Thursday, July 31, 2008

A fine new motto

The famous saying from John Maynard Keynes, the father of modern macroeconomics is, "In the long run ... we're all dead." Today I saw another, better quote from him in the sig of a commenter to a killer (though perhaps too optimistic) post today by the legendary Billmon @ dKos: "Words ought to be a little wild for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking."

So that's why I write that way....

Ich bin ein Cassandra

Sy Hersh, today, reporting on a conversation in Darth Cheney's office:

There was a dozen ideas proffered about how to trigger a war. The one that interested me the most was why don’t we build — we in our shipyard — build four or five boats that look like Iranian PT boats. Put Navy seals on them with a lot of arms. And next time one of our boats goes to the Straits of Hormuz, start a shoot-up.

Yr humble scribe, April 2006:

Absent provocation like the sinking of a few U.S. ships, Bush will never get away with going nukular against Iran. So how to provoke Iran into taking the gambit? "Incredibly, we are on now upon the second iteration of that genus of questions. We know that Bush talked with Tony Blair about how to goad Saddam into throwing the first punch against us three years ago." It is probably safe to assume that such high-school logic still prevails. So the Administration will look for ways to provoke such an attack again.

One possibility we cannot dismiss out of hand is a "false flag" strategy.

They didn't listen to her, either.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Another reason to love New Zealand

WELLINGTON, New Zealand - New Zealand students protesting the Iraq war offered a reward to anyone who carries out a citizen's arrest of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during her visit to the country Friday.

The Auckland University Students' Association is seeking Rice's arrest for her role in "overseeing the illegal invasion and continued occupation" of Iraq, Association President David Do said. The group is offering a $3,700 reward.

Heh, indeed.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

More Schadenfratricide

Columnist Robert Novak tells Fox News that he suspects that he might have been used as a pawn to steal publicity from Senator Obama after airing a rumor that Senator McCain planned to shortly announce his vice presidential pick.

"I had a suggestion from a very senior McCain aide late yesterday afternoon that he was going to announce it this week," Novak told Fox News' Martha MacCallum. "They suggested that I put it out."

"I since have been told by certain people that this was a dodge," Novak lamented. "They were trying to get a little publicity to rain on Obama's campaign. That's pretty reprehensible, if it's true."


Update: And in more traditional schadenfreude, heh.

Updater: Oh, my - apparently Novak has expressed his pique by mowing down a pedestrian in his Corvette. Why doesn't he just invade a small country like his pals do when they feel inadequate?

Updatest: Politico unearths this gem from Nokula:
Novak, 77, has earned a reputation around the capital as an aggressive driver, easily identified in his convertible sports car.

In 2001, he cursed at a pedestrian on the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and 13th streets Northwest for allegedly jaywalking.

“’Learn to read the signs, [bodily orifice]!’ Novak snapped before speeding away,” according to an item in The Washington Post’s Reliable Source column.

Novak explained to the paper: "He was crossing on the red light. I really hate jaywalkers. I despise them. Since I don't run the country, all I can do is yell at 'em. The other option is to run 'em over, but as a compassionate conservative, I would never do that."

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Another milepost on the road to perdition

In the not-too-distant past, the rap against Hollywood (well, one of many) was that movies, TV, and the people who bring them to us lived in a consequence-free fantasy world. Welcome to Upsidedownistan:

SHREVEPORT, La. - Police say actors Josh Brolin and Jeffrey Wright, along with members of a crew fiming an Oliver Stone movie, were arrested during a bar fight in Shreveport.

Shreveport police Sergeant Willie Lewis says Brolin, Wright and five others were arrested just after 2 a.m. Saturday at a club called the Stray Cat bar.

Had Brolin really been the guy he was playing, he would had James Baker around to make sure we would never hear about the arrest that never happened, that the people he hit were silenced, and the cops who booked him were bought off.

Of course, now that our Fratboy in Chief is about to exit, neither he nor his handlers see much need to muzzle his antisocial instincts, or give a damn about the consequences.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Once there was a Constitution

We say that the U.S. Constitution was ratified in 1789, that it is thus almost 220 years old. But in a very real sense, it is younger than some who could be reading this blog.

The Warren Court (which started in 1953) arguably created much of what we now think of as Constitutional Law. The Burger Court and every other court since has been hell-bent on undoing what Earl Warren, William O. Douglas and a few others did. But today it wasn't the Court that surrendered a major battleground. Today Congress did it.

I am not going to catalog the long list of rights lost. This blog has logged those offenses for almost 4 years now. Others have done it better in and in greater detail. But it is a very long list, and it got significantly longer today.

What is most appalling to me is not so much what he lost, but how we lost it.

The Bush has been pursuing a FISA get-out-of-jail-free card for something like two years. The Democratic party delivered what the Republicans could not. And the most significant and humiliating cause of that capitulation was the first Presidential candidate in my lifetime I was briefly tempted to vote FOR (as opposed to being the beneficiary of my vote AGAINST their opponent.

That impulse is as dead as the rule of law and 4th Amendment. I'm back in hold-my-nose territory.

U.S. Constitution, 1953 -2008

Saturday, July 05, 2008

We're winning

Oil is cheap

In a 1998 interview, Osama bin Laden — the terrorist organizer of 9/11 who still roams free — listed as one of his many grievances against the U.S. that Americans “have stolen $36 trillion from Muslims” by purchasing oil from Persian Gulf countries at low prices. The real price of a barrel of oil should be $144, bin Laden demanded.

Ten years ago today, the price of a barrel of oil was just $11. Heading into this holiday weekend, the price of a barrel of oil rested at $144 — a thirteen-fold increase.

Freedom is on the march

Dubya, 9/21/2001:

Americans are asking, why do they hate us? They hate what we see right here in this chamber -- a democratically elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms -- our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.

Our few remaining freedoms are now "quaint anachronisms". After the FISA outrage passes in a few days, the Adminstration's triumph over freedom will be virtually complete.

Mission Accomplished.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Another enemy we have become

The military trainers who came to Guantánamo Bay in December 2002 based an entire interrogation class on a chart showing the effects of “coercive management techniques” for possible use on prisoners, including “sleep deprivation,” “prolonged constraint,” and “exposure.”

What the trainers did not say, and may not have known, was that their chart had been copied verbatim from a 1957 Air Force study of Chinese Communist techniques used during the Korean War to obtain confessions, many of them false, from American prisoners.

The recycled chart is the latest and most vivid evidence of the way Communist interrogation methods that the United States long described as torture became the basis for interrogations both by the military at the base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and by the Central Intelligence Agency.


The 1957 article from which the chart was copied was entitled “Communist Attempts to Elicit False Confessions From Air Force Prisoners of War” and written by Alfred D. Biderman, a sociologist then working for the Air Force, who died in 2003. Mr. Biderman had interviewed American prisoners returning from North Korea, some of whom had been filmed by their Chinese interrogators confessing to germ warfare and other atrocities.

Those orchestrated confessions led to allegations that the American prisoners had been “brainwashed,” and provoked the military to revamp its training to give some military personnel a taste of the enemies’ harsh methods to inoculate them against quick capitulation if captured.


The only change made in the chart presented at Guantánamo was to drop its original title: “Communist Coercive Methods for Eliciting Individual Compliance.”

On the other hand...


John Cole reminds me of this:

Remember when Dick Durbin said the following:

If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime—Pol Pot or others—that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners.

Remember how Durbin was forced to recant?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Armageddon countdown


A former CIA operative who says he tried to warn the agency about faulty intelligence on Iraqi weapons programs now contends that CIA officials also ignored evidence that Iran had suspended work on a nuclear bomb.

The onetime undercover agent, who has been barred by the CIA from using his real name, filed a motion in federal court late Friday asking the government to declassify legal documents describing what he says was a deliberate suppression of findings on Iran that were contrary to agency views at the time.


The commander of the US navy's Fifth Fleet warned on Monday that the United States will not allow Iran to shut the Strait of Hormuz, a key oil supply route in the Gulf.

"They will not close it... They will not be allowed to close it," Vice-Admiral Kevin J. Cosgriff said at a press conference in Bahrain, where the Fifth Fleet is based.

His remarks followed comments by the chief of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards who issued a new warning last week against any attack against the country over its controversial nuclear drive.

"It is natural that when a country is attacked it uses all of its capabilities against the enemy, and definitely our control of the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz would be one of our actions," Jafari said.

The strait between Iran and Oman is a vital conduit for energy supplies, with as much as 40 percent of the world's crude oil from Gulf oil producers passing through the waterway.


The White House declined to comment Monday on a news report that US lawmakers last year approved 400 million dollars to ramp up covert operations in Iran to undermine Tehran's leadership.

"I couldn't comment either way," spokeswoman Dana Perino said after The New Yorker magazine reported tat the US Congress passed US President George W. Bush's funding request for a dramatic increase in such secret operations.

Asked about the likelihood of US military action against Tehran's disputed nuclear program before the president leaves office in January 2009, Perino said Bush "is singularly focused on trying to solve this issue diplomatically."

The New Yorker, which cited former military, intelligence and congressional sources, said the funding revealed a "major escalation" in clandestine operations aimed at destabilizing the Islamic republic's religious leadership amid concerns over Tehran's nuclear ambitions.


...Iran has Russian anti-ship missiles that are to the Exocet (the weapon that nearly defeated the British in the Falklands) what an F-22 is to a WWII-era Spitfire, and that there are no effective countermeasures. Our Fifth Fleet, which patrols the Persian Gulf, is completely vulnerable

What would happen if, for whatever reason, Iran sank a couple of American warships? George Bush would find another megaphone and another telegenic pile of bubble to stand on. The Andrew Sullivans and Thomas Friedmans of the world would drag their laptops and their Huggies with them as they dive under their beds, and again write trembling jibberish praising their Savior in Chief. And millions who only recently wandered out of Camp Jingo would scurry back in mortal fear.

The cowed millions would demand action, and action they would get. Bush would round up his nuclear posse and unleash an unprecedented retaliation. Iran would glow for millennia with the radiation of a thousand nuclear warheads in the first all-out nuclear strike in history. Millions of Iranians, or perhaps tens of millions, would die. And Red State America would cheer.

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