Monthly Archives: December 2011

What is real and what is not.

These things are real: humans, all other species of animal and plant life, air, fresh water, oceans, natural resources.  Also real: the fact that humans need water, air and food to live.  What is true: we do not know how to live without these things or how to replace them once they are gone.  We could not adapt quickly enough to survive the absence of any of these things.  As a matter of fact, it turns out we cannot survive merely the degradation of these things (think of the death rate from carcinogens in our air and water, for example), much less the complete annihilation of these things.

What is not real: money.  We made it up. We could use other systems of barter, trade, and distribution if we so chose.

We have decided to protect and pursue money.  We have decided to give all the real things to those who have the most money, despite the fact that they have exhibited no intention of caring for or sustaining these things; quite the opposite – they are utterly destroying what we need to survive.  Nor do they intend to share the dwindling (thanks to them) supply of real things with the rest of us.  Yet we adore them and give more and more of the real and irreplaceable to them.

We are completely insane.

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Posted by on December 28, 2011 in economy, environment, Uncategorized


Pop quiz: Who attacked us on 9/11?

Immediately after 9/11, Bush  and Congress gave compensation money to the families of the 9/11 victims.

September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of 2001 was the last part of the three-part Air Transportation Safety and System Stabilization Act of 2001 [ATSA) issued at President Bush’s order. This final part was issued on 9/23/01.  Under this Act, the airlines received 15 billion dollars as a subsidy to keep them from going under.  Per Kenneth Feinberg’s “Final Report of Fund” activities:  “In total, the Fund distributed over $7.049 billion to survivors of 2,880 persons killed in the September 11 attacks and to 2,680 individuals who were injured in the attacks or in the rescue efforts conducted thereafter. The average award for families of victims killed in the attacks exceeded $2 million. The average award for injured victims was nearly $400,000. . . 97 percent of the families of deceased victims who might otherwise have pursued lawsuits for years have received compensation through the Fund. . .”  [Kenneth Feinberg is currently the overseer of BP’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill fund, and a lawyer for BP.  This is not seen as a conflict of interest.]  The airlines, in other words, received twice as much as the families of the victims.

There was a catch, however, to accepting this money: a waiver of a claimant’s right to file suit if he or she filed for fund money. The moment he/she submitted an application for fund money, he/she could forget about filing a lawsuit against the airlines or the government.  Our government and airlines, that is.  Turns out, some of the victims could, and did, successfully file a suit against other governments and groups for monetary compensation.

NEW YORK — A federal judge has signed a default judgment finding Iran, the Taliban and al-Qaida liable in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Judge George Daniels in Manhattan signed the judgment Thursday, a week after hearing testimony in the 10-year-old case. The signed ruling, which he promised last week, came in a $100 billion lawsuit brought by family members of victims of the attacks. He directed a magistrate judge to preside over remaining issues, including fixing compensatory and punitive damages.

Daniels signed findings of fact saying the plaintiffs had established that the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks were caused by the support the defendants provided to al-Qaida. The findings also said Iran continues to provide material support and resources to al-Qaida by providing a safe haven for al-Qaida leadership and rank-and-file al-Qaida members.

During last week’s open-court hearing, family members of Sept. 11 victims sat through a four-hour presentation from attorneys who cited evidence supporting their claims that Iran actively assisted the hijackers of planes that crashed into the World Trade Center towers, at the Pentagon and into a field in Pennsylvania. Former members of the 9/11 Commission and three Iranian defectors also spoke.

It would be near impossible to collect any damages, especially from the Taliban or al-Qaida.

Iran has not commented on the ruling. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly denied any Iranian connection in the Sept. 11 attacks or with al-Qaida. Saudi Arabia had been knocked out of the lawsuit, but lawyers filed papers on Thursday to reinstate Saudi Arabia as a defendant.

Iran and the Taliban had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11.  al Qaeda claimed responsibility, if we are to believe the official version of events.  Most of the hijackers came from Saudi Arabia, but as we see, someone did not want the House of Saud included in this lawsuit.  The list of “expert witnesses” includes three CIA covert operatives  Iranian defectors – always believe the defectors, no matter how improbable it is that they had access to their government’s secrets, and these defectors are not identified – and several staff members from the 9/11 Commission – the same Commission that many members of Congress found to be unbelievable, inconsistent, and inaccurate.

The Taliban, you may recall, claimed to know where Osama bin Laden was and stated that they would turn him over to the US if the US had evidence that he was behind the 9/11 attacks. The US had no such evidence and, in fact, never officially charged bin Laden with the attacks.  Now we are to swallow whole-hog the idea that the Taliban itself was involved in 9/11.  We are also expected to believe that the Shi’ite government of Iran and the Sunni-dominated group al Qaeda secretly coordinated for years on the attacks.  It will, indeed, be nearly impossible to collect from the Taliban or al Qaeda.  I don’t think they have a collective fund in a bank somewhere.  Or CEO’s and attorneys to contact.  Or that much money.  As to Iran, why would they accept the absurd judgment and pony up?  Wait, they can’t, even if they wanted to.  We just sanctioned Iran, calling their banks “money-laundering operations” and making it illegal to do business with any of their financial institutes.  Oh, darn.  Should have thought that one through.  Unless we do what we do best – ignore our own rules and go in, guns blazing, and just steal the money outright.  (Hey, worked in Iraq.  Worked in Libya.)

One piece of evidence to “come to light” was that the Iranians had not stamped the passports of the “al Qaeda operatives” who flew the airplanes that day.  This was offered (I am not making this up) as proof of the guilt and perfidy of the Iranians.  The fact that the attackers could not have had their passports stamped in Iran since, uh, they neither came from nor passed through Iran was ignored completely.  Instead, with utter disregard for the obvious, the lack of Iranian stamp “proved” how sneaky the Iranians are.  I might note, for the record, that the passports of the hijackers also lacked stamps from China, Russia, Japan, France, Italy and New Zealand.  Just sayin’.

In a final touch of irony, the news media reports that “none of the defendants contested the case”, as though this were some sort of admittance of guilt by the Taliban, al Qaeda and Iran.

I wonder if the date for invading Iran has been set.  And somewhat morbidly curious to see just how gullible the public is.  Will we believe that Iran was to blame for 9/11?  Just how many countries can we invade with that excuse, anyway?

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Posted by on December 24, 2011 in Iran


So you think Ron Paul can dance.

You’ve got to read this if you thought for one second Ron Paul was different than the other Republicans.  Sure, sure, he wants to end the wars.  But everything else is deregulation, getting rid of the Dept of Ed (the Dept of Education!), various other departments, and lowering taxes on the rich and on corporations.  I notice, also, that his big “end the Fed” is really just “audit the Fed” and that “return to the gold standard” is actually “allow people to use gold if they want”.   What a joke.

Our “choices” this time are 1) vote for any number of the nutcases called Republicans, 2) vote for the banker-backed, neoliberal Obama, and 3) vote for Ron Paul.  In any case, we will get the total destruction of our social safety nets, austerity, and deregulation of all industries.  If you cannot tell that Goldman, Sachs is running this election and we lose no matter who we “vote” for, I can’t help you any further.  It should be as obvious as the nose on your face that we are being managed, that we are getting a President installed the same way Greece, Italy and Libya just did.  They are only bothering to hold this sham election so we will continue to argue about the “left” and the “right” amongst ourselves while our country is sacked and looted.

For what it is worth, here are Ron Paul’s economic and social “plans”; and this explains why he is still registered as a Republican.  The rest of this is from the article linked below, which is based on Ron Paul’s own written plan [bolding mine]:

[He] wants to abolish five Cabinet departments, drastically lower corporate taxes, and allow younger workers to opt out of the Social Security system.

Here are the key components of Paul’s economic plan, “Restore America,” released in October:

Spending: Paul proposes cutting $1 trillion from the federal budget during his first year in office, and balancing the budget by his third year. He would do this in part by eliminating five cabinet departments: Energy; Housing and Urban Development; Commerce; Interior; and Education. (Paul has not offered specifics on what would happen to some of the functions currently performed by the departments he wants to abolish–maintaining our nuclear weapons, administering our intellectual property system, and conducting the Census, for instance.)

He would also scrap the Transportation Security Administration, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security, eliminate corporate subsidies, end foreign aid, and return most other federal spending to 2006 levels.

Paul says he would cut the federal workforce by 10 percent…

Paul, who opposes almost all American military intervention overseas, also says he would save money by ending foreign wars.

Taxes: Paul has said in the past that he’d like to abolish personal income tax rates, but his plan doesn’t suggest that. It does propose lowering the corporate tax rate to 15 percent, from 35 percent. And it would extend the Bush tax cuts and eliminate the estate tax. Paul’s campaign has said elsewhere that he supports eliminating the capital gains tax, which, as we’ve written, would be a boon for, among others, private-equity managers on Wall Street.

Regulation: Like most of his rivals, Paul would repeal President Obama’s health care law. He would also get rid of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law intended to increase regulation of Wall Street. And he’d scrap Sarbanes-Oxley, the corporate governance law passed in the wake of the Enron scandal.

Monetary Policy: Paul has written a book called “End the Fed,” but his plan calls only for auditing the central bank–something he’s been trying to do as a legislator. He also would push “competing currency legislation”–meaning he wants individuals to be able to use alternative currencies to the dollar, including gold and silver. The idea is to reduce the federal government’s control over the monetary supply.

Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid: Paul says he wouldn’t scrap Social Security and Medicare. His plan “honors our promise to our seniors and veterans,” meaning that those currently in the programs could stay in them. But he would like to allow younger workers to opt out of the Social Security system and the payroll taxes it imposes–although the details of how he would accomplish this are unclear.

“Dr. Paul is committed to fully funding Social Security and Medicare while we work a transition to allow young workers the freedom to save for their own retirement,” Jesse Benton, the national chairman of Paul’s presidential campaign, told Yahoo News.

Benton implied that the Social Security and Medicare payments for current retirees–paid for by payroll taxes on younger workers under the current system–would be provided by radically reducing the American military footprint around the globe, along with other cuts. “It will require cuts elsewhere, but we can save hundreds of billions of dollars a year by bringing troops home, ending foreign welfare and overseas nation building and providing a stronger national defense here at home,” Benton said. “If we cut and work hard, we can take care of our seniors who rely on their Medicare and Social Security.”

In its basic outline, Paul’s plan shares several common features with those of his Republican rivals. All support extending the Bush tax cuts, and most want to lower the corporate tax rate. Newt Gingrich, Jon Hunstman, and Rick Perry would scrap the capital gains tax. And a desire to cut government spending is almost a requirement for entry into the Republican field.

If Paul’s profile in the race continues to rise, he’ll likely be required to fill in some of the plan’s details, which remain vague. Extending the Bush tax cuts and cutting the corporate tax rate by more than half would make it difficult to balance the budget in three years, even by eliminating five Cabinet departments and cutting waste. The only feasible way to do so would be large cuts to the three big drivers of government spending: Social Security, Medicare, and the military.

Paul on Other Issues

(1) Taxes: Abolish income, capital gains, and estate taxes, as well as the IRS. Provide more tax credits and deductions. Rely on excise taxes, non-protectionist tariffs, fees, and minimal corporate ones.

(2) Energy: Remove all restrictions on drilling, mining and nuclear power. Repeal federal taxes on gasoline. Abolish the EPA, and provide tax credits as incentives to develop and produce alternative energy technologies.

(3) Immigration: Enforce border security to keep undocumented immigrants out. Prohibit amnesty and social benefits for those here, and end automatic birthright citizenship for their children born on US soil.

(4) Abortion: Repeal Roe v. Wade granting abortion rights up to viability (fetal survival outside the uterus). Define life as beginning at conception, even for rape victims.

(5) Gun Ownership: Assure the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms even though it pertains to militia rights “to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions.”

Repeal the Brady Bill and Assault Weapons Ban restricting firearms purchases, and end US support for global gun control laws and other initiatives. Presidents, says Paul, should “be 100% committed to defending our God-given right to keep and bear arms,” even those most destructive apparently.

(6) Right to Work: Without saying so, he opposes hard-won labor rights, including failed Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) provisions to let workers “form, join, or assist labor organizations, to provide for mandatory injunctions for unfair labor practices during organizing efforts, and other purposes.”
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Posted by on December 22, 2011 in elections


Our legacy in Iraq.

According to the United Nations State of the World’s Cities, 2010-2011 report, the percentage of the Iraqi urban population living in slums, defined as lacking access to basic necessities such as sanitation and water, increased from below 20 percent in 2003 to 53 percent in 2010.

• Real unemployment is on the order of 50 percent and inflation is over 50 percent. There has been a mass exodus of doctors and other professionals (estimated at 40 percent of those in the country prior to the war), and the education system lies in ruins.

• Iraq has experienced a staggering growth of infant and child mortality. A 2007 report estimated that 28 percent of children suffered from chronic malnutrition. An Iraqi government agency reported that 35 percent of Iraqi children in 2007 (about 5 million children) were orphans. An entire generation has seen their parents killed or disappeared.


So we come to the “end” of the Iraq war.  Like everything else said about this “war”, the word “end” is meaningless.  We are actually going to have 15,000 mercenaries protecting and serving an uncertain number of “diplomats” who will stay there indefinitely.  We are also leaving a few military bases here and there; one presumes along with military personnel living in them.  Of course, this wasn’t a “war” in the first place.  It was an invasion of a sovereign nation with whom we were most definitely not at war, a nation that had not threatened us in any way.

But Obama went to went to North Carolina last week to address the troops about the end of the war.  It was “an extraordinary achievement”, he said.  “A moment of success,” he said.  He told the soldiers they had sacrificed and suffered loss and pain, and so had their families.  He failed to mention the fact that a few months ago, his administration was pushing Iraq to allow thousands of American troops to remain – his proposed agreement fell apart because the US demanded that Americans be immune from prosecution in Iraqi courts.  He did not mention the hundreds of American flags burned in joy by Iraqis upon hearing the news that America’s soldiers were finally leaving.  His speech to the troops was full of oo-rah moments, apparently de rigour for the CiC; but more to the point, it was also full of hyperbole and outright lies.  “Now, Iraq is not a perfect place. It has many challenges ahead. But we’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people.”  Stable and self-reliant, is it?  With a representative government nonetheless hand-picked by the Americans.

“Because of you, because you sacrificed so much for a people that you had never met, Iraqis have a chance to forge their own destiny.  That’s part of what makes us special as Americans…There can be no fuller expression of America’s support for self-determination than our leaving Iraq to its people. That says something about who we are.”  We invaded their country for no reason other than to steal their oil.  They did not ask us to come in.  We have left them a country completely decimated and ruined.  Unemployment is somewhere between 25% and 48% – the figures are hard to pin down because of black market activities and security issues.  In 2009, the mean per-hour wage was $2.10.

Another great line from the speech:  “And let us never forget the source of American leadership: our commitment to the values that are written into our founding documents and a unique willingness among nations to pay a great price for the progress of human freedom and dignity.”  This from a man who is poised to sign a bill which overturns the Constitution.  An obligatory little threat to other nations must be included – you never know who is listening:  “And make no mistake, as we go forward as a nation we are going to keep America’s armed forces the strongest fighting force the world has ever seen. That will not stop. That will not stop.”  (That is not a transcript error; he felt the need to say it twice.)

And Obama managed to utter the biggest lie ever said about Iraq since Bush claimed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction:  “That’s part of what makes us special as Americans. Unlike the old empires, we don’t make these sacrifices for territory or for resources. We do it because it’s right.

On 16 Dec., while in Turkey, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said that the effort in Iraq was “worth it.”   Panetta expressed hope that the people of Iraq will be able to “enjoy the freedoms and liberties and opportunities that all people ought to be able to enjoy.”   His main concern seemed to be that we learn a cost lesson “for the future”.  We are to assume, I gather, that there will always be more wars and that the lesson here is to do them efficiently.

“Panetta said the Defense Department will factor lessons learned in Iraq as well as Afghanistan as it sets budget priorities for the future.
“ ‘As we go through the process of having to achieve savings in the defense budget,’ he said,
’I think it is an opportunity for us to shape a defense system for the future based on learning the lessons of the past.’ ”

Neither man spoke about the costs to Iraqis.  In lives, infrastructure damage, refugees.  A cost to their future as the depleted uranium continues to work its way through the soil and water, causing cancers and deaths.  Neither spoke about the fact that we relieved the Iraqis of Saddam Hussein, only to replace him with another tyrant of our choosing, al-Maliki.

A 2006 study  by researchers at Johns Hopkins University published in the Lancet medical journal found that in just over three years there were 654,965 “excess Iraqi deaths as a consequence of the war”, with Iraq’s death rate more than doubling due to gunfire – the leading cause of mortality – as well as lack of medicine and clean water.
Then a 2008 analysis by British polling firm Opinion Research Business estimated “that over 1,000,000 Iraqi citizens have died as a result of the conflict which started in 2003“…
Thirteen years of bombings and sanctions crippled the infrastructure and basic services of what was once a wealthy country.  Then came the 2003 invasion, which destroyed electrical plants, sewage systems, water treatment facilities, hospitals and more.  Eight years later, the living conditions in Iraqi are worse than under Saddam Hussein, with the country plagued by a continued lack of electricity, clean water, medical care and security

According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, since 2003 “more than 4.7 million Iraqis have fled their homes, many in dire need of humanitarian care“…

The US military dropped thousands of bombs across Iraq laced with depleted uranium, the radioactive waste produced from manufacturing nuclear fuel.  Valued by the military for its density and ability to ignite upon impact, depleted uranium bombs continue to kill years after they’ve been dropped.  In Fallujah, which was bombarded more than anywhere else in Iraq, British researchers uncovered a massive increase in infant mortality and rates of cancer, with the latter exceeding “those reported by survivors of the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” according to The Independent.
… Al Jazeera reports that in the central Iraq province of Babil, reported cancer cases rose from 500 in 2004 to 7,000 in 2008.  And in Basra, the last 15 years have seen childhood leukemia rate more than double, according to a  study published last year in the American Journal of Public Health….
Now, his US-backed successor, prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, is torturing and killing those who speak out against his rule…
Inspired by the mass actions that took down US-backed strongmen in Egypt and Tunisia, thousands of Iraqis have taken to the streets to protest the al-Maliki government – only to be greeted with live ammunition.  On February 27, more than 29 protesters, including a 14-year-old boy, were gunned down by the Maliki-run security forces in Iraq.

Meanwhile, four journalists in Baghdad report that they, along with hundreds of protesters, were “blindfolded, handcuffed, beaten and threatened with execution” for being insufficiently pro-regime.
The charges of abuse come after WikiLeaks revealed further evidence that Maliki has been using the power of the state – and Shia death squads – to torture and murder his political opponents…

And neither man spoke about the widows of Iraq.  How could they?  They won’t even acknowledge that Iraqis died in huge numbers.  No deaths, no widows, no orphans.  They certainly cannot broach the subject of the way many Iraqi women and teen-aged girls are forced to support themselves now, thanks to our “liberation” of the country.

Prior to the US invasion, Iraqi widows, particularly those who lost husbands during the Iran-Iraq war, were provided with compensation and free education for their children. In some cases, they were provided with free homes. However, no such safety nets currently exist and widows have few resources at their disposal…

Although few reliable statistics are available on the total number of widows in Iraq, the ministry of women’s affairs says that there are at least 350,000 in Baghdad alone, with more than eight million throughout the country.


Meanwhile, violence against women – including honour killings, rape and kidnapping – has increased, forcing many to remain at home and limiting employment and educational opportunities, according to a new Freedom House report.  “A deep feeling of injustice and powerlessness sometimes leads women to believe that the only escape is suicide,” the report notes.
Many Iraqi women who fled to neighbouring countries have found themselves unable to feed their children.  Just to make ends meet, tens of thousands of them – including girls 13 and under – have been forced into prostitution, particularly in Syria.  “From what I’ve seen, 70 per cent to 80 per cent of the girls working this business in Damascus today are Iraqis,” one refugee told The New York Times. “If they go back to Iraq they’ll be slaughtered, and this is the only work available.”


In one harrowing experience, Rania and two other girls visited a house in Baghdad’s Al-Jihad district, where girls as young as 16 were held to cater exclusively to the U.S. military. The brothel’s owner told Rania that an Iraqi interpreter employed by the Americans served as the go-between, transporting girls to and from the U.S. airport base...

Before the Gulf War in 1991, Iraq enjoyed the highest female literacy rate across the Middle East, and more Iraqi women were employed in skilled professions, like medicine and education, than in any other country in the region. 

Twenty years later Iraqi women experience a very different reality. Sharia law increasing dominates everyday life, with issues like marriage, divorce and honour crimes implemented outside of the court system, and adherence to state law.

“Many factors combined to promote the rise of sex trafficking and prostitution in the area,” a Norwegian Church Aid report said last year. 

”The US-led war and the chaos it has generated; the growing insecurity and lawlessness; corruption of authorities; the upsurge in religious extremism; economic hardship; marriage pressures; gender based violence and recurrent discrimination suffered by women; kidnappings of girls and women; the impunity of perpetrators of crimes, especially those against women; and the development of new technologies associated with the globalisation of the sex industry…

Although the Iraqi constitution deems trafficking illegal, there are no criminal laws that effectively prosecute offenders. Perversely, it is often the victims of trafficking and prostitution that are punished…

Human Rights Watch (HRW) says the government has done little to combat the issue. “This is a phenomenon that wasn’t prevalent in 2003,” says HRW researcher, Samer Muscati. 

”We don’t have specific statistics. This is the first part to tackle the problem; we need to know how significant and widespread the problem is. This is something the government hasn’t been doing. It hasn’t monitored or cracked down on traffickers, and because of that there is this black hole in terms of information.”

This is what we have given Iraq.  This is what we thought was better than what they had.  This is what we are presently giving lots of countries, some overtly and some covertly.  This is what some Americans signed up to do on purpose, offering their bodies to the war effort – afraid there would be no other job, just too stupid to figure out the lies they were being fed, or in love with the idea of blowing other human beings to shreds – who the hell knows why?  We were not asked if we thought this “war” was a good idea, we haven’t been asked if any of the current ones are,  and we certainly won’t be asked if we think the next one is a good idea.  But we need to stop volunteering to do the grunt work of murdering other humans (or being killed ourselves) so that oil companies and other big corporations can profit, banks can steal assets, and the crazed “leaders” of the “free world” can dominate the globe on their behalf.  When the call to serve comes, we need to say no.  We need to say fuck, no.


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Posted by on December 20, 2011 in Iraq, mercenaries


two articles: on the defense bill and on the budget bill

House and Senate agree on the defense bill.  Bracketed notes mine, the rest is all from the AP article.  Bolding/italics mine.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress is pressing ahead with a massive $662 billion defense bill that requires military custody for terrorism suspects linked to al-Qaida, including those captured within the U.S. Lawmakers hope their last-minute revisions will satisfy President Barack Obama and erase a veto threat.

Leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees announced late Monday that they had reached agreement on the policy-setting legislation that had gotten caught up in an escalating fight on whether to treat suspected terrorists as prisoners of war or criminals.

Responding to personal appeals from Obama and his national security team, the lawmakers added language on national security waivers and other changes that they hoped would ensure administration support for the overall bill….

Overall, the bill would authorize $662 billion for military personnel, weapons systems, national security programs in the Energy Department, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. Reflecting a period of austerity and a winding down of decade-old conflicts, the bill is $27 billion less than Obama requested and $43 billion less than Congress gave the Pentagon for the year before.

[This is still more than the rest of the world combined spends on military operations.]

The legislation would impose tough new sanctions on Iran, targeting foreign financial institutions that do business with the Central Bank in Tehran. Levin said the negotiators made some changes to address concerns of the Treasury Department, but he said the legislation is “96 percent” of what the Senate had unanimously backed.

One of the measure’s chief sponsors welcomed the results. “Moving forward, the Congress will need to be more vigilant than ever before in holding the administration’s feet to the fire to collapse the Central Bank of Iran and force international financial institutions to choose between doing business in the U.S. and doing business in Iran,” said Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill.

[Collapse the Central Bank of Iran?  This is blatant financial terrorism of a sovereign nation.  And I hate to tell you, but China and Russia will choose Iran over the US.]

…The lawmakers said they hoped the House and Senate could vote on the final bill by Thursday and send it to the president.

The issue of how to handle captured terrorist suspects has divided Obama’s senior national security officials and Congress, as well as Democrats and Republicans.

The administration insists that military, law enforcement and intelligence officials need flexibility in prosecuting the war on terror. Obama points to his administration’s successes in eliminating Osama bin Laden and radical Islamic cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. Republicans counter that their efforts are necessary to respond to an evolving, post-Sept. 11 threat, and that Obama has failed to produce a consistent policy on handling terror suspects.

[I am sickened by how frequently the apparently soulless Obama brags about his assassination program.  He invaded Pakistan to “get” bin Laden and had him murdered rather than bring any charges against him, and he had the American citizen al Awlaki (and his teen-aged son and several other relatives) assassinated by drone-bomb rather than bring him to trial with legal charges as required by the Constitution.  This is not something to brag about, unless you have completely eliminated the idea of the rule of law from your thinking and no longer affiliate yourself with the human race.]

The bill would require that the military take custody of a suspect deemed to be a member of al-Qaida or its affiliates who is involved in plotting or committing attacks on the United States, with an exemption for U.S. citizens.

Responding to appeals from Obama, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and FBI Director Robert Mueller, the lawmakers added a provision that says nothing in the bill will affect “existing criminal enforcement and national security authorities of the FBI or any other domestic law enforcement agency” with regard to a captured suspect, “regardless of whether such … person is held in military custody.”

[I assume this means that a US citizen can be held indefinitely, just not necessarily by the military.  Which is in opposition to the opening paragraph of this article.  This discrepancy is not explained.]

The bill also says the president can waive the provision based on national security. Originally that authority rested with the defense secretary.

House and Senate negotiators dropped several of the provisions in the House bill that also had drawn a veto threat, including the requirement of military tribunals for all cases…

The legislation would deny suspected terrorists, even U.S. citizens seized within the nation’s borders, the right to trial and subject them to indefinite detention. The lawmakers made no changes to that language.

[Yes.  It does mean American citizens may be held indefinitely, without the right to trial.  Better wake the fuck up, America.]

The revisions weren’t sufficient for at least one civil rights group. “The so-called ‘changes’ to the detainee provisions that came out to conference are cosmetic at best,” said Raha Wala of Human Rights First. “They do little to fix the underlying problems with the bill. The president has no choice now but to veto, both for the sake of our national security and the rule of law.”

The bill would go after foreign financial institutions that do business with Iran’s central bank by barring them from opening or maintaining correspondent operations in the United States. It would apply to foreign central banks only for transactions that involve the sale or purchase of petroleum or petroleum products.

[I.e., China and Russia, with whom Iran trades oil on the Tehran bourse, off the dollar.  We are pushing them into choosing sides, when the truth is, they don’t need us for oil, so who do ya think they’d choose?  We, however, need Iran for oil.  I should think it would occur to us that we are looking at either a sudden extreme jump in the price of gas, or WW111, depending on how far we push this.  But maybe that’s the plan.  I see we took out the language about “all transactions” – we don’t want to impede importation of Chinese i-shits to Walmart and such.  Plus, we kind of owe China a lot of money.]

The petroleum penalties would only apply if the president, in six months, determines there is a sufficient alternative supply and if the country with jurisdiction over the financial institution has not significantly reduced its purchases of Iranian oil. It also allows the president to waive the penalties based on national security.

[I think I see where we are going here.  We need the Transcanada pipeline.  It’s a “national security issue”.  We need more drilling here.  We need to tear the Rocky Mountains out by the roots to get at whatever is under them.  Damn the Gulf of Mexico, full speed ahead.]

In a reflection of the uneasy relationship between the United States and Pakistan, the bill would freeze some $700 million in assistance until Pakistan comes up with a strategy to deal with improvised explosive devices.

[Ah, we decided to include Pakistan in this.  Good move, aces.  Let’s piss off our allies while we’re annoying everyone on the planet, just for the hell of it.  And Pakistan is already trying to deal with IED’s – they are trying to get us to remove the fucking CIA from their country.  It’s a good start on any number of issues.  We have some nerve doing this a few days after killing two dozen of their military, “by accident”, in a bombing of one of their military bases that lasted for over two hours.]

And now let’s do the same thing with another AP article from this morning.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Facing a weekend deadline to avoid a government shutdown, a combative Congress appears on track to advance a massive $1 trillion-plus year-end spending package that curbs agency budgets but drops many policy provisions sought by GOP conservatives.

Lawmakers reached a tentative agreement Monday on the measure. It chips away at the Pentagon budget, foreign aid and environmental spending but boosts funding for veterans programs and modernizing the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

[By all means, chip away at environmental spending.  Who needs the environment?  Not like it surrounds us or sustains us or anything.  And we sure need to modernize that nuclear arsenal, by golly.  Never know when you might want to use the largest nuclear arsenal in the world on someone.  So much for the intent of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.]

The measure generally pleases environmentalists, who succeeded in stopping industry forces from blocking new clean air rules and a new clean water regulation opposed by mountaintop removal mining interests. House Republicans appeared likely to win concessions that would roll back administration efforts to ease restrictions on Cuban immigrants on traveling to the island and sending cash back to family members there.

[Environmentalists, clearly, are way too easily placated.  Republicans still hate Cuba.]

On spending, the measure implements this summer’s hard-fought budget pact between President Barack Obama and Republican leaders. That deal essentially freezes agency budgets, on average, at levels for the recently completed budget year that were approved back in April.

[These budgets have been frozen or repeatedly lowered for the past three years.  But let’s take pains to avoid mentioning that.]

Drafted behind closed doors, the proposed bill would provide $115 billion for overseas security operations in Afghanistan and Iraq but give the Pentagon just a 1 percent boost in annual spending not directly related to the wars. The Environmental Protection Agency’s budget would be cut by 3.5 percent. Foreign aid spending would drop and House lawmakers would absorb a 6 percent cut to their office budgets…

[Oh, so the “chipping away at the Pentagon budget” really means they only get a 1% increase, but the EPA actually did get a cut.  Funny wording there.  I see how you did that.  Clever monkeys.]

A House vote is expected Thursday and the Senate is likely to follow in time to meet a midnight Friday deadline before a stopgap funding measure expires…

On spending, the measure generally consists of relatively small adjustments to thousands of individual programs. Agencies like the Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement will get a boost within the Homeland Security Department, while GOP defense hawks won additional funding to modernize the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal. The troubled, over-budget, next-generation F-35 fighter plane program would be largely protected.

Democrats won a modest increase in funding for schools with large numbers of disadvantaged students.

[Democrats are easily placated, too.]



Flying Monkeys

“It’s all fun and games until the flying monkeys show up.”

This is written on a t-shirt I gave one of my kids a few years ago.  Funny, eh?  Every year when I was a kid, we would watch “The Wizard of Oz” together.  It was one of those family tradition things that I continued with my own children later.  One part of the movie that bothered me – even when I was very young – was the scene where Dorothy kills the Wicked Witch.  After Dorothy melts her with water, one of the winged monkeys claps happily over the remains of the witch and the Captain of the Guard exclaims, “Hail Dorothy!  The Wicked Witch is dead!”  Now, wait a minute, I’d say.  If they all really hated the witch, why did they obey her?  Why did they pick on the kid and the nice guys the whole movie?  Why didn’t they figure out how to kill her?  Now I know.  They were mindlessly following orders to earn their pay.  They were mercenaries.

You have to wonder if Dorothy should have trusted them afterward.  How many amongst the monkey troops and armed guards were True Believers?  How many would simply look for another Wicked Witch to obey?  Well, it’s just a childrens’ story and I won’t carry on about the symbolism further, but bear it in mind.

Here in the US, as al Qaeda dwindles as a threat overseas (there are now supposedly two al Qaeda leaders left in Afghanistan), we are being warned about the threat of homegrown terrorists more often.  Congress thinks about it a lot.  They don’t worry so much about jobs or the economy, but they spend quite a large percentage of their time fretting over threats to the Homeland, looking for threats, making laws about threats and laws about potential threats.  They positively stew over it.  The CIA and FBI help Congress by stirring up fanatics in various places and enabling or creating terrorist threats all on their own; then “foiling” the plots and saving the day.  There is even some credible evidence that al Qaeda was an invention of the CIA.

We civilians, in the meantime, are being coached in how to watch each other.  We are taught by our leaders to blame each other for our problems.  Instead of allowing the banks that caused our economic downturn to fail, our “leaders” want us to blame each other.  It was poor people trying to buy houses, poor people wanting too much in the way of assistance, women seeking abortions, drug-users; it is all the fault of someone – not you – someone a little different than you.  Poorer, blacker, of a different religion, wearing a different sort of clothing, a dirty protester stirring up trouble, those lazy unemployed people.  Certainly not the banks or the people “in charge”.

At the beginning of the economic crisis in 2008, the derivatives market (toxic assets, credit default swaps, collateralized debt obligations) was roughly 200 trillion dollars.  Now, this is an impossible number, being that this value was based on less than 20 tt worth of real estate in the US.  Clearly, this is funny money – value based on nothing but bags of hot air.  Clearly, when the banks wanted Congress to bail them out (i.e., replace their bags of hot air with actual money), the answer should have been: hell, no.  Write your toxic assets down to their real value and if that means you go bankrupt, that is your problem.  You made all this shit up out of nothing, you bankers.  Instead the banks were given bailouts.  It turns out the Fed has given them over 16 tt bucks of our money.  The results of the Alan Grayson and Bernie Sanders audit of the Fed shows that “more than $16 trillion [was given to banks]. The four largest recipients, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch and Bank of America, received more than a trillion dollars each.”

That is what we did instead of allowing those banks to fail.  Now these banks want more – and are spreading out over the globe to collect all the assets and cash in the world.  Austerity for everyone.  Land, property, money for the banks.  Goldman, Sachs has its men now running Italy and Greece, placed into office without benefit of election, and imposing harsher austerity measures by the day.  With the help of NATO, Libya was turned over to an oilman.  In the US, governors and state legislators are cutting off funding for vital programs, slashing jobs, and selling infrastructure to private corporations while refusing to tax the wealthy or stop the fraudulent foreclosure of homes.  The derivatives market today is notionally valued at over 700 tt.  Now, just four banks hold 95.9% of U.S. derivatives, according to a recent report from the Office of the Currency Comptroller.  The four banks in question are JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America, and Goldman Sachs.  (As a comparison, the world’s gross domestic product [GDP] is only about $65 trillion.)

The banks want this hot air replaced with taxpayer cash and assets.  They are getting their way in every country.  They are getting away with the greatest heist in human history.  And we are being told that the problem is…us.

Monsanto is grabbing the rights to food production in every country.  Halliburton, Exxon, and other big oil/natural gas companies are strip-mining the entire world, poisoning our fresh water and our air, tearing up our land and rendering it useless and bereft of life.  They are spilling toxins in the oceans; amazingly, they are given even more drilling rights as a reward.  The Big Oil companies earned over $1 trillion in profits over the last decade.  Last quarter, ExxonMobil was the most profitable company in the history of money.  Bechtel and assorted corporations are buying up water rights all around the globe so that eventually most humans will have to buy their water from private concerns.  But we are being told the problem is…us.

Here is how we (the “us” we are supposed to blame and be alert for) are doing in America right now.  The median income for American workers in 2010 was $26,364.

“A new measurement of poverty by the Census Bureau, which takes regional cost of living, medical payments and other expenses that do not intrude on the official poverty count, found a third of Americans are either in poverty or desperately close to it.”  – Gary Younge []

Headstart has to compete with private schools for funds. []

Public school teachers are being laid off.  Class sizes are increasing.  One city after another is bringing in “city managers” who end public education, replacing it with charter or voucher systems.

WIC and heating assistance programs are being starved of funds.  Congress may let the unemployment insurance benefits lapse at the end of this month.  45 million Americans need food stamps to feed themselves – and the food stamp program keeps having its benefits reduced by Congress.  Almost 50 million people have no health insurance.  The unemployment rate is officially 8.9 – this will vary depending on the day of the week and the methods used to count the unemployed – but the actual rate of under- and unemployed is hovering at 20%.  There are 5 applicants for every job.

Both parties have plans in the works to end Social Security and Medicare.

What is Congress doing about all this?  They know this will end badly, that austerity measures will hit in ever harder punches in the coming year as they prop up the banks (their never-ending source of bribe revenue) and continue refusing to re-regulate them.  They know this will lead to more and more civil unrest.  So they are focusing like lasers on “terrorism in the Homeland and abroad” and getting us to despise each other.  They spend time calling Iran a “money-laundering scheme” and writing up sanctions.  (This serves multiple purposes: it gives us someone to focus our hatred on aside from the real criminals, creates a threat, makes legislation about the threat, and guarantees a continuing threat.  Awesome stuff.)  They write legislation to detain indefinitely “suspect” Americans.   If you think Obama will veto the latest legislation on the National Defense Authorization Act, you would be wrong.  Short clip from CSPAN explaining this (h/t Terry5135):

They allow the Pentagon to arm our local police forces with surplus military machinery, doing an end run around the Posse Comitatus Act. The 2011 Dept. of Defense (Pentagon) gave over 500 mm worth of surplus military machinery to local police departments.  Joint Terrorism Task Forces have been set up to mingle the FBI, the CIA, the military, and local police departments.  Local police officers have been sent to Israel to train in anti-terrorism tactics.  Here is Max Blumenthal of the Nation Institute laying it out in an 8 minute RT interview:

They spend time trying to figure out how to take more property from us and give it to the military or to private companies.  See my earlier post,

And the Obama White House is very worried about all the potential threats out there, too.  The administration just released its Strategic Implementation Plan.

WASHINGTON — The White House on Thursday laid out a plan to implement a government strategy to combat homegrown domestic terrorism and any attempts by Al-Qaeda to seek to radicalize American Muslims…
“Protecting our nation’s communities from violent extremist recruitment and radicalization is a top national security priority,” said the document, known as the Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP)…
The strategy was released a day after US officials warned that the US military was under threat as homegrown Islamic extremists, including “radicalized troops,” pose a risk to military installations…
The plan is a spin-off of a new National Counterterrorism Strategy released in June which warned the government must be vigilant for new efforts by Al-Qaeda to infiltrate US communities and inspire homegrown terrorism…
The document also calls for new efforts to analyze the impact of the Internet and social networks on radicalizing Americans from outside the country…
“Because of the importance of the digital environment, we will develop a separate, more comprehensive strategy for countering and preventing violent extremist online radicalization.”


…Initial reaction came from the co-chairs of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Independent Democrat Joseph Lieberman and Republican Susan Collins.
In a statement, they said the plan takes positive steps, but that “much more needs to be done and at a far faster pace, given the threat.”

The Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP) is available here in html form:

I read the full 20-page report.  (You are welcome.)  One of the opening lines reads, “The Obama Administration continues to prioritize and stress the critical importance of CVE [CVE = Countering Violent Extremism] in the Homeland.”  May I once again say how creepy I find the use of the word “Homeland”?

Does the Obama Administration really think we are likely to see a return to economic good times?  Well, no.  The SIP mentions that “While preventing violent extremism is an issue of national importance, it is one of many safety and security challenges facing our Nation. As we enter an era of increased fiscal constraints, we must ensure our approach is tailored to take advantage of current programs and leverages existing resources.”

The SIP reveals an inordinate, in my opinion, fear of the internet and repeatedly includes reminders to itself to work within the framework of the right to free speech amendments.  A secondary report specifically detailing what to do about the dreaded internet will be forthcoming at some future date.  By that time, Congress will no doubt have done away with the pesky free speech issues.  It also shows an extreme level of concentration on potential terrorists in the prison system.  That’s not surprising, given the likely increase in prison populations once any American citizen can be detained indefinitely without charges.

From the SIP, departments within the government involved in the Plan:

“The following departments and agencies were involved in the deliberations and approval process: the Departments of State (State), the Treasury, Defense (DOD), Justice (DOJ), Commerce, Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), Education (EDU), Veterans Affairs, and Homeland Security (DHS), as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC).”

Now that is a lot of agencies.  I wonder what the Treasury, Health and Human Services, Labor, Education, and Commerce departments have to do with terrorism.

Page 4 outlines a “whole government” approach (bolding mine):

1. Whole-of-Government Coordination
Leveraging the wide range of tools, capabilities, and resources of the United States Government in a coordinated manner is essential for success. Traditional national security or law enforcement agencies such as DHS, DOJ, and the FBI will execute many of the programs and activities outlined in the SIP. However, as the National Strategy for Empowering Local Partners states, we must also use a broader set of good governance programs, “including those that promote immigrant integration and civic engagement, protect civil rights, and provide social services, which may also help prevent radicalization that leads to violence.”To this end, agencies such as EDU and HHS, which have substantial expertise in engaging communities and delivering services, also play a role. This does not mean the missions and priorities of these partners will change or that their efforts will become narrowly focused on national security. Their inclusion stems from our recognition that radicalization to violence depends on a variety of factors, which in some instances may be most effectively addressed by departments and agencies that historically have not been responsible for national security or law enforcement. These non-security partners, including specific components within DOJ and DHS, have an array of tools that can contribute to this effort by providing indirect but meaningful impact on CVE, including after school programs, networks of community-based organizations that provide assistance to new immigrants, and violence prevention programs. We will coordinate activities, where appropriate, to support the CVE effort while ensuring we do not change the core missions and functions of these departments and agencies.

So our department of education, responsible for the teaching of our children, and the department of human services, which works on welfare, housing and social needs, will now spend some of their time and resources looking for terrorists and teaching our communities how to spot and report on the same.  Get the kiddies scared shitless while they are young.  And watch out for those food stamp people.

While we are all busy looking for terrorists amongst our numbers, we are ignoring the flying monkeys swooping down and carrying some of us off.  The problem is not us.  The problem is the wicked witch and the armies of mindless flying monkeys who service her.  Focus, people – look up.  It’s all fun and games until the flying monkeys show up.  And they are here now.



I have a busy day ahead and didn’t plan to write today, but this is just too funny to pass up.  It so happens that Hillary we-came-we-saw-he-died Clinton would like to reach out to Iranian citizens via the Internet.  Since the State Dept., our arm of diplomacy to the world, does not actually have diplomatic relations with Iran (and hasn’t since 1979), we would like to have virtual diplomatic relations with them.

WASHINGTON — The United States on Tuesday opened a virtual online embassy to reach out to Iranians despite the absence of official ties, vowing to break through the Islamic regime’s “electronic curtain.”
Iranian authorities have already voiced anger over the virtual embassy, accusing the United States of seeking to interfere in the country after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced plans for the project in October.
The virtual embassy, which went online Tuesday at, offers US policy statements in English and Farsi, information on US visas, news from US-funded Voice of America and links to share views via social media.
In a welcome message on the website, Clinton voiced hope that the platform would provide a way for Americans and Iranians to communicate “openly and without fear.”
“Because the United States and Iran do not have diplomatic relations, we have missed some important opportunities for dialogue with you, the citizens of Iran,” she said in a video message.
“But today, we can use new technologies to bridge that gap and promote greater understanding between our two countries, and the peoples of each country, which is why we established this virtual embassy,” she said.
US officials invested in the website in hopes that it could withstand a cyber-attack, or at least be quickly put back online if it is taken down.
State Department number three Wendy Sherman, introducing the website at a Washington news conference, said that the United States was seeking dialogue with ordinary Iranians despite “very strong differences” with the government…
The virtual embassy will allow Iranians to download applications to start applications for visas to the United States. But Iranians will still need to go overseas, typically to Turkey or the United Arab Emirates, to obtain visas.

Now why any Iranian would want to emigrate to the US is question to ponder.  They are no doubt aware that the US tends to regard Muslims and Middle-Easterners in general as “suspects” in the “War on Terror”.  Quite simply, we do not treat our Muslim citizens very well.  Do we suppose that the Iranian people are as ignorant as people here in the US?  Their literacy rate, according to the UN, is 82.3.  (As a comparison, Libya’s literacy rate is 86.8.)  Ours is listed by the CIA’s global information web site as 99%, but note must be taken that the CIA’s official literacy rate is considered questionable, as it uses poor methodology of data collection based solely on how Americans filled out census forms.  In fact, in 2003, the US Dept of Ed found that 1 in 7 Americans were functionally illiterate. [This would mean our literacy rate is 85.71, per the Dept. of Ed.]

“According to the literacy fast facts from the National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL), literacy is defined as ‘using printed and written information to function in society, to achieve one’s goals, and to develop one’s knowledge and potential.’
” ‘One measure of literacy is the percentage of adults who perform at four achievement levels: Below Basic, Basic, Intermediate, and Proficient. In each type of literacy, 13 percent of adults were at or above Proficient (indicating they possess the skills necessary to perform complex and challenging literacy activities) in 2003. Twenty-two percent of adults were Below Basic (indicating they possess no more than the most simple and concrete literacy skills).’ ” -NAAL  [This takes us down to a 78% literacy rate, per the NAAL.]

“Women make up more than 60 percent of Iranian university students with some fields in science and engineering having more than 70 percent of their alumni be women. The opportunities for women education and their involvement in higher education has grown exponentially after the Iranian Revolution.  According to UNESCO world survey, Iran has the highest female to male ratio at primary level of enrollment in the world among sovereign nations, with a girl to boy ratio of 1.22 : 1.00.”  – wikipedia

Okay, they aren’t illiterate, not even their women, much as we enjoy the mantra that all Middle-Eastern countries suppress their distaff sides.  It’s also unlikely that the Iranian citizens are unaware that the US and Israel infected Iran’s scientific computers with the stuxnet virus last year; do we really suppose that they are going to get all interactive with a website that links them to a US computer system on purpose?

President Obama considers sanctions our first “diplomatic maneuver” with Iran in over three decades.  I suspect the average Iranian is aware of this as well, and once the financial impact is felt throughout the country, the likelihood of any Persians wanting to personally “diplomatize” with the US will drop to about zero.  (Assuming it ever attracts one Iranian citizen in the first place.)  Since our Congress just officially referred to Iran as a “money-laundering scheme”, the CIA admits to ever increasing numbers of covert agents in Iran, and we were just caught sending a drone into their sovereign airspace, I don’t think any Iranians would be much interested in having some of this personal attention from the US government.

Particularly since this invitation for personal diplomatic dialogue is issued by Hillary, who has been for years making public statements about bombing, invading, or otherwise taking down Iran.  Talk about the Wicked Queen offering Snow White a bite of the apple.  “No, no, really.  I did not put poison in this fruit.  Really.  Have a bite.  Trust me, my pretty.”  (Cackle, cackle.)

And as a postscript to this stupidity, just because this is how we roll now, Congress is currently considering a bill that would make diplomacy with Iran illegal.  It’s called the Iran Threat Reduction Act of 2011 (HR 1905).  See:

Guess someone forgot to tell Hillary before she got all enthusiastic and shit about baiting the trap.


Update, Friday 9 Dec.

This story just keeps on giving.

“The White House on Wednesday condemned Iran for blocking a ‘virtual embassy’ website the U.S. State Department launched to reach out to people in the Islamic Republic.
” ‘Through this action, the Iranian government has once again demonstrated its commitment to build an electronic curtain of surveillance and censorship around its people,’ the White House said in a statement.”

Guess Congress also forgot to tell the White House that they want to make diplomacy with Iran illegal.

We condemn them because they didn’t trust an American website after we stuffed their scientific computers with a virus.  We condemn them because they somehow don’t quite trust Hillary we-can-take-out-Iran-in-a-second Clinton.  We condemn them because after we took down their government in 1979 and refused to have diplomatic relations with them ever since, they aren’t somehow grateful that we are trying to implement a “Diplomacy in a Box” easy-bake by-pass.  We condemn them because they surveil their internet users.

Uh, FISA Act, anyone?  Unified terrorism task forces spying on American citizens deemed “homeland threats” because they belong to anti-death penalty groups or Amnesty International?  Indefinite detention of American citizens?  President “I can assassinate Americans at my whim” Obama?  We condemn them?

It is to retch.


Posted by on December 7, 2011 in Iran, State Dept/diplomacy


A footnote on Libya.

The collection of simple-minded fools and money-grubbing miscreants in both houses of our Congress decided it wasn’t worth the time to vote on whether or not the US should participate in the destruction of Libya.  Just one more undeclared war, just one more sovereign nation razed, one more regime change, just several tens of thousands of civilians murdered somewhere.  They just shrugged and said, “Whatever.”

And yet, and yet…

In January of this year, the UN released its Human Rights Report.  [January 4, 2011 report of the 16th Session of the United Nations General Assembly Human Rights Council, Universal Periodic Review:…-HRC-16-15.pdf%5D   In it, they praised Ghaddafi and announced that they were preparing to bestow an award on Colonel Muammar Ghaddafi, and the Libyan Jamahiriya, for its achievements in the area of human rights, after carefully studying Libya and Libyan society.  This award was to be presented at the end of March.  When March came around, the NATO countries, led by the US, decided instead to destroy as much as possible in Libya.

Here is a list of countries that praised Colonel Ghaddafi and the Libyan Jamahiriya (state of the masses), in support of the General Assembly Human Rights Council’s decision to bestow this award upon Ghaddafi:

Denmark, China, Italy, The Netherlands, Mauritania, Slovenia, Nicaragua, The Russian Federation, Spain, Indonesia, Sweden, Norway, Ecuador, Hungary, South Africa, The Philippines, Maldives, Chile, Singapore, Germany, Australia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Angola, Nigeria, Congo, Burundi, Zambia, Rwanda, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Zimbabwe.

One might marvel at the fact that some of these very same countries decided three months later to destroy Libya and help assassinate Ghaddafi, but this is a marvelous (to be marveled at, indeed) time in history.

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Posted by on December 5, 2011 in Libya


Masters of War.

One of those songs everyone needs to hear – frequently, is my suggestion.

For my dear camaros, my mijos and brothers.

Bob Dylan’s “The Masters of War”, 1963.

Come you masters of war
You that build the big guns
You that build the death planes
You that build all the bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks.

You that never done nothin’
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it’s your little toy
You put a gun in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
And you turn and run farther
When the fast bullets fly.

Like Judas of old
You lie and deceive
A world war can be won
You want me to believe
But I see through your eyes
And I see through your brain
Like I see through the water
That runs down my drain.

You fasten all the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you set back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion’
As young people’s blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud.

You’ve thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children
Into the world
For threatening my baby
Unborn and unnamed
You ain’t worth the blood
That runs in your veins.

How much do I know
To talk out of turn
You might say that I’m young
You might say I’m unlearned
But there’s one thing I know
Though I’m younger than you
That even Jesus would never
Forgive what you do.

Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul.

And I hope that you die
And your death’ll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I’ll watch while you’re lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I’ll stand over your grave
‘Til I’m sure that you’re dead.

And here is Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam) doing the same song; Vedder is superb with this one.  This is one of the few times I like a cover better than the original.

And while we are at it, one from Janice Joplin:
“Me and Bobby McGee”.

“…Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose,
Nothing don’t mean nothing honey if it ain’t free, now now…”

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Posted by on December 3, 2011 in MIC, Uncategorized


Diplomacy and other strong-arm tactics.

What passes for “diplomacy” in this new world we are creating is a strange and cruel misuse of the word.  This shift away from the dictionary definition began some time ago; now it is difficult to determine what would not be accepted as “diplomacy”.   Our State Department intends to use over 16,000 “contractors” in Iraq as the military pulls out.  Is it odd to anyone that our diplomats are hiring mercenaries?

It was fifteen years ago that the words of the former Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, went largely unremarked by the mainstream press after this 60 Minutes interview with her.

Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it. –60 Minutes (5/12/96)

Then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s quote, calmly asserting that U.S. policy objectives were worth the sacrifice of half a million Arab children, has been much quoted in the Arabic press. It’s also been cited in the United States in alternative commentary on the September 11 attacks (e.g., Alexander Cockburn, New York Press, 9/26/01).

But a Dow Jones search of mainstream news sources since September 11 turns up only one reference to the quote–in an op-ed in the Orange Country Register (9/16/01). This omission is striking, given the major role that Iraq sanctions play in the ideology of archenemy Osama bin Laden; his recruitment video features pictures of Iraqi babies wasting away from malnutrition and lack of medicine (New York Daily News, 9/28/01).

Obama likes this sort of diplomacy.  It’s right up his alley.  Obama, on the latest sanctions imposed on Iran for its alleged attempts to build nuclear weapons:  “The sanctions have enormous bite and enormous scope, and we’re building off the platform that has already been established. The question is, are there additional measures that we can take? And we’re going to explore every avenue to see if we can solve this issue diplomatically. I have said repeatedly, and I will say today, we are not taking any options off the table.”

We are so insane that we are sanctioning (diplomatizing, I guess we could call it) Iran until they stop doing what they are not doing.  [For the truth about the “plans” Iran has to build nukes, see this article:]

What?  Sanctions are “diplomacy”?  Diplomacy is talking to people, having a tete-a-tete, going back and forth, you give some, I give some, we talk politely and reason with one another.  But in this crazy backassward world, sanctions that will cripple a country, have an extremely deleterious affect on the civilians of that country – those are our first diplomatic moves?  And what else might we consider “diplomacy”?  Breaking their collective legs?  Leaving a horse’s head in the beds of all the higher-ups in Iran’s government?  Assassinating Ahmadinejad?  (“Even our Diplomatic Sniper has had no effect on the intransigent Iranians.”)

Why do I even ask?  For Iraq, in our second (or continuing, depending on how you look at it) war against them, in 2003, our “diplomacy” was telling them we were going to bomb the fuck out of their country right before we did it.

The National Defense Authorization Act (S 1867) – yes, the one that seems to authorize the indefinite detention of American citizens – had an amendment added to it by Senator Levin, called Amendment 1414.  The title of this amendment is “The Imposition of Sanctions with Respect to the Financial Sector of Iran, Including the Central Bank of Iran”.  This amendment finds that the Secretary of Treasury (Timmeh) has “identified Iran as a jurisdiction of primary money laundering concern.”  Swear to God, that is the exact wording of the amendment.  It finds that “Treasury is calling out the entire Iranian banking sector, including the Central Bank of Iran, as posing terrorist financing, proliferation financing, and money laundering risks for the global financial system.”  (Sounds a bit like what the Fed, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, and those guys are doing, eh?)  The amendment freezes assets, property, and transactions of Iranian financial institutions that come in contact with the US.  It occurred to someone that we buy a lot (like, a LOT) of oil from Iran and that refusing to touch the stuff just because it came from Iran might be problematic, so the amendment asks for a report within 60 days and every 60 days thereafter on the availability and price of petroleum produced in countries other than Iran.  Guess if crude gets too expensive elsewhere, we’ll amend the amendment so that we sanction everything but oil.  On Dec. 1, this amendment was agreed to in the Senate by a yea-nay vote of 100-0.  All our senators are diplomatizing now.  We will keep this up until Iran stops doing what they are not doing.

I guess the audacity of Iran trading their oil on their oil market, the bourse, using currency other than the US dollar, makes them “money launderers” and “financial terrorists”.   [See my post, “Live Free and/or Die”, of 13 Oct. for details on the Tehran oil bourse.]

Our current Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton – the topdog “diplomat” who sets the tone for our entire State Department and leads our “diplomatic outreach” to all other nations – is so demented as to actually laugh after we illegally, and with extreme prejudice, forced the change in government in a sovereign nation and instigated the murder of its leader.  I speak, of course, of Libya and Ghaddafi.  I know I have posted this short video clip before, but it is astounding to me that this moment was so completely overlooked by the media and that Clinton’s reaction upon learning of Ghaddafi’s death was not cause for her immediate dismissal.  “We came, we saw, he died,” was her remark before she turned away from the camera, cackling like one of the mad witches in Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”.  It must be seen to be believed.

I am not sure who is teaching whom in diplomatic circles – us teaching Israel or the other way around – but Israel has recently decided to join us in punishing other countries beyond all reason for imagined slights.  Palestine had the temerity to ask the UN if it could be recognized as a country; as a start, they asked for and received membership in UNESCO.  We reacted by punishing the entire set of UNESCO member countries by stopping all US funding promised to UNESCO.

Palestine became a full member of UNESCO overnight in a historic vote that could cost the agency a fifth of its budget and that the US and other opponents say could harm renewed Mideast peace efforts.

The decision is a grand symbolic victory for the Palestinians, but it alone won’t make Palestine into a state…

Meanwhile, the US government cut off tens of millions of dollars in annual funding to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) after it voted to admit Palestine as a full member.

Victoria Nuland, US state department spokeswoman, said payments to the Paris-based organisation would be stopped immediately. She said Washington would refrain from making a $60m payment it planned to deliver in November…

In an address to Parliament, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu harshly criticised the Palestinian move and warned his government would “not sit quietly”. [Note: as we shall see, they did not.]…

Huge cheers went up in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization after delegates approved the membership in a vote of 107-14 with 52 abstentions…

Even if the vote’s impact isn’t felt right away in the Mideast, it will be quickly felt at UNESCO, which protects historic heritage sites and works to improve world literacy, access to schooling for girls and cultural understanding, but it also has in the past been a forum for anti-Israel sentiment.

Existing US law can bar Washington from funding any UN body that accepts members that do not have the “internationally recognized attributes of statehood.” That requirement is generally interpreted to mean UN membership. But it remains unclear whether the US State Department will try to find legal wiggle room.

UNESCO depends heavily on US funding. Washington provides 22 per cent of its budget …UNESCO, like other UN agencies, is a part of the world body but has separate membership procedures and can make its own decisions about which countries belong. Full UN membership is not required for membership in many of the UN agencies…

Not to be outdone, Israel immediately reneged on its monthly payments to Palestine.  These payments are tax monies collected by Israel on behalf of Palestine; in other words, this money is not a gift, it is simply collected by Israel, but actually belongs to Palestine.  What strange mindset finds this acceptable?  Israel obviously thought this would be greeted with a wink and a nod, especially after seeing how we went after the UNESCO countries collectively.

Israeli Cabinet ministers have decided to keep withholding around $100m in monthly tax revenues owed to the Palestinian Authority, in what is being seen as retaliation for its bid for membership to the United Nations.

The revenues, used to pay tens of thousands of Palestinian salaries, have been withheld since the Palestinian Authority was granted full membership of heritage body Unesco on 3 November. Israel has also suspended funding for Unesco itself.

Ministers decided on Monday they would continue to withhold the funds, against the clear advice of the Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak…

The monthly payments from Israel are mainly customs and income taxes collected on their behalf under an interim arrangement.

The payments are needed by the Palestinian Authority to pay employees, including security forces, and there have been warnings from the defence ministry that the whole stability of the Palestinian government in the West Bank could be put in peril.

It turns out this was a bit too blatant even for the US and the UK to accept and pressure has been put on Israel to release the money it owes to Palestine.

Israel announced Wednesday [30 Nov.] that it would release tens of millions of dollars of tax funds owed to the Palestinians, ending a standoff that the Palestinians say has caused grave damage to their fragile economy.

The move followed heavy pressure from the United States, United Nations and Europe on Israel to free the money. Israel collects the tax funds for the Palestinians and transfers the money each month, in accordance with partial peace agreements from the 1990s…

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said he decided to release the money because the Palestinians appear to have suspended their “unilateral moves.” It said the decision would be “reassessed” if the Palestinians resume these steps…

Note, however, that Netanyahu warns that he might stop the monthly transfers again if the Palestinians continue to seek UN recognition as a state.  This apparently is how “diplomacy” is done now.