Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Neil Young Is the Real Deal

With hits going all the way back to the sixties band Buffalo Springfield, with anthems like Rockin' in the Free World, with a declaration of integrity like This Note's For You, Neil Young has been there and done that. With songs like Southern Man and Ohio, he has more than proven himself to be a politically aware voice for change. The album Living With War is one of the most significant acts of protest for decades, and the tour with Crosby Stills and Nash was the biggest musical event of the year. I love the man, I love his music, I love the fact that he has never sold out or failed to give his all in forty years in the music business.

Why am I posting this now? No reason, it's just been a while since we put up a music vid, and I have always loved this song. Happy Halloween.

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Monday, October 30, 2006

Taking Care of Business

Four States Want Expanded Corporate Power
This Piece from Huffington Post is an indication of the dark days to come if the already insanely powerful corporate community gets even more powerful. In California it is Proposition 90. In Washington it is Initiative 933. In Idaho it is Proposition 2. In Arizona it is Proposition 207. The legal authority contained in these ballot measures is so extreme it can hardly even be accurately described. It seems the corporate community wants the authority to equate potential profits with actual money in the bank. The message sent is, 'screw you America - show us the money.'
"There is a law on the ballot in four states that says if I want to open a hog farm or a chemical plant next door to your house and you don't want me to do that, then YOU have to pay ME not to -- you have to pay me all the money I MIGHT have made..
..if you want to stop a corporation from dumping toxic waste into the river from which you get your drinking water, or stop them from venting dangerous chemicals into the air, then YOU have to PAY that company not to..
..The far right says that a government stopping a company from dumping waste into a river is 'taking money' from that company."
This whole thing reminds me of a recent 'Broken Government' piece on CNN, where I heard that Washington has over 30,000 registered lobbyists, or about 60 for every Senator and Congressman. They spend billions of dollars a year trying to make sure that democracy doesn't work for people, it only works for big business. As your rights and freedoms are eroded on a daily basis, corporate rights are being increased dramatically. Some pigs walk on two legs.

It also reminds me of this piece from yesterday's New York Times. It's about Bob Richardson, a 58 year old Texan who catches feral hogs (with his bare hands, no less) and sells them live to organic restaurants in Europe. Sounds like a heck of a way to make a living. He makes just under $30,000 a year doing this. It sounds like a backbreaking lifestyle.

So I came up with this idea. Somebody should hire Bob to go to Washington D.C., and start rounding up these lobbyists and hogtie them, throw them in the back of his Toyota pickup truck, and we'll pay him a handsome bounty on them. With the reduction in porkbarrel spending by government that would result, I'm sure it would be well worth it. We discretely won't ask what happens to them, just so long as they never return to Washington or any state capitol to carry out their nefarious 'profession.'

Update: (1:45 am, Nov1) This links to an article about how business is lobbying for reduction of regulations of accounting procedures in the wake of the Enron and Worldcom scandals;
NY Times: Businesses Seek Protection on Legal Front

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Tortured Logic

The Dubious 'Logic' of Torture
No-brainer #1: The Vice President has no brains.
No-brainer #2: The Vice President is evil.
No-brainer #3: Calling it 'dunking' doesn't change the nature of the act.
No-brainer #4: "Torturing someone is evil. It's not just a war crime. It's the definition of evil." - Jonathan Turley

"The Military Commissions Act, which as we have discussed here not only killed habeas corpus but essentially gave the President the authority to decide what constitutes torture...but did the Vice President manage to illustrate something even bigger than this, this attitude behind that legislation; as in, 'We're going to do whatever we want, and we're going to call it whatever we need to call it.' "
"That's right, and you know the terms keep on getting more innocent, as if you know waterboarding was something you could take the children to...There is a continual effort of this administration to change verbiage to avoid directly dealing with the fact that we have embraced torture as a practice in one of the most despicable changes in this country's history in values."
In the most grotesque instance of irony possible, it is the 'values voters' who on November the seventh will most likely embrace torture as a practice, and vote to re-elect the party that has condoned this despicable change in the nature of the United States of America.

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(Also Posted At Ice Station Tango)

Friday, October 27, 2006

A Tale of Bad Pumpkins

Or, Something's Rotten in the Pumpkin Patch

Once upon a time, there was a pumpkin patch. The pumpkins were foolish, and allowed a very bad ruler to come to power:

Pumpkin Ruler

The Pumpkin Ruler was self-indulgent, crude, and not very bright:

Pumpkin Butt

He kept company with some other nasty pumpkins:

Pumpkin GOP Congress

Together, they did some very bad things:

Pumpkin Torture

The other pumkins weren't too worried, though, because they were satisifed being consumers:

Pumpkin Satisfied Consumers

One day, however, the pumpkins learned that one of the Pumpkin Ruler's friends was not very nice to the little pumpkins:

Pumpkin Foley

This made the other pumpkins feel bad:

Pumpkin Disgust with GOP

Then, they learned that it was not an isolated event:

Pumpmkin GOP with Pages

The Pumpkin Ruler started to give the other pumpkins a very bad feeling inside. They finally realized that they needed to purge themselves of the Pumpkin Ruler:

Pumpkins Removing Ruler from Patch

So they rid themselves of the Rotten Pumpkin, and there was Peace in the pumpkin patch.

A Tale from the Unruly Mob at Les Enragés.

(Also posted at Ice Station Tango)

Chick Ads Rejected by Networks

A couple of months ago Jump to the Left blogged about a pre-release screening of The Dixie Chicks' movie Shut Up And Sing. This documentary tells the tale of their treatment by the mainstream media following Natalie Maines' criticism of George W. Bush. I don't think it unfair to say that said treatment recalls the red-baiting tactics of Senator Joseph McCarthy. As Jump noted, the Chicks were essentially blacklisted, with radio stations across the country refusing to play their records in spite of positive reviews.

Well, the documentary has been released now, but not without further problems. As Glenn Greenwald reports, both NBC and the newly created CW network refuse to air advertisements for the movie. Harvey Weinstein's company produced the documentary. He perfectly described the situation with this statement, "it’s a sad commentary about the level of fear in our society that a movie about a group of courageous entertainers who were blacklisted for exercising their right of free speech is now itself being blacklisted by corporate America."
It is an essential element of the conservative message that too much government power represents a threat to liberty. How is it that corporate power, collectively much greater than government power, is not seen to be even more threatening? Greenwald compares this incident with similar decisions made by the networks in the past, among these CBS's rejection of an ad by the liberal United Church of Christ. "During that incident, CBS all but acknowledged that its decision was based upon the White House's potential disagreement with the ad's message."
"Once corporate-owned networks start selecting which politically-tinged ads are 'too controversial' and which ones are not, it is inevitable that messages which please the political leadership which regulates those corporations will be allowed, while messages that displease those political leaders will be rejected. That is plainly what is happening..
..The very idea that it is in the 'public interest' to prohibit ads that criticize the Leader is ludicrous on its face. The President is constantly given free airtime to argue his views and propandize on virtually every issue, and the networks endlessly offer forums for his followers and surrogates to defend him. And the networks' argument is particularly absurd now, given that networks are awash with cash from offensive, obnoxious, and repugnant political ads of every kind."
Glenn has once again shown incisive clarity in his presentation of this issue, showing how the supposedly liberal bias of the media is anything but. I usually avoid any links promoting commercial projects, but if you would like to see a trailer of the movie, go to The Weinstein Company's website. Or you can find Dixie Chicks' CDs and videos at Amazon.com.

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Another Threat to Freedom

We're getting inured these days to a steady streams of overt threats to freedom and democracy. These range from the NSA domestic surveillance program through electronic voter fraud all the way to the odious Military Commissions Act. Call me a pessimist, but I think that the political and doctrinal subversion of the military is a much more disturbing and frightening trend. In a democracy it is essential that the armed forces be non-partisan, and reflect the values of the general population. That's why this piece in Wonkette is cause for the greatest concern. As the screenshot above shows, the left leaning Wonkette weblog is blocked by the military ISP serving marines in Iraq, while right-tard sites like Michelle Malkin and Hugh Hewitt are allowed a pass.

It would make it all too easy for a police state to emerge if the folks with the guns start thinking in 'us' versus 'them' terms. Which is frightening if the 'them' they're thinking about is us.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Words fail us...

…just like our government.

If I was in the mood for poetical allusions, I’d say that the bigger blogs were too stunned for words and that that’s why they have yet to report on this (Blogger being down for the third day in a row isn’t helping, either).

But I’m not in the mood for poetry, nor making funny because this definitely is not funny. I’m accustomed to thinking that snark and a shitty attitude will always save the day and can overcome any adversity. But this isn’t a damned bit funny.

And it comes at a really shitty time, the same day that Rumsfeld had his Three Mile Island, Jack Lemmon China Syndrome meltdown at his press conference and just twelve days before the mid-term elections. And just 48 hours after Dick Cheney openly snarled that, yes, waterboarding did happen and that it’s good for you, good for me, good for America. After all, it’s all double-legal, now, right?

But is the rape of children?

The pictures will finally be out. They’re coming out and if this doesn’t get us the majority in both chambers of Congress plus the keys to Washington, DC and for Bill Clinton to get exclusive, North American rights to fuck the Bush twins in the Lincoln bedroom, nothing will.

And we have to look at them. We must look at them just as surely as we must look at that hideous accident on the freeway, the one that you know no one could’ve survived and that state troopers, with monstrous irony, make you agonizingly crawl past. We have to look because, in a way, it’s our duty. It’s our grim duty as Americans to know what is being done with our tax dollars, in our once-good name. It’s our duty to swallow the red pill and not the blue one.

Federal judge Alvin K. Hellerstein, three days ago, ordered the release of the photographs proving that rape, including the rape of children, was happening on our watch at the now-infamous Abu Ghraib prison.

Only a handful of the pictures will be released out of the thousands turned over to the authorities (the ones on Weazl's site, it turns out, were first posted back in 2004. But they at least serve to prepare you for what is to come) and this is out of the same batch that started the torture scandal. So the next time you say grace at the dinner table, include a thanks to Specialist Joseph Darby, the guy who basically fucked up the rest of his life for doing the right thing and being the whistleblower that is created in times such as this.

What I’d like to know is, why did it take us this long to find this out and why hasn’t anyone else in the blogosphere reported on it, yet? Why is Curt Weldon and even the rapidly cooling Mark Foley scandal still bigger than this? Torturing adults is bad enough but you’d think that the rape of children would be the makings for an even bigger scandal. I don’t know, I guess it’s where you’re raised.

I would think, though, that this isn’t the kind of story, in both size and significance, that wouldn’t ordinarily fall through the cracks. After all, the White House thought enough about these photos and videos to use every slimy legal maneuver they could think of to keep these pictures under wraps until at least the mid term elections.

Well, darn it, the Republicans were just twelve days from losing their majority in Congress with at least a shred of dignity, wherever they could’ve found it. But this… Well, dignity’s a wistful memory at this point.

These photographs, to our fine party of personal responsibility, this family values administration, were really nothing more than a political liability, an embarrassment to be kept under brown paper like those incriminating girlie mags that Dad used to stuff in his closet but not well enough from Junior.

An embarrassment and a political liability and nothing more.

The rapes may or may not have happened with George W. Bush’s knowledge but the existence of these photos and news of the rape and torture of kids who’d be in middle school were they fortunate enough to live here, was well within his store of knowledge. And he willingly suppressed these pictures. With the aid of his Vice President and Secretary of Defense.

And in the year or so that they’ve been vainly trying to sit on top of this heaving mass of screaming inhumanity at least until November 8th, from George Bush to Joe Lieberman, they’ve been standing up on their hind legs like the weasels that they are and kept telling us how fantastic things are going there, that we’re making a real difference, they were making friends with the Iraqis like five year-olds the first day of kindergarten, that the liberation is at hand, comrades…

…all the while knowing what happened on their watch under the seemingly passive eye of Americans who were allowed to take photographs of this most obscene of obscenities.

Nothing to see here, my fellow Americans. No bad news to report. You wouldn’t want to be unpatriotic now, would you? Now, by the attrition invested in me by the United States of America and God Almighty, I now pronounce us Democracy and Democracy. You may now kiss the bride before you fuck her up the ass.

Because the dissemination of these images would hinder our valiant and noble war on terror, now wouldn’t it? And it would make Gen. Abizaid’s job that much harder, now wouldn’t it? In fact, let’s revisit the good general’s words on the subject: “"When we continue to pick at the wound and show the pictures over and over again it just creates the image--a false image--like this is the sort of stuff that is happening anew, and it's not.”

In other words, let’s just move on past this old unpleasantness and pretend that it never happened on George Bush’s and his watch.

Now, to a mind polished as round and smooth as a PBA bowling ball by relentless spin and oleaginous assurances, this would sound reasonable. After all, a study conducted soon after 9/11 proved that the networks' incessant replaying of the planes flying into the WTC traumatized children because they thought they were seeing America attacked over and over again.

But we're not children, General. You're thinking of the people that were being raped.

The only possible upside would be in finding out that no Americans were involved in the actual rapes. But we likely took the pictures, since one of our own had access to thousands of them, which makes us no better than accomplices.

But after Graner, England and company, anything’s possible.

Trouble is, if we were actually winning the fucking war on terror, the administration would have one sinew of credibility and justification for suppressing these photos. But we’re not. All 16 of our intelligence agencies all but came out in force and said so. Iraq is dissolving into a soup of blood, Willie Pete and soft, soft money doled out on demand to the Parsons Group, Halliburton and KBR, literally, by the palette.

The raping of these children and adults by savages who are, in that respect, more despicable than the terrorists whom we’ve sworn to kill and otherwise indistinguishable, these savages that we call Ally, this most abominable breaking of the most basic trust, the trust between child and adult, is what our fine souls in the administration would call “collateral damage.”

And who gives a shit if they’re Iraqis? It’s not as if they’re your children, right? It’s not as if they’re American or white or pretty like Natalee Holloway. Maybe that’s why it took us three days to report on this, why it was up to my friend Weazl and his little-read blog.

I was about to write an open letter to Ned Lamont on his failing campaign and I’ll get around to it in time but when I first got the request from Weazl to help him get the word out, how could I say no? How could a snarky letter to Ned Lamont take priority? It can’t.

Because this just has to twist like a dull, rusty knife in the gut of anyone who has children or even just anyone who cares one iota about children, anybody’s children. This is the price of reckless, cock-wanding regime change and damn the collateral damage. Dear Leader had to get his war on but was too cowardly to face the political and moral consequences of publicly owning up to these rapes and beatings and tortures, these basest of degradations that one human can inflict on another.

Because, if the other sex scandal, the Mark Foley brouhaha, proved one thing, it's that party loyalty trumps anything, including the trust between adult and child and manfully taking accountability.

--- Jurassicpork.


CIA Tried to Silence EU on Torture Flights

There is no effective opposition in the United States to the heinous acts that have become the trademark of BushCo™'s criminal regime. In fact, the recent passage of the Military Commissions Act enjoyed the support of 12 Democratic Senators and 31 Congressional Democrats. Therefore one would fervently hope that some international entity would be putting some pressure on to put an end to the worst abuses. Unfortunately, even that hope could be nothing more than cockeyed optimism, as The Guardian reported today.
"According to a secret intelligence report, the CIA offered to let Germany have access to one of its citizens, an al-Qaida suspect being held in a Moroccan cell. But the US secret agents demanded that in return, Berlin should cooperate and "avert pressure from EU" over human rights abuses in the north African country...classified documents prepared for the German parliament last February make clear that Berlin did eventually get to see the detained suspect, who was arrested in Morocco in 2002 as an alleged organiser of the September 11 strikes.
He was flown from Morocco to Syria on another rendition flight. Syria offered access to the prisoner on the condition that charges were dropped against Syrian intelligence agents in Germany accused of threatening Syrian dissidents. Germany dropped the charges, but denied any link.
After the CIA offered a deal to Germany, EU countries adopted an almost universal policy of downplaying criticism of human rights records in countries where terrorist suspects have been held. They have also sidestepped questions about secret CIA flights partly because of growing evidence of their complicity."
Complicity? That doesn't sound good. Too many EU countries are happy enough to keep quiet about these crimes because they knowingly aided and abetted the miscreants.
"More than 200 CIA flights have passed through Britain, records show.
[Journalist Stephen Grey] describes how one CIA pilot told him that Prestwick airport, near Glasgow, was a popular destination for refuelling stops and layovers. 'It's an "ask-no-questions" type of place and you don't need to give them any advance warning you're coming,' the pilot said...CIA pilots, sometimes using false identities and whose planes regularly passed through Britain, ran up huge bills in luxury hotels after flying terrorist suspects to secret locations where they were tortured. But they revealed their whereabouts and identities by indiscreet use of mobile phones and allowed outsiders to track their aircraft's flights."
This is an interesting look at the type of people that are involved in this program. Nothing makes them feel like partying more than rendering up some (probably innocent) individual to be tortured. And their partying is being paid for with your tax dollars. And the torture is being carried out in your name.
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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Iraq News

Active Soldiers Ask Congress for Withdrawal, Troops Kept Out of Action for Debt, Bush Was Never "Stay the Course," More...

by the Station Agent

of Ice Station Tango.

87 troops have died so far this month in Iraq, while Bush continues to diddle around and play games. UPDATE: Now it's 89. UPDATE: Now it's 91.

It's a sad, sorry state of affairs...

...it's The Iraq News:
VIDEO: Of course, Bush never was all "Stay the course." How many fingers, Winston? By the way something, he never said cut and run neither! How about Kvatch's idea--Hold and Pump?
VIDEO: Watch Zalmay Khalilzad as he expertly instills confidence--he says victory still "possible" in Iraq. It's possible that Halliburton will find that missing money in Iraq and drop it in the National Treasury, too.
VIDEO: A fortnight before the mid-term elections, I look at the BBC's look at the US political debate over Iraq.

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Revealing the Next War

Daniel Ellsberg, the former American military analyst who helped wake up the nation in 1971 when he released the U.S. military's account of Vietnam war activities, otherwise know as Pentagon Papers, to The New York Times, has something to say about the Next War. "Many government insiders" he writes, "are aware of serious plans for war with Iran, but Congress and the public remain largely in the dark."

Having been personally responsible for public release of classified information that was never intended for release, but that revealed to the American people how much they had been deceived by the U.S. government about the war in Vietnam, Ellsberg muses now about how things might have been different if he had brought the information forward sooner:
Had I done so, the public and Congress would have learned that Johnson’s campaign theme, “we seek no wider war,” was a hoax. They would have learned, in fact, that the Johnson Administration had been heading in secret toward essentially the same policy of expanded war that his presidential rival, Senator Barry Goldwater, openly advocated—a policy that the voters overwhelmingly repudiated at the polls.

I would have been indicted then, as I was seven years later, and probably imprisoned. But America would have been at peace during those years. It was only with that reflection, perhaps a decade after the carnage finally ended, that I recognized Morse [one of two senators to have voted agains the Tonkin Gulf Resolution in 1964] had been right about my personal share of responsibility for the whole war.

Not just mine alone. Any one of a hundred officials—some of whom foresaw the whole catastrophe—could have told the hidden truth to Congress, with documents. Instead, our silence made us all accomplices in the ensuing slaughter.

Ellsberg also notes the stunning parallel betweeen runup to the 1964 Tonkin Gulf Resolution and the runup to the 2002 Iraq Resolution in the way the President and his top Cabinet members deceived Congress and the public to coerce them into supporting preexisting war plans against nations that posed no "near-term" threat to the U.S., and the obedient silence of hundreds of insiders who were aware of and complicit in that deception. Likening his missed opportunity to prevent the catastrophy of the Vietnam war to that of Richard Clarke, Bush's Chief of Counterterrorism and author of Against All Enemies, Ellsberg discusses the risks of revealing the Big Lie:
The personal risks of doing this are very great. Yet they are not as great as the risks of bodies and lives we are asking daily of over 130,000 young Americans—with many yet to join them—in an unjust war. Our country has urgent need for comparable courage, moral and civil courage, from its public servants. They owe us the truth before the next war begins.
And the War Crimes Protection Act (aka, Military Commissions Act) that we allowed Congress to pass and Bush to sign won't make that job any easier.

Bush and Company are the Terrorists

"The leading terrorist group in this world right now is Al Qaeda, but the leading terrorist group in this country right now is the republican party."

Keith Olberman.
Nobody does it better.

Blue Moon Light

Blue Light
Moon Light
Fond of You Light

May Truth see the light of day

This thread is Open and Blue.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Fruits of War

Cultivate the Killing Fields, Expect a Bumper Crop

Many believe it is time for the U.S. to let Iraq create its own history--the figure is a full 90% in Iraq. Why do Iraqis want the U.S. out? Is it because they want to work with "the terrorists?" The data suggest otherwise:
...All of the polling data shows that Osama bin Laden remains enormously unpopular in Iraq. It is rather that they feel strongly that they could do a better job of providing security on their own, and they are afraid that the destabilizing U.S. presence, the main recruiting poster for terrorists, threatens to be permanent...An occupation initially advertised as a “cakewalk” war to disarm a tyrant is now, according to our politically desperate president, a fight for the soul of the world—good versus evil, democracy versus tyranny...The evidence arrives daily in the form of dozens, sometimes hundreds, of mutilated bodies. But even the few ghastly images that actually make it onto the television actually underestimate the horror. And it is getting worse, not better: The killing of innocents is now 10 times higher than a year ago. (More...)
In the safe harbor of a press conference, Bush dismissed a request to quantify the human toll of the Iraq war. And yet, 655,000 Iraqi civilian deaths is not a mere guess. Rather, it is the best estimate, based on the most sound methods, and the strongest evidence that we have to date, which is why the Iraqi medical authorities are now forbidden to release mortality information.

The wounded are often an ignored cost of war. Ron Kovic, Vietnam Veteran, recipient of the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, peace activist and outspoken critic of the Iraq war, muses over the forgotten wounded of Iraq.
They have been coming home now for almost three years, flooding Walter Reed, Bethesda, Brooke Army Medical Center and veterans hospitals all across the country. Paraplegics, amputees, burn victims, the blinded and maimed, shocked and stunned, brain-damaged and psychologically stressed, over 16,000 of them, a whole new generation of severely maimed is returning from Iraq, young men and women who were not even born when I came home wounded to the Bronx veterans hospital in 1968.
Kovic included the following poem at the beginning of his autobiography, Born on the 4th of July (hear it read by the author):
I am the living death
The memorial day on wheels
I am your yankee doodle dandy
Your John Wayne come home
Your Fourth of July firecracker
Exploding in the grave
This is what happens when we allow corporations to make war on the public dime.


We are not building Democracy.
We are not spreading Freedom.

We are fomenting Mayhem.
We are unleashing Violence.

We are cultivating the killing fields
and harvesting one hell of a bumper crop
while someone makes a mint.

Who's Counting?

Apparently, not the Iraqi medical authorities.

A new epidemiology report released this month has shown that more than 650,000 Iraqi civilians have died at the hands of violence since the American invasion in 2003. Supporters of the war have cricized the report; the scientists involved have stood by their work and have challenged critics to present better methods and numbers:
"I loved when President Bush said 'their methodology has been pretty well discredited,' " says Richard Garfield, a public health professor at Columbia University who works closely with a number of the authors of the report. "That's exactly wrong. There is no discrediting of this methodology. I don't think there's anyone who's been involved in mortality research who thinks there's a better way to do it in unsecured areas. I have never heard of any argument in this field that says there's a better way to do it." (More...)
This does raise some interesting questions about the actual number of deaths, how they are best counted, and who benefits from suppressing this information. Last month, the Christian Science Monitor reported that the Baghdad morgue body counts tripled the official August death toll. Now we have learned that the Iraqi Prime Minister has ordered the medical authorites to stop providing mortality data altogether:
Mr. Qazi, a former Pakistani diplomat, says that the order to let the prime minister’s office take over the release of the numbers came down a day after a United Nations report for July and August showed a serious upward spike in the number of dead and wounded. The leader of the Health Ministry in Iraq appealed to be allowed to continue supplying the figures to the United Nations but was turned down according to a subsequent letter from the prime minister’s office, Mr. Qazi’s cable said.
Perhaps I'm stepping out on a limb here, but it almost seems as if they don't want to know.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Soul Searcing, Part Deux

Seems like today we are so proud of ourselves for not getting entangled by thinking of others.

My dad loved Johnny, but this isn't why.

If you have something to say, say it.

Soul Searching Sunday

Bruce Cockburn's version of Blind Willie Johnson's 1930 song

...with imagery...

---And as always with music videos, open thread.

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Friday, October 20, 2006

Republicans Cut the Deal and Run?

It's rumored that Bush, with the help of former Secretary of State, James Baker, may be preparing plans to exit Iraq, despite the fact that:

Such a strategy would once have been unthinkable for Mr Bush, who famously vowed to keep US forces in Iraq even if he was supported only by his wife, Laura, and dog, Barney. But the president now appears willing to acknowledge that the public is losing confidence in his administration's involvement in Iraq. On Wednesday Mr Bush admitted for the first time the existence of a parallel between Iraq and Vietnam.


The Decider contradicted himself.
Iraq was compared to Vietnam.
The ground trembled.

Furthermore, the timing is odd.

Right before the election, mistakes are made, and admitted, and rumors swirl. It almost seems that as soon as the deal is cut on the rules for controlling Iraq's oil, which is due to happen any day and with the involvement of all the usual suspects (i.e., Bush's oil Cartel), the Republicans plan to "cut and run" out of Iraq, out of congress, and out of responsibility for the mess they made. As delighted as I am with the punishment the Republicans face at the polls, it makes me wonder.

Why did tricky Dick Cheney insist on keeping his energy policy meetings with oil executives secret? Why did meetings to set U.S. energy policy involve maps of the Iraqi oil fields? Was it the Bush strategy all along to cut the oil deal and run?

Related post: History Lesson
(Cross-posted at Ice Station Tango)

Californians Want Arnold Back

Well, how did we get here? In the state with 43% of registered voters identifying as Democrat and 34% identifying as Republican, a wildly unpopular Republican president, and in the midst of a punishing backlash against Republican politicians nationwide, how did we land a Republican shoo-in governator? Dan Glaister of The Guardian has some answers.

Californians think it's cool to be bi:
"Part of the answer lies in the governor's much-vaunted bipartisanship, his professed keenness to work across party lines and do what is best for the state."
He's free of Bush's influence, he's got star power, AND he's humble:
"Trying to link me with George Bush is like trying to link me with an Oscar."
He's nearly royalty himself, but better:
Responding to his debate opponent's long-winded discussion of minutae, Arnold replied, "I feel a bit like I'm having dinner with Uncle Teddy at Thanksgiving."
Maybe it just comes down to the "wow" factor:
"...[Angelides] has the charisma of a biology teacher. In American politics, for good or bad, you have to have something going on."
Personally, I've had some pretty hot biology teachers.

(Cross-posted at Ice Station Tango)

Election: Projection/Protection

Dems Catching Wind in Midterm Election Sails

The Democratic party has caught wind in the fast and furious storm surrounding the Foley child predator sex scandal. TPM desribes 6 more races that have come into play, noting: "These shifts come after a more extensive Election Central analysis a week ago found that since Foleygate broke in late September, at least 29 races moved towards Dems."

The latest polling data suggest a rather strong sea change, indeed:
The Republican party faces historic losses in next month’s mid-term elections, according to the latest polling. The numbers suggest that voter discontent with the Republicans is so strong that they will lose control of both the House and the Senate. The poll, for the Wall Street Journal and NBC, shows the Republicans breaking a series of records: approval of the Republican-led Congress fell to a record low of 16%, for the first time more than 50% of voters favoured one party - the Democrats - to control Congress, the Republican party received the highest ever negative rating for a party, and President Bush was viewed negatively by 52%, matching the worst score of his presidency.

Oddly, it seems like there has been more news about election projection than election protection, even in the face of illegal vote suppression.

How will Americans react to reports of election tampering, and how does this "isolated incident" look from the outside? Philip James, writer for The Guardian, reports that in America, "Republicans are damaging the republic" as "questionable tactics in the midterms weaken the foundations of US democracy."
Racked with scandal, cowed by voter dissatisfaction and bereft of fresh ideas, Republicans are resorting to the only measure left to a party in power and desperate to cling to it: cheating, or what's more politely referred to as voter suppression. (More...)
So, how big a landslide will the midterm elections be? How broad and brazenly will votes be suppressed? And this time around, will there be an election fraud smoking gun? Subjects in the new Imperial Democratic Fascism want to know.

(Cross-posted at Ice Station Tango)

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Olbermann's Latest Special Comment

On The Death of Habeas Corpus
"We have lived as if in a trance.

We have lived… as people in fear.

And now — our rights and our freedoms in peril — we slowly awake to learn that we have been afraid… of the wrong thing..

..And if you somehow think Habeas Corpus has not been suspended for American citizens but only for everybody else, ask yourself this: If you are pulled off the street tomorrow, and they call you an alien or an undocumented immigrant or an "unlawful enemy combatant" — exactly how are you going to convince them to give you a court hearing to prove you are not? Do you think this Attorney General is going to help you?"
-Full transcript at Crooks and Liars

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

History Lesson

Robert Newman gives a history lesson in his "History of Oil" that will make you laugh and cry.

If you haven't watched it, watch it.
If you've already watched it, watch it again.

Then think about this:
"Even as Iraq verges on splintering into a sectarian civil war, four big oil companies are on the verge of locking up its massive, profitable reserves, known to everyone in the petroleum industry as "the prize." Iraq is sitting on a mother lode of some of the lightest, sweetest, most profitable crude oil on earth, and the rules that will determine who will control it and on what terms are about to be set." (More...)
The pantless inspiration, blogger sans-culotte, researched this subject thoroughly, and posted on it; for a more in-depth history lesson, references and all, click here.

Who says history never repeats?

Bill of Wrongs

What Part of the "Bill of Rights" Isn't Clear?

Protest while you still can:

On October 13, the New York Times reported that internal military documents, obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union under a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, showed that military officials had labeled antiwar activities within the United States as “potential terrorist activity.”

The activities cited included a “Stop the War Now” rally in Akron, Ohio in March 2005. An internal military report in May 2005 on antiwar actions at the University of California, Santa Cruz, flatly asserted that “the Students for Peace and Justice represent a potential threat to D.O.D. (Department of Defense) personnel.” Material suggesting that antiwar activities posed the threat of criminal terrorism “were widely shared among analysts from the military, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security,” the Times reported.

The implication of such reports is clear: plans are well under way, in the Bush administration and the military and intelligence agencies, to criminalize political dissent and treat those who oppose the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and those who defend democratic rights, as potential terrorists, who can be branded as “unlawful enemy combatants,” arrested, and locked away in a new American gulag. (More...)

So now we make Israel look soft on the willingness to torture scale?

Those who think that the "War Crimes Protection Act"also known as the "Torture Act" and the "Military Commissions Act"is not a clear cut case of "CYA" (i.e., "Cover Your Ass"), are really trippin.

The way I see it, nullifying the Bill of Rights is pretty black and white.

Someday we will be asked:
"Why did America let the Bill of Rights
give way to the Bill of Wrongs?"
How will we answer?

American Genius - Watch Olbermann

Here's another post that writes itself. Olbermann, the anti-FOX newsman, stands out from the media crowd merely by telling the truth.

Jonathan Turley, "People have no idea how significant this is, what really a time of shame this is for the American system. What the congress did, and what the president signed today essentially revokes over two hundred years of American principals and values."

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American Idiot - Watches FOX "news"

Sometimes the posts just write themselves. While considering how to present this post from Glenn Greenwald about FOX "news" and their deliberate misrepresentation of the facts about the War Criminals' Protection Act, I checked up on our comment thread below. h/t Nigel Elliot for the link to Green Day's American Idiot. The lyrics so suit this story.
"American Idiot"
Don't want to be an American idiot.
Don't want a nation under the new media
And can you hear the sound of hysteria?
The subliminal mind fuck America.

Welcome to a new kind of tension.
All across the alien nation.
Where everything isn't meant to be okay.
Television dreams of tomorrow.
We're not the ones who're meant to follow.
For that's enough to argue.

Well maybe I'm the faggot America.
I'm not a part of a redneck agenda.
Now everybody do the propaganda.
And sing along to the age of paranoia.

Welcome to a new kind of tension.
All across the alien nation.
Where everything isn't meant to be okay.
Television dreams of tomorrow.
We're not the ones who're meant to follow.
For that's enough to argue.

Don't want to be an American idiot.
One nation controlled by the media.
Information age of hysteria.
It's calling out to idiot America.

Welcome to a new kind of tension.
All across the alien nation.
Where everything isn't meant to be okay.
Television dreams of tomorrow.
We're not the ones who're meant to follow.
For that's enough to argue.

I was thinking about a video post anyway, since we haven't had one for a while, and this is one of my favourite groups singing a kickass song. And as far as the connection to the Greenwald article...
"The President now possesses a defining authoritarian power -- to detain and imprison people for life based solely on his say-so, while denying the detainee any opportunity to prove his innocence.

But for those who rely on Fox News for their information about what the government is doing, not only do they not know that, they think the opposite is true."
I would say it's pretty obvious.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

In Mourning

The Death of Democracy
President George W. Bush signed the odious, horrific, unconscionable Military Commissions Act (aka the War Criminals Protection Act) into law today. It is now official that the United States of America is a country that kidnaps and tortures innocent people, and protects war criminals from the consequences of their actions.
Here's the AP wire story, via Truthdig;

President Bush is signing a law that sets tough standards for interrogation and prosecution of terror suspects, a major White House victory that demonstrates Bush still has the political power to set the rules of war even as Iraq clouds his presidency.

Bush’s plan becomes law just six weeks after he acknowledged that the CIA had been secretly interrogating suspected terrorists overseas and pressed Congress to quickly give authority to try them in military commissions.

White House press secretary Tony Snow said that after Bush signs the legislation Tuesday, the government will immediately begin moving toward the goal of prosecuting some of the high-value suspects being held at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He expected it would take a month or two to get “things moving toward a trial phase.”

Nothing to see here folks. Go back to whatever you were doing. And a word to the wise - try not to look too enemy combatant-y.

Once Upon a Time - RevPhat
Shame, Tears and Sailboats - Jump to the Left
A Sad Day For America - SadButTrue

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Monday, October 16, 2006

What to Expect

Only three weeks to go until a critical mid-term election. With the real possibility of a change in the majority status of both houses, what tactics dirty underhanded tricks can we expect from the desperate Republican party? What October surprise, promised to key Repug insiders weeks ago by Karl Rove will boost their fortunes and put them over the top at the last minute? Let the speculation begin! I'll start it off, and you can add your takes in the comments.

Ken (Is he gay?) Mehlman expects the Repugs to hold both houses on the basis of the surprise, so it's probably not something like capturing al Qaeda's #2 man again. That has been done to death, quite literally. Probably wouldn't have much more impact than a Cheney announcement that he'd gone a week without 'peppering' any rich lawyers in the face. And we can rule out a Cheney announcement too, unless the announcement was of Cheney's immediate retirement. That might give the party a boost. Just thinking about it makes me smile.

It could have something to do with Osama (Isn't he dead?) binLaden, whose frozen corpse could be thawed and 'killed' days before the polls open on Nov. 7. Even if the whole thing is a hoax, what difference does it make if the hoax isn't revealed until Nov. 8? Or the trial of Saddam (had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11) Hussein, said to be wrapping up on Nov. 5, complete with same-day announcements of conviction and sentencing.

How about a staged terrorist incident coupled with a reminder that the Democrats are soft on terror? That's an old trick, but one the Repugs have relied upon time and time again. And thanks to the gullibility of a certain percentage of the electorate, it may well work again. Attacking Iran in a show of strength (like a rock, only dumber) might convince some hawks to vote that supported Iraq when it still looked like the coalition was winning.

Me, I'm a pessimist, so I think they're going to keep it simple. Have the October surprise in November, when the Republicans win lots of seats that it looked like they were going to lose. Thanks Diebold, thanks ES&S! Or if you want to get really pessimistic they could suspend the election altogether and declare martial law. It's not like they haven't gone out of their way to make that possible. Thanks Congress! Thanks Halliburton!

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Saturday, October 14, 2006

On Genocide in Iraq

The ominous news that an estimated 655,000 people have died in Iraq since the beginning of the war raises the question--what are we doing here? Our goals are unclear and the number of dead are mounting.

Is this Genocide?

In his 1967 speech to the International War Crimes Tribunal, "“On Genocide", Jean-Paul Sartre made the case the America was guilty of genocide during the Vietnam War. (Sartre's comments opening the tribunal here)

Since the Convention of 1948 defines intention as an element of genocide, Sartre argued that while the United States government made no clear declaration of their intention to kill all North Vietnamese people, the apparent realities of the situation made genocide the only option. Continuing to fight constituted genocide.

"The characteristics of the struggle were clear from the beginning," Sartre tells us, "the settlers were superior in arms, the colonized in numbers." This disadvantage dictated the colonized had to fight in ways that would negate superior technology--terrorism, ambush, harassment, and mobility became the methods of warfare chosen to attempt to level the battlefield.

Sartre argues that postcolonial warfare operates systematically. The only way for a technologically advanced army to defeat guerilla tactics is to kill the entire population. Both sides gamble. The colonized gamble that the settlers would not kill them all. The settlers gamble that the colonized will not sacrifice their entire population. Sartre calls this arrangement a form of blackmail on the part of the invading neo-colonial force--either the colonized nation accepts defeat or they will be wiped out.

Was the United States aware that it was committing this blackmail?

General Westmoreland claimed that the Vietnam War was important because it was sending a message that guerilla warfare could not defeat the United States. Sartre claims Westmoreland's statement was intended as a message to all of the other formerly colonized countries (especially in Latin America) not to challenge the regimes friendly to the United States. A clear message was sent from the United States government to the regimes of the world, "“submission or complete liquidation". Even if the North Vietnamese accepted the blackmail they would still face a different kind of genocide, which Sartre described this way:
That, too, is genocide: the cutting in two of a sovereign state; occupying one half with a reign of terror, effectively ruining the enterprise so dearly paid for by the other half with economic pressures and with calculated investments, to be held in a tight stranglehold. The national unit of "‘Vietnam"’ would not be physically eliminated, but it would no longer exist economically, politically or culturally.
American policy makers learned long before the war's end that they only had two choices--peace or genocide. With that knowledge--though "plausibly" deniable--that to win the war would result in genocide, U.S. policy makers continued the strategy that called for an emphasis on kills and rejected the occupation of land.

The idea that the Vietnam War was a waste because America did not attain any of its goals is only part of the argument that useless suffering on a large scale was perpetrated in Vietnam. If Sartre is correct, then the useless suffering of the war was due to the manner of its planning and its execution as much as its existence and continuation.

Whether one is convinced that our actions in Iraq can be characterized as genocide--I believe they are--continuation of our current course in Iraq makes the argument that our leaders are committing genocide clearer by the day.

Another great post by Station Agent of Ice Station Tango. A huge clamour of approval from the unruly mob, as usual. Thanks, Agent! -SBT-
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Stormy Weather

The sky ripped open tonight.

Talk about it, or not.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Faith-Based Initiatives Abused

Olbermann Exposes Republican Hypocrisy
Do you think the founding fathers may have had a reason when they made the separation of Church and State a key part of US legal tradition? What about Jesus' own answer to the question of taxation? (Mk. 12, 14-17)
"Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's. Render unto God what is God's."

It was mere days after assuming office, long before his assault on the Bill of Rights, even before 9/11/'01, that George W. Bush fired his first shot in a war on the Constitutional system of government in the United States of America. That shot was his 'Faith-Based Initiatives' program. In this two-part exposé, Keith Olbermann explores how this politically motivated farce has betrayed the very people it was supposed to help, and even betrayed the values of the values voters who were supposedly its immediate beneficiaries.
Video, part 2.

"How accurately Isaiah prophesied about you hypocrites when he wrote, 'This people pays me lip service but their heart is far from me. Empty is the reverence they do me because they teach as dogmas mere human precepts.'
You disregard God's commandment and cling to what is human tradition.
-Mk. 7, 6f.

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When Approached by the GOP This Fall, Just Say Ney.

When news broke of Bob Ney‘s confession to taking bribes and making false statements (which would have to be half a billion counts), the one sentence that stood out in this AP article more than any other was this:
Ney did not resign his seat. Several officials have said the congressman is financially strapped and needs his $165,200 annual paycheck and benefits as long as he can continue to receive them.
Well, Gee, Bob, maybe you should’ve invested your bribes a little bit better.

If this is the real reason why Ney hasn’t stepped down, then it reveals him to be an even sleazier Republican fuck then we already knew he was. Now, I know you have to practically commit murder in order to get thrown out of Congress but if the GOP leadership and the White House, with their “timely” condemnation, calls for his resignation and he refuses to because he needs to stay on the taxpayer dole a little longer in order to stay solvent...

Well, people, we really need to use those subpoena powers that retaking the House will give us this year. It’s obvious that the likes of Hastert and Boehner only want Ney out of Congress before he infects the rest of the flock. Because let’s take stock of all the GOP scumbags who’ve had to resign from Congress since last winter: “Duke” Cunningham, Tom DeLay, Mark Foley and it looks as if Bob Ney will be next. You'd think that the right side of the aisle in the House chambers was on fire from all the defections. Half these upholstered jackals have been tied to Jack Abramoff and we all know that virtually every Republican has been a regular at K Street if not Abramoff’s restaurant, Signatures. It certainly doesn't end with DeLay and Ney.

And if we hear any more shit from Nancy Pelosi about how it isn’t in the Democrats’ best interests to impeach murderous clowns like Bush or go after crooks like Bob Ney and Dennis Hastert, then I think it’s about time we started bandying about names other than Pelosi’s for House Majority Leader or Speaker of the House.

Because if the Democrats continue to be as lethargic about attacking corruption at the highest levels of the GOP, then not only are they part of the problem but it may also be worth the DOJ’s time to find out why exactly they’re soft-pedaling white collar crime in Congress.

-Thanks again, Jurassicpork, of Welcome to Pottersville!
Another excellent guest post.

Iraq War News--

Casualty Count Enormous, Baker Commission and British Army Head Call for New Course of Action, More

The revelation this week that we have killed far more people in Iraq than we've been led to believe has kind of been buried among some other very high profile stories. I think it's as big a story as we've seen all year--right up there with the repealing of the Magna Carta.

So, with renewed focus on this ongoing genocide, I give you...

...Iraq War News:
Remember folks, we're spreading freedom.

VIDEO: President Bush reacts very strangely to the new casualty count in Iraq.

This post courtesy of Station Agent from Ice Station Tango. -SBT-

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Not Again.

Coast Guard security video that shows the impact of Lidle’s plane with the skyscraper (the light on the right).

The ultimate novelist is God (or Fate or Providence or Serendipity or whatever supernatural puppeteer to which you yoke your belief system). He or it trumps any mortal scribbler and gets first dibs on the truth that Lord Byron averred was stranger than our homemade fictions.

And when Corey Lidle’s plane crashed into a Manhattan skyscraper last night, the wreckage raining on the street like manna from Hell, it seemed to have been scripted by a celestial scribe with an almost impish weakness for irony and cruel timing.

Because you know what was the first thought that popped into the head of every New Yorker, if not every American- “Dear God, not again.”

It’s a legitimate reaction, one further legitimized by a National Intelligence Estimate that had to be leaked to an American public willfully kept ignorant, a 16 agency report that unanimously said that we’re more vulnerable to terrorism both here and abroad than ever before. Those of us with even rudimentary long-term memory skills will recall the State Department’s now-suppressed annual report that last claimed terrorist acts had tripled in just the year between 2003-2004 (which is, not coincidentally, our first year of occupation in Iraq).

The specter of terror, though nonexistent this time, reared its ugly head for just the briefest of moments and, until word got out that Corey Lidle was on board, it must have been 2001 all over again for many Manhattanites. And dwarfed in front of that specter, before the now-iconic scowl of Atta and the grin of bin Laden, maybe some of us could recall the recent spectacle of George W. Bush standing at Ground Zero, the anniversary of a five year-long mission still unaccomplished. Standing in the hole that’s the unfilled grave of close to 3000 innocent people, a hole that stands as mute testament to the hollow promises of an administration that had somehow allowed this to happen, a hole that pocks the face of New York like a suppurated wound that stubbornly refuses to heal.

And reinforcing the horrid déjà vu, no doubt: The sight of military fighter jets streaking across the Manhattan skyline…

…just in case.

And then, even when Mayor Bloomberg assured New Yorkers that this was not a terrorist attack but a horrible accident that could’ve, should’ve been avoided, the first question, however unasked by mutual consensus, must’ve been, “Can we afford to assume that we’re safe?”

Yes, God is a hell of a novelist and no human ink-stained wretch could’ve timed this event and question better than He has, since an unusually important midterm election that’s largely, if not totally, defined by National Security and the War on Terror, less than four weeks away. The Lidle/Stanger crash, while in no way connected to the GOP, nonetheless gives American voters one last chance to ask this troubling but legitimate question before they cast their votes: Which party can be trusted more with national security? How safe are we when every ball of flame, every car backfiring, brings the phrase "terrorism" to many lips?

The administration has been walking a tightrope shaken back and forth by the political winds. The closer we get to an election, the less safe they want us to think we are. After the election, we’re told we’re not giving a former terrorist-sponsoring nation enough of a break when they want to buy our ports. We’re safe but we’re not totally out of the woods, yet, folks. It’s almost darkly comical watching this administration twisting itself in Orwellian contortions trying to keep us simultaneously placated yet on edge. You know, just so we don’t get lulled into enough of a sense of security so they don’t lose the proletariat to that bin Laden hand-holding Democrat Party.

Because, after all, though we’re safer, says the faces on the Jumbotrons of our plasma TV’s, it’s not as if we can encase in a plane-proof lucite bubble like the one around the White House over our greatest metropolis.

Corey Lidle proved that last night. And that was nothing more than a yet to be explained accident, not a years-in-the-making plan designed to thwart our defenses and embarrass our Homeland Security officials.

And maybe our esteemed Vice President was more right than he knew. Perhaps it is no coincidence that we haven’t been attacked since 9/11. Only perhaps, as Ron Suskind had opined in a recent interview, it’s because al Qaeda has chosen not to attack us. Why should they? Since the only real gains that we’ve made in the war on terror is in freezing their assets, they're saving a bundle of already-tight money since the administration is doing its damned level-headed best to keep us terrified enough to keep in power the same party that sleepwalked us into this war and paranoid state of mind.

So when you look up for guidance as you‘re about to cast your vote this November 7th, instead of praying to God the celestial, darkly-comic novelist, consider, instead, a party that’s likelier to find some way to keep the planes in the fucking air.

An unruly thanks from the mob to Jurassic Pork of Welcome to Pottersville.

Rumsfeld Enabled Nuclear N. Korea

In the wake of North Korea's recent nuclear test, Bush and Company have set about rewriting history by blaming the Clinton administration for the pending Asian nuclear arms race. In addition to being patently false, it turns out that Bush's Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, helped North Korea go nuclear. We know that Rumsfeld sat on the board of ABB, as that company won a contract to sell nuclear reactors to North Korea:
Mr Rumsfeld was a non-executive director of ABB, a European engineering giant based in Zurich, when it won a $200m (£125m) contract to provide the design and key components for the reactors. The current defence secretary sat on the board from 1990 to 2001, earning $190,000 a year. He left to join the Bush administration.
Furthermore, Fortune magazine revealed Rumsfeld's role in lobbying on behalf of ABB:
ABB spokesman Bjoern Edlund told Fortune magazine at the time that "“board members were informed about this project."” ... "“This was a major thing for ABB," the former director [who sat on the board with Rumsfeld] said, "“and extensive political lobbying was done." The director recalls being told that Rumsfeld was asked "“to lobby in Washington" on ABB'’s behalf.
And like a good war profiteer, Rumsfeld refuses to discuss the matter. He does not seem to recall the arms deal which preceded Bush's abrupt change in policy:
Just months after Mr Rumsfeld took office, President George Bush ended the policy of engagement and negotiation pursued by Mr Clinton, saying he did not trust North Korea, and pulled the plug on diplomacy. Pyongyang warned that it would respond by building nuclear missiles. A review of American policy was announced and the bilateral confidence building steps, key to Mr Clinton's policy of detente, halted.
And like a good journalist, Keith Olbermann recently dug into the truth:

And when it comes to turning profits on a war, follow the money. Especially in a corporate state government. War. It does a corporation good.