Monday, December 10, 2007


OUTRAGE! Kucinich, top-rated Democrat, excluded from Des Moines Register debate

DES MOINES, IA – The highest polling Democratic Presidential candidate among the Party’s progressive, grassroots, activist base, Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, has been excluded from the Des Moines Register-sponsored Presidential debate here on Thursday because his Iowa field director operates from a home office rather than a rented storefront! PLEASE READ THE REST OF THE STORY AT and call the Des Moines Register to complain: 800-

The dismissive reference was to Kucinich Iowa Field Director and State Coordinator Marcos Rubinstein, who coordinates campaign activities from his home office in Dubuque, bolstered by a dozen-or-so other senior campaign staff who have traveled the state over the past several months.


Marty Kaplan on HuffPo: Oprah Is to Iraq as Cronkite Was to Vietnam
As I watched Oprah introduce Senator Obama in Iowa, the two-by-four that hit me on the head wasn't: Oprah is for Obama. It was: Oprah is against the war. Maybe, just maybe, Oprah's audience will take from this the message that their own opposition to the war isn't a betrayal of the troops, as the Republicans claim.

From NBC/NJ's Aswini Anburajan
COLUMBIA, SC -- Oprah Winfrey took the stage at William Bryce Football Stadium to deafening cheers. Over 29,000 people filled the risers, some having driven from as far as Savannah, GA, to see her appear with Barack Obama.

At what was the third campaign stop Oprah has made with Obama this weekend, she praised him as an "evolved leader," pinning her desire to support Obama on his ability to inspire people.

"For the first time, I'm stepping out of my pew because I've been inspired. I've been inspired to believe that a new vision is possible for America. Dr King dreamed the dream. But we don't have to just dream the dream anymore. We get to vote that dream into reality," she told the crowd.


Open Thread....
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  1. Larry said...
    The White House said Monday it would not answer questions about the CIA's destroying interrogation tapes of terrorism suspects, citing ongoing investigations into what some have called a cover-up.

    Do they ever really answer questions about anything?"

    No Larry they have TOO much to hide to actually answer questions thats why they constantly stonewall, obstruct justice and destroy evidence to cover up their treason, criminality and war crimes against humanity.

  2. I always thought that most Neo Cons and repugs were too damn stupid to learn from their mistakes..............I stand corrected, I just learned that Barbara Bush is Pro-Choice.

    After a doosie of a mistake like bringing GWB into the world I think most people would be Pro-Choice though LOL :D

  3. Lydia
    I like Obama's stance on Iraq and everything else if we can't have Bill, if there is an election he will get it. I was laughing when those idiots said she will have no influence. She will get him nominated. If there is an election he will be elected. She will be a great ambassador to the world.

    I thought it a plus that she was behind him and he announced Gore and Bill were welcome in his Administration. But today Al said he would be in no one's Administration but if he got back into Politics it would be to run as Prseident. Go Al!

  4. MIke and Patriot - excellent comments. Yes I agree. Al would be great, but I like ALL the democratic candidates. Any one of them would be a godsend after Bush.

    Or as I said before, "Bush doesn't do things half-assed, he does them full-assed."

  5. The destruction of those videos is a multifasceted coverup, as Clif said it wasnt JUST torture that was trying to be covered up.

    clif said...
    More back-up to the theory that the destroyed CIA tapes were destroyed for the evidence they held against the Saudis, NOT the fact they might have shown torture;

    It's Not Torture They're Covering Up, It's the Results

    The automatic assumption about the CIA's destruction of the interrogation tapes of Abu Zubaydah is that the tapes exposed methods everyone would agree amounted to torture, and they were destroyed to prevent that proof being exposed. It's quite likely that what was being covered up was the results of that torture.

    Gerald Posner has a piece at HuffPo drawing from his 2003 book that is worth a read:

    Instead, when confronted by his "Saudi" interrogators, Zubaydah showed no fear. Instead, according to the two U.S. intelligence sources that provided me the details, he seemed relieved. The man who had been reluctant to even confirm his identity to his U.S. captors, suddenly talked animatedly. He was happy to see them, he said, because he feared the Americans would kill him. He then asked his interrogators to call a senior member of the Saudi royal family. And Zubaydah provided a private home number and a cell phone number from memory. "He will tell you what to do," Zubaydah assured them

    He named two other Saudi princes, and also the chief of Pakistan's air force, as his major contacts. Moreover, he stunned his interrogators, by charging that two of the men, the King's nephew, and the Pakistani Air Force chief, knew a major terror operation was planned for America on 9/11.

    It would be nice to further investigate the men named by Zubaydah, but that is not possible. All four identified by Zubaydah are now dead. As for the three Saudi princes, the King's 43-year-old nephew, Prince Ahmed, died of either a heart attack or blood clot, depending on which report you believe, after having liposuction in Riyadh's top hospital; the second, 41-year-old Prince Sultan bin Faisal bin Turki al-Saud, died the following day in a one car accident, on his way to the funeral of Prince Ahmed; and one week later, the third Saudi prince named by Zubaydah, 25-year-old Prince Fahd bin Turki bin Saud al-Kabir, died, according to the Saudi Royal Court, "of thirst." The head of Pakistan's Air Force, Mushaf Ali Mir, was the last to go. He died, together with his wife and fifteen of his top aides, when his plane blew up -- suspected as sabotage -- in February 2003. Pakistan's investigation of the explosion -- if one was even done -- has never been made public.

    It wasn't the fact that he was tortured that needed covering up, it was what he said.

  6. This week’s spinning by the White House and subservient media suggests the administration still thinks it can make a case for war, by obfuscating the nuclear program in Iran.

    This has become clearer as administration mouthpieces blur the distinction between uranium enrichment for a civilian energy use (permitted to signatories of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty) and the much more demanding requirements of a nuclear weapons program.

    The spinners have resurrected the discredited argument that Iran’s nuclear program must be for weapons, because Iran’s oil and gas should suffice to meet all its energy requirements.

    Thus, the administration’s Pravda, also known as the editorial page of the Washington Post, on Dec. 5: “Iran’s massive overt investment in uranium enrichment meanwhile proceeds...even though Tehran has no legitimate use for enriched uranium.”

    And thus another major administration mouthpiece, also known as the New York Times, on Dec. 6, in an op-ed, “In Iran We Trust?” by Valerie Lincy and Gary Milhollin: “Why, by the way, does Iran even want a nuclear energy program, when it is sitting on an enormous pool of oil that is now skyrocketing in value.”

    This is a familiar canard; i.e., that Iran’s claim that its nuclear program is for electricity production is given the lie by its own large oil and natural gas reserves, so uranium enrichment must be for nuclear weapons development.

    Condoleezza Rice took that line over a year and a half ago (shades of those (in)famous aluminum tubes that she said could “only” be used in a nuclear application but turned out to be for conventional artillery).

    At about the same time Dick Cheney complained that since the Iranians are “already sitting on an awful lot of oil and gas, nobody can figure why they need nuclear as well to generate energy.”

    It all makes me think of Harry Truman’s complaint: “They must think we were born yesterday!”

    Rice and Cheney have selective memories—or take us for fools.

    Back in 1976—with Gerald Ford president, Dick Cheney his chief of staff, Donald Rumsfeld secretary of defense—the Ford administration bought the Shah’s argument that Iran needed a nuclear program to meet its future energy requirements.

    That argument, of course, is even more valid today, with the price that can be obtained for oil and the specter of Peak Oil.

    Cheney and Rumsfeld persuaded a hesitant President Ford to offer Iran a deal that would have meant at least $6.4 billion for U.S. corporations like Westinghouse and General Electric, had not the Shah been unceremoniously dumped three years later.

    The offer included a reprocessing facility for a complete nuclear fuels cycle—essentially the same capability that the U.S. and Israel now insist Iran cannot be allowed to acquire.

    A pity that our domesticated media seem unable to catch the disingenuousness.

  7. So once again Cheney is a lying flip flopping fool.............just like he said invading and occupying iraq would be a quagmire and disaster before he ACTUALLY did it.........he supported giving Iran nuclear technology BEFORE he was against it.

    Ray McGovern said "Rice and Cheney have selective memories—or take us for fools.

    Back in 1976—with Gerald Ford president, Dick Cheney his chief of staff, Donald Rumsfeld secretary of defense—the Ford administration bought the Shah’s argument that Iran needed a nuclear program to meet its future energy requirements.

    That argument, of course, is even more valid today, with the price that can be obtained for oil and the specter of Peak Oil.

    Cheney and Rumsfeld persuaded a hesitant President Ford to offer Iran a deal that would have meant at least $6.4 billion for U.S. corporations like Westinghouse and General Electric, had not the Shah been unceremoniously dumped three years later.

    The offer included a reprocessing facility for a complete nuclear fuels cycle—essentially the same capability that the U.S. and Israel now insist Iran cannot be allowed to acquire.

    A pity that our domesticated media seem unable to catch the disingenuousness.

  8. Oprah is not my favorite person, but Christopher is right, Oprah's endorsement does carry some weight............if i were running i sure wouldnt mind her endorsement.

  9. Isnt it amazing that the MSM hasnt said essentially ANYTHING about Scooter Libby...........a traitor to this country who obstructed justice to cover for the treason of his boss Cheney and Bush just drops his appeal and the MSM doesnt even cover it........wonder if this will merit a mention on page 15.

    I ALSO wonder if now that Libby;s apperal is over if this will give new life to Plames lawsuit against this treasonous piece of scum..........also wonder if the Idiotic "DECIDER" will give his stooge a full pardon NOW or wait till next year.

  10. By Colleen Redman:

    I want President Bush to have a dream
    like the one that Ebenezer Scrooge had
    I want him to be visited by the ghosts of Iraqi children
    who cry out, "But mankind was your business."

    I want all the Tiny Tims of the world
    to get their 401k money back
    from the white collar criminals who stole it

    I want them to not go to war for oil,
    good ratings, or weapon sale quotas
    because this white collar mafia is in power

    I wish President Bush would have an affair
    I wish he'd take off his black pointed cowboy boots
    and look at the moon more often

    And then I wish he'd wake up
    and be inflicted with what Jim Carey had
    in the movie "Liar Liar"

    I wish all the billboards across the country read:
    "Give back the votes your brother stole"
    and the poets would shout from every street corner,
    "The emperor wears no clothes"

    I want his mouth washed out with soap
    every time he says "weapons of mass destruction"
    and for him to wear a Darth Vader helmet
    if he ever says "the axis of evil" again

    I hope President Bush looks out his White House window
    when we descend on Washington marching for peace
    like hordes of starlings who know their way home
    because it is in their nature

    I want President Bush to have a dream
    like the one that Martin Luther King had
    I want him to be visited by the ghosts of King,
    John Lennon, Paul Wellstone, and the Kennedys

    I want the New York Times to cover the story
    when his mother scolds him for being a bully
    I hope he gets some Gi Joes for Christmas
    and starts to play with real toys
    and not with real people

    I think President Bush should go back to school
    and look up some words in the dictionary
    or study history - like the Roman Empire
    I'd like him to write on the blackboard 100 times,
    "I will not promote propaganda - or the far right agenda"
    " I will not join gangs"

    I want President Bush to be haunted
    by the ghosts of our Founding Fathers
    until he learns this lesson:
    that killing civilians is a terrorist act
    and pre-emptive strike is invasion

    I want him to break out in song
    at his next Address to the Nation
    singing "Give Peace a Chance" is all we are saying
    and "We Shall Overcome"

    I want President Bush to have an epiphany
    or else I want him gone
    I want Americans to say "yes" when the polls ask,
    "Should regime change begin at home?"

    And I want him to stop shouting "Fire!"
    in the theatre when he is the one with the matches
    I want him to care about children
    more than slogans and re-elections

    If President Bush doesn't have a real dream soon
    he should step aside for those who do
    He should impeach himself
    and ask for forgiveness
    for imposing his nightmare on the world

  11. Hey Clif, wasnt Bush thumpimg his chest defiantly saying if homeowners didnt take the time to read the contracts and are going to lose their homes its their fault and the government shouldnt bail them out........didnt he say people should take personal responsibility and reckless speculation should be punished not rewarded...........didnt all the mindless repug trolls and minions mindlessly parrot that talking point.

    Yet they didnt say a damn word when the FED and government movel to bail out the rich wall street brokerages.

    THATS ALL this bailout is about trying to throw a few working class people a bone so no one will focus on Bush and the FED flip flopping and hypocritically bailing out all the reckless Wallstreet speculators not a mere 60 days after saying that reckless speculation deserves to be punished rather than bailed out at taxpayer expense.

    Dont get me wrong I realize there is quite a bit at stake here and trying to avert an economic Depression pre-emptively may very well be the right course of action.................however i am focusing on the flaming hippocrissy of the Bush Administration and the fact that not only do they talk out of both sides of their mouth and have NO credibility but they have been dead wrong about essentially EVERYTHING they have ever said!

  12. Why was it ok for the poor working class people to lose their homes, and why did they not deserve a bailout............but the wealthy elite from Wallstreet who speculated recklessly and irresponsibly do deserve a bailout without even a second thought.

    I guess if you are a fascist then corporate welfare and socialism for the wealthy elite is ok..............socialism is only repunant to a repug when it helps the poor or working class................we gotta start talking about the corporate welfare queens who make hundreds of millions in bonuses and stock options and get corporate bailouts at TAX PAYER EXPENSE while their companies take millions and billions in writeoffs because of their greed and incompetence...........and lets not forget all the no bid contracts and cronny capitalism that cost tax payers billions and trillions 1.6 trillion was the last number i heard.

    12 Billion was just lost and unaccounted for in Iraq and there is virtually NO ACCOUNTABILITY or responsibility.

    Repugs like lower taxes thats kinda hard when the repugs in charge waste and squander trillions in senseless wars, lost and unaccounted for funds and corporate welfare and bailouts to their reckless, irresponsible and incompetent cronnies after saying they dont believe in tax payer funded bailouts for speculators.

  13. For all you St Ronnie of the depends clowns ;


    Giuliani, Reagan, and Kissing up to Ayatollahs with fancy Cakes

    I just saw this campaign ad for Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign. He says that Iran held US embassy hostages for 444 days. Then they were released within one hour. That was the hour after Ronald Reagan was inaugurated as president, succeeding Jimmy Carter. Giuliani goes on to tell us that this incident shows how you deal with "Islamic terrorists." You get tough on them and don't back down.

    The problem with this assertion is that it is not true, and indeed the opposite is true. Gary Sick showed in October Surprise that:

    ' Piercing the shadowy netherworld of international espionage, Sick has written one of the most controversial and disturbing accounts of political intrigue to appear in recent years. In 1980, William Casey, then campaign manager of the Reagan-Bush ticket, without the knowledge or approval of the legitimate government, arranged a deal with the Iranian government that in return for military equipment, the Iranians would not release the 52 American hostages until Ronald Reagan was safely inaugurated. '

    So the hostages weren't released because Reagan was tough on the Iranian regime. They were released because Casey promised that the Republicans would sell Khomeini weapons if they kept the hostages for an extra couple of months and denied Jimmy Carter the sort of diplomatic coup that might have rescued his presidency.

    Not only was Reagan not in fact 'tough' on the ayatollahs in Tehran, he later on stole Pentagon weaponry from the warehouses, illegally sold this US military materiel to a terrorist regime (that of Khomeini), then pocketed the money from the illegal arms sales to 'Islamic terrorists' and laundered it through shadowy bank accounts, sending it to far rightwing death squads in Nicaragua.

    Ahhhhh St Ronnie of the depends, FORCED the hostages to endure MONTHS more in captivity just to score political points, and then he SOLD and traded weapons to IRAN.

    Doesn't seem to be the hard-liner he fraudulently pretended to be, but then again pretending to be something he was not was all his life ever existed of wasn't it?

    He screeched for fiscal responsibility, but sent the country down the path to total fiscal destruction, which we are still suffering the consequences from 3 decades later with NO plan from the reichwingers how to dig our way out of this deep, deep hole, except to hand the bill to the grand children and great grand children of the frauds who started this insane fiscal policy in 1980. (because the "kids" already have lived 3 decades with out paying the bill). ONLY William J Clinton has ever really addressed this problem from the oval office, the hypocritical reichwingers NOTHING but lies and spin, like Dead Eye lying and saying deficits don't count, too bad someday the citizens of this country will have to count the deficits and PAY the bill for the lying reichwingers.

    He claimed to be tough on terra, just like his fraudulent legacy the idiot wanna be king himself, but he GAVE and sold weapons to a declared enemy of the US, sorta in step with Prescott Bush who traded with the NAZIs while we were at war with them.

    Why do reichwingers always claim one thing and do the exact opposite?

    Is there a reichwing hypocrite gene that biologists have yet to discover?

    Or are they that dishonest and shallow, so they always sell out what they claim to believe in?

    Because in the end THEY ALWAYS sell out their believes for some expedient short sighted political or personal gain, to the detriment of us all.


  14. Wanna know WHY the surge in Iraq appears to be working?

    Because the Iraqis are setting the stupid reichwingers up for defeat in a year or so, and NOT just a military defeat, BUT a political one as well;

    Muqtada al-Sadr Regroups

    Sam Dagher of the Christian Science Monitor is a good reason to subscribe to CSM. He reports on the way Muqtada al-Sadr is using his 'freeze' on Mahdi Army activities to organize cadres and turn his organization into something like Hizbullah in Lebanon. Dagher also provides the most connected and detailed count I have seen of the struggles in Karbala between the Mahdi Army and the Badr Corps paramilitary of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI). The big question in my mind is whether a big organized Mahdi Army helps sweep Muqtada to power in the next provincial elections and in the 2009 elections for the federal parliament. By then the US military may be much weaker in the country, and the Sadrists may be in a position to push them out altogether.

    McClatchy's Jamie Gumbrecht also reports on the Sadrists, raising the question of whether Muqtada can retain control of his Mahdi Army if he continues to force them to avoid violence and mafia-type activities:

    ' "There is an entity in the Sadr trend that doesn't want the freeze," said Sheik Naza al Timini, a Sadr cleric in the Shiite holy city of Karbala, south of Baghdad. "They said, 'We have the right to use violence and force.' We always hope for good, and we hope that the decision of Sayed Muqtada will be for the best of Iraq, but after he gives his final decision about the future of the Mahdi Army, many, I believe, will change their ideology and choose to leave the Sadr trend."

    "What he did was basically pull the rug out — 'You can continue acting as the mafia, as the mob, but not in my name,' " said Peter Harling, a Sadr expert at the International Crisis Group. "It worked remarkably well, but I don't know how sustainable this can be. (His followers) appear extremely frustrated, willing to comply with Muqtada's decision, but not for very long."

    Al Sadr has taken a page out of Gen Giap's playbook, circa 1967 Vietnam, law low and allow the stupid leadership in the pentagon and white house to thump their chests and "claim" a victory that doesn't exist in the real world. Just like Giap did on 30 Janurary 1968, come out of the jungle(or neighborhoods of the towns and cities of Iraq) with guns a blazing setting the idiots in charge reeling back on their heels wondering where the hell that came from. The Iraqis KNOW Bush's time is limited, and the surge has about broken the US military, so they have lowered their posture and are waiting for the right time to expose the reichwing and neo-cons both in Iraq and the US as the frauds they have always been.

    I wonder what "betrayus' " excuse is gonna be?

    We all know Westmoreland had NO adequate one so he got PROMOTED to chairman of the joint chiefs, typical.

    I wonder how the reichwing will try to lie or spin this one this time?

    They all lie about why we lost in Vietnam, and it had NOTHING to do with actions in 1970's, and everything to do with actions in the 1950's when the reichwingers like Nixon and the Dulles brothers undermined the fledging democracy for their short sighted political goals.

    It looks like nothing has changed, because we all know Bush LIED to get a war he wanted for short sighted political gain, but long term catastrophe and fiasco on the ground exactly what the stupid actions of the Dulles brothers produced in the 1950's.

    All Bush has done with his total incompetence is sped up the process to complete meltdown of a flawed foreign policy.

    heck of a job georgie,

    Can we impeach him NOW Nancy?

  15. Kucinich and Gravel are either not invited, or have not accepted invitations, to the Democrat debate in Iowa. The Des Moines Register is putting it on. Neither Kucinich nor Gravel are on the current list of attendees.

  16. Mike I understand the fiscal mess the US is in, but this email explains it so well, I'll let it speak for itself; (it is a bit technical, but with a little study people can understand what he is saying).

    From Herb Greenberg's blog

    Straight Talk on the Mortgage Mess from an Insider

    Even before this mortgage mess started, one person who kept emailing me over and over saying that this is going to get real bad. He kept saying this was beyond sub-prime, beyond low FICO scores, beyond Alt-A and beyond the imagination of most pundits, politicians and the press. When I asked him why somebody from inside the industry would be so emphatically sounding the siren, he said, “Someobody’s got to warn people.”

    Since then, I’ve kept up an active dialog with Mark Hanson, a 20-year veteran of the mortgage industry, who has spent most of his career in the wholesale and correspondent residential arena — primarily on the West Coast. He lives in the Bay Area. So far he has been pretty much on target as the situation has unfolded. I should point out that, based on his knowledge of the industry, he has been short a number of mortgage-related stocks.

    His current thoughts, which I urge you to read:

    The Government and the market are trying to boil this down to a ’sub-prime’ thing, especially with all constant talk of ‘resets’. But sub-prime loans were only a small piece of the mortgage mess. And sub-prime loans are not the only ones with resets. What we are experiencing should be called ‘The Mortgage Meltdown’ because many different exotic loan types are imploding currently belonging to what lenders considered ‘qualified’ or ‘prime’ borrowers. This will continue to worsen over the next few of years. When ‘prime’ loans begin to explode to a degree large enough to catch national attention, the ratings agencies will jump on board and we will have ‘Round 2′. It is not that far away.

    Since 2003, when lending first started becoming extremely lax, a small percentage of the loans were true sub-prime fixed or arms. But sub-prime is what is being focused upon to draw attention away from the fact the lenders and Wall Street banks made all loans too easy to attain for everyone. They can explain away the reason sub-prime loans are imploding due to the weakness of the borrower.

    How will they explain foreclosures in wealthy cities across the nation involving borrowers with 750 scores when their loan adjusts higher or terms change overnight because they reached their maximum negative potential on a neg-am Pay Option ARM for instance?

    Sub-prime aren’t the only kind of loans imploding. Second mortgages, hybrid intermediate-term ARMS, and the soon-to-be infamous Pay Option ARM are also feeling substantial pressure. The latter three loan types mostly were considered ‘prime’ so they are being overlooked, but will haunt the financial markets for years to come. Versions of these loans were made available to sub-prime borrowers of course, but the vast majority were considered ‘prime’ or Alt-A. The caveat is that the differentiation between Prime and ALT-A got smaller and smaller over the years until finally in late 2005/2006 there was virtually no difference in program type or rate.

    The bailout we are hearing about for sub-prime borrowers will be the first of many. Sub-prime only represents about 25% of the problem loans out there. What about the second mortgages sitting behind the sub-prime first, for instance? Most have seconds. Why aren’t they bailing those out too? Those rates have risen dramatically over the past few years as the Prime jumped from 4% to 8.25% recently. seconds are primarily based upon the prime rate. One can argue that many sub-prime first mortgages on their own were not a problem for the borrowers but the added burden of the second put on the property many times after-the-fact was too much for the borrower.

    Most sub-prime loans in existence are refinances not purchase-money loans. This means that more than likely they pulled cash out of their home, bought things and are now going under. Perhaps the loan they hold now is their third or forth in the past couple years. Why are bad borrowers, who cannot stop going to the home-ATM getting bailed out?

    The Government says they are going to use the credit score as one of the determining factors. But we have learned over the past year that credit scores are not a good predictor of future ability to repay. This is because over the past five years you could refi your way into a great score. Every time you were going broke and did not have money to pay bills, you pulled cash out of your home by refinancing your first mortgage or upping your second. You pay all your bills, buy some new clothes, take a vacation and your score goes up!

    The ’second mortgage implosion’, ‘Pay-Option implosion’ and ‘Hybrid Intermediate-term ARM implosion’ are all happening simultaneously and about to heat up drastically. Second mortgage liens were done by nearly every large bank in the nation and really heated up in 2005, as first mortgage rates started rising and nobody could benefit from refinancing. This was a way to keep the mortgage money flowing. Second mortgages to 100% of the homes value with no income or asset documentation were among the best sellers at CITI, Wells, WAMU, Chase, National City and Countrywide. We now know these are worthless especially since values have indeed dropped and those who maxed out their liens with a 100% purchase or refi of a second now owe much more than their property is worth.

    How are the banks going to get this junk second mortgage paper off their books? Moody’s is expecting a 15% default rate among ‘prime’ second mortgages. Just think the default rate in lower quality such as sub-prime. These assets will need to be sold for pennies on the dollar to free up capacity for new vintage paper or borrowers allowed to pay 50 cents on the dollar, for instance, to buy back their note.

    The latter is probably where the ’second mortgage implosion’ will end up going. Why sell the loan for 10 cents on the dollar when you can get 25 to 50 cents from the borrower and lower their total outstanding liens on the property at the same time, getting them ‘right’ in the home again? Wells Fargo recently said they owned $84 billion of this worthless paper. That is a lot of seconds at an average of $100,000 a piece. Already, many lenders are locking up the second lines of credit and not allowing borrowers to pull the remaining open available credit to stop the bleeding. Second mortgages are defaulting at an amazing pace and it is picking up every month.

    The ‘Pay-Option ARM implosion’ will carry on for a couple of years. In my opinion, this implosion will dwarf the ’sub-prime implosion’ because it cuts across all borrower types and all home values. Some of the most affluent areas in California contain the most Option ARMs due to the ability to buy a $1 million home with payments of a few thousand dollars per month. Wamu, Countrywide, Wachovia, IndyMac, Downey and Bear Stearns were/are among the largest Option ARM lenders. Option ARMs are literally worthless with no bids found for many months for these assets. These assets are almost guaranteed to blow up. 75% of Option ARM borrowers make the minimum monthly payment. Eighty percent-plus are stated income/asset. Average combined loan-to-value are at or above 90%. The majority done in the past few years have second mortgages behind them.

    The clue to who will blow up first is each lenders ‘max neg potential’ allowance, which differs. The higher the allowance, the longer until the borrower gets the letter saying ‘you have reached your 110%, 115%, 125% etc maximum negative of your original loans balance so you cannot accrue any more negative and must pay a minimum of the interest only (or fully indexed payment in some cases). This payment rate could be as much as three times greater. They cannot refinance, of course, because the programs do not exist any longer to any great degree, the borrowers cannot qualify for other more conventional financing or values have dropped too much.

    Also, the vast majority have second mortgages behind them putting them in a seriously upside down position in their home. If the first mortgage is at 115%, the second mortgage in many cases is at 100% at the time of origination — and values have dropped 10%-15% in states like California — many home owners could be upside down 20% minimum. This is a prime example of why these loans remain ‘no bid’ and will never have a bid. These also will require a workout. The big difference between these and sub-prime loans is at least with sub-prime loans, outstanding principal balances do not grow at a rate of up to 7% per year. Not considering every Option ARM a sub-prime loan is a mistake.

    The 3/1, 5/1, 7/1 and 10/1 hybrid interest-only ARMS will reset in droves beginning now. These are loans that are fixed at a low introductory interest only rate for three, five, seven or 10 years — then turn into a fully indexed payment rate that adjusts annually thereafter. They first got really popular in 2003. Wells Fargo led the pack in these but many people have them. The resets first began with the 3/1 last year.

    The 5/1 was the most popular by far, so those start to reset heavily in 2008. These were considered ‘prime’ but Wells and many others would do 95%-100% to $1 million at a 620 score with nearly as low of a rate as if you had a 750 score. No income or asset versions of this loan were available at a negligible bump in fee. This does not sound too ‘prime’ to me. These loans were mostly Jumbo in higher priced states such as California.

    Values are down and these are interest only loans, therefore, many are severely underwater even without negative-amortization on this loan type. They were qualified at a 50% debt-to-income ratio, leaving only 50% of a borrower’s income to pay taxes, all other bills and live their lives. These loans put the borrower in the grave the day they signed their loan docs especially without major appreciation. These loans will not perform as poorly overall as sub-prime, seconds or Option ARMs but they are a perfect example of what is still considered ‘prime’ that is at risk. Eighty-eight percent of Thornburg’s portfolio is this very loan type for example.

    One final thought. How can any of this get repaired unless home values stabilize? And how will that happen? In Northern California, a household income of $90,000 per year could legitimately pay the minimum monthly payment on an Option ARM on a million home for the past several years. Most Option ARMs allowed zero to 5% down. Therefore, given the average income of the Bay Area, most families could buy that million dollar home. A home seller had a vast pool of available buyers.

    Now, with all the exotic programs gone, a household income of $175,000 is needed to buy that same home, which is about 10% of the Bay Area households. And, inventories are up 500%. So, in a nutshell we have 90% fewer qualified buyers for five-times the number of homes. To get housing moving again in Northern California, either all the exotic programs must come back, everyone must get a 100% raise or home prices have to fall 50%. None, except the last sound remotely possible.

    What I am telling you is not speculation. I sold BILLIONs of these very loans over the past five years. I saw the borrowers we considered ‘prime’. I always wondered ‘what WILL happen when these things adjust is values don’t go up 10% per year’.

    What he doesn't even get into is what happens when these same people who are defaulting on the first and second mortgages, are ALSO defaulting on their credit card and car loans?

    What happens to the large part of our economy when this slow down ripples through the "home depots", "sears", real estate agencies, mega malls, building contractors landscapers, and rest of the discretionary income economy because all these people lost the home they used as an ATM to keep up their standard of living far above the ability to pay for it?

    Where do the people who work in these parts of the economy go when they lose their jobs because of the loss of business?

    What happens to their homes, cars and credit cards?

    This is FAR from over, and most people the pundits and politicians especially have NO clue how deep this one goes, because there is little left to inflate as a bubble to escape this latest collapse of a untenable economic system. too bad the reichwingers for short term greed sent most of our manufacturing economy over seas, because that was the foundation Roosevelt used to grow the US out of the great depression. this time minimum wage jobs at Micky d's and wally world are about all that is left.

    Enjoy the coming economic roller coaster ride the next couple of years.

    heck of a job you clowns.

  17. Oh one other possible fall out of the mortgage meltdown, there is evidence emerging that some oil corps who were investing in the Canadian tar sands to produce the oil there had invested some of their funds in the CDO-SIV markets, which means they might have lost their money and face the prospect of having to find other money to invest to find the oil we all use to fuel out modern lifestyle.

  18. Well Bush's flawed surge didn't prevent this attack near Baghdad which could complicate the road ahead;

    Baghdad oil refinery ablaze

    Firefighters have been battling a fire at an oil refinery that supplies much of the fuel to produce power for Baghdad.

    Iraqi oil officials said on Monday that the plant had been hit by a Katyusha-type rocket.

    However, the US military later issued a statement saying that the blaze "was the result of an industrial accident".

    "The fire which began around 9am [0600 GMT] was initially believed to have been started by indirect fire," the statement said.

    But when troops arrived on the scene "its cause was determined to be the result of pipe explosion".

    Firefighters struggled to bring the fire under control as black smoke billowed over the al-Dora refinery south of the Iraqi capital.

    Storage tank hit

    Assim Jihad, a spokesman for Iraq's oil ministry, said that a rocket had landed on a storage tank for refined crude.

    "A rocket thought to be of the Katyusha type struck a light fuel tank at the refinery, causing fire and material damage," he told the AFP news agency.

    "The fire is still burning but the situation is under control," he said during the afternoon.

    "The extinguishing operation is still continuing. I cannot say when will it be put out, but the tank is isolated and we are waiting for the remaining fuel to finish burning."

    The Iraqi government also issued a statement blaming the inferno on a "terrorist attack", but said that the rockets had struck a benzine pipeline at the facility.

    Jihad said that there were no casualties from the fire but the US military statement said that it was unclear whether anyone had been killed or wounded.

    Baghdad supply

    The refinery is one of two that produces Iraq's fuel and receives crude from the country's north and south to supply refined products to Baghdad.

    The explosion comes after another major oil-producing hub was bombed last week, 100km north of Baghdad.

    Seven policemen were killed when a car bomb blew up near the GFX Baiji refinery - the country's biggest - which is connected by a pipeline to oilfields in the nearby city of Kirkuk.

    Rockets also hit the Karrada district in central Baghdad and the heavily fortified Green Zone, which houses the Iraqi parliament, the US embassy and many government buildings, police said.

    Seven inmates in an interior ministry jail were killed in a mortar attack in the center of the capital, security officials said.

    Another 21 people were also wounded in their cells when up to three mortar rounds hit the facility.

    Another successful day for Bush in Baghdad,

    for the rest of us,

    Not So Much.

  19. On Dec. 11, 1941, Germany and Italy declared war on the United States; the U.S. responded in kind.

    It's a good thing Bush wasn't in charge. He'd a had the US troops in South America lookin' fur the "nazis", and overcharging the US people to fatten the pockets of his friends and cronies.

  20. clif said...
    On Dec. 11, 1941, Germany and Italy declared war on the United States; the U.S. responded in kind.

    It's a good thing Bush wasn't in charge. He'd a had the US troops in South America lookin' fur the "nazis", and overcharging the US people to fatten the pockets of his friends and cronies."

    Yeah sure Clif, but it would have to be Venezuela or Brazil because Bush would have to attack a country with lots of oil that had NOTHING to do with attacking us.

  21. clif said...
    Oh one other possible fall out of the mortgage meltdown, there is evidence emerging that some oil corps who were investing in the Canadian tar sands to produce the oil there had invested some of their funds in the CDO-SIV markets, which means they might have lost their money and face the prospect of having to find other money to invest to find the oil we all use to fuel out modern lifestyle."

    I dont like the sound of that, i'm heavily invested in some of the Canadian Tar Sand oil trusts.

  22. Meanwhile, Hillary trotted out Maya Angelou, a so much more respectable endorsement.

  23. That was a great article on the Economic problems from the mortgage meltdown Clif!

  24. Sorry to hijack the thread here, but since its a slow day, I just was curious if anyone watched the Tinman miniseries and if so what your opinions are on it..............I thought maybe Lydia, Bartlebe and Carl might have watched it?

  25. On the Democratic side, Edwards performs best against each of the leading Republicans. In addition to beating Huckabee by 25 percent and McCain by 8 percent, the North Carolina Democrat beats Romney by 22 percentage points (59 percent to 37 percent) and Giuliani by 9 percentage points (53 percent to 44 percent).

    While the survey shows McCain and Edwards performing best in their respective fields, both candidates continue to significantly trail their parties’ front-runners significantly. In the national horse race numbers released Monday, McCain trails Giuliani by 11 percentage points, and Edwards is behind Clinton by 26 percentage points.

    “Edwards is the only Democrat who beats all four Republicans, and McCain is the only Republican who beats any of the three Democrats,” Holland said. “Some might argue this shows that they are the most electable candidates in their respective parties.

  26. Updated 12/10

    I thought this one was worth passing along. It's a highly unsubstantiated rumor, so take it for what it's worth.

    The rumor comes via R.S. Janes at BartBlog (a.k.a. Bartcop). It claims that MSNBC may have found that host they've been looking for. And it ain't Rosie O'Donnell. This rumor claims that MSNBC regular and Air America Radio host Rachel Maddow may get the nod. Here's more:

    Finally, a note under the door says Air America Radio’s Rachel Maddow will be offered the hour following Keith Olbermann on MSNBC, but only with a ‘funny’ co-host, as it appears increasingly unlikely that The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart or Bill Maher and others will step in for the kind of unimpressive money and short-term contract that are on the table. Rumor is the cable channel’s execs are impressed with Maddow, but she’s not perceived as ‘funny’ enough by herself for the uptempo news/comedy format they’re seeking. Paul F. Tompkins and Joel McHale, that guy Keith has on who hosts E!s “The Soup,” have been mentioned as co-hosts, as well as Rachel’s AAR colleague Randi Rhodes, although Randi is seen by some as too partisan and combative. If this goes through, the prime-time weekday line up for MSNBC would then be “Hardball”; “Countdown with Keith Olbermann”; the as-yet-unnamed Rachel Maddow show, and “Live with Dan Abrams.” Expect a press release in January.

  27. As the deadliest year in Afghanistan since the US-led invasion in 2001 comes to a close, Gordon Brown is ready to talk to the Taliban in a major shift in strategy that is likely to cause consternation among hardliners in the White House.

    Six years after British troops were first deployed to oust the Taliban regime, the Prime Minister believes the time has come to open a dialogue in the hope of moving from military action to consensus-building among the tribal leaders. Since 1 January, more than 6,200 people have been killed in violence related to the insurgency, including 40 British soldiers. In total, 86 British troops have died. The latest casualty was Sergeant Lee Johnson, whose vehicle hit a mine before the fall of Taliban-held town of Musa Qala.

    The Cabinet yesterday approved a three-pronged plan that Mr Brown will outline for security to be provided by Nato's International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) and the Afghan national army, followed by economic and political development in Afghanistan.

    But the intention to engage Taliban leaders in a constructive dialogue, which Mr Brown will make clear in a parliamentary statement today, will be by far the most controversial element of the plan. A senior Downing Street source confirmed the move last night and one Brown aide who accompanied the Prime Minister on his recent visit to Kabul, said: "We need to ask who are we fighting? Do we need to fight them? Can we be talking to them?"

  28. Houston, Texas woman says she was gang-raped by Halliburton/KBR coworkers in Baghdad, and the company and the U.S. government are covering up the incident.

    Jamie Leigh Jones, now 22, says that after she was raped by multiple men at a KBR camp in the Green Zone, the company put her under guard in a shipping container with a bed and warned her that if she left Iraq for medical treatment, she'd be out of a job.

    "Don't plan on working back in Iraq. There won't be a position here, and there won't be a position in Houston," Jones says she was told.

    In a lawsuit filed in federal court against Halliburton and its then-subsidiary KBR, Jones says she was held in the shipping container for at least 24 hours without food or water by KBR, which posted armed security guards outside her door, who would not let her leave.

    "It felt like prison," says Jones, who told her story to ABC News as part of an upcoming "20/20" investigation. "I was upset; I was curled up in a ball on the bed; I just could not believe what had happened."

    Finally, Jones says, she convinced a sympathetic guard to loan her a cell phone so she could call her father in Texas.

    "I said, 'Dad, I've been raped. I don't know what to do. I'm in this container, and I'm not able to leave,'" she said. Her father called their congressman, Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas.

    "We contacted the State Department first," Poe told, "and told them of the urgency of rescuing an American citizen" -- from her American employer.

    Poe says his office contacted the State Department, which quickly dispatched agents from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad to Jones' camp, where they rescued her from the container.

    According to her lawsuit, Jones was raped by "several attackers who first drugged her, then repeatedly raped and injured her, both physically and emotionally."

    Jones told that an examination by Army doctors showed she had been raped "both vaginally and anally," but that the rape kit disappeared after it was handed over to KBR security officers.

    A spokesperson for the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security told he could not comment on the matter.

    Over two years later, the Justice Department has brought no criminal charges in the matter. In fact, ABC News could not confirm any federal agency was investigating the case.

    Legal experts say Jones' alleged assailants will likely never face a judge and jury, due to an enormous loophole that has effectively left contractors in Iraq beyond the reach of United States law.

    "It's very troubling," said Dean John Hutson of the Franklin Pierce Law Center. "The way the law presently stands, I would say that they don't have, at least in the criminal system, the opportunity for justice."

    Congressman Poe says neither the departments of State nor Justice will give him answers on the status of the Jones investigation.

    Click Here for Full Blotter Coverage.

    Asked what reasons the departments gave for the apparent slowness of the probes, Poe sounded frustrated.

    "There are several, I think, their excuses, why the perpetrators haven't been prosecuted," Poe told ABC News. "But I think it is the responsibility of our government, the Justice Department and the State Department, when crimes occur against American citizens overseas in Iraq, contractors that are paid by the American public, that we pursue the criminal cases as best as we possibly can and that people are prosecuted."

    Since no criminal charges have been filed, the only other option, according to Hutson, is the civil system, which is the approach that Jones is trying now. But Jones' former employer doesn't want this case to see the inside of a civil courtroom.

    KBR has moved for Jones' claim to be heard in private arbitration, instead of a public courtroom. It says her employment contract requires it.

    In arbitration, there is no public record nor transcript of the proceedings, meaning that Jones' claims would not be heard before a judge and jury. Rather, a private arbitrator would decide Jones' case. In recent testimony before Congress, employment lawyer Cathy Ventrell-Monsees said that Halliburton won more than 80 percent of arbitration proceedings brought against it.

    In his interview with ABC News, Rep. Poe said he sided with Jones.

    "Air things out in a public forum of a courtroom," said Rep. Poe. "That's why we have courts in the United States."

    In her lawsuit, Jones' lawyer, Todd Kelly, says KBR and Halliburton created a "boys will be boys" atmosphere at the company barracks which put her and other female employees at great risk.

    "I think that men who are there believe that they live without laws," said Kelly. "The last thing she should have expected was for her own people to turn on her."

    Halliburton, which has since divested itself of KBR, says it "is improperly named" in the suit.

    In a statement, KBR said it was "instructed to cease" its own investigation by U.S. government authorities "because they were assuming sole responsibility for the criminal investigations."

    "The safety and security of all employees remains KBR's top priority," it said in a statement. "Our commitment in this regard is unwavering."

    Since the attacks, Jones has started a nonprofit foundation called the Jamie Leigh Foundation, which is dedicated to helping victims who were raped or sexually assaulted overseas while working for government contractors or other corporations.

    "I want other women to know that it's not their fault," said Jones. "They can go against corporations that have treated them this way." Jones said that any proceeds from the civil suit will go to her foundation.

    "There needs to be a voice out there that really pushed for change," she said. "I'd like to be that voice."

    The Bush Administration: Rape and Coverup is their Mantra.

  29. Religious vigilantes have killed at least 40 women this year in the southern Iraqi city of Basra because of how they dressed, their mutilated bodies found with notes warning against "violating Islamic teachings," the police chief said Sunday.

    Maj. Gen. Jalil Khalaf blamed sectarian groups that he said were trying to impose a strict interpretation of Islam. They dispatch patrols of motorbikes or unlicensed cars with tinted windows to accost women not wearing traditional dress and head scarves, he added.

    "The women of Basra are being horrifically murdered and then dumped in the garbage with notes saying they were killed for un-Islamic behavior," Khalaf told The Associated Press. He said men with Western clothes or haircuts are also attacked in Basra, an oil-rich city some 30 miles from the Iranian border and 340 miles southeast of Baghdad.

    The Bush Administration: Murder and Coverup is their Creed.

  30. (Reuters) - Billionaire investor Warren Buffett said the United States could slip into a recession if the jobless rate increases, he told CNBC television on Tuesday.

    In a series of interviews throughout the day, Buffett, who built Berkshire Hathaway (BRKa.N: Quote, Profile, Research) into a $205 billion conglomerate, gave a sobering view of the economy's prospects, including the assessment that holiday retail sales were not looking good despite a post-Thanksgiving holiday burst.

    Consumer spending is seen as a key buffer preventing a weaker U.S. economy from sliding into recession as the housing market continues its free-fall and the banking sector remains challenged by a credit crisis.

    "If unemployment picks up then we could be in for a recession," Buffett said.

    The U.S. unemployment rate in October rose to the highest level since August 2006, and was steady at 4.7 percent in November.

    Buffett's comments on the economy came shortly after the Federal Reserve cut its benchmark interest rate for the third time since a crisis in the subprime mortgage market blew up in August and said weakness in the housing sector and consumer spending are slowing growth.

    Buffett said daily figures from his own outlets, which include a broad range of companies in sectors ranging from food to furniture, indicated the season was "looking soft."

    Asked about a plan by some large banks to create a fund to buy tarnished mortgage securities, the billionaire said this vehicle is unlikely to cure what ails financial markets.

    "You can't turn a financial toad (into a prince) by kissing it or by securitizing it or by transferring its ownership to somebody else," he said.

    Buffett obviously knows more about the economy than the idiot ruining it now.

  31. By Ron Paul

    The latest National Intelligence Estimate has been greeted by a mixture of relief and alarm. As I have been saying all along, Iran indeed poses no quantifiable imminent nuclear threat to us or her neighbors. It is with much alarm, however, that we see the administration continue to ratchet up the war rhetoric as if nothing has changed.

    Indeed nothing has changed from the administration's perspective, as they have had this latest intelligence report for some time. Only this week has it been made known to the public. They want it both ways with Iran. On the one hand, they discredit the report entirely, despite it being one of the most comprehensive intelligence reports on the subject, with over 1,000 source notes in the document. On the other hand, when discrediting it fails, they claim that the timing of the abandonment of the weapons program, just as we were invading Iraq, means our pressure must have worked, so we must keep it up with a new round of even tougher sanctions. Russia and China are not buying this, apparently, and again we are finding ourselves on a lonely tenuous platform on the world stage.

    The truth is Iran is being asked to do the logically impossible feat of proving a negative. They are being presumed guilty until proven innocent because there is no evidence with which to indict them. There is still no evidence that Iran, a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, has ever violated the treaty's terms – and the terms clearly state that Iran is allowed to pursue nuclear energy for peaceful, civilian energy needs. The United States cannot unilaterally change the terms of the treaty, and it is unfair and unwise diplomatically to impose sanctions for no legitimate reason.

    Are we to think that Iran hasn't noticed the duplicitous treatment being received by so-called nuclear threats around the globe? If they have been paying attention, and I think they have, they would see that if countries do have a nuclear weapon, they tend to be left alone, or possibly get a subsidy, but if they do not gain such a weapon then we threaten them. Why wouldn't they want to pursue a nuclear weapon if that is our current foreign policy? The fact remains, there is no evidence they actually have one, or could have one any time soon, even if they immediately resumed a weapons program.

    Our badly misguided foreign policy has already driven this country's economy to the brink of bankruptcy with one war based on misinformation. It is unthinkable that despite lack of any evidence of a threat, some are still charging headstrong into yet another war in the Middle East when what we ought to be doing is coming home from Iraq, coming home from Korea, coming home from Germany and defending our own soil. We do not need to be interfering in the internal affairs of other countries and waging war when honest trade, friendship, and diplomacy are the true paths to peace and prosperity.

  32. We are not living in a sound and rational World, where far-reaching decisions by the US President are based on an understanding of their likely consequences.

    A World War III is no longer a hypothetical scenario.

    During the Cold War, the concept of "mutual assured destruction" (MAD) was put forth. An understanding of the devastating consequences of nuclear war largely contributed to avoiding the outbreak of war between the US and the Soviet Union.

    Today, in the post-Cold war era, no such understanding prevails.

    The specter of a nuclear holocaust, which haunted the world for half a century has been relegated to the status of "collateral damage".

    US foreign policy under the Neocons is based on a diabolical and criminal agenda. The "war on terrorism" is a lie; Iran does not constitute a threat to global security as confirmed by a recent IAEA report. Iran does not constitute a threat to Israel.

    The US president is a liar, who believes his own lies.

    While Iran's non existent nukes are said to constitute a lethal and deadly threat, so-called tactical nuclear weapons "Made in America" are described in Pentagon documents as "harmless to the surrounding civilian population".

    In a bitter irony, those who decide on the use of nuclear weapons believe their own propaganda. A preemptive nuclear attack on Iran is upheld as a bona fide humanitarian undertaking which contributes to global security.

    And now the US Head of State, who has a limited understanding of geopolitics, let alone geography, is hinting that if Iran does not give up its nonexistent nuclear weapons program, we might be reluctantly forced into in a World War III situation. Bush has insinuated that as Commander in Chief, he could decide to launch a war on Iran, which would result in World War III.

    "Dr. Strangelove rides again." In an utterly twisted logic, World War III is presented by the US President as a means to preventing collateral damage.

    The war would be triggered by Iran, who has refused to abide by the "reasonable demands" of "the international community".

    Realities are twisted and turned upside down. Iran is being accused of wanting to start World War III.

    It's coming: Bush's World War III.

  33. Naomi Wolf, author of "10 steps" speaks publicly for the first time about legacy of modern-day tyranny

    Author Naomi Wolf, who made headlines earlier this year after she identified the ten steps to fascism that were being followed to a tee by the Bush administration, spoke publicly for the first time yesterday about the origins of what we see unfolding today, Prescott Bush's attempt to launch a Nazi coup in 1930's America.

    Speaking on the Alex Jones Show, Wolf said that she was first alerted to begin researching America's slide into fascism when her friend, the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, warned her that the same events that laid the foundations for the rise of the Third Reich in early 1930's Germany, when it was still a Parliamentary democracy, were being mirrored in modern-day America.

    "A small group of people began very systematically to use the law and dismantle the Constitution and put pressure on citizens to subvert the law - and that opened the door for everything that followed," said Wolf.

    "When I started reading, not only are tactics and strategy being reproduced exactly right now by the Bush administration - but actual sound bytes and language and images and scenarios are being reproduced," she added.

    Wolf's essay, Fascist America, In 10 Easy Steps , has received plaudits for how it succinctly describes the ways in which dictatorships the world over thro ughout the 20th century have evolved by following the exact same blueprint for tyranny that we see unfolding in America today.

    "Everybody that wants to close down a Democracy does the exact same ten things, the same classic steps and unfortunately we're starting to see these ten steps being put in place in the United States," said Wolf.

    For the first time publicly, Wolf traced the origins of contemporary developments back to President Bush's Nazi grandfather, Prescott Bush, and his plan to launch a fascist coup in the 1930's.

    "There was a scheme in the 30's and Prescott Bush was one of the leaders of this scheme, an industrialist who admired fascism and thought that was a good idea - to have a coup in the United States along the lines of the coup they saw taking place in Italy and Germany," said Wolf, referring to the testimony of Marine Corps Maj.-Gen. Smedley Butler, who was approached by a wealthy and secretive group of industrialists and bankers, including Prescott Bush - the current President's grandfather, who asked him to command a 500,000 strong rogue army of veterans that would help stage a coup to topple then President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

    A recent BBC radio report confirmed that there was an attempted coup led by Prescott Bush.

    "Smedley Butler had been involved with violent regime change throughout his career, but he was approached by these conspirators, including Prescott Bush, and he outed them and he testified to Congress that they were planning a coup in the United States - it's in the Congressional record," said Wolf, adding that the coup was being bankrolled by German industrialist and one of Hitler's chief financiers Fritz Thyssen.

    "What is amazing to me and resonant to me is that when the Nuremberg trials were finally put in place, these Nazi industrialists, some of whom had colluded with Americans including IBM, were about to be brought to trial and sent to prison - there was a moment at which they were going to look into turning the spotlight on their American partners," said Wolf.

    The author added that laws such as the Military Commissions Act of 2006 were consciously designed to protect current President Bush and his co-conspirators from being indicted for war crimes, harking back to Prescott Bush's history.

    "The family history is that you can make so much money uniting corporate interests with a fascist state that violently represses people, that's why when I saw the recycling of so much Nazi language, Nazi tactics, Nazi strategies, Nazi imagery in the Bush White House and then finally belatedly people brought to me this history of Prescott Bush's attempted coup and Smedley Butler's revelations - it gives me absolute chills," said Wolf.

    The fact that Bush's grandfather was a Nazi cannot be presented alone as proof that President Bush is carrying on the legacy, but his policies and rhetoric, which in her essay Wolf clearly documents are borrowed from the Nazi playbook, and in particular the recent move to smear administration critics as potential terrorists, are evidence that George W. Bush is the figurehead for a modern-day fascist coup in America led by the Neo-Cons.

    Wolf concluded that history shows the only safe course for preserving freedom in such a climate is to prosecute and jail the protagonists of the coup as early as possible, a process many would argue should have been enacted several years ago.

  34. There is no shortage of speculation about "why" our leaders are still adamantly planning for the destruction of Iran, in the face of overwhelming popular opposition, even though everyone except the neocons and their allies believes that America would not survive our own actions. An irrational attack is planned and apparently the decision has been chiseled in stone. It may be for Israel. It may be for oil. Maybe it is for world domination?

    We are launching a nuclear world war to save us from ourselves. "We have found the enemy and he is us." --Pogo. We risk blowing the world apart, to avoid watching America slowly choke on its own excesses.

    The government has known for decades that America is on a countdown to self-destruction. Among the elite it is common knowledge that our "global economy" must one day collapse from its own dead weight. In 1974 an intensive research project was undertaken by the Stanford Research Institute and the Charles F. Kettering Foundation for the Dept. of Education. Their final report was released as the Changing Images of Man. It was compiled by the SRI Center for the Study of Social Policy, Director Willis Harmon. This is a far-reaching investigation into how the basic nature of man might be changed. The Aquarian Conspiracy describes the implementation of their work in the real world..

    The most reassuring part of "Images" is that it confirms my own conclusions about our crisis, but it is also the most disturbing part, for it confirms my worst reservations about this time.

    The object of the research was the development of a plausible vision of the future in which democratic methods survive, major problems are managed successfully if not resolved, and the unfolding of the human potential continues to expand. In other words, the postulation of a "desirable future" including feasible paths to its realization . . .

    The government was looking forward to a very troubling future, trying to figure out the best path through it. The plan was to find ways to shape and mold mankind into a new cultural image, complete with new ideas and ideologies, even religious ones. The root of the problem was human nature, and solution was to reshape the competing forces of daily life, in order to forge a new image of a new human nature. The researchers were brutally honest in seeking all available knowledge pertaining to their research, and in assessing the current common image of man-on-earth.

    The research revealed that there were a multitude of crises that were about to intersect in America's near future. Not the least of these converging catastrophes was a rapidly approaching breakdown of both American capitalism and democracy. The collapse was a natural result of globalism and monopoly capitalism. The basic greed that powers the system eroded the American political and economic structures, exposing the foundation of immorality and unfairness that amplifies the social unrest. The Stanford researchers clearly predicted that the American economy was destined to collapse from its own dead weight. The data also showed that that economic collapse was to be accompanied by disastrous social repercussions, such as rioting and upheaval, which would lead us into a "garrison state."

    The thing about this research is that this work has confirmed that our economy based on parasitic capitalism, where the small elite sits atop the heap of men and gorges on their lifeblood, is destroying the social fabric of America. This system is based on a stacked deck, where the top elite always reap the profits that are made to rise to the top through the corporate profits-based system. The research confirmed that the growing inequities of such a system were ever increasing and with them, elevated social tensions. A system based on usury and putting everyone in the "poor house" is an economic order that is guaranteed to produce a democratic revolution, whenever the misery index of the armed populace exceeds the limits that they are willing to peacefully bear, without striking back at the source of their misery.

    Changing Images of Man predicts an American economic collapse and a "garrison" (police) state," if the overwhelming inequities of our economic system are not corrected by powerful multinationals making more humane decisions. Alternatives to this doomsday scenario are discussed, all of which point to the need to devote all available resources towards transforming the image of man, changing man's nature, instead of altering the corrupted economic system which has brought America to this dire state. In this government study it was inappropriate to denounce the evil culprits behind all our troubles (who pull the strings on government itself), even though the task was to document and remedy the damage that they have done. Instead, they are cited as the hopeful "saviors," that we should look to for help and leadership. The hypocrisy of the hegemons! The authors admit that it is "utopian in 1974 to think of the multinational corporations as potentially among our most effective mechanisms for husbanding the earth's resources and optimizing their use for human benefit -- the current popular image of the corporation tends to be more that of the spoiler and the exploiter."

    Instead of charging the people who are responsible for our situation (such as men like David Rockefeller), for manipulating our economy and our democracy to maximize their profits, the multi-national corporations and their owners were exalted as the potential saviors of mankind. Rockefeller and the elite have consistently taken steps to dominate the world by controlling people through "humanitarian" projects which, in the end, turn out to be profit mechanisms. The "green revolution" to spread corporate farming to the Third World has been the key to globalization's destabilizing of world labor markets, in order to create populations of "refugee workers," who are willing to go anywhere to find work for slave wages. This is the cause of the wave of illegal immigration into the US from Mexico. This is part of the proof that there are powerful individuals who are using their economic power to undermine nations in a long-term scheme to gain control of nations and multiply their profits.

    Here David Rockefeller admits media collusion with his one world plans: "We are grateful to the Washington Post, the New York Times, Time Magazine and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost forty years. It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subjected to the light of publicity during those years. But now the world is more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world government. The supra-national sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national auto-determination practiced in past centuries."

    Rockefeller writes on page 405 of his memoirs: "Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as 'internationalists' and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure - one world, if you will. If that is the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it." (Activists Go Face to Face With Evil As Rockefeller Confronted)

    Everything that "Images" suggested to remedy shortcomings in the economic system was based on the assumption that men like this would acquire a new corporate benevolence, with CEOs gaining basic humanity. According to Rockefeller himself (who freely admits his efforts to replace America with a "one world" order), he has been working for the greater good of man, all along.

    Their conclusions on American political shortcomings were that these would be tended to by the new improved humane politicians, sort of like Bush's "compassionate conservatives." Step 4 of their six-part strategy to "Bring About a Non-Catostrophic Transformation" -- "Encourage a politics of righteousness and a heightened sense of public responsibilities of the private sector . . . A politics of righteousness might have been laudable in any generation; it may be indispensable for safe passage through the times just ahead."

    The report authors recognize the inevitability of the rising new image of man, describing it as a quasi-religious awakening within the collective mind of man, man's new human nature, relating it to the actual process of spiritual learning that has been going on within religions for thousands of years. They praise Freemasonry and the skills and disciplines inculcated within its members, speculating that their ways might be the key to shoring-up our free enterprise democratic society.

    They developed a strategy to revitalize America's motivational images, symbols and institutions, outlining five separate approaches to the problem, describing the pluses and the pitfalls of each, according to their effects upon society. These approaches are defined as "restorative, simulative, manipulative, persuasive and facilitative." Restoration of crumbling icons works best in the early stages of societal transformation (revitalization cycle). The simulative strategy introduces new ideas, whenever the collapse of the old order becomes apparent. The manipulative strategy seeks to limit individual freedoms. Persuasive propaganda phase is to be coupled with proven mind control techniques, to keep down the social upheaval and shape the emerging image.

    "No doubt existing consciousness-changing, behavior-shaping, subliminal persuasion, and other conditioning techniques could be used to accomplish some sort of transformation of sobering proportions (we ought to be able to be more effective than Nazi Germany). After previously citing Nazi reinvigoration of the Germanic icons and ideals."

    The transforming revitalization process mirrors the psychiatric process of leading a patient through a psychotic break and the restructuring of his life, but on a national scale.

    Once the transformation becomes apparent, social stability will become a problem, especially when society feels pushed by overextending the simulative stage. Actions taken to increase the polarization between "transformation enthusiasts and the conservatives" are called "constructive," except when it is desirable to take actions that "contribute to social cohesion." They were searching for the best path to bring about a controlled deconstruction of everything that "America" means and the reconstruction of a new improved vision of America. They are midwifes to the delivery of the "New World Order," as they go about the dirty business of guiding society through that predicted period of "friendly fascism."

    The great anomaly is given as the great chasm between an efficiently functioning profit-driven capitalist society and the human needs and desires of that society which go unmet, so that "profits" can be taken. In fact, the "profit" really amounts to the bread that is taken from the poor. The inequities and the unfairness of the corporate system are causing the breakdown of American capitalism and American democracy. The American catastrophe is causing the breakdown of the world economy for the same reason, the basic inability of monopoly capitalism to meet the basic needs demanded by the world's people.

    Bush's appointed task is to bully America through this turbulent period of upheaval, with as little disruption of corporate activity as possible. Government has taken the words of this study to heart, preparing a manipulative transformation, to divert or preempt the coming collapse of our nation with a massive war today. This is also one of the primary reasons for the coming world war, to serve as a prelude to American martial law. Instead of calling out the troops after the insurrection has begun, they plan to call out the troops first. If the American military is to forcefully control the homeland, including their own relatives, then the troops must first be convinced that the nation's survival depends upon their patriotic actions. This is why the world war against Iran has not started yet, because our National Guard must first be convinced that its duty is to put down the American rebellion which will surely accompany the bombing of Iran. The timing for their great takeover is crucial, if they want to move America past (through) the social unrest as quickly as possible.

    Here are the "Elements of a Strategy for a Non-catastrophic Transition":

    Promote awareness of the unavoidability of the transformation.

    Foster construction of a guiding vision of a workable society built around the new image of man and new social paradigm.

    Foster a period of experimentation and tolerance for diverse alternatives.

    Encourage a politics of righteousness and a heightened sense of public responsibilities of the private sector . . . A politics of righteousness might have been laudable in any generation; it may be indispensable for safe passage through the times just ahead.

    Promote systematic exploration of and foster education regarding man's inner life, his subjective experience.

    Plan adequate social controls for the transition period while safeguarding against longer-term losses of freedom . . . Regulation and restraint of behavior will be necessary in order to hold the society together while it goes around a difficult corner.
    There must be a new economics to deal with the "new scarcities." Arguing for corporate America to adopt a humanitarian aspect, the argument is made for an alternative "new socialism," where important sectors like energy might be nationalized for the good of the country, and greater pressure put upon corporations to mandate a sort of social awareness of employee needs, as much as shareholder profits.

    "The appropriate question may be not so much how to bring about a transformation . . . but rather how to facilitate a non-catastrophic transformation." [page 195]

    "Construct a guiding version of a workable society, built around a new positive image of humankind and corresponding vision of a suitable social paradigm. As the old order shows increasing signs of falling apart, some adequate vision of what may be simultaneously building is urgently needed for mobilization of constructive effort. The guiding vision has to include some way of providing for full and valued participation in the economic and social affairs of the community and society, especially for those who are physically and mentally able to contribute but find themselves in a state of unwilling idleness and deterioration of spirit."

    Despite all the report's shortcomings and its hypocrisy, it does make some sound observations about what is needed for our immediate survival. We should take it as a guide to what our government knows about the coming mega-crisis and a template to help us see what changes we could make if there were truly a new economy, a new social contract, a new American state. For it is obvious to all those who take the time to look, that we are headed into period of national freefall, when American society plunges head first, into a dark abyss of uncertainty, as the old order passes away, and the New World Order rushes in to fill the void.

    We are seeing the planned collapse of America, coming down the road we are on. What are we going to do to get our nation off that highway to hell?

    Global Research Articles by Peter Chamberlin

  35. Check out this excellent post by Anok on what the Bush military are doing to High School kids:

    Identity Check

  36. I wish Oprah had the reach Uncle Walter had. Maybe we could get this horrid bloodbath over with then.

  37. By Arianna Huffington:

    "Mostly quiet acquiescence, if not outright support."

    That is how, according to the Washington Post, officials present characterized the reaction of lawmakers, including Democrats such as Nancy Pelosi and Jane Harman, when they were briefed in 2002 about waterboarding and other severe interrogation techniques being employed by the CIA.

    But it could just as well be the slogan of the Democrats for much of the last six-plus years -- especially on Iraq.

    It's no wonder Democrats have already decided to capitulate on the war funding bill coming before Congress next week. As recently as three weeks ago, Speaker Pelosi said there would be no more votes on Iraq funding this year (she said the same thing -- both about no votes this year and no votes in '08 without a withdrawal date -- when I interviewed her in October), and last month Sen. Chuck Schumer thundered, "The days of a free lunch are over."

    Well, over in the same way that U.S. state-sanctioned torture is over. Which is to say, not so much.

    Why can't the Democrats do anything about it? According to Jim Manley, spokesman for Harry Reid: "Republicans, Republicans, Republicans. The real problem here is the president and his Republican backers" who have "staked out an increasingly hard-lined position."

    Republicans taking a hard-line position? Who could've have thunk it? The question for Reid and Pelosi is this: why would the Republicans not be taking increasingly hard-line positions when Democratic opposition to the war -- and the other excesses of the Bush administration -- has been so consistently tepid?

    That's why the Washington Post piece about senior Democrats being briefed about waterboarding and other torture practices is both shocking and not shocking.

    It's shocking that any American lawmaker -- of either party -- would go along with state-sanctioned torture. But it's not shocking when you realize it's just part of a long line of Democratic "acquiescence." From the outright support of the war authorization (sorry, Hillary, we all know what the bill was about) to the latest surrender on war funding, Republicans know Democrats will bluster...and then cave. So of course they're taking "increasingly hard-lined positions."

    According to the Post, when briefed in 2002 about the torture going on, "no objections were raised. Instead, at least two lawmakers in the room asked the CIA to push harder, two U.S. officials said."

    But, of course, it's all the fault of "Republicans, Republicans, Republicans."

    As Andrew Sullivan notes, "At best, it seems to me, Democratic resistance to these war crimes was anodyne." (For more on what the destroyed interrogation tapes likely would have shown, read this post by Kevin Drum).

    Senator Jay Rockefeller, who can't really decide what he knew about the torture and the tapes and their destruction or when he knew it, now says he was "really disturbed by what I was reading and what we grew to know."

    And could there be anything more confused and anodyne than the way Democrats ceded the PR war over the surge to the GOP? Would it have been so hard to point out that the ultimate purpose of the surge was not military but creating the conditions for political stability and reconciliation? Can they not be trusted to remember that far back, all the way to January 2007?

    And why are the major Democratic presidential candidates standing on the sidelines when it comes to ending the war and zero tolerance for torture? If they don't show bold leadership now, what is to prevent the Republican nominee - -whoever that is -- from walking all over the Democratic nominee -- whoever that is -- the same way the Bush administration is walking all over congressional Democrats now?

    If you want to know what that is going to look like watch the tape of Rudy Giuliani on Meet the Press and you'll get a preview. Here he is on whether the NIE finding that Iran has largely abandoned its nuclear program eliminated the option of a pre-emptive military strike:

    "No, I, I don't think it does... The option of this government should be that we don't take any options off the table, and we keep the pressure on them. And of course we don't, we don't want to use the military option. It would be dangerous; it would be risky. But I think it would be more dangerous and more risky if Iran did become a nuclear power."
    As Steve Benen at TPM says:

    "It must be great to work in the communications staff for a Republican presidential campaign -- you don't have to bother to change the talking points based on new information, you just repeat the old lines as if nothing ever changes."
    And that's the point. The Republican aren't going to change. If the disastrous foreign policy the U.S. has pursued for seven years is going to change, it's going to have to be because Democrats force it to change.

    And they're not going to do that until they break completely with their past "acquiescence, if not outright support" of that foreign policy. It's like AA -- they first need to admit they have a severe problem, do a serious and fearless political inventory, and then commit to making a change.

    Memo to Oprah: while you're on the campaign trail, maybe you can facilitate an intervention. How about you and Dr. Phil show up at the next debate and haul the Democratic frontrunners and the Congressional leadership off to spinal rehab?

  38. Rep. Jane Harman, the California Democrat who warned the CIA in 2003 against destroying tapes of its agents using so-called harsh interrogation techniques against suspected terrorists, now says the agency brushed off her concerns over the tapes' preservation with a curt, "very unsatisfactory" response.

    Whether the former ranking member of the Intelligence Committee pushed for more information on the interrorgation methods that sparked her initial concern remains an open question. Democrats are accusing the CIA of keeping them in the dark about plans to destroy videotapes, and Harman acknowledges that her memory is fuzzy regarding a classified briefing she participated in just after taking over for Nancy Pelosi as top Democrat on the committee.

    "I can't really reconstruct the meeting -- again, which was highly classified -- because I took no notes. It was five years ago and this feeble grandma just ain't that good," Harman told NPR's Robert Siegel Monday.

    In February 2003, Harman wrote to the CIA and urged them to preserve the tapes, which were destroyed in 2005.

    It wasn't until the destruction of the tapes was publicly revealed last week that Harman disclosed her earlier warnings to the CIA. On Friday, Harman said the CIA "never responded to" her 2003 letter, although she modified that accusation Monday.

    "I did hear over the weekend from a staffer that she thinks there was a response, very unsatisfactory, to my letter, and I'm eager to see if the CIA recognized then that what I said was important," Harman said on CNN's American Morning Monday. "They obviously ignored it in 2005."

    This feeble grandmother is still a worthless shill for all things Bush.

  39. Campaigning for politicians to address universal healthcare, a nurses' group purchased provocative newspaper ads that warn Vice President Dick Cheney would "probably be dead by now" if he was not part of a single-payer government run healthcare system that keeps his oft-adled heart ticking.

    The California Nurses Association purchased the eye-catching ads in 10 Iowa newspapers Tuesday, pointing out what the group says is another irony of the heatlhcare crisis -- that politicians receive health coverage from a government-run program, not insurance companies.

    "Dick Cheney, with his heart trouble, would probably be dead now if he were an ordinary American forced to search for cardiac care in a thicket of mercenary insurers and heartless HMOs," Shum Preston wrote on the Nurses' association blog. "Cheney gets guaranteed healthcare; we get squat."

    “The patient’s history and prognosis were grim: four heart attacks, quadruple bypass surgery, angioplasty, an implanted defibrillator and now an emergency procedure to treat an irregular heartbeat,” the ad states, referencing Cheney’s lengthy medical chart, according to the Wall Street Journal. “For millions of Americans, this might be a death sentence. For the vice president, it was just another medical treatment. And it cost him very little.”

    The vice president's office apparently was not amused with mentions of Cheney's mortality.

    “Something this outrageous does not warrant a response,” Megan Mitchell, a spokeswoman for Cheney, snipped.

    What else is Cheney's worthless carcass good for except to use as an example in an ad?

  40. Three car bombs exploded in quick succession in the mainly Shiite southern city of Amarah on Wednesday, killing at least 26 people and wounding 100, authorities said.

    What a "surge" you have there Bush.

  41. Morgan Stanley has issued a full recession alert for the US economy, warning of a sharp slowdown in business investment and a "perfect storm" for consumers as the housing slump spreads.

    It's the Bush economy.

  42. An American soldier was killed and two others were wounded in a suicide car bomb explosion near their vehicle in Salahudin province, north of Baghdad, the U.S. military said on Tuesday.

    The soldier was killed as a result of fatal wounds sustained from the explosion on Monday, the military said in a statement.

    The wounded soldiers were transported to the closest military facility for treatment, the statement said, adding the name of the deceased soldier is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

    The latest death brings the number of U.S. soldiers who have been killed in Iraq to about 3,888 since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, according to media count based on Pentagon figures.

    I'll bet this made your day didn't it Bush?

  43. The Dream Is Dead

    The man crowned by Tommy Franks as “the dumbest [expletive] guy on the planet” just made the dumbest [expletive] speech on the planet.

    Doug Feith, the former Rummy gofer who drove the neocon plan to get us into Iraq, and then dawdled without a plan as Iraq crashed into chaos, was the headliner at a reunion meeting of the wooly-headed hawks Monday night at the American Enterprise Institute.

    The room was packed as the former No. 3 at the Pentagon, previewing his upcoming book, “War and Decision,” conceded that the case could be made that “mistakes were made.” His former boss, Paul Wolfowitz, and the former Pentagon adviser Richard Perle sat supportively in the front row.

    But he wasn’t self-flagellating. He was simply trying to put an egghead gloss on his Humpty Dumpty mishegoss.

    “At the end of the day, here we are, and as of now there’s a reasonable chance that the country is going to remain united,” he said. Not quite the original boast of democracy cascading through the Middle East.

    Feith also inanely noted that his personal view was that his de-Baathification policy — which created a huge, angry pool of unemployed men that fueled the insurgency — “was not basically a big error. It’s been criticized very severely. I think there actually was a lot of good thought that went into the de-Baathification policy.” It just spiralled out of hand, he said. Mistakes were made.

    He thinks everything would have been fine if America had not lingered so long in Iraq. If only Paul Bremer and the generals had just turned Iraq over to the slippery con man Feith wanted to put in charge, Ahmad Chalabi.

    Asked about getting tough with Iran and Syria, Feith offered this incandescent insight: “As we all know, the president said he’s The Decider. That actually is quite a profound point. The president is The Decider and the main thing he decides about is risk.”

    He noted that in battles through American history, “the military fights better over time.” This from a guy who sent our military into Iraq without the right armor, the right force numbers or the right counterinsurgency training.

    “A strategic alliance of the ousted Baathists and foreign jihadists was something that our intelligence community did not anticipate,” he said, continuing to spread the blame.

    But the intelligence community didn’t miss it. The neocons tried to scrub out that sort of analysis, knowing it would make the war harder to sell.

    Classified reports prepared for President Bush in January 2003 by the National Intelligence Council warned that rogue elements of Saddam’s government could hook up with existing terrorist groups to wage guerrilla warfare.

    In “Fiasco,” Tom Ricks wrote that Feith’s Pentagon office was dubbed the “black hole” of policy by generals watching him drop the ball.

    “People working for Feith complained that he would spend hours tweaking their memos, carefully mulling minor points of grammar,” Ricks wrote. “A Joint Staff officer recalled angrily that at one point troops sat on a runway for hours, waiting to leave the United States on a mission, while he quibbled about commas in the deployment order.”

    Jay Garner, America’s first viceroy in Iraq, deemed him “incredibly dangerous” and said his “electrons aren’t connected.”

    Feith’s disdain for diplomacy and his credo that weakness invites aggression were shaped, Ricks reported, by personal history: “Like Wolfowitz, Feith came from a family devastated by the Holocaust. His father lost both parents, three brothers, and four sisters to the Nazis.”

    Feith told Jeffrey Goldberg in The New Yorker that “My family got wiped out by Hitler, and ... all this stuff about working things out — well, talking to Hitler to resolve the problem didn’t make any sense to me. The kind of people who put bumper stickers on their car that declare that ‘War is not the answer,’ are they making a serious comment? What’s the answer to Pearl Harbor? What’s the answer to the Holocaust?”

    What’s the answer to bin Laden? According to Feith, it was an attack on an unrelated dictator. He oversaw the Policy Counterterrorism Evaluation Group, whose mission was to amp up links between Saddam and Al Qaeda.

    It defies reason, but there are still some who think the chuckleheads who orchestrated the Iraq misadventure have wisdom to impart.

    The Pentagon neocons dumped Condi Rice out of the loop. Yet, according to Newsweek’s Mike Isikoff, Condi has now offered Wolfie a job. It wasn’t enough that he trashed Iraq and the World Bank. (He’s still larking around town with Shaha, the sweetheart he gave the sweetheart deal to.)

    Condi wants Wolfie to advise her on nuclear proliferation and W.M.D. as part of a State Department panel that has access to highly classified intelligence.

    Once you’ve helped distort W.M.D. intelligence to trick the country into war, shouldn’t you be banned for life from ever having another top-level government post concerning W.M.D.?

  44. by Nat Hentoff

    During the 1930s, when I was a kid, I read that some big-time American companies were actually doing business with Hitler. I asked my father—who, as a young man, had escaped from Russia, the land of pogroms—how on earth this was possible.

    "Profits," he said bitterly, adding to my education in the ways of the world.

    More than ever, it's acutely relevant whether corporations—now with global reach—profit from regimes that commit horrendous crimes against their own people.

    Last month, a New York–based human rights group, the nonprofit Dream for Darfur, released a 70-page report card, And Now . . . Not a Word From our Sponsors, in which they graded 19 corporate sponsors of the 2008 Beijing Olympics on their response to the genocide in Darfur.

    "Sponsors," says Jill Savitt, executive director of Dream for Darfur, "have an obligation to protect . . . their own reputations; they need to press the Chinese host [Sudan's main business partner and protector] to take action or risk being sponsors of what will go down in history as the Genocide Olympics."

    Added Ellen Freudenheim, the organization's corporate outreach officer: "Top global companies, from General Electric to Panasonic to Volkswagen, stand to gain vast prestige and visibility in China's burgeoning market by aligning themselves with the games and the lofty Olympic values of friendship and humanity. But their Olympic sized investments of tens of millions of dollars could be diminished if the legacy of the Beijing Games is associated with inaction in the face of genocide."

    Mia Farrow of Dream for Darfur put it more bluntly: "This is blood money. . . . Fear of losing money is . . . not compared to the women who are being attacked today . . . and the children who are being thrown into bonfires."

    Among the other corporations contacted by Dream for Darfur during 16 months of discussions are the Adidas Group, Anheuser-Busch (Budweiser), Coca-Cola, General Electric (owner of NBC, which bought the broadcasting rights to the Genocide Olympics), Johnson & Johnson, McDonald's, Staples, Microsoft, and Eastman Kodak.

    In its 70-page report card, Dream for Darfur reveals that not one company has been "willing to acknowledge publicly that . . . the ongoing genocide in Darfur is morally unacceptable for the Olympic host."

    Appropriately, Jill Savitt calls these sponsors, partners, and suppliers for the 2008 Olympics—which will begin on August 8 of next year, with Steven Spielberg serving as artistic director—"handmaidens to a dubious coronation."

    The "Olympic Corporate Sponsors' Pledge"—which these sanitizers of genocide were asked to sign by Dream for Darfur—included this promise:

    "In light of the unique relationship our esteemed Olympic host has with the government in Sudan, and in our role as friends and supporters of the Chinese government, we pledge to urge the Chinese government to utilize its position to help Khartoum consent to a true international civilian protection operation for Darfur and a good-faith peace process well before the August 2008 start of the games."

    Despite the honey-coated language of the sponsors' pledge, not one of the 19 corporations has signed it.

    There will be more report cards from Dream for Darfur before the coronation date. Referring to that fateful day, Jacques Rogge—president of the International Olympics—dreamily prophesied in August of this year: "I can already begin to imagine the exhilarating atmosphere the crowds will create as the athletes parade into the arena on 8 August."

    The actual atmosphere on that fateful day could make Rogge's blood run cold, because Dream for Darfur has other plans for putting even greater pressure on these corporate sponsors and their "esteemed" host to get Sudan to stop the genocide. If they refuse, not even Steven Spielberg will be able to make the 2008 Olympics palatable to the world.

    Dream for Darfur is telling the corporate sponsors—and the American and world public—that "it is working with other advocacy organizations on organizing protest events at sponsors' headquarters, and a mass consumer write-in campaign, as well as contacting the investment community." (Emphasis added.)

    Among the advocacy organizations already interested in targeting corporate sponsors are Save Darfur and STAND—A Student Anti-Genocide Coalition, part of the Genocide Intervention Network. STAND has more than 700 chapters at schools around the globe. In addition, Save Darfur includes many active organizations and individuals.

    During a Dream for Darfur press conference on November 27, Mia Farrow—speaking about future actions by the group—said, "We are appealing to the public . . . to put more pressure on these companies [and for] the press to do its job. . . . Business is not as usual when we talk about mass atrocities."

    "Will you be calling for a consumer boycott [on the sponsoring corporations]?" asked a questioner.

    "We have been hearing," Farrow answered, "from communities of survivors that they want to participate in a very large way. Who, then, better to speak about genocide than communities of survivors? And I know they are planning campaigns of their own as well to make their own message clear to the sponsors."

    To get involved in the campaign targeting corporate sponsors of the Olympics, contact Dream for Darfur at 646-823-2412 or

    Mia Farrow also said: “There’s a woman who gave me this amulet . . . I wear it around my neck. When her village was first burned, she was holding her baby in her arms when the Janjaweed attacked . . . but he was torn from her arms anyway and bayoneted before her eyes. That day, three of her five children were slaughtered. [She] said, ‘Tell people what is happening here. Tell them we will all be slaughtered. Tell them we need help.’ ”

    Do you hear that, G.E., Coca-Cola, Staples, Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson, Panasonic, Volkswagen, et al.?

    There's more to come in future columns—along with reports of China banning protests of any sort at the games. President Bush will be there, he says. Will he turn his American-flag lapel pin upside down?

  45. Negotiations have broken off for the time being at least, but it's still important to understand what's at issue. There are now several recent proposals that have been publicly disclosed, as I had hoped would be the case (see WGA Strike - Confusion Reigns). What deal points are on the table and how far apart are the parties? I've written a very detailed memo, which includes references to supporting documents. A caveat - the studios have not described their proposal in detail, whereas the Guild has described both parties' proposals in detail; so, the description of the studios' proposal is based on the Guild's description.

    * DVD Residuals. The Guild was seeking to double the DVD residual, but has withdrawn this proposal. This removes a major impediment to a deal, although I think it's a mistake. See Slipped Disc: Why DVD Residuals Still Matter -- and Always Will.

    * New Media Residuals. This is the big issue. The proposals are complicated:

    - For paid exhibition (such as iTunes downloads) of movies or television programs, the Guild wants 2.5% of the studio's receipts. The studios want to pay using the home video formula: 0.3% to 0.36% of the studio's receipts. Thus, the Guild wants 7 or 8 times what the studios are offering. The Guild wants the studios to revise their proposal, particularly since the Guild dropped its demand for a doubling of DVD residuals. The studios have not done so. The studios' numbers are hard to justify, because there is essentially no cost of goods for downloads and streaming, whereas high cost of goods was the justification for the low home video formula when it was first introduced. The parties should compromise on 1.2%. See Writers and Producers: Here's the Deal They Should Make.

    - For ad-supported (or other free-to-the-user) exhibition, the studios want a six-week window where no residuals would be payable. The Guild is apparently agreeable to 3 days. The studios also apparently still want the right to designate other uses as promotional, even where the whole program is shown and ad revenue is received; the Guild rejects this proposal. It's not clear what the limits on such promotional designation would be under the studios' proposals - i.e., could they arbitrarily designate any usage as promotional.

    - After that window, the studios want a formula that works out to a one-time residual of $253 for a one-hour television program and $139 for a half-hour. The Guild wants ten times these amounts for the first year, with additional amounts for (a) later years; (b) viewings in excess of 100,000 viewings per three-month period; and (c) viewings outside the U.S. and Canada. For theatrical movies, the Guild wants 2.5% of the studio's receipts, whereas the studios have not made a proposal.

    - Note that the distinction in the Guild's ad-supported proposal appears to be between user-paid exhibition and free-to-the-user exhibition, not between download and streaming. These often correlate -- i.e., download is often paid (such as on iTunes) and streaming is often free (ad-supported), but not always. In other words, downloads could be ad-supported, and streaming can be pay-per-view or by subscription. Press reports have generally described the proposals by distinguishing between downloads and streaming, but this does not appear to be an accurate description of the proposals.

    - It's reasonable for the Guild to want additional payments on ad-supported exhibition for every 100,000 views, because additional views generate more ad revenue to the studios; likewise, as to wanting more compensation for later years. Other than that, it's hard to tell whose numbers are more reasonable without knowing what amount of ad revenue a typical half-hour or one-hour television show, or a movie, can generate online or via cell phone.

    * New Media Jurisdiction. The studios are apparently willing to give the Guild jurisdiction over writing derivative works, meaning Internet and cell phone series that are spinoffs of television shows and movies. However, they are not willing to give the Guild jurisdiction over original (non-derivative) work created for new media. The Guild's numbers suggest that the cost of doing so would be low, but the studios are right to worry that they might have trouble competing with non-unionized companies (and individuals) in this area. The Guild should accept this compromise. The companies should, however, agree to credit parity - if the director gets credit on an online video, the writer should too; credit protection is important, and was actually a key reason the Guild was founded.

    * Made-for-Pay TV Residuals. The Guild wants significant increases in these residuals, which is understandable given the popularity of series on HBO and Showtime. Any such increases would probably be granted to the DGA, SAG and IATSE (the IA) as well (see Reflections on Residuals: Go Forth and Multiply), making this an expensive issue for the companies. This issue has not been discussed in the press.

    * Animation. The Guild wants jurisdiction on animation, and says the cost to the companies would be low. Nonetheless, in order to avoid angering the IA, I predict that the companies will not concede this issue.

    * Reality. This is a fairly expensive issue. For that reason, and to avoid angering the IA, I predict that the companies will not concede this issue. There's another reason too: if the Guild had jurisdiction over reality, it could deny the companies the ability to substitute reality programming for scripted programming during the next strike, whenever that occurs (or is threatened) -- thus giving the Guild more leverage. The companies don't want to give the Guild that leverage.

    * Minimum Compensation. The Guild wants a 3.5% increase, whereas the companies want to increase some minimums by 3%, some by 2% and some not at all. The parties will figure this one out if they can solve the bigger issues.

    * Total Economic Difference Between the Parties. It's difficult to determine the distance between the parties. The Guild's figures suggest a difference over three years of $876M to $1.87 billion, taking account of the fact that some of the demands by the WGA on residuals would imply related increases for the other three unions (DGA, SAG and IA). Splitting the difference results in an increased cost per-company, per-year of only $18M to $39M. There's definitely a deal to be done. (The studios may have an analysis that shows a bigger difference, but maybe not -- the studios undoubtedly think the WGA's proposal will cost more than the $152M asserted by the Guild, but the studios also say that their own proposal is worth more about $100M more than the Guild says it is.)

  46. I fully support the Writers.

  47. Hey, Larry, Mike,

    Do you recall the discussion we had about measuring inflation and how energy and food are specifically excluded?

    The unemployment statistics are even MORE rigged, and there's not even an economic justification to give for it.

  48. Carl said...
    Hey, Larry, Mike,

    Do you recall the discussion we had about measuring inflation and how energy and food are specifically excluded?

    The unemployment statistics are even MORE rigged, and there's not even an economic justification to give for it."

    the CPI (inflation, GDP, and unemployment are all phonier than a 3 dollar bill...............its insulting how riddiculously and purposely inaccurate these statistics are and how the working class, particularly those on fixed income suffer as a result of the Con/Lie.

  49. Larry said...
    The Dream Is Dead

    The man crowned by Tommy Franks as “the dumbest [expletive] guy on the planet” just made the dumbest [expletive] speech on the planet.

    Doug Feith, the former Rummy gofer who drove the neocon plan to get us into Iraq, and then dawdled without a plan as Iraq crashed into chaos, was the headliner at a reunion meeting of the wooly-headed hawks Monday night at the American Enterprise Institute.

    The room was packed as the former No. 3 at the Pentagon, previewing his upcoming book, “War and Decision,” conceded that the case could be made that “mistakes were made.” His former boss, Paul Wolfowitz, and the former Pentagon adviser Richard Perle sat supportively in the front row.

    But he wasn’t self-flagellating. He was simply trying to put an egghead gloss on his Humpty Dumpty mishegoss.

    “At the end of the day, here we are, and as of now there’s a reasonable chance that the country is going to remain united,” he said. Not quite the original boast of democracy cascading through the Middle East.

    Feith also inanely noted that his personal view was that his de-Baathification policy — which created a huge, angry pool of unemployed men that fueled the insurgency — “was not basically a big error. It’s been criticized very severely. I think there actually was a lot of good thought that went into the de-Baathification policy.” It just spiralled out of hand, he said. Mistakes were made.

    He thinks everything would have been fine if America had not lingered so long in Iraq. If only Paul Bremer and the generals had just turned Iraq over to the slippery con man Feith wanted to put in charge, Ahmad Chalabi.

    Asked about getting tough with Iran and Syria, Feith offered this incandescent insight: “As we all know, the president said he’s The Decider. That actually is quite a profound point. The president is The Decider and the main thing he decides about is risk.”

    He noted that in battles through American history, “the military fights better over time.” This from a guy who sent our military into Iraq without the right armor, the right force numbers or the right counterinsurgency training.

    “A strategic alliance of the ousted Baathists and foreign jihadists was something that our intelligence community did not anticipate,” he said, continuing to spread the blame.

    But the intelligence community didn’t miss it. The neocons tried to scrub out that sort of analysis, knowing it would make the war harder to sell.

    Classified reports prepared for President Bush in January 2003 by the National Intelligence Council warned that rogue elements of Saddam’s government could hook up with existing terrorist groups to wage guerrilla warfare.

    In “Fiasco,” Tom Ricks wrote that Feith’s Pentagon office was dubbed the “black hole” of policy by generals watching him drop the ball.

    “People working for Feith complained that he would spend hours tweaking their memos, carefully mulling minor points of grammar,” Ricks wrote. “A Joint Staff officer recalled angrily that at one point troops sat on a runway for hours, waiting to leave the United States on a mission, while he quibbled about commas in the deployment order.”

    Jay Garner, America’s first viceroy in Iraq, deemed him “incredibly dangerous” and said his “electrons aren’t connected.”

    Feith’s disdain for diplomacy and his credo that weakness invites aggression were shaped, Ricks reported, by personal history: “Like Wolfowitz, Feith came from a family devastated by the Holocaust. His father lost both parents, three brothers, and four sisters to the Nazis.”

    Feith told Jeffrey Goldberg in The New Yorker that “My family got wiped out by Hitler, and ... all this stuff about working things out — well, talking to Hitler to resolve the problem didn’t make any sense to me. The kind of people who put bumper stickers on their car that declare that ‘War is not the answer,’ are they making a serious comment? What’s the answer to Pearl Harbor? What’s the answer to the Holocaust?”

    What’s the answer to bin Laden? According to Feith, it was an attack on an unrelated dictator. He oversaw the Policy Counterterrorism Evaluation Group, whose mission was to amp up links between Saddam and Al Qaeda.

    It defies reason, but there are still some who think the chuckleheads who orchestrated the Iraq misadventure have wisdom to impart.

    The Pentagon neocons dumped Condi Rice out of the loop. Yet, according to Newsweek’s Mike Isikoff, Condi has now offered Wolfie a job. It wasn’t enough that he trashed Iraq and the World Bank. (He’s still larking around town with Shaha, the sweetheart he gave the sweetheart deal to.)

    Condi wants Wolfie to advise her on nuclear proliferation and W.M.D. as part of a State Department panel that has access to highly classified intelligence.

    Once you’ve helped distort W.M.D. intelligence to trick the country into war, shouldn’t you be banned for life from ever having another top-level government post concerning W.M.D.?

    4:22 AM"

    Larry, these treasonos Neo Con pack of fools have been dead wrong about essentially EVERYTHING they have ever said or done.........they have destroyed both our country and our military and these dunces should be barred from ANY position of influence or leadership in our government EVER again...........Treasonous SOB"s like Feith and Wolfowitz, Pearle etc....should be treated like the morons and laughingstocks they truly are and NO ONE should give them a shred of credibility or listen to ANYTHING they have to say.

    They should be tried for treason and war crimes against humanity and hung if convicted just as Rumsfeld Bush and Cheney should.

  50. Larry said...
    Morgan Stanley has issued a full recession alert for the US economy, warning of a sharp slowdown in business investment and a "perfect storm" for consumers as the housing slump spreads.

    It's the Bush economy."

    Yeah idiocy, Voodoo Economics, sending good paying jobs overseas (predatory capitalism), huge tax cuts for the ultra rich, and cronny capitalism and huge no bid contracts for their corpote cronnies doesnt work go figure................does ANYTHING the Dunce of a DECIDER does actually work.

    Some peole have the Midas touch where everything they touch turns to gold, GWB has the crappola touch where EVERYTHING he touch turns to shit!

  51. Mike Condi and her lover Bush are the most incompetent drools ever to run/ruin this country.

  52. TomCat said...
    I fully support the Writers."

    I fully support the writers as well Tomcat!

  53. Warren Buffett says we are near a recession, but Morgan Stanley is more correct on this.

    The recession is here.

  54. A couple of weeks ago, an informant told the writers that the Studios/Corporations were going to drag this out until late January, to try and squeeze the writers.

  55. Larry said...
    Mike Condi and her lover Bush are the most incompetent drools ever to run/ruin this country."

    Yeah, this pack of fools and treasonous SOB's people call an Administration actually make Nixon look good in comparison.............hell, the Bush Administration make Benedict Arnold look not so bads in comparison.

  56. By the time Bush is through, the Hoover economy will look like a boom economy, compared to Bush's.

  57. The Recession IS here Larry just it is being hidden by all the bogus inflation and GDP numbers.

  58. I see people lined up every week in a different city, in a different state looking for a job.

  59. For those of you who think Bartlebee's out on a limb on the writers strike comments, note this.

    Hardball just did a segment on how the writers strike is helping the candidates and such.

    And notice, the strike is STILL going on.


  60. What possible thing are they going to agree to sometime down the road, that they couldn't have already agreed to after all this time?

  61. Larry said...
    A couple of weeks ago, an informant told the writers that the Studios/Corporations were going to drag this out until late January, to try and squeeze the writers."

    Larry, like I said before the writers/actors need to start lobbying to get these media oligopolies broken up..........Then they NEED to start buying the assets so they have content, production and distribution channels to level the playing field so they can cut out the robber barrons/media moguls if they dont play ball fairly.

    The Corporate elite have become WAY TOO POWERFUL at the expense of the working class, the playing field NEEDS to be leveled.......the creative people and working class as a whole NEED to become the corporations to ensure equality and an equal playing field and prevent the game from being rigged to benefit the elite few at the expense of the many.

    We need our representatives to represent the vast majority of "We The People" not just the powerful lobbying interest representing the wealthy elite.

    We need to take our country back and ensure that equality prevails and thethe elite few do not benefit at the expense of the many.

  62. Oprah has a lot of clout with the American people, probably more than any politician. I'm glad she's involved. We need all the help we can get.

    Who Hijacked Our Country

  63. Obama has caught Hillary in New Hampshire.

    Hops she falls below Gravel in the polls.

  64. Negative news coverage may have cost former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales his job, but it won him a dubious honor Wednesday from a magazine published by the American Bar Association: Lawyer of the Year.

    Additionally, the ABA Journal named Gonzales' successor, Attorney General Michael Mukasey, as its top lawyer for 2008 -- mostly in anticipation of how often he'll be in the media spotlight for trying to repair the beleaguered Justice Department.

    What a joke: Gonzo Lawyer of the Year.

  65. Larry said...
    Negative news coverage may have cost former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales his job, but it won him a dubious honor Wednesday from a magazine published by the American Bar Association: Lawyer of the Year.

    Additionally, the ABA Journal named Gonzales' successor, Attorney General Michael Mukasey, as its top lawyer for 2008 -- mostly in anticipation of how often he'll be in the media spotlight for trying to repair the beleaguered Justice Department.

    What a joke: Gonzo Lawyer of the Year."

    Yeah Larry, it may seem pathetic but keep in mind "lawyer of the year" or "person of the year" isnt neccessarily a compliment or a good thing..........remember Hitler won "Time Man of The Year in 1938" Gonzo is in similar company.

  66. Gonzo resigned so he wouldn't have to face his crimes, and now he is Lawyer of the Year.

    Go Figure.

  67. Dan Abrams examined the Bush administration's unprecedented use of signing statements in the second installment of his week-long MSNBC series on "Bush League Justice."

    "President Bush doesn't like to veto laws," Abrams began. "He doesn't have to. Since he took office, he's been attaching conditions to laws already passed by Congress, allowing him to essentially disobey the will of Congress and dramatically expand his own power."

    Bush has issued 1100 signing statements -- almost twice as many as all previous presidents put together -- often completely reversing the intended effect of legislation. For example, when Congress voted overwhelmingly to ban torture, Bush announced that this would "make it clear to the world that this government does not torture." Two weeks later, he added a signing statement to the bill that allowed him to ignore it.

    Similarly, when a bill required the Justice Department to report to Congress on the use of the Patriot Act, Bush added a proviso that he could override this requirement any time he thought necessary.

    Law professor Jonathan Turley told Abrams that the practice has two very serious effects. On one hand, "by using signing statements to this extent, the president becomes a government unto himself." But it also gives lower-level officials cover for their own illegal behavior by creating a deliberate area of ambiguity about the meaning of the laws.

    "How does he get away with it?" Abrams asked Boston Globe reporter Charlie Savage. Savage explained that signing statements have previously been considered merely as instructions to the executive branch on how to interpret legislation, and typically no one outside the executive branch even reads them.

    "It's an extraordinarily destabilizing effect upon our system," Turley emphasized. "Our system really only has one rule that can't be broken ... That one rule is, you can't go outside the rules." Once the executive ceases to respect the authority of the legislative branch, everything else is thrown into doubt.

    Savage noted that Dick Cheney appears to be the motivating force in this expansion of presidential power. Cheney was chief of staff to President Gerald Ford in the 1970's, when Congress was taking steps to prevent any future Watergate-style excesses, and he has never ceased trying to bring things back to the way they were under Nixon.

    According to Savage, Cheney's aide David Addington, who has been with him since the 1980's "is said to be the chief architect of these signing statements" and is the leader of the legal team pushing the most radical

  68. 'I doubt I'd be standing here if I hadn't quit drinking whisky,' president says.

    Bush confided to an ABC News correspondent that his battles with alcohol addiction likely would have scuttled his White House ambitions -- if not his life itself -- had he not kicked the sauce two decades ago.

    "I doubt I'd be standing here if I hadn't quit drinking whiskey, and beer and wine and all that," the president told Martha Raddatz during an exclusive tour of the White House residence, which aired on ABC Tuesday night.

    Bush insisted he put down the bottle "cold turkey" after what one presumes was a particularly blundering bender.

    "I had too much to drink one night, and the next day I didn't have any," Bush said. "The next day I decided to quit and I haven't had a drink since 1986."

    Although he claimed his alcohol problem wasn't severe -- "I wasn't a knee-walking drunk," Bush stressed -- he said the addiction still was not an easy one to kick.

    "Your president made the same kind of choice," he told her. "I had to quit drinking. Addiction competes for your affection. You fall in love with alcohol."

    The president apparently did not mention reports that he used cocaine in the early 1970s, either to the struggling youngster or the ABC reporter.

    Although his struggles with alcohol have been widely known for years, Bush's interview on ABC represented his most candid assessment of his personal demons.

    During a trip to Germany earlier this year, the president raised some eyebrows after he was photographed drinking what looked to be a delicious golden brew.

    Heineken's non-alcoholic beer. Of course, as The Guardian noted at the time, recovering alcoholics are advised to stay away even from non-alcoholic beers, which do have a tiny bit of alcohol -- about 0.5 percent.

  69. Although he claimed his alcohol problem wasn't severe -- "I wasn't a knee-walking drunk," Bush stressed -- he said the addiction still was not an easy one to kick.

    Bush claims he wan;t "knee-walking drunk" but how does he explain his "knee -walking drunk" actions the past 7 years?

  70. Lydia
    The so called experts are still anlyzing and saying Oprah will make no difference to Obama's chances. I beg to differ, once again they are dead wrong! she is a force around the world and that too will be a big help.

  71. lovely post, with great ideas for Christmas...funny about the Iraq War issue and Oprah- I thought the same thing...everytime I watched her....and I thought this woman is the First WOMAN that we have heard come out against the war...( okay Cindy did, and Elizabeth Edwards..but this is different...but I am talking about a Celebrity, a Respected Honored woman.....and she rocked it...)

    and the other wonderful thing that the Media has been totally missing is Michelle Obama - she is wonderful - such a strong confident

    ( they almost outshined Obama...)

    It was wonderful....and I did a post on Oprah tonight- and I did link to her 20 minute speech- it was that good...

    thanks Larry and Lydia for this post...namaste.

  72. ( oh yeah Bush he was not a "knee-walking drunk"...he was a falling down drunk...and still is...the nurse in me says that he still drinks...

    (1) look at his Whitehouse Webpage Bio- there is a 14 year "lapse".....any good drunk has those.....

    (2) he has had 3 Arrests, TWO before the drunk driving- which according to Texas law makes him a FELON...not fit to Be prez( and are we sure he is competent now????....good thing Gonzo saved his hide and erased his Driver license number ( ooooooo5 is is his new number...that can not be right....)

    okay enough grumping...took awhile to get through the thread....

    Dan Abrams and Keith are really doing a good job on the torture...covering ALL the details thank heavens...

  73. (Reuters) - Sixteen dead bodies were found on Thursday in a ditch in a town north of Baghdad within Iraq's most violent province, police said.

    Police said the bodies found near Muqdadiya in Diyala province, all adult males, appeared to have been killed recently. Twelve of them had been beheaded, the other four shot in the head.

    Bush sure does know how to "surge."

  74. BAGHDAD — At least 27 people died and 150 were wounded Wednesday when three car bombs ripped through a southern Iraqi city where the local authorities had recently taken over security responsibility from the British military and rival Shiite groups had been battling for control of oil and power.

    What a successful "surge" Bush.

  75. President Bush vetoed legislation Wednesday that would have expanded government-provided health insurance for children, his second slap-down of a bipartisan effort in Congress to dramatically increase funding for the popular program.

    It was Bush's seventh veto in seven years — all but one coming since Democrats took control of Congress in January. Wednesday was the deadline for Bush to act or let the bill become law. The president also vetoed an earlier, similar bill expanding the health insurance program.

    Bush vetoed the bill in private.

    Those millions of poor chiildren sure feel the affects of "compassionate conservatism."

  76. After the invasion of Iraq, the US government claimed that women there had 'new rights and new hopes'. In fact their lives have become immeasurably worse, with rapes, burnings and murders now a daily occurrence.

    They lie in the Sulaimaniyah hospital morgue in Iraqi Kurdistan, set out on white-tiled slabs. A few have been shot or strangled, some beaten to death, but most have been burned. One girl, a lock of hair falling across her half-closed eyes, could almost be on the point of falling asleep. Burns have stretched the skin on another young woman's face into a fixed look of surprise.

    These women are not casualties of battle. In fact, the cause of death is generally recorded as "accidental", although their bodies often lie unclaimed by their families.

    "It is getting worse, especially the burnings," says Khanim Rahim Latif, the manager of Asuda, an Iraqi organisation based in Kurdistan that works to combat violence against women. "Just here in Sulaimaniyah, there were 400 cases of the burning of women last year." Lack of electricity means that every house has a plentiful supply of oil, and she accepts that some cases may be accidents. But the nature and scale of the injuries suggest that most were deliberate, she says, handing me the morgue photographs of one young woman after another. Many of the bodies bear the unmistakable signs of having been subjected to intense heat.

    "In many cases the woman is accused of adultery, or of a relationship before she is married, or the marriage is not sanctioned by the family," Khanim says. Her husband, brother or another relative will kill her to restore their "honour". "If he is poor the man might be arrested; if he is important, he won't be. And in most cases, it is hidden. The body might be dumped miles away and when it is found the family says, 'We don't have a daughter.'" In other cases, disputes over such murders are resolved between families or tribes by the payment of a forfeit, or the gift of another woman. "The authorities say such agreements are necessary for social stability, to prevent revenge killings," says Khanim.

    In March 2004 George Bush said that "the advance of freedom in the Middle East has given new rights and new hopes to women ... the systematic use of rape by Saddam's former regime to dishonour families has ended". This may have given some people the impression that the American and British invasion of Iraq had helped to improve the lives of its women. But this is far from the case.

    Even under Saddam, women in Iraq - including in semi-autonomous Kurdistan - were widely recognised as among the most liberated in the Middle East. They held important positions in business, education and the public sector, and their rights were protected by a statutory family law that was the envy of women's activists in neighbouring countries. But since the 2003 invasion, advances that took 50 years to establish are crumbling away. In much of the country, women can only now move around with a male escort. Rape is committed habitually by all the main armed groups, including those linked to the government. Women are being murdered throughout Iraq in unprecedented numbers.

    In October the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (Unami) expressed serious concern over the rising incidence of so-called honour crimes in Iraqi Kurdistan, confirming that 255 women had been killed in just the first six months of 2007, three-quarters of them by burning. An earlier Unami report cited 366 burns cases in Dohuk in 2006, up from 289 the year before, although most were not fatal. In Irbil, the emergency management centre had reported 576 burns cases since 2003, resulting in 358 deaths.

    When questioned, Iraqi doctors have told UN investigators that many of these burnings are self-inflicted. "More than half of these women had sustained between 70-100% burns which, according to doctors, suggested that they were self-inflicted," the earlier Unami report said. A UN human rights officer has relayed to me the words of one judicial investigator in Irbil: "The woman is unhappy, or there is domestic abuse, but the family doesn't listen. So she does it because she wants to draw attention to herself."

    The claim that some of these injuries are self-inflicted is something you hear from different quarters in Iraq. The human rights minister in the Kurdistan regional government, Yousif Aziz, says: "[Burnings take] place daily. Some are killed, some burn themselves." Activists, however, say that if the wounds are self-inflicted, it is because the women have been forced to do it.

    The Iraqi penal code prescribes leniency for those who commit such crimes for "honourable motives", enabling some of the men involved to get off with no more than a fine. The Kurdish authorities, Aziz says, have removed these provisions for leniency from the code - but the killings continue to mount. "The politicians say the situation of women is all right with the new constitution in Iraq and new laws in Kurdistan," says Khanim, "but it is deteriorating."

    The Bush Administration: Lovers of war, rape, torture, corruption and hate.

  77. A record number of soldiers — 109 — have killed themselves this year, according to Army statistics showing confirmed or suspected suicides.
    The deaths occur as soldiers serve longer combat deployments and the Army spends $100 million on support programs.

  78. Check out this post by Enigma on her past involvement with Oprah and her part in Oprah's career.

    Watergate Summer

  79. Larry:
    nytexan here not BossKitty....

    Regarding the Des Moines Register kicking is some important information:

    The Des Moines Register’s top officials, including Editor Carolyn Washburn (515) 284-8502.

    Laura Hollingsworth President and Publisher (515) 284-8041
    Randy Brubaker Managing Editor (515) 284-8590
    Randy Evans Assistant Managing Editor (515) 284-8118

    The Des Moines Register letters to the editor e-mail:
    Telephone switchboard
    Local: (515) 284-8000
    Iowa: (800) 532-1455
    Outside Iowa: (800) 247-5346

    I called and the newsroom manager said their phones are ringing off the wall with complaints. Good!!!!
    They also said they were doing a story about this. I told them that bloggers are taking action against The Des Moines Register and we will not allow corporations to take over the election.

  80. I wrote a scathing letter to the Des Moines Register last night, and emailed it TWICE.

    Excluding Kucinich is terribly un-Democratic and wrong.

    Please make a federal case out of it.

  81. Ny York Texan:

    Thank you for the contact info of the Des Moines Register.

    Bombarding them with calls and emails can only help.

    If you remember four years ago, Kucinich was virtually shut out of everything until he dropped out.

    Obviouusly the Des Moines Register and the Democratic Party want to limit the choices of who we can choose from.

  82. Check out the excellent post by Ny York Texan on Kucinich not being allowed to participate in todays debate.

    Blue Bloggin

  83. Not that I am sayinmg there is any Bush Goberment-oil Corp conspiracy to it, this is still interesting to think about.


    Click on the link, because the chart makes a much better argument then I can.

    Just a little more 'proof' that the goberment has help fudging the numbers to hide how bad things really are.

  84. ‘Not us. We’re not going.’

    Soldiers in 2nd Platoon, Charlie 1-26 stage a ‘mutiny’ that pulls the unit apart


    Spc. Gerry DeNardi stood at the on-base Burger King, just a few miles from downtown Baghdad, hoping for a quick taste of home.

    Camp Taji encompasses miles of scrapped Iraqi tanks, a busy U.S. airstrip and thousands of soldiers living in row upon row of identical trailers. Several fast-food stands, a PX and a dining facility the size of a football field compose Taji’s social hub. The base had been struck by an occasional mortar round, and a rocket had hit the airfield two weeks before and killed an American helicopter pilot. But the quiet base brought on a sense of being far from roadside bombs, far from rocket-propelled grenades and far from the daily gunfire that rained down on the soldiers of Charlie 1-26 as they patrolled Adhamiya, a violent Sunni neighborhood in northeastern Baghdad.

    Just two weeks earlier, the 20-year-old DeNardi had lost five good friends, killed together as they rode in a Bradley Fighting Vehicle that rolled over a powerful roadside bomb.

    As DeNardi walked up the three wood steps to the outdoor stand to pick up his burger, the siren wailed.

    Wah! Wah! Wah! “Incoming! Incoming! Incoming!”

    The alarms went off all the time — often after the mortar round or rocket had struck nothing but sand, miles from anything important. Many soldiers and others at Taji had taken to ignoring the warnings. DeNardi glanced around at the picnic tables to make sure everyone was still eating. They were. The foreign nationals who worked the fast-food stands hadn’t left; so he went back to get the burger he had paid for.

    The mortar round hit before he could pick up his order.

    “I turned around and all of Burger King and me went flying,” DeNardi said.

    He’d lived through daily explosions in 11 months with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, at nearby Combat Outpost Apache, a no-frills fortress smack in the middle of Adhamiya’s hostile streets. He had rushed through flames to try to save friends and carried others to the aide station only to watch them die.

    “I’m not getting killed at Burger King,” he thought, and he dived for a concrete bunker. People were screaming. DeNardi saw a worker from Cinnabon hobbling around, so he climbed out of the bunker, pulled shrapnel out of the man’s leg and bandaged him. The Pizza Hut manager was crying and said two more foreign workers were injured behind her stand — near the Burger King.

    “Lightning doesn’t strike twice,” DeNardi said, “so I went back. But there were body parts everywhere.” The first man’s leg had been blown off, his other leg was barely attached and he had a chest wound. “He was going to die,” DeNardi said.

    The other wounded man had shrapnel to his neck. DeNardi peeled off his own shirt and fashioned a bandage out of it as other soldiers started streaming in to help.

    Then, “all clear” sounded over the loudspeakers as medics arrived and took over.

    “I’m covered in blood, but I still have my hamburger receipt,” DeNardi said. “I went back to Burger King the next day, but they wouldn’t give me my burger.”

    For all his dark humor, the “Hero of Burger King,” as fellow soldiers teasingly called him, was deeply rattled by the carnage of the explosion at the fast-food court. At Apache, he expected trouble. But not at Burger King.

    “That affected me,” he said. For the next few days, he said, he slept in the open-ended concrete bunkers positioned between the housing units.

    It was just another bad day to add to many — and DeNardi’s platoon had already faced misery that seemed unbearable. When five soldiers with 2nd Platoon were trapped June 21 after a deep-buried roadside bomb flipped their Bradley upside-down, several men rushed to save the gunner, Spc. Daniel Agami, pinned beneath the 30-ton vehicle. But they could only watch — and listen to him scream — as he burned alive. The Bradley was far too heavy to lift, and the flames were too high to even get close. The four others died inside the vehicle. Second Platoon already had lost four of its 45 men since deploying to Adhamiya 11 months before. June 21 shattered them.

    Though their commanders moved them from the combat outpost to safer quarters, members of 2nd Platoon would stage a revolt they viewed as a life-or-death act of defiance. With all they had done and all they had seen, they now were consumed with an anger that ate at the memory of the good men they were when they arrived in Iraq.
    Primed for revenge

    After June 21, most of Charlie Company moved out of COP Apache, their makeshift home on the grounds of one of Saddam Hussein’s son’s palaces. At Taji, the company would try to recover for a new mission.

    Sgt. 1st Class Tim Ybay, 38, served as 2nd Platoon’s platoon sergeant, but also its father figure. The former drill sergeant teased constantly and tried to treat his men like family. At memorial services for lost soldiers, he cried the loudest. He’d been on patrol June 21 when the five 2nd Platoon soldiers died in the Bradley. When he came back, his grieving platoon circled him as the weight of the loss forced him to his knees in the sand. He’d promised to bring all his boys home.

    Now he would concentrate on the ones that remained.

    “I knew after losing those five guys, my platoon had to get out of there,” he said. “These were the guys they slept with, joked with, worked out with. I don’t think they’d be able to accomplish the mission.”

    the tears came again as he spoke, and he looked away.

    “And I was having a hard time losing my guys.”

    At Taji, the company had a week off. DeNardi looked more surfer than soldier after a couple of days at the pool. Ybay and his sergeants sat at the picnic tables drinking frozen coffee concoctions. The guys bought Persian carpets and brass lamps to send home as souvenirs — as if Taji were a vacation spot. But the anger over Adhamiya emerged even poolside, and erupted at the mental health clinic, which they visited in groups.

    “You never really get over the anger,” said Staff Sgt. Robin Johnson, a member of Charlie’s scout platoon who had been especially close to Agami. “It just kind of becomes everything you are. You become pissed off at everything. We wanted to destroy everything in our paths, but they wanted us to keep building sewer systems and handing out teddy bears.”

    Some of the younger members of the platoon were particularly disillusioned.

    Spc. Armando Cardenas, 21, had taken honors classes in high school but feared college would bore him. He wanted something challenging and found it in the Army, in Iraq. As a soldier, he was the guy who leaped out of a truck to chase an insurgent, or instantly returned fire with an uncanny ability to tell where the rounds came from. When a friend, Pfc. Ryan Hill, was killed in battle, Cardenas helped carry him back.

    But Cardenas’ anger was just as quick as his heroics.

    He said the platoon had been waiting for June 21 — that they had known they would eventually hit a big IED and have a catastrophic loss.

    Cardenas wanted revenge. “But they don’t let us take care of the people responsible,” he said. “It was a slap in the face.”

    Adhamiya remained under the control of 1-26, but the brass moved Charlie 1-26 to another combat outpost, Old Mod — so called because it used to house Iraq’s Ministry of Defense — in a calmer area on the outskirts of Adhamiya. From there, they patrolled Kadhamiya.

    “If my guys had stayed at Adhamiya, they would have taken the gloves off,” said Capt. Cecil Strickland, Charlie’s company commander. “We were afraid somebody was going to get in trouble.”

    There had been close calls before. DeNardi had to fight back a strong desire to kill an Iraqi — accused of triggering an IED that killed two Charlie Company soldiers — as he held a 9mm Glock handgun to the man’s eye socket.

    And Cardenas and Staff Sgt. John Gregory had been ordered to the Green Zone to talk to an investigator after they roughed up two insurgents. A week after Pfc. Ross McGinnis fatally threw himself on a grenade to save four friends, Cardenas and Gregory had chased a couple of guys on a scooter and managed to stop them. Cardenas kicked over a wooden box the two Iraqis stood next to.

    “There was a grenade full of nails,” Cardenas said. “We had to go see a major about detainee abuse. We told him [the Iraqis] didn’t want to get in the Bradley.”

    Nothing came of the investigation.

    Such incidents belied the squared-away record Charlie 1-26 posted during its deployment to Iraq. In 15 months, they had one incident when two soldiers were caught with alcohol, Strickland said, but that was all.

    “I think the performance comes from the level of discipline,” Strickland said. “And the discipline comes from the hardship. They’re a little bit more mature than a lot of other units.”

    In Shiite Kadhamiya, Charlie Company found paved, clean streets. In Sunni Adhamiya, so many garbage collectors had been killed that the Shiite government workers refused to go there. “It was one road and one river away from Adhamiya,” DeNardi said. “But there was civilization on one side and chaos on the other.”
    Suicide and a twist of fate

    Lt. Col. John Reynolds replaced Lt. Col. Eric Schacht as battalion commander July 8. Schacht left after his son died of a heart condition in Germany, the same day Charlie Company lost five men in the Bradley. Even with the high operations tempo and the loss of so many men, Reynolds called the changeover “easy.”

    “It was the best transition you could get,” he said.

    But within days, he would lose five men, including a respected senior non-commissioned officer. Master Sgt. Jeffrey McKinney, Alpha Company’s first sergeant, was known as a family man and as a good leader because he was intelligent and could explain things well. But Staff Sgt. Jeremy Rausch of Charlie Company’s 1st Platoon, a good friend of McKinney’s, said McKinney told him he felt he was letting his men down in Adhamiya.

    “First Sergeant McKinney was kind of a perfectionist and this was bothering him very much,” Rausch said. On July 11, McKinney was ordered to lead his men on a foot patrol to clear the roads of IEDs. Everyone at Apache heard the call come in from Adhamiya, where Alpha Company had picked up the same streets Charlie had left. Charlie’s 1st Platoon had also remained behind, and Rausch said he would never forget the fear he heard in McKinney’s driver’s voice:

    “This is Apache seven delta,” McKinney’s driver said in a panicked voice over the radio. “Apache seven just shot himself. He just shot himself. Apache seven shot himself.”

    Rausch said there was no misunderstanding what had happened.

    According to Charlie Company soldiers, McKinney said, “I can’t take it anymore,” and fired a round. Then he pointed his M4 under his chin and killed himself in front of three of his men.

    At Old Mod, Charlie Company was called back in for weapons training, DeNardi said. They were told it was an accident. Then they were told it was under investigation. And then they were told it was a suicide. Reynolds confirmed that McKinney took his own life.

    A week later, without their beloved first sergeant, Alpha Company would experience its first catastrophic loss on a mission that, but for a change in weather, was supposed to go to Charlie Company.

    On July 17, Charlie’s 2nd Platoon was refitting at Taji when they got a call to go back to Adhamiya. They were to patrol Route Southern Comfort, which had been black — off-limits — for months. Charlie Company knew a 500-pound bomb lay on that route, and they’d been ordered not to travel it. “Will there be route clearance?” 2nd Platoon asked. “Yes,” they were told. “Then we’ll go.”

    But the mission was canceled. The medevac crews couldn’t fly because of a dust storm, and the Iraqi Army wasn’t ready for the mission. Second Platoon went to bed.

    They woke to the news that Alpha Company had gone on the mission instead and one of their Bradleys rolled over the 500-pound IED. The Bradley flipped. The explosion and flames killed everybody inside. Alpha Company lost four soldiers: Spc. Zachary Clouser, Spc. Richard Gilmore, Spc. Daniel Gomez and Sgt. 1st Class Luis Gutierrez-Rosales.

    “There was no chance,” said Johnson, whose scouts remained at Apache and served as the quick-reaction force that day. “It was eerily the same as June 21. You roll up on that, and it looked the same.”

    The guys from Charlie Company couldn’t help but think about the similarities — and that it could have been them.

    “Just the fact that there was another Bradley incident mentally screwed up 2nd Platoon,” Strickland said. “It was almost like it had happened to them.”

    The battalion gave 2nd Platoon the day to recover. then they were scheduled to go back out on patrol in Adhamiya on July 18.

    But when Strickland returned from a mission, he learned 2nd Platoon had failed to roll.

    “A scheduled patrol is a direct order from me,” Strickland said.

    “‘They’re not coming,’” Strickland said he was told. “So I called the platoon sergeant and talked to him. ‘Remind your guys: These are some of the things that could happen if they refuse to go out.’ I was irritated they were thumbing their noses. I was determined to get them down there.”

    But, he said, he didn’t know the whole platoon, except for Ybay, had taken sleeping medications prescribed by mental health that day, according to Ybay.

    Strickland didn’t know mental health leaders had talked to 2nd Platoon about “doing the right thing.”

    He didn’t know 2nd Platoon had gathered for a meeting and determined they could no longer function professionally in Adhamiya — that several platoon members were afraid their anger could set loose a massacre.

    “We said, ‘No.’ If you make us go there, we’re going to light up everything,” DeNardi said. “There’s a thousand platoons. Not us. We’re not going.”

    They decided as a platoon that they were done, DeNardi and Cardenas said, as did several other members of 2nd Platoon. At mental health, guys had told the therapist, “I’m going to murder someone.” And the therapist said, “There comes a time when you have to stand up,” 2nd Platoon members remembered. For the sake of not going to jail, the platoon decided they had to be “unplugged.”

    Ybay had gone to battalion to speak up for his guys and ask for more time. But when he came back, it was with orders to report to Old Mod.

    Ybay said he tried to persuade his men to go out, but he could see they were not ready.

    “It was like a scab that wouldn’t heal up,” Ybay said. “I couldn’t force them to go out. Listening to them in the mental health session, I could hear they’re not ready.”

    At 2 a.m, Ybay said, he’d found his men sitting outside smoking cigarettes. They could not sleep. Some of them were taking as many as 10 sleeping pills and still could not rest. The images of their dead friends haunted them. The need for revenge ravaged them.

    But Ybay was still disappointed in his men. “I had a mission,” he said. “The company had a mission. We still had to execute. But I understood their side, too.”

    Somehow, the full course of events didn’t make it to Strickland. All he knew, the commander said, was his men had refused an order, and he was determined to get them to Apache.

    “When you’re given an order, you’ve got to execute,” Strickland said. “Being told, ‘They’re not coming,’ versus, ‘They’re taking meds and went to mental health,’ are different things. It was just this weird situation where almost nothing connected.”
    A revolt in the ranks

    “They called it an act of mutiny,” Cardenas said, still enraged that the men he considered heroes were, in his mind, slandered. “The sergeant major and the battalion commander said we were unprofessional. They said they were disappointed in us and would never forget our actions for the rest of their lives.”

    But no judicial action ever came of it.

    “Captain Strickland read us our rights,” DeNardi said. “We had 15 yes-or-no questions, and no matter how you answered them, it looked like you disobeyed an order. No one asked what happened. And there’s no record — no article 15. Nothing to show it happened.”

    After the members of 2nd Platoon had spent a year fighting for each other and watching their buddies die, battalion leaders began breaking up the platoon. Seven noncommissioned officers were told they were being relieved for cause and moved out of the unit. Three noncommissioned officers stayed at Old Mod. Two, including Sgt. Derrick Jorcke, would remain in Iraq for one month after 2nd Platoon went home in October because they had been moved to different battalions in different areas of Iraq.

    “In a way, they were put someplace where they wouldn’t have to go out again,” Johnson said. “But as an NCO, they took these guys’ leaders away and put them with people they didn’t know and trust. You knew 2nd Platoon would die for you without a second’s hesitation. That’s what made them so great. These guys need each other.”

    Then, they were all flagged: No promotions. No awards. No favorable actions.

    “We had PFCs miss [promotion to] specialist for two months,” DeNardi said. “Bronze Stars and [Army Commendation Medals] were put on hold. You’re talking about heroes like Cardenas. These are guys who save lives and they can’t get awards.”

    “I didn’t want to punish them,” Strickland said. “I understood what was going on. But they had to understand you couldn’t do something like that and have nothing happen.”

    And things could not continue as they had. Strickland could not operate for three more months with a platoon that refused to go out.

    “Within the company, we made some adjustments,” Strickland said. “They needed a fresh start. After looking into it, I didn’t feel the need to punish anybody.” However, he left the flags in place.

    “If anything was going to be punishment, that was it,” he said. For at least one soldier, that meant going through a promotion board again. Jorcke lost his promotion table status, but Strickland signed a memo re-establishing it. “I’ve tried to fix those issues. Almost everybody else has been promoted except one guy.” Jorcke made his E-6 on Nov. 1.

    Even after the “mutiny,” Strickland said, he had a great deal of admiration for his soldiers.

    “I understood why they did what they did,” he said. “Some of the NCOs, I was disappointed in them because they failed to lead their soldiers through difficult times. They let their soldiers influence their decisions. But on a personal level, I applauded their decision because they stood behind their soldiers. I was disappointed, but I thought they had great courage. It was truly a Jekyll/Hyde moment for me.”

    And though they were horrified at being torn away from each other, the soldiers themselves were conflicted about the outcome.

    “For us being disbanded, now we definitely had unfinished business,” Jorcke said. “If we’d cleared Adhamiya, we could have said, ‘I left Iraq and my buddies didn’t die in vain.

    “But in a way, the disbanding was good,” he said. “We — what was left of the platoon — got to come back home alive.”

    Another Vietnam fiasco comparison checked off, soldiers refusing to be cannon fodder any more.

    The fact this story was published in the Army Times, shows how bad things really are getting, because the top brass and the gutless a$$holes in the white house couldn't keep this one quiet.

    It is time to end this illegal, immoral war and bring the troops home. If the gutless a$$wipes who still support this war want this illegal, immoral war to continue, they can go fight it them selves.

    But we all KNOW that will never happen.

  85. I can't figure why they wouldn't let Kucinich in the debates but they let that crazy lunatic, Alan Keyes, in the GOP debate. Ridiculous.

  86. Hi Mary Ellen,

    I assume the establisjment doesn't want Kucinich telling the truth about the war and all things they do to enable Bush.

  87. Normally I don't advocate right leaning blogs, but once in a while they do get it correct;

    Jon Swift

    In this case he really gets it correct.

  88. The handmaidens of the Chimpromised MSM cannot let too much free discussion start taking place. That'd be bad for business, after all.

  89. WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi lashed out at Republicans on Thursday, saying they want the Iraq war to drag on and are ignoring the public's priorities.

    "They like this war. They want this war to continue," Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters. She expressed frustration over Republicans' ability to force majority Democrats to yield ground on taxes, spending, energy, war spending and other matters.

    "We thought that they shared the view of so many people in our country that we needed a new direction in Iraq," Pelosi said at her weekly news conference in the Capitol. "But the Republicans have made it very clear that this is not just George Bush's war. This is the war of the Republicans in Congress."

    And the war of Pelosi and Reid: Bush's enablers.

  90. Democratic candidates gathered in Iowa today for their final debate before the January caucuses. The overall feeling of the debate was cordial considering the recent heightened spats between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton's respective campaigns.

    The atmosphere tensed up briefly when Obama was asked what new foreign policies he could offer with a staff of so many ex-Clinton advisers.

    Read the exchange from AP:

    Hillary Clinton laughed out loud, and said with a smile on her face, "I'm looking forward to hearing that."

    Obama, also smiling, waited for the laughter to die down before saying, "Hillary, I'm looking forward to you advising me as well."

    Nice to see Obama wipe that arrogant smirk off of Hillary's face.

  91. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted for a contempt citation against presidential confidants Karl Rove and Josh Bolten on Thursday, the latest move in an inquiry into possibly politically motivated firings of federal prosecutors.

    Like everything else, nothing will happen to the guilty and corrupt.

  92. Americans share a bleak view of the job performances both of President Bush and of congressional Democratic leadership, according to a CNN poll released Thursday.

    The president's approval rating in the poll, conducted Dec. 6 through Sunday by Opinion Research Corporation, was 32 percent, tying his all-time low rating from June.

    Figures appear somewhat inflated.

  93. By Naomi Wolf:

    To judge from firsthand documents obtained by the ACLU through a FOIA lawsuit, we can guess what is probably on the missing CIA interrogation tapes -- as well as understand why those implicated are spinning so hard to pretend the tapes do not document a series of evident crimes. According to the little-noticed but extraordinarily important book Administration of Torture: A Documentary Record from Washington to Abu Ghraib and Beyond (Jameel Jaffer and Amrit Singh, Columbia University Press, New York 2007), which presents dozens of original formerly secret documents - FBI emails and memos, letters and interrogator "wish lists," raw proof of the systemic illegal torture of detainees in various US-held prisons -- the typical "harsh interrogation" of a suspect in US custody reads like an account of abuses in archives at Yad Vashem.

    More is still being hidden as of this writing -- as those in Congress now considering whether a special prosecutor is needed in this case should be urgently aware: "Through the FOIA lawsuit," write the authors, "we learned of the existence of multiple records relating to prisoner abuse that still have not been released by the administration; credible media reports identify others. As this book goes to print, the Bush administration is still withholding, among many other records, a September 2001 presidential directive authorizing the CIA to set up secret detention centers overseas; an August 2002 Justice Department memorandum advising the CIA about the lawfulness of waterboarding [Italics mine; nota bene, Mr. Mukasey] and other aggressive interrogation methods; documents describing interrogation methods used by special operations forces in Iraq and Afghanistan; investigative files concerning the deaths of prisoners in U.S. custody; and numerous photographs depicting the abuse of prisoners at detention facilities other than Abu Ghraib.'

    What we are likely to see if the tapes documenting the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah and Abd Al-Rahim Al-Nashiri are ever recovered is that the "confessions" of the prisoners upon which the White House has built its entire case for subverting the Constitution and suspending civil liberties in this country was obtained through methods such as electrocution, beating to the point of organ failure, hanging prisoners from the wrists from a ceiling, suffocation, and threats against family members ("I am going to find your mother and I am going to fuck her" is one direct quote from a US interrogator). On the missing tapes, we would likely see responses from the prisoners that would be obvious to us as confessions to anything at all in order to end the violence. In other words, if we could witness the drama of manufacturing by torture the many violently coerced "confessions" upon which the whole house of cards of this White House and its hyped "war on terror" rests, it would likely cause us to reopen every investigation, including the most serious ones (remember, even the 9/11 committee did not receive copies of the tapes); shut down the corrupt, Stalinesque Military Commissions System; turn over prisoners, the guilty and the innocent, into a working, accountable justice system operating in accordance with American values; and direct our legal scrutiny to the torturers themselves -- right up to the office of the Vice President and the President if that is where the investigations would lead.

    By the way: "The prohibition against torture [in the law] is considered to be a jus cogens norm, meaning that no derogation is permitted from it under any circumstances."

    This is what the FOIA documents report, belying White House soundbites that "we don't torture" and explaining the intent pursuit on the part of the CIA and the White House of the current apparent obstruction of justice:

    Late 2002 -- the FBI objects to the illegality of abuses being put into place by the Defense Department in its "special interrogation plan" to use isolation, sleep deprivation and menacing with dogs against prisoners.

    Dec 2, 2002 -- Defense Secretary Rumsfeld personally issues a directive authorizing the use of stress positions, hooding, removal of clothing, and the terrorizing of inmates at Guantanamo with dogs.

    Dec 3, 2002 -- at Baghram, interrogators kill an Afghan prisoner "by shackling him by his wrists to the wire ceiling above his cell and repeatedly beating his legs. A postmortem report finds abrasions and contusions on the prisoner's face, head, neck, arms and legs and determines that the death was a "homicide" caused by "blunt force injuries."

    April 16, 2003 -- Rumsfeld approves yet another directive for abusive interrogation.

    This directive for Afghanistan restores to the interrogators' arsenal many forms of torture that had been resisted by the FBI. [Notably, the FBI had resisted complying with the direct commission of torture since as early as 2002 because, as its Behavioral Analysis Unit complained to the Defense Department at that time in an internal email, "not only are these tactics at odds with legally permissible interviewing techniques [italics mine: in other words, all concerned know these are apparent war crimes]...but they are being employed by personnel in GTMO who have little, if any, experience eliciting information for judicial purposes." In other words, as any trained interrogator knows, the abuses are both doubtless illegal and certainly ineffective for getting real intelligence. [Jaffer and Singh, Timeline of Key Events, pp. 45-65,op. cit.]

    Oct 22 2003 -- Final autopsy report relating to death of "52 y/o Iraqi Male, Civilian Detainee" held by U.S. forces in Nasiriyah, Iraq. Prisoner was found to have "died as a result of asphyxia...due to strangulation."

    November 14, 2003 -- a sworn statement of a soldier stationed at Camp Red, Baghdad, states that "I saw what I think were war crimes" and that "the chain of command....allowed them to happen."

    May 13, 2004 -- a sworn statement of the 302nd Military Intelligence Battalion recounts an incident in which "interrogators abused 17-year-old son of prisoner in order to 'break' the prisoner."

    May 18, 2004 -- a Privacy Act statement of an Abu Ghraib sergeant notes that prisoners had been forced to stand "naked with a bag over their head, standing on MRE boxes and their hand[s] spread out...holding a bottle in each hand."

    May 24, 2004 -- Sworn statement of interrogator who arrived at Abu Ghraib in October 2003, discussing use of military dogs against juvenile prisoners.

    June 16, 2004 -- Marine Corps document describing abuse cases between September 2001 and June 2004, including "substantiated" incidents in which marines electrocuted a prisoner and set another's hands on fire.

    Undated: Sworn statement of screener who arrived at Abu Ghraib in September 2003, indicating that prisoners at Asamiya Palace in Baghdad had been beaten, burned and subjected to electric shocks.

    Subsequent internal documents record prisoners being stripped, made to walk into walls blindfolded, punched, kicked, dragged about the room, observed to have bruises and burn marks on their backs, and having their jaws deliberately broken. Still other reports document further incidents classified by the military itself as probable murders committed by US interrogators.

    The book also reveals an extraordinary original transcript of a Dept. of the Army Inspector General interview with Lieutenant General Randall Marc Schmidt. Lt. Gen. Schmidt had interfaced with MG Geoffrey Miller on the one hand -- the most brutal overseer of such abuses, the one who was sent to "Gitmo-ize" other prisons -- and the honorable JAG military lawyers on the other hand, over the abuses under investigation at that time. [Lt. Gen. Schmidt advised MG Miller of his rights under Article 31 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice at that time -- in other words, those involved know something serious is at stake, p. a-16].

    The transcript of this internal document reveals Lt. Gen. Schmidt's own words that it was his understanding that the directives to commit these acts, many of which are apparently war crimes, came right from the top.

    The interview was not primarily intended to be a public document:

    "An Inspector General" notes the document, "is an impartial fact-finder for the Directing Authority Testimony taken by an IG and reports based on that testimony may be used for official purposes. Access is normally restricted to persons who clearly need the information to perform their official duties. [italics mine]. In some cases, disclosure to other persons may be required by law or regulation or may be directed by proper authority." As in the case, clearly, here -- though the immense implications of this privately taken testimony have not reverberated fully yet in a public forum: "I thought the Secretary of Defense in good faith was approving techniques," testified Lt. Gen. Schmidt. "In good faith after talking to him twice. I know that -- and these weren't interrogations or interviews of him. This was our hour and forty-five minutes and then another hour and fifteen kind of thing were [sic] we sat in there and had these discussions with him." [Testimony of Lt. Gen. Randall M Schmidt, Taken 24 August 2005 at Davis Mountain Air Force Base, Arizona, Dept. of the Army Inspector General, Investigations Division, pp. a-30 to a-53, Jaffer and Singh, op. cit].

    So what should Congress know as it decides what is to be done?

    We torture, illegally, by directive; the directives come from the top; those who torture know it is probably criminal; when we torture prisoners, the guilty and the innocent, they will tell us anything they think we want to hear -- including implicate themselves falsely, as many reports from Human Rights Watch and other rights organizations testify to -- to make the torture stop; and the White House routinely uses that faked or coerced unverifiable "intelligence" to buttress its wholesale assault on our liberties.

    As the CIA tries to spin its apparent crimes and claim that its waterboarding and other forms of criminal torture "saved lives" -- while conveniently offering no evidence to back that up, and while the administration withholds evidence to the contrary from the lawyers of the detainees -- we should bear in mind that the decades of research on torture summarized in the magisterial survey "The Question of Torture" show beyond the shadow of a doubt that prisoners being tortured will indeed "say anything." When American prisoners were tortured by the North Vietnamese, their confessions were phrased in Communist cliches.

    We should note too -- as the White House tries to muddy the waters by pretending that there has ever been a "debate" about such acts as these -- that the US in the past prosecuted waterboarding itself: when the Japanese had waterboarded US prisoners they were convicted with sentences of fifteen years of hard labor.

    We should also bear in mind that the Bush White House has deliberately crafted its memos and laws -- such as the Bybee/Gonzales "torture memo" and the Military Commissions Act of 2006 -- with a keen eye to seeking indemnification of its own guilt regarding having committed evident crimes, because those involved know quite well that acts committed could be criminal acts. (An historical note worth mentioning, when we consider how hyperalert the Bush White House has been to the issue of seeking retroactively to protect itself and its subordinates from prosecution for war and other crimes, is that the Nuremberg Trials eventually swept up influential Nazi industrialists such as Fritz Thyssen of IG Farben -- who relied on Auschwitz slave labor -- and with whom Prescott Bush had collaborated in amassing the Bush family millions; some of the sentences given to those industrialists found guilty in the postwar trials were severe.) For a moment postwar, the legal spotlight was also about to search out and hold accountable the several prominent US investors who had partnered with Nazi industrialists (see the exhaustively documented study of US/Nazi corporate collaboration, IBM and the Holocaust.)

    Prosecution for war crimes and other criminal acts, which the administration so clearly recognizes that it may well have committed -- which its legislation so clearly shows it realized it may well commit in advance of the commission -- is the only consequence the Bush team seems to be really afraid of as it attempts its multiple subversions of the rule of law. This is why the nation's grassroots call for a truly independent investigation into possible criminality is so very urgent and so necessary to restore the rule of law in our nation.

    Mr. Mukasey could look up his own department's files and understand that waterboarding is a war crime; not only that, the US Military prosecuted waterboarding as a war crime itself in 1902 -- it had been used against prisoners in the Phillipines -- and those Americans who had committed it received convictions from the military. It is hopeless to rely on the Justice Department.

    An independent special prosecutor must be appointed. The people who are found guilty, in America, must face justice.

    Let the investigations begin.

  94. By Andre Cherny:

    In the 24 hours since we released the Winter 2008 issue of Democracy, there's been a lot of discussion over my ending essay about the debate over the term "War on Terror." Many have agreed with the points I laid out, some have disagreed, but this is clearly a debate we need to be having.

    I hope you'll read the whole essay, but the takeaway point is this: Yes, we are in a "War on Terror" -- just not the one that either George Bush or some his critics are talking about. The fact of the matter is that, in the 21st century, "war" is no longer just about the clash of armies, it is about the conflict of ideas and values (similarly, "peace" is no longer just about ending military battles, as we see this week with the thrilling news of my old boss, Al Gore, accepting the Nobel Peace Prize). Similarly, "terror" is not only about terrorism - the "terror" we are fighting against in this conflict is also the everyday terrors of despair and despotism and degradation in countries around the world that end up driving people into the arms of terrorist fanatics. Taking on these threats needs to be part of the war we're waging.

    Just because George Bush hasn't fought this battle, just because he's used the "War on Terror" as a bludgeon to attack domestic political opposition, just because he's made friends with dictators like Hosni Mubarak and Pervez Musharraf when he should be declaring them our enemies, just because he has taken us on the tragic detour of Iraq, just because he's sacrificed the goodwill of all nations and the leadership of the Free World, just because he's failed to hold America out as a special nation that doesn't torture its prisoners and that shuts down the world's Abu Ghraibs instead of running them, just because he's neglected to stand with those spreading democracy and prosperity to the world's darkest corners does not mean that we can walk away from the very real battle at the heart of the War on Terror.

    What I propose is a new kind of foreign policy approach -- one geared to a world where the threats we face (such as climate change, international terrorism, epidemic disease, and endemic poverty) know no borders, where the solutions to these challenges require more than government action, and where, for the first time, most people live in democracies. That means we can no longer just speak to other governments and heads of state and ambassadors. It means we need a foreign policy that speaks directly to the people of the world, wins them over to the side of America and our international vision, and offers them hope for a better future.

    Some neoconservatives -- like Norman Podhoretz, the author of World War IV -- have tried to conflate the War on Terror with the War in Iraq. (BTW: check out Anne-Marie Slaughter's devastating take down of the neoconservative worldview and her stirring progressive internationalist alternative). As many have pointed out, that is completely wrong. But lately, some progressives have fallen into the same trap -- applying everything that is wrong with the War in Iraq to the unrelated War on Terror. Some progressives -- such as George Lakoff, John Edwards, and Joe Klein -- have adopted the dangerous idea that the War on Terror is nothing more than a Republican talking point or that we are not really at war. But beating back the evil ideas behind the terrorist threat will take more than the low grade law enforcement action promised by some Democrats -- a kind of "War on Drugs" on steroids. It will mean a concerted effort to win the admiration and allegiance of ordinary people around the world -- by our deeds and not just by our words. That is the kind of war we fought and won in the Cold War. And that is a war worth waging -- and worth winning.

  95. Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan says the odds the U.S. will fall into a recession are "clearly rising" and he believes economic growth is "getting close to stall speed."

    Greenspan, who ran the central bank for 18 1/2 years, until early 2006, offered his views on the economy in an interview on NPR News' Morning Edition that will air on Friday. Excerpts of the interview were released on Thursday.

    A severe slump in the housing market, a stubborn credit crisis and turbulence on Wall Street are endangering the country's economic health. Growth in the current October through December period is expected to have slowed to a feeble pace of just 1.5 percent, or less.

    Economists, including Greenspan, have warned that the chances of a recession are growing.

    Asked whether the economy will tip into a recession — something that has not happened since 2001 — Greenspan said, "It's too soon to say, but the odds are clearly rising."

    He said he felt this way because of the slowing pace of growth. "We are getting close to stall speed," he said. "We are far more vulnerable at levels where growth is so slow than we would be otherwise," he added. "Indeed, it's like someone who has an immune system that's not working very well is subject to all sorts of diseases and the economy at this lever of growth is subject to all sorts of shocks."

    Greenspan's remarks come just days after the Federal Reserve, under Chairman Ben Bernanke, sliced a key interest rate for a third time this year to prevent the housing and credit troubles from sinking the economy.

    Never fear it's another Bush disaster.

  96. Merry Christmas everyone.

    And Happy Hanukkah and Kwanza too.

    And Happy Festivus too.

  97. Here is something for your Christmas Shopping:

    Conservative Sex Scandals

  98. Wow, those are some powerful articles Larry, it looks like the house of cards is crumbling for the treasonous Bush Administration.

  99. Larry said...
    Updated 12/10

    I thought this one was worth passing along. It's a highly unsubstantiated rumor, so take it for what it's worth.

    The rumor comes via R.S. Janes at BartBlog (a.k.a. Bartcop). It claims that MSNBC may have found that host they've been looking for. And it ain't Rosie O'Donnell. This rumor claims that MSNBC regular and Air America Radio host Rachel Maddow may get the nod. Here's more:

    Finally, a note under the door says Air America Radio’s Rachel Maddow will be offered the hour following Keith Olbermann on MSNBC, but only with a ‘funny’ co-host, as it appears increasingly unlikely that The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart or Bill Maher and others will step in for the kind of unimpressive money and short-term contract that are on the table. Rumor is the cable channel’s execs are impressed with Maddow, but she’s not perceived as ‘funny’ enough by herself for the uptempo news/comedy format they’re seeking. Paul F. Tompkins and Joel McHale, that guy Keith has on who hosts E!s “The Soup,” have been mentioned as co-hosts, as well as Rachel’s AAR colleague Randi Rhodes, although Randi is seen by some as too partisan and combative. If this goes through, the prime-time weekday line up for MSNBC would then be “Hardball”; “Countdown with Keith Olbermann”; the as-yet-unnamed Rachel Maddow show, and “Live with Dan Abrams.” Expect a press release in January."

    Lydia, just like I said there are going to be MORE and MORE opportunities for Progressive tv and radio shows and Progressive hosts..........there has been a cataclysmic shift away from Conservatism towards Progressivism just like what occured during the Great Depression.

    The Conservative Revolution is dead and the Progressive Revolution is just getting startedc and gathering steam...............during the next decade you are going to see many more Progressive tv and radio shows and tax reform favoring the working class rather than the few wealthy elites. The corporations will lose much of their power and we will get programs, laws and taxation that benefit the vast majority rather than the few.

    The only caveat is that it is always usually darkest before the dawn and the bad times neccessary to bring about positve long term change and sound policy will likely be quite painful.

  100. BARTLEBEE said...
    Merry Christmas everyone.

    And Happy Hanukkah and Kwanza too.

    And Happy Festivus too."

    Yeah, Happy Holidays Everyone!

  101. Union officials representing striking Hollywood writers said Thursday they filed an unfair labor practices complaint claiming studios violated federal law by breaking off negotiations.

    The Writers Guild of America also demanded that the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers return to the bargaining so the six-week strike can be ended and thousands of workers idled by the walkout can return to their jobs.

    Negotiations broke off Dec. 7 when the alliance refused to bargain further unless the union dropped a half-dozen proposals that included the authority to unionize writers on reality shows and animation projects.

  102. (Reuters) - Congressional Democrats on Thursday criticized the U.S. government's labor relations board under the Bush administration as hostile to workers' rights, while Republicans complained of political grandstanding.

    Amid controversy over a wave of recent decisions by the National Labor Relations Board, a committee questioned NLRB Chairman Robert Battista and member Wilma Liebman at a joint hearing of Senate and House of Representatives panels.

    The NLRB "is supposed to protect the voice of American workers, but the board is no longer fulfilling that responsibility," said Sen. Edward Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat and ally of the labor movement.

    California Democratic Rep. George Miller said, "Workers' rights have been under near-constant assault in the years since the start of the Bush administration."

  103. Newsweek:

    For the past few years, America has been alienated from the world. We have all read the yearly polls with the same damning numbers. But on one issue, the United States and the world agree: majorities everywhere expect things to improve markedly after George W. Bush. Whether it's in Europe or Asia, the refrain from politicians, businessmen and intellectuals is the same. "We don't hate America," one of them told me recently. "We hate Bush. When he's gone, it will be a new day."

    But will it? The question will be put to the test in a year, when a new president enters the White House.

    There's little doubt that the style and substance of U.S. foreign policy over the past seven years has provoked enormous international opposition. What is less clear is that the style and substance were unique products of the Bush administration. Some part of the global response was surely the product of longstanding unease with U.S. dominance. After all, France's foreign minister coined the term "hyperpuissance" to describe America under Bill Clinton, not George W. Bush.

    Then came 9/11. Ever since the attacks, the United States has felt threatened and under siege and determined to carve out maximum room to maneuver. But where Americans have seen defensive behavior, the rest of the world has looked on and seen the most powerful nation in human history acting like a caged animal, lashing out at any and every constraint on its actions.

    At the heart of this behavior is fear. Americans have become scared of the new world that is emerging around them. As long as this atmosphere of fear envelops U.S. politics, it will surely produce very similar results abroad. Washington's real task, therefore, is to combat such unthinking emotion.

    Yet the opposite is happening. Republicans are falling over each other to paint an atmosphere of dire threat that requires strong, even brutish action to protect the American people. Democrats, while far less guilty of fearmongering, have been afraid to combat this hysteria.

    Consider the top GOP candidates to replace Bush. On the campaign trail, Rudolph Giuliani endlessly repeats his mantra that "we are facing an enemy that is planning all over this world … to come here and kill us." Mitt Romney has explained that while "some people have said we ought to close Guant?namo, my view is we ought to double [the size of] Guant?namo." And John McCain sometimes sounds cavalier about bombing Iran—despite the fact that, if it happened, it would be the third U.S. war against a Muslim country in seven years.

    Since 2001, Washington, with bipartisan support, has invaded two countries and dispatched troops around the world, from Somalia to the Philippines, to fight Islamic militants. It has ramped up defense spending by $187 billion—more than the combined military budgets of China, Russia, India and Britain. It has created a Department of Homeland Security that now spends more than $40 billion a year. How then would Giuliani go on the offensive? Invade a couple more countries?

    To recover its place in the world, the United States should first recover its confidence. It remains the world's only superpower, the only big country with a total portfolio of military, economic and political dominance. Most major states are either well disposed toward it or, at worst, neutral. The challenges America confronts come from small, faceless terrorist organizations and a few rogue nations. This is not to minimize the challenges. Today's asymmetries of power mean that small groups can do big damage. But it is to put things in perspective. When President Bush speaks of Iran's nuclear program as the road to World War III, one wonders if he has noticed that Iran's total GDP is just one sixty-eighth that of the United States, or that its military spending is less than 1 percent of the Pentagon's.

    The real challenges that the United States faces come not from globalization's losers but from its winners, not from yesterday's bombs but from tomorrow's factories. The crucial project for the next president will be to change the basic focus of U.S. foreign policy, away from the Middle East and toward the Far East. When the history of these times is written, surely the great trend that will dominate the accounts, far larger than the war in Lebanon or the tensions over Iran, will be the rise of China and India and how they reshaped the world.

    This power shift is having broad and benign effects around the planet; global growth is a marvel to behold. But it is also producing massive complications and dislocations. It creates high demand for raw materials and energy. Countries that possess such resources—Iran, Russia, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia—have become powerful islands of exception to the rules of markets and trade that are sweeping the world. Thus global capitalism is producing its own well-funded anticapitalists. Environmental degradation proceeds in much of the world on a colossal scale. And these problems get exacerbated by changes in climate, rainfall and habitation. Scarcities of water and wheat and other grains might turn out to be the fault lines of the future as populations move in search of secure and arable land.

    There is no way to turn off the underlying global growth, nor should one try. Every previous expansion of global capitalism has led to greater prosperity across the world. But this is a massive, complex process that requires enormous focus and attention. And while other nations around the world, from China to Chile, are playing to win, the United States as a government has barely focused on any of the major challenges or opportunities they present. The Bush administration is too busy settling disputes between Sunnis and Shiites in downtown Baghdad.

    The world we are entering will need new solutions to its problems. There are too many new players for the old structures to work. Asia is rising, but not only Asia. Economic activity and political confidence are also growing in Latin America and even Africa. Nongovernmental actors are becoming more powerful every day. New media sources—from Al-Jazeera to India's NDTV—are presenting diverse and contrarian narratives of current events. Welcome to the post-American world.

  104. Re: Kucinich.

    There are rules. They're meant to be followed. Sorry, but if he doesnt follow them he shouldn't run.

    What i f he violated campaign finance reform laws? We'd be right to ban him then, so how is this different?

  105. Right or wrong and I don't think it will matter but Oprah is taking a lot of heat for backing Obama.

  106. Patriot - what do you mean
    "Oprah's taking heat?" You mean her fans don't approve? tell me more...

  107. Yet, the Des Moines Register allowed that lizard-eyed, radical rightwing kook, Alan Keyes to stand with his fellow GOPers?

    Even though I'm an Obama supporter, Kucinich belonged in the debate.

    Shameful. Truly shameful.

  108. :D

    Merry Christmakawnzanukkah

  109. Oops the sub-prime, credit crunch just hit California, in ways that can't be good;

    Schwarzenegger Will ‘Declare Fiscal Emergency’ In Weeks

    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Friday he will declare a “fiscal emergency” in January to give him and the Legislature more power to deal with the state’s growing deficit.


    California is struggling with shrinking state tax revenue from the meltdown of the subprime housing market and the credit crunch on Wall Street.

    State spending also has increased by more than 40 percent since Schwarzenegger took office after the 2003 recall of then-Gov. Gray Davis.

    Schwarzenegger in August signed a $145.5 billion budget that increased spending 11 percent due largely to the increased cost of bond repayments and special funds. General fund spending for day-to-day operations increased less than 1 percent, from $101.7 to $102.3 billion for the budget year that began July 1.

    An 11% increase in the budget, with ONLY a 1% increase in real spending on the people of the state?

    This means they have to pay out that much money to bankers for credit that is getting more and more expensive.

    Didn't a bunch of clueless idiots claim deficits don't matter?

    I guess they were wrong on that one also weren't they?

    The avalanche is getting larger and spreading further.

    Florida, Maryland, Norway, among others, but now California?

    California, which if it was a country would be the 8th largest economy on the planet, good luck to countries smaller then California.

    The id-jets in Washington and the Fed think the problem will go away with a few snow shovels?

    This fiscal mess is going to grow much worse as it unwinds, and many people who haven’t a clue about it will be feeling the effects from it for years to come.

  110. Okay a few things..
    (1) Lydia- thanks for encouraging we write to the Register about Kucinich being excluded- but here is my question why didn't DEM leadership say anything- like John Dean ?
    (who we have barely seen)

    (2) Also WHY could KEYES who is not a candidate that I know of be on the debate and not Kucinich ? I don't get it ....

    (3) Larry- thanks for all of the great new and articles....

    (4) I saw that Oprah is taking Heat for her Obama support- I don't understand why....I heard it on I think it was Daytime MSNBC and Hardball- they claimed it was emails- but I went to her site and did not see any mention of it- actually on her site she does not include her Obama activity- that is smart that she is keeping it seperate....

    thanks for the fine work that you all do here...keep it up... we are grateful...

    ( I do have some new posts on Watergate Summer- and one is about the Hillary Negative issue- and how it relates to women...and also Dana Post as well...and how it relates to women....It seems the MSM wants ALL women to look act and dress like Dana and Vote for Hillary, and I have a problem wit that....and they also have been feeding her reckless attacks on Obama....thanks for letting me share those...)

    ( On the Lighter side...I asked my teenage son why Kucinich was not allowed to debate the other day and he said" Because his wife, The Goddess is too hot for Iowa"....sorry but it did make me laugh)

    "Treasons Greetings " to the White House....
    and may their stocking be full of SOMETHING....

    have a good weekend all...

    thank you again...

  111. Enigma,

    I liked your "Treasons Greetings" you left the White House. Very appropriate.

    Catch the great blog of Enigma's and her unique approach to writing at:

    Watergate Summer

  112. I always thought Kucinich was too far out on the fringes (in the public consciousness) to have any chance at all. But if the Des Moines Register is pulling stunts like this, maybe the Powers That Be are afraid of Kucinich. Maybe he does have a chance.

    Who Hijacked Our Country

  113. Tom, I agree that he should not have been excluded,m but consider that Dennis could have easily rented a store front for one week to put himself in complience with the debate criteria, which were announced well in advance. I wonder if he intentionally chose not to meet the standards to generate outrage among supporters. That may be absurd, but no more so than he was by endorsing that racist wing-nut, Ron Paul.

  114. In what may be the first break in the Hollywood writers' strike, David Letterman is pursuing a deal with the Writers Guild of America that would allow his late-night show on CBS to return to the air in early January with the usual complement of material from his writers, even if the strike is still continuing.

    Executives from Mr. Letterman's company said Saturday that they are hopeful they will have an interim agreement in place with the guild as early as this week. That could potentially put Mr. Letterman at an enormous advantage over most of his late-night colleagues.

    Jon Stewart of Comedy Central's "Daily Show" has also been urging an interim agreement and would begin working toward getting one in place the first thing Monday morning, according to a representative. But Mr. Letterman is in a stronger position because, unlike Mr. Stewart, his show is not owned by a network but by Mr. Letterman's independent production company, World Wide Pants. (So is the show that follows it on CBS, "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson," which would return with writers under the proposed interim agreement.)

    The news of Mr. Letterman's potential deal came at the same time the union took a new tack that could potentially throw the negotiations into procedural chaos. The writers' representatives said they planned on Monday to exercise a legal right to insist that the major studios and network production companies bargain with the guild individually rather than as a group.

    In a letter sent to members on Saturday, negotiators for the Writers Guild of America East and the Writers Guild of America West said: "Each signatory employer is required to bargain with us individually if we make a legal demand that it do so. We will make this demand on Monday."

    The writers' move was aimed at breaking what has been, at least in public, a united front by a small number of media conglomerates — General Electric, News Corporation, Sony, Time Warner, The Walt Disney Company, Viacom and CBS — whose entertainment units dominate the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, an industry bargaining group.

    In a statement, the producers alliance immedately dismissed the move as "grasping for straws." J. Nicholas Counter III, president of the the alliance, said in an interview that his group remains the bargaining agent for each of the represented companies, whether they proceed individually or together.

    The alliance "represents all the companies both individually and on a multi-employer basis," Mr. Counter said. In all, about 350 production companies are represented by the alliance, whose stance is controlled by representatives of the big corporations.

    Even if forced to bargain separately — and representatives from both sides said they expected the unions' position to be challenged — the companies would remain free to deal through the alliance and would be permitted to let other companies monitor their separate talks, allowing them to remain on common ground.

    Since the alliance was formed in 1982, no Hollywood union has tried to force individual bargaining across the board. But Anthony R. Segall, general counsel for the West Coast guild, pointed out that interim contracts with various companies have been reached during prior walkouts. Such contracts, said Mr. Segall, typically use "most favored nation" arrangements that promise signers final terms as at least favorable as those signed by any other company.

    No agreement had been reached with Mr. Letterman's proposal as of late Saturday afternoon, according to both Mr. Segall and reprentatives of Mr. Letterman's company. Rob Burnett, the chief executive of World Wide Pants, said in a statement, "Because we are an independent production company, we are able to pursue an interim agreement with the Guild without involving CBS in that pursuit." He said the company had been seeking a separate deal with the Guild since the start of the strike, adding, "We're happy that the Guild has now adopted an approach that might make this possible."

    All of television's late-night shows have been off the air for six weeks since the strike was called. The hosts have been paying the salaries of their non-writing staffs over the past several weeks.

    The hosts have been debating when they might be able to return and it has been expected that at least the two chief NBC late-night stars, Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien — both of whom are the longtime ratings leaders in their time periods — would announce early Monday a plan to come back, probably on Jan. 2.

  115. Police Brutality Cases Rise Sharply
    By Kevin Johnson,

    USA Today
    Posted: 2007-12-18 13:15:56
    Filed Under: Law News, Nation News
    (Dec. 18) - Federal prosecutors are targeting a rising number of law enforcement officers for alleged brutality, Justice Department statistics show. The heightened prosecutions come as the nation's largest police union fears that agencies are dropping standards to fill thousands of vacancies and "scrimping" on training.

    Cases in which police, prison guards and other law enforcement authorities have used excessive force or other tactics to violate victims' civil rights have increased 25% (281 vs. 224) from fiscal years 2001 to 2007 over the previous seven years, the department says.

    Mel Evans, AP
    Police subdue a man later identified as Robert Davis in New Orleans on Oct. 8, 2005. A former police officer who was accused of beating the man was acquitted in July.

    During the same period, the department says it won 53% more convictions (391 vs. 256). Some cases result in multiple convictions.

    Federal records show the vast majority of police brutality cases referred by investigators are not prosecuted.

    University of Toledo law professor David Harris, who analyzes police conduct issues, says it will take time to determine whether the cases represent a sustained period of more aggressive prosecutions or the beginnings of a surge in misconduct.

    The cases involve only a fraction of the estimated 800,000 police in the USA, says James Pasco, executive director of the National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), the nation's largest police union.

    Even so, he says, the FOP is concerned that reduced standards, training and promotion of less experienced officers into the higher police ranks could undermine more rigid supervision.

    "These are things we are worried about," Pasco says.

    For the past few years, dozens of police departments across the country have scrambled to fill vacancies. The recruiting effort, which often features cash bonuses, has intensified since 9/11, because many police recruits have been drawn to military service.

    In its post-Sept. 11 reorganization, the FBI listed police misconduct as one of its highest civil rights priorities to keep pace with an anticipated increase in police hiring through 2009.

    The increasing Justice numbers generally correspond to a USA TODAY analysis of federal law enforcement prosecutions using data compiled by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.

    Those data show 42 law enforcement prosecutions during the first 10 months of fiscal year 2007, a 66% increase from all of fiscal 2002 and a 61% rise from a decade ago.

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    David Burnham, the co-founder of the TRAC database, says prosecutions appear to be increasing, but "more important" are the numbers of cases prosecutors decline.

    Last year, 96% of cases referred for prosecution by investigative agencies were declined.

    In 2005, 98% were declined, a rate that has remained "extremely high" under every administration dating to President Carter, according to a TRAC report.

    The high refusal rates, say Burnham and law enforcement analysts, result in part from the extraordinary difficulty in prosecuting abuse cases. Juries are conditioned to believe cops, and victims' credibility is often challenged.

    "When police are accused of wrongdoing, the world is turned upside down," Harris says. "In some cases, it may be impossible for (juries) to make the adjustment."

  116. More of the Bush fascist police state.

  117. FCC Approves New Media Ownership Rule

    Posted: 2007-12-18 18:59:16
    WASHINGTON (AP) - The Federal Communications Commission, overturning a 32-year-old ban, voted Tuesday to allow broadcasters in the nation's 20 largest media markets to also own a newspaper.

    FCC Chairman Kevin Martin was joined by his two Republican colleagues in favor of the proposal, while the commission's two Democrats voted against it.

    Martin pushed the vote through despite intense pressure from House and Senate members on Capitol Hill to delay it. The chairman, however, has the support of the White House, which has pledged to turn back any congressional action that seeks to undo the vote.

    At Tuesday's meeting, the chairman described the media ownership proceeding as "the most contentious and divisive issue" to come before the commission.

    That proved true as the two Democrats blasted Martin's plan in unusually strong language for the normally sedate agency.

    Martin said his proposal represented "a relatively minor loosening" of the cross-ownership rule. He noted concern for the steady decline in revenue for newspaper companies and said his proposal "strikes a balance" between the realities of the changing media marketplace and the preservation of diversity and competition in broadcasting.

    As the commission loosened ownership requirements on one industry, it tightened the reins on another by approving a 30 percent national cap on subscribers for cable companies. The move, opposed by cable companies, would prevent a single cable television provider from serving 30 percent or more of the national pay television audience.

    Martin was joined by the two Democrats in voting in favor of the cap while the two Republicans on the commission were opposed.

    While Democrats Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein supported Martin on the cable cap, they were bitterly opposed to his media ownership rule.

    The two men criticized Martin for making changes to his proposal "in the dead of night" and just prior to the meeting that they said created new loopholes in the rule instead of closing them, as Martin pledged during a recent hearing on Capitol Hill.

    "Anybody who thinks our processes are open, thoughtful or deliberative should think twice in light of these nocturnal escapades," said Adelstein.

    Adelstein said Martin's proposal "will allow for waivers for six new newspaper-broadcast combinations and 36 grandfathered stations."

    In a lengthy statement, Copps described the commission's action as a "terrible decision."

    "In the final analysis, the real winners today are businesses that are in many cases quite healthy, and the real losers are going to be all of us who depend on the news media to learn what's happening in our communities and to keep an eye on local government," he said.

    Republican Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate described the media ownership review process as "transparent and thorough." She said the changes proposed are narrow and noted she favored a greater liberalization of the media ownership rules.

    Fellow Republican Commissioner Robert McDowell also defended the proposal, pointing out the explosion of new media in the modern marketplace and the agency's lengthy review of the issues.

    Martin, addressing Adelstein's comment about new waivers, said the great majority were existing combinations that predated the 1975 ownership ban. The others are stations owned by companies that have yet to renew their licenses and not been forced to comply with the ban.

    According to several sources familiar with the as-yet unreleased final order, the waivers include Phoenix, where Gannett Co. Inc. owns the Arizona Republic and KPNX-TV, and several smaller cities with cross-owned properties owned by Media General Inc.

    The cross-ownership ban was approved by the FCC in 1975 to serve "the twin goals of diversity of viewpoints and economic competition." The FCC noted at the time that "it is unrealistic to expect true diversity from a commonly owned station-newspaper combination."

    Opponents of the ban say in the past decade there has been great expansion of news outlets thanks to cable television and the Internet and that such restrictions are no longer necessary. Ban supporters say there may be additional outlets, but there has been no corresponding increase in news gatherers and producers, especially at the local level.

    On Monday, 25 senators, including four Republicans, sent Martin a letter threatening that if he goes ahead with the vote, they will move legislation to revoke the rule and nullify the commission's action.

    But a letter that surfaced later the same day makes it clear that the chairman has the full support of the White House. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez wrote Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Dec. 4 opposing a Senate bill that would have delayed the vote, "or any other attempt to delay or overturn these revised rules by legislative means."

    The agency first tried to loosen the ban in 2003, but the move was rejected by a federal appeals court. Since then, the commissioners have been trying to craft a new set of rules that will survive judicial scrutiny.

    Under Martin's proposal, one entity would be permitted to own a newspaper and one broadcast station in the same market.

    But it must be among the 20 largest media markets in the nation and following the transaction, at least eight independently owned-and-operated media voices must remain. In addition, the television station may not be among the top four in the market.

    Regarding the cable ownership issue, the FCC at one time capped cable subscribership at 30 percent, but the limit was invalidated by a court decision in 2001. The cap will prevent large cable companies like Comcast Corp. from getting larger.

    Comcast, the nation's largest cable company, reported 26.2 million subscribers to the FCC through Sept. 30, for a nationwide market share of pay-television subscribers of 27 percent.

    McDowell said the cap is out of date, bad public policy and will be struck down again in court. He described the rule as "the ghost of Christmas past."

    On the Net:

    Federal Communications Commission:

  118. Kevin Martin needs to go when the Democrats take back the White House we need regulators who look out for the interests of the majority of this country not just the wealthy elite lobbiests and Bush cronnies.

  119. EVERYONE - VERY SORRY. Blog was down due to massive power outage from ice storm.

    New thread is up.

    Thanks for hanging in