Monday, April 28, 2008

Blackwater Connections

You all know how the fine people of Potrero defeated Blackwater in their attempt to establish a mercenary/police training camp in San Diego's back country, right?

Of course that was just another battle, now they have a new one, an indoor shooting gallery in Otay Mesa. This time they don't have an outraged community, environmentalists, and Native Americans to contend with, just the usual suspects of liberals and Democrats like Bob Filner and Raymond Lutz.

Filner: "This is a very sensitive area when it comes to human and civil rights. We don't need people who have no regard for human and civil rights to be part of that enforcement. It's dangerous, literally, to the lives of my constituents."

People who don't think that a corrupt, irresponsible, and unaccountable corporation enriched by the blood money of the Bush Administration and their illegal war in Iraq should be training our military, or using their position in an effort to privitize border security.

But that is their goal, and has been for a while. But what makes this even more interesting, is that in the process of keeping under the radar for this indoor training center, using front companies (that's one heckuva web site there, Shoaib) and the like, some strange and troubling connections are emerging.

It would appear that Blackwater is in bed with some folks from Pakistan, our great ally in the great war on terror, or not. Gopper loving Pakistani's who also operate in Saudi Arabia with our good friends the 16 out of 19 hijackers (maybe) Saudi's. Isn't that a great combination, the terrorist progenitor Saudi's and the Obama sheltering, A-Bomb exporting Pakistani's?

So there will be more to see here as this newest battle unfolds. Blackwater wants a piece of the border action. There's money to be made, oversight is limited, Boeing made $20 million(?) for off the shelf crap that didn't work, and Iraq/Afghanistan will give them plenty of practice and an opportunity to work out any bugs in their operation. Look at the specifics in that Army contract.

Blackwater has airships, Brown Field is an Airfield, and the contract tasks are perfectly suited to Blackwater.

A third "sample" task order requires the contractor to develop a program to train border police in Afghanistan to guard crossings, prevent the flow of contraband, and search people and vehicles...

As the work statement in the request noted: "Due to the rapid adaptability of the counter-narcoterrorist threat, special federal government spending authorities are available

They're going to fight for this one tooth and nail, a lot harder than they did in Potrero because this is too much up their alley, and given their corruption, could be profitable beyond belief. If the CIA could start the crack cocaine epidemic in the US to support Ronald Reagan's precious Contra's, what would Blackwater do just for money?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Rice Can't Imagine Success

Well, that's the gist of it, really, isn't it? Consider this news story from McClatchy on her visit to Baghdad this Sunday. Mind you, recent stories like this pile from NewsWeak would have you believing that once again the Adults are in charge, again, "Rice and Gates are both believers in "soft power," emphasizing economic and diplomatic ties. Some right- wingers complain that the Rice/Gates axis is producing a moderate foreign policy, isolating a small circle of hard-liners around Vice President Dick Cheney," yet somehow, reading the McClatchy article, I just don't get that sense, dare I say, I just can't imagine it.

Calling Sadr a coward, while satisfying perhaps, doesn't help bring this important part of the power structure to the table, and it certainly doesn't qualify as diplomatic or a particularly effective insult. No, the only real insult is to the intelligence of everyone who looks at this disaster with any shred of decency or compassion.

For months we've been told the surge is working. For weeks we've been told what a great thing it was for Maliki to move against the Mahdi Army in Basra, even though the results appeared as a stalemate at best. Bush told us it was "a bold decision." He added: "I would say this is a defining moment in the history of a free Iraq." Defining moment indeed, from the boldest and most defining President ever.

Both articles highlight the same thing though, from the CBS piece we get this: An Iraqi reporter for the New York Times, who managed to get into Basra during the fighting, concluded that the thousands of Mahdi Army militiamen that control most of the city remained in charge. "There was nowhere the Mahdi either did not control or could not strike at will," he wrote.

And from McClathcy we get this gem (my bolds):

The Sadrists have angrily accused Maliki's U.S.-backed government of trying to undercut their movement prior to provincial elections in October, when they will likely win many of the Shiite southern provinces from their Shiite rivals in Maliki's government.

[snip] Iraqi government officials have told McClatchy that Maliki, who gained wide support from Sunni officials for taking on the Mahdi Army, went into the fight with no preparation and now is in a battle that he can't extract himself from. U.S. support for Maliki puts U.S. forces on one side of a bloody intra-Shiite showdown.

Yet Rice has come to praise al-Maliki for that choice. And she knows of what she speaks, as she speaks for the Bush Administration, she speaks for the Surge, for Petraeus, for McCain, for Friedman and McConnell and Lieberman and all those who would tell us, for whatever reason, that the Surge is working, that Iraq is ready to stand on their own.

Even though they are fragile and on a knife's edge and refuse to fight and so on. If things were getting better in Iraq, we would be able to withdraw troops. But we aren't, and come October, so it seems, al-Maliki will have been shown the door, if he's lucky, and we will be faced with the choice of initiating another surge (with what and whom and how I can't imagine, really) or seeing the whole Neo-Con raison d'ĂȘtre become a smoking pile of ashes. The latter outcome, while a good thing by itself, could never be worth the cost in American and Iraqi lives that would be lost or changed forever in the process of crushing the Neo's infantile stupidity.

So it remains for the Democrats to do one thing. Don't support Bush's War. Do not give him anything extra, no matter what he says. Because that was the only reason the puppet Nouri al Maliki launched his unplanned excursion in Basra, so that Bush could pressure Congress for more money for Iraq. Given the control the Bushies have over the news from Iraq, by the time the truth would come out of basra, Petraeus and Crocker would have concluded their dog and pony show, and Congress would be expected to give Bush more funding for his surge and the contractors that support it.

Because that, my lonely readers, I can imagine.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Media a 3 Legged stool

Via Atrios, the Media gets defensive. Imagine that, when you have no justification for your failure, defend the process, forget the product, at all costs.

What's more important, that Obama does or doesn't wear a flag pin made in China on his lapel, or that Obama is critical of President Carter going to Syria to talk with Hamas leaders?

Wouldn't that be a bit more of an issue you could ask "tough" questions about? The media has decided that their questioning was "tough," that is the Party Line, but is it tough? A tough interview question forces you to think; makes you and the questioner a bit uncomfortable, unpopular even; forces you to give an answer that might reveal something about how you are going to behave on the job, how your actions might cause pain and suffering and harm to other people. I'm pretty certain that questions of symbolism do none of those things.

You know who asks tough questions, or at least he used to? Jim Gray at NBC Sports. Remeber when he grilled Pete Rose on his gambling during the World Series, way back in 1999? That was tough, and unpopular, yet he did the job. Not so Charlie Gibson or Mop Top Stephanopoulos.

And why should those elitists do something unpopular, simething that might harm their precious Q rating? Thus we see the faqilure of the media, the fundamental failure of the whole concept of a free press, and the reasons why the Founding Fathers set up our government the way they did, with checks and balances, not so much that no one group could become more powerful than the others, but so that no one group could escape accountability.

That's why there is Sarbanes-Oxley in the business world, so that no one can create and benefit from a fraud, not without lots of help from other groups outside your own. But the MSM has nothing to act as a check save the whole of the public and the dirty effing hippy bloggers.

So we get the media narrative we get because nobody can touch the media, really. And until someone or thing can reach out and create a counterweight to their self serving crap, nothing is going to change.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Republic, Religon, and Rights

A pretty heady topic, I suppose. So I'll start out with this thought. I just started reading this book by Gary Nash, "The Unknown American Revolution" (and I mean just started), but already it strikes a chord.

Thomas Paine said, "As happy as she please; she hath a blank sheet to write upon," in answer to the question of whether America could be happy under a government of her own.

That notion - of a slate wiped clean of historical encumbrances, of entrenched class hostilities, of religious bigotry, of racial oppression and conflict, of conventions about gender roles... - was heady, exhilarating, and filled with latent dynamite... Millennialist preachers, enslaved Africans, frontier mystics, dockside tars, German speaking privates in Washington's army, mixed-and full blooded Indians, urban craftsmen, indentured servants, agricultural workers, ascetic Quakes, disgruntled women, born-again men and women calling themselves Christ's poor-all became caught up in the inner dynamics of the Revolution.

Today we have the Pope posing in the White House with Bush, later "temper[ing] his praise for American religious tolerance on Wednesday with a warning that U.S. society can quietly undermine Catholicism by reducing all faiths to a lowest common denominator."

"Pope says U.S. society can undermine Catholic faith," that's the title of the piece of the above quote, towhich I say, amen you tired old crone. But given the craven and cloying religiosity this country has embraced, I'd would temper that concern with the parochialism that underlies Bennie's concerns.

The founding fathers wanted Papery out of their business, out of their affairs, out of their governance, in whatever form or version it took, and rightly so. The corrupting, dehumanizing, cowardly impact that religion engenders when it intrudes into the affairs of Men can be seen clearly in the fall from reason and decency that America has taken. Look at what we do, as a nation.

We bombed Vietnam indescriminately, used weapons of mass destruction, (Agent Orange is a chemical warfare weapon and meets the definition of NBC-nuclear, Biological, Chemical), razed villages, killed millions of Vietnamese, then left them to sort things out for themselves, creating an incomprehensible genocide in Cambodia as a drive-by consequence of our policies. We unleashed Death Squads in Central America to battle "Communism" when we really were fighting for a small handful of US Corporations, turned our backs on Rwanda's insanity, started a horrific war between Iran and our creature Iraq, then started two wars against Iraq, the last completely unjustified by any rational and legal means, all to maintain some sort of control over Middle Eastern Oil, we've allowed our once sympathetic ally Israel to succumb to the worst of their fears and wage a brutal counter insurgency type of war against the hapless Palestinians (tactically with plenty of "help" from the Palestinians) and other Arabs, and, then, of course, there is our war, The Great War on Terrorism.

Now we torture rights deprived people, men, children, women. Torture them, with the acknowledgement and justification from the President on down the roster of presidential succession. We spy on our selves, we threaten those who choose to exercise their enumerated and implied rights, we allow religious zealots to manage the affairs of the state, we demand some sort of religious litmus test, unannounced or proclaimed, yet demanded by the media mouthparts from our political herd; and like broken dogs we bow and scrape to their alters

The Pope in the White House. We have failed our founders so prophetically that I cannot imagine a way out. Jefferson and Adams would have rather seen George III in the White House than Pope Ratzenberger, the waving little fascist who managed to find fault with some of the actions of the church, but certainly not with the leaders of the church or their precious Codas and Communiques and Bishops. No, rest assured, my fallen American friends, the fault for the Child Molesting Priests lies with us, not the church. Their ravenous institution takes precedent over their people, for it is their institution that sustains them, that bleeds the people so that they might live to feed off of our earthly shells.

Where we once swore to protect the Constitution because the Constitution was the instrument and guarantor of those rights enobled by the hand of Thomas Jefferson in our Declaration of Independence, now we have become like the popes, destroying and torturing and killing to maintain the facade of Rights, even while plainly, clearly, our government has abandoned any belief in those concepts.

So maybe all of those jesus lovers who swear up and down how a life without Christ is Hell, or whatever clever little catchphrase they choose to demean and belittle the un-persuaded, have got it backwards. Maybe life without their crap would be a better thing all around. No humiliation on your knees, kissing rings, whatever; no giving up your responsibility to gods will; no, just a firmer grasp that YOUR actions have meaning and impact; that what YOU do is what matters, not what lip service you pay to give yourself cover and license to do as you choose regardless of the harm.

Do you really think that the choices of George W Bush and Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld and Colin Powell and Condi Rice and John Yoo and Doug Feith and Ari Fleisher and Monica Goodling and Rachel Pelouse and all the other myriad pack of charlatans and sychophants granted to us by Sandra Day O'Connor are following the precepts they so loudly proclaim as Christs and so holy? Would Christ tolerate Abu Ghraib? A war against Afghanist and and Iraq when a vigorous police action might have rounded up bin Laden 7 years ago? The Patriot Act?

No, i don't hink so. No, I think, when you look at the evidnece, we'd be a lot better off without the religion, a whole lot better off. The evidence is hard to refute.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Torture Is Not In My Constitution

and Dick Cheney is not the President. I sent this note to Speker Pelosi as a reminder. If Dick Cheney kept that information from Bush, then he has usurped the powers of the presidency, an impeachable offense, or, Bush has abdicated his powers of the presidency, also an impeachable offense.

Not to mention that we are torturing people in the name of freedom, which of course only really works in the worlds of Orwell or Vonnegut.

ABC News, the AP, the New York Times, they all have reported that Vice President Cheney, then Secretary of State Colin Powell, current Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Attorney General John Ashcroft, CIA Director Goerge Tenet, other high ranking Bush Administration officials, all knew exactly, exactly, how the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, was torturing prisoners.

I point out Sen. Keenedy's comments: "Who would have thought that in the United States of America in the 21st century, the top officials of the executive branch would routinely gather in the White House to approve torture?" Kennedy said in a statement. "Long after President Bush has left office, our country will continue to pay the price for his administration's renegade repudiation of the rule of law and fundamental human rights."

The United States of America, the nation that gave the world the Declaration of Independence with all of those fundamental rights of man, the United States of America which claims to be a nation of laws, not of men, the United States of America, which once strove to realize the notion that we are all equal in the eyes of the law, that nation now tortures people, mostly innocent people we all know, and everybody from the Vice President on down knows all about it and sanctions it.

But of course George W Bush doesn't know anything about it. But it's okay, because impeachment is off the table, and that single declaration of yours is protecting the country from what, exactly?

What could be worse than crimes against humanity? What could be worse than the Vice President usurping the power of the presidency to promote and advance HIS own agenda? Either Bush knew, or he abdicated his powers to Cheney. In either case he has violated the laws of the Constitution.

And I point out to you that the oath you swore, the same oath that Bush swore, was to that Constitution, and nothing else.

Yet you are too afraid to do what the law demands, what the law and an increasing number of Americans are coming to realize is the only way we can begin to restore the status of our nation as once again, a nation of laws, where all people are created equal.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

3 Richards

I was watching a BBC production of Richard II on DVD, Bush isn't even close to Richard II, really, there's no analog for George W Bush that I can think of when you consider the scope of the impact a President has with, say, a wanton Roman Emperor or a wayward European King or a heedless Persian Potentate.

Well, I broke out my copy of "Northrop Frye on Shakespeare" and was refreshing my mind on the play, its hard to keep the subtexts and what we should know going in when we can hardly remember which way to drive to work in the morning, you know.

But this comment from Frye struck me, talking about the ending of King John, "If England to itself do rest but true"

[W]hich in the context means partly keeping the line of succession intact. You might not find this particular issue personally very involving, but the general principle is that all ideologies sooner or later get to be circumvented by cynicism and defended by hysteria, and that principle will meet you everywhere you turn in a world driven crazy by ideologies, like ours.

Could Cheney and Rove and Rumsfeld be any more cynical, and because of that, would not their reaction to displays of decency and honest though ill-advised attempts at compromise by the left only increase their cynicism? Clearly, yes.

Frye goes on and postulates that Richard, a lawful ruler, created a power vacuum because of his weakness and/or incompetence. Where a lawful, legally in power, but ruthless and unscrupulous ruler would not do so, ala Richard Nixon, a creature like Bush does. How fortunate that the power vacuum was filled without our notice by that 3rd Richard, Big Time Richard Cheney.

That's the central theme of the play, the conflict that arises from the weakness of the king. And the result is war and turmoil and divided loyalties, much as it is today. But who is our Bolingbroke? Who is going to seize the day with humilty yet boldness? That is the question.

Would that George W Bush had the depth of character, the wisdom, the grace, to think this:

"For God's sake let us sit upon the ground and tell sad stories of the death of kings:
How some have been depos'd, some slain in war,
Some haunted by the ghosts they have depos'd,
Some poisin'd by their wives, some sleeping kill'd,
All murder'd-for within the hollow crown
That rounds the mortal temples of a king
Keeps Death his court; and there the antic sits,
Scoffing his state and grinning at his pomp;
To monarchize, be fear'd, and kill with looks;
Infusing him with self and vain conceit,
As if this flesh which walls about our life
Were brass impregnable; and humour'd thus,
Comes at the last, and with a little pin
Bores through his castle wall, and farewell king!"

But I think not. At least the hysteria is starting to fade, as the decentralized nature of our country weakens the power centers of de jure and de facto presidents and corporate retainers. As the corps shed their jobs, they forget that they also lose their influence on the people as well. The vain conceits become tiresome and mocked, the fear of the unknown terrorists fades as the concerns of rising gas prices and job losses and bankruptcy replaces ideologies with realities.

Soon we will be rid of George W Bush and his insane masters. What we replace them with, and what we do to pick up the pieces, will tell the truth about ourselves as a people and a nation.

I hope its a good story, not a Titus Andronicus story.