Thursday, January 31, 2008

Dept. of Deja Vu: Project Artichoke

The interrogation center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba is not unique in American history, at least not unique in the familiar history of the United States. The CIA set up clandestine prisons for interrogation purposes during the Cold War in Germany, Japan and the largest, in the Panama Canal Zone. The "overseas interrogation program" dated to 1948 when Richard Helms realized his officers were being bamboozled by Soviet double agents in occupied Germany. An emergency program to interrogate suspected doubles and captured agents was undertaken at the beginning of the Korean War in 1950. Chief of covert operations Allen Dulles asked the military to help. Only the Navy responded giving the agency a former Navy brig in the Zone which the agency adapted into a interrogation prison and a secure location in which to test techniques of "mind control". These techniques centered around the use of psychological stress, hypnosis, and psychotropic drugs, including the newly discovered LSD. In these secret cells located in legal limbos the agency conducted harsh interrogations which under today's international (and US) legal standards constitute torture. The project was code named "Project Artichoke". In one experiment codenamed, "Ultra" federal prisoners in Kentucky were kept high on LSD for 77 consecutive days. When a civilian Army employee was slipped an LSD mickey he jumped out of his New York hotel window to his death. These men were considered expendable in the war against communism. Senior CIA officials including Helms, who later became director of CIA, destroyed almost all the records of America's early use of the same techniques used by it's totalitarian adversaries for fear of adverse public reaction. The fragmentary evidence that remains strongly indicates that interrogations using harsh techniques and drugs went on throughout the fifties. CIA scientists and doctors met monthly to discuss progress in Project Artichoke until 1956. Senate investigations, notably the Church Committee, got close to the project thirty years ago, but Congress never fully investigated the true nature of the agency's first overseas interrogations.
[source: Legacy of Ashes, Weiner 2007]

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Dept. of Deja Vu: The Cold War Begins

Harry Truman, experiencing a precipitous decline in public approval, was confronted by the spectre of an expanding Soviet Union in 1947. Greece was on the verge of falling to communist insurgents, and the British had announced they could no longer afford to prop up the existing friendly government. Truman and his Secretary of State, Dean Acheson, summoned Republican Senator Arthur Vandenberg, Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations to the White House to tell him that Congress would have to pay for a covert war against communist aggression in Europe. Truman made an address to a joint session of Congress in which he announced his policy of supporting free peoples against "armed minorities or outside pressures", a phrase clearly meant for Generalissimo Joseph Stalin. The Truman Doctrine was born and the Cold War began in earnest. Millions flowed to Greece along with military hardware and spies.

Arthur Vandenberg's nephew, Air Force General Hoyt Vandenberg, in charge of a nascent CIA, told a handful of Congress members in secret that the nation faced foreign threats as never before. "The oceans have shrunk, until today both Europe and Asia border the Untied States almost as do Canada and Mexico," he said[1]. The Charlatan, a former Air Force officer, repeated this phrase after the attack on September 11, 2001. And so the Second Cold War began in earnest. Millions flowed to obscure foreign nations along with military hardware and spies.
[1] Legacy of Ashes, Tim Weiner, 2007

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Fraud Rocks Europe's Exchanges

Wall Street no doubt felt the reverberations from the massive unwinding of future positions taken by a runaway trader at France's second largest bank, Societe Generale. The bank lost 4.9 billion euros secretly closing out 40-50 billion in future contracts traded by Jerome Kerviel. The FTSE fell 5.5%, CAC fell 6.8%, and DAX dropped 7.2% on Monday. European Union regulators are investigating the aftermath of the dumping that may have been exacerbated by short sellers with inside information. Kerviel allegedly circumvented bank controls including stealing associates' passwords, creating fake accounts, and hacking computer programs. The fraud is the biggest in history, and there is speculation that the Federal Reserve was forced into increasing the size of its interest rate cut because of the panic created in European bourses. The Fed admitted it knew of the problem in Paris before cutting the discount rate. The French central bank, Banc de France was apparently complicit in the effort to close out the fraudulent positions. Nevertheless, French President Sarkozy was not told about the fraud for three days. Now that is bad for business.
Update: Jerome Kerviel was taken into custody for questioning Saturday night in Paris. The thirty something trader was not a star but a quiet loner who had intimate knowledge of the trading computer system at Societe Generale. The CEO said the trades were straightforward positions linked to rising markets but were hidden in extremely sophisticated and varied ways. The trades were in the money in December, but when world markets started to drop, the margin calls probably became unsustainable

Friday, January 25, 2008

Ron Paul Speaks the Truth

I couldn't watch much of it because it was mostly a rehashed argument over whether to make rich Americans even more wealthy but making their tax cuts permanent. But the Republican debate did have Ron Paul on stage, and he made some cogent remarks about the latest collapse of the almighty Dow Jones rating--America's official scorecard. He rightly pointed out that the economy is taking a swan dive because of the enormous burden placed upon it by fighting two wars simultaneously. While the military outlays in Afghanistan could be justified--our intervention was in self defense, and we are part of a real international effort there--its easy see just how self immolating our reckless spending in the Iraq quagmire is. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office released a report saying that the federal deficit will reach $250 billion due to $30 billion in additional outlays for the wars. This out of control spending in the name of "security" causes additional billions in interest expense, increases inflation, destabilizes an already weak dollar, and puts us at a trade disadvantage, not to mention the mercy of our biggest creditors, China and Saudi Arabia. If you only listen to Republicans because you are a white male living in South Carolina for example, may I suggest you listen to Ron Paul? He is still related to reality.

'Toontime: Billary for President

[credit: Robert Ariail, The State, Columbia, SC]

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Le Shorter: A Database of Lies

The Center for Public Integrity has compiled an exhaustive database of the hundreds of lies and misrepresentations made by officials of the domestic Regime during the selling of the Iraq War. The Center concludes that on 532 separate occasions the Regime made unequivocal claims that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, links to Al Qaeda or both as part of an orchestrated public relations campaign to lead America to war on false pretenses.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Israel Factor III

AIPAC claims not to be involved in political spending, but no fewer that 51 pro-Israel PACs are operated by AIPAC officials or people who hold seats on AIPAC's two policy boards. The FEC has ruled that there is insufficient evidence that AIPAC controls the network of pro-Israel political action committees. Nevertheless, the widespread belief on Capitol Hill that AIPAC controls significant amounts of political funding remains. Pro Israel groups contributed $57 million to candidates and parties while Arab-American and Muslim PACs contributed slightly less than $800,000 between 1990 and 2004.

Pro-Israel groups helped Joe Lieberman defeat insurgent candidate Ned Lamont in the Democratic primary of 2006. Lieberman, who alienated many non-Jewish Democratic voters in Connecticut for his lock step support of Israel and the Iraq War, received a total of more than $145,000 from two-dozen different pro-Israel groups. None of these groups helped Lamont. Senator Hillary Clinton supported Palestinian statehood in 1998 and publicly embraced the wife of PLO leader, Yasser Arafat. She received strong criticism from the Israel lobby for her actions. Since launching her own political career, she has become a strong supporter of Israel including supporting the brutal and highly destructive second war against Lebanon in which civilian infrastructure was deliberately targeted. Pro-Israel PACs contributed more than $30,000 to her senatorial reelection campaign of 2006. As a New York senator running for the Democratic Presidential nomination, most pundits believe she will receive the bulk of the Jewish community's substantial campaign donations.

What happened to Senator Charles Percy (R-IL) when he refused to sign an AIPAC sponsored petition to President Ford protesting a reevaluation of US policy towards Israel has not been forgotten in poltical circles. Percy was generally supportive of Israel, but an out of state supporter of AIPAC spent $1.1 million on anti-Percy adversting in Illinois. His opponents in both primary and general elections of 1984 received substantial contributions from pro-Israel PACs. Percy narrowly lost reelection. The bottom line according to the authors of The Israel Lobby is that AIPAC has an unchallenged hold on Congress, and crossing the organization is to risk your political career. Former long time Senator Ernest Hollings (D-SC) said upon leaving office, "You can't have an Israeli policy other than what AIPAC gives you around here."

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Another Sacrifice on the Altar of Oil

The Regime recently decided to auction oil leases in the Chukchi Sea which is prime polar bear habitat in the United States. It has yet to issue a decision on whether to protect the polar bear which is suffering from impacts of climate change. The decision has been delayed despite considerable scientific evidence that the bear's habitat is shrinking and bear populations declining rapidly. Last week the Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it would miss the statutory deadline for making a final decision on the threatened status of the Arctic's apex predator. An announced thirty day delay would allow Lease Sale 193 to go forward on February 6th before the Endangered Species Act decision is made. Habitat that could be designated critical for the bear and the thirty million acres up for sale of drilling rights overlap. Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA), Chairman of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming called the Regime's ploy "regulatory insanity". In his letter to Interior Secretary Dick Kempthorne Rep. Markey asked that the lease sale be delayed until a final decision on the bear's status is made. He has introduced legislation in the House to delay the sale. Senator John Kerry (D-MA) has also written asking that the polar bear's legal status be determined first. [photo credit National Geographic Society]

Friday, January 18, 2008

'Toontime: Dolchstoss

[credit: Kevin Siers, Charlotte Observer]

The Israel Factor II

Israeli officials were exuberant when neoconservative and hard line Zionist Paul Wolfowitz was appointed Deputy Secretary of Defense in 2001. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had already expressed his belief in overthrowing Saddam Hussein in two open letters to former President Clinton. Wolfowitz, Vice President chief of staff I. Lewis Libby, and Princeton historian Bernard Lewis played prominent roles within the Regime to convince Bush to go to war on Iraq. Wolfowitz advocated for an attack on Iraq before Afghanistan at a Camp David meeting so strenuously that Cheney asked him to back off. Libby was also responsible for the report pushed on Secretary of State Collin Powell for his address to the UN on the issue of Iraq's WMD. Powell later regretted giving the address because the report was riddled with factual errors. The authors of The Israel Lobby say that these neocon officials were "obsessed" with removing Saddam from power. The push for war within the government was supported by sympathetic media commentators such as Charles Krauthammer and William Safire who wrote numerous articles insisting on war. The most visible Israel pressure group, American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) also backed the war. AIPAC executive director Howard Kohr told the neocon newspaper, New York Sun, in January, 2003 that the use of force in Iraq counted as one of the group's successes in the past year.

At the Pentagon Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith was in charge of the Office of Special Plans and the Policy Counterterrorism Evaluation Group. Both groups were staffed with ideological fellow travelers. David Wurmser and an associate of Richard Perle, Michael Maloof, were charged with finding links between Iraq and Al Qaeda. According to one journalist Israeli intelligence played a role in convincing Wolfowitz to bypass the CIA and rely heavily on the dubious exile, Ahmed Chalabi for information. Abram Shulsky, another neoconservative with long ties to Wolfowitz, headed the Office of Special Plans. The office was responsible for finding information that could be used to sell the Iraq war. According to the Guardian newspaper, the OSP forged a close tie with a parallel ad hoc intelligence capability within Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office for a source of alarmist reports that the official intelligence agency, Mossad, was not prepared to authorize. Michael Ledeen, neoconservative and fascist sympathizer, meet privately with fascist members of Italy's military intelligence with the knowledge of US government officials. In this commentator's opinion, Ledeen facilitated the entry of the forged and sensational Niger yellowcake documents, probably created by members of the notorious P2 Masonic cell, into the data stream collected by OSP and sent directly to the Vice President. The false report of attempted buys of enriched uranium ore by the Saddam regime had already been discredited by the CIA by the time the allegation made it into a presidential speech to Congress.

Chalabi had credence with the neoconservatives in government because he went to great lengths to establish links with individuals and groups in the Israel lobby. He was especially close to JINSA, but also had close ties with AEI, HI, WINEP and the most influential Israel support group, AIPAC. Chalabi pledged to forge good relations with Israel once he was installed in power in Iraq. Bernard Lewis, the academic and pro-war Bush advisor, was advocating that the INC leader be placed in charge of Baghdad after the invasion. Chalabi even offered to rebuild the oil pipeline between Mosul and Haifa. Benjamin Netanyahu boasted in mid June, 2003 that, "It won't be long when you see Iraqi oil flowing to Haifa." In view of subsequent events that statement certainly qualifies as another Chalabi pipe dream.

An operative delusion was the President's dream of transforming the Middle East into a region of peaceful democracies, starting with the toppling of Saddam Hussein. This vision is said to come from Israeli politician Natan Sharansky, whose writings apparently impressed the Charlatan, but was also a vision shared by many in Israel. Six years after the invasion encouraged by Israel and it's American lobbyists that dream has clearly turned into a nightmare for both America and Iraq.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Israel Factor I

Of all the reasons offered for going to war against Saddam in the aftermath of the fiasco, the considerable influence of Israel and Israel's supporters in the United States is underestimated. That Israel political leaders welcomed an attack against a Arab leader they viewed as unstable and dangerous is undeniable. Their view of the security threat posed by Saddam Hussein was demonstrated when the Israeli Air Force bombed the Osirak nuclear reactor prior to it becoming operational in 1981. They mounted a public relations campaign in the spring of 2002 that was second only to the Regime's Herculean efforts to push American into an attack. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres made numerous public statements in the United States to officials and the media depicting Saddam as a dangerous dictator who posed not only an imminent threat to Israel, but also to the United States. The Israeli chorus was joined by former Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Benjamin Netanyahu. Israel's efforts to provoke an attack went beyond mere press statements. The Senate Intelligence Committee released a report after the revelation of no WMD in Iraq, stating that much of Israeli intelligence about Saddam given to the Regime was false. In the game of nations, getting another to do the heavy lifting for you is not a new tactic.

The authors of The Israel Lobby make a firm distinction between Israel's efforts to start a war against Iraq and those of the neoconservatives operating within the Regime. They properly place the blame for the successful propaganda campaign advocating a 'preemptive' invasion of Iraq at the feet of the neocons in government and media. However, prominent neoconservatives in the US also have extensive interconnections with pro-Israel policy groups. The authors refuse to call the policy network a "right wing cabal"[1] but a listing of the network may cause the reader to conclude the cabal term is appropriate [2]. Elliot Abrams (CSP, HI, PNAC); William Bennett (AEI, CSP, PNAC); John Bolton (AEI, JINSA, PNAC); Douglas Feith (CSP, JINSA, ZOA); Charles Krauthammer (FDD, Weekly Standard editor); William Kristol (PNAC cofounder, Weekly Standard editor); Michael Ledeen (AEI, JINSA); Richard Perle (AEI, CSP, HI, JINSA, PNAC, MEF); Daniel Pipes (PNAC, MEF, WINEP); Norman Podhoretz (HI, PNAC, Commentary); Michael Rubin (AEI, CSP, MEF); Paul Wolfowitz (AEI, PNAC, WINEP); David Wurmser (AEI, MEF, FDD); James Woolsey, and others since the list is not exhaustive.

Neocon agitation for an attack on Iraq can be traced to the early nineties when Douglas Feith wrote foreign policy articles supporting Occupied Territory settlements and their annexation. In June of 1996 he co-authored with David Wurmser and Richard Perle the "Clean Break" report for incoming Prime Minister, Bejamin Netanyahu under the auspices of an Israeli right-wing think tank. Among other positions, the report advocated removing Saddam Hussein from power to insure Israel's future national security. Netanyahu did not implement their advice, but the three neocons were soon urging the same action upon the American government.

In January 1998 neoconservatives wrote an open letter to President Clinton under the auspices of PNAC that caused a sensation among Washington policy wonks. It was signed by Bolton, Pearl, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz among others. A second letter followed in February. This one was also signed by Ann Lewis, former political director of the Democratic National Committee, and former Congressman Stephen J. Solarz (D-NY) and the usual suspects. Neocons lobbied extensively for the passage of the Iraq Liberation Act which mandated US support for efforts to remove Saddam Hussein from power. The Act authorized $97 million to fund groups committed to overthrowing Saddam, such as Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress. Perle, Wolfowitz, Woolsey and JINSA all lobbied hard for the bill's passage. It passed by unanimous consent in the Senate and by a lopsided margin in the House. President Clinton signed the bill into law in October, 1998, but did little to implement it during his final scandal plagued years in office. However, his wife Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) was consistent with his policy of regime change when she finally voted for the invasion on October 11, 2002. [continued]

[1] cabal: to unite in a small party to promote private views by intrique. Websters Dictionary Unabridged
[2] AEI-American Enterprise Institute; CSP-Center for Security Policy; HI-Hudson Institute; FDD-Foundation for Defense of Democracies; JINSA-Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs; MEF-Middle East Forum; PNAC-Project for a New American Century; WINEP-Washington Institute for Near East Policy; ZOA-Zionist Organization of America.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Zion Exception

The United States went to war against Saddam Hussein's Iraq on the pretext that Saddam was attempting to produce nuclear weapons. However, when Middle East security problems are discussed in United States policy circles, little mention is ever made of Israel's secret nuclear arsenal. Experts estimate that Israel has an arsenal of 200 or more nuclear warheads. The US has insisted that dozen of states sign the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty, but Israel has not. The Kennedy Administration wanted to restrain Israel's nuclear ambitions in the early 60's and attempted to monitor Israel's development efforts with tours of nuclear facilities, but Israel did not cooperate and actively obstructed these efforts in a way reminiscent of Iran's current foot dragging. The Kennedy administration was reluctant to confront Israel on the issue. When CIA Director Richard Helms informed President Johnson that Israel had developed nuclear capability in 1968, his response was to ask Helms to bury the intelligence in his agency. Johnson clearly had no intention of trying to stop Israel from getting the bomb. Israel also has an active chemical and biological weapons program, and has yet to ratify the Chemical or Biological Weapons Convention. Similarly, the US has turned a blind eye to this capability. But inconsistent policy positions has not deterred the current administration from threatening to attack Iran for attempting to develop a nuclear capability, despite the obvious incentive for Iran to balance power in the region.

Israel has received $154 billion (2005) in direct economic and military assistance from the US since its founding in 1948, far more than any other state. Much of that was in the form of grants. Israel is the only nation that does not have to account to the US for how the economic aid is spent. Currently Israel is receiving $3billion a year in aid, about 75% of which is military assistance. The US has subsidized Israel's successful economic development and military preeminence in the region. In return for this generous and largely unconditional subsidy Israeli leaders have felt free to ignore American foreign policy positions. Israel has continued building West Bank settlements, used US supplied cluster bombs on Lebanon contrary to agreement and annexed Syria's Golan Heights. The fact of this overwhelming American bias towards Israel that infuriates some Arab leaders, and makes facilitating peace negotiations between Israel and its Muslim neighbors so difficult.

[source: The Israel Lobby & US Foreign Policy ]

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Le Shorter: Give Us A Break, Mitt

Corporate scion Mitt Romney in his home state of Michigan yesterday made another hackneyed and maudlin appeal to misguided patriotism. The only 'accomplishment' of the current Republican Regime is to embroil us in a foreign policy fiasco of historic proportions. Yet Republican candidates insist on buttressing the outgoing decider in chief by repeating the theme that only they can be trusted with the nation's security. The Iraq War has seriously undermined our security, reduced our influence in the world, curtailed our civil rights, established an offshore gulag, allowed the commission of war crimes and killed tens of thousands of innocents. With a record like that, who needs them?

In a related development, the Navy admitted that it could not be sure that threats made by radio came from Iranian speed boats that came close to US destroyers in the Strait of Hormuz. A spokesman said,
“We’re saying that we cannot make a direct connection to the boats
there. It could have come from the shore, from another ship passing by.However, it happened in the middle of all the very unusual activity, so as we assess the information and situation, we still put it in the total aggregate of what happened Sunday morning. I guess we’re not saying that it absolutely came
from the boats, but we’re not saying it absolutely didn’t.”
Without definitive evidence of an attempted kamikaze attack, the Charlatan issued his own threat saying that Iran would suffer serious consequences if it attacked US warships.

Friday, January 11, 2008


"I'd turn the glass over for you kid, but Congress won't let me." cartoon credit: Jim Morin

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Beyond Dirty Tricks

At the risk of sounding like an asshole: the continuing impasse at the Federal Election Commission could cause problems for the only Democratic candidate, John Edwards, who will take federal matching campaign funds. The Commission is frozen in place because of a lack of a quorum. There are four vacancies on the board which have not been filled. The remaining two members cannot conduct official business and federal matching funds could be delayed as a result. Despite stiff opposition from a conservative Democratic Senator Diane Finestein, the Regime has refused to withdraw the nomination of Hans A. von Spakovsky, a former Justice Department civil rights attorney that has created a furor for his history of suppressing minority and Democratic voting rights [1]. The Charlatan placed Spakovsky on the FEC using a recess appointment, but von Spakovsky resigned on New Year's Eve. It was von Spakovsky who came up with the idea of purging election rolls of felons. This process led to the erroneous disenfranchisement of thousands of mostly Democratic voters in Florida prior to the 2000 election. For his clever work in voter suppression, von Spakovsy was rewarded with a front office job at the civil rights division.

Edwards, who has failed to win either Iowa or New Hampshire, is facing a very tough race in South Carolina against the Obamanon. The 50% of South Carolina voters who are black voters are expected to vote for the ethnic candidate. That means Edwards faces a serious competitive disadvantage in the race if he does not have the funds to broadcast his populist message to 23 states before Super Tuesday. The FEC certified on December 20th that Edwards was entitled to receive $8,825,424.82 in federal matching funds. Is this Mexican standoff what pundit Chris Edwards cryptically referred to when he said, "the Democratic establishment will put out the fire of insurgency"? The corporate suzerainty of American politics will never be broken until the dominate role of corporate campaign contributions are removed or drastically reduced.[2]

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Damned Lies: The Gulf of Tonkin

Agence France-Presse (AFP) reports that a newly released NSA report demonstrates that the United States government lied about the Gulf of Tonkin incident in order to escalate US intervention in the Vietnamese civil war. The official story was that North Vietnamese torpedo boats launched an "unprovoked attack" against a U.S. destroyer on "routine patrol" in the Tonkin Gulf and that North Vietnamese PT boats followed up with a "deliberate attack" on a pair of U.S. ships two days later. The truth was very different. Rather than being on a routine patrol on Aug. 2, 1964 the U.S. destroyer Maddox was actually engaged in aggressive intelligence gathering maneuvers coordinated with attacks on North Vietnam by the South Vietnamese commandos, navy and the Laotian air force under OpPlan 34A. One of the Navy pilots flying overhead that night was squadron commander James Stockdale, who gained fame later as a POW and then as Ross Perot's vice presidential candidate. "I had the best seat in the house to watch that event," recalled Stockdale a few years ago, "and our destroyers were just shooting at phantom targets — there were no PT boats there....There was nothing there but black water and American fire power."

Nevertheless, then Defense Secretary Robert McNamara told Congress that reports of attacks on US destroyers in the gulf by North Vietnamese patrol boats were "unimpeachable". Classified signals intelligence shows that there were no such attacks on US naval forces. President Lyndon Johnson used the alleged incident to persuade Congress to pass authorization for direct armed US intervention, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, at the subsequent cost of some 55,000 American military personnel killed in action. The resolution passed Congress with only two dissenting Senators voting no. The media shares some of the responsibility for the propaganda succeeding because journalists were in possession of information which cast doubt on the military version of events, but chose not to expose the lies. In a moment of truth, Johnson later said, "For all I know, our sailors were shooting at flying fish out there."

DEJA VUE DEPT.: After inconveniencing the residents of Jerusalem so he could view the sunrise undisturbed by city lights, the Charlatan resumed provoking Iran today after US warships in the Strait of Hormuz allegedly warned off Iranian patrol boats which dared to come close to the American ships. He repeated his assertion that Iran is "a threat to world peace." He did not mention the US invasion and occupation of formerly sovereign Iraq in his remarks.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Le Shorter: The McCain Resurrection

New Hampshire Republicans desperate for a viable national candidate turned to an old and familiar war horse, John McCain. Romney is too liberal and a Mormon, Giuliani is too corrupt and Huckabee is too low church and unknown. McCain, who claims to put the country above self interest and constantly refers to his service in a costly, failed foreign adventure, is the man who would bring us another Korea. McCain on a Sunday talk show said he did not think Americans cared if we stayed in Iraq for "one hundred years or a thousand years or ten thousand years" as long as fewer Americans are dying.[1] The cost of both wars is estimated to rise to $8000 for every American over the next decade and cause serious economic dislocations according to the Congressional Budget Office. [2]

An Emigrant's Lament

Through spacious skies over amber waves of grain I fly, leaving for
another land unknown to me,
Save reports of peaceful beauty and the outlines of an old cartograph;
Not knowing if those gone before will share that distant land's grace,
'Neath a star spangled azimuth imagined
To be awed in silent reverie?

Ill from this land's numbing digital clang and hum,
Where all not new is waste;
Tired of the refrain, 'you have no place',
For there is no profit in fraternity;
Leaving for another land.

A man's past may be his own disgrace,
Yet his sins are traded in the marketplace;
As would grave diggers upon Caesar's bones discard the good
Also buried in the case;
The hateful minds and envious lies are left behind,
Near the majestic purple mountains fading past;
Leaving for another land.

Pledge allegiance to a bloody flag,
and the hypocrisy for which it truly stands?;
A nation that sells it's own integrity will fall,
While the tribunes witnessing the profligacy claim to be appalled;
Carry me onward to future's promise winged vessel,
Over the cleansing blue expanse;
For the care and regret will not last,
Another life I hope to claim;
Leaving for a new homeland.

Friday, January 04, 2008

At the Barricades

The Regime is fighting on all fronts now as the American people make it increasingly clear that they are fed up with laissez faire capitalism at home and neoimperialism abroad. Another example of its efforts to stem the tide is it's directive to HHS to limit the availability of Medicaid for families of modest means. It has already vetoed expanding the popular SChip insurance program for poor children. Now state officials in Louisiana, Oklahoma and Ohio are finding that the agency intends to apply an August 17 directive limiting SChip benefits to families with children that have incomes less than 250% of the federal poverty level to Medicaid too. Ohio wanted to expand Medicaid coverage to families with incomes of 300% to include an additional 35,000 children. The Regime rejected that initiative saying it would take business away from for profit health insurers. Please Sir, may I have some more?

'Toontime: Ducking in the Halls

[cartoon credit: Rex Babin, Sacramento Bee]

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Le Shorter: No Questions in Iowa

The Divine Ms. H is not taking any more questions from the audiences in Iowa. Could be nerves or the realization she is passing into history with her husband.

UPDATE: Obamanon won going away in the stretch of the Iowa distance contest before a big crowd. The pre race favorite, Heartbreak Lady, led in the early going, but faded after stumbling on the inside at the three-quarter post. The three in the money now face a sprint in New Hampshire. The onus is on the place finisher, Favorite Son, to win that one. South Carolina, known for it's sloppy track and big electoral purse, will be the deciding race in the 2008 Democratic triple crown of politics.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Le Shorter: Saudi Blogger Arrested

Its a sign that the thought police are reading your scree and taking you seriously. But that kind of attention you do not really want. Saudi blogger Fouad al-Farhan is being held for interrogation by the Kingdom's Interior Ministry. He was arrested December 10th in Jidda, and he wrote friends two weeks before he knew his detention was coming. You can check out his letter in English at his Web log . Apparently Fouad went too far in criticising the authoritarian government for it's treatment of political prisoners. He has been asked to sign a letter of apology. A government spokesman said he did not believe the blogger will remain in detention long, once they get "the information they need from him". Ouch.