now. But in our mutant national politics, that's not called "redistribution of wealth"; it's not called anything at all.

It's never even mentioned, except in cliches and with approval. "Money makes money", the supposedly wise men say, and we, the thick-headed paupers, are all supposed to smile and nod -- as if it were perfectly acceptable for all the wealth of a wealthy society to flow to those who don't need it at all.

We're supposed to think it's right and proper, healthy and sane, for our government -- elected by our votes, and spending our money -- to assist that process. But it isn't, and we don't.

If John McCain thinks that appealing to the ultra-wealthy is his only chance, he's right.

With the failure of the Republican party to nominate a candidate who can even pretend to be level-headed, it's going to take a massive hack to deliver the proper result in this election. The inevitable backlash will be dealt with -- but the wealthy have to be onside. And McCain is doing his insane best to make sure they are.

My wife asked me the other day if I thought the weekend after the election would be a good time to travel. I said I didn't think so.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

My One And Only Post About Electoral Reform

It's brilliant and stupid at the same time. It's so practical, it's practically perfect; but it's also ludicrous, and it’s impossible to imagine that it could ever be implemented. Welcome to my one and only post about electoral reform.

Electoral reform is, of course, a chicken-and-egg problem. In order for us -- We The People, remember us? -- to reform the system, we would have to control it. But in order to control it, we would have to reform it.

And it's not only a chicken-and-egg problem, but it's also an impossible one, because we don't have any chickens or any eggs.

But who cares? We're knee-deep in campaign propaganda anyway, so we might as well fantasize about something else for a minute. And as I've promised, this will be my only post on the subject.


IF -- it's a huge IF -- it were my job to reform the electoral system, I would reinstate some of the time-honored details of democracy which we have lost. We would have paper ballots; they would be counted by hand in public; and anyone who wanted to watch could do so.

But I would discard one principle of ancient democracy which seems very dangerous to me in these modern times. Perhaps there was a reason for it in the old days, when the citizens were a privileged few, and all of them were active in politics. But today, as I see it, there is no justification for the notion that all the votes should be counted equally.

If you don't believe me, consider the exit polls from the 2004 presidential election. Huge proportions of the people who voted for George Bush thought that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, and that Saddam Hussein had been responsible for the attacks of 9/11.

If they didn't know the difference between the accelerator and the brake, they wouldn't be allowed to drive a car. So why should they be allowed to drive our country?

If it were up to me, your ballot would start with a quiz. There would be questions about how the government is structured and how it is supposed to function. There would also be questions about recent history and current events. And the more questions you answered correctly, the more your vote would count.

I have no problem with voters expressing their opinions, as long as those opinions are based on knowledge. Under my system, if you knew what was going on, your vote would be fully counted. But if you knew nothing, your vote would count for nothing.


Some critics may charge that my idea for reform is too complicated. I agree. If punching a hole in a machine-readable card is too complicated, all thoughts of reform are ludicrous. And I've already said this was a ludicrous idea.

Some may say my plan is elitist and anti-democratic. I agree that it's elitist. But under my system, the "elite" would not be the very few whose families have too much money, but the unlimited numbers of voters who made an effort to educate themselves. In other words, anyone who wanted to join the "elite" could do so. And that's not so anti-democratic after all, is it?

So much for the critics. The benefits would start flowing immediately, in incentives working on the politicians, the media, and the voters themselves.

If deluding supporters meant their votes would become worthless, there would be no reason for any party or any politician to do it -- and those who did so would lose.

Any news provider that persisted in lying about the government and the world would effectively be disenfranchising its subscribers. So deceit would be counterproductive to the media as well.

If learning about the basics of government and keeping an eye on the news of the world meant that their votes would become more valuable, some people would certainly start paying more attention. And those who prefer to sit back and slurp the propaganda would become irrelevant.


Does it sound too good to be true? That's because it is. We don't have any chickens, and we don't have any eggs. We can't reform the system without controlling it. And we can't control the system without reforming it. So I won’t say any more about reforming this broken system.

But I might suggest that this post be viewed not as a ludicrous proposal for reform, but as a serious comment on why our country's experiment with democratic government has failed so dismally: for decade after decade, the world's most powerful democracy has been driven by people who didn't know the gas from the brakes.

You can congratulate yourself if you weren't one of them. But don't get too carried away. Every single one of their votes counted just as much as yours did.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Obama Humbled To Be Endorsed By A Great American War Criminal

I have been unable to blog lately and I have no idea if and/or when this state of affairs will change. It's especially frustrating because I was just about to write a heartfelt tribute to Colin Powell, "a great soldier, a great statesman and a great American", and to Barack Obama, the "transformative figure" Powell has endorsed for President.

But I won't be able to do that, so I direct your attention to a few items you should read instead.

In "Why Listen to Colin Powell, or Brokaw?", Bob Parry offers a detailed, critical look at Colin Powell's career, and raises a good question: Why should anybody care what Colin Powell thinks?

But Parry sidesteps the next obvious question: How could any decent, respectable candidate accept the endorsement of such a man (let alone offer him a post in an upcoming administration)?

He couldn't, that's how. Any candidate with some knowledge of recent history and a bit of respect for truth and justice would renounce such an endorsement immediately. But Obama is no such candidate, as he has made clear more than once.

On the other hand, Chris Floyd doesn't sidestep any questions, but then again, he doesn't have to. He hasn't got a horse in this race.

So please read these two posts from Chris: "The Bagman Cometh: Obama Embraces War Criminal's Endorsement", and "Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien: Obama's New Advisor Stands By His War Crimes".

I will rejoin you if and when conditions become more favorable.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Sorry, Chump: Your Facts Contradict My Opinions

Dear Sir,

I have received your most recent, and looked it over, briefy.

Unfortunately it seems to contain a number of facts which contradict my opinions.

Therefore, I shall be unable to pay it any further attention.

Please consider yourself dismissed.


Conn D. Sending
Ignorance/Arrogance Inc.
I was astonished by an incredible piece from the Middle East expert, Professor Juan Cole, at his blog, Informed Comment, a few weeks ago. It's called "A Nation of Masochists" and it starts this way:
I have concluded that Americans, who pretend in public to be straitlaced, are in fact rabid masochists addicted to whips, black leather and the application of fists. It turns out that large numbers of people throughout the world are accidentally asphyxiated every year because they need to be choked for maximum pleasure.
The link provided by Professor Cole clarifies what he means by "large numbers of people":
one or two per million people per year
Methinks he doth exaggerate! One or two per million is far less than a thousandth of a percent! It's a terribly small minority on which to base a political analysis. But this is no ordinary analysis.

Professor Cole continues:
The diagnosis of national masochism is the only thing that can satisfactorily explain the poll numbers in the presidential race.
By this he means that there is no indication of a landslide for Obama. There are many reasons for this, but Professor Cole sees only one:
Let's get this straight.

The Republican Party came to Washington, DC, in 2000 with a solid majority in both houses of Congress and on the Supreme Court, allowing them to steal the presidency, as well. If you wanted to know what a pure Republican-Party government unhindered by the Democrats, Libertarians, Greens or Socialists might look like, this was the moment.

So they came to power when there was a budget surplus bequeathed by a Democratic president.

They immediately ran up a big deficit every year since, doubling the national debt from $5 trillion to $10 trillion. You don't run big deficits of $300 and $400 billion a year in good times according to Keynes. You save the the deficit spending for a recession, when the economy needs a jolt. If you're already racking up a big deficit every year in a good economy, you have no way of making a difference during a significant downturn except by then going for a truly mega-deficit, which risks destroying the value of your currency abroad. In a service economy like that of the US, a dollar with a declining value might not even help the economy via exports very much, since the manufactured goods are being made down in Mexico now, anyway.

Note that Clinton had been talking about using the surplus to pay down the debt or to fix the looming crisis in social security.

With the government encumbered with $5 trillion in new debt before September, and now with another trillion and a half (probably when it is all said and done with), how exactly will social security be fixed?

(Hint: Republican leaders such as Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich hated social security, because the people are grateful to the Democrats for it. Bush tried to privatize it and McCain would have helped him; you wonder if they are trying deliberately to destroy it. Social security is the main reason for which the elderly are not now, as they were in the 1930s, the poorest and most miserable section of society.)
Professor Cole goes on in the same vein, blaming the Republicans for everything that's gone wrong in the past seven years, without mentioning how much support they have had from key Democrats.

He also manages to summarize all the crimes of the past seven years without once mentioning the attacks of 9/11, or the obviously false cover story that goes along with them, or the ongoing war crime against Afghanistan, or the GWOT, for that matter, although he does describe the war in Iraq as the result of "one of the great criminal conspiracies of modern times."

But despite the obvious fact that the Republican criminals in office have been supported by Democrats in office, all along the way -- and quite heavily in some instances -- Professor Cole lays all the blame at the feet of the Republican Party itself, eventually writing:
The Republican Party conducted a vast illegal spying operation on Americans and on foreign diplomats. We still don't know why exactly, and that the operation had domestic political motivations cannot be ruled out.

They imposed on us this so-called PATRIOT act that gutted the Constitution.
How many Democrats voted for "this so-called PATRIOT act"? Eh? What's that you say? How many Democrats voted for the "bailout"? How many Democrats voted for hundreds of billions of dollars of war-appropriations every year?

If you forget all that, and much else too, you can almost understand Dr. Cole's conclusion:
in the wake of the greatest and most sustained act of systematic plunder since the Mongol hordes appropriated to themselves the riches of everyplace in Asia from Beijing to Isfahan, the reaction of the supine and slave-like American voting public is to scratch their heads and have a hard time deciding if they would like more of the same.

Despite his aristocratic prerogatives and connections in high society, even the Marquis de Sade himself was brought down by a lowly maid, who complained to the police of his cutting her while having his way with her, leading to his arrest.

In contrast to that plucky domestic servant, the American public appears to enjoy being lacerated while being badly used, moaning with delight at each new act of abuse and abasement, while, blue-lipped, gasping for air.

One worries for our children, threatened with the fate of the homeless street children so common in the sort of third world country into which we are being turned by our managing committee.

But, well, if you are determined to bend over on November 4, at least I hope you enjoy pain. In that case, you are going to be ecstatic.
The piece was quite well received by most of Dr. Cole's readers, but a few were moved to object, most notably one Chris Floyd, who contributed the following comment:
Professor Cole, I deeply respect your wisdom and draw on your work constantly, but I have to say that there is a simple answer to your question, and it doesn't involve whips, black leather or the application of fists.

After very effectively laying out the case against the Bush Administration -- a sharp, succinct and true bill of indictment -- you then say:

..."the reaction of the supine and slave-like American voting public [to all this] is to scratch their heads and have a hard time deciding if they would like more of the same."

Why is this? Because in very many, very important respects, "more of the same" is all they are being offered -- by BOTH parties.

You eloquently describe the flagrantly criminal activities of the Bush Administration, each of them crying out for where are the bills of impeachment introduced by Senators Obama and Biden? Where are the high-profile, Watergate-style Senate hearings into the Administration's high crimes launched by the Democratic-controlled Congress? Where are the federal marshals rounding up Administration minions who defy subpoenas and refuse to testify before Congress? When have we seen Obama or Biden leading public crusades denouncing the heinous practice of official torture or aggressive war, putting themselves out in front of these issues? Where are Obama's pledges to relentlessly pursue prosecution of these still-fresh crimes once he comes to office, without fear or favor?

Where, in short, are the indications that the malefactors of the Bush Administration will face even the slightest tincture of justice for their crimes if Obama is elected? And if they do not, then the situation will indeed be "more of the same."

Where was Obama when the time came to stand up against the illegal surveillance of American citizens that you have rightly and eloquently decried? He was standing on the other side, with Bush and Cheney, voting to legitimize tyrannical powers and immunize lawbreakers. More of the same.

What does Obama offer us as his future foreign policy? He will "withdraw combat troops" from Iraq, he says, as long as "conditions on the ground" are right. This is also what Bush and McCain say is their policy, and their ultimate goal. But Obama, like those two, plans to leave an unspecified number of U.S. troops in Iraq, in those impermanent permanent bases. More of the same.

Obama proposes expanding the War on Terror to Pakistan's hinterlands -- a policy already being adopted by Bush and promoted by McCain. More of the same. He also supports expanding the war in Afghanistan itself, with more troops (and more blunderbuss airstrikes to support these troops). More of the same. Obama has declared his fast intent to bring Georgia and Ukraine into NATO, baiting the Russian bear just like Bush and McCain, and reigniting the Cold War. More of the same.

Like Bush and McCain, Obama too rattles the nuclear sword at Iran, vowing in no uncertain terms that he will never take ANY option "off the table" against Iran. More of the same. Like Bush and McCain, Obama has declared his support for the hardest-line Israeli policies against Palestine, and he too refuses to have any truck with the democratically-elected Hamas government. There is virtually no chance whatsoever that an Obama administration would be substantially different in any way from Bush and McCain. It will be, in every important respect, more of the same.

Like McCain, Obama proposes an even larger military machine, one even more ready to strike anytime, anywhere, all over the world, to any perceived "threat" to the ever-unspecified "American interests." More of the same. Like McCain and Bush, Obama says nothing about rolling back America's vast empire of military bases -- those provocative and intrusive imperial outposts that produce so much of the kind of grievous blowback that Chalmers Johnson, among others, has documented so well. More of the same. Like Bush and McCain, Obama has been completely silent about America's direct involvement in the horrific conflict in Somalia -- another botched and murderous job like Iraq. More of the same.

Obama supports the $700 billion theft of American tax money to be ladled out to the cruel and stupid wastrels of the elite, albeit with a few mild caveats about "oversight" -- no doubt the same kind of rigorous "oversight" we have seen from the Democrats throughout the Bush Administration. But the end result will be, yes, more of the same: vast amounts of public money spent to coddle elites and protect them from the consequences of their actions, while millions of ordinary people suffer lasting hardship.

What's more, Obama's own hands as president would be tied by the massive commitment of public funds to the bailout. More money for education, for infrastructure, for affordable health care, for a "Manhattan Project" on global warming? Sorry, can't afford it; we're too busy paying off Wall Street's debts, and expanding the military, and spreading the War on Terror into Pakistan, and maintaining tens of thousands of "non-combat" troops in the hostile environment of a country we destroyed in a criminal act of aggression that no one is going to be held accountable for. But don't worry, there is still enough money left for us to eavesdrop on your emails whenever we feel like it. So that's OK, right?

The Obama campaign has been a massive, historical failure in terms of offering anything like a genuine alternative to the dysfunctional and destructive system we have now. This is not to say that an Obama administration would not be different in numerous and not insignificant ways from a McCain regime. But that is not the issue here. The question is why the election is still in doubt, why McCain may very well win it, even though he represents a continuation of policies that most Americans have thoroughly rejected. And I repeat, this is not because Americans are masochists, or suffer from some other collective character flaw. It is because they see both candidates offering more war, more meddling in the affairs of other nations, much much more of the military-industrial complex, more coddling of the rich, less liberty for our citizens and a bleaker future for our children as they spend decades paying off the debts of the rich and facing the terrible storms of blowback from the imperial adventures that both candidates support.

It is so unreasonable that many people would feel hesitant about such a "choice"? Who should really be castigated here, especially in such harsh and lurid terms? The American people? Or those who failed to offer them a clear and genuine and substantive alternative to "more of the same"?
I thought Chris Floyd's contribution to the discussion was spot-on, and badly needed. But hardly anybody agreed with me; in fact super390 summarized the case against with the astonishingly perceptive:
[blah blah blah] You act as though there was no difference between Bush and Gore. [blah blah blah]
So there you have it: Chris Floyd wasn't talking about Bush or Gore, he was talking about McCain and (especially) Obama. Chris Floyd was talking about positions Obama has taken (or failed to take), about votes Obama has cast, about things Obama himself has said he wants to do ... and none of this made any impact on super390 at all -- because it's unacceptable. It is unacceptable not only to super390 but also to a very large segment of the population, whose position seems to be:
Dear Sir,

I have received your most recent, and looked it over, briefy.

Unfortunately it seems to contain a number of facts which contradict my opinions.

Therefore, I shall be unable to pay it any further attention.

Please consider yourself dismissed.


Conn D. Sending
Ignorance/Arrogance Inc.

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Hypothetically Speaking ...

IF an "election" takes place next month as planned, and IF Barack Obama leads in the polls before the "election", and IF huge numbers of Democratic-leaning voters are illegally barred from voting, and IF exit polls show Obama winning anyway, and IF John McCain then gets "elected" "president" ...

THEN what do you think Obama will do about it?

A) The same thing as Al Gore?, or
B) The same thing as John Kerry?

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Counter-Debate: McKinney and Nader on Democracy Now!

Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! hosted a session in which "third-party" presidential candidates Cynthia McKinney and Ralph Nader were invited to respond to some of what went on in last night's puke-a-thon.

I decry the policies of both Republicans and Democrats but I do not support those who say you shouldn't vote. Personally I'd be happy to vote for either Nader or McKinney.

Here's a sample of their comments, beginning with Ralph Nader on Iraq and Afghanistan:
the big-time terrorists, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, these are clinically verifiable mass terrorists who have killed innocent civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere in their criminal wars of aggression. These are criminal wars of aggression. These are war crimes. These are war criminals. They have killed over a million Iraqi civilians as a result of that criminal invasion. That’s where the discussion should have focused on. The big-time terrorists, the state terrorists in the White House who have violated our Constitution, our statutes and our international treaties, and have been condemned even by the American Bar Association for a continual violence of our—violation of our Constitution.
Cynthia McKinney on election "integrity":
In 2000, when people went to the polls, when the voters went to the polls, they were met with confusing ballots, manipulation of the voter lists, electronic voting machines that didn’t work, inappropriately or ineffectively or poorly trained officials who weren’t familiar with the workings of those machines, and we know what the problems with those machines have been and are. We still have those problems that have been with us since 2000.

In 2004, they added to these problems with the electronic poll books, the sleepovers that were discovered, where the machines weren’t even secured, even intensifying the failures of the machines with the vote flipping, and usually in only one direction. The battery freezes in the midst of voters actually trying to cast their votes.

And now we’ve got voter ID laws across the country, and we’ve got voter caging, which is a fancy way of purging people from the voter files.

So, now, what kind of election is it when neither of the political parties is addressing the issue, the fundamental issue, of whether or not our votes are even going to be counted?
McKinney again, on the issues that matter most to her:
the issues that I’ve been talking about as I’ve gone around this country have been the tremendous impact that the Bush tax cuts have had on income inequality in our country. The sad fact of the matter is that we are experiencing the kind of income inequality not experienced since the Great Depression.

In addition to that, I’ve been talking about the need to repeal the PATRIOT Acts, so that we can safeguard our civil liberties, protect the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

I’ve also been talking about the death penalty, because, of course, in the state in which I was born, we have a young man who—for whom a death date has been set, and he’s had seven witnesses to recant their testimony in a trial. We need to talk about justice in this country. And I’m talking about the case of Troy Davis. We do need to talk about the administration of the death penalty.

It’s interesting that, categorically, I support single-payer, and I believe that Ralph Nader does, as well. We make no bones about our support for a single-payer healthcare system in this country. And just last week, 5,000 physicians wrote a letter, and they said that it was the only morally responsible, as well as fiscally responsible solution to the healthcare problems that face our country.
Nader on the economic situation:
above all, we need to make the speculators pay for their own bailout. And that can be done by a one-tenth of one percent tax on derivatives transactions, which this year will be $500 trillion worth. So, one-tenth of one percent will produce $500 billion; two-tenths of one percent will produce a trillion dollars. And that is only fair. So, what’s important here is there’s nothing spectacularly new about a derivatives tax. The stock tax transaction helped to fund the Civil War. Franklin Delano Roosevelt used it. Some European countries have it now. People in New York and elsewhere go into a store and pay six, seven percent sales tax for necessities of life. But someone today on Wall Street will buy $100 million of Exxon derivatives and pay nothing.
It's no wonder you don't see these candidates in the "serious" debates.

They make too much sense!

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White Man's Burden

From Reuters via Yahoo! News (and thanks to Bob in Prague)
US Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain (R-AZ) reacts to almost heading the wrong way off the stage after shaking hands with Democratic presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) at the conclusion of the final presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, October 15, 2008. REUTERS/Jim Bourg (UNITED STATES) US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN 2008 (USA)

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Separatists Hold Canada Inches From Evil

Bushist neocon Stephen Harper and his so-called "Conservative" Party emerged from Canada's federal election Tuesday with another minority government, but in a stronger position than before the election. A record number of Canadians slept through the festivities.

The Conservatives now hold 143 seats, up 16 from their previous 127, but still 12 short of the 155 they would need to ram their evil agenda through the 308-seat Parliament. In other words, a similar gain in the next election would be the end of democracy in Canada -- not that it seems to matter much to the Canadian voting public.

Harper's agenda, which the Conservatives have tried very hard to keep secret, surely includes allowing Canada to be swallowed up by the United States in a North American Union. It's a far cry from the nationalist conservative philosophy which most Canadians think of when they see the "Conservative" banners waving. This discrepancy speaks volumes about the American-style militarization of the Canadian "news" media.

The primary opposition party, Stephane Dion's Liberals, lost 19 seats to fall to 76. The Liberals have been standing firm against some of Harper's policies, but caving in on others. It's difficult to imagine that a stronger Conservative government and a weaker Liberal opposition could lead to anything other than an increasingly Bush-style government, with Harper and his henchmen railroading more and more unpopular policies through a mostly stunned Parliament, even though they only have a minority.

And yet, in the few minutes of Canadian television coverage I managed to catch, I heard a pundit wondering, "whether Harper will now change his approach to Parliament, which some critics have described as bullying".

It's "news" American-style: They don't get it. They don't get it on purpose. They're paid to not get it.

Of the remaining 89 seats -- just 12 of which would spill Canada over the neocon brink -- 50 were won by the Bloc Quebecois, led by Gilles Duceppe, which represents the nationalist-separatist sentiments of mostly-rural French-speaking Quebec. It is altogether fitting and proper that people who don't even want to be part of Canada should stand in the way of Canada becoming part of the US.

Two of the remaining 39 seats were won by independents, and the other 37 were taken by the New Democratic Party, which opposes virtually everything the Conservatives stand for, most notably Canada's participation in the war crime in Afghanistan. For all their strenuous opposition, the NDP gained only seven seats -- a pittance in light of the Liberal losses.

Given Harper's record over the past few years, it is impossible to look at these results -- with the Liberals declining, the NDP not gaining much, and the Conservatives gaining more seats than any other party -- especially in view of the record low turnout -- without wondering, "What is wrong with the Canadian people?"

But the answers are quite obvious, and they're just about the same as the answers to the question I ask myself much more often, namely: "What is wrong with the American people?"
  • Too much propaganda and not enough education
  • Too much trivia and not enough reality
  • Too much pro sports, and pro religion, and sports as religion, and religion as education, and not enough civics, or politics, or foreign news, or domestic news
  • Too much short-term self-interest and not enough concern for the rest of the world or the future
  • Too much blind trust in the government and established media, and too little time or respect for the people who are actually telling the truth
  • And both the electoral system and the system of "governance" are all screwed up
But other than that, they're fine.


Go, Leafs, Go!

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Obama Gaining Strength Where It Counts

Support for Barack Obama has been rising among two segments of the American electorate whose support the Republicans usually count on: the rich and the filthy rich.

Reuters reports on a close race between the two candidates, even at the highest levels of the American kleptocracy:
Jim Taylor, vice chairman of the Harrison Group, a market research and strategy firm in Waterbury, Conn ... who produces a quarterly "Survey of Affluence and Wealth in America," said the wealthy were once a solid Republican majority. "It's not anymore," he told the Reuters Wealth Management Summit on Tuesday, citing the findings of his latest survey of 614 affluent individuals taken September 19-23.

That showed McCain had 40 percent of the "affluent and wealth vote," compared with 33 percent for Obama, and given the recent stock market slide Taylor says he would be surprised if Obama's support hadn't risen further in the past few weeks.

In the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, in contrast, about 80 percent of the wealthy supported the Republican nominee, Taylor said.
The Republican nominee happened to be George Bush, but people who support Republicans -- the people who did the most to put him in a position of power -- avoid mentioning his name whenever possible these days. Big surprise.

The collapse of Republican support is even more dramatic among the filthy rich:
For the wealthiest American households, who have at least $1.6 million set aside each year for discretionary spending, McCain was favored over Obama by 49 percent to 28 percent.

"That may sound like a lot but but there was a time when it was 100 to zero percent," Taylor said.
That may sound like a lot? Actually, what sounds like a lot is $1.6 million discretionary spending, minimum, per household.

Even among the most ambitious discretionary spenders, the notion that a Palin-McCain administration would hold the line on taxes and thus provide greater prosperity is not flying particularly well these days:
"Everybody believes that taxes are going up ... no matter who gets elected," said Timothy Vaill, chairman and chief executive of the wealth management arm of Boston Private Financial Holdings, a money-management firm.
So now it boils down to other things, Obama is looking more appealing all the time, especially abroad:
Some wealthy foreign investors with big investments in the United States are unnerved by McCain's running-mate, Alaska governor and self-described 'hockey mom' Sarah Palin, said Charles Lowenhaupt, chairman of St. Louis-based Lowenhaupt Global Advisors, which advises ultra-high-net-worth families.

"The non-U.S. wealth-holders I've talked to, in India for example, were feeling very negative on Obama. And all of sudden the Palin thing has flipped that because as naive as Obama looked they think Palin looks more so," he said.

He said wealthy individuals in India are highly critical of Obama's willingness to strike against terrorists in Pakistan without approval from Islamabad.

"They would say 'oh, Obama is terrible.' I just kept running into that when I was there. But when McCain chose Palin, they said 'oh Palin.' They just don't understand the whole culture around her, the 'hockey mom' idea."
Reuters won't mention it, but Obama's status among the well-to-do is certainly not damaged in any way by the fact that he owes his soul to Wall Street.

Congratulations, Barack. You're a real white boy now!

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

TV Debate Blues

I went down to the vomitorium
thought I'd watch some of the puke-a-thon
yeah I went down to the vomitorium
thought I'd watch some of the puke-a-thon
but my stomach couldn't take it, baby
I switched it off soon as the sound came on

[repeat and fade away]

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It's Too Soon, And It's Too Late

I wouldn't want you to miss a terrific piece which Jimmy Montague has posted at Winter Patriot dot com:
It's too soon, and it's too late.

In "A Bill That Can Never Be Paid," WP asks how come the American people don't rise up in anger. It's because they can't imagine what's coming down on them. They think this isn't going to be any worse than, say, the S&L screwing they took during the '80s.

Then there's the fact that the Reagan Revolution is now thirty years old. Those of us over 30 years of age are living with an entire generation that, collectively, have no memory of the world that was before Reagan. So far as they're concerned, we haven't lost a thing and they don't yet understand what we older folks are all upset about.

Reaganism, so far as I can tell, has succeeded beyond even Rappin' Ron's wildest hopes. Between GOP liars, talk-radio hate merchants, and free-market mythology, the political landscape is changed so that electing liberals is impossible. Democrats have been forced so far to the Right that the two parties are now effectively one and that one is Reaganite conservative. Politicians no longer squabble over ideology. They squabble over loot.

Beyond the fact that the population now has less money and less leisure than they formerly had, changes to date have had little to no impact on the overwhelming majority. They are hunkered down around their television sets, hoping things are already as bad as things can get and waiting for the "all clear" to sound. Having never heard of noblesse-oblige, having no memory of the Great Depression, having no memory of responsible, accountable leadership or of constitutional government, and having had no PERSONAL experience of third-world poverty and police-state brutality, they lack any frame of reference.

Many older Americans know what is coming and fear it. They are preparing for it now. The rest of the country, totally unprepared, will be aroused when it finally gets here (in a few more weeks or months).

Younger Americans will be told by their masters that it's all the fault of the aged, the sick, the disabled. It is the aged and the sick and the disabled, after all, who draw the bulk of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps, and other so-called entitlements. We will be the Jews of the New Reich that is howling down upon us. Our personal destruction, the theft of our property, the consumption of our goods will consume the energy of the mob for several years. By that time, the government will have work for them in the armed forces.

Those with eyes to see now know where this is going. Those who don't see are those who will help do the killing. I've said enough.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Multiple Meltdowns Simultaneously

In Iraq, "nervous negotiators" are trying to create an alternative pretext to "justify" the continuing war crime our "leaders" would prefer to describe as "liberation". And the Iraqis have "opened bidding" on contracts to develop the oil fields; these contracts were supposed to have been awarded on a no-bid basis to a handful of big American-multinationals, but the ungrateful Iraqis, still smarting from their liberation, nixed that bit of "political reconciliation".

Meanwhile, the "legal" proceedings at Gitmo have been revealed to be even more of a farce than we ever imagined, as
defense lawyers and human rights advocates charge that the fairness of the most significant proceeding at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is routinely undermined by incompetent interpretation.

The lawyers asked the court to order the government to produce an Arabic transcript of each hearing -- a motion military prosecutors are resisting.
And yet another Gitmo prosecutor, Lt. Col. Darrel J. Vandeveld, has resigned in protest; saying key evidence was being withheld from the defense. We already knew "incriminating evidence" was being fabricated; so this is no surprise.

On the home front, it appears that yesterday's market upswing was not a harbinger of prosperity returning, but a reaction to Henry Paulson's announcement that the big banks will be allowed to dictate the terms of the agreement by which they steal more of our money than we even have.

And my favorite team is now on six-game losing streak. But at least their meltdown won't affect the future of humanity.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Bill That Can Never Be Paid

They were gambling on the riskiest of "investments", building worthless portfolios whose values just kept increasing; and lured by the awesome power of greed they forgot the most basic rules of the market: [1] Don't gamble with money you can't afford to lose, and [2] It ain't worth nothin' if you can't sell it.

So they put everything they had into building imaginary wealth, and when the wages of their sin came due, they handed the bill to you. It's a bill that can never be paid.

Instead of admitting that they had done wrong and going to the wall with some semblance of honor, they said to the governments of the world, "Without our cooperation, your society would turn to chaos overnight."

And the governments said, "What do you want?"

And they said, "Buy all these worthless portfolios from us, at the prices we used to imagine they were worth."

"But we don't have that kind of money. Nobody has that kind of money. All the money in the world wouldn't pay that bill."

"But that's not our problem!"

It was terrorism at the most basic level, and now you and your descendants have been saddled with a burden you cannot possibly carry.

And the terrorists are still at large and much more powerful than ever before, and they don't see how anything can stop them from doing it again, as many times as they want to.

And the only questions that remain in my mind are [1] How many times are you going to let them get away with it before you do something that gives them the pretext for gunning you down in the streets? and [2] How long is it going to take for that to happen?

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Nazi Hate-Monger Bites The Dust

[Update: Apparently I am in the minority ... of something or other! You can read some differing views here, courtesy of Kenny's Sideshow (an excellent blog, BTW, other than a habit of linking to me!) ... and there's more here at Winter Patriot dot com, courtesy of McJ. ]

The right-wing Austrian politician Jorg Haider has been killed in a car crash. Too bad.

Even though Haider was a Nazi sympathizer who was popular for his racist policies, his obituary (written by Matt Schudel) in the Washington Post tries hard to portray him as a respectable and successful figure, even while mentioning a few of his career low-lights. This tells you everything you need to know about the Washington Post.

Here's a taste:
Jörg Haider, a divisive Austrian political figure who rose to prominence as the leader of a far-right movement that was often seen as sympathetic to the country's shadowy Nazi past, died Oct. 11 in a car accident near the southern Austrian city of Klagenfurt. He was 58.

Mr. Haider was passing another car when his Volkswagen Phaeton left the road, struck a pillar and overturned. He died on the way to a hospital. There was no immediate suspicion of foul play.

The charismatic Mr. Haider single-handedly made the ultra-conservative Austrian Freedom Party a force in national politics with his fiery rhetoric against immigrants, the European Union and the euro, the EU's continent-wide currency. He led the most successful far-right party in Europe, far outpacing the political success of France's National Front.

Handsome, photogenic and perpetually tanned, Mr. Haider was known to his supporters as the "Alpine Rambo," partly for his prowess as a mountain climber and skier and partly for his confrontational style.

Mr. Haider's parents had been members of the Nazi party, and he sometimes praised aging Third Reich soldiers at their reunions. But he also mixed easily with a younger generation in nightly visits to discos to recruit new party members.

His rallies attracted throngs of young people who responded to Mr. Haider's pleas to banish immigrants and to challenge Austria's two long-reigning parties, the Social Democrats and the more conservative People's Party.

At times, Mr. Haider's followers would start singing "Tomorrow Belongs to Me," an anthem from the musical "Cabaret" that symbolized the Nazi takeover of Germany in the 1920s and 1930s.

Jörg Haider was born Jan. 26, 1950, in the Austrian town of Bad Goisern. His father had joined the Hitler Youth in 1929 and soon became a storm trooper in the Nazi armed forces. He participated in a failed takeover of the Austrian government in 1934, four years before Germany annexed Austria.

His mother was a member of the Nazi League of German Maidens.

The younger Mr. Haider was a graduate of the University of Vienna and received a law degree in 1973. As a young man, he practiced fencing with a straw dummy labeled with the name of Simon Wiesenthal, the Vienna-based hunter of Nazi war criminals.

Mr. Haider repeatedly denied that he had any links to Nazism or anti-Semitism, but in 1991 he was forced to resign as governor of Carinthia after he praised the Austrian-born Adolf Hitler's "orderly employment program." (He was reelected in 1999.)

To great applause, Mr. Haider lauded a group of Waffen SS veterans at a 1995 reunion as "decent men of character who remained faithful to their ideals."

He was a prominent defender of Kurt Waldheim in the 1980s when the Austrian president and onetime secretary general of the United Nations was exposed as a former officer in the Nazi SS.

Mr. Haider had several Jewish associates in his party, but he often mocked Austria's Jewish leaders and accused his opponents of trying to appeal to interests on the U.S. "East Coast."

Mr. Haider lived on a 38,000-acre estate that provided a generous income from inherited forestlands. An uncle had bought the property at a bargain price after its Jewish owners were forced to flee in 1938.
Haider was alone in his car when it crashed. Too bad. It would have been fine with me if a large number of like-minded politicians (and journalists) had been with him at the time.

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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Ragged Threads And Loose Ends

I haven't been able to blog as much or as often as I would have liked lately, and I've been forced to neglect many of the stories that I'd been following, some of which continue to develop. I can't write a full post about each of these stories, but I don't want to forget them altogether, so here they are: a collection of ragged threads and loose ends that have been in danger of being cut off ...


Derrick Shareef has been sentenced to 35 years in prison after trading a pair of car stereo speakers for a box which he was told contained four grenades, a handgun and some ammunition. According to the official account, Shareef was planning to attack CherryVale Mall in Rockford, Illinois, in December of 2006. In reality, the mastermind behind the plot to bomb the mall was Jameel Chrisman, an informant sent to Rockford by the FBI to entrap Shareef, who they hoped would lead his friend, Hassan Abujihaad, to incriminate himself.


The entrapment of Shareef was part of an effort by the FBI to bolster their case against Abujihaad, a former US Navy signalman who allegedly passed secret information to a terrorist website while he was serving aboard the USS Benfold. The prosecution admitted there was no forensic footprint connecting him to the information they found when Babar Ahmad was arrested in England. Abujihaad, who despite the lack of evidence was convicted of supporting terrorism, has requested a new trial, on the grounds that no actual evidence was presented against him.


Amateur rocket-fuel experimenter Ronald Swerlein has been sentenced to 6 years probation and 200 hours of community service for making and detonating explosive compounds, in his Longmont, Colorado, home. He's also been billed $30,000 by the Longmont Police Department for the expenses the police incurred in firing seven cannisters of tear gas into his his living room, rather than knocking on the door and asking him to step outside; plus the four days they spent cataloging and taking away his his chemistry set, his library, his firearms and so on.


In Canada, a guilty verdict has been handed down against a teenager whose name cannot be published (because he's under-age), who was charged under the country's "strong" new anti-terrorism law. How strong? As Toronto's Globe and Mail reported:
Despite the fact there was no evidence that he planned, or even knew about, any specific plot, he was found guilty of participating in a terrorist group.
We discussed this case back in June when the chief witness for the prosecution admitted that the young man who was found guilty was unaware of any plot to commit acts of terrorism, that he merely went along on a camping trip with the others, who were so secretive that they spent part of their weekend eating donuts in the parking lot of a popular store.
The International Herald Tribune notes:
Despite the guilty verdict, the man, now 20 years old, has not yet been formally convicted. His conviction cannot be entered until the court reviews an abuse-of-process application from his lawyer contending that many of the group's activities were made possible by a paid police informant who, the lawyer says, committed illegal acts himself.
There's more on the story here, at the Galloping Beaver (and here too) and here, at Creekside (and thanks to McJ.)


I made an error of omission (which has been corrected) in yesterday's post, "A Formula For Endless War: The Wounded Shark, The Quest For Victory, And The Illusion Of Success", when I wrote about
a common thread running through all our wars: every piece of equipment ruined must be replaced. Every bomb used, every bullet fired, every meal eaten must be supplied by somebody who is making money on the deal.
I failed to mention, of course, the intimidation factor.

Every other country in the world must measure each action, plan, or strategic idea according to a number of factors, including whether they think the Americans will stand for it.

The bombing, invasion, destruction and subsequent occupation of Iraq -- based on no credible evidence to support any of the claims which supposedly made this course of action necessary, says to every other nation on the planet:
"Who wants to be next?"
As Jonah Goldberg explained in National Review in 2002:
I've long been an admirer of, if not a full-fledged subscriber to, what I call the "Ledeen Doctrine." I'm not sure my friend Michael Ledeen will thank me for ascribing authorship to him and he may have only been semi-serious when he crafted it, but here is the bedrock tenet of the Ledeen Doctrine in more or less his own words: "Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business." That's at least how I remember Michael phrasing it at a speech at the American Enterprise Institute about a decade ago (Ledeen is one of the most entertaining public speakers I've ever heard, by the way).
Yep. He's entertaining as all hell, for some people.

And this may be God's way of preparing them for the journey.

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A Formula For Endless War: The Wounded Shark, The Quest For Victory, And The Illusion Of Success

Yesterday, Chris Floyd posted one of his best pieces ever. It's called "The Wounded Shark: 'Good War' Lost, But the Imperial Project Goes On" and you must read the entire piece, if you haven't already done so. I can wait.

I respect and admire Chris Floyd's analysis -- especially in this case -- but I've also been having some mildly interesting thoughts of my own, about a few of the issues he touched on, and therefore I offer the following excerpts from his post, with extended comments.

I don't think I'm saying anything Chris hasn't already figured out. I think I'm saying things that he couldn't fit into his piece, which was already huge -- and brilliant! And therefore this commentary is not meant as a critique but rather as a companion piece to "The Wounded Shark", which starts this way:
Don't tell Obama and McCain, but the war they are both counting on to make their bones as commander-in-chief -- the "good war" in Afghanistan, which both men have pledged to expand -- is already lost.
This war was always lost; it was never even intended to be "won", in my opinion.
Their joint strategy of pouring more troops, tanks, missiles and planes into the roaring fire -- not to mention their intention to spread the war into Pakistan -- will only lead to disaster.
And this depends on what you mean by "disaster". We must always remember that the interests of the people running the war are not the same as, and in many ways are diametrically opposed to, the interests of the people who are being asked (or forced) to fight it.

In this case, the prognosis of "disaster" comes from
America's biggest ally in the Afghan adventure: Great Britain. This week, two top figures in the British effort in Afghanistan -- Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, UK ambassador to Kabul, and Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith, the senior British military commander in Afghanistan -- both said that the war was "unwinnable," and that continuing the current level of military operations there, much less expanding it, was a strategy "doomed to fail."
The British seem shocked to discover all this, but it seems to me that the British were never meant to understand the point of this war, nor the reasons for it, nor the conditions under which it might be said to have been "won". And neither were any of our other "allies", and neither -- clearly -- were the American public.

As Reuters reports, the comments from the top figures in the British effort have already been derided as "defeatist" by Pentagon big dog Robert Gates, even though they were
echoed by the top United Nations official in Kabul, who said success was only possible through dialogue and other political efforts.
The basic disconnect here -- as elsewhere -- seems to be that nobody, from the top United Nations official in Kabul on down, has any idea what our Secretary of Defense means when he says:
"While we face significant challenges in Afghanistan, there certainly is no reason to be defeatist or to underestimate the opportunities to be successful in the long run."
Personally, I would want to know: How "long" is "the long run"? And just what do we mean by "successful"?

But simply posing such questions is akin to treason, apparently, because we never see them asked in the major media. So let's skip the questions and go straight to the undeniable facts of the matter.

Casting the outcome of this "mission" in terms of winning and losing, or success and failure, is a sham. It is every bit as false as casting any of our current wars -- or the entire GWOT -- in terms of "good" Christians against "evil" Muslims. And it is done for the same reason -- to obliterate the truth of the matter.

Chris Floyd rightly points out that the reasons given for the invasion of Afghanistan would make no sense, even if the official story of 9/11 were true, which it clearly isn't. But the falsity of the official 9/11 story is beside my point -- or beside this point: Afghanistan was bombed and invaded and remains occupied based on a tangled web of deliberate lies.

These lies obscure not only the causes of the war but also the intentions of the people running it.

Thus our British "allies" think the "mission" is doomed to fail because they're under the impression that the object of the exercise is to bring peace and democracy and progress to Afghanistan, by rooting out the terrorists of global reach who threaten the entire civilized world.

But that's not even close to the truth. We can see this in many different ways: sufficient for the purposes of this analysis is the fact that our tactics have no relation to our declared goals.

The reason for all this deception is simple: if the real aims, goals, and reasons for this war were laid bare, the United States would have no allies at all.

So instead, there's a veneer of lies over everything, including the "agreements" obtained under extreme duress from our so-called "allies". And this is why Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, UK ambassador to Kabul, wrote
"we must tell [the Americans] that we want to be part of a winning strategy, not a losing one.” The American strategy, he is quoted as saying, “is destined to fail.”
Destined to fail? Of course it is! It's designed to fail! Otherwise, the tactics -- and the result -- would have been quite different.

When President Kennedy took office in January of 1961, one of the first things he signed was the foreword for a new book, which had been commissioned under the Eisenhower administration, and was just about to be published. It was a study of counter-insurgency strategy, short enough and interesting enough that I wound up reading it several times in a row, nearly two decades ago.

(That book was part of the military history library of a software development firm for which I used to work; the firm no longer exists and I haven't been able to find the book anywhere else. But I spent quite a few lunch hours reading it and I still remember quite a bit of what I read.)

There were about a dozen chapters, each a case study illustrating a very successful (or very unsuccessful) counter-insurgency strategy as it had been played out in the decade and a half since the end of World War II.

It was good information -- solid lessons about what to do, and what not to do. Kennedy greeted it heartily and predicted that it would be extremely valuable in the guerrilla war which was then threatening to develop in Southeast Asia. But as things turned out, it wasn't.

I would never claim that JFK was assassinated because he said that book was the key to winning in Vietnam. But the facts remain that he was assassinated, and that the war was waged in utter disregard of every single hard-learned lesson embodied in that book.

We knew dropping napalm on civilians wasn't the way to win their hearts and minds. We knew kidnapping innocent people and throwing them out of moving helicopters was going to make their friends and families angry. We knew destroying a village in order to save it was not a reasonable or scalable approach. But we -- by which I mean the people who were running the war -- did all these things anyway, and more, over and over and over again.

In some important and overlooked ways, the war in Afghanistan, the war in Iraq, the GWOT in general, and even the Wall Street "rescue" reflect the same tactics.

First they find an enemy which must be defeated, preferably at any cost. If no such enemy reports for duty, they'll create one. In some cases, the enemy can be embodied in a supremely evil villain, such as Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden. In other cases, such as the Vietnam War and the Wall Street "rescue", the "enemy" is merely a potential outcome which must be avoided at any cost, such as a global depression, or all of Southeast Asia becoming communist.

Next they provide an alternative -- the only alternative, as it always turns out: and it's always and obviously much better than the enemy, which must therefore be thoroughly defeated. Whether we're talking about ensuring economic stability, defeating terrorism, bringing freedom and democracy to the Middle East, or saving the world from Communism, the stated goals are always infinitely more desirable than the outcomes that must be avoided, and therefore there can be no argument over the assertion that the ends justify the means.

In other words, we are always being told that what we are trying to do is so righteous -- and what we are trying to defeat (or avoid) is so terrible -- that all methods are acceptable, and nothing is "off the table". But then this "nothing-off-the-table" approach allows the use of tactics which preclude the ends we are allegedly trying to accomplish.

So we invade Iraq and continue to occupy it even though all our intelligence professionals tell us American troops in Iraq are contributing to a rise in terrorism.

We bomb civilian villages in Afghanistan even though we know it sets back the diplomatic "effort" at "reconciliation".

We throw hundreds of billions of dollars at the companies which caused the financial meltdown, while claiming that saving them is essential to preventing the continuation of the meltdown they have caused.

None of it makes any sense except in terms of secret agendas which are completely at odds with the public cover story.

In Iraq, in Afghanistan, in the GWOT in general, our "finest" military minds are not only ignoring all the lessons of 20th century counter-insurgency warfare, but also the most time-honored knowledge about war itself, such as the bit of ancient Chinese wisdom that runs, "Know your enemy".

The ancients -- not just the Chinese but all of them -- knew that they could win their wars only by understanding their enemy, by gaining -- and using -- intimate knowledge of who they were fighting against, and what motivated these people to fight.

These days, we can't get a straight answer to any of it: You almost never see anyone mention that our enemies are people too. Nobody -- at least in the official national discourse -- can bear to admit that we're fighting against the best, the bravest, and the most resourceful citizens of the countries that we have invaded. Nor can anyone admit that they're fighting against us because we bombed and invaded and destroyed their countries, and stayed -- all on false pretenses.

It can be said -- and it often is said -- that the war is being run "inefficiently", or that the military has been "blundering", and so on; but when we systematically ignore some of the most valuable lessons of our history, and some of the oldest human knowledge pertaining to warfare, that's not a blunder. That's a telltale sign.

It points to the fact that what we're really doing -- and again by "we", I mean the people who are running the war -- is very different than what we say we're doing.

We're trying to conquer foreign countries, not to bring them democracy, but to bring them under our thumb. We want their natural resources. We want their territory -- and if we can't own it outright then we at least want to be able to move men and material freely and securely through it.

As even a brief study of our history will confirm, we do not now give and we never have given a damn about bringing democracy to any foreign country; in fact we have a tradition of overthrowing democratically elected governments if they don't do what we demand of them. But none of this can possibly be spoken in "polite" society (by which I mean not only television, radio and the mainstream newspapers, but also a disturbingly large number of allegedly dissident websites), where the only permissible talk seems to be about winning and losing.

If the opinion-makers can convince the chumps that the question is one of winning or losing, and that winning is the only acceptable outcome, then the war can go on forever -- especially if all methods are acceptable, including those which are actually intended to prolong the war.

Anti-war types who argue about winning and losing are doomed to fail, because they're playing into the hands of war supporters, who have obvious answers available for either eventuality: if we're winning, then we must be doing something right, and therefore we should do more of it; if we're losing, then we must not be trying hard enough, and therefore we should try harder. Either way, if winning the war is the outcome we seek, we must wage more war.

Furthermore, if we reduce a war of choice to the level of a game, we minimize all the things that matter most about the war: all the suffering we've inflicted becomes "collateral damage", and it doesn't even show up on the "scoreboard". Meanwhile, the false reasons that "justified" the war don't matter anymore, and we're free to proceed as if we hadn't done anything wrong, as if we're only in this "game" because we were "scheduled" to "play" it.

But war is nothing like a game. And the wars we are currently waging -- in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and elsewhere in the GWOT -- were all "justified" based on transparent lies. Therefore they are also war crimes, and crimes against all of humanity: these are huge, unforgivable crimes, and we are the guilty parties. And here, when I say "we", I mean not only the people who are running the war, but also the people who are fighting it, and the people who support them -- no matter what form that support may take.

If you voted for George Bush, or for a Congressman or Senator who voted to fund this war; if you "support the troops" in any fashion, even by simply saying you do; if you pay taxes to Uncle Sam; if you believe that we should or must win any or all of our wars, in the sense that the administration and its supporters use the term; then you're part of the problem. And that makes just about all of us. I'm sorry to have to tell you that, but would you rather have me lie to you?

You can get plenty of comforting lies elsewhere -- almost anywhere else, sadly. And perhaps the worst lies of all are the ones that say, "We can win!"

The idea that we can "win" is a sham and its job is to cover up an enormous crime. Winning is impossible, not only in Afghanistan but also in Iraq and in the GWOT in general; and in every one of these cases, the impossibility of winning is a deliberate feature of the grand deception.

For example: the US would consider that it had won the war in Iraq, if Iraq somehow became a peaceful, stable nation with a legitimate, democratically elected government, as long as that government was friendly to "US interests".

But that's not a possible result. That was never a possible result.

Even before "Shock and Awe", even before the destruction of the Iraqi infrastructure, even before the "liberation" overstayed its welcome and showed itself to be an occupation, even before the gradual, unsurprising, "revelations" that all of this hostility was based on deliberately crafted lies ... even before any of this, no legitimate, democratically elected government in Iraq could possibly have been friendly to "US interests", especially when the main US interests are (or are seen to be) building American bases on Iraqi soil and regaining American-multinational control of all that Iraqi oil.

In this sense we cannot possibly "win" in Iraq. But we are constantly told that we mustn't lose. And this means we can never surrender. So therefore the war will go on and on forever -- or until we stop being part of the problem and start being part of the solution.

The same is true in Afghanistan, at least in general form, although in this case the particulars are different. We cannot win because the war is based on lies; and because the desired outcome is impossible; and because the tactics used to "approach" our goal only serve to move it farther away, thus prolonging the war.

Again the actual goals are hidden, and again they are very different than what we are told: At the heart of the war in Afghanistan lie vast opium fortunes, strategic bases, and the free passage through foreign territory of valuable resources owned by American-multinational corporations, not necessarily in that order.

Of course, there's also the "intimidation factor".

Every other country in the world must measure each action, plan, or strategic idea according to a number of factors, including whether they think the Americans will stand for it.

The bombing, invasion, destruction and subsequent occupation of Iraq -- based on no credible evidence to support any of the claims which supposedly made this course of action necessary, says to every other nation on the planet:
"Who wants to be next?"
As Jonah Goldberg explained in National Review in 2002:
I've long been an admirer of, if not a full-fledged subscriber to, what I call the "Ledeen Doctrine." I'm not sure my friend Michael Ledeen will thank me for ascribing authorship to him and he may have only been semi-serious when he crafted it, but here is the bedrock tenet of the Ledeen Doctrine in more or less his own words: "Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business." That's at least how I remember Michael phrasing it at a speech at the American Enterprise Institute about a decade ago...
It's noy just Ledeen and Goldberg, of course. A huge segment of the bipartisan policy-making establishment (though they may not say it) act as if they believed the very same thing. So when the US talks about a "rogue state" or a "bully in the schoolyard", the rest of the world rolls its eyes.

In addition there's a common thread running through all our wars: every piece of equipment ruined must be replaced. Every bomb used, every bullet fired, every meal eaten must be supplied by somebody who is making money on the deal.

The longer the war goes on, the better it is for the weapons manufacturers, the defense contractors, and their financiers. These are the people who want the chumps thinking about winning and losing -- and now I mean the chumps in the corridors of power as well as the chumps in the streets.

Chris Floyd quotes an excellent piece from Pankaj Mishra which quotes George Bush telling his commanders in Iraq:
Kick ass! ... We must be tougher than hell! This Vietnam stuff, this is not even close. It is a mind-set. We can't send that message. It's an excuse to prepare us for withdrawal ... There is a series of moments and this is one of them. Our will is being tested, but we are resolute. We have a better way. Stay strong! Stay the course! Kill them! Be confident! Prevail! We are going to wipe them out! We are not blinking!
Chris notes:
Anyone who has read Hitler's "table talk" will feel a shiver of familiarity -- and revulsion -- when reading Bush's words.
And I agree completely with that, but not with this:
This is the voice of our mud-brain thrashing its way through broken fragments of higher-order thought. This is the voice of an imperial elite -- of our imperial elite.
In my opinion, this is merely the voice of an imperial chump, a "mud-brain", channeling the nonsense he's been fed by the "imperial elite".

In the same way, Adolph Hitler proved to be just another imperial chump in the end, firing a bullet into his head to avoid being hanged for his crimes ... while his financiers skedaddled with the loot, and set up shop ... um ... elsewhere!

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