Thursday, December 28, 2006

What Bush really said: I don't know where he is

Just as kind of reminder for us to keep our eyes on the ball - and I know it's hard work since Bush doesn't really care about bin Laden, being too busy surging in Iraq, I thought I'd re-reun Bush's exact words on why he's not looking for the architect of 9/11.

This is from a White House press conference that took place in The James S. Brady Briefing Room (hotcha!) in March of 2002, and lifted verbatum from the transcript on the White House web site.

So I don't know where he is. You know, I just don't spend that much time on him, Kelly, to be honest with you. I'm more worried about making sure that our soldiers are well-supplied; that the strategy is clear; that the coalition is strong; that when we find enemy bunched up like we did in Shahikot Mountains, that the military has all the support it needs to go in and do the job, which they did.


Q But don't you believe that the threat that bin Laden posed won't truly be eliminated until he is found either dead or alive?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, as I say, we haven't heard much from him. And I wouldn't necessarily say he's at the center of any command structure. And, again, I don't know where he is. I -- I'll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him. I know he is on the run. I was concerned about him, when he had taken over a country. I was concerned about the fact that he was basically running Afghanistan and calling the shots for the Taliban.

Source: White House web site

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The laughs are on me

A reader responds to the accusation that Bush might need a new brain:

"*Actually, send to me by my buddy Terence Lyons, a reporter for The Santa Monica Mirror. Thanks Ter. Oh, in case you were wondering, when I joined Mensa some years back, they tested my IQ at 165."
Rich, absolutely rich. Lovenstein is a hoax.

Claim: According to a study by the Lovenstein Institute, President Bush has the lowest IQ of all presidents of past 50 years.
Status: False. Origins: No, this isn't a real news report, nor does it describe a real study. There isn't a "Lovenstein Institute" in Scranton, Pennsylvania (or anywhere else in the USA), nor do any of the people quoted in the story exist, because this is just another spoof that was taken too seriously. The article quoted above began circulating on the Internet during the summer of 2001. In furtherance of the hoax, later that year pranksters thought to register and erect a web site around it in an attempt to fool people into thinking there really was such an institute.
Well, hell, that sucks. An April Fool’s joke 4 months early. But I see from the first link provided that I’m not the only one to be suckered in by this hoax (The London Guardian and Gary Trudeau also bit). Perhaps this hoax’s appeal lies in its scary, near-reality ring of truth. One does ask oneself, how can this guy (Bush) act so fucking stupid? Answer: he must be fucking stupid, and along comes this old prank to bolster one’s opinion.

However, this Lovenstein report does not take away one iota from the fact that Bush really is an idiot, and yes, very stupid. This last is my personal opinion, based on watching this guy in action for the last several years, including trying to translate his speech from Bushism to English; a difficult and thankless task.

Speaking of IQ's, an ACTUAL study shows that Bush's IQ is higher than John Kerry's:
OK, so I followed that link to the "actual study" guy, and lo, more quesswork. Well, maybe a “study” like I “study” bikini-clad babes, but not as scientific as, say, an ABC news poll. Further, the subject of that article guesses people’s IQs from things like their reputed SAT scores and such. Bush is claimed to have tested at 1200. Like I believe that. Do you have any idea how easy it was then to have somebody take your test for you? I should know, I made a few bucks doing that very thing myself, back when I was a broke college freshman.

But, just for laughs, let's say Bush actually took the test himself. Since the SAT score is a combination of two scores, verbal and math, and assuming he’s got both halves of his brain working roughly in synch (which I doubt) he would have a math score of 600 (barely conceivable, but possible) and a verbal score of 600, to which I say, bullshit. You have to be able to read to take a SAT test, and Bush is dyslexic, which is sad, but it poses a huge burdle for taking tests that require heavy reading ability. But since we're splitting hairs, that "SAT" score that everyone keeps pointing to in the upper left corner of Bush's Yale transcript is actually a C.E.E.D. score (Common Entrance Examination for Design). Why is that on a Yale transcript, do you know? I thought Bush's major was cheerleading.

Some examples of Bushisms:

"It's bad in Iraq. Does that help?" --George W. Bush, after being asked by a reporter whether he's in denial about Iraq, Washington, D.C., Dec. 7, 2006

"This business about graceful exit just simply has no realism to it at all." --George W. Bush, on speculation that U.S. troops could be withdrawn from Iraq, Amman, Jordan, Nov. 30, 2006

"The only way we can win is to leave before the job is done." --George W. Bush, Greeley, Colo., Nov. 4, 2006

"One has a stronger hand when there's more people playing your same cards." --George W. Bush, on holding six-party talks with North Korea, Washington, D.C., Oct. 11, 2006

"Update: Amost forgot: if you were wondering about Bush's emotional stability, you might want to check out Dr Justin Frank's book, Bush On the Couch (Harper-Collins, 2004). Bush is not just dumb, he's looney tunes big time." What a steaming pile of you know what! This creep psychoanalyzes President Bush without ever having met him. Well then, I will analyze this jerk. He became a therapist because he is so screwed up he is trying to fix himself. No "Dr.", psychiatric or otherwise, who is worth a cr@p would ever make a diagnosis without a direct examination of the patient. The author needs a few more days of rehab.

Actually, Dr Frank doesn’t “psychoanalyze” Bush; that would be slamming Bush onto a couch and treating him. Dr Frank delivers a diagnosis, much as the FBI profiles serial killers, and the Pentagon profiled world leaders back in WWII and for pretty much the same reason. This is a self-defense reaction, you understand, since anyone (even you, I daresay) is entitled to diagnosis a bully, especially when he’s holding the codes to the nuclear football.

Considering the APA’s rather odd response to prisoner torture in Guantanamo ([During our visit to Guantanamo]...We did not interview any detainees, speak to any detainees' lawyers, or witness any interrogations. We left Guantanamo by 5 p.m.), the so-called ethical position mandated by the Goldwater Rule leaves me indifferent.

For true believers, any opposition to the Left qualifies as mental illness. "Doctors" like this one flourished in the good old Soviet Union, providing a veneer of medical authority to justify sending dissenters to the gulags and reeducation camps. "Bush on the Couch" is politically-driven hate masquerading as professional analysis. The doctor in question should perhaps face professional charges for issuing a false and nonexistent diagnosis of a man he has never met or examined. The people who read this and take it seriously are merely mini-Michael Moores. They are hard-wired political bigots who will believe anything they hear that reinforces their bigotry (like the Lovenstein institute).

“True believers”? “Hard-wired?” "Bigotry"? WTF is that? I think I’ve made it more than clear that this blog is the forum of a politically non-aligned civil libertarian, American citizen, Navy veteran, and ex-big-rig truck driver. We hate Democrats, too when necessary. And what the hell does Michael Moore have to do with anything? Did I mention his name? Did I go to his movies, or read his books, or vote for him for governor of Michigan? Hell yes, to all the above. But you didn’t read it here, because Moore ain’t got shit to do with George Bush.

And as for “politically motivated,” of course it’s politically motivated. He’s the president of the United States, for Christ’s sake: that’s a political office last time I checked. And anybody that wants to be president deserves anything that comes his way, IMHO.

But thanks for the tip.

Here's an article about the Goldwater flap. Note how many psychiatrists signed up to hammer Barry. Shows what shrinks care about ethics committees' rules.

Oct. 9, 1964

"IS BARRY GOLDWATER PSYCHOLOGICALLY FIT TO BE PRESIDENT? asked the full-page ads in the New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer and San Francisco News-Call Bulletin. Readers who went beyond that provocative question discovered that a magazine called Fact, which paid for the ads, had sought answers from the 12,356 psychiatrists listed by the American Medical Association.

Last week Fact published the results.

Why any psychiatrist would respond at all to such an appeal, from such a quarter, is of itself fit subject for analysis. The simplest inquiry could have informed the doctors that Fact is the by-blow of Publisher Ralph Ginzburg, 35, whose first venture, Eros, was put out of business by the U.S. Post Office on 28 obscenity counts. Yet Ginzburg got 2,417 responses. And of these, two out of three were willing to have their names printed; all but 571 saw nothing wrong in judging Goldwater's mental balance without ever having examined the "patient."

By a vote of 1,189 to 657, the psychiatrists declared the Republican presidential candidate unfit for the office he seeks. Sample diagnoses: "His public utterances strongly suggest the megalomania of a paranoid personality" (Dr. Randolph Leigh Jr., Cincinnati); "a very mature person, mature enough to be a realist, and to adapt to the world as it is" (Dr. John P. McKenney, Imola, Calif.). Ginzburg could not help adding his own conclusions, along with a clutch of malevolent cartoons.

Fact's poll invoked a prompt protest from the American Psychiatric Association and the American Medical Association as a vicious example of "yellow journalism." But the A.P.A. did not totally absolve its members either. Those who responded, said the A.P.A. in effect, were practicing personal politics and not medicine. Which scarcely explained how and why so many psychiatrists confused the analytical couch with the political stump.

(Maybe they don't care for megalomaniacs with access to nuclear weapons. -ed.)

Saturday, December 23, 2006

All Bush needs for Christmas is a brain

Ripped from the headlines*

Presidential IQs:


A report published Monday, by the Lovenstein Institute of Scranton, Pennsylvania, detailed its findings of a four-month study of the intelligence quotient of President George W. Bush. Since 1973, the Lovenstein Institute has published its research to the educational community on each new president, which includes the famous "IQ" report among others.

There have been twelve presidents over the past 50 years, from F.D. Roosevelt to G.W. Bush, who were rated based on scholarly achievements: 1. Writings that they produced without aid of staff. 2. Their ability to speak with clarity, and several other psychological factors, which were then scored using the Swanson/Crain System of intelligence ranking.

The study determined the following IQs of each president as accurate to within five percentage points. In order by presidential term:

Franklin Delano Roosevelt [D] 142,
Harry S Truman [D] 132,
Dwight David Eisenhower [R] 122
John Fitzgerald Kennedy [D] 174,
Lyndon Baines Johnson [D] 126,
Richard Milhous Nixon [R] 155,
Gerald R. Ford [R] 121,
James Earle Carter [D] 175,
Ronald Wilson Reagan [R] 105
George Herbert Walker Bush [R] 98,
William Jefferson Clinton [D] 182,
George Walker Bush [R] 91

In order of IQ rating:

182 . . William Jefferson Clinton [D]
175 . . James Earle Carter [D]
174 . . John Fitzgerald Kennedy [D]
155 . . Richard Milhous Nixon [R]
147 . . Franklin Delano Roosevelt [D]
132 . . Harry S Truman [D]
126 . . Lyndon Baines Johnson [D]
122 . . Dwight David Eisenhower [R]
121 . . Gerald R. Ford [R]
105 . . Ronald Wilson Reagan [R]
098 . . George Herbert Walker Bush [R]
091 . . George Walker Bush [R]

The six Republican presidents of the past 50 years had an average IQ of 115.5, with President Nixon having the highest at 155. President George W. Bush rated the lowest of all the Republicans with an IQ of 91.

The six Democratic presidents of the past 50 years had an average IQ of 156, with President Clinton having the highest IQ, at 182. President Lyndon B. Johnson was rated the lowest of all the Democrats with an IQ of 126. No president other than Carter [D] has released his actual IQ (176). Note the institute measured him at 175.

Among comments made concerning the specific testing of President G.W. Bush, his low ratings are due to his apparently difficult command of the English language in public statements, his limited use of vocabulary [6,500 words for Bush versus an average of 11,000 words for other presidents], his lack of scholarly achievements other than a basic MBA and an absence of any body of work which could be studied on an intellectual basis.

The complete report documents the methods and procedures used to arrive at these ratings, including depth of sentence structure and voice stress confidence analysis.

"All the Presidents prior to George W. Bush had a least one book under their belt, and most had written several white papers during their education or early careers. Not so with President Bush," Dr. Lovenstein said. "He has no published works or writings, which made it more difficult to arrive at an assessment. We relied more heavily on transcripts of his unscripted public

The Lovenstein Institute of Scranton, Pennsylvania think tank includes high caliber historians, psychiatrists, sociologists, scientists in human behavior, and psychologists. Among their ranks are Dr. Werner R. Lovenstein, world-renowned sociologist, and Professor Patricia F.Dilliams, a world-respected psychiatrist. For more information on the Lovenstein Institute, go to


*Actually, send to me by my buddy Terence Lyons, a reporter for The Santa Monica Mirror. Thanks Ter. Oh, in case you were wondering, when I joined Mensa some years back, they tested my IQ at 165.

Update: Amost forgot: if you were wondering about Bush's emotional stability, you might want to check out Dr Justin Frank's book, Bush On the Couch (Harper-Collins, 2004). Bush is not just dumb, he's looney tunes big time.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

No sleepy-bye for these bears

Oh oh, this is not good. is reporting that some bears have stopped hibernating.

Climate Change vs. Mother Nature:
Scientists Reveal That Bears Have Stopped Hibernating
By Geneviève Roberts
The Independent UK
Thursday 21 December 2006

Bears have stopped hibernating in the mountains of northern Spain, scientists revealed yesterday, in what may be one of the strongest signals yet of how much climate change is affecting the natural world.

In a December in which bumblebees, butterflies and even swallows have been on the wing in Britain, European brown bears have been lumbering through the forests of Spain's Cantabrian mountains, when normally they would already be in their long, annual sleep.

Bears are supposed to slumber throughout the winter, slowing their body rhythms to a minimum and drawing on stored resources, because frozen weather makes food too scarce to find. The barely breathing creatures can lose up to 40 per cent of their body weight before warmer springtime weather rouses them back to life.

But many of the 130 bears in Spain's northern cordillera - which have a slightly different genetic identity from bear populations elsewhere in the world - have remained active throughout recent winters, naturalists from Spain's Brown Bear Foundation (La Fundación Oso Pardo - FOP) said yesterday.

The change is affecting female bears with young cubs, which now find there are enough nuts, acorns, chestnuts and berries on the bleak mountainsides to make winter food-gathering sorties "energetically worthwhile", scientists at the foundation, based in Santander, the Cantabrian capital, told El Pais newspaper.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The resurrection of habeas corpus

Despite all the self-flagellation, teeth gnashing, pity wallowing, and name calling by civil libertarians lately (including Yours Truly), the Republic may not be in flames after all.

This is not to say that the Constitution-trashers (i.e., George “It’s Just A Goddamned Piece of Paper” Bush and the Cheney Cabal) aren’t still flicking their Bics, but some people may have rediscovered their cojones after all. Of course, having a newly installed Democratic majority standing behind you does afford some small measure of moral support. That said, Arlen Specter (R-PA), last seen begging the Supreme Court to clean up the shit pile he had left on the Senate floor with the Military Commissions Act, has announced (Da-Dah!) the Habeas Corpus Restoration Act of 2006.

Take it away, Arlen!

It is my view that the Federal courts will strike down the provisions in the legislation eliminating Federal court jurisdiction for a number of reasons. One is that the Constitution of the United States is explicit that habeas corpus may be suspended only in time of rebellion or invasion. We are suffering neither of those alternatives at the present time. We have not been invaded, and there has not been a rebellion. That much is conceded.


In the limited time I have today I will not go into great detail during the course of the argument as it appears in the Congressional Record as to why that does not maintain the traditional constitutional right of habeas corpus, a right which has existed in Anglo Saxon jurisprudence since King John in 1215 at Runnymede. The Supreme Court of the United States in the Hamdi case made it plain that these habeas corpus rights apply to aliens as well as to citizens.


It was my view as I expressed it at the time that with the severability clause the Federal courts would eliminate the restriction on their jurisdiction. But as a precautionary matter, to put the matter in issue, this legislation is being introduced at this time.

I ask unanimous consent that the summary of the Habeas Corpus Restoration Act of 2006 be printed in the Record.

The bill is co-sponsored by Patrick Leahy (D-VT ), and is expected to be presented for a floor vote with the new Senate session, immediately after the end of the New Year’s break.

You may want to check out Leahy’s statement on his introduction of the Effective Terrorists Prosecution Act of 2006.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Was Posse Comitatus really repealed?

FEMA prison camp?

As more and more of our privacy rights go down the drain, it looks like the president may have accrued another prerogative: the right to declare us enemy combatants and have (wait for it) the National Guard (!) throw us in concentration camps, said camps being under construction as we speak.

Ted Rall informs us (via smirkingchimp) of the John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007, or Public Law 109-364:

"The [military] Secretary [of the Army, Navy or Air Force] concerned may order a member of a reserve component under the Secretary's jurisdiction to active duty...The training or duty ordered to be performed...may of operations or missions undertaken by the member's unit at the request of the President or Secretary of Defense."

The National Guard, used to maintain order during natural disasters and civil disturbances and the sole vehicle available under U.S. law to enforce a declaration of martial law, has previously been controlled by state governors. They have now been stripped of that control. Thanks to the JWDAA, Bush or Rumsfeld can now deploy National Guardsmen in American cities without obtaining permission from state governors.

Section 526 of the Warner Act goes further still. It states that the "Governor of a State...with the consent of the [military] Secretary concerned, may order a member of the National Guard to perform Active Guard and Reserve duty..." The key word is "may." A governor can no longer deploy the Guard in his or her state without first getting Rumsfeld's permission.

Patrick Leahy (D-VT) sounded the alarm during senatorial debate, but U.S. state-controlled media ignored him. The Warner Act, he said, "includes language that subverts solid, longstanding posse comitatus statutes that limit the military's involvement in law enforcement, thereby making it easier for the President to declare martial law...We fail our Constitution, neglecting the rights of the states, when we make it easier for the president to declare martial law and trample on local and state sovereignty."

Only one governor, Kathleen Blanco of Louisiana, made a fuss over the Warner Act. A spokesman for the National Governors Association requested a wimpy "clarification" concerning what circumstances might prompt Bush to impose martial law. As far as I can determine this column marks the first time the JWDAA has been mentioned in the mainstream media.

Now the dark men who engineered America's post-9/11 police state have watched the public reject their policies. The incoming Democratic majority Congress will be able to hold hearings and launch investigations that could lead to their indictments and removal from office. John Dingell, the liberal incoming chairman of the Commerce Committee did nothing to dissuade GOP fears of "a blizzard of subpoenas": "As the Lord High Executioner said in 'The Mikado,'" Dingell recently joked, "I have a little list."


On the other hand, the law may not in fact be a law after all.

tobefree posts at, (in response to an article by Jeff Stein, CQ National Security Editor at

15. It's not actually a real law!!!

I've been lurking on DU for a year or more and only recently registered to join in order to have an active voice. This subject is one that I feel there is solid ground on which to actually render the law null and void immediately.

From the U.S. Constitution Article 1, Section 7: “If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevents its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.”

Since Congress cannot vote while in adjournment, a pocket veto cannot be overridden. A pocket veto is a legislative maneuver in American federal lawmaking. The U.S. Constitution requires the President to sign or veto any legislation placed on his desk within ten days (not including Sundays). If he does not, then it becomes law by default. The one exception to this rule is if Congress adjourns before the ten days are up. In such a case, the bill does not become law; it is effectively, if not actually, vetoed. Ignoring legislation, or “putting a bill in one’s pocket” until Congress adjourns is thus called a pocket veto.

Case Point 1: Congress passed H.R. 6166, the Military Commissions Act, on September 29th, presented it to the President on October 10th, and adjourned on October 13th. Bush signed it on October 17th, the week after Congress had adjourned, thereby rendering it vetoed by constitutional standards.

Case Point 2: Public Law 109-364, or the "John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007" (H.R.5122) (2), which was also signed by Bush on October 17th, 2006, in a private Oval Office ceremony, allows the President to declare a "public emergency" and station troops anywhere in America and take control of state-based National Guard units without the consent of the governor or local authorities, in order to "suppress public disorder."

President Bush seized this unprecedented power on the very same day that he signed the equally odious Military Commissions Act of 2006 noted above.Both of these laws are constitutionally NULL and VOID right now, as we speak. At least that's my humble opinion.

So there you have it: is it a law, is it a signing statement, is a jet plane? One thing for sure: it’s a puzzler.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Iraq Study Group is all about the oil

The Iraq Study Group has released their report and, as we all expected, it’s just more of the same, but with a cute twist that most commentators have missed.

Generally speaking, this group of ten "noble" men has proposed that we remain in Iraq until the Iraqis stand up so we can stand down (sound familiar?), but until at least 2008 (that could be either one year or two years, depending on how you’re counting, and when you are counting from) but there isn’t a deadline in sight, no timetable, just a vague reference to some foggy internal “benchmarks.” But the real nitty-gritty is the requirement that the package be accepted in toto, and no picking and choosing the parts we like.

So what? you ask. Well, here’s so what: Recommendation No. 63 calls on the US to “assist Iraqi leaders to reorganize the national oil industry as a commercial enterprise.” (my emphasis)

The present Iraqi constitution as written would need amending to authorize the privatization of Iraqi oil fields, so Recommendation No. 63 calls for the US government to “provide technical assistance to the Iraqi government to prepare a draft oil law.” To button all this up, the report calls on the US to commit troops in Iraq to provide continuing security for Iraq’s oil infrastructure, for the foreseeable future and probably beyond.

As Antonia Juhasz writes in an editorial in The Los Angeles Times:

“All told, the Iraq Study Group has simply made the case for extending the war until foreign oil companies – presumably American ones – have guaranteed legal access to all of Iraq’s oil fields and until they are assured the best legal and financial terms possible.”

It’s about the oil and American profits; it was always about the oil, and it will continue to be about the oil and American profits.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

More fence-sitting by the nobles

I don't know about you, but the neighborhood that I live in is full of blue-collar folks, with a sprinkling of white collar types, a few entrepreneurs, and even a guy who makes his living selling stocks and bonds. Average folk, in other words. We talk about all kinds of things; the latest zinger from Lakers' coach Phil Jackson, the recent 70 mph winds of the Santa Anas from off the high desert, the recent elections, and the war in Iraq.

Once upon a time, the boys from the El Segundo electronic warfare shops would be in complete agreement with the guys from body shops that we needed to pound those A-rabs with everything we had and show them towelheads a thing or two. No messin' with America, nosiree. Us more “educated” types would argue that we had no business being there in the first place, to no avail against the hotter heads. Thus we were pretty well split into two camps: for and against the war in Iraq. Well, after four years and 3,000 war dead, not to mention the guy in the corner, back from Iraq - with a funny way of sitting over his boilermaker, staring off into space at nothing at all for hours on end - the mood has changed, down at the corner bar.

We have hashed it out, consulted with one another, singly and in groups, and after literally hundreds of hours, lots of spilled beer, and even a few harsh words (and thrown punches), arrived at own consensus on Iraq: “Let's just get the hell out of there, right now.”

So what's up with this “bipartisan” Iraq Study Group, said to be composed of “this noble group of 10”? Are they going to offer us a solution, a light at the end of the tunnel, or is it going to be “stay the course”? Here's what group member Alan K Simpson (R-WY) had to say:

“People are looking at us for a solution. Not that we're not doing a good job – but if they think that this noble group of 10 are going to solve this issue, I think people are doing a lot of heavy breathing...I think expectations of this group are seriously overrated.”

“Heavy breathing”? Hoo hoo! Jumping Jesus on a pogo stick, then what the fuck were you guys put together for?

What a waste of time. No “solution,” no “stay,” and no “go.” Just let our troops sit there and get shot at.

There used to be a word for “noble” idiots like these: mugwumps.

Monday, November 20, 2006

What will it be like, in the future?

Assuming that the collapse of the American experiment in democratic republicanism does indeed occur, what can we expect in the world of the future?

It's said that only fools and charlatans - or neoconservatives - predict the future ("We will be welcomed as liberators!"), but we're going to run the risk of being called as such, and hazard a guess as to the general outlines of an American society in perhaps as little as twenty years (a mere single generation) in the future.

The War with Oceana on Terror will be proceeding apace, with lots of bombs, death and general mayhem on all continents and in every village and town. American cities will be a mess, with checkpoints, roadblocks and traffic re-routing everywhere ("Threat Level Elmo: Expect massive incoherence" the sole message on every highway electronic signboard).

Able-bodied citizens, but only those with National Defense-related jobs, will pass relatively unhindered, while constantly monitored by the millions of scanning devices of all types everywhere, including constant GPS monitoring of mandatory cell phones. The filthy rich will also pass freely in their heavily-armored but luxuriously appointed Humvee Escalades, as will Oil Executives and their servants, the Appointed Politicians.

There will be a DHS camera - or four - on every street corner, public transit vehicle and all public and virtually every private building on the planet. We will be watched, listened to, x-rayed, retina-scanned, sniffed for radioactive or biological weapons materials, and subject to rendition on suspicion; not of anything in particular, just plain suspicion.

Remember always: there is no appeal, because there are no courts, just presidential commissions.

Those without the subdermal electronic implants of National Defense Workers will be stopped, not in any racially-profiled way or even randomly, but regularly and often, and forced to submit to full-body searches when attempting to venture out of their assigned sector, zone, or grid before or after curfew, due to the increasingly frequent use of body-cavity suicide bombs, developed - ironically enough - by our very own US of A Department of Homeland Security in a typically bureaucratic ass-backward retaliation for the Tamil Tigers' use of prepubescent girls as bait for otherwise loyal and filthy rich American tourists fearful of sexual contact with Ebola-carrying Nigerian-Chinese agents provocateurs.

Foreign nationals must be accompanied by at least three heavily-armed members of Homeland Security at all times, including bathroom visits.

American society will be divided into the following classes, each (except for the last) with their own heavily guarded residential zones: The Owners, Corporate Executives, Appointed Politicians, National Defense Workers (includes members of the only remaining labor union, United Prison Guards), Citizen Mercenaries, non-National Defense-related employed Free Corporate Citizens, and the unemployed and socially useless Great Unwashed, who make up 70% of the population. This last group may actually be able to beg or steal enough to afford to live in tarpaper shacks with roofs but no plumbing; failing that, discarded HDTV shipping cartons under America's many bombed-out bridges, a la Baghdad or Beirut.

Your DHS-issued cell phone will be permanently tapped as a matter of course; your Internet surfing and HDTV watching monitored and dutifully reported, assuming you can afford the rates charged by The Communications Company after the 111th Coors Extra Lite Corporate Congress opted to eliminate Net Neutrality and allowed the sole remaining communications company to charge what its Free Market Division dictated as just and reasonable users' fees, including, but not limited to interest owed, unto the seventh generation.

And no 2 year service contracts: Lifetime. Early termination of your contract means just that: your termination.

Deaths by heart attacks as a result of TASER use by security personnel will exceed deaths caused by drunken drivers, but MADD will not change its name to MAT.

All former Third World natives will be employed in the following occupations only: the tourist sex trade; bartenders and wait-staff for same; the cultivation, harvesting and processing of psychotropic drugs for the zombification of non-National Defense Workers; painting and other maintainence of the Rio Grande Anti-Illegal Immigration Great Wall; as Third World internal security forces, or their victims.

All financial transactions will be carried out electronically, and each and every transaction monitored by the DHS for possible connections to terrorist fund-raising organizations, the names of which will fill a Deep Blue-class data bank.

There will be no portable cash and the possession of precious metals - gold, platinum, and silver -will subject the owner to immediate alternative methods of interrogation, including waterboarding, but not to the point of crushing vital internal organs, and just short of actual death from asphyxiation. Remember: there is no appeal.

There will be no "death tax," as Americans will no longer die; they will simply be disappeared, and their public records expunged or stamped Top Secret in the Interest of National Security.

For the good news, China will be owned by Google.

A rude interruption

We’ve recently added a few readers to our subscription list, some of whom are not quite up to speed on how this republic is falling apart before they’ve had a chance to visit Colonial Williamsburg, hence this week’s post; it’s a little long-winded, and many of our Gentle Readers already know most of what’s in it, but a little refresher in recent American history might be just what the doctor ordered, seeing as we also have a freshman Congress waiting in the wings, many of whom probably don't know squat about American history.

Mike Whitney wonders how we got to where we are politically in only six short years. Actually, it took a lot longer than that: the failure of the American democratic experiment is only now becoming glaringly apparent as the political Other Shoe dropped with Pelosi's endorsement of the fascist policies of this administration. To paraphrase Shakespeare: the death of the Constitution has come about from a thousand cuts. The present unpleasantness is merely a repeat of events seen before.

In order to see where we really are, and how we got here, it's necessary to take a look back along our trail, and see where we missed the bread crumbs, so bear with me; we'll get to the point soon enough.

The methods of totalitarians are well known, and throw their shadows before them. We have been warned, early and often: everyone from Gibbon to Benjamin Franklin to Oswald Spengler has warned us that we can easily lose our freedom. It's my contention [here comes the pretentious-intellectual part] that the upward trajectory of America's historic role as model republic to the world - a template of humanist dignity and individual freedom - has, in Spengler's sense, been rudely interrupted.

This interruption has been aided and abetted by the reinvigoration of fundamentalist religions in America, obfuscated by the rise of multi-culturalist New Age movements, and encouraged by the discredited policies of the neoconservative cabal, who's hero - Woodrow Wilson - gave us WWI, the League of Nations and the exorable Treaty of Versailles, which resulted in World War II. And he was a Democrat.

America should still be on an upward arc of citizen government; instead, she is threatened with cultural and political collapse as the Middle East, which had passed out of History with the rise of post-Enlightenment Western Civilization, is now being dragged back onto the world stage in an untimely and unhistoric fashion with a dubious quasi-religious Crusade - our Never-ending War on Terrorism. Note well: the last time the West invaded the East, the conflict lasted over five hundred years, and the East won. They didn't call it the Dark Ages for nothing.

While most historians don't think history is linear, or necessarily predictable - Spengler, for instance, understood history to be cyclic, following a kind of sine-wave pattern - most do think that civilizations go through various phases of religious and intellectual growth in their evolution to historical pre-eminence, followed by political and cultural rigidity, then collapse. [Now back to plain English]. The object is to put off that collapse as long as possible.

Europe experienced its cultural and political rigidity with the rise of democratically-elected neo-paganistic Nazism and Italian corporate state Fascism - despite the Enlightenment - then collapsed under the invasion of the citizen-soldiers of America, all of them - as hokey as it may sound now - educated in the liberal ideals of the American Revolution inherited from that very same Europe.

We could have demanded un-payable reparations from Europe, leaving it desolate and miserable forever - or sowed their fields with salt - but we forbade retaliation and generously rebuilt the whole continent. Post-WWII Europe was revitalized by the importation of American-style republican democracy, as well as massive American corporate investment. However, having heeded the lessons of class-warfare and the consequences of unfettered capitalist/colonialist imperialism, the Europeans relinquished their colonies and remade their countries into representative democratic quasi-socialist states, ensuring a high standard of living for the majority of their citizens, without having to diminish the principles of Enlightenment liberalism. (After all, they invented it). All signs are that a healthy, united, and democratic Europe has arisen from what were fields of ashes.

Back home, certain establishment intellectuals (e.g., George Kennan) began formally trying to fit future history into a mold of their choosing with the passage of the National Security Act of 1947. This was America's first formal attempt to impose American will on the historic process, with mixed results. The Soviet Union became the country behind what Churchill called the "Iron Curtain," and American politicians of every denomination joined the communist witch-hunts, led by the junior Senator from Wisconsin, Joseph McCarthy. He personally was shown to be a bully and brought down when Boston lawyer Joseph Welch asked, "Have you no sense of decency, sir?" ('Decency,' now there's a concept!) In any case, America's foreign adventures began in earnest during this period - most egregiously in the former French colony of Vietnam.

(As an aside, it bears repeating that, while well intentioned and often bumbling, Democrats have never been a "Peace Party" or shrinking violets before the guns, having produced more than their fair share of warhawks. Don't lose sight of the fact that the major conflict began with John F Kennedy and escalated under Lyndon Johnson, both Democrats.)

Make no mistake: Vietnam was a complete moral cataclysm for America. The last helicopter lifted off from the roof of the American embassy in Saigon on Tuesday, April 29, 1975. The sight of former Vietnamese allies clinging desperately to the Huey's skids, only to fall back as the chopper rises, is sickening to watch, even today.

A Republican - Richard Nixon - was elected on the promise that he would end the war "with honor." He lied, of course; while he thought no one was looking, he increased the zones of violence into neutral Cambodia and Laos with massive carpet bombing of those countries, setting the stage for Pol Pot and the "Killing Fields," effectively setting back the civilization of Southeast Asia by a thousand years.

The infamous motto of this period is, "We had to burn the hamlet to save it."

Nixon also engaged in tactics that would cause his critics to accuse him of trying to establish an "Imperial presidency." It was during his presidency that massive protest movements - begun during the latter part of the Johnson administration - caused ordinary Americans to doubt the validity of the electoral process, and hence, American democracy. He was eventually threatened with impeachment, and he resigned his office in shame before the Articles of Impeachment were even drawn up! Everyone applauded and said, "See, the Constitution works!" So, it did, just barely.

As America was never intended nor designed to be a global empire ("No foreign entanglements!") the failure of the Vietnam adventure was never properly integrated into the American psyche, as empires rely on main force as their first tool of persuasion (the "Kissinger Principle") - a concept antithetical to average modern Americans (who are basically ignorant of their country's history of violence on behalf of economic hegemony) - which resulted in a national psychic schism, with a turning away of her elites-in-training from the heritage of the Enlightenment with its Rationalist ideals.

While the Vietnam conflict raged, this schism manifested itself as a broad-spectrum rejection of secular rationalism by the Yippies, hippies, and uncritical liberal multi-culturalists on the Left ("Tune in and drop out"), and an accelerating economic libertarianism by the Yuppie Right ("The Me Generation" and "Greed is good!") in the mid 1970s, continuing through the present.

Further, the social unease of America's eventual defeat in Vietnam produced both our now-familiar neoconservative 'democracy-imperialists' (former radical leftists turned radical rightists - to show you just how deeply the confusion runs) as well as a bitter backlash from conservative religious denominations of every stripe, and the 'political correctness' of an increasingly rigid and anti-intellectual left.

In practical terms, this resulted in vast numbers, who otherwise would be actively involved in the political process, to form anti-establishment attitudes and quit the political playing field, opening it up to anti-democratic forces.

In plain English, the Vietnam experience - which opened America's eyes to the fact that average Americans could be just as despicable and evil as the dictatorships we had only so recently demolished - threw ordinary Americans into a loop. It was during this Rude Interruption that certain elements of the economic elites - ever vigilant for the Main Chance - took advantage of our moral and civic confusion to hijack the American economic and political system, big time.

The social confusion of the Vietnam era cut across the board, but it was most especially troublesome in the inner cities, which were being systematically abandoned by cheap purse elites whose goals were not egalitarian ("White Flight") and in many cases exclusionary, if not out rightly retaliatory ("Red-lining").

With the abandonment of the inner cities by tax-paying homeowners and their replacement by non-tax-paying renters, the tax burden was thrown to the corporate sector, which is historically hostile to taxes for any reason. Thus it was necessary to embark on a program of tax reduction.

This abandonment of education in general and civic responsibilities in particular was accomplished by the massive slashing of social services starting in the Reagan administration - particularly in education, but not disregarding his union-busting and the throwing of the mentally ill to the curb - in order to shift the national economy to morally unjustifiable but highly profitable war material production, paid for by an increasingly ignorant and socially insular American taxpayer. Not coincidentally, this also resulted in sky-high interest rates and a massive national debt, enriching the investment community no end. Reaganite apologists explained this as the "trickle-down" theory, while a still socially disoriented public chose to refrain from examining this theory with the critical eye it deserved.

Basic social service budgets were gutted and 'privatized', to the horror of even Republican liberals, to be picked up by religious organizations with their own agendas, cementing ignorant Americans on the Right to religious institutions and ideologies, most of which are non-egalitarian, self-righteous and anti-democratic. While not immediately obvious, on the Left this includes most - but not all - New Age movements, embracing as they do paganistic and anti-intellectual ideologies, which have well-documented racist as well as elitist tendencies (including the for-profit Montessori schools), and are rigidly hierarchical.

While the theocratic impulse in American political life has always been with us (the Massachusetts Bay Colony was established as a theocratic dictatorship), this impulse had remained submerged under a reasonably good public education system, which had traditionally emphasized secular civic virtues and participation in public life.

The collapse of the American educational system has as a consequence the sad fact that Americans across the entire political spectrum (including, apparently, most of our elected officials) are totally ignorant of America's long experience with terrorism going back to before the Declaration of Independence, including by the colonists themselves, and as they are increasingly distracted by a pandering mass-media (the modern equivalent of the Roman 'bread and circuses'), fueled by base consumer lust, in turn sponsored by corporate/Chinese/Wal-Mart slave labor - they will not or cannot formulate effective counter-arguments, while their elected leaders are too busy playing golf in Scotland - paid for by corporate lobbyists - to attend to the People's business.

It is educational to note that almost every single major policy maker in the present Bush administration can trace his career back to service under Reagan, where, in fact, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Addington first began formulating policies of executive over-reaching, as well as perfecting capitalist interventionist policies in Central America and the Middle East, including the highly illegal funding of those policies (Iran/Contra - now conveniently forgotten by Reagan's cheerleaders).

It's also sobering to note that there is an office dealing with religious service organizations in the White House! While we're at it, why not an office for a visiting Pope, or the representative of the Missouri Synod of Southern Baptists?

Further, these policy makers use the Jesuitical argument of the 'end justifying the means' (the 'end' in the present example being the revived Crusades of the "clash of civilizations, or the non-sequiter of "Islamo-fascism") to continue promoting the theory of the 'unitary executive' - presidential dictatorship - thereby eroding Constitutional guarantees of the balance of powers. During the original Crusades, the slaughter of the followers of Islam and the conquest of their lands was justified by the slogan, "God wills it!" Today, we might say "the Decider wills it!"

So, did anybody in public life - the politicians, the political intellectuals, the policy wonks, the campaign advisors, the American public, or even the military - learn a damn thing from the Vietnam experience? Apparently not.

As has been previously pointed out, our Constitution was forged in the fires of bloody terrorism and revolution, and was designed to withstand anything, if one bothers to read and follow it, except a nonchalant citizenry. On the other hand, who's got money for Civics classes these days?

So there's one answer for you, Mike: the socio-psychic energy that should have been devoted to perfecting the republican experiment in America was re-channeled into immature war-hawkishness, selfish and distracting voyages to discover one's "Inner Me," or a general retreat into religious dogma as ordinary Americans withdrew from the public political arena and nursed their various grudges, creating a massively dumbed-down American citizen.

Given the recent congressional elections, it would seem that most Americans did indeed reject the blatantly obvious state of moral corruption of the Republican-dominated Congress and the undeclared war in Iraq. Unfortunately, even a casual examination of polling data reveals that nearly half of all Americans (Republicans, Democrats and independents) cannot parse the illogical arguments of this administration in its promotion of anti-republican methods in its make-believe war against an idea. Again, this inability to recognize the congruence of similarly repellent ideas (American fascism vs. Islamic revenge) is not unexpected given the sad state of American civic consciousness, and the lack of knowledge of American history and the Enlightenment's ideals of liberty and basic human rights.

As he was leaving the close of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1798, Benjamin Franklin was famously asked what kind of a government the delegates had formulated. He replied, "A republic, if you can keep it." Franklin was keenly aware that a republic requires a constantly vigilant citizenry, well educated in the civic virtues, and always ready to throw the rascals out.

The first order of business of the new Democratic majority should be the utter rejection of the anti-constitutional policies of this administration, including an immediate cessation of hostilities in this unconstitutional and undeclared war. Unfortunately, incoming House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi has called for raising the minimum wage as her first priority - as if that had anything to do with democratic republicanism - with impeachment hearings "off the table," in effect endorsing a bipartisan, anti-constitutional administration in America.

Many of the incoming Democrats, and probably most of those re-elected, no doubt assume that we voted for them and their agendas personally, whereas in fact, we did not: we voted for the Constitution, and they need to hear that message, loudly, and often.

Spengler's prediction of cultural rigidity and collapse hasn't fully happened to us yet; we are still a republic, but we are balanced on a razor's edge. His theory of rise and fall is not necessarily an ironclad guarantee; nevertheless, there is also no reason on earth to assume that our Constitution - and with it, our unique Republic - can survive this present administration given its present state of neglect.

They said it couldn't happen here; sorry to tell you this, Gentle Readers, but it very much can, all too easily and all too soon. The Bush-Cheney junta has two years left to bury the Constitution forever.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Is Pelosi a "whackjob leftie"?

Reader bothenook, a resident of the SF bay area, maintains that incoming Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi might just be a screaming liberal, possibly intent on creating some kind of anarchist utopia.

I doubt it.

With the lowdown - and Nancy's record - and possibly a rebuke to those who think she might be Liberal Avenging Angel, let's peek inside Nancy's head, courtesy of some real screaming lefties at the Socialist Worker Online.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

President Nancy Pelosi?

The midterm elections are over, and what a relief. The Democrats took the House by a landslide and the Senate by 1, and even the Europeans are thanking us for that.

Of course, politicians being politicians, they’re already starting the next presidential campaign, and speculation is rife with possible contenders, including Wonderboy Barrack Obama (Has anybody checked this guy’s voting record recently? It’s disappointing), Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (Here’s a puzzler: her ratings in the polls depend on whether or not you include her maiden name when asking if she’s got the Right Stuff), that kid Edwards, et al.

Normally, since I despise politicians of any stripe, I wouldn’t bring this up, but my bet is on Nancy Pelosi being the next Prez, in this manner: Michigan Democratic representative John Conyers has been on a veritable crusade to hang Bush by the balls. Now, Nancy has flatly stated’ "No impeachment hearings." But we all know, as does the ever-hopeful Conyers, that any investigation into anything remotely connected to this administration is going to be like pulling the loose thread on that badly made sweater – one tug and the whole shebang comes unraveled, and guess whose naked butt will be revealed?

Remember that "third-rate burglary" at the Watergate?

As this president has publicly confessed to felony criminal activity (FISA evasion) there’s one count of a "High Crime" right there. And as Cheney is no doubt implicated in this crime – as well as a host of others – the investigations lead inexorably to either impeachment or resignation of both Bush and Cheney.

And Presto! By virtue of the Presidential Succession Act of 1792, the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi becomes the 44th President of the United States.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Take that, sukkas

What can I say? We win, they lose. Yay!

In the meantime, Israel continues its racist and genocidal policies against the Palestinians by bombing babies in Gaza.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Why we should but won't leave Iraq soon

Recently, the Shrub was backed into a corner by ABC's George Stephanopoulos, and asked if he could compare the situation in Iraq to, say, the Vietnam Tet offensive (which was one of the pivotal moments for the beginning of the end of Mr & Mrs John Q Public’s support for that little fracas), as proposed by Tom Friedman, idiot savant of The New York Times.

"He could be right," the president said. "There’s certainly a stepped-up level of violence, and we're heading into an election."

"George, my gut tells me that they have all along been trying to inflict enough damage that we'd leave," Bush said. "And the leaders of al Qaeda have made that very clear. Look, here's how I view it. First of all, al Qaeda is still very active in Iraq. They are dangerous. They are lethal. They are trying to not only kill American troops, but they're trying to foment sectarian violence. They believe that if they can create enough chaos, the American people will grow sick and tired of the Iraqi effort and will cause government to withdraw."

What a moron. According to the Shrub, we can’t leave until the Iraqis step up, no matter how many dead Americans it takes, but the Iraqis won’t step up until we leave, but we aren’t leaving until they step up (no matter how many dead Iraqis it takes), so we’re going to stay the course until they’re stepped-up, or everybody is dead, no matter how long it takes. Yikes.

Anyway, here’s how we get out:

Anthony Arnove's Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal begins by acknowledging that the parallels being drawn between Vietnam and Iraq are not exact, but still significantly similar. ''In both cases, the greatest military power in human history has encountered the limits of its ability to impose its will on a people who do not welcome its intervention. In Iraq, like Vietnam, soldiers themselves have begun to question the rationale for the war given by politicians and daily echoed by the dominant media.''

He ends his book by calling for immediate, unconditional withdrawal. Just fucking leave, and let the Iraqis sort it out; it’s their miserable little, oil-rich country, after all. Lt Gen William Odom agrees, and he is a general, which means he knows about military stuff.

But there’s a snag; because of the oil, Democrats (especially Hillary Rodham Clinton) are going to be dragging their feet (they call that being a "moderate"), regardless of what they perceive their mandate to be as a result of the upcoming elections:

''Politicians and planners in Washington know that their ability to intervene in other countries will be severely hampered if the United States is forced from Iraq,'' partly explains why the Democratic Party talks about ''winning'' the war -- ''a position that ties it in knots and leaves it incapable of leading any antiwar opposition.''

We all know that the Shrub has two more years to start WWIII, so Iraq or no Iraq, even Iran, we need to get him gone first. But that’s a problem, too. Michigan Rep. John Conyers is frothing at the mouth to hang the son of a bitch, but Dear Nancy has called impeachment hearings "off the table."

See you at the polls.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Does Bush really think he can get away with anything?

Reader reddog asks if Bush actually thinks he can do "anything he wants." This is a very good question, one which many have asked themselves, including Yours Truly in several posts in this blog. Considering that Bush himself has been quoted as saying, "The Constitution is just a goddamned piece of paper," I can only conclude that, short of a Constitutional convention or a Congress taking its job seriously, who or what is left to say what are the limits of Bush's power? Answer so far: only Bush the Decider.

And, frightening as it may be to contemplate, Bush himself says he listens to God, just like your soft-in-the-head Uncle Marley, the one who lives in the attic. The last time we Americans had to contend with a "George the Decider" who talked to God it was George III, who was driven insane by the syphilis rotting his brain. Now, George III was an actual legitimate monarch, as these things were accounted in the 18th Century, while our Decider has become an all-powerful monarch by an applied program of Republican corruption, congressional abdication, and one hell of a PR machine, bought and paid for by the industrial-petroleum-armaments combines. And I don't mean "might be," or "could-be," but is - by virtue of the suspension of the writ of Habeas Corpus under the recently passed Military Commissions Act of 2006 (S-3930).

Colonel Larry Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell, has called the group surrounding Bush a "cabal." defines 'cabal' as a "A conspiratorial group of plotters or intriguers." So what is Larry talking about? We know that presidential advisory groups routinely meet behind closed doors, so the colonel probably isn't referring to normal executive closed-door meetings, but to that select group of advisors - plotters, frankly - who meet to further dark designs; in this case, the accumulation of supreme power, driving towards executive absolutism; towards a monarchy or 'tyranny', as the Greeks called the style of government of their elected dictators. Note well that the Greeks elected their tyrants, just as the Italians elected Mussolini and the Germans Hitler.

George Bush has openly stated to the American people - you and me - that he is entitled to "interpret" any law that Congress passes in the light of his understanding of the principle of the "unitary executive." Now, just what the hell does that mean, and how come nobody ever heard of such a thing until Bush came along?

Well, a bright but twisted lad from Harvard Law (John Yoo) - extrapolating wildly from Alexander Hamilton's theory of the separation of powers in the Federalist Papers - arrived at the dubious proposition that the president was obliged to refuse to carry out any law that Congress passed that the president - on his own authority - considered encroached on his constitutional duties or powers; he dubbed this theory the "unitary executive." Maybe so, if it were merely that, but this president has signed bills into law, thereby enacting them, with the proviso ("signing statements") that he can ignore the parts he doesn't like, for arbitrary reasons.

This is not what the Framers of the Constitution had in mind, and no reading of the Constitution - as written - can support this argument. In fact, dozens of serious constitutional experts have condemned this reading of the Constitution. Regardless, Bush has given himself a line-item veto power over the law, which the Supreme Court has already ruled unconstitutional on its face well before this president arrived on the scene.

The Bush cabal's camouflage for his accumulation of absolute power has been the repeated mantra that he is "commander-in-chief in a time of war" and that gives him "extra powers." Well, Gentle Readers, only Congress - the only directly elected representative of the citizenry - can declare war, which it has not done since WWII, so any claim of "extra powers" is extra-constitutional and illegal, and the 5th Circuit has said so, recently, and in no uncertain terms.

Further, the Military Commissions Act of 2006 is itself illegal and unconstitutional on its face, because we are not at war, and Habeas Corpus can be constitutionally suspended only during "invasion or resurrection." In fact, strictly speaking, it cannot be suspended even during a declared war.

The cabal's argument that Lincoln suspended Habeas during the Civil War is disingenuous, because they ignore the fact that the southern states had resurrected against the Federal government, and thus the suspension of Habeas was indeed constitutional and legal. The Alien and Sedition Act (1798), authored by Hamilton and the precursor to the USA Patriot Act, was called a "grave error" by John Q. Adams, and he apologized to the American people for it after he left office. It was struck down by the Supreme Court under the following Jefferson administration.

Every reputable legal expert agrees that Habeas Corpus is the core right of all civil liberties in a free society. In the US Constitution, it is not frivolously tacked on as an Amendment; it is guaranteed up front and in plain English in the main body of that document in Article I, Section IX:

Clause 2: The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.

Over 800 years ago, the English people rose up against their king and forced him at the point of a sword to guarantee Habeas Corpus, and this president, this wanna-be king, has taken it away from us with the willing co-operation of a corrupt Congress, and nary a whisper from the so-called "liberal media," with the notable exceptions of Keith Olberman and Jack Cafferty.

The sad part is that a good half of the American public has applauded this shredding of their civil liberties - their rights - that hundreds of thousands of American soldiers gave their lives to ensure would not be taken by a dictator or surrendered up by a supine Congress, Republican or Democrat.

To sum up: by his every action - by his "signing statements" and the real acts of illegal domestic warrantless wiretapping; illegal incarceration; denial of hearings and bail; kidnapping and transportation of foreign nationals; assassinations; the prosecution of an undeclared Neverending War on Terror; the unilateral breaking of international treaties ratified by Congress assembled and shit we have yet to uncover - this president has demonstrated to a near disbelieving world that, yes, indeed, he does think he can "get away" with anything, because he does, and we let him.

Update: Broken links fixed, thank you, Mr Anonymous.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Tough sledding

"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country, but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.

"BritainThis president, with an army to enforce her his tyranny, has declared that she he has the right (not only to tax, but) "to BIND us in ALL CASES WHATSOEVER," and if being bound in that manner is not slavery, then there not such a thing as slavery on the earth. Even the expression is impious, for so unlimited a power can only belong to God." - Thomas Paine, The Crisis Papers

With the self-immolation of the Republican Party, many liberal pundits are whooping and hollering for joy. Personally, I don't think Middle American is buying into the celebration, because they know that the scorched-earth social policies of the Repugs will take decades to repair, even if this president doesn't throw us all into a dark pit somewhere.

Especially troubling are the economic policies - out-sourcing, tax cuts, environmental sellout, etc. - that have left behind massive debt, a shrunken middle class, and a job-poor environment, all dumped on the Democrats to clean up - as they will - but at some cost, probably involving new, higher taxes. (You can already hear the "fiscal conservatives" screaming about that). And that's only assuming that they can get anything remotely resembling real fiscal reform past this president.

And while we're on the subject of jobs out-sourcing, let's not forget that the Democrats gave us that big "swooshing sound of jobs being sucked south," in the form of NAFTA.

The core issue of civil rights - habeas corpus - followed closely by privacy issues, will take a major fight to reaffirm, and that's going to be an uphill battle, unless and until it makes it to the Supreme Court, and quickly. Judge Stephens may step down - he's the oldest - and that would give the Senate a place to make a real stand, with a real, moderate jurist, and again only if they can muster the courage to fight the President to a standstill.

But even among the Dems themselves, issues divide the party, as evidenced by their voting history on some very critical issues:

· Vote to confirm John Roberts to the Supreme Court: Republicans (56-0) -- Democrats (22 -22)
· Cloture vote on Sam Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court: Republicans (54-0) -- Democrats (19-25)
· Vote on Authorization to use military force in Iraq: Republicans (48-1) -- Democrats - (29-21)
· Cloture vote on Bankruptcy Bill: Republicans (55-0) -- Democrats (14-30)
· Cloture vote on nomination of Priscilla Owens to appeals court: Republicans (55-0) -- Democrats (25-18)
· Torture/detention bill: Republicans (53-1) -- Democrats (12-33).

Remember those 'signing statements'? Bush is still guided by Gonzales' and John Yoo's truly bizarre reading of the Constitution. This is an especially troubling problem, requiring a truly concerted effort by Congress to take back their prerogatives, hell, the responsibilities mandated to them by the Constitution; no small feat, given their past performance and inclinations.

Speaking of which, when was the last time you heard Senator Hillary Clinton say Word One about Congressional responsibility in handing over duties and responsibility to the executive when it comes to the so-called "unitary executive"? Or a peep out of that new kid on the block, Barack Obama?

Whatever the outcome in November, it's gonna be tough sledding for a good while

Update: Link added to 'signing statements'

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Alexander Hamilton, Federalist Neo-con

As anti-democratic scumbags go, neoconservatives have deep roots in American politics. And you thought they were the brain-fevered invention of Francis Fukuyama and Irving Krystal, drip-filtered through the neo-Platonism of Leo Strauss? Hell no; these guys are actually living, breathing monarchist fossils whose real political father in America is none other than Alexander Hamilton.

Hamilton was a plotter, would-be military coup d'etat leader, and pre-emptive war monger extraordinaire. XYZ affair? He did it. Theft of presidential elections? Check his ballot-ink-stained hands. Back stabber? Just ask John Quincy Adams.

He may have co-authored the Federalist Papers, but he was also the author of the Federalist party, the forerunner of today's power-hungry Republicans, was a demagogue and a libelist, and an "Angloman," as a monarchist was termed circa 1789.

To verify his creds as a proto-neoconservtive, a simple checklist should suffice:

Hamilton compared with neoconservatives :

Bank of the United States.................IMF, WTO
Pre-emptive war ..............................Check
Authoritarian Executive ....................Check
Standing army ...................................Check
Massive federal debts ......................Check
Excessive military expenditures .......Check
Alien and Sedition Act .......................USA Patriot Act
Quasi-war with France .....................Iraq/Iran/Islam
Invasion of Florida ............................Afghanistan/Iraq

A Jeffersonian in Philidelphia reported early in February [1800] that "at no time ... that I can remember since 1776" have so many concluded that opposition to the national government "is a duty and obedience a crime."

The calendar advances, but a neo-con is still a thug.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Burn down the House

The country is in the advanced stages of moral decay. The Military Commissions Act is not a law at all; it is an expression of Congress’ intention to carry out war crimes against defenseless victims in their charge. The men who supported this bill should be held accountable for its inevitable and appalling consequences. - Mike Whitney

My jaw dropped when I saw the vote of the "detainee" bill just passed by both the House and the Senate, especially the scurrilous votes by the turncoat Democrats, especially Fuerher-worshiping Sen. Joe Lieberman.

It was only to be expected, I suppose, as the Democrats have basically disappeared on every issue that involves defending the Bill of Rights, from allowing Paleolithic judicial appointments to this present mockery of the Constitution with its arbitrary suspension of habeas corpus. Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA)- who first pretended to oppose the bill, then turned around and voted for it - issued a mealy-mouthed statement claiming that the Supreme Court would excise the "bad" parts later. Well, asshole, instead of leaving it to the other guys, why didn't you excise the bad parts when you had the chance?

Tom Paine and Patrick Henry aren't spinning in their graves, they're pounding on their coffin lids. Timothy McVeigh, of course, has already made his opinion known, but sadly, I see no burning torches or outraged citizens in the streets.

Now - and this is no consolation - if you had been paying any attention at all, you would know that this has been coming for a long time. It's just the latest installment of the softening up process leading to the utter subjugation of the American people (with the help of the bought and paid for ignoramouses we keep electing), who are obviously not America's real leaders:

David Ray Griffin says: "Part of the reason we call the Nazi and Stalinist regimes evil, of course, is that many of their victims were killed deliberately. Do American leaders realize what they are doing?

"There is evidence that they do. For example, in 1947, George Kennan, who was Director of the Policy Planning Staff in the U.S. State Department, said in a "top secret" memo:

"We have about 50% of the world's wealth, but only 6.3% of its population . . . In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security."*

Reading between the lines, as Plato encouraged the elites to do, a disinterested observer might regard this as an evil statement. George Kennan - speaking from his catbird seat as an advisor to the Eastern Establishment authoritarian oligarchy - no doubt thought his statements quite reasonable. Kennan wasn't referring to you and me, though; he was referring to the 2% of Americans who now hold 90% of America's wealth, and it is their security he's referring to.

The escalation techniques of tyranny are quite old and well known - it's just that the American people have suffered from an abysmal educational system for too long, and stullified themselves with material luxury for so long, and most of our citizens are a generation or more removed from the immigrants who had first-hand experience of political oppression, including torture, indefinite confinement, and assassination, for them to understand what is happening to their country right now, today.

At this rate, they'll be experiencing the results of the suspension of habeas corpus, with no-knock, warrantless searches, and subsequent waterboarding first hand and all too soon.

So, at this point I say, forget about voting this November 6th; let's just burn down the fucking House.

*George F. Kennan, "PPS/23: Review of Current Trends in U.S. Foreign Policy." First published in Foreign Relations of the United States, 1948, Vol. 1, 509-529, it has been reprinted in Thomas H. Entzold and John Lewis Gaddis, eds., Documents on American Policy and Strategy, 1945-1950 (New York: Columbia University Press), 226-28; the quoted passage is at 226-27.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Back from the beach

So there we were, stretched out in our aluminum lawn chair, ghetto blaster playing the Rolling Stones' recent beauty, "biggerbang," non-alcoholic pina colada pitcher ready to hand, and a pile of books to keep us distracted from the beach bunnies.

And what a pile of books it was: we burned through Oswald Spengler's two volume masterpiece, The Decline of the West - a mother of a macro-theory of social change, and a rebuke to Marx and Hegel. Spengler is the first Western philosopher of history to understand that true History does not begin with the Garden of Eden, thank you, but much, much earlier, and that the Asian, Middle Eastern, Western, and Meso-America civilizations were separate and unique products of human thought and religious aspirations; John Dean's Conservatives Without A Conscience explicates an interesting theory of personality rampant inside the Beltway right now - authoritarianism - with George W Bush the leading authoritarian asshole; an unhappy Philip Gold's Take Back the Right: How the Neocons and the Religious Right Have Betrayed the Conservative Movement (self-explanatory title).

We then read Imposter: How George W Bush Bankrupted America, by Bruce Bartlett(a died-in-the-crib Reaganite and the mastermind behind trickle-down theory), then followed that up with The Neocon Reader, edited by Irwin Stelzer, a neoconservative apologist of the first water. Selected articles by various right-wingers (including Margaret Thatcher!) reveal how fucking smart the neocons think they are; published before the recent decline in Iraq's glorious democratic prospects and Bush's plunging approval ratings, there's not a hint of their present implosion, not that they're paying attention anyway.

On the lighter side, we nearly spilt our drink reading James Wolcott's Attack Poodles and Other Media Mutants; hilarious, informative and scary all at the same time. Not so humorously, we were agog at the sheer length of the lists in Bushit!: An A-Z Guide to the Bush Attack on Truth, by Jack Huberman. Bloggers, take note: almost every reference is to a website or blog; you could be a quoted source!

We managed to cram in New Orleans native son James Lee Burke's Heartwood and Bitterroot. Keeping us up past bedtime was critically-acclaimed author David Masiel’s The Western Limit of the World, a soul-cringing anti-morality tale of high-seas piracy and the abandonment of civilization.

For a little historical perspective, we returned to the scene of the American presidential election of 1800, which pitted the first-ever American political parties - Thomas Jefferson's Democratic Republicans (today called simply, the Democrats) against John Q. Adams and Alexander Hamilton's Federalists (the forerunners of todays neocons, embracing almost identical policies of executive power and pre-emptive war) with Adams vs. Jefferson, by John Ferling. Adam's presidency - and Hamilton's monarchial scheming - had brought on the Quasi War with France, the XYZ affair, and the Alien and Sedition Acts, and the political heat was high. As the first election contested by political parties, it featured a virulently partisan press, ballot stuffing - and theft - and an ideological struggle so intense that our young nation was brought close to the edge of civil war. Spoiler alert: Jefferson's Democrats won.

For more recent history disguised as fiction, we polished off the pina coladas and the book pile with Tears of Autumn, the real story of the Kennedy assassination, as puzzled out by real-life CIA agent, Charles McCarry. No, Virginia, the Mob didn't have nothin' to do wid it.


And that's what we did on our vacation, thank you. Now the lawn chair is back in the garage, the computer is warmed up, and it's back to the blog!

LA Times may remain a real newspaper

Recently the Los Angeles Times ran a tiny piece in its business section noting that its decidedly non-liberal parent corporation, the Chicago-based Tribune Corporation, is raving how the Times is hemmoraging value (actually, stockjobber Monopoly money – its stock price has dropped a tad recently), and how are the stockholders gonna get rich if they have to keep paying reporters’ salaries when they need to buy some new high-speed advertising insert machines and also make way for the full four-color possibilities of double-page-spread advertising special editions? Hmm?

Which says almost everything you really need to know about why the press – our fantasy ‘liberal media’ – screwed the pooch in its exorable reportage of the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, as well as the miserable coverage of this administration's complete mismanagement of everything they have touched. As we suspected all along, the media is not in the business of reporting the news; they are in the business of delivering advertising, or, alternately – as the CEO of Clear Channel so eloquently put it – of “acquiring bandwidth.”

Further, what “news” corporate media does disseminate is pure government propaganda. As Vanity Fair culture critic and author of Attack Poodles and Other Media Mutants James Wolcott so succinctly put it, “Fox News is an arm of the government.”

To be sure, along with The New York Times and The Washington Post, the LA Times has been among the rare exceptions in the rush by most metros to turn their heritage into Daily Shopper clones. For instance, these three metros are the only American newspapers to still maintain press facilities in Baghdad, all others having fled the scene, claiming an indifferent readership.

This last is pure bull, of course, as polls commissioned by the Los Angeles management have revealed, to wit: fully half (46-54%) of LA's readers want national and international reporting. In short, we want less color rotogravures of Ikea furniture and more news of the screwups in Iraq - and elsewhere - and somebody please tell us what the hell those a-holes in Washington are doing.

Presently the Tribune Company is arguing with LA management about the future composition of the newsroom, threatening to cut the news staff from 1,200 to 950 or so, and this has led to speculation that the TribCo may sell the Times soon.

This last bit is Good News, as several local buyers are apparently waiting in the wings, ready to return the paper to local ownership and keep the editorial mission intact, much to the relief of its readership, yours truly included.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Olbermann at Ground Zero

After watching the Bushit speak last week at the American Legion, and again Monday night, I am just about crazy, not to mention speechless. Thankfully, Keith Olbermnann still retains enough objectivity that he can write a few coherent sentences. This is what he had to say about Bushit's self-serving remarks:

And lastly tonight a Special Comment on why we are here. Half a lifetime ago, I worked in this now-empty space.

And for 40 days after the attacks, I worked here again, trying to make sense of what happened, and was yet to happen, as a reporter.

And all the time, I knew that the very air I breathed contained the remains of thousands of people, including four of my friends, two in the planes and — as I discovered from those "missing posters" seared still into my soul — two more in the Towers.

And I knew too, that this was the pyre for hundreds of New York policemen and firemen, of whom my family can claim half a dozen or more, as our ancestors.

I belabor this to emphasize that, for me… this was, and is, and always shall be, personal. And anyone who claims that I and others like me are "soft", or have "forgotten" the lessons of what happened here — is at best a grasping, opportunistic, dilettante — and at worst, an idiot — whether he is a commentator, or a Vice President, or a President.

For the video and full transcript, go to Tom Paine's Pass It On.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

America's Blind Date With History

With A Side Order of New Age B.S.

We've already had a taste of Oswald Spengler and his successful prediction of the "Fall of the West," which just about everybody that I've run across in the last couple of [weeks] says did indeed come to pass, especially in France.

Taking into consideration a better translation of the title of his monumental work, The Decline of the West (in German - Der Untergang des Abenlandes), suggests "the going under (sinking?) of the outer lands," i.e., everything west of the Danube (or possibly the Dnieper), he’s proposing an almost cataclysmic cultural collapse. Apparently, Abenlandes refers specifically to Europe, but American is not immune to [Spengler's] analysis of History. America has only not declined yet, but hopefully won't if more people wake up to the present monkey wrenches being poked into the spokes of the Wheel of Destiny.

Simply stated, Spengler understood history to be cyclic in an almost organic way, with nations going through various phases of religious and intellectual growth in their evolution to Historical pre-eminence.

I will argue here that the fulfillment of America's historic Destiny as democratic role model to the world and template of humanist dignity and individual freedom, has, in Spengler's sense, been rudely interrupted, and the Middle East, which had passed out of History with the rise of the Holy Roman Empire, is now being dragged back onto the world stage in an untimely and ahistoric fashion, exacerbated by the invigoration of fundamental religionists in America, obfuscated by the rise of multi-culturalist New Age cults, and aided and abetted by the secular religio-politics of neo-conservatism.


This secular and rational modern republic [America] was tested and passed the audition with the "winning" of the long Cold War, only to suffer the hubris of the Vietnam misadventure. As America was never intended nor designed to be a global empire, the failure of the Vietnam adventure was not properly integrated into the American psyche, and resulted in a national psychic schism, with a concomitant turning away of her elites-in-training from the Enlightenment and its rationalist ideals.


In post-Vietnam America, this schism manifested itself as a rejection of secular rationalism by the Yippies, hippies, and liberal multi-culturalists (while embracing an unregulated libertarianism) in the 1960s. This produced both our now-familiar neo-conservative 'democracy-imperialists' as well as a bitter backlash from conservative religious denominations of every stripe.

Continue reading America's Blind Date With History at TPM Cafe.

Monday, August 14, 2006

From the beach

In case you've been wondering why the dearth of posts recently, I suppose you could chalk it up to sheer inability to cope with the mess the world is in at present, or you could say I'm lazy, but the truth of the matter is I'm tired and bored.

At least the bombs have stopped in the Levant, thank the Buddah.

Meanwhiles, you might want to check out these fine sites for some light summer reading:

Mystic Bourgeiosie

- lots of neat-o gifs and color pictures, with enough links to Amazon to fill a your average small town public library, and some bisnits savvy talk web-o wize from a self-proclaimed Net Guru, to wit, Steve Streight at

Vaspers the Grate (not a typo)

Be prepared to be shocked and amazed, and bring a dictionary.

See you later, gator!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Israel is a terrorist state

The Israelis are using US-made fighter jets to kill children

Personally, I don't give a crap what you think about Hizbollah or Hamas, or Elmer Fudd's quest to kill Bugs Bunny, for that matter, and I don't even care who threw the first stone. When Israel targets children - which is what they are doing - then their claims to "self-defence" go down the crapper, and Israel becomes a nation not only sponsoring terrorism itself, but the perpetrator of the death of innocents.

When Israel tells us that there will be "collateral damage" - a term that used to mean 'Oops, sorry, we missed," - then they are telling us that they will kill civilians, and they are doing it on purpose. Why? Because civilians are 'sheltering the terrorists,' and therefore are as responsible as if this five-year-old child had held the AK47 herself.

Lies, disengenuiousness, and bullshit. You don't carpet bomb civilians, blow up water reservoirs, TV stations, and tourist hotels to flush out a paramilitary army, which is what Hizbollah is. But does Israel care? Obviously not, and the destruction of Hizbollah is not the objective. The first rule of terrorism, which is a tactic (that has become a strategy in Israel's case) is deliberate and arbitrary targeting of CIVILIANS, in order to promote the maximum amount of TERROR. Not to cause regime change, or make the bad guys give up, but to cause fear in the civilian population, and hope the civilians will change their government. Period. And it's illegal under the Laws of War, the Geneva Conventions, and the love of God.

Robert Fisk, from on the scene:
How soon must we use the words "war crime"? How many children must be scattered in the rubble of Israeli air attacks before we reject the obscene phrase "collateral damage" and start talking about prosecution for crimes against humanity?

The child whose dead body lies like a rag doll beside the cars which were supposedly taking her and her family to safety is a symbol of the latest Lebanon war; she was hurled from the vehicle in which she and her family were traveling in southern Lebanon as they fled their village - on Israel's own instructions. Because her parents were apparently killed in the same Israeli air attack, her name is still unknown. Not an unknown warrior, but an unknown child.

The story of her death, however, is well documented. On Saturday, the inhabitants of the tiny border village of Marwaheen were ordered by Israeli troops - apparently using a bullhorn - to leave their homes by 6pm. Marwaheen lies closest to the spot where Hizbollah guerrillas broke through the frontier wire a week ago to capture two Israeli soldiers and kill three others, the attack which provoked this latest cruel war in Lebanon. The villagers obeyed the Israeli orders and initially appealed to local UN troops of the Ghanaian battalion for protection.

But the Ghanaian soldiers, obeying guidelines set down by the UN's headquarters in New York in 1996, refused to permit the Lebanese civilians to enter their base. By terrible irony, the UN's rules had been drawn up after their soldiers gave protection to civilians during an Israeli bombardment of southern Lebanon in 1996 in which 106 Lebanese, more than half of them children, were slaughtered when the Israelis shelled the UN compound at Qana, in which they had been given sanctuary.

So the people of Marwaheen set off for the north in a convoy of cars which only minutes later, close to the village of Tel Harfa, were attacked by an Israeli F-16 fighter-bomber. It bombed all the cars and killed at least 20 of the civilians travelling in them, many of them women and children. Twelve people were burnt alive in their vehicles but others, including the child who lies like a rag doll near the charred civilian convoy, whose photograph was taken - at great risk - by an Associated Press photographer, Nasser Nasser, were blown clear of the cars by the blast of the bombs and fell into fields and a valley near the scene of the attack. There has been no apology or expression of regret from Israel for these deaths.

I have no love for terrorists of any stripe, and Israel is a terrorist state.

Israel can kiss my ass.

Here's a picture of some Hizbollah paramilitaries in their underwear:

AP-July 17: Lebanese citizens carry a man who was killed by shrapnel from an explosion in Kfarshima, near Beirut, Lebanon.