August 26, 2007The Hole in the Universe -- The Associated Press reports that astronomers have discovered a huge blank, empty part of the universe with no stars, no galaxies, no black holes, not even dark matter. The apparently empty space is 1 billion light years across, an expanse of nearly 6 billion trillion miles of emptiness. Go figure, as they say.
Bush Brings in the Troops -- According to Channel 2 in Daytona Beach, Fla. (WESH.com), "Members of the 1st Battalion 265 Air Defense Artillery have mobilized and are on a plane headed first to Ft. Bliss, then for federal active duty in the capital region. The troops will be deployed for a year." This was not announced by the administration, it was a small story reported by a local Florida news organization with a local angle based on the fact that local families are being broken up because the battalion will be relocating. So what does this quiet move signify? What do Bush and Cheney have up their sleeve this time? The story says, "They are ordered by the president to the nation's capital, where they will operate high-tech weapons systems against any potential air threat." Or any threat from the American people, in case they get rowdy when they discover their elections don't work any more, their votes don't count, or maybe the elections are suspended altogether? Spreading Unease -- Perhaps the troops in Washington are Bush/Cheney's insurance against the growing unease that their lies in practically every area of policy from the justifications for the Iraq War to Katrina to the government's global warming data to the air quality immediately after 9/11 may continue into other areas where the implications are nearly unthinkable. On Aug. 25, The Independent's Middle East correspondent since 1988 joined those who publicly question the U.S. government's explanation of 9/11. In a piece entitled "Even I question the 'truth' about 9/11", Fisk blows off most of the people he calls "the ravers" who question him about 9/11 at his talks on the Middle East and on his book The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East . He says he still holds to his basic theory that the U.S. military would not have the competence to pull off what happened on 9/11. He says, "Any military which can claim as the Americans did two days ago that al-Qa'ida is on the run is not capable of carrying out anything on the scale of 9/11." Fisk here is blurring the lines between the military's clumsy propaganda efforts and the possibility that some people in government could have pulled off a major covert operation. A side consequence of this conclusion is that Osama and the boys then must have had the competence and capacity to pull off such an enormous operation within U.S. borders when no entity of the U.S. ruling order could. But moving on from there, Fisk says that even though he still holds that position, he still has questions. "But here we go," he begins. "I am increasingly troubled at the inconsistencies in the official narrative of 9/11. It's not just the obvious non sequiturs: where are the aircraft parts (engines, etc) from the attack on the Pentagon? Why have the officials involved in the United 93 flight (which crashed in Pennsylvania) been muzzled? Why did flight 93's debris spread over miles when it was supposed to have crashed in one piece in a field? Again, I'm not talking about the crazed 'research' of David Icke's Alice in Wonderland and the World Trade Center Disaster which should send any sane man back to reading the telephone directory. I am talking about scientific issues. If it is true, for example, that kerosene burns at 820C under optimum conditions, how come the steel beams of the twin towers whose melting point is supposed to be about 1,480C would snap through at the same time? (They collapsed in 8.1 and 10 seconds.) What about the third tower the so-called World Trade Centre Building 7 (or the Salmon Brothers Building) which collapsed in 6.6 seconds in its own footprint at 5.20pm on 11 September? Why did it so neatly fall to the ground when no aircraft had hit it? The American National Institute of Standards and Technology was instructed to analyse the cause of the destruction of all three buildings. They have not yet reported on WTC 7. Two prominent American professors of mechanical engineering very definitely not in the 'raver' bracket are now legally challenging the terms of reference of this final report on the grounds that it could be 'fraudulent or deceptive'. Journalistically, there were many odd things about 9/11. Initial reports of reporters that they heard "explosions" in the towers which could well have been the beams cracking are easy to dismiss. Less so the report that the body of a female air crew member was found in a Manhattan street with her hands bound. OK, so let's claim that was just hearsay reporting at the time, just as the CIA's list of Arab suicide-hijackers, which included three men who were and still are very much alive and living in the Middle East, was an initial intelligence error. But what about the weird letter allegedly written by Mohamed Atta, the Egyptian hijacker-murderer with the spooky face, whose 'Islamic' advice to his gruesome comrades released by the CIA mystified every Muslim friend I know in the Middle East? Atta mentioned his family which no Muslim, however ill-taught, would be likely to include in such a prayer. He reminds his comrades-in-murder to say the first Muslim prayer of the day and then goes on to quote from it. But no Muslim would need such a reminder let alone expect the text of the "Fajr" prayer to be included in Atta's letter. Let me repeat. I am not a conspiracy theorist." But then again, there are many things we are being asked to accept that defy common sense and logic. Fisk has stuck his neck way out here, there is much to risk for anyone daring to cross that line. Fisk has built his reputation over many years, which is no doubt why he is so emphatic to stay on the side that ridicules the "ravers" and "conspiracy theorists". But there is just too much to ignore here. 911 Truth and Lies on TV -- On Saturday night, August 25, the History Channel played a program on the 9/11 Truth movement, ( "The 9/11 Conspiracies: Fact or Fiction"),including taped interviews with many of the major voices of the movement, including Dylan Avery, the young creator of the film "Loose Change", Alex Jones of Prison Planet, author of The New Pearl Harbor David Ray Griffin and author of Synthetic Terrorism -- Made in the U.S.A. Webster Tarpley. It's interesting that such questions are even being considered on any major corporate media outlet, but the reason is, as stated in the piece itself, polls show half of Americans don't believe the government's explanations. Though the program was clearly framed to debunk the theories and make those who pose them look like fools, it's interesting that these ideas are so widely held now as to make a program of this kind relevant -- or necessary, to attempt to stem the tide of defections from official government reality. The questions were viewed from the standpoint of the official story as the starting point, with any deviations from it seen as having the burden of proof. A question would be posed, then debunked by an "expert", usually the same clean-cut, young public relations person and one other person. The whole inquiry tended to veer into an examination of the "conspiracist", its personality type, what kind of people believe these kinds of hairbrained stories, rather than maintaining a focus on the questions themselves. Conspiracists, one apparently authoritative figure said, all believe they have the truth but everyone else is wrong. They are sick creatures. Nevertheless, half of the population is falling into that category these days.
August 27, 2007Bye Bye Gonzo! -- Another sleazy Bush operative slips away. (monstersandcritics.com). Bush's ever-faithful legal can-do boy, who devised a legal justification for torture to fulfill Bush's fervent desire to be free to express his sadistic urges without getting caught in a legal tangle over it. Dear Gonzo.
Death Surge -- Should anyone be surprised that Bush's Grand Idea, the delicately termed "surge" is actually a surge of death? Bush's inspirations have always been closely akin to death in one form or another. According to the Associated Press, "the death toll from sectarian attacks around the country is running nearly double the pace from a year ago." Why can't Afghanistan Just Say No? -- Opium production, which was down to zilch under the Taliban, has now "soared to frightening record levels," according to a UN report. (BBC) The new U.S. colony is now "responsible for almost all the world's opiates," according to the UN report. The Bushes were always good for the economy, the underground economy that is, in which weapons and drugs are the currency. Bush's Ahistory -- Vietnam veteran and Senator Jim Webb said Bush's comparison of the wars in Vietnam to Iraq is inaccurate because in Vietnam the "overall strategic objective" was directly related to the reason for going to war ensuring that South Vietnam "not fall to communism." In that case the "implementation became flawed," he said. In Iraq, however, Webb said, "were having a reverse situation. We have an overall strategic objective that was not directly related to what we were attempting to do in the war against international terrorism. We have good people implementing a bad strategy. Its just not the same situation. Were not going to have stability in that region until the American troops are out of Iraq." thinkprogress.org
August 29, 2007Fall of Another Family Values Fake -- Another one of these Republican family values perverts caught in a sexual crime, this one arrested for making sexual advances to an undercover cop in a Minnesota public restroom. (See an article and video of Idaho Senator Larry Craig giving a press conference at ABC) The arrest was June 11, now suddenly the story is all over the place. He actually got off lightly since he pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct, a charge that sounds much more Manly than making sexual advances to strange men in a public restroom. He could chalk it up to a momentary lapse in to his "young and irresponsible" days in the manner of other manly Republican family values geeks. Now this poor fool is reduced to absolutely ridiculous demonstrations to try to earn back his position in the Good Ole Boy set.
His explanations make no sense but an overall sense of desperation. Obviously there is nothing the guy can say that will make any difference, that would ever restore his credibility. But he hates to get off that gravy train, so he thinks he can get this one over and just fade back into relative obscurity and corruption. At his press conference he says, "I did nothing wrong," then says he "regret[s] the decision to plead guilty and the sadness that decision has brought." Notice there is no taking responsibility for anything. He portrays these events as if they just descended on him out of nowhere and for some inexplicable reason he just "pleaded guilty" to some charge when he really had done "nothing wrong". Yes, such a decision should arouse some concern in his constituents.
Then he takes on a strident and self-righteous tone to try to emotionally deflect blame and guilt, though the content of his speech does nothing of the kind. He goes on to explain the "state of mind" that led to the mysterious behavior that got him arrested though he was, he says, perfectly innocent. The implication is that if one understands the extenuating circumstances, the behavior may be more justifiable, or at least forgivable.
For eight months, he said, he and his family were "relentlessly harassed" by the newspaper the Idaho Statesman, which was making allegations that he is gay. He proclaims with that he is not gay and has never been gay, but that "without a shred of evidence" the newspaper has harassed him and carried on a "witch hunt" (is being gay like being a witch?) ... then he jumps incoherently back to the crime and says that on June 11 "I overreacted..."
It's all very vague what he is referring to that he overreacted to and why this supposed harassment led to his strange behavior in the bathroom. He has strung together a number of disjointed ideas connected with some sort of fractured logic or unconnected dots. It comes out in a sort of hysterical blather of nonsense, but he has the self righteous tone down, and he thinks that might carry the day.
Like all these sick homophobic hysterics, he's got it all wrong. Why are you telling us you're not gay? It's no crime to be gay. Who cares? Most of us don't know or care anything about his sexual leanings. It is, however, a crime to reach under bathroom stall walls and grab at the guy in the next stall. That's offensive to most people and by consensus it is an infringement on another person's rights, and therefore criminal. But of course this guy has been playing the role of not just an ordinary, tolerant, sane heterosexual, but of a vehement moralist, intolerant of anything his culture deems deviant, anything beyond a very narrow band of possibilities. He's one of these rabid family values preachers. So why, if he must maintain this exaggerated split between his public life and his actual life, can't he just hold his tendencies in check just a little bit? Isn't there a more discreet way for a U.S. Senator to exercise his sexual proclivities than groping at strangers in airport restrooms? How crazy are these people? I say "these people" because there is something about this strange split personality that is not unique to Larry Craig, but has been exhibited in a number of cases recently of big Republican moral extremists who turn out to be perverts, in the common definition of the term. This is the classic homophobic, so frightened of homosexual tendencies within himself that he disassociates from himself, suppresses his dark side, and then can no longer control its impulses, which lead him to do such insane, self-destructive things as groping strangers in airport restrooms. Craig, by the way, was the chairman of Mitt Romney's campaign in Idaho, but he has now resigned.
The Domino Theory of Questioning Authority -- Another major PhD, Professor Lynn Margulis, AB, MS, PhD, Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Geosciences, University of Massachusetts - Amherst, has come out articulately in opposition to the official dogma about 9/11. Her statement and bio are here: patriotsquestion911.com, check it out. The professor does not mince words. She is the latest addition to a long list of professors that begins here, as part of a patriots in several categories who question the story. It's All About Money -- Rolling Stone on "The Great Iraq Swindle: How Bush Allowed an Army of For-Profit Contractors to Invade the U.S. Treasury." The Halliburton Heist -- There's also an amazing movie by Robert Greenwald on the disaster of the privatization of the war in Iraq. It's called Iraq For Sale. These Republican corporatists, who claim to believe in free markets and competition and efficient government and so forth, have given no-bid contracts to Halliburton to supply various services to the U.S. military. No-bid, that means no competition. Halliburton gets the contract because Dick Cheney is vice president and he's the former CEO and still owns stock and makes money from the company. In addition, the contracts are cost-plus contracts, which means, the more they spend, the larger the payment they receive, figured as a percentage of what they spent. No incentive to keep costs down. In fact, since profit is the sole legal goal of the corporation, it is in its interest to spend the most money possible. This leads to such obscenities as the fact that Halliburton doesn't put spare tires on its trucks. If a truck gets a flat tire, Halliburton blows it up, turns it to junk. Nugent's Brave Past -- Ted Nugent, the right wing rock musician who recently marched around stage with automatic weapons in hand telling Barack Obama to "suck on this" is a big tough-guy advocate of Bush's wars, but when he was draft age, by his own admission he "stopped all forms of personal hygiene for a month and showed up for his draft board physical in pants caked with his own urine and feces, winning a deferment," according to the Chicago suntimes.com. Reincarnation Outlawed in China -- According to Newsweek, "In one of history's more absurd acts of totalitarianism, China has banned Buddhist monks in Tibet from reincarnating without government permission. According to a statement issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs, the law, which goes into effect next month and strictly stipulates the procedures by which one is to reincarnate, is 'an important move to institutionalize management of reincarnation.'" No Free Lunch, No Lunch at All for Many -- An opinion editorial in the New York Times comments on yesterday's economic news. "The economic party is winding down and most working Americans never even got near the punch bowl. The Census Bureau reported yesterday that median household income rose 0.7 percent last year its second annual increase in a row to $48,201. The share of households living in poverty fell to 12.3 percent from 12.6 percent in 2005. This seems like welcome news, but a deeper look at the belated improvement in these numbers more than five years after the end of the last recession underscores how the gains from economic growth have failed to benefit most of the population. The median household income last year was still about $1,000 less than in 2000, before the onset of the last recession. In 2006, 36.5 million Americans were living in poverty 5 million more than six years before, when the poverty rate fell to 11.3 percent. And what is perhaps most disturbing is that it appears this is as good as its going to get." Here is some more: The poverty rate only declined for people over 65, not those under. Earnings of men and women working full time actually fell more than 1 percent last year, indicating that the slight rise reported in family income is due to more people working, not to raises in pay. Again, to put these figures into context, the median income rose by .7 percent. Seven-tenths of one percent. The cost of living index, according to the Social Security Administration indicates a rise in the cost of living of 3.3 percent in 2006. So Americans really continued to fall behind.
August 30, 2007Bush's Magic Years -- Michael Winship wrote a great piece about Keeping up with the Bushes, specifically in reference to Bush's recent comparison of the Iraq war with the Vietnam debacle. The piece is called "History Will Tell Lies, Sir, As Usual", a quote of George Bernard Shaw from the play The Devil's Disciple. He also quotes Gerald White Johnson, saying, "Nothing changes more constantly than the past. For the past that influences our lives does not consist of what actually happened, but of what men believe happened."
The Next War -- With Bush's wars in Afghanistan and Iraq both failing, he is now moving toward the long-feared attack on Iran. Even conservatives like Pat Buchanan are saying the idea is madness. But what do Bush and Cheney care? The predictable day when their exploitation of US armed forces for aggression would leave the country strapped and unable to take on any more challenges has arrived. The head of Iran doesn't believe the US can attack Iran when it is enmired in two debilitating conflicts. (monstersandcritics.com) But that will only egg Bush on. He does not like to be defied. He may just pull out the nuclear weapons and show them. One Small Victory Against Corrupt Voting Machines -- Voteraction.org issued a statment saying, "A group of California voters who filed suit challenging former Secretary of State Bruce McPherson's 2006 certification of Diebold electronic voting machines for use in California announced today that they were withdrawing their court case following Secretary of State Debra Bowen's recent decision to decertify the Diebold system and to only allow limited use of that system under strict manual recount conditions. The voter plaintiffs said that Secretary Bowen's action constituted a vindication of the concerns raised in their lawsuit concerning vulnerabilities and inadequacies of the Diebold machines, and that Secretary Bowen's actions answered nearly all of the concerns outlined in their original complaint filed last year."
August 31, 2007Emerging Realignment -- According to the Washington Post, "A growing clamor among rank-and-file Democrats to halt President Bush's most controversial tactics in the fight against terrorism has exposed deep divisions within the party, with many Democrats angry that they cannot defeat even a weakened president on issues that they believe should be front and center." It's good to see members of the Democratic party rebelling against the trend to do the will of Bush. From what does this desire to follow Bush come from? His policies have never reflected the will of the American people. They don't flow from the phony Compassionate Conservative sales pitch he used to hornswaggle enough of the American voters to get close enough to steal the election in 2000. So why this great urge to follow his unconstitutional authoritarian and aggressive policies? For so long it has all been about 9/11, the Grand Unified 9/11 Theory for why the Constitution and the Geneva Conventions should now be seen as quaint. This does not reflect the will of the American people. Plenty of them have been cowed by the horror of 9/11 and the relentless corporate media propaganda that keeps them frightened and confused. But Bush hasn't had even a third of the people behind him since some time around the Katrina disaster, so what is with these timid congressional leaders? Are they afraid because Democrats who voice opposition to the almighty Bush machine tend to get letters containing anthrax like Tom Daschle, or dying in improbable plane crashes like Paul Wellstone? In any case, they'd better stop looking out for Bush and Cheney and look over their shoulders at the angry populace that is getting tired of waiting for principled leadership.
Howling Bush -- Meanwhile, Bush is looking increasingly bellicose about Iran. He's becoming very visibly agressive. He's not even trying to look civilized any more. Always an angry man, his anger is really boiling over. The amiable fratboy image is long gone. He makes the Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad seem mild in comparison. His hystrionics are verging on Hitlerish as he tries to make Iran the latest scapegoat of his failure. In the Guardian, Bush is quoted as saying he would like to see "an Iran whose government is accountable to its people." But why not here in the U.S.? Wouldn't that be great? Bush is really itching for wider war in the Middle East. He will push the world to the point at which there is no avoidance of growing catastrophe.