Saturday, May 31, 2008

Who Said That?

Guess which book this comes from:
Our society no longer offers us a real community or a functional living system. It is instead a fragmented and exploitative machine for concentrating money in the hands of a few, a kind of feedlot for humans, which kills the spirit of its occupants while it pollutes and strip-mines the Third World to support its habit for just a few decades more.
Give up? It's from the opening chapter of Manhood by Steve Biddulph.
In my work I have now met over 100 000 people in talks and presentations, in many corners of the globe, and the message is loud and clear. There's something wrong with the whole box and dice. There is a need for more than just 'adjusting' men to fit into life as it is. We need major changes in the whole life circumstance of boys and men.
Biddulph suggests that the "seismic build-up of frustration in men" might be a revolutionary social force, like the Women's Movement was in the 20th Century:
Linked with the other great liberation movements - environmentalism, Third World justice, indigenous survival - it may be our only hope. Masculine energies and talents that are currently diverted into greed, commerce, militarism and just plain making a living are needed for more urgent tasks. We need nothing so much as we need more good men.
That's me right there - "just plain making a living". It shouldn't be this hard.

Thirty Years Of Unconditional Love

I might start making it a point to record a few more positive, non-political stories like this:
Lorenzo Odone, whose parents' battle to save him from a rare nerve disorder was depicted in the 1992 film Lorenzo's Oil, has died from pneumonia aged 30.

Doctors had predicted he would not live beyond childhood when he was diagnosed with the incurable disease aged six.


What if the reason why media commentators STILL cannot admit their failures in the leadup to the Iraq War is that they all have something to hide: that is, close contact with government agents over many years? Operation Mockingbird gets mentioned a lot these days in the comments threads. What do people THINK happened to that program?
In February 1976, George H. W. Bush, the recently appointed Director of the CIA announced a new policy: "Effective immediately, the CIA will not enter into any paid or contract relationship with any full-time or part-time news correspondent accredited by any U.S. news service, newspaper, periodical, radio or television network or station." However, he added that the CIA would continue to "welcome" the voluntary, unpaid cooperation of journalists.
Of course there's no need to get paid by the CIA when Bush's friends in the press will push you to the top of the career ladder, and keep you there no matter what happens.

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Truth About Obama?

From John Pilger:
Like Kennedy, Obama may well "chart a new direction for America" in specious, media-honed language, but in reality he will secure, like every president, the best damned democracy money can buy...

"Washington lobbyists haven't funded my campaign," said Obama in January, "they won't run my White House and they will not drown out the voices of working Americans when I am president." According to files held by the Centre for Responsive Politics, the top five contributors to the Obama campaign are registered corporate lobbyists.

What is Obama's attraction to big business? Precisely the same as Robert Kennedy's. By offering a "new", young and apparently progressive face of the Democratic Party - with the bonus of being a member of the black elite - he can blunt and divert real opposition. That was Colin Powell's role as Bush's secretary of state. An Obama victory will bring intense pressure on the US anti-war and social justice movements to accept a Democratic administration for all its faults. If that happens, domestic resistance to rapacious America will fall silent.

Food for thought

From one of them quotes pages:
Douglas Steere remarks very perceptively that there is a pervasive form of contempory violence to which the idealist fighting for peace by nonviolent methods most easily succumbs: activism and overwork. The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence. More than that, it is cooperation in violence. The frenzy of the activist neutralizes his work for peace. It destroys his own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of his own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.
-- Thomas Merton, "Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander"
Bedtime now. Good night.

Wanker(s) of the Day

Richard Armitage (and friends):
Today, unbeknownst to most Americans, agencies once renowned for their prowess in analysis, covert operations, electronic surveillance and overhead reconnaissance outsource many of their core tasks to the private sector. The bulk of this market is serviced by about 100 companies, ranging in size from multibillion dollar defense behemoths to small technology shops funded by venture capitalists.

Nearly every one of them has sought out former high-ranking intelligence and national security officials as both managers and directors. Like Armitage, these are people who have served for decades in the upper echelons of national power. Their lives have been defined by secret briefings, classified documents, covert wars and sensitive intelligence missions. Many of them have kept their security clearances and maintain a hand in government...
Privatising national security - who was the smart ass who thought of that one?

Every time I think of Armitage, I remember what a great friend he was to former Australian Labor leader Kim Beazley, a fellow traveller in the military industrial industry, who may well become Australia's next Ambassador to Washington in the next few months.

Monsters and the Media

Ted Rall swells the much-deserved wave of anti-media rage:
More than 2,500 children have gone through U.S. secret prisons since 2002, including at least eight at Guantánamo.

I know a lot of right-wing conservatives. We don't share much political common ground, but it's hard to imagine any of them thinking the indefinite detention and torture of children, against whom there is no evidence whatsoever of wrongdoing, is anything other than the behavior of a monster.

If a man screams in a government torture chamber, does he make a sound? Not if the only one who hears him is an American reporter.
Again via

Thursday, May 29, 2008

What Really Happened?

McClatchy pulls together the big stories that Scott McClellan spent his professional life denying.
Here's what happened, based entirely on our own reporting and publicly available documents:

* The Bush administration was gunning for Iraq within days of the 9/11 attacks, dispatching a former CIA director, on a flight authorized by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, to find evidence for a bizarre theory that Saddam Hussein was responsible for the first World Trade Center attack in 1993. (Note: See also Richard Clarke and former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill on this point).

* Bush decided by February 2002, at the latest, that he was going to remove Saddam by hook or by crook. (Yes, we reported that at the time).

* White House officials, led by Dick Cheney, began making the case for war in August 2002, in speeches and reports that not only were wrong, but also went well beyond what the available intelligence said at that time, and contained outright fantasies and falsehoods. Indeed, some of that material was never vetted with the intelligence agencies before it was peddled to the public.

* Dissenters, or even those who voiced worry about where the policy was going, were ignored, excluded or punished. (Note: See Gen. Eric Shinseki, Paul O'Neill, Joseph Wilson and all of the State Department 's Arab specialists and much of its intelligence bureau).

* The Bush administration didn't even want to produce the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs that's justly received so much criticism since. The White House thought it was unneeded. It actually was demanded by Congress and slapped together in a matter of weeks before the congressional votes to authorize war on Iraq.

* The October 2002 NIE was flawed, no doubt. But it contained dissents questioning the extent of Saddam's WMD programs, dissents that were buried in the report. Doubts and dissents were then stripped from the publicly released, unclassified version of the NIE.

* The core of the administration's case for war was not just that Saddam was developing WMDs, but also that, unchecked, he might give them to terrorists to attack the United States. Remember smoking guns and mushroom clouds? Inconveniently, the CIA had determined just the opposite: Saddam would attack the United States only if he concluded a U.S. attack on him was unavoidable. He'd give WMD to Islamist terrorists only "as a last chance to exact revenge."

* The Bush administration relied heavily on an Iraqi exile, Ahmed Chalabi, who had been found to be untrustworthy by the State Department and the CIA. Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress were given millions, and produced "defectors" whose tales of WMD sites and terrorist training were false, fanciful and bogus. But the information was fed directly to senior officials and included in official White House documents.

* The same INC-supplied "intelligence" used in the White House propaganda effort (you got that bit right, Scott) also was fed to dozens of U.S. and foreign news organizations.

* It all culminated in a speech by Secretary of State Colin Powell to the U.N. Security Council in February 2003 making the case against Saddam. Virtually every major allegation Powell made turned out later to be wrong. It would have been even worse had not Powell and his team thrown out even more shaky "intelligence" that Cheney's office repeatedly tried to stuff into the speech.

* The Bush administration tried to link Saddam to al Qaida and, by implication, to the 9/11 attacks. Officials repeatedly pushed the CIA for information on such links, and a seperate intel shop was set up under Defense Under Secretary Douglas Feith to find "proof" of such ties. Neither the CIA nor anyone else ever found anything resembling an operational relationship between Saddam and al Qaida.

* An exhaustive review of Saddam Hussein's regime's own documents, released in March 2008, found no operational relationship between Saddam and al Qaida.

* The Bush administration failed to plan for the rebuilding of postwar Iraq, as we were perhaps the first to report. The White House ignored stacks of intelligence reports, some now available in partially unclassified form, warning before the war about the possibilities for insurgency, ethnic warfare, social chaos and the like.
Another great link via Winter Patriot. Welcome back to the daily grind, dawg.

The Future Of News

E & P has some interesting thoughts on the future of print journalism and web-based news delivery. Here's one more good reason to stop buying print editions:
There are environmental concerns about supporting a product that consumes precious resources: trees for the product and oil for delivery. Continuing to receive printed newspapers delivered by pollution-spewing delivery vehicles when an environmentally friendly digital alternative is available is also a moral choice that a growing number of people will make in the years ahead, as the Green movement continues to gain momentum.
The author describes a bunch of high-tech news delivery options which he believes can be used to generate enough income to keep newspapers afloat. For example, customize-able mobile phone headline-alert services, integration with other online services and platforms, and exploiting news provided by external content providers such as independent bloggers.
I think you can charge for some of these services, and people like me will pay for them. Paying for convenience is more likely to be a successful strategy than paying for the content.
Really? I am not so sure. A lot of column space is given over to such discussions about the future of newspapers and news organisations. In much of this discussion, the corporate survival aspect is (usually implicitly) considered more important than the survival of the news industry's primary role: the dissemination of FACTS (*) throughout the community.

(* Not propaganda, or titillating entertainment, or covert advertising, but FACTS: true, objective, independently-verifiable FACTS.)

From society's point of view, it doesn't really matter whether the BUSINESS of news delivery survives or not, as long as people still have access to the news. So how will you get your news in the future, unless some company with professional journalists delivers it to you? Will governments take over the role as a kind of free (taxpayer-funded) community service? Or will moguls like Rupert Murdoch (who already runs much of his news empire at a loss, subsidized by other business areas) be left to fulfill this important social role?

I don't have the answer. But surely the past eight years have taught us the importance of unbiased news. And surely the first step towards a better future is to hold those who fail to provide such unbiased news accountable?

A New Record

Nearly a thousand US soldiers attempted suicide last year. The US Army denies that this has anything to do with current conflicts. I would assume it has a LOT to do with conflicted consciences in many cases. And it's interesting that only 115 were successful, given their proximity to weapons and training in the use of lethal force.

Oh and BTW AFP, your journalists are crap. Spot the errors here:
In a report, the army said the 115 confirmed suicides raised the suicide rate to 18.8 percent per thousand for the active duty army in 2007, or 16.6 percent if based on a larger pool that includes reservists on active duty.

The suicide rate among active service members was 17.3 per 100,000 in 2006, compared to 12.8 in 2005 and 10.8 in 2004. In 2001 the rate was 9.8 per 100,000.

The suicide rate for the US population, adjusted for the age group and gender, is 19.5 percent.
By this reckoning, about 15,000 soldiers would have topped themselves in Iraq last year, and 20 to 40 million would be dead back home.

A Kinder, Gentler Torture

From In These Times via
Every time I visit [Gitmo], Al-Ghizzawi asks me,
“What happened to America?”
I try to explain the unexplainable. I tell him that the American government now believes that torture is permissible; that we can hold people forever without charge; keep people in isolation for years; bar communications with family members; force-feed those who want to die and refuse to provide medical treatment for those who want to live. I explain that the American people, whose nation once stood as a beacon of human rights, neither care about this nor want to hear about it.

I also assure him that I am collecting the names of those responsible.

Who's To Blame?

Interesting times. Yesterday a former MSNBC journo (now with CNN) came out with this stark admission:
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think the press corps dropped the ball at the beginning. When the lead-up to the war began, the press corps was under enormous pressure from corporate executives, frankly, to make sure that this was a war that was presented in a way that was consistent with the patriotic fever in the nation and the president’s high approval ratings.

And my own experience at the White House was that, the higher the president’s approval ratings, the more pressure I had from news executives — and I was not at this network at the time — but the more pressure I had from news executives to put on positive stories about the president.

I think, over time…

COOPER: You had pressure from news executives to put on positive stories about the president?

YELLIN: Not in that exact — they wouldn’t say it in that way, but they would edit my pieces. They would push me in different directions. They would turn down stories that were more critical and try to put on pieces that were more positive, yes. That was my experience.
But today Ms Yelling has been forced to clarify her comments:
No, senior corporate leadership never asked me to take out a line in a script or re-write an anchor intro. I did not mean to leave the impression that corporate executives were interfering in my daily work; my interaction was with senior producers. What was clear to me is that many people running the broadcasts wanted coverage that was consistent with the patriotic fever in the country at the time. It was clear to me they wanted their coverage to reflect the mood of the country.
So who puts the pressure on the "senior producers" hmmn? Don't expect to see Jessica Yellin anchoring a Fox News segment anytime soon.

But don't expect to see too many more of those Obama/Osama mistakes either: I thought this story might be a joke until I confirmed it here. Yes, Murdoch really has jumped horses from Hillary to Obama, just before the Clinton campaign completely disintegrates. Video here.

The links are worth a read: e.g. Murdoch claims he was personally responsible for the New York Post's endorsement of Obama during the NY primary (so much for non-interference in editorials). And he says he would hire a liberal counterpart to Bill O'Reilly on Fox News "if he could find a good one":
What about MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, who's now spending much of his time attacking O'Reilly and Fox?

"No. I fired him 5 years ago," when he was on FoxSports: "He was crazy."
UPDATE: "Crazy" Keith scores a one-hour interview with Scott McClellan. You can watch it here. How do you like them apples, Rupert?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Another Strange BushWorld Coincidence

Wolfowitz becomes head of the US-Taiwan Business Council and suddenly - after a decade of official silence - China is talking to Taiwan again.

You tell me what's going on. It could be a US-Taiwan military arms deal putting new pressures on China. Or an attempt by China to talk with the Taiwanese before Wolfowitz creates any mischief. My guess is that somebody has just put some big money down on the table - but who and why?

Permanent Spin

As expected, the Scott McClellan story is all over the place today, even if the man himself is nowhere to be found. But we shouldn’t let the (thoroughly enjoyable) denunciations of McClellan’s lying past obscure the importance of the truths he is now telling.

This is from The Associated Press:
Each day, underscoring the daily blend of politics and government, Bush and his administration make an extraordinary effort to control information and make sure the White House message is spread across the government and beyond. The line for officials to follow is set at early-morning senior staff meetings at the White House, then transmitted in e-mails, conference calls, faxes and meetings. The loop extends to Capitol Hill where lawmakers get the administration talking points. So do friendly interest groups and others.

The aim is to get them all to say the same thing, unwavering from the administration line. Other administrations have tried to do the same thing, but none has been as disciplined as the Bush White House.

It starts at the top.

McClellan recounts how Bush, as governor of Texas, spelled out his approach about the press at their very first meeting in 1998. He said Bush "mentioned some of his expectations for his spokespeople — the importance of staying on message; the need to talk about what you're for, rather than what you are against; how he liked to make the big news on his own time frame and terms without his spokespeople getting out in front of him, and, finally, making sure that public statements were coordinated internally so that everyone is always on the same page and there are few surprises."
Talk about yer talking points! Bush's role should be the focus of lengthy investigations into McClellan's revelations. This is from HuffPo:
McClellan says the president was "insulated from the reality of events on the ground and consequently began falling into the trap of believing his own spin."

... McClellan ticks off a long list of Bush's weaknesses: someone with a penchant for self-deception if it "suits his needs at the moment," "an instinctive leader more than an intellectual leader" who has a lack of interest in delving deeply into policy options, a man with a lack of self-confidence that makes him unable to acknowledge when he's been wrong.
Look at how Bush describes his own job:
See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda.
Bush is just a front man, a glorified cheerleader. And he knows that perfectly well, because that's how the job was offered to him in the first place. That's why he doesn't bother "delving deeply" into any matters of substance.

Sure, he has some involvement in the decision-making process (far too much, in fact, given his unsuitability for the job) but basically it's Dick Cheney (with help from other "invisible" people like Stephen Hadley) calling the shots.
McClellan calls Vice President Dick Cheney "the magic man" who "always seemed to get his way" and sometimes "simply could not contain his deep-seated certitude, even arrogance, to the detriment of the president."
Magic? It might have looked that way to poor, innocent Scotty, who (if you believe him) did not know what was going down. The WSJ has an excerpt from McClellan's book, and he now seems to think that everybody is wrong but (of course: zero accountability) nobody is to blame:
My friends and former colleagues who lived and worked or are still working inside that bubble may not be happy with the perspective I present here. Many of them, I'm sure, remain convinced that the Bush administration has been fundamentally correct in its most controversial policy judgments, and that the dis-esteem in which most Americans currently hold it is undeserved...

Most of our elected leaders in Washington, Republicans and Democrats alike, are good, decent people. Yet too many of them today have made a practice of shunning truth and the high level of openness and forthrightness required to discover it. Most of it is not willful or conscious. Rather, it is part of the modern Washington game that has become the accepted norm...

The permanent campaign also ensnares the media, who become complicit enablers of its polarizing effects... Finally, it becomes much more difficult for the general public to decipher the more important truths amid all the conflict, controversy and negativity.

George Monbiot Attempts A Citizen’s Arrest

But John Bolton escapes:
“This was a serious attempt to bring one of the perpetrators of the Iraq war to justice, for what is described under the Nuremberg Principles as an international crime,” he said.

During Mr Bolton’s talk, to a packed-out audience, Mr Monbiot had asked Mr Bolton what difference there was between him and a Nazi war criminal.

Mr Bolton said the war was legal, partly because Iraq had failed to comply with a key and binding UN resolution after the end of the Gulf War in 1991.

On the war’s legality, he added: “This is not my personal opinion, this is the opinion of the entire legal apparatus of the US government.”
Sadly he is correct. That means....?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Who's In Charge Of The Iraqi Soccer Team?

Why did the Iraqi government suddenly disband the Iraqi National Olympic Committee and its federations, including the Iraqi Football Association, just ahead of World Cup qualifiers against Australia? Crikey digs up the story I couldn't find:
The head of the IFA, Hussein Saeed, was a legendary player for his country. He also oversaw the running of football in Iraq under the brutal rein of Uday Hussein, son of Saddam. Uday was notorious for his ill treatment and brutalisation of Iraq’s sports stars, and whilst there’s no evidence of Saeed being complicit in this, there is an understandable disquiet about Saeed having worked for the previous regime.

Saeed has received support from FIFA boss Sepp Blatter as the only man he would work with in Iraq.

It begs an important question. In going into bat for his man in Baghdad, is Blatter using the threat of pulling the plug on the Socceroos match to send a warning to other governments not to interfere in the internal affairs of sporting federations – corrupt or otherwise – without fear of reprisal from FIFA or their mates at the IOC?
That embedded link leads to this post from the IraqSport blog:
After the end of the war, FIFA president Sepp Blatter declared that the only person he would work with in Iraq, would be Hussein Saeed, a former Baath party member...

Hussein Saeed has now held the presidency for nearly four years, and for most of it, he has triumphed in the face of adversity, getting the Iraqi Football League back up in a four or three group regional format since the end of the war, and seeing Iraq’s fairytale run in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens and the 2007 Asian Cup victory. However under his tenure, he has been dogged by rumours of wide spread corruption at the FA, and accusations that the state of the Iraq FA is not much better than it was under Uday, with many ‘hangers on’ not doing anything to help football in Iraq or develop it in anyway... His critics claim he has not stepped on Iraqi soil for two years spending most of his time at the FA’s makeshift headquarters in Amman and jetting off to Europe and the Gulf at the expense of the FA.
Perhaps because of Blatter's support, Saeed somehow "side stepped" Iraq's de-baathification laws under Paul Bremer. I'm not sure I agreed with Crikey's conclusions about Sepp Blatter's involvement, but who knows? FIFA is about as transparent as the Bush White House, and football is probably the most corrupt game on earth, if only because of the amount of players, interest and money.

From a political perspective, this story just highlights the lack of genuine transparency in the supposedly free and sovereign US state of Iraq. Iraq's football successes over the past few years may be rather ... er, surprising... but they have certainly been a source of joy and national pride for millions of sorely tested people. The Iraqi team may be bottom of their group in the World Cup qualifiers and have little chance of success against the mighty Socceroos, but they deserve a chance to at least play the game - as long as it's a level playing field for all!

For more insight into the state of Iraqi soccer, see this post from Dahr Jamail:
"Most of our stadiums and playing grounds have been converted into U.S. and Iraqi military bases," Waleed Khalid of the Ramadi Sports Club who fled to Damascus with his family told IPS...

In Fallujah a football stadium was turned into a graveyard through the April 2004 U.S. siege when people could not find any other place to bury their dead. According to doctors at Fallujah General Hospital IPS interviewed after that siege, 736 people were killed, more than 60 percent of them civilians. The football stadium is now known as the Fallujah Martyrs Graveyard.

The al-Sumood stadium in Fallujah was closed down for conversion into a private hospital, a general hospital and a market.
There are also problems with clerics banning the wearing of shorts, and mothers not wanting their children playing outside on dangerous streets.

UPDATE: The game is going ahead. FIFA 1, Corrupt Iraqi Puppets 0.

Staying Ahead Of The News

Here's a couple of stories coming soon to a newspaper near you:

1. US Senators denounce Bush's plans to attack Iran:
Two key US senators briefed on the attack planned to go public with their opposition to the move, according to the source, but their projected New York Times op-ed piece has yet to appear.
Is this story for real, or just another attempt by Cheney's friends to talk up the price of oil? Who knows.

2. Scott McLellan pimps his new book:
"Although the things I said then were sincere, I have since come to realize that some of them were badly misguided."
That's hard to believe: McClellan must have known he was lying through his teeth day after day. I don't believe anyone could be smart enough to handle the Washington press pack and dumb enough to believe all the shit he said.

Tellingly, McClellan is still soft on Bush himself, even though he slams top aides like Libby and Rove:
“I had allowed myself to be deceived into unknowingly passing along a falsehood,” McClellan writes. “It would ultimately prove fatal to my ability to serve the president effectively. I didn’t learn that what I’d said was untrue until the media began to figure it out almost two years later.

“Neither, I believe, did President Bush. He, too, had been deceived and therefore became unwittingly involved in deceiving me. But the top White House officials who knew the truth — including Rove, Libby and possibly Vice President Cheney — allowed me, even encouraged me, to repeat a lie.”
But wait a minute, Scott - Bush covered for Libby even AFTER the truth came out. Why?

It's the same old story with Dubya: either he knew who exposed Plame and kept silent, which is criminal, or he didn't know, which was criminally incompetent. Either way, why hasn't he been impeached? It's all thanks to a complicit media, and ever-growing walls of official secrecy.

But Scotty still doesn't get it:
“I think the concern about liberal bias helps to explain the tendency of the Bush team to build walls against the media... Unfortunately, the press secretary at times found himself outside those walls as well.”
BWWAAAAHHH!!! Cry me a river, you idiot.

Meanwhile, still on a press theme, (via Antony Loewenstein) the US Military get lessons in how to handle interviews:
The interview itself is all about control. You want it; the reporter wants it. You have to learn how to structure effective answers and control the interview. Do not be question-driven; be message-driven. The trick is to use your messages as guideposts and not repeated phrases. This is where skill, preparation, and experience come in. You should be trying to articulate command messages that will positively influence the outcome of your mission. Use the media as a “nonlethal fire.”
Words as weapons. Truth be damned. Welcome to BushWorld.

UPDATE: Talk about up-coming stories... Now the FBI is telegraphing the arrival of Al Quaeda videos!
Mr Kolko said the alert was a routine precaution sent to 1800 US law enforcement agencies.

Should We Take The Clintons Seriously?

When Bill Clinton says Barak Obama cannot win the Presidency, does he know something we don't know?

When Hillary Clinton suggests that Obama might be assassinated like Robert Kennedy, does she know something we don't know?

Clinton came from nowhere to win the White House in 1992 because he knew how the system worked. He's now part of the Establishment and closely in touch with all the most important Men In Grey Suits. Have the Big Boys (including Rupert) decided that Obama will never, ever sit in the Oval Office?

If not, the Clintons' relentlessly belligerent behaviour doesn't make much sense. After a ridiculously long and damaging campaign, Obama is set to wrap up the Dems nomination next week.

Hillary's campaign has been a train wreck. She might have had a good shot at the VP spot if she hadn't gone so negative with talk about 3 am phone calls and the like. And what was all that sucking up to McCain about? Or the adverts featuring Bin Laden? She's been playing the fear card and courting the middle ground, while Obama pulls in the angry, disenfranchised left: and there's a lot of them out there this year!

Hillary is toast now, unless Bill's friends can spring a big surprise out of nowhere. And Obama is heading for the White House - whether the Big Boys like it or not. There's only one way to stop him now, and that's a bullet.

For the record, I predicted Obama would win back in early January:
The Gandhi Endorsement counts for ZIP, of course...
UPDATE: Chris Floyd is also covering this thought bubble:
I tend to think that Obama probably won't be assassinated, because he is not really a genuine threat to the elites who command most of the power in our society. He seems, by all appearances and by his past record, to be eager enough to serve their interests...

Then again, one should never underestimate the anxiety of our elites, who tend to regard even the mildest hint at the most cosmetic change as a dire threat to their power and privilege.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Fukuyama Goes To Canberra

ABC News has an interview with one of the original neocons, Francis Fukuyama, who is meeting Rudd on Friday. He now supports Obama over McCain.

Habib's Torture: Howard Knew, Did Nothing

ASIO, the AFP and the Howard government were all fully aware:
Mr O'Sullivan said Australian officials in Pakistan formed the view on October 22, 2001, that Mr Habib might be "rendered" — transferred to a third country for interrogation — and conveyed concerns to Canberra.

A meeting in Canberra the next day — attended by then ASIO director-general Denis Richardson and senior representatives of the Federal Police and three government departments — decided that Australia would oppose his rendition...

Mr O'Sullivan confirmed the outcome of the officials' meeting was communicated through senior levels of government on a "need-to-know" basis. "Such intelligence material would routinely be distributed to the prime minister's office — to whomever the staffer in the prime minister's office who is charged with handling such material," he said.
None of them did anything to stop it. All of them assisted in the cover-up.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Boldly Going...

If I didn't have a wife and kids to support, I would like to think I might have done the same thing as Dahr Jamail:
"I wanted to report on where the silence was," he says. "There's this huge story going on and nobody's talking about it. How are Iraqis getting by, what's their daily life like?"
But even Jamail has not been able to break through the corporate media blockade:
What this role as an avowedly anti-war journalist means, however, is that Jamail's political opponents can write him off as a propagandist. American TV networks have largely ignored him and his book. Even as the public mood has turned against the war, the mainstream media have not been able to disengage themselves from their view that, in time of war, the commander-in-chief and the boys in the field should be supported.
These excerpts are from a book review (it should be front page news) in The Guardian. And of course there is a cost for such heroism:
Jamail made two further trips to Iraq, but hasn't been back since early 2005. The danger was now too great, and he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. "Having never reported in a war zone before, I was ignorant about PTSD," he says. "I assumed that journalists didn't get it. I thought you had to be a combat soldier to get it. When I got home after my fourth trip, I started having trouble sleeping. I was constantly thinking about Iraq, getting random visions of the times when I would go into morgues, and feeling guilty that I could leave the country but the friends I had made there couldn't. I just felt numb a lot of the time. All of that put together made me realise that this was not the same guy that went over there, and that I needed some help. I took counselling, and still do it off and on when necessary."
More here.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Bush Is a War Criminal

For His Treatment of Children:
Under Bush’s leadership as commander in chief, the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan has been considering any male child in Iraq of age 14 or older to be a potential combatant. They have been treated accordingly — shot by US troops, imprisoned as “enemy combatants,” and subjected to torture.

In the 2004 assault by US Marines on the city of Fallujah, things were even worse. Dexter Filkins, a reporter for the New York Times, reported that before that invasion, some 20,000 Marines encircled the doomed city, which the White House had decided to level because it harbored a bunch of insurgents and had angered the American public by capturing, killing and mutilating the bodies of four mercenaries working for US forces. The residents of the 300,000-population city were warned of the coming all-out attack. Women and children and old people were allowed to flee the city and pass through the cordon of troops. But Filkins reported that males determined to be “of combat age,” which in this case was established as 12 and up, were barred from leaving, and sent back into the city to await their fate. Young boys were ripped from their screaming mothers and sent trudging back to the city to face death.

In the ensuing slaughter, as the US dumped bombs, napalm, phosphorus, anti-personnel fragmentation weapons and an unimaginable quantity of machine gun and small arms fire on the city, it is clear that many of those young boys died.

This was a triple war crime. First of all, it was a case of collective punishment — a practice popular with the Nazis in World War II, and barred by the Geneva Conventions. The international laws of war also guarantees the right of surrender, so those men and boys who tried to leave, even if suspected of being enemy fighters, should have been allowed to surrender and be held as captives until their loyalties could be established. The boys, meanwhile, were “protected persons” who were by law to be treated as victims of war, and protected from harm.

Instead they were treated as the enemy, to be destroyed.

For these crimes, the president should today be impeached by the Congress and then tried as a war criminal.
UPDATE: Defending the indefensible:
The United States on Wednesday defended its detention of around 500 minors in Iraq, saying it had developed an "extensively robust" programme to meet the special needs of child combatants...

Hodgkinson was speaking ahead of a review of the US implementation of its commitments under optional protocols to the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child. The review was to take place at UN offices in Geneva.

The United States has not ratified the main convention, the only state not to do so apart from Somalia.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Once There Was A Way

To get back home.