Saturday, October 20, 2007

More Clinton Money Sleaze?

What is it with the Clintons an all of the sleazy foreign investors (well, this one isn't foreign, but decided to be when it came to obtaining a political job in California. Kinda sleazy in itself, eh?)

The Democrats, according to the polls, are gonna blow it hard as that might be next year, they are gonna do it, by selecting Clinton as their nominee for reason I cannot for the life of me understand.

Hillary's Mystery Money Men


[from the November 5, 2007 issue]

In the Clintons' pursuit of power, there is no such thing as a strange bedfellow. One recently exposed inamorata was Norman Hsu, the mysterious businessman from Hong Kong who brought in $850,000 to Hillary Clinton's campaign before being unmasked as a fugitive. Her campaign dismissed Hsu as someone who'd slipped through the cracks of an otherwise unimpeachable system for vetting donors, and perhaps he was. The same cannot be said for the notorious financier Alan Quasha, whose involvement with Clinton is at least as substantial--and still under wraps.

Political junkies will recall Quasha as the controversial figure who bailed out George W. Bush's failing oil company in 1986, folding Bush into his company, Harken Energy, thus setting him on the path to a lucrative and high-profile position as an owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team, and the presidency. The persistently unprofitable Harken--many of whose board members, connected to powerful foreign interests and the intelligence community, nevertheless profited enormously--faced intense scrutiny in the early 1990s and again during Bush's first term.

Now Quasha is back--on the other side of the aisle. Operating below the radar, he entered Hillary Clinton's circle even before she declared her candidacy by quietly arranging for the hire of Clinton confidant and longtime Democratic Party money man Terry McAuliffe at one of his companies. During the interregnum between McAuliffe's chairmanship of the Democratic Party and the time he officially joined Clinton's campaign, Quasha's firm set McAuliffe up with a salary and opened a Washington office for him.

Just a few years earlier, McAuliffe had publicly criticized Bush for his financial dealings with Harken, disparaging the company's Enron-like accounting. Yet in 2005 McAuliffe accepted this cushy perch with Quasha's newly acquired investment firm, Carret Asset Management, and even brought along former Clinton White House business liaison Peter O'Keefe, who had been his senior aide at the Democratic National Committee. McAuliffe remained with the company until he became national chair of Hillary's presidential bid, and O'Keefe never left. McAuliffe's connection to Quasha has, until now, never been noted.

Another strong link between Quasha and Clinton is Quasha's business partner, Hassan Nemazee, a top Hillary fundraiser who was trotted out to defend her during the Hsu episode--in which the clothing manufacturer was unmasked as a swindler who seemingly funneled illegal contributions through "donors" of modest means.

In June, by liquidating a blind trust, the Clintons sought to distance themselves from any financial entanglements that might embarrass the campaign. Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson argued that the couple had gone "above and beyond" what was legally required "in order to avoid even the hint of a conflict of interest." But throughout their political careers, Bill and Hillary Clinton have repeatedly associated with people whose objectives seemed a million miles from "a place called Hope." Among these Alan Quasha and his menagerie--including Saudi frontmen, a foreign dictator, figures with intelligence ties and a maze of companies and offshore funds--stand out.

"That Hillary Clinton's campaign is involved with this particular cast of characters should give people pause," says John Moscow, a former Manhattan prosecutor. In the late 1980s and early '90s he led the investigation of the corrupt Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) global financial empire--a bank whose prominent shareholders included members of the Harken board. "Too many of the same names from earlier troubling circumstances suggests a lack of control over who she is dealing with," says Moscow, "or a policy of dealing with anyone who can pay."

Ideology does not seem to be the principal issue driving either Quasha or Nemazee. Nemazee backed the likes of archconservative Republican senators Jesse Helms, Sam Brownback and Al D'Amato before moving aggressively into the Democratic camp. Quasha, frequently identified as a Republican fundraiser, gave to both Bush and Al Gore in 2000 and so far in the 2008 race has given to Republicans Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani as well as Democrats Barack Obama and Chris Dodd, in addition to Hillary Clinton. But Quasha's concerted efforts to get into Clinton's inner circle are reminiscent of his relationship with a pre-Governor Bush.

A student at Harvard's business school at the same time as Bush, Quasha was a little-known New York lawyer when he took over the small Abilene-based Harken Oil in 1983, using millions from offshore accounts held in the name of family members. Quasha's now-deceased father, Manila-based attorney William Quasha, was known for his close friendship with Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his ties to US intelligence; he was also a member of the "Eagles Club" of major GOP contributors.

In 1986 Alan Quasha embraced a struggling George W. Bush, rescuing his failing Spectrum 7 oil company, folding it into Harken Energy and providing Bush with a directorship, more than $600,000 in stock and options and a consulting contract initially valued at $80,000 a year (which was raised in 1989 to $120,000). The financial setup allowed Bush to devote most of his time to the presidential campaign of his father, a former CIA director who as Vice President was the Reagan Administration's overseer of a massive outsourcing of covert intelligence operations, and who had his own warm relationship with Marcos.

Harken's financials were famously complicated. Reporters from top publications like the Wall Street Journal, Time and Fortune went at Harken with zest, but they ultimately failed to unravel all its labyrinthine activities. In 2003 Harken was described in the trade publication Platts Energy Economist as "a toxic waste dump for bad deals, with a strong odor of US intelligence spookery and chicanery about it." Indeed, the company was kept afloat by an all-star cast of financiers with ties to BCCI, Saudi intelligence, the South African apartheid regime, Marcos and the Shah of Iran. The company perennially lost money for ordinary investors while benefiting insiders like Bush, Quasha and Nemazee. Indeed, Harken has lost money nearly every year since Bush's days there, piling up cumulative losses in the hundreds of millions.

Nevertheless, in 1990, when the Dallas Times Herald ranked Harken fifth on its list of worst-performing local firms, the tiny oil refiner beat out the giant exploration company Amoco for an offshore drilling contract in Bahrain that was potentially worth billions. As George W. Bush biographer Bill Minutaglio wrote, "Oil analysts were stunned that bottom-feeding Harken...could hook such a meaty international contract...not only hadn't Harken drilled overseas, it had never drilled in water. Speculation immediately surged that it was because Bahrain wanted to do business with the son of the U.S. president."

Bush appeared to benefit from insider trading when he sold two-thirds of his stock in Harken at a peak price after the Bahrain deal--and just before news emerged that the company had failed to find oil and its share price plummeted. He also failed to report his sale of company stock on time, leading many to believe that he had something to hide. Immediately after a 1991 Wall Street Journal article detailing Bush's involvement with Harken, the SEC launched an investigation, but unsurprisingly, with George H.W. Bush in the White House, it came to nothing. The Journal article speculated that there was more to the picture:

What does emerge is a complex pattern of personal and financial relationships behind Harken's sudden good fortune in the Middle East, raising the question of whether Bahrainis or others in the Middle East may have hoped to ingratiate themselves with the White House. Even more intriguing, there are numerous links among Harken, Bahrain and individuals close to the discredited Bank of Credit & Commerce International, a banking empire that used Mideast oil money to seek ties to political leaders in several countries.

Thanks to his income from Harken, Bush was able to become managing partner of the Texas Rangers--a glamorous and highly visible sinecure that would eventually earn him nearly $15 million and make him a credible front-runner for the Texas governorship. This rescue and makeover of a ne'er-do-well son was a key step in W.'s path to political power.

Quasha's Clinton play began in 2003, when he bought Carret Asset Management, a once-revered private equity investment firm that manages nearly $2 billion in assets. Its founder, Philip Carret, a Wall Street legend and hero of Warren Buffett, died in 1998; the firm was sold twice before Quasha bought it for a song. Some were troubled when they learned the identity of the new owner. "I was horrified that he was going to hide behind my family's name," says Renee Carret, a longtime executive at the firm whose grandfather started the company in 1963. When Quasha took over, she resigned. "I just personally didn't want to be affiliated with him. There were too many questions that were left unanswered."

As his co-chair in the private firm, Quasha chose his old friend Nemazee, a fellow Harken investor. By the time of the Carret acquisition, Nemazee, a founding member of the Iranian-American Political Action Committee whose family was close with the late Shah of Iran, had become a significant fundraiser for the Clintons and the Democratic Party. In 1995 he raised money for the DNC. In 1998, in the midst of the Lewinsky affair, Nemazee collected $60,000 for Bill Clinton's legal defense fund in $10,000 increments from relatives and friends. Clinton subsequently nominated Nemazee as ambassador to Argentina but withdrew the nomination after an article in Forbes raised questions about Nemazee's business dealings in the 1980s and '90s--which noted that the American-born Nemazee magically became "Hispanic" by acquiring Venezuelan citizenship because of a requirement that certain California public pension funds be run by minorities.

Failure to be named ambassador did not, however, hamper Nemazee's rise within the Democratic Party. By 2004 he was New York finance chair for John Kerry's campaign, and in 2006 he served under Senator Chuck Schumer as the national finance chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC)--a period during which the committee raised about $25 million more than its Republican counterpart. This past March Nemazee, at the behest of McAuliffe, threw a dinner for Hillary at Manhattan's swank Cipriani restaurant, which featured Bill Clinton and raised more than $500,000.

The exact nature of McAuliffe's duties at Carret is unclear, and Quasha, Carret and McAuliffe all declined to answer The Nation's questions on this matter. But McAuliffe seems to have served, at least occasionally, as a good will ambassador for Quasha's business operations. He brought Wang Tianyi, head of a formerly state-owned Chinese firm and a business associate of Quasha's, to meet with Bill Clinton. And Quasha has visited the ex-President at his Harlem office over the past several years, according to Joe Wozny, former president of a Carret affiliate. Wozny recalls that Quasha "was up there quite a few times, meeting with Bill Clinton." As for that Washington office, the Carret website says only that it specialized in providing "information regarding products and services for institutions."

But the office seems to have benefited McAuliffe--and Hillary Clinton. When McAuliffe stepped down as DNC chair in February 2005, he said he planned to hit the lecture circuit and spend more time with his family. He may have done both, but he did so as vice chair of Carret from the new company office on the seventh floor of the venerable McPherson Building, once the home of the John Kerry campaign and just off K Street's lobbyist gulch. Simon Rosenberg's New Democrat Network, where Mark Penn, chief pollster and strategist for Hillary's campaign, has served as a fellow, was housed next door to McAuliffe and O'Keefe.

While there, McAuliffe found time to pen his memoir, What a Party!, his paean to the Clintons and his role in raising record amounts of money for them and the party. Yet the memoir itself, for which he earned a seven-figure advance, makes no mention of Carret or his role as its vice chair.

Three people working in nearby suites said they remembered McAuliffe and O'Keefe working out of the office, but none of them remembered the Carret name. Nor did any of them have any idea what McAuliffe was doing as Quasha's vice chair. One person who visited McAuliffe in the suite recalled that he was working on his book but said he was unaware of the official function of the office. "Terry holds his cards pretty close on his business activities," he said.

According to another visitor, McAuliffe was using his time to lay the groundwork for Hillary's long-anticipated presidential bid. With McAuliffe leading Clinton's ravenous fundraising operation, the possibility that Carret's Washington office was opened up, at least in part, to serve just such a function is bolstered by the fact that Carret opened the office only after hiring McAuliffe--and closed it down once he left. During that period, though no Clinton campaign committee yet existed, there were signs that he was already operating on her behalf. In 2005 he appeared on CNN's Crossfire, where the former Democratic chief did not bother to feign neutrality in the primaries: "Personally, I hope she runs," he said. "We would be lucky if she did run, I'll tell you that." In 2006 he kept one foot in Clintondom as a member of the Clinton Global Initiative, an organization whose membership is primarily by invitation to elite business leaders. Wang, whose China International Industry and Commerce partnered with Carret soon after McAuliffe joined the company, was also named to the initiative in 2006.

Meanwhile, during McAuliffe's employment at Carret, Quasha himself donated large sums to the DSCC. He gave $26,700 in June 2006 and $25,000 that October and also personally contributed $4,600, the maximum allowed, to the Hillary Clinton presidential exploratory committee.

Since his start as a young fundraiser on Carter's 1980 re-election campaign, McAuliffe has consistently melded politics, policy and private enterprise. By the time he was 30, he had launched a dozen companies, his own law firm and numerous venture capital companies. Perhaps his most controversial association was with the telecommunications company Global Crossing, where McAuliffe managed to turn a $100,000 personal investment into an $18 million windfall. After McAuliffe sold his shares and got out, the company collapsed; nearly 10,000 employees lost their jobs, and investors lost $54 billion. McAuliffe defended the firm's top executives, who were close with both the Bushes and Clintons, but went on to attack President Bush for similar patterns at Harken.

At a DNC meeting in Las Vegas in 2002, McAuliffe spoke about the recent collapse of Enron and questioned whether Bush could "restore confidence to Wall Street when he has engaged in the same practices he condemns today," a reference to Bush's Harken profiteering. That same year, associates of McAuliffe, fronted by a fake grassroots organization, released an aggressive ad campaign seeking to highlight the Harken-Bush connection.

It is not surprising, then, to learn that neither McAuliffe's connection to Carret nor Quasha's role in the firm have been widely publicized. Carret employees said they were surprised that when Quasha acquired the prestigious firm he did not choose to publicize his coup, instead keeping it quiet. In fact, the company's website does not reveal his role as chair--or much of anything about the firm. The company's chief financial officer, Marco Vega, said he was unable to provide details on Quasha's role in the company, or even to confirm his current title.

The silence is deafening. Repeated requests for interviews on this topic were ignored or rebuffed by the offices of Hillary Clinton's campaign, Bill Clinton, Alan Quasha, Hassan Nemazee, Terry McAuliffe and Peter O'Keefe. McAuliffe's spokeswoman, Tracy Sefl, who works for the Clinton-connected communications firm the Glover Park Group but represents McAuliffe informally, said that McAuliffe would not grant an interview or respond to detailed e-mailed questions on these matters. Sefl minimized McAuliffe's involvement with the company, claiming he was only "an adviser to Carret--as he was to many other companies."

But a vice chair is much more than just an adviser, and Carret's opening an office off K Street was not a casual gesture. Notably, though the DC office was closed after McAuliffe left for Hillary's campaign, McAuliffe protégé O'Keefe has stayed on as Carret's managing director for marketing--providing Quasha with an ongoing pipeline to the Clinton operation.

With an international man of mystery like Quasha, it's nigh impossible to definitively identify his endgame. But one thing he seems to have a stake in is free rein for hedge funds--and preservation of the low rate at which their profits are taxed.

In 2005, while McAuliffe was on his payroll, Quasha traveled to Bermuda to speak at the MARHedge World Wealth Summit, which addressed the topic "Hedge Fund Management in a Perilous Investment Climate." McAuliffe, too, weighed in on the well-being of hedge funds as the featured speaker at a 2006 investors' conference of the Carret unit Brean Murray, Carret & Co., where, according to advance publicity material, he planned to address the "current political debate in Washington, DC and its impact on Wall Street and the status of potential further hedge fund regulation." Also indicative of an interest in influencing hedge fund policy is the presence on Carret's International Advisory Board of Philippa Malmgren, who served as George W. Bush's liaison to the financial markets, and who often speaks and writes on politics and policy related to hedge funds.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Hillary Clinton, whose daughter, Chelsea, works for a hedge fund run by a prominent Democratic donor--came in second only to Joe Lieberman in cash raised from hedge fund managers during the 2006 election cycle. She has belatedly and reluctantly joined other presidential candidates in calling for a change in the law so that fund managers would pay taxes at the same rate as everybody else. Clearly, her supporters among hedge fund figures have much to gain by electing a President who feels Wall Street's pain.

Whatever Carret's overall objectives, the company is on the march. "We've taken the Brean Murray and the Carret platforms and expanded them into China, India, Eastern Europe and Russia, and we will be doing so in Latin America as well," Nemazee said in a 2006 interview with Leaders magazine.

While Quasha & Co. keep an eye on hedge fund regulation, they also appear to be helping the repressive Chinese government keep an eye on its own people. Brean Murray, Carret recently acted as the sole placement agent in an $8 million deal with the Shenzhen-based China Security and Surveillance Technology. China Security won a contract last year from the quasi-governmental Shenzhen Cyber Café Association to install video monitoring systems for more than 1,000 local Internet cafes, popular outlets for criticism of the regime. A Brean Murray, Carret press release celebrates its cooperation with the clampdown: "the estimated 2.19 million registered entertainment halls in China must purchase video-monitoring systems covering entrances, exits and main corridors. The Company is actively pursuing similar opportunities within the other provinces of China."

Is there cause for concern over Alan Quasha's apparent efforts to gain influence with a potential President of the United States? Amazingly, to reassure the public on the integrity of its operation, the Clinton camp has rolled out none other than Quasha's business partner Hassan Nemazee. In an interview with the New York Times on the implications of the Hsu affair, Nemazee, who describes himself as an economic policy adviser to Hillary but was identified by the Times as a "fundraising bundler for Mrs. Clinton, as Mr. Hsu had been," declared, "The Clinton campaign has done as much if not more than any campaign to protect itself from situations such as this, and none of the other campaigns, other than hypocritically, can point a finger at the Clinton campaign on fundraising problems."

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Friday, October 19, 2007

An Open Letter To Bush

9/11 Fatigue

by Olga Bonfiglio

Dear Mr. President,

I saw a clip of your news conference the other night and I am concerned about you. Your hairline is receding. Your face is wan and getting more wrinkled. You couldn’t stop giggling when you talked about World War III.

Is this job getting to you? Are you not sleeping at night? I think you may have 9/11 Fatigue.

9/11 Fatigue creeps up on you when you least expect it and it occupies every minute of your day. You start to see boogey men around each corner and tense yourself even when you’re trying to relax. You lie awake at night looking for ways to protect yourself from those who would harm you because, of course, you never know whom to trust. Worse yet, you spend endless hours trying to persuade others to join you in fighting an ever-elusive enemy. It’s almost as bad as post-traumatic stress syndrome that soldiers must contend with after serving in Iraq for their second, third, fourth and even fifth tours of duty.

I’m really worried about you, sir, because as the only visible leader left in government, if you fall, we all fall with you. So you must take care of yourself and here’s my best advice: spend more time out in Nature. I’m teaching my first-year college students to do this in a class called “Seeing the World at Three Miles an Hour.” It focuses on helping the students to slow down enough to notice nature, which I contend will allow them to enjoy life and get in touch with their deepest selves. Recently they went on a 75-minute walk in the woods where they had no cell phones, no computers, no ipods, no other people around to distract them. They experienced solitude.

You’d be amazed at how differently they looked after spending this short time in nature. One young woman couldn’t stop dancing she was so exuberant about her contact with the trees, their falling leaves, the crunching of her feet on the trail. Another student meditated on an anthill. Instead of crushing this little cone of sand as she usually does, she gingerly walked around it and felt compassion for the creatures scurrying in and around their home. Yet another student spent her time thinking about her father who had died five years before. He was a nature lover and had passed on that passion to her.

I’m so excited about what happened to my class. Their fatigue from the past four weeks of school just seemed to lift right off their faces. And so, sir, since your job seems to be wearing on you after nearly seven years, get some rest. Take a walk in the woods. (And for God’s sakes don’t ride in your pick-up truck or cut brush.) Experience the wonders of nature. Listen to the trees, talk to them and ask them for advice. (Stay away from the pines, however, they tend to pass along the secrets they hear). Take off your shoes and walk in the grass. Breathe in the autumn air and let it waft through your hair. Take a sketchpad and draw a log, a mushroom or a rock. Forget about the terrorists for a little while.

I strongly urge you to do this nature walk on your own. Even though the Secret Service has to watch over you, order them to stay out of sight so that you can just be alone with yourself for a change and not have to remember that you are the president.

If you did these things every day for an hour I think you would see the world much more differently, just as Eleanor Roosevelt did on her visits to Rock Creek Park near D.C. She found solace by simply staring at a sculpture there as she endured the difficult days of a Depression AND a war. People hated her, too, and blamed her for things that went wrong-just as they do you with this Iraq thing. And after she left the White House she continued to be a great woman just as you aspire to be a great man.

As you know, 9/11 changed everything and no president has ever had to deal with such challenges before. Lincoln had the civil war; Wilson had WWI; and FDR had WWII, but these were minor compared to what you must do to overcome those bastard terrorists. It must be exhausting work! But you must take care of yourself because, well, after all, you’re the president, Mr. President.

Better yet, think about resigning. Then you could spare your health-and the nation’s. As the decider of the free world, you just don’t seem to have that fast ball anymore to tackle such major league problems as global warming, massive migration, overpopulation, disease, hunger, oppression and social injustice. You’ve carried the ball this far in this difficult post-9/11 era and I thank you but I must say, things seem to have gotten worse in the world.

Besides, you’ll need your strength for the post-presidency, which is bound to last 20 to 30 years. You’re undoubtedly a long-ball hitter like your parents!

Of course, you’ll want to set the story straight about your legacy. Darn media won’t get it right without your direction. Or you might consider jumping out of plane like your father did in his post-presidency just to prove that he wasn’t a wimp. In that way you could show the world that you’re still relevant. That’s far more heroic than using veto power over those pathetic Democrats. You could also wear that cute little jump suit again. Gosh you looked so good back then when the mission in Iraq had been accomplished. Those were the days!

Please, sir. Give it a rest, sir. You’ll be doing yourself-and all of us-a big favor.

Olga Bonfiglio is a professor at Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and author of Heroes of a Different Stripe: How One Town Responded to the War in Iraq. She has written for several national magazines on the subjects of social justice and religion. Her website is Contact her at

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

It's All Gonna Be Over By 2012 Anyway

Nice Thought. Keeps me going.

Hope The Mayans are right. Who can stand much more of this insanity?

Wi-Fi, the Death of Us All
You are going to die. Wireless gizmos are devouring your brain, right now. Very sorry

by Mark Morford

It goes like this: We are all made of energy, electromagnetic waves and harmonic vibrations and a zillion throbbing electro-particles pulsing and spinning in quietly charged fields, all manner of happy ions floating in micro oceans of water and blood and vodka and we are humming and singing in what is ostensibly some sort of perfect divine balance of harmony and love and rainbow-shaped joy.

And then, life happens. Progress. Technology. Cars and light bulbs and microwaves and cell phones and iPods and giant orange variable-speed KitchenAid blenders, all causing a billion invisible radioactive bolts to zing through the air like ghosts of sad destiny, like imperceptible projectiles of doom, all invariably disrupting our precious bodily vibes and penetrating our cell structures and molesting our brain waves and sending us cartwheeling toward early cancer and death and decay and really lousy Internet connectivity at the goddamn airport.

This, you might say, is the downside of existing. Everything we create wants to kill us. Everything we invent or lick or insert into our orifices actually erodes our very beings and slowly eats away at our life force and wants us dead dead dead because, well, this is just the way it works: You’re born, gravity grabs hold and it’s pretty much all downhill from there. And God went, shrug.

The best part of all: The list of dangers gets longer by the minute.

Latest example: wi-fi. It is, apparently, the bitchin’ new death-threat du jour, coming hot on the heels of cell phones and microwaves and power lines - all of which, as we all know, cause certain brain cancer, at least in some laboratory mice, which of course might simply mean that laboratory mice should never, ever microwave their wi-fi cell phones near a power line. But never mind that now.

It’s an issue. It’s a hip new fear. Radiation and electromagnetic fields (EMFs) pumped out by all the scary new wi-fi hubs are washing over us like buckets of hot Velveeta almost nonstop, and it’s only getting crazier and more concentrated by the minute as technology advances and cell phones proliferate and wi-fi reaches its slippery invisible fingers into every nook and cranny and Starbucks in the universe.

So, how do you slow the bombardment? How do you deflect? Do you buy yourself, say, a nice purple plate and some EMF protection body spray and never, ever rub your face against the microwave oven? Or does our love of wireless technology and surfing for cheap porn and buying crap on eBay over your iPhone spell imminent doom for us all?

Europe is, apparently, all over it. The European Environmental Agency has already issued some sort of vague warning to the populace that current radiation limits are “thousands of times too lenient” and that wi-fi and cell phones are (maybe, probably) really, really bad, so bad that they can’t even fathom just how bad because the technology is multiplying so quickly it’s creating radiation levels “unprecedented in human history.” Which sounds pretty bad indeed.

(Side note: I just love this one weird little cognitive study sent to me by a friend recently; it claims that spending a mere 20 seconds on a cell phone will disrupt a child’s ability to learn for up to two hours. I mean, wow.

I do not exactly know what this means. I do not know if, after saying hi to grandma on the Nokia, the kid starts drooling and stuttering and suddenly wants to vote for Mitt Romney, or if she suddenly can’t walk, or learn advanced calculus, or solve world hunger.

What the study fails to mention, of course, is that watching five minutes of “American Idol” will set your kid’s brain back six years, or that bible camp will likely stunt genital development for 20 years, or that joining the Republican Party will turn the dial of your kid’s planetary awareness to that of a bedwetting homoerotically repressed 11-year-old boy, and lock it there for life. Maybe that’s an upcoming study).

So then, where is the threshold? How alarmed should you be? Is the EMF threat just exaggerated silliness, just fear of the new and the misunderstood, much like the terrified “experts” who saw the first metal bicycles back in the 1800s and believed that, at the crazy rates of speed those gadgets could attain, the wind pressure would be so intense it would actually peel the skin from your face? Should our government step in and set new limits and ban wi-fi from schools and kindergartens and Gymboree?

I do not mean to make too much light. I actually do believe, at least a little, that unchecked levels of EMFs can’t really be all that healthy, that danger does indeed lurk in our obsession with more/better/shinier/faster technologies and that the ominous hazards and the ongoing wash of radiation may be invisible and silent but that doesn’t mean they’re not as lethal and corrosive as, say, that feeling you get watching Dick Cheney breathe.

This is where it gets tricky. Convoluted. Because I’m very much of the mind that certain megacorporations and demonic industries of the world could not give a flying crap about humanity in relation to profits, would stop at almost nothing to beef up their bottom lines at the expense of human life. (Hi, Monsanto/Dow/ConAgra!)

So then, is there a giant cover-up? A massive conspiracy? Is Verizon in bed with AT&T and Nokia and Motorola and Google and Earthlink, and are they all much like, say, the toxic slaughterhouses of the early 1900s or the oil/pesticide/tobacco industries of 1998, lying and lobbying and creeping their way into your wallet by way of poisoning your bloodstream?

Or is it more like, say, the big silly Y2K scare, all hype and panic and total imminent meltdown of the entire known universe, except that it wasn’t?

Answer: No one has the slightest clue. Or rather, that’s about all we really have: haphazard clues, vague extrapolations, tiny hints of possibility, all wrapped in those sweet, timeless, chthonic whispers pointing to our imminent demise. You know, same as it ever was.

Maybe it’s better, as it so often is, to take the larger view, the one that says yes, sure, absolutely be aware of the dangers and minimize where you can and watch for abuse and keep close tabs on the cellular/wi-fi bigwigs, because there is certainly no historical precedent that says such corporations won’t sell the very marrow from your bones for an uptick in their stock price.

But at the same time, I think it’s always delightfully good to keep in mind that happy note of divine fatalism, the notion that life is pretty much always, every minute, working very, very hard to kill you. But in a really nice way.

Quietly, slowly, bit by bit and blink by blink and often with a smile and an organic chai tea and a big green salad and a whole steaming pile of free wi-fi at the coffee shop so you can post semi-naked pix to your Flickr stream and download the new Radiohead and flirt mightily with the hot barista and silently sing the praises of a divinely weird, messy, radioactive universe.

All told, not a bad way to go, really.

Thoughts for the author? E-mail him. Mark Morford’s Notes & Errata column appears every Wednesday and Friday on SFGate and in the Datebook section of the San Francisco Chronicle.

© The San Francisco Chronicle

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Idiot Boy Does It Again!

Is there anyway to shut this guy's mouth?

Much of the president’s press conference today was devoted to discussion of the administration’s policy towards Iran, which was not at all encouraging. At one point, Bush said, “I’ve told people that if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.”

Matt Yglesias explained how discouraging this is.

Two points. One: This is inane. World War III? Against Iran? Really? Because Iran seems a lot like a medium-sized middle income country with few military capabilities rather than a near peer-competitor of the sort against which you might fight a world war.

Two: Note where Bush has placed the goalposts here. Not preventing Iran from having a nuclear weapon. Preventing Iran from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon. I’m not sure what the significance of that switch is, but it seems significant.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Mulkasey Compares U.S. Torture To Nazis

Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey’s confirmation hearings got underway this morning, and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) explored Mukasey’s position on administration torture policies. His response was surprising.

Not only did Michael Mukasey repudiate the so-called 2002 “torture memo” signed by Office of Legal Counsel chief Jay Bybee — which appears to have survived in spirit, if not in letter — but he compared U.S. torture to the Holocaust. […]

The Bybee memo is “worse than a sin, it’s a mistake,” Mukasey said. He referenced the photographs taken by U.S. troops who liberated the Nazi concentration camps in 1945 to document the “barbarism” the U.S. opposed. “They didn’t do that so that we could then duplicate it ourselves.” Beyond legal restrictions barring torture clearly, torture is “antithetical to everything this country stands for.”

Greg Sargent had the same reaction I did — weren’t Republicans apoplectic when Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said something similar two years ago?

One suspects the ensuing firestorm to Mukasey’s remarks will be a little less intense (which is to say, non-existent).

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Inquiry urged on Hunt Oil contract in Iraq

Democrats say Bush ties may have led to Iraq oil contract
10:48 PM CDT on Monday, October 15, 2007
By DAVE MICHAELS / The Dallas Morning News

WASHINGTON – Democratic lawmakers moved Monday toward investigating Hunt Oil's oil exploration contract in Iraq, saying the company's ties to President Bush raised questions about whether it had insider information that helped it reach the deal.

U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, asked Hunt to turn over all Iraq-related communication with the U.S. government by Nov. 2.

The lawmakers also demanded that Ray Hunt, Hunt Oil's chief executive, submit copies of information he may have received about Iraq as a member of Mr. Bush's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.

A Hunt spokeswoman said the company would cooperate with the request for "certain limited information."

Spokeswoman Jeanne Phillips said the company's judgment to explore for oil in the Kurdish region of Iraq was made without U.S. government advice.

"As we have stated before, our policy as a company is to act independently when determining where to explore for oil and gas around the world," Ms. Phillips said in a prepared statement.

Mr. Hunt, 64, has not talked about his service on the intelligence board, which meets about six times a year. Its members, all presidential appointees, have security clearances, and much of their work is classified.

Former board members and intelligence experts said its members don't often deal with specific intelligence.

Instead, they focus on broader concerns, such as whether one agency is cooperating with another or how a training program is working.

"Their job is to advise the president about the efficiency of the intelligence systems and where things need to be changed," said Arthur S. Hulnick, a CIA veteran who is now an associate professor of international relations at Boston University.

"It is more management than substantive."

That said, members must study intelligence-gathering efforts if they are expected to judge how the system works, Mr. Hulnick said.

"They clearly have to see it – things like estimates and daily reports, finished intelligence and analyzed intelligence," he said.

Although Mr. Waxman's committee has subpoena power, the lawmakers did not indicate whether they would compel Hunt officials to testify.

"We are in the information-gathering stage," said Natalie Laber, a spokeswoman for Mr. Kucinich. "Before we hold hearings, we gather information."

Mr. Waxman, D-Calif., has held a series of contentious, Iraq-related hearings in recent months, including one at which Democrats grilled Blackwater, the State Department's private security contractor. Members also investigated corruption in the Iraqi government.

Last month, Mr. Bush said he was concerned about Hunt's deal if it jeopardized Iraq's ability to pass a national oil-sharing law. In their letter to Hunt, Mr. Waxman and Mr. Kucinich asserted that Hunt's deal "may have undermined U.S. national policy of working toward the passage of an oil revenue sharing plan."

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's oil minister has called Hunt's deal illegal. Congressional Democrats have jumped into the fray, saying Hunt Oil signed its deal with the Kurdistan Regional Government because it has insider information about the future of Iraq's national oil law.

"Ray Hunt is in a unique position to know what is happening in Iraq," said Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., chairman of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.

Ms. Phillips said Hunt Oil's decision to enter Iraq was based only on information that "was in the public domain."

Hunt Oil and the Kurdistan Regional Government have said that their deal complies with the national constitution and noted that the agreement calls for sharing revenue with other regions of Iraq. They said Mr. Hunt's political relationships were irrelevant to the firm's decision to explore in Iraq.

"The outcome of the deliberations for the national hydrocarbons law will not affect this agreement one way or another," Qubad Talabani, Washington representative of the Kurdistan Regional Government, said recently.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

GOP Can't Handle The Truth

Republicans Object To Stark Comments On War

Can't Handle The Truth

By Josephine Hearn

(The Politico) House Republicans objected today to comments made by outspoken liberal Democratic Rep. Pete Stark of California on the Iraq war during debate on the override of President Bush's veto of the children's health program.

Speaking on the House floor, Stark said, "Under the Republican plan, by
2017, we probably will have killed 20,000 soldiers in Iraq, spending
$200 billion."

Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) rose to protest the remark and asked that Stark's words be taken down, a formal procedure to punish a member of Congress for breaching the House's standards of decorum.

The chair later ruled that Stark's comment did not refer to any specific House member and thus were appropriate.

Earlier in the SCHIP debate, Stark had made other spirited remarks.

“You don't have money to fund the war or children,'' he said. "But you're going to spend it to blow up innocent people if we can get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the president's amusement."

Responding promptly and harshly to Stark, the National Republican Congressional Committee declared he had "trampled on the sacrifice of our troops."

The President is not a troop. Rep. Stark's remarks unusually truthful for any chamber on the Hill, were clearly about that asshat, not Rethugs in Congress, though they are just as guilty, as will be the Democrats if they don't get off their asses and do something.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Se. Leahy on Mulkasey Nomination

Restoring the rule of law

October 18, 2007

Following is the text of the opening statement by Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on the nomination of Michael Mukasey as attorney general:

Early this year, as we began our consideration of the United States attorney firing scandal, I observed that we faced the most serious threat to the effectiveness and professionalism of the United States Department of Justice since the days of the Saturday Night Massacre, when President Nixon forced the firing of special prosecutor Archibald Cox.

I noted that unlike during Watergate, this time there was no Elliot Richardson or William Ruckelshaus around to defend the independence of federal prosecutors. Instead, high officials at the department and their staffs were complicit with White House political operatives. Now, the entire senior leadership and their staffs have resigned, as have Karl Rove and his two top aides at the White House.

The crisis of leadership that led to these resignations has taken a heavy toll on the tradition of independence that had long guided the Department of Justice and protected it from political influence. The firing of the U.S. attorneys, who are the chief federal law enforcement officers in their districts, sent a message to all U.S. attorneys and the career prosecutors working in those offices that only "loyal Bushies" would keep their jobs or advance in their careers. This crisis has taken a heavy toll in morale at the department and in confidence among the American people. As a former prosecutor I know that the dismay runs deep, from the career attorneys at Justice and in our U.S. attorney offices, straight down to the cops on the beat.

I start this hearing as I did the hearing this committee held on the last attorney general nomination, hoping to be able to support the nominee. After that hearing in 2005, I decided that I could not vote for the confirmation of Alberto Gonzales. I did so noting, as Justice James Iredell had in 1792, that the person who serves as attorney general "is not called attorney general of the president, but attorney general of the United States." There is good reason why the rule of law requires that we have an attorney general and not merely a secretary of the Department of Justice. This is a different kind of Cabinet position, distinct from all the others, and it requires greater independence. The departing attorney general never understood this. Instead, he saw his role as a facilitator for this White House's overreaching policies and partisan politics.

Restoring the Department of Justice begins by restoring integrity and independence to the position of attorney general of the United States. The attorney general's duty is to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law — not to work to circumvent it. Both the president and the nation are best served by an attorney general who gives sound advice and takes responsible action, without regard to political considerations — not one who develops legalistic loopholes to serve the ends of a particular administration. The attorney general cannot interpret our laws to mean whatever the current president wants them to mean. The attorney general is supposed to represent all of the American people, not just one of them.

Regrettably, the former attorney general enabled this administration to continue policies that are in fundamental conflict with American values, decades of law, sound military practice, international law, and human rights. We see it demonstrated, yet again, in the recent revelation that even after waging and losing a public battle to resist congressional efforts to outlaw torture and honor our obligations, this administration, enabled by the Justice Department, apparently secretly doubled back to redefine "torture" and "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment" to allow the very conduct Congress had outlawed.

We have seen departures from this country's honorable traditions, practices, and established law in connection with interrogation methods that we condemn when they are used by others. Likewise, we have seen political influence corrupt the Department of Justice when it has departed from its longstanding practices and tradition, practices that historically serve to insulate it from partisanship in law enforcement. This lawlessness led to Abu Ghraib, Haditha, and Blackwater. And valuing loyalty over competence and accountability led to the bumbling aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the failure to care for wounded veterans at Walter Reed, and the purge among U.S. attorneys.

There is much that has gone wrong that this administration has stubbornly refused to admit or correct. When President Bush ascribed Attorney General Gonzales' resignation to supposed "unfair treatment' and having "his good name ... dragged through the mud for political reasons," he mischaracterized the clear facts about a U.S. attorney firing scandal that has decimated morale at the Department of Justice. To reclaim our moral leadership, we need to acknowledge wrongdoing. These hearings are about a nomination, but these hearings are also about accountability.

We need a new attorney general. We need someone who understands that the responsibilities and duties of that office are not to act as a mouthpiece or validator for the administration, or as the chief defense lawyer for the White House. We are reminded by the examples of Elliot Richardson and William Ruckelshaus from the Watergate era — and more recently the examples of James Comey, Jack Goldsmith, and Alberto Mora — that law enforcement officials must enforce the law without fear or favor to their benefactors at the White House or their political party. We have now seen what happens when the rule of law plays second fiddle to a president's policy agenda and the partisan desires of political operatives.

We are the most powerful nation on earth, the most powerful nation the world has ever known, a country that cherishes liberty and human rights, a nation that has been a beacon of hope and freedom to the world. We face vicious enemies, and we need the confidence and the resolve to understand that we can and must defeat them without sacrificing our values and stooping to their level.

This is a job interview for a big job that has become even bigger. Along with helping keep Americans safe, protecting their rights, combating crime and enforcing the law, and managing more than 100,000 employees and a budget extending into the tens of billions of dollars, the next attorney general must regain public trust and begin the process of repair and restoration.

This nomination can begin the repair process. I hope all members of the Judiciary Committee, Democrats and Republicans alike, will join to restore the constitutional checks and balances that have been systematically eroded by this administration, and I hope that we can begin that process this week. I welcome the nominee and urge him to answer our questions so that we can join together in restoring the Department of Justice to be worthy of its name. The American people expect and deserve no less.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

WTF Is Really Going On With Junior?

Will Durst: Our Offspring Fontanelle

Oooh. He's clever. And obviously knows exactly what he's doing. This is all a setup, people. Has to be. Yes, I'm talking about George Bush's veto of the State Children's Health Insurance Program. Who, but a total stoned horned ogre would do that? Maybe an ogre with something up his sleeve, eh? Has anyone thought of that? I'm just waiting for him to drop the other shoe. Or throw it at a crippled puppy. Either way, there's a hidden agenda in there somewhere.

(Actually, being a child of the 60s, I have known some really stoned people in my lifetime and none of them were any where near as as stupid as Junior, stoned or straight)

To intimate, it didn't seem like his finest hour is akin to saying that sinking your IRA into tying live vampire bats to a horizontal stick and trying to sell them to the Fisher Price people as above-crib mobiles is probably not your best retirement strategy. As public relations go, this was on the order of handing out celebratory exploding cigars near the oxygen tents of an intensive care ward.

Does he seriously want us to believe he has no problem asking for another 190 billion for his oil war, but can't find 7 billion a year for children's health care? Are you kidding me? "No child left behind." More like "no child left standing." The man has opened himself up to charges of criminal child neglect. An Amber Alert featuring Air Force One should be triggered.

Crazy? Like a fox. He scuttled the S-CHIP hush-hush style. Like a cat burglar at night in a closet with the lights off under a raincoat wearing a ski mask and a fake ZZ Top beard. The legislation was intended to reduce the number of children without health insurance and extend coverage to several million more poor children. But the threat that some wrong kids might inadvertently receive coverage makes that totally unacceptable? Who believes that?

Oh, we know the President's public stance: he doesn't want to slide down the slippery slope toward socialized medicine by expanding the program to higher-income families. But he's not as dumb as he looks. Surely he knows when it comes to kids, America's got a collective soft spot right at the top of our heads. Call it our offspring fontanelle.

That's why this has to be a ruse. Accusing Democrats of authoring a plan that would hurt children... that doesn't even make sense. Here's the deal; since the Prez is not up for re-election ever again, he's in league with party leadership and they're using this dodge in a drastic attempt for the GOP to hang onto the White House. Painting the Bush Administration as so malevolent that in comparison all the '08 Republican candidates look like latter day saints of Jesus Christ. You know what I mean.

And we better hope this works, or the next public event is bound to be even more provocative. I can see it now: Bush emceeing an apple pie poisoning exhibition, right after a quick round of mom-slapping held on the South Lawn by the light of a massive teddy bear bonfire with refreshments of barbecued pet parakeet skewers and goldfish shakes.

The vote to override the S-CHIP veto comes in a week or so, and it will be interesting to see if the Democrats can stir any movement from across the aisle using this issue as a crowbar the size of Idaho. Or if they'll just roll over on their bellies and dare the President to keep throwing shoes at them. The grey matter beneath the soft spot in my head makes me suspect the latter.

Former bike messenger Will Durst thinks he has a fontanelle near his liver, which can't be good.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

If there Ever Is A War....

that is "internationally and constitutionally legal and "morally just" in which the U.S. finds it must fight, every family must contribute both blood and money, including the sons and daughters of everyone on the Hill and in the White House, as well as from families from every socio-economic class

Dissent from the Front Lines

by Robert Scheer

When will we listen to the troops? I’m not talking about soldiers used as props for a George Bush photo op, telling reporters what Washington wants to hear. The military is disciplined and thus accustomed, from Gen. David Petraeus on down, to toeing the official line. But the Iraq war has also produced brilliant messages of dissent from the ranks that should cause us to stop in our tracks and reconsider what we have wrought. First, a group of sergeants came forward, and on Tuesday it was the captains’ turn to speak out.

In “The War as We Saw It,” an eloquent Op-Ed article published in The New York Times in August, seven sergeants summarized the futility of their 15 months of fighting in Iraq: “To believe that Americans, with an occupying force that long ago outlived its reluctant welcome, can win over a recalcitrant local population and win this counterinsurgency is farfetched.” After penning that crie de cour, two of the soldiers died in Iraq and a third was severely wounded.

On Tuesday, The Washington Post printed “The Real Iraq We Knew,” by 12 former Army captains, all of whom served in Iraq. It begins: “Today marks five years since the authorization of military force in Iraq, setting Operation Iraqi Freedom in motion. Five years on, the Iraq war is as undermanned and under-resourced as it was from the start. And, five years on Iraq is in shambles. As Army captains who served in Baghdad and beyond, we’ve seen the corruption and the sectarian division. We understand what it’s like to be stretched too thin. And we know when it’s time to get out.”

How come those brave veterans know it’s time to get out, but leading Democrats, who voted for the war to be authorized, are still pussyfooting about quickly removing the troops from this ever-deepening quagmire? They’re jockeying for political advantage, knowing that drawing out the war hurts the Republicans. It is a deeply cynical ploy that works only because with our all-volunteer military, most Americans don’t have to face the choice of sacrificing themselves or their loved ones in a futile and losing war.

Yes, it costs the taxpayers, but so do the “Halo 3″ video games they are purchasing in record numbers, and for most Americans, Iraq is a make-believe war. Even the cost seems unreal, as Bush is the first president in U.S. history to cut taxes in a time of war, with the result that more than a trillion dollars in long-term obligations will not come due while his administration has to foot the bills.

If there was a draft, people would be in the streets demanding an end to this carnage, which now threatens to go on for decades. That is precisely what the neocon ideologues who got us into this mess built their fantasies on: a volunteer force, supplemented by hundreds of thousands of contractors (including 50,000 mercenary troops like those from Blackwater) and the purchase of largely irrelevant but highly profitable high-tech weaponry, although they forgot about simple armor for the troops.

The most fraudulent neocon claim was that pro-Western, even pro-Israel Iraqis, like their favorite, the now totally discredited Ahmed Chalabi, would police the country as surrogates for the U.S., and that Iraqi oil sales would pay for it all. The 12 captains, who worked with the locals, are very clear as to the forlorn outcome of that plan: ” … many of us witnessed the exploitation of U.S. tax dollars by Iraqi officials and military officers. Sabotage and graft have had a particularly deleterious impact on Iraq’s oil industry which still fails to produce the revenue that Pentagon war planners hoped would pay for Iraq’s reconstruction.”

As for that other ongoing illusion-that we are turning power over to Iraqi forces we have trained-the captains write: “Iraqi soldiers quit at will. The police are effectively controlled by militias. And … corruption is debilitating. U.S. tax dollars enrich self-serving generals and support the very elements that will battle each other after we’re gone.”

Building an empire on the cheap and by proxy doesn’t work. If you want one, and of course most of us don’t, since only a few fat cats benefit from such imperial adventures, you need a vast conscript army.

As the captains put it: “There is only one way we might be able to succeed in Iraq. To continue an operation of this intensity and duration, we would have to abandon our volunteer military for compulsory service. Short of that, our best option is to leave Iraq immediately.” Enough said.

Robert Scheer is editor of and a regular columnist for The San Francisco Chronicle.

© 2007

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Are We Still That Stupid? Probably.

I don't really know, Father, but I wouldn't bet much on our IQ as a nation at the moment. Besides, what good would it do. We would have to burn D.C. to the ground to stop it.

Will We Fall For War Vs. Iran?

by Andrew Greeley

It would appear, according to news reports, that the hard-liners in the Bush administration, led by the vice president, are pushing for a war with Iran. The tactics are the same. Once you’ve played the fear card to start one war, the second time is easier.

Iran is a threat to American security and freedom. They are trying to build nuclear bombs to use against us. They are already killing Americans in Iraq. They hate us and our freedom. Eliminating the Iranian government and destroying its nuclear facilities is essential to the security of the United States and part of the international war on terror.

Will the shell game work again? I would like to think that it would not, that the American people will not be won over by “war on terror” propaganda, that Congress would not be taken in this time (not even Sen. Hillary Clinton), and that the national media would raise a loud hue and cry against yet another “preemptive war.”

Yet surely the hawks would shout once again that in a “national security emergency” the commander in chief has the power to go to war without authorization from Congress. The president might argue that Gen. David Petraeus approved the attack. Indeed, those on the dark side could even suggest that a presidential election could be “postponed” until the Iranian crisis is over — and like the Iraq crisis, that might be never.

Once you have stolen one and maybe two presidential elections, it’s relatively easy to steal a third, especially as part of the “global war on terror” and a “national security emergency.”

A year ago, I would not have suspected that such a scenario could possibly be taken seriously. I’m not so sure anymore. The claims made for the almost unlimited power of the commander in chief seem to make anything, however bizarre, possible. Despite intense national opposition to the war in Iraq, there are enough “patriotic” cement heads in the country to provide support for such a project.

Cries like “nuke the Iranians before they nuke us” would be heard in the land. It might tip the national election to a Republican candidate — perhaps the 9/11 candidate from New York City — and to a majority of Republicans in Congress.

The president could even hint that such a war was ”the right thing to do,” a conclusion he had reached after a long conversation with God.

There is precious little that those who are opposed to such a war could do. The president, his vice president could assert, is the commander in chief. He has the inherent power to start a war if he deems it necessary for the security of the country. The National Security Council could eavesdrop on opponents to the war, and the FBI could turn up with “national security letters” to probe into the lives of these “security risks.” The pliant Supreme Court, having permitted the president to seize an election on the grounds of equal rights under the law, could easily phony up an argument that Justices Scalia and Thomas and their allies would support.

Perhaps the House could vote a bill of impeachment but there are not enough votes for conviction in the Senate. And the president could dismiss such an action as a violation of his powers as commander in chief.

Certainly Congress could pass a joint resolution now against such a war. But they would need half a dozen Republican senators to support it. That’s not likely to happen. And the president could claim that he has the inherent power to ignore such a resolution.

When it comes to war in this administration, Dick Cheney always gets his way.

Andrew Greeley is a priest in good standing of the Archdiocese of Chicago. for 52 years, a columnist for 40 years, a sociologist for 45 years, a novelist for 28 years, distinguished lecturer at the University of Arizona for 28 , research associate at National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago for 46 years.

© Copyright 2007 Sun-Times News Group

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Hold Hearings On The Hill. "Let Truth Reign."

Go to Original

Internal CIA Probe Worries Congress Aides
By Greg Miller
The Los Angeles Times

Wednesday 17 October 2007

Committee staffers voice concern that the independence of the agency's inspector general could be compromised.

Washington — Congressional officials voiced new concern Tuesday over CIA Director Michael V. Hayden's decision to make the agency's inspector general the target of an internal probe.

Seeking to defuse the issue, Robert L. Deitz, a senior CIA attorney in charge of the probe, briefed both the House and Senate intelligence committees Tuesday.

But congressional aides said the sessions did little to assuage concerns that the inquiry could undermine the independence of the inspector general, the main in-house watchdog for the nation's leading spy service.

"I don't think that we were satisfied with the discussion," said a Senate aide who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the issue's sensitivity. "They gave us their view, but I think there is a great deal of skepticism on our part over whether this is a smart thing for them to be doing."

The congressional panels could hold formal hearings on the issue or otherwise put pressure on Hayden to alter the scope or nature of the inquiry, which former CIA officials have described as unprecedented.

The probe is focused on the conduct of Inspector General John G. Helgerson. He has been accused of bias and unfair treatment by senior agency officials and veteran spies singled out for criticism in a series of internal reports.

Some of the complaints are said to come from case officers involved in the CIA's terrorist detention and interrogation operations, which have been a focus of Helgerson's scrutiny for several years.

Helgerson, who has held the inspector general position since 2002, also has been harshly critical of former CIA Director George J. Tenet and other senior officials for their roles in intelligence failures leading up to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

CIA spokesman George Little confirmed that Deitz, who has long-standing ties to Hayden, had met with the House and Senate intelligence committees on Tuesday, but declined to discuss the information Deitz shared.

"We don't think it's appropriate to comment one way or the other on discussions between agency officials and congressional staffers that occur in closed session," Little said. "And it's unfortunate that others have chosen not to hold to that standard."

Deitz described the inquiry as a broad probe of the inspector general's conduct, according to sources familiar with the discussion.

Deitz also said that the CIA was reluctant to invite an outside panel to review Helgerson's work, in part because that would require the agency to share information with outsiders on some of its most closely guarded activities, including its secret overseas prison system.

A special President's Council on Integrity and Effectiveness was established to review allegations against government inspectors general. But CIA officials have characterized the probe as a management review that didn't rise to the level of enlisting outside help.

Key lawmakers and former CIA officials have questioned that decision, saying it sets a confusing and potentially damaging precedent to have the CIA director investigate its inspector general.

"Whatever conclusions one may draw about the motive for undertaking this," the Senate aide said, "it has the potential for sending a message to people that it is an attempt to undermine the work of the IG."

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

The NeCons Fix Is In

The ‘Fix’

by Cindy Sheehan

There is quite a lot of interesting, but wild, speculation running around the blog-o-sphere, progressive circles and just plain dinner conversation these days about whether BushCo will allow a peaceful and constitutional transfer of Executive power in the ‘08 elections.

Unless or until George Bush appears on our TV boxes one night, wearing a dark blue suit, white shirt and red tie with his hands sweatily clasped in a desperate death grip on top of his desk in the Oval Office, telling us that some catastrophic event, whether man-made or natural, has just occurred somewhere, and he must, for the good of the Homeland, declare martial law and “temporarily” suspend elections, the fears of many people are truly speculative. In my nightmare scenario, after George drops this fascist bomb and kills the rest of our Republic, he will tell us not to worry and to go about our holiday shopping, traveling and celebrating: it’s the American way, after all. God Bless America.

The order of events in the conversations I have heard or read go something like this: BushCo and Congress, Inc. are ramping up the rhetoric for an attack on Iran (true). In their little minds and black hearts they still assume that most of us are still stupid and we will believe anything they ever say again (true). Yet, they have told us that Iran and Ahmadinejad have done just about everything except try to assassinate George’s Pop (still true). So, if you believes that 9-11 was a “false flag” op, then you say that BushCo will engineer ANOTHER false flag op, blame Iran, declare martial law, (George can do that unilaterally now because of Presidential Directive 51) and attack Iran, possibly using “strategic” nuclear strikes on “military” targets. Then of course, when our Homeland is in such a terrible state of emergency, it would be an awful idea to “change horses in the middle of the stream,” you know, so we must suspend elections, thereby staging yet BushCo’s third coup in a row, the first two being the stolen elections of 2000 and 2004.

If, God forbid, any of this does happen, my guess is most of us will go shopping and have our holidays as usual; however, I am not so certain that martial law or even suspending elections will be necessary. Whoever becomes our president in 2008 will likely be more than happy to continue the neo-con agenda of global, imperial and military American hegemony.

The likely nominee for the Democratic Party will be Hillary Clinton, a Fem-Bush who has been virtually endorsed by George and accepts money from Rupert Murdoch, he of Fox “News” infamy and who will soon own every newspaper and cable news network in the Homeland. Hillary guarantees and assures us that if she is elected she could nuke Iran and maybe, just maybe have most of our troops home from Iraq by the end of her first term. One would have to step down onto the 2nd tier of Democratic hopefuls to find a candidate who would guarantee us a swift end to the occupation of Iraq, but they are no match to the money or machine behind the Clinton mojo.

I don’t want to even discuss who is likely to be the Republican nominee, because besides having little foreign policy difference between any of them and Hillary, any one of them would be a complete disaster on matters of war and peace, with the possible exception of Ron Paul (Tx). Even though many of them, (except Rudy Giuliani who had the “honor” of standing on a pile of rubble at Ground Zero with George after 9-11 and sharing a bull-horn with him), distance themselves from the miserable failure of the Bush regime, they will all joyfully allow themselves to be used by the military industrial complex, after all, every president since FDR has. There is no reason to think any Repug or Dem will break with this deadly pattern.

The “fix” is in, folks.

The “fix” stopped Al Gore, who really won the 2000 election, from fighting for our country and our constitution by supporting those Congressional members who begged him, through tears, to sign on to continue the recount in Florida. The “fix” stopped millions of Americans from pouring into the streets to protest the fact that the Supreme Court treasonously and treacherously appointed the less than mediocre governor of Texas as next president of the USA, (which wasn’t the Homeland, yet).

The “fix” is why Kerry cave into George faster then anyone could even say “recount” in 2004, breaking so many hearts and crushing so many hopes.

The “fix” is the elite establishment status quo of the way things have “always been.” We have always had just a Democratic and Republican Party, right? Wrong!

The “fix” is in the mainstream media, which rarely discusses any substantive issues and has in the past intentionally misled the Homeland in its partnership with BushCo to glorify war while hiding, or glossing over, its awful costs and consequences.

The “fix” is in compromised voting machines whose programs are written by the elite establishment and the “fix” is in the disenfranchisement, literally and spiritually, of hordes of voters who have seen their votes go uncounted for years and who see their “elected” representatives ignore the will of their constituents, in any case.

The “fix” is in We the People who believe that we some how owe any kind of allegiance or support to the elite establishment who have impoverished, imprisoned, oppressed and killed our children for generations while we furiously, but inexplicably, cling to a status quo that clearly only benefits a very chosen few. It is acceptable to protest obvious infractions like the illegal and immoral occupation of Iraq…but don’t scratch the surface too deeply because we are not sure of what may ooze out. What emerges may be something that is very hard to acknowledge, let alone face and overcome.

George Bush simply does not want to be President any longer. You can see it in every twitch (when I think he is really trying to smirk), every gray hair and every line on his face. He desperately wants to go back to Texas and go on permanent vacation to give high paid lectures (?) to pad his bank account so he can jog, ride bikes, clear brush, and live the rest of his life with the moral certitude of a simpleton. He looks like he is barely being held together by baling-wire, spit and some judiciously placed wads of bubble gum. Stick a fork in him: he’s done. I do not even think that Dastardly Dick could force him to remain President after January, ‘09. I hope I am right, but there is still the “I can not put anything past the Bush Crime Cabal” factor.

Barring an electoral revolution of American citizens wanting to fix the “fix” by voting with our humanity, consciences and integrity, instead of out of fear that the greater criminal will win, we will be faced with two choices, depending on one’s perspective: Evil or Less Evil.

I will break my voting hand before I vote for Mr./Ms. Lesser of Two Evils ever again.

Join me in taking the Voters for Peace Pledge.

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The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.