31 May 2007

Meet The Family

After holding out for weeks, the Bancroft family has finally agreed to meet with Rupert Murdoch to discuss his "generous" bid for their family heirlooms:
"The family has reached consensus that the mission of Dow Jones may be better accomplished in combination or collaboration with another organization, which may include News Corporation," the Bancrofts said in a statement.

The family said it would meet with Murdoch and News Corp. representatives to see if they can find a way to protect the editorial independence of Dow Jones after a sale.
Is it just about the editorial pages? If that were so, the bid would be a done deal: Murdoch's rabid right-wing bile is only a fraction more acidic than the WSJ's usual slobbering crapola. Methinks there could be more to it than that:
The family also said it was willing to consider other bidders and options for the company.

Veteran U.S. newspaper analyst John Morton said he doubts that meeting Murdoch will change the Bancrofts' minds.

"I don't think this is a capitulation. This is a family and I suspect that most of the majority of the family that opposes the Murdoch bid has some obligation to resolve their concerns," Morton said. "I can't envision a scenario in which the family essentially gives up control. They might bring in a partner but not a controlling partner."
Here's one dissenting voice the Bancrofts might want to listen to. Matt Pottinger is a US Marine currently serving in Iraq. He is also a former employee of the WSJ's China office. This is his advice:
[W]hile Murdoch's media products in the United States and Britain are well known, his operations in China, where I had a glimpse into their workings, are not. His News Corp. owned a substantial stake in Phoenix TV, a widely watched television network in China that routinely kowtows to the ruling Communist Party. As anyone who has seen Phoenix TV's news coverage knows, its self-censorship is routine.

In 2003, when the deadly SARS virus was threatening to trigger a global pandemic, the Chinese government persistently denied that its country contained the seeds of such an outbreak even though the simple reporting of this fact was the needed first step toward prevention of a monumental public health disaster. In the face of this coverup, a courageous Chinese surgeon drafted a detailed letter identifying SARS cases in Beijing itself and had it delivered to Murdoch's TV network for public broadcast. And what did the network do with the letter? The same thing any other obedient Chinese news agency would have done: nothing.

The surgeon's letter eventually found its way into the hands of Time magazine and the Wall Street Journal, which published stories on it. The Chinese government was finally forced to admit it had a health problem and to adopt measures that contained the spread of the virus.

Unfortunately, this example does not stand alone. When a NATO warplane bombed the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade in 1999, I saw Murdoch's reporters at Phoenix TV use the event to fuel an anti-American propaganda orgy while hesitating to report the Clinton administration's apology and admission that the bombing was a mistake. You expect the Chinese government to behave this way, but didn't Murdoch recently write that he has "always respected the independence and integrity of the news organizations" with which he is associated?

It would be one thing if he confined his self-censorship to his Chinese publishing ventures, but I'm afraid he doesn't. Beijing goes out of its way to punish American corporations that produce news or films it finds offensive. Murdoch understands how the game works...
Unfortunately, Pottinger may be a few bricks short of a full load:
Murdoch is not an editorial ogre but a smart, charming businessman with a pioneering style of journalism that has its place in a free country. His editorial support of America's troops is generous, and he has created a fresh point of view with Fox News. I'm also told he keeps his hands off the Australian, one of the many newspapers he owns.
Good one, Matt. Even Tim Dunlop would have to laugh at that one!

If 100 years of newspaper history is on their minds, the Bancrofts would do well to consider what might happen to their media empire once the aging butcher of Fleet Street is dead. On that note, here's an old New York Times link from 2005 to add to your "Wendi Deng Watchers" collection:
A simmering debate over the trust that owns the family's 28.5 percent voting stake in the News Corporation surfaced with the resignation last week of Lachlan, Mr. Murdoch and Mrs. Mann's elder son, from his job at the News Corporation, where he was seen as a potential successor to his father.

The precipitating reason for Lachlan's departure, he has told several people, was his father's undermining of his position within the company over a long period.

People close to both father and son have also acknowledged, however, that tensions over the trust were a factor, and those tensions stem from the conflicting maternal ambitions of Ms. Deng and Mrs. Mann...

Because Mrs. Mann had played a major role in Mr. Murdoch's life while he built the company and was also a director of the News Corporation, speculation surrounding the divorce was that she could be entitled to as much as half of his interest. But Mrs. Mann, who knew of Mr. Murdoch's relationship with Ms. Deng before the divorce, preferred a settlement that enshrined the children's future control of the media empire.
Don't forget, that big Eric Ellis exposé of Wendi Deng is due out any day now...

UPDATE: Much, much more at my new blog, THE WENDI DENG WATCHERS CLUB!

USA To Terrorists: "Please Can We Talk Now?"

First it was Condi Rice deciding that talking with Syria and Iran would not be such a bad idea after all. Now the operational commander of US troops in Iraq says he wants to talk to the terrorists, err... I mean the insurgents.
"We want to reach back to them, and we're talking about cease-fires and maybe signing some things that say they won't conduct operations against the Government of Iraq or against coalition forces," he said.
There's a lot of US PsyOps behind all this, of course, and a lot of propaganda. The main line being spun in the media now is that Iraqi insurgents have suddenly decided to confront their allies from Al Quaeda, so the US troops can suddenly give them free reign.
As Lt Odierno was speaking to reporters by a video link to the Pentagon in Washington, residents in west Baghdad reported that insurgents from the nationalist 1920 brigades were fighting their former Al Qaeda allies.

US commanders hope to convince local Iraqi resistance groups to split from Islamist outfits like Al Qaeda that are thought irreconcilable.

In the western province of Anbar, tribal leaders have already turned on insurgents.

"It's happening in small levels. Now, again, it's just beginning, so we have a lot of work to do in this," Lt Odierno said, noting that Shiite groups such as the Mehdi Army might be won over along with Sunni insurgents.
Of course this has nothing to do with the fact that Bush's "surge" is a miserable failure, the US Army has had enough of it, and Republicans back in Washington are ready to walk away from the whole bloody disaster. Nothing whatsoever.

Costello Stands Up To US Global Economic Bullies - NOT!

You tell 'em, Pete:
The [World] bank's board has welcomed Mr Zoellick's nomination but said it would accept other nominations until June 15. Officials dismissed the statement as a formality and predicted the board would move smoothly toward making Mr Zoellick president, despite reservations by some about the US continuing to exercise its 60-year-old prerogative of filling the job.

One about-face came from the Treasurer, Peter Costello, who committed Australian support to Mr Zoellick's candidacy yesterday, backing down on calls for a complete overhaul of the selection process. Australia's support of Mr Zoellick's presidency contradicts advice from Treasury officials, including the department secretary, Ken Henry.

A paper released this week on the Treasury website called the US president's monopoly on selecting a World Bank president anachronistic and "contrary to modern corporate governance best practice". They were, it said: "Inconsistent with the multilateral character of the IMF and World Bank, and undermine their legitimacy and effectiveness."

While authored by a mid-tier Treasury staffer, input is acknowledged from all of Treasury's top-tier officials including Mr Henry.

The paper recommended that a process allowing presidents to be selected from any of the 185 member countries be implemented at "the earliest opportunity". Mr Costello yesterday called on the World Bank to review its selection process "following the completion of the current process".
What a wanker. And speaking of wankers, here's Paul Wolfowitz on TV explaining how the world looks when your head is so deep up your own ass that even your ears are full of shit.

30 May 2007

Hooray! Josh Marshall Finally Embraces The Big Iraq Oil Conspiracy

A great post from Josh Marshall today:
By saying that Korea is the model for the US military presence in Iraq, the president is saying that he envisions the US military presence in Iraq continuing for many decades into the future.

Or let's put that in more stark terms, for most of you reading this post, the president envisions US troops remaining in Iraq long after you're dead.

Talking about drawdowns in late 2007 or by the end of 2008 is basically a joke, in other words. Countries can really only think on forty or fifty year horizons. So what this means is that the US military presence in Iraq is permanent.

As TPM Reader DS made clear in the email we posted earlier, there's only one goal that makes sense of that strategy. And that is to permanently dominate the cluster of oil fields in southern Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iran. Nothing to do with democracy, as though that needed saying. But also nothing to do with terrorism. We're permanently occupying Iraq to lock down the world oil supply.
That post was pre-empted by the publication of a reader's letter:
I have believed, from the beginning – though I have always hoped to be proven wrong – that the Bush White House (i.e. Cheney) has had as its principal goal in Iraq the establishment of a permanent military presence in that country. The neocon dream of transforming the region (from the PNAC manifesto and elsewhere) has always envisaged such a military presence. These people see America’s long-term national interest in terms of (overwhelmingly, though not exclusively) energy security and therefore the control of energy supplies. This means control of the flow of oil from the Middle East...

Occam’s Razor supports me in this; the creation and maintenance of a long-term military presence is the only policy objective that unifies, aligns and makes sense of everything Bush has done. If any other goal is posited, his policies and actions are incoherent; but if this goal is posited, they all make sense.
Marshall's TPM site has grown to the point where he is now a major (if often unacknowledged) influence on the US media. Let's hope many others follow his lead.

If Bush is finally forced to acknowledge that control of oil really is, and always has been, his major strategy goal in Iraq, where does that leave John Howard?

UPDATE: Atrios joins the debate:
George Bush started the war because Saddam tried to killed his Dad and because he wanted to prance around on an aircraft carrier in a flight suit. He later got stubborn about the whole thing when those mean Democrats started criticizing him, and he began to buy into the transformational rhetoric due to his increasing messianic bent. And, now, it's about his "legacy."

Dick Cheney started the war because of his insatiable lust for the black stuff. Dick Cheney keeps us in Iraq because of his insatiable lust for the black stuff.

Don Rumsfeld went to war to prove that he could achieve any military result with 3 marines, an armed aerial drone, and his left pinky. He stayed in Iraq because George Bush told him to and because he still needed to prove his awesomeness.

AEI and Viceroy Jerry went to war because they were excited about their new libertarian paradise laboratory.

Paul Wolfowitz had grand dreams about transforming the Middle East into who knows what.

Tom Friedman and others went to war because they have the mentality of 5 years olds and they thought that the smartest thing we could do was whip out our giant schlong and wave it around for awhile. Tom Friedman and others stay in Iraq because they think that if they don't keep popping cialis ("If your occupation lasts longer than 6 months...") the world will notice our little tiny shriveled up thingy.

Karl Rove went to war so his boy could prance on the aircraft carrier and win re-election. He stays because leaving Iraq will anger wingnuttia.

Lots of other people stay in Iraq just because they don't like to admit they're wrong. Their egos are more important anything.

The sensible liberals at Brookings were so stupid they thought Saddam was a threat. They were the stupidest people of all, because that was about the only thing which had nothing to do with why we invaded Iraq. They stay in Iraq because they're unable to accept responsibility for their actions.

Democrats went to war because they were scared of losing their elections. They stay there because they're scared of losing elections.

Ultimately it's all centered around oil, the endless needs of the military industrial complex, and various other financial interests masquerading as ideology. But there isn't one reason, just a grand harmonic convergence of wingnuttery.

Bush's 9/11 Hitman In Hiding: Zelikow Still Can't Keep His Big Mouth Shut

After a mafia hitman does a "job", he normally disappears for a long holiday, keeping quiet till the heat cools down. But in his job as a Professor of History at the University of Virginia, Philip Zelikow, who hid the evidence from the 9/11 Commission, is still loudly talking shit:
"After the 9/11 attack on the United States, the U.S. government adopted a different approach to defending the country against attack from the al Qaeda organization, its affiliates, and its allies. The new approach was fundamentally sound. Yet it was developed and implemented in a flawed manner..."
Gosh, haven't we heard that "implementation was flawed" line from a few other neocons? And no wonder Zelikow thinks the policy was sound - he wrote it!
In Rise of the Vulcans (Viking, 2004), James Mann reports that when Richard Haass, a senior aide to Secretary of State Colin Powell and the director of policy planning at the State Department, drafted for the administration an overview of America’s national security strategy following September 11, Dr. Rice, the national security advisor, "ordered that the document be completely rewritten. She thought the Bush administration needed something bolder, something that would represent a more dramatic break with the ideas of the past. Rice turned the writing over to her old colleague, University of Virginia Professor Philip Zelikow."
Zelikow now says that 9/11 forced Bush to abandon the "conceptual framework" of "traditional American criminal justice". He says groups like the CIA had to develop "entirely new organizational capacities that did not exist, or no longer existed, in their institutions" because "there was no established body of experience or precedents" to deal with terrorists. The Justice Department also had to make up new rules. He says US lawyers today should not be asking "What can we do?" but "What should we do?". Never mind if you are tossing aside the US Constitution and generations of "traditional American criminal justice". As long as you think you are right, go for it!

Zelikow regrets that other governments do not see the "war on terror" as a military operation.
"“War” is not a misnomer. But it is insufficient. The struggle includes armed conflict but it is more than an armed conflict. It is not just a war."
He says European governments are not prepared to abandon their own legal frameworks because they have not been attacked "on the scale suffered by the United States".
"It is tempting for some local governments to let the Americans do the distasteful things that protect their people too."
The solution, according to Zelikow, is for US leaders to convince other governments to also abandon the rule of "traditional" law (this already seems to be happening in Blair's UKGB and Howard's Australia).

Zelikow then discusses "the quite defensible policy of renditions":
"The international legal strictures were interpreted so that they would not add any constraints beyond the chosen reading of American law...

"Brilliant lawyers worked hard on how they could then construe the limits of vague, untested laws. They were operating so close to the frontiers of our law that, within only a couple of years, the Department of Justice eventually felt obliged to offer a second legal opinion, rewriting their original views of the subject. The policy results are imaginable and will someday become more fully known."
And get this:
"The core of the issue, for legal policy, is this: What is moral – not, what is legal? What is cost-beneficial?"
He says Al Quaeda has used "the most barbaric and nihilistic tactics of violence ever employed by any terrorist organization in history" and "this gives our nation moral ground about as high as one could have".

He insists that "good intelligence can be gained by physically tormenting captives". He says improved interrogation methods have been developed through "a process of painful trial and error"! Painful for whom?!

Zelikow concludes with nine recommendations that he claims will keep the legal pendulum "from swinging too hard back and forth" and help "strike the right balance" as the Bush administration seeks to rewrite the Constitution, the law of the land, and international law.

Can anyone doubt that such a man would be more than capable - and more than willing - to stifle evidence from the 9/11 Commission?

The families of 9/11 victims called for the resignation of Executive Director Philip Zelikow. Their demand was ignored, although Commission Member Max Cleland resigned, calling the whole thing a "scam" and a "whitewash." Here are some of the families' still unanswered questions:
Where are the flight recorders?

How did Bush see the first plane crash on live camera?

Why were there no photos or videos of the Pentagon plane?

Why was there no trace of the Pentagon plane after the attacks, especially the titanium around the jet engines, which were 6 tons each and resilient to volatile burning jet-grade fuel temperatures?

Why was the hole in the Pentagon only about the size of a scud missile?

Why didn't jets intercept the airliners since they had several warnings of terrorist attacks?

Why did passengers or crewmembers on three of the flights all use the term "box cutters?"

Why was a security meeting that was scheduled for 9/11 cancelled by WTC management on 9/10?

How did they come up with the terrorists so quickly?

How did they find the terrorist's cars at the airports so quickly?

What about media reports that hijackers bought tickets for flights scheduled after Sept. 11? Weren’t they aware the mission was a suicide mission?

Why do none of the names appear on the passenger lists UA and AA gave to CNN??

Why would the hijackers use credit cards and allow drivers licenses with photos to be zeroxed?

Which hijacker's passport was found after the attacks in the street? How did it survive through an explosive plane crash when the plane’s black boxes did not, and come to a rest outside the building, on the street, where an FBI agent just happened to be there to retrieve it?

How could the FBI distinguish between Muslims and hijacker Muslims on those flights?

Why was there not one "innocent" Muslim on board any of these flights?

Why the strange pattern of debris from Flight 93?

Why did Bush stop inquiries into terrorist connections of the Bin Laden family in early 2001?

Why did the FBI not release the Flight Data Recorder info?

Who video-recorded the first plane hitting the tower? Why did he disappear from the media?

When was the Bin Laden Home Video found and who found the video if Northern Alliance and US troops had not yet arrived in Kandahar or Jahalabad?

Why, according to the German Magazine, MONITOR, were the most controversial statements translated incorrectly?

Why did Bin Laden state in UMMAN Magazine in Sept. 2001, that he was not involved in the WTC?

Why did General Mahmud Ahmad, former head of the ISI quit his position?

Why did retaliation against the Taliban begin the day he stepped down?

Why does Ahmad think that another secret service was involved in the 9/11 attacks?

The September 11th families who fought for an independent investigation resulting in the 9/11 Commission asked over 400 questions, which the 9/11 Commission clearly used as its outline and basis for the report. Most of these questions were left unanswered or completely ignored in the hearings and final report.

A Farewell To The Fascist Corporate Wasteland

Holding our leaders accountable is a thankless, emotionally draining, intellectually exhausting, financially impoverishing, and frequently just totally gut-wrenching experience.

When you learn the truth about how your government and business leaders work, the lies and the hypocrisy and the coverups, it's heart-breaking. But perhaps the worst thing is what you learn about human nature.

This week, Cindy Sheehan signed off from the organised "peace movement":
I have invested everything I have into trying to bring peace with justice to a country that wants neither. If an individual wants both, then normally he/she is not willing to do more than walk in a protest march or sit behind his/her computer criticizing others. I have spent every available cent I got from the money a "grateful" country gave me when they killed my son and every penny that I have received in speaking or book fees since then. I have sacrificed a 29 year marriage and have traveled for extended periods of time away from Casey's brother and sisters and my health has suffered and my hospital bills from last summer (when I almost died) are in collection because I have used all my energy trying to stop this country from slaughtering innocent human beings. I have been called every despicable name that small minds can think of and have had my life threatened many times.

The most devastating conclusion that I reached this morning, however, was that Casey did indeed die for nothing. His precious lifeblood drained out in a country far away from his family who loves him, killed by his own country which is beholden to and run by a war machine that even controls what we think. I have tried ever since he died to make his sacrifice meaningful. Casey died for a country which cares more about who will be the next American Idol than how many people will be killed in the next few months while Democrats and Republicans play politics with human lives...

I am going to take whatever I have left and go home. I am going to go home and be a mother to my surviving children and try to regain some of what I have lost...

Good-bye America…you are not the country that I love and I finally realized no matter how much I sacrifice, I can't make you be that country unless you want it.

It's up to you now.
The sad truth is that many people just don't care. Gordon Gecko's "greed is good" philosophy is alive and well in the 21st Century. Indeed, it has flourished since it was first articulated in the 1980s.

Money is the supreme motivating factor for a whole host of evils, from the backroom deals in the business clubs to the frightened, self-centered votes at the ballot box.

UPDATE: More from Andrew J. Bacevich, an anti-war soldier who just lost a son in Iraq:
“Money,” he notes bitterly, “maintains the Republican/Democratic duopoly of trivialized politics. It confines the debate over U.S. policy to well-hewn channels… It negates democracy, rendering free speech little more than a means of recording dissent. This is not some great conspiracy. It’s the way our system works.”
But as Gary Leupp notes:
If there is a positive aspect to this despair, it is this very realization: the system is the problem. It has not so much “failed” us as we have failed to understand what Sheehan and Bacevich are concluding: it isn’t designed to work for us but for but for them.

Bush's World Bank Nomination Shows Us How The World Works

Hey, don't you worry about Robert Zoellick! He may be another arrogant Bush administration insider of Jewish descent, but at least he is not one of those discredited neo-conservatives. Oh, no, he's just a discredited "Vulcan":
The Vulcans were led by Condoleezza Rice and included Richard Armitage, Robert Blackwill, Stephen Hadley, Richard Perle, Dov Zakheim, Robert Zoellick and Paul Wolfowitz.
He's an advisor to the Enron board, a member of two mysterious groups - the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission - and one of a select few invited to the annual Bilderberg Group conference.

He was also a signatory to the January 26, 1998 letter drafted by the Project for the New American Century, calling for the removal of Saddam. But he's NOT a neocon, m'kay?

He is said to be a difficult, cantankerous man who champions free trade only insofar as it serves US national interests. He wrote this in a letter to Bush a full year and a half before 9/11:
"[T]here is still evil in the world — people who hate America and the ideas for which it stands."
But he's NOT one of them crazy neocon ideologues, so that's OK.

Zoellick resigned as Rice's deputy in July to take a position with the Bush machine's favourite bankers, Goldman Sachs:
In returning to government, he continues the trend of the company's executives moving into public service under the Bush Administration.

Before becoming Treasury Secretary last year, Mr Paulson was the chief executive of Goldman Sachs; another former Goldman official, Joshua Bolten, is the White House chief of staff.

"It's a very tight network, this Goldman one," a European official said.
It's not just tight, it's big. Even former Reserve Bank of Australia governor Ian Macfarlane became a Goldman Sachs board member. But let's get back to our main story...

Zoellick's nomination is being wildly applauded in the press, but not everyone is ecstatic:
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said, "I certainly respect very much Mr. Zoellick," but declined further comment...

Charad D. Wadhva, professor emeritus at the Center for Policy Research, a New Delhi think tank, questions whether Zoellick is right for the World Bank job.

"Professionally, he's competent but I'm not so sure about his background in developing economies or in helping developing countries," Wadhva said. "He may have to learn a lot to understand the needs of the developing countries."
Hey, what's to understand about developing countries? They exist purely to be exploited, as we all know. USA NUMBER ONE!!! WHOO HOO!!!

Despite such stifled dissent, and barring any startling new revelations, Zoellick will sail through his nomination process. The Democrats are already singing his praises. And the European powers-that-be will say nothing, because they know the World Bank is Washington's baby (they get to control the IMF).

This is the way the world works. These are the people who decide our global destiny.

NB: Zoellick was replaced at State by Bush's "intelligence czar", Juan Negroponte, leaving many people scratching their heads. Why did the nation's top intelligence boss quit to become Condi's #2? We may never know, but a few questions during the nomination process would not go astray. Was Negroponte's move part of a desperate cleanup operation?

[NOTE: I updated this post after earlier confusing Zoellick with another top Rice adviser, Phillip Zelikow. So much for "burying the lede"! D'oh!]

UPDATE: I made up for my mistake of confusing condi's z-men with a lengthy post about Zelikow here.

29 May 2007

Leunig For PM

Michael Leunig, Australia's home-grown antidote to the proliferating misery of BushWorld, has published another exquisitely beautiful piece:
Some say things are getting so awful that they have stopped reading the newspaper because it's so depressingly full of bad news about the declining situation. "Ignore the media and turn back to the ordinary world," they say. Yet looking at the world around us; into the nooks and crannies and closets, can be even more devastating than looking at the Daily Bugle. Many choose to ignore both.
Leunig's prose verges on sheer poetry as he recalls an old trip to Far North Queensland:
When I was 18 (three six-year-old boys stacked on top of each other), I wandered one summer with a schoolmate and a canvas rucksack up the east coast of Australia to far north Queensland when it was a mystical dreamland and before it had a become a hyper tourist destination or a developer's stomping ground. There was not much traffic then and the main road north was unsealed for long stretches. We camped by the quiet roadsides and sometimes woke at dawn with mobs of cattle thundering around us and mounted drovers plying their whips and sooling their dogs.

What I saw as we wandered northwards along the beaches and small towns was a beautiful remnant Australia - more innocent and organic and far more slow and peaceful than the land we know today. Crumbling, yet luminous mental images remain to console and sadden me: a broad, shallow cove lapping into rainforest with indigenous families dragging nets at sunset, lizards and exquisite tree frogs clinging to hotel bars lit by dim bulbs, sugar towns being swallowed by flowering vines - the streets strewn with golden mangoes fermenting, enchanted architecture of lattice, tin and wood - delicately laced with peeling paint and richly jewelled with fireflies and butterflies - frangipani vapours and the slow, warm dripping of time in darkly rotting gardens - all engulfed in a deep, humble and intoxicating peace. Or so it seemed.
If you do only one thing today, go and read the full article, or print it off and give yourself a few moments to contemplate it in peace. Then share it with your friends and family.

Of course, such magic is anathema to some:
Unfortunately, in Leunig's case we have to assume the sentiment to be, at least in part, bogus. If Leunig really held such things to represent the good, then he would hold them to be good for all men, including his fellow "whitefellas".

We know, though, that he doesn't. Leunig typically presents the mainstream tradition not in terms of the sacred good, but as a uniquely evil manifestation of racism and xenophobia.
Bloody hell, what is wrong with these people?

When I was 18, I won the Dux for French in my final year of high school. The prize was a twenty dollar book voucher. I had to go buy a book, then bring it back to the school so the headmaster (a former Australian rugby star) could present it to me on stage. The book I bought was "The Second Leunig". I remember being very worried that I might get in trouble for my selection, which had nothing to do with French, and I remember my joyous sense of triumph when the book was finally presented to me in front of the whole school. Clearly, these people had no idea how subversive it was!

All the (Vice) President's Men

Here is what Alan Foley, the head of the CIA's Weapons Intelligence Non-Proliferation and Arms Control Center (WINPAC), told his senior staff in December 2002:
"If the president wants to go to war, our job is to find the intelligence to allow him to do so."
WINPAC led the CIA's analysis of Iraq's purported WMD, so Foley is at the very center of what happened. It's quite possible that outed CIA agent Valerie Plame was one of the staff he was addressing. More at A Tiny Revolution.

Speaking of Valerie Plame, here's Dan Froomkin today:
In Friday's eminently readable court filing, Fitzgerald quotes the Libby defense calling his prosecution "unwarranted, unjust, and motivated by politics." In responding to that charge, the special counsel evidently felt obliged to put Libby's crime in context. And that context is Dick Cheney.

Libby's lies, Fitzgerald wrote, "made impossible an accurate evaluation of the role that Mr. Libby and those with whom he worked played in the disclosure of information regarding Ms. Wilson's CIA employment and about the motivations for their actions."

It was established at trial that it was Cheney himself who first told Libby about Plame's identity as a CIA agent, in the course of complaining about criticisms of the administration's run-up to war leveled by her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson. And, as Fitzgerald notes: "The evidence at trial further established that when the investigation began, Mr. Libby kept the Vice President apprised of his shifting accounts of how he claimed to have learned about Ms. Wilson's CIA employment."

The investigation, Fitzgerald writes, "was necessary to determine whether there was concerted action by any combination of the officials known to have disclosed the information about Ms. Plame to the media as anonymous sources, and also whether any of those who were involved acted at the direction of others. This was particularly important in light of Mr. Libby's statement to the FBI that he may have discussed Ms. Wilson's employment with reporters at the specific direction of the Vice President."
Any thinking observer knows full well that it was Cheney who directed the Plame outing, Cheney who master-minded the Iraq War WMD lies, and Cheney who generally pulls the strings of his dumbass puppet President.

Did you know that the CIA front company Valerie Plame supposedly worked for was named after the late Benjamin Brewster Jennings, a president and founder of the Socony-Vacuum oil company? Socony-Vacuum later became Mobil Oil, then merged with Exxon to become ExxonMobil. Funny how oil companies keep turning up in this game, isn't it?

Didn't Condi Rice have an oil tanker named after her? Funny, that. Come on, smile, Dick!

Meanwhile, across the pond, former top Blair aide Alastair Campbell has decided to voluntarily withhold 90% of the shocking revelations - including how and why Blair decided to support Bush in Iraq - from his upcoming tell-all (i.e. tell 10%) memoirs:
Still loyal to Labour, Mr Campbell asked himself, "Can I imagine [Conservative Party leader] David Cameron using that to damage a Labour prime minister?" when making cuts.
Ah yes, loyalty to party uber alles. So now we get the story about the story we won't be getting.

What's all this got to do with John Howard? Why, nothing of course. Nothing at all. When the shit hits the fan, the chickens come home to roost and the bloody stain of truth begins to seep out of the woodwork, Howard is never anywhere to be found. We all know that.

28 May 2007

Annihilation Watch

Crikey! has some inside analysis from Canberra:
An odd mood has set in around the government. Senior staff tell you how Arthur Sinodinos, the PM’s former chief of staff, is missed. His replacement, Tony Nutt, is respected as a fixer, but doesn’t measure up on the policy front. He lacks the antennae.

Mutterings are developing, too, about Brian Loughnane, the Liberal’s federal director. He’s rude. He’s too introverted. He doesn’t know what makes voters tick.

There’s even some extraordinary thinking aloud that the prime minister, despite what he said last week, has one rabbit left – and an escape route that will let him get out before an election. Not that anyone actually has a clue what it might be. They just expect him to have one. He’s John Howard, after all.

It’s not a good state for a government to be in.
Cikey says Liberals are already "worrying" about who will be their next leader. "Plotting", "planning" and "positioning" might be more descriptive words.

What IS The Truth?

“The truth is — and we Americans don’t like to admit it — that authoritarian societies can work.”
- Rupert Murdoch.
Eric Alterman weighs in on Rupert's WSJ bid:
The frightening thing about Murdoch’s brand of journalism is that he does not merely weight his editorial pages to the right; he purposely corrupts the news pages as well...

If Murdoch did not use a media product to promote his larger business interests, it would certainly be a first.
Alterman's article focuses on the rabid rightwing madness of the WSJ editorial pages. He cites Ben Bagdikian, founding dean of the Journalism school at the University of California at Berkeley:
“Executives and stockholders really do want to know the unpleasant truth about corporate life when it affects their careers or incomes. At the same time, however, most of them are true believers in the rhetoric of free enterprise, whose imperfections and contradictions are standard content in The Wall Street Journal. By reporting critical stories about realities in particular industries in the in the news columns, but singing the grand old hymns of unfettered laissez-faire on the editorial pages, the Journal has it both ways.”
And so we come back to the question perpetually presented by the BushWorld agenda: does reality even matter?
Objective reality can be maddeningly frustrating sometimes, but it teaches us valuable lessons which help us grow as spiritual beings. We learn to understand and tolerate the differing viewpoints of others. We follow the road rules, remember our manners and generally obey the laws of the land because we understand the potential for chaos if everybody were to behave too selfishly. From all this, we develop a sense of right and wrong, good and bad, even good and evil.

Of course, not everybody respects or appreciates these lessons in co-operative altruism to the same degree...
And again we go back to that famous neocon quote:
''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''
Those who choose to believe in the magic of BushWorld cannot be dissuaded from their believing by mere, inconvenient facts. As Josh Marshall says today:
We're so far deep into this mess that sometimes I believe we're past the point of argument. You look at the evidence and you either see it or you don't.
By way of example, here's an ABC story about a new Creationist Museum in the USA:
The museum teaches that the Earth is barely 6,000 years old and that God created dinosaurs and humans at roughly the same time.
Whacky Yankees, right? But the man behind the museum is a former Queensland science teacher!

Again I ask: what has become of us?
In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality, was tacitly denied by their philosophy. The heresy of heresies was common sense. And what was terrifying was not that they would kill you for thinking otherwise, but that they might be right. For, after all, how do we know that two and two make four? Or that the force of gravity works? Or that the past is unchangeable? If both the past and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable—what then?

Iraq For Sale: The War Profiteers

ICH has posted the full 75-minute video of Robert Greenwald's new movie, Iraq For Sale: The War Profiteers.

Also at ICH, a 4-minute video of Bush insider Andrew Card getting roundly booed as he picks up an honorary degree from the University of Massachusetts.

And in case you missed it, here's Greg Palast's 60-minute 2003 film about the Bush Family Fortunes.

When Murdoch Changes, Does The Country Change?

I doubt Big Rupe has much patience left with John Howard's flailing government. So will the Murdoch media be the first to begin banging the drums for a Liberal leadership change? Or is he happy to watch his new disciple, Kev Rudd, march on to a sweeping victory?

And if Murdoch does push Howard out the door, which Liberal will he pick? Costello, Ruddock and Downer are clearly unelectable. Maybe Turnbull has a chance, but I suspect his own business interests and his snotty personality do not appeal to Rupert's tastes. Abbott might be the only viable choice.

Meanwhile, Murdoch's WSJ bid is still up in the air. Some analysts have predicted he will eventually get what he wants, maybe at $64 a share, and some WSJ shareholders are threatening to sue the Bancroft family if they do not take up Murdoch's generous offer. But a former Dow Jones employee, Jim Ottaway, who holds over 6% of the company's shares, has put his foot down:
"We're not trying to get another $2 a share. We don't want to sell to Murdoch for $75 a share...It's the principle, not the price .... It's the person, not the price," Ottaway told Reuters.
At least one canny Israeli investor agrees:
I had absolutely no doubt that the merger would not happen. The Boston Brahmins that control a majority of Dow Jones through super voting Class A stock would sooner host a another tea party than sell to the king of yellow journalism.

Judging by a price north of $50 a share, most of Wall Street disagrees with me and thinks that a merger will happen. In this particular case, I am not sure that Wall Street is assessing correctly the likelihood of a merger.

Many on Wall Street, including me, are arrivistes motivated mostly by money. We have chosen to push paper around for a living instead of curing the sick or defending the poor. Therefore, we can not imagine a situation where someone would walk away from a chance to double their money.

I am sure that the Bancroft and Ottoway clans are fond of money as much as the rest of us. In light of Murdoch’s offer, it would not surprise me if they later sold out to someone else or accepted an infusion of cash from private equity.

But they are not going to sell out to Rupert Murdoch who they consider an entrepreneur in the field of journalism but not a journalist with blue ink in his blood. After zealously guarding their public trust for one hundred years, they are not going to shed their responsibilities without careful consideration.
Still, there could be a happy ending for Murdoch even if the bid fails:
Why did Rupert Murdoch risk the humiliation of having his bid completely ignored? Since he is soon starting a business news channel, he needs to neutralize the Dow Jones contribution to his arch rival, CNBC. He will walk away from this deal with something. Dow Jones will agree to negotiate with his new channel when their contract with CNBC is up.
Murdoch and his Fox News channel may both be increasingly unpopular, but News Ltd's decision to go carbon neutral by 2010 is paying a propaganda dividend:
In a letter contained in News Corp.'s energy initiative, chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch emphasizes that "addressing climate change is good business practice." He added: "We will improve the bottom line by cutting energy costs and investing in renewable resources."
Screw the planet, forget about ethics, just stay focused on the business bottom line. Same goes for politics: if an overwhelming majority of voters are concerned about global warming, go with it. And if the Australian people are sick of Howard, dump him.

Let us know when Rupert sends out the internal memo, m'kay Tim?

Bush Invades New Zealand

President Bush today surprised international observers by ordering a full-scale invasion of New Zealand. He said US paratroopers had secured a stronghold in Rotorua overnight and were now fanning out over the countryside. Two sheep were believed to have died after becoming trapped in billowing parachutes, and several US soldiers were being treated after inhaling noxious sulphur fumes. Bush also said that two US Navy patrol boats were blockading Aukland harbour. He refused to say whether or not they were nuclear powered.

Citing his new policy of pre-emptive war, Bush gave a number of reasons for the attack. He said that methane emissions from New Zealand sheep represented "a clear and present danger to the global warming thing". As such, he said, they were "a threat to US interests". He also accused Helen Clark of planning to develop WMDs from volcanic gases, and suggested that New Zealand sheep were being subjected to inhumane and degrading abuse.

A White House spokesman said UN Resolution 1234, which authorized the US invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, provided justification for this latest attack. US forces were accompanied by an Australian Army sheepdog and a vet from Palau. Bush declared this "coalition" was a "comprehensive response to the international outrage".

US Democrat leaders expressed concern that their military was being over-extended. A Pentagon spokeswomman replied that only 23 soldiers would be required to secure the North Island, and another 14 to secure the South Island. Pointing to reforms under Donald Rumsfeld's leadership, she said the newly streamlined US military expected to declare Mission Accomplished any time within the next few minutes.

Speaking from an undisclosed location, Vice President Dick Cheney denied the invasion had anything to do with recent oil discoveries off the New Zealand coastline.

27 May 2007

What Has Become Of Us?

This Fairfax investigation is surely going to make waves. Phantom aid never leaves our shores:
MORE than $600 million of Australia's foreign aid over the past two years never went overseas but was swallowed up in the coffers of a small Federal Government agency in Pitt Street, Sydney.

This is just one example of a shift in policy under which the Government dresses up as overseas development assistance money that never leaves Australia or is used to prop up its immigration policies.

Help for refugees in Australia, payments to support the "Pacific solution", and a legal bill at the AWB inquiry are other forms of aid which make the nation appear more generous than it is, a Herald investigation has found.
These are the people who criticize the UN and Amnesty International, remember.

These are the people who speak hollow words about fighting the "global war on poverty" and "addressing the root causes of terrorism".

These are the people who talk about "Australia's important leadership role in the region".

More importantly, these people are OUR representatives on the world stage. This is what we have become.

What Has Become Of Us?

Amazingly brazen calls for police state policies from Tony Blair:
"We have chosen as a society to put the civil liberties of the suspect, even if a foreign national, first. I happen to believe this is misguided and wrong."
... and Dick Cheney:
"As Army officers on duty in the war on terror, you will now face enemies who oppose and despise everything you know to be right, every notion of upright conduct and character, and every belief you consider worth fighting for and living for. Capture one of these killers, and he'll be quick to demand the protections of the Geneva Convention and the Constitution of the United States. Yet when they wage attacks or take captives, their delicate sensibilities seem to fall away."

Take A Look At Me, I'm Yesterday's Hero

When I walk down the street, see the people who stop and stare and say

Haven't I seen that face somewhere a long time ago?

When I walk down the street
See the stranger who says "Why hi!" with a "How ya goin' buddy?"

"When you walked on by, I thought I'd say hello-o"

They say "Haven't I seen your face before
Weren't you the boy that used to live next door

Weren't you on television every night

Haven't I seen you 'round?"

Take a look at me, I'm yesterday's hero
Yesterday's hero, that's all I'll be-ee-ee-ee-ee-ee-ee
Take a look at me,

I'm yesterday's hero, Yesterday's hero,
Is all that I'm gonna be if I don't get together
Make a new start and be somebody better

All that I'll be if I don't get together now

When you walk down the street
If you know me then pass me by,

If you wonder what I'm doin' don't ask me why,
I don't read the news

When you walk down the street
If you're sorry then don't feel bad
If you followed my story then just be glad you ain't in my shoe-oes

Because haven't you seen my face before
Yes I was the boy who used to live next door

Yes I was on television every night

Haven't you seen me 'round

Take a look at me, I'm yesterday's hero

Yesterday's hero, that's all I'd be-ee-ee-ee-ee-ee-ee
Take a look at me, I'm yesterday's hero

And yesterday's hero is all that I'm gonna be if I don't get together
Make a new start and be somebody better

All that I'll be if I don't get it together now.

This new Fairfax poll analysis suggests that it is the older and more senior members of the Howard government who are most on the nose with voters.

US Motorists Drive To Mexico For Cheap Fuel

Just look what back-to-back White House terms for two former oil company CEOs can do for your country:

And let's stop pretending it's got nothing to do with politics:

And this little story perfectly illustrates the harsh reality:
U.S. motorists are flocking to gas pumps south of the border to save 25% or more on the cost of a fill-up — courtesy of the Mexican government.

Worried about inflation, Mexican officials are keeping a lid on retail prices at the state-owned petroleum company Pemex.
Of course, what would such a US media story be without a little obligatory fear-mongering thrown in:
Mexican stations are notorious for dispensing short liters. And their fuel isn't as clean as that mandated in California. That's tough on the environment, and it could harm your vehicle too, said Rich Kassel, a clean-fuel expert with the Natural Resources Defense Council in New York. Mexico's regular gasoline is loaded with sulfur. Kassel said frequent fill-ups could wreak havoc on the catalytic converters of the newest cars and trucks sold in the U.S.
Don't let all those late-model cars running perfectly well on Mexican roads fool you folks! State-owned oil is just inherently dirty!

The irony of course is that Bush and Cheney are doing everything they can to privatise Iraq's oil resources, which used to be state-owned under Saddam. In fact most big petrol-exporting countries have state-owned industries. Even Mexico. So why can't they do it in Iraq? Because US-based Big Oil wants MONEY MONEY MONEY!!!

Also ironic is the fact that Mexico's new Bush-loving rightwing President is being forced to keep gas prices low, because runaway inflation is threatening to cause him huge social, economic and political problems. Heh. Sucker.

Bush's Big Money friends are now doing what they can to spin the horrible reality:
This week, in an apparent attempt to lessen the psychological blow to American consumers, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) adjusted its inflation calculations and made it look like gasoline prices were not at record highs after all.

But according to the numbers from both AAA and the Lundberg Survey, the EIA is whistling in the dark: The previous record was March 1981 when the national price of gasoline was $1.35, or $3.15 in current dollars. Now it's nearly $3.23.

So this is a new all-time record. Period.
Big Oil CEOs are doing their own fearmongering as well. This is from a New York Times front-page story last week:
"Some oil executives are now warning that the current shortages of fuel could become a long-term problem, leading to stubbornly higher prices at the pump. They point to a surprising culprit: uncertainty created by the government's push to increase the supply of biofuels like ethanol in coming years."
Yup, don't let all them Brazilian hybrid vehicles fool you. Non-carbon-based fuels are just inherently dangerous!

John Howard Killed My Budgie

"Howard accused of genocide" screams the headline. But what the unidentified woman actually said was:
"We have been genocided by your government and your court."
Clearly, the word "your" was not a direct reference to Howard, but a reference to the White Fella's government of the past two centuries, which the Rodent currently leads.

Watch those headlines, folks.

PS: Howard did not respond to the comment. Rudd promised to say Sorry very quickly indeed.

26 May 2007

Of Course We all Know That The US Government Was Not Behind 9/11... But What If They Were?

Did you know that on 9/11/01 there were a host of NORAD exercises underway which involved deploying fighter aircraft against imagined attackers? It's true, you don't have to take Dr. Robert M. Bowman, Lt. Col., USAF, ret.'s word for it:
Bowman outlined how the drills on the morning of 9/11 that simulated planes crashing into buildings on the east coast were used as a cover to dupe unwitting air defense personnel into not responding quickly enough to stop the attack.

"The exercises that went on that morning simulating the exact kind of thing that was happening so confused the people in the FAA and NORAD....that they didn't they didn't know what was real and what was part of the exercise," said Bowman

"I think the people who planned and carried out those exercises, they're the ones that should be the object of investigation."

Asked if he could name a prime suspect who was the likely architect behind the attacks, Bowman stated, "If I had to narrow it down to one person....I think my prime suspect would be Dick Cheney."

Bowman said that privately his military fighter pilot peers and colleagues did not disagree with his sentiments about the real story behind 9/11.

Bowman agreed that the US was in danger of slipping into a dictatorship and stated, "I think there's been nothing closer to fascism than what we've seen lately from this government."
That got me thinking about the day Ronald Reagan was shot. See, George Bush Snr just happened to be Vice President at the time, and they just happened to have an exercise scheduled for that day, in which the VP takes over from the Prez. Amazing coincidence, right? But then it turns out that the guy who shot Reagan was a family friend of the Bush's. Another coincidence, right? And guess who was in charge of the committee which found (within 24 hours) that there was no conspiracy? George Bush Snr. It's true, you don't have to take my word for it.

And now, back to Charlie Sheen in the studio...

(h/t J.R.)

25 May 2007

Britian To Declare State Of Emergency, Abandon Human Rights

No, I am not making this up, they are seriously considering it:
After the latest fiasco in which three terror suspects went on the run after breaching their control orders, the Home Secretary said yesterday that the Government would consider declaring that there was an emergency threat to the country, allowing it to opt out of human rights legislation, if all other options failed...

The Government hopes to reach agreement on plans to allow suspects to be questioned for some time after they have been charged. But Mr Reid is also considering letting the courts infer guilt in cases when a suspect keeps silent during questioning after charges have been brought – a move that will be far more controversial...

Mr Reid also wants the control order regime tightened to stop courts cutting the length of curfews from 18 hours to 14 hours or lower. He is appealing to the Lords in July in a number of cases where the courts have ruled that 18-hour curfews breach human rights.

Mr Reid said that if the Government lost it might suspend parts of the European Convention on Human Rights so that it could put suspects under conditions breaching human rights.
This is where we are today, folks. This is where our misguided leaders' twisted lies have inevitably brought us.

Howard Dumps On Aborigines

So suddenly the arrogant little prick who could not even bring himself to say SORRY is concerned about Aboriginal welfare? NOT!!!
Traditional owners agree to nuke waste dump

The Northern Land Council (NLC) says it is confident a nuclear waste dump will be built at Muckaty Station, north of Tennant Creek, in the Northern Territory.

The NLC has nominated the Aboriginal land for the dump and the proposal will now be considered by the Commonwealth.

The nomination allows Commonwealth scientists to test a 1.5 square kilometre area of Muckaty Station. If they then give the go-ahead, the land will host a low-level repository with an above-ground store for intermediate level waste.

The NLC's chairman John Daly says all 70 of the station's Ngapa traditional owners have agreed to give their land over to the Commonwealth for about 200 years.

In return they will get a $12 million package which includes an $11 million charitable trust and a $1 million educational scholarship fund.
Poor fella, my country. But Mr Daly's assurances about complete agreement in the local community may not be all they seem:
Kathleen Martin from Mount Everard, north-west of Alice Springs, says there was some division over the proposal in the community.

"I'm asking, was that in agreeance with everybody on Muckaty?" she said

"Because the message that came down a couple of weeks ago was that the older people - the older men - had told some of the people there, you sell the land, you sell your soul."

Natalie Wasley from the Arid Lands Environment Centre, who has been campaigning against all of the sites proposed, says many of the traditional owners do not support the proposal.

"I've spoken with a Ngapa elder this morning, Bindi Martin from the Muckaty area, and he said he still has strong opposition to the dump proposal," she said.

"I believe this is a view held by other elders as well.

"I think the Science Minister Julie Bishop will have a hard time showing that there is consent within the Ngapa group let alone the whole Muckaty community for this nomination for the waste dump."
The irony is that even while Howard is pushing a nuclear dump deal on these poor Aborigines, he is simultaneously telling their children to learn English if they ever want to join the civilized world:
"Indigenous people have no hope of being part of the mainstream of this country unless they can speak the language of this country... If you require them to go to school they'll have to learn English... Aboriginal children should learn English because they should be required to go to school."
Well, that's just incoherent nonsense on so many levels!

How are these Aboriginals supposed to understand the full implications of a nuclear waste dump agreement, if they are all just ignorant savages? Howard's not saying.

And there's plenty more moral equivalence to go around:
The NLC's chief executive, Norman Fry, says that money is vital for people in an area that he says has been neglected by the Territory Government.
Poverty-stricken Aborigines need to sell out to nuclear industry right now, because otherwise they won't be able to afford food, shelter, health care and education (you know, the things Australian governments used to provide). Over two centuries of genocidal neglect, and it's all the Labour State Governments' fault!

What a bloody farce.
INTERVIEWER: Mr Howard, I wonder if you could explain our policy on mandatory sentencing to me in terms of the criticism we're now getting from the UN on the question of human rights?

JOHN HOWARD: Yes, I can, Bryan. We, the Australian Government, are dedicated to improving the condition of the Aboriginal people of this country by failing to meet the minimum requirement of the UN as laid down in the charter which we helped write.

INTERVIEWER: Hang on, that's not going to work, is it?

JOHN HOWARD: It doesn't sound right, does it?

INTERVIEWER: It's very complicated.

JOHN HOWARD: Here it is. Sorry, here it is. The condition of the Australian Aboriginal people, Bryan, is SO good, so good is it, that the world community has called upon us to stop being one of the worst governments on record.

INTERVIEWER: Sorry, Mr Howard, we might be better off talking about something else.

JOHN HOWARD: Here we go, sorry. Here we go, sorry. Here it is. It's got a circle around it.

INTERVIEWER: Mr Howard, thank you very much for your time.

JOHN HOWARD: We've got the question, Bryan. I refuse to apologise to the Australian Aboriginal people, because what can I do, I'm only the PM of the entire country.

INTERVIEWER: I'm sorry, Mr Howard, it might be better if we talk about something else.

JOHN HOWARD: Maybe it's on a different... Here it is. Here it is. I'm terribly sorry. Just thank me for my time again.

INTERVIEWER: Mr Howard, thanks for your time.
UPDATE: The Age has more here, including at least one disgrunteled Ngapa tribe:
Bindi Jakamarra Martin, a Warlmanpa man from the Ngapa clan, said building the dump on a 1.5-square-kilometre site 120 kilometres north of Tennant Creek would "poison our beautiful land" and "change our dreamings".

"Our dreamings cross right into that land where they want to put that dump," he said.
Then there's the thorny issue of transportation from Sydney's Lucas Heights reactor, plus the pending return of waste currently stored overseas. And why wasn't the dump built on one of three Defence Department-owned sites in the Northern Territory?

Peter Garret says the consultation process was a joke.

24 May 2007

The Most Dangerous Man In The World?

Meet GOP 2008 Presidential candidate Ron Paul:
“They attack us because we've been over there. We've been bombing Iraq for 10 years. We've been in the Middle East. I think Reagan was right. We don't understand the irrationality of Middle Eastern politics. Right now, we're building an embassy in Iraq that is bigger than the Vatican. We're building 14 permanent bases. What would we say here if China was doing this in our country or in the Gulf of Mexico? Would we be objecting? ...

“I believe the CIA is correct when it warns us about blowback. We overthrew the Iranian government in 1953 and their taking the hostages was the reaction. This dynamic persists and we ignore it at our risk. They’re not attacking us because we’re rich and free, they’re attacking us because we’re over there.”
If you think that's naughty, what about this:
“Congress created the Federal Reserve System in 1913. Between then and 1971 the principle of sound money was systematically undermined. Between 1913 and 1971, the Federal Reserve found it much easier to expand the money supply at will for financing war or manipulating the economy with little resistance from Congress-- while benefiting the special interests that influence government.

"Since printing paper money is nothing short of counterfeiting, the issuer of the international currency must always be the country with the military might to guarantee control over the system. This magnificent scheme seems the perfect system for obtaining perpetual wealth for the country that issues the de facto world currency. The one problem, however, is that such a system destroys the character of the counterfeiting nation’s people-- just as was the case when gold was the currency and it was obtained by conquering other nations. And this destroys the incentive to save and produce, while encouraging debt and runaway welfare...

"The greatest threat facing America today is not terrorism, or foreign economic competition, or illegal immigration. The greatest threat facing America today is the disastrous fiscal policies of our own government, marked by shameless deficit spending and Federal Reserve currency devaluation. It is this one-two punch – Congress spending more than it can tax or borrow, and the Fed printing money to make up the difference – that threatens to impoverish us by further destroying the value of our dollars”.
Mike Whitney expects Ron Paul to be destroyed by the media within the next few weeks:
Paul is reviled for his defense of liberty and his rejection of Bush’s sweeping changes to the Constitution. He’s been an outspoken critic of the Military Commissions Act, which permits torture and arbitrary detention of American citizens or foreign nationals on the orders of the executive. He has also condemned warrantless wiretaps, presidential signings, extraordinary rendition, the Real ID Act, and the Orwellian-sounding "Enforcement of the Laws to Restore Public Order Act" which allows Bush to declare martial law at his own discretion.

Ron Paul is a friend of personal freedom which makes him the de facto enemy of the White House brown-shirts. He has watched as our country has continued to slide towards military dictatorship. He has put himself on the firing-line to defend our way of life.

His candidacy is an act of patriotism which is why the Bush Throng will try to destroy him.
Personally, I would hate to see another Republican in the White House for the next 50 years. But Murkans are a wierd mob, and they sure do lurve them some GOP. So if it has to happen, this guy might just do. If he survives that long.

23 May 2007

An Insight Into The Wingnut Mind

I was just having a pee in the staff toilet when a gun-loving, war-loving, Howard-loving bloke I work with wandered in and started pissing into the urinal right next to me.

"I see Liverpool got a flogging," he said, referring to this morning's Champions League final, which AC Milan won 2-1.

But Liverpool most certainly did NOT get a "flogging". They dominated the whole match and were only denied victory by a penalty which bounced off a Milan player's back.

This guy normally doesn't even give a shit about what we Aussies call "soccer". But given the chance to score points against me, he couldn't help himself from making the point.

IMHO, this little episode explains a lot of what is wrong with the world right now.

Tim Dunlop Has Crossed To The Dark Side

This post confirms it. He even slams the Fairfax media for daring to directly quote the damning Amnesty report.

Dunlop's anti-Amnesty line is perfectly in synch with fellow News Ltd hack Andrew Bolt. Quelle surprise!? I wonder what Rupert's talking points were this morning?

Given the abundance of queries about the neocons' involvement in pre-planning 9/11, I cannot help wondering if it was really a coincidence that so many bloggers like Tim (and e.g. Jeff Jarvis) rapidly came to prominence on 9/11???

"Inside the tent"? My ****ing ****!

UPDATE: Just to explain myself a bit to the Club Troppo readers, it is standard wingnut tactics to attack critics rather than defend the indefensible. So it is that esteemed bodies like the UN and Amnesty regularly come under attack for saying what people like Bush and Howard don't want to hear.

I have posted the full text of Amnesty's comments about Australia below on this blog, so you can decide for yourself if they really merit such criticism. Personally I think all their comments are fully justified: Howard DOES use fear to his political advantage. Anyone who gets angry about their PM being compared to Mugabe should take a closer look at the David Hicks case, and what our soldiers are doing right now in Iraq. I would have compared Howard and Bush to Bin Laden as well, if I had been writing the report.

Baghdad's Green Zone Under Seige

Juan Cole has a leaked internal email:
Due to a theater-wide delay in food delivery, menu selections will be limited for the near future. While every effort will be made to provide balanced meals, it may not be possible to offer the dishes you are used to seeing at each meal. Fresh fruits and salad bar items will also be severely limited or unavailable.
Surely we are well beyond the stage where such a story reveals the wider picture of what is really going on in Iraq? Surely even us thick-headed Aussies can see what is going on now?

If more than four years of war, hundreds of billions of US dollars, and hundreds of thousands of sacrificed Iraqi lives still cannot even secure the bloody supply lines to the US Embassy in Baghdad, well...

Surely the whole thing is an obscene farce?

This is the stench of death that Howard is desperately running from.

Meanwhile, US Democarats thoroughly deserve headlines like this:
The entire government has failed us on Iraq

Few men or women elected in our history—whether executive or legislative, state or national—have been sent into office with a mandate more obvious, nor instructions more clear: Get us out of Iraq.

Yet after six months of preparation and execution—half a year gathering the strands of public support; translating into action, the collective will of the nearly 70 percent of Americans who reject this War of Lies, the Democrats have managed only this:

* The Democratic leadership has surrendered to a president—if not the worst president, then easily the most selfish, in our history—who happily blackmails his own people, and uses his own military personnel as hostages to his asinine demand, that the Democrats “give the troops their money”;

* The Democratic leadership has agreed to finance the deaths of Americans in a war that has only reduced the security of Americans;

* The Democratic leadership has given Mr. Bush all that he wanted, with the only caveat being, not merely meaningless symbolism about benchmarks for the Iraqi government, but optional meaningless symbolism about benchmarks for the Iraqi government.

* The Democratic leadership has, in sum, claimed a compromise with the Administration, in which the only things truly compromised, are the trust of the voters, the ethics of the Democrats, and the lives of our brave, and doomed, friends, and family, in Iraq.

You, the men and women elected with the simplest of directions—Stop The War—have traded your strength, your bargaining position, and the uniform support of those who elected you… for a handful of magic beans.
Look, John Howard, and tremble. Your days are very few indeed.

Even if you resign tomorrow and hand over power to some pathetic, grovelling, unelectable turd of a successor, your days are numbered. A padded cell awaits. A criminal jury awaits. True accountability awaits.

The Wendi Deng Watchers Club

In light of the recent New York Post allegations about how Lachlan Murdoch protects his celebrity friends, this photo of Nicole Kidman and Wendi Deng at the U.S Open (September 7, 2005) is worth a second look.

The Post allegations specifically mention Kidman and Russel Crowe as recipients of special media attention. And the whole gang was present for Kidman's latest wedding:
Sydney newspapers said about 230 family and friends including Naomi Watts, Hugh Jackman with his wife Deborra-Lee Furness, director Baz Luhrmann, Russell Crowe, News Corporation chairman and chief executive Rupert Murdoch and his wife Wendi Deng, and Lachlan and Sarah Murdoch attended the service...
Personally, I hate everything about Nicole Kidman, and consider her the second-most-over-rated actress ever (Meryl "A Dingo Took Me Ba-a-aby" Streep takes the top prize). Why does the press always fawn over her? Obviously it has to do with more than just a shared interest in Scientology. No wonder 95% of today's Hollywood movies are total crap.

Here's Wendi (still at the tennis) with her latest hubby and some other old farts:

Here's Wendi with people called "Anna Scott, Elizabeth Wyatt, and Kathy Freston" (I assume they must be celebrities of some sort) at a 2006 Oscars Party hosted by Vanity Fair:

Hey! Here's a song about Wendi, "The Ballad Of Wendi Deng", from a UK band called Marshmallow:
She was a junior executive at Star TV
Quickly she became more than just an employee
There's nothing wrong with exploiting family ties
It's all part of the spirit of free enterprise

To show his devotion
He gave her a promotion
Now she's flying high over the Pacific Ocean
Read all about it in Vanity Fair
At every news stand from Beijing to Bel-Air

A master of the universe and his trophy wife
Mixing corporate affairs with a personal life
New he wears the labels of the latest designer
And he wouldn't trade her for all the TV in China

Married on the Morning Glory
On the New York harbour
Did she sell her story?
Will they live happily ever after?

New she is the frequent flyer
On the wings of desire
Married to the mogul in the media empire
Read all about it
Watch it on Sky
On every television
From Soho to Shanghai
You can listen to it online here.

And still on New Ltd, you might want to download these pages from LimitedNews.com (previously featured in Margo's Web Diary) before they are taken offline due to a defamation lawsuit:
How and Why News Limited decided the 2004 election

UPDATE: Much, much more at my new blog, THE WENDI DENG WATCHERS CLUB!