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Washington Post defends bigoted anti-gay magazine, blows off concerned readers
(AmericaBlog.org, November 24, 2004)
If you had an ounce of respect left for the Washington Post, feel free to let it go now. . . . Their response to the virulently anti-gay magazine insert - inappropriately called "Both Sides Magazine" - they distributed with last Friday's Post is, quite simply, appalling. Not to mention intellectually dishonest. The way they trivialize our concerns, suggesting we're simply mad because the religious right disagrees with us about gay marriage! Yeah, it had nothing to do with the fact that they printed outright lies about us all dying young, based on studies by a quack kicked out of the major medical associations 20 years ago. Among the man's other studies: one that says 17% of gay men eat feces. He's also the guy who championed the "gays are pedophiles" myth. But no, the Post thinks our concern is our fear of debating gay marriage. Right. . . . And now this means their ombudsman will likely write some hideous story in next Sunday's Post about how this pamphlet isn't hateful at all! Please feel free to contact him again after reading the update below (his contact info is at the bottom of this email), and also contact Eric Grant, the Post's Director of Communications Affairs. The number is 202 334-6466. These guys need to get the point that this isn't about gay marriage. It's about promoting Mengele-esque science that was debunked 20-30 years ago. Would the Post permit someone to run ads with equally quack science attacking blacks and Jews?
[Click on the link above for links to all of the documents mentioned in this article.]
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posted by Lorenzo 9:18 AM
The Responsibility of U.S. Citizens
Jolly Roger [firstname.lastname@example.org]
If you were born in the United States of America, you inherited certain responsibilities concerning freedom, justice, truth and decency, and you've neglected your responsibility to the point where it has put the entire planet, and everyone on it, in danger. . . . You've allowed an unstoppable military machine to fall into the hands of a lunatic, and you've allowed our constitution, which protect us from lunatics, to be stolen. I'm beginning to understand how the people of Germany supported the madness of Hitler, because I'm seeing it happen again. A population duped by propaganda, and afraid, unwilling, or too ignorant to question authority, has blindly pledged their loyalty to another megalomaniac, who controls a nation that's he is transforming into another military machine. . . . The world is now at the mercy of a mad man, who happens to see a need to kill millions of people, and all of this horror is the product of apathy on the part of the citizens of the United States of America. The lies of 9-11, the cover-up of the stolen election, and all of the ensuing misery, only exists because the American people have avoided the responsibility of their birthright, the duty of their freedom, and their debt to future generations. . . . We've become lazy, soft, pampered and weak, at a time when the entire planet needs us to be strong. We should hide our faces in shame because good people of Chile rioted against George W. Bush, while the people of America went about their daily routine, and ignored the threat to the world their country was producing. . . . This country still does belong to the people who inhabit it. They only need to step up and claim it as theirs, or they can stand idly by while a lunatic destroys the world.
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posted by Lorenzo 10:12 AM
The Humiliation of Colin Powell by the Crazies
(Sidney Blumenthal, The Guardian, November 18, 2004)
Colin Powell's final scene was a poignant but harsh exposure of his self-delusion and humiliation. The former general held in his head an idea of himself as sacrificing and disciplined. But the good soldier was dismissed at last by his commander-in-chief as a bad egg. . . . secretary of state has been a peripheral figure, even a fig leaf, ever since his climactic moment before the UN security council on which he staked his credibility. There he presented the case that WMD in Iraq required war, a case consisting of 26 falsehoods, and about which he later claimed to have been "deceived". When the statue of Saddam was toppled, he offered President Bush 17 volumes of his Future of Iraq project, but it was rejected. Predicting everything from the looting to the insurgency, and suggesting how it might be avoided, the project was politically incorrect. . . . Powell had wanted to stay on for the first six months of Bush's second term to help shepherd a new Middle East peace process, but the president insisted on his resignation. Condoleezza Rice was named in his place. She had failed at every important task as national security adviser, pointedly neglecting terrorism before September 11, enthusiastically parroting the false claim that Saddam had a nuclear weapons programme, while suppressing contrary intelligence, mismanaging her part of postwar policy so completely that she had to cede it to a deputy, and eviscerating the Middle East road map. . . . As incompetent as she was at her actual job, she was agile at bureaucratic positioning. Early on, she figured out how to align with the neo-conservatives and to damage Powell. Her usurpation is a lesson to him in blind ambition and loyalty. . . . Powell's sacking and Rice's promotion are more than examples of behaviour punished and rewarded. His fall and her rise signal the purge of the CIA and the state department, a neocon night of the long knives. Bush's attitude is that of the intimidating loyalty enforcer that he was in his father's political campaigns. . . . The CIA has not been forgiven for failing to support Cheney's phantasmagorical case linking Saddam to al-Qaida. And the release in September of the outline of the most recent National Intelligence Estimate, laying out dark scenarios for Iraq, was considered an act of insubordination intended to help oust Bush in the election. The new CIA director, Porter Goss, has installed partisan aides at the top, and senior officials have been fired. He has issued a party line diktat that the CIA's mission is to "support the administration and its policies". . . . A system of bureaucratic fear and one-party allegiance is being created in this strange soviet Washington. Only loyalists are rewarded. Rice stands as the model. One can never be too loyal. And the loyalists compete to outdo each other. Dissonant information is seen as motivated to injure the president, disloyalty bordering on treason. Success is defined as support for the political line; failure perceived as departure from the line. An atmosphere of personal vendetta and an incentive system for suppressing realities prevails. This is not an administration; it does not administer - it is a regime.
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posted by Lorenzo 1:12 PM
It's the Cities, Stupid!
(The Editors of The Stranger, Nov. 11 - 17, 2004)
Look at our famously blue West Coast. But for the cities--Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego--the West Coast would be a deep, dark red. The same is true for other nominally blue states. Illinois is almost entirely red--Chicago turns the state blue. Michigan is almost entirely red--Detroit, Lansing, Kalamazoo turn it blue. And on and on. What tips these states into the blue column? Their urban areas do, their big, populous counties. . . . It's time for the Democrats to face reality: They are the party of urban America. . . . We can secede emotionally, however, by turning our backs on the heartland. We can focus on our issues, our urban issues, and promote our shared urban values. We can create a new identity politics, one that transcends class, race, sexual orientation, and religion, one that unites people living in cities with each other and with other urbanites in other cities. The Republicans have the federal government--for now. But we've got Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, New York City (Bloomberg is a Republican in name only), and every college town in the country. We're everywhere any sane person wants to be. Let them have the shitholes, the Oklahomas, Wyomings, and Alabamas. We'll take Manhattan. . . . To red-state voters, to the rural voters, residents of small, dying towns, and soulless sprawling exburbs, we say this: Fuck off. Your issues are no longer our issues. We're going to battle our bleeding-heart instincts and ignore pangs of misplaced empathy. We will no longer concern ourselves with a health care crisis that disproportionately impacts rural areas. Instead we will work toward winning health care one blue state at a time. . . . When it comes to the environment, our new policy is this: Let the heartland live with the consequences of handing the national government to the rape-and-pillage party. . . . Wal-Mart is a rapacious corporation that pays sub-poverty-level wages, offers health benefits to its employees that are so expensive few can afford them, and destroys small towns and rural jobs. Liberals in big cities who have never seen the inside of a Wal-Mart spend a lot of time worrying about the impact Wal-Mart is having on the heartland. No more. We will do what we can to keep Wal-Mart out of our cities and, if at all possible, out of our states. We will pass laws mandating a living wage for full-time work, upping the minimum wage for part-time work, and requiring large corporations to either offer health benefits or pay into state- or city-run funds to provide health care for uninsured workers. That will reform Wal-Mart in our blue cities and states or, better yet, keep Wal-Mart out entirely. And when we see something on the front page of the national section of the New York Times about the damage Wal-Mart is doing to the heartland, we will turn the page. Wal-Mart is not an urban issue. . . . Neither is gun control. Our new position: We'll fight to keep guns off the streets of our cities, but the more guns lying around out there in the heartland, the better. . . . We officially no longer give a shit when family farms fail. Fewer family farms equal fewer rural voters. We will, however, continue to support small faggy organic farms, as we are willing to pay more for free-range chicken and beef from non-cannibal cows. . . . We won't concern ourselves if red states restrict choice. We'll just make sure that abortion remains safe and legal in the cities where we live, and the states we control, and when your daughter or sister or mother dies in a botched abortion, we'll try not to feel too awful about it. . . . In short, we're through with you people. . . . From here on out, we're glad red-state rubes live in areas where guns are more powerful and more plentiful, cars are larger and faster, and people are fatter and slower and dumber. This is not a recipe for repopulating the Great Plains. And when you look for ways to revive your failing towns and dying rural counties, don't even think about tourism. Who wants to go to small-town America now? You people scare us. We'll island-hop from now on, thank you, spending our time and our money in blue cities. If an urbanite is dying to have a country experience, rural Vermont is lovely. Maple syrup, rolling hills, fly-fishing--everything you could want. Country bumpkins in red rural areas who depend on tourists from urban areas but vote Republican can forget our money. . . . According to the 2000 Census, 226 million people reside inside metropolitan areas--a number that positively dwarfs the 55 million people who live outside metro areas. The 85 million people who live in strictly defined central city limits also outnumber those rural relics. When the number of city-dwellers in the United States is quadruple the number of rural people, we can put simple democratic majorities to work for our ideals. . . . The truth is that rural states--the same red states that vote reflexively Republican in national elections--are welfare states. While red-state voters like to complain about "tax-and-spend liberals," red states are hopelessly dependent on the largess of the federal government to prop up their dwindling rural population. Red states like North Dakota, New Mexico, Mississippi, Alaska, West Virginia, Montana, Alabama, South Dakota, and Arkansas top the list of federal spending per dollar of federal taxes paid. And who's paying the most? Blue states. . . . Drug reform is a prime example. Eight states have passed medical marijuana initiatives; none could have done so without the pro-pot clout of cities. Last year, Seattle voters overwhelmingly passed Initiative 75, which effectively decriminalizes marijuana possession by making it cops' lowest law enforcement priority. And just this month, Ann Arbor passed a law legalizing medical marijuana, the second city in Michigan to do so. There are countless other examples. But the bottom line is this: Cities, not the outlying suburbs, are leading the way on drug reform. And where cities go, the nation will inevitably follow. . . . Gay rights, another national issue, took a beating this November, as 11 states passed constitutional amendments banning gay marriage. But locally, Seattle has ensured that gays and lesbians enjoy the full protection of the law. Not only are Seattle city employees and employees of firms that contract with the city entitled to domestic partnership benefits, earlier this year, Mayor Nickels announced that the city would honor gay marriages from other progressive jurisdictions, such as Portland and San Francisco. . . . These, of course, are broad strokes. We all know that not everyone who lives in the suburbs is a raving neo-Christian idiot. The raving neo-Christian idiots are winning, however, so we need to take the fight to them. In this case, the fight is largely spiritual; it consists of embracing the reality that urban life and urban values are the only sustainable response to the modern age of holy war, environmental degradation, and global conflict. More important, it consists of rejecting the impulse to apologize for living in a society that prizes values like liberalism, pluralism, education, and facts. It's time for the Democratic Party to stop pandering to bovine, non-urban America. You don't apologize for being right--especially when you're at war.
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posted by Lorenzo 4:55 PM
Demand an Investigation into What Happened in Falluja
We urge you to call the White House (202-456-1111) and your Congressional representatives (Congressional switchboard: 202-225-3121) to demand an investigation into the civilian casualties and humanitarian crisis in Falluja, and to insist that the Red Cross and Red Crescent be allowed to bring relief supplies into the devastated city.
There are many urgent questions that the Bush administration is refusing even to address: How many civilians were killed? How many homes destroyed? How many hospitals, schools, mosques, and other community institutions were destroyed or had major damage done to them? When will the residents of Falluja be allowed to return to their homes?
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posted by Lorenzo 11:45 AM
Man Sets Fire to Himself Outside White House
(Reuters, November 15, 2004)
A bearded man shouting "Allah" set himself on fire outside the White House on Monday before uniformed Secret Service agents wrestled him to the ground and extinguished the flames, officials and witnesses said. . . . A Reuters reporter saw the middle-aged man, who was not identified, try to present a Manila envelope to guards outside a Secret Service post on Pennsylvania Avenue near the West Wing of the presidential mansion, shortly before 2 p.m. . . . Moments later, black smoke began rising above the one-story security post, while two guards wrestled the man to the ground and a third extinguished flames that engulfed the man's briefcase and overcoat a few feet away. . . . A Secret Service spokesman said the man had set himself on fire. The spokesman did not know whether President Bush, who was in the White House at the time, was notified about the incident. . . . A burn injury could be seen on the man's right hand. He groaned and repeatedly shouted, "Allah," as guards held him to the ground. . . . Authorities quickly cordoned off the area and fire trucks and ambulances arrived on the scene. . . . The man was taken to a Washington hospital, where a spokesman declined to talk about his condition. . . . U.S. Park Police were expected to lead an investigation into the incident.
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posted by Lorenzo 5:58 PM
The Disturbed Mind of a War-Loving Bush Supporter
[COMMENT: I'll let this guy speak for himself. See if you can follow the "logic" of a mind turned to mush.]
Am I a conservative, a "right winger?" Sure, I guess so, if you count someone who's pro-choice on abortion, is flabbergasted at the selfishness and mean-spiritedness of anyone who would put someone in jail for smoking pot, favors gay marriage, supports human rights organizations, and would love to see a world united in democratic governments a "conservative right-winger." . . . You seem to unquestioningly accept the left-wing orthodoxy that the war in Iraq has slaughtered hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis. Where you get such an idea I don't know, but from where I sit, having talked to both Iraqis and to soldiers fighting over there, that is, not to put too fine a point on it, A STEAMING CROCK OF HATE-MONGERING SHIT. . . . [COMMENT: Well, at least he has the vocabulary of a Fascist Christian Republican, and he's careful to ignore the facts.]
I voted for Bush. I'm not just glad of it, I'm proud of it. Not because I think he's a God. Not because I think it's wrong to question him. Not because I think you have to agree with him. But because I thought the Iraq liberation was the right thing to do for America, for the Iraqi people, and for the world as a whole. . . . [COMMENT: Man, I'd like to get ahold of some of the stuff this guy's been smoking.]
It reached a point for a lot of us that on election day, we were doing more than just saying "We want to re-elect George Bush." When we pulled that lever for Bush, we were also just plain saying "FUCK YOU!" . . . [COMMENT: And the same back to you, kind sir.]
All the war supporters I know--all of them--read and listen to the anti-Bush and anti-war invective. We're most bemused when we hear your plaintive wails that we are closed-minded and fearful and zombified and that if only you'd try harder and be more passionate maybe we'd finally understand you. . . . [COMMENT: Don't worry, we won't bother you any more now that we realize you don't have the capacity to understand us.]
And now, apparently, you sit around thinking, "Well we need those old-fashioned conservative respect-authority types in this country too I guess." Hey John? Fuck you. I'm not about obeying authority. I'm not about being captain of the football team--I don't even LIKE football, and I never dated any goddamned cheerleaders. I hated those people as a kid. I was too busy experimenting with drugs, reading books, noodling in the aisles at Grateful Dead concerts, and trying to get laid. . . . I voted for Bush because the war in Iraq was exactly the right war, for exactly the right reasons, at exactly the right time. Not because I think you're supposed to believe whatever Bush says, but because I independently concluded, like a whole lot of other people, that it was the right thing to do, and that NOT doing it would be a crime against humanity. And that America and the rest of the world would be safer if we did it. . . . And I still think all that. . . . [COMMENT: Then why haven't you volunteered for the military. They can use more people like you. What's wrong with you? Aren't you a patriot? I served this country in uniform. Have you and your war-loving friends done as much?]
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posted by Lorenzo 11:50 AM
Gore Vidal's views on the U.S. of Amnesia
(Marc Cooper interviews Gore Vidal, LA Weekly, November 5-11, 2004)
MARC COOPER: What would a truly courageous American president do after being inaugurated in January 2005? . . . GORE VIDAL: The first thing you do is bring the troops home. And you don’t listen to anyone who says: "We can’t do that now. We knocked their countries down and now must put them back up again. We knocked them down with our tax dollars, and with our tax dollars we must rebuild them — our sort of urban renewal." . . . None of that! We go. They want us out of there — the longer we stay, the more they’re going to kill us, and the more they will be killed. And the more outrages they will perpetrate on us here at home. Get out. No more adventures. Forget about our friends in the Middle East who want us to attack Iran and Syria. Forget them. Tell them to get lost. Cut the Pentagon budget by 50 percent. That’ll give you enough money to properly educate the people so they will know their own history, and when a bunch of thugs come along proposing to fleece the taxpayer — they will recognize them, because they will know about them from past history. . . . There is no great curiosity. There’s a certain edginess about why things go wrong. And they have to blame people. So there’s gay marriage over here. Black people over there. Or whether it is French people who eat garlic. There’s nothing but demonizing going on. We demonize entire groups of people. We demonize the entire Muslim world because it suits certain kinds of people to hate them. . . . There’s no reason to hate them. September 11 had nothing to do with the Muslim world except for a few people. Nor did any country have anything to do with it. . . . Why in your new book do you compare the war on terrorism with what you call "the war on dandruff"? . . . You cannot have a war against an abstract noun — which is what terrorism is. I hate to be a grammarian here. But it’s perfect nonsense. When the Soviet Union folded and we stopped the war on communism, we pretended we had won it. We didn’t. We lost it. And the Russians lost it too. We were both broke, and we both gave up. But, we had to have a replacement for it to keep up this great military budget which started with Reagan and is now just out of control. . . . So we had the war on drugs, but no one wanted to win that. So we gave that up after running around setting fields afire in Mexico and wrecking Colombia. The war on drugs — another abstract noun that made no sense. . . . Then came the war on terrorism. . . . They needed a trigger. And suddenly there it was. And they were waiting for it. I mean, we have enough statements from Bush pre-9/11 about how he wanted to invade Iraq. Presumably to make up for his father, who didn’t go all the way to Baghdad to kill Saddam Hussein. . . . But Bush and Cheney have other fish to fry. They are oil and gas men, and they wanted those oil reserves in Iraq — the second biggest in the world. They wanted to be well-placed in that part of the world. As soon as Cheney got to Washington, he ordered a study wanting to know how much time do we have? How much oil do we have? He was told, by 2020, pretty much, it will be over with. We will run out. It will be over. And then there’s chaos. . . . So now it begins to make sense. The pre-emptive wars against Afghanistan and Iraq. And now Iran, which has got great oil reserves. And that is how we got into these places. And it has proved to be a great mistake. We’re caught again in a Vietnam-like situation. And the oil hasn’t been very good to us. That’s been our game. . . . Didn’t we face a legitimate terrorist threat from Afghanistan after September 11 that justified our intervention there? . . . No. Look, when you get a hit by the likes of Osama bin Laden and a gang of religious crazies, you know what you do in a civilized world? You don’t make a war. You can only have a war on an organized country. So they invented a country that was guilty. First, it was Afghanistan and then it was Iraq. Why not Denmark or Norway? They had nothing to do with it, either. . . . I hate to sound like Kerry, but you go through international institutions. There’s something called INTERPOL, you know, which is very effective. You go to the police when you’ve been shot, robbed, vandalized. And you send out a warrant for Osama bin Laden and you capture him. The billions we spend on intelligence! Our intelligence wasn’t that bad in the field. There were some FBI types who knew something was up — some strange Arab guys who wanted to learn to fly airplanes but not land them. I mean, that would have even made me suspicious! . . . But these wars are hardly the first pre-emptive ones in our history. . . . No, they’re not. We’ve assaulted our neighbors in the past. The worst case was 1846, when we picked a war with Mexico when we wanted to steal part of their property, known as California. President Polk said we must have California, so he went to war against Mexico and ripped off California, Arizona, New Mexico and a couple of other states. . . . A young lieutenant in that war, fresh from West Point, Ulysses S. Grant, years later after he was the savior of the Union, said, "I have always thought that nations, like individuals, must always pay for transgressions. And I have always thought that the Civil War, the bloodiest civil war in history, was retribution for our attack on a weaker neighbor, Mexico." God help us for what we have done now in the Middle East. . . . We are all at risk, because the worst president in American history, the most ignorant, the one with the least right to be president or hold any office at all, was by his rich friends put in the White House to grab for the likes of Halliburton, et cetera, the oil and gas reserves of the 21st century. . . . Since Roosevelt, I can’t think of a single president who represented the people or did much for them. We’re the only country that doesn’t have health care for the people, or a proper education system or day centers for working mothers. No other country like this! I have just come from a tour of Germany, Austria, Sweden . . . they are all ahead of us. . . . Dean realized this war was an abomination to all sorts of Americans: lower class, middle class, Democrats and Republicans. He saw that, and rallied them — getting more registrations than anyone could expect from a mere governor of Vermont who just suddenly threw his hat in the ring. . . . That should have given Kerry a hint. What the people want you to say is that you are against this war of adventure. Against this meaningless war against terror. How do you beat terror? Terror is everywhere. Terror is the government of the United States half the time in how it relates to its own people. Our government is no friend to us and has not been for some years. To smile with satisfaction, "Boy, we got Saddam Hussein." Oh yeah, I feel safer. Terror goes on. And Saddam Hussein does or does not. He’s irrelevant to the story. . . . But with constant repetition, constantly telling lies, Bush and Cheney have convinced the America people somehow they’re all mixed up together. And they hate us because we’re so good! We’re such a good people. That is cretinism.
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posted by Lorenzo 11:29 AM
Post-Traumatic Stress, The Unseen Wounds Cut Deep
(Esther Schrader, The Los Angeles Times, 14 November 2004)
A mental health crisis is emerging, with one in six returning soldiers afflicted, experts say. . . . In soldiers like LaBranche - their bodies whole but their psyches deeply wounded - a crisis is unfolding, mental health experts say. One out of six soldiers returning from Iraq is suffering the effects of post-traumatic stress - and as more come home, that number is widely expected to grow. . . . The Pentagon, which did not anticipate the extent of the problem, is scrambling to find resources to address it. . . . A study by the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research found that 15.6% of Marines and 17.1% of soldiers surveyed after they returned from Iraq suffered major depression, generalized anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder - a debilitating, sometimes lifelong change in the brain's chemistry that can include flashbacks, sleep disorders, panic attacks, violent outbursts, acute anxiety and emotional numbness. . . . Army and Veterans Administration mental health experts say there is reason to believe the war's ultimate psychological fallout will worsen. The Army survey of 6,200 soldiers and Marines included only troops willing to report their problems. The study did not look at reservists, who tend to suffer a higher rate of psychological injury than career Marines and soldiers. And the soldiers in the study served in the early months of the war, when tours were shorter and before the Iraqi insurgency took shape. . . . "The bad news is that the study underestimated the prevalence of what we are going to see down the road," . . . Since the study was completed, Friedman said: "The complexion of the war has changed into a grueling counterinsurgency. And that may be very important in terms of the potential toxicity of this combat experience." , , , Mental health professionals say they fear the system is not moving fast enough to treat the trauma. They say slowness to recognize what was happening to Vietnam veterans contributed to the psychological devastation from that war. . . . More than 30% of Vietnam veterans eventually suffered from the condition that more than a decade later was given the name post-traumatic stress disorder. But since their distress was not clinically understood until long after the war ended, most went for years without meaningful treatment. . . . "When we missed the boat with the Vietnam vets, we didn't get another chance," said Jerry Clark, director of the veterans clinic in Alexandria, Va. "When they left the service, they went away not for a month or two but for 10 years. And they came back addicted, incarcerated and all these things. We can't miss the boat again. It is imperative." . . . Experts on post-traumatic stress disorder say it should come as no surprise that some of the soldiers in Iraq are fighting mental illness. . . . The number of mental health professionals deployed near frontline positions in Iraq has been increased. Suicide prevention programs are given to soldiers in the field. According to the Pentagon, 31 U.S. troops have killed themselves in Iraq. . . . Whether people like Matt LaBranche seek and receive treatment will determine how deep an effect the stress of the war in Iraq ultimately has on U.S. society. . . . Before the war, LaBranche was living in Saco, Maine, with his wife and children and had no history of mental illness. . . . He deployed to Iraq with a National Guard transportation company based in Bangor. He came home a different person. . . . Just three days after he was discharged from Walter Reed, he was arrested for threatening his former wife. When he goes to court Dec. 9, he could be looking at jail time. . . . He lies on a couch at his brother's house most days now, struggling with the image of the Iraqi woman who died in his arms after he shot her, and the children he says caught some of his bullets. His speech is pocked with obscenities. . . . On a recent outing with friends, he became so enraged when he saw a Muslim family that he had to take medication to calm down. . . . He is seeing a therapist, but only once every two weeks. . . . "I'm taking enough drugs to sedate an elephant, and I still wake up dreaming about it," LaBranche said. "I wish I had just freaking died over there."
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posted by Lorenzo 11:08 AM
Turmoil at the top of the CIA
(Washington Post, November 13, 2004)
The deputy director of the CIA resigned yesterday after a series of confrontations over the past week between senior operations officials and CIA Director Porter J. Goss's new chief of staff that have left the agency in turmoil, according to several current and former CIA officials. . . . John E. McLaughlin, a 32-year CIA veteran who was acting director for two months this summer until Goss took over, resigned after warning Goss that his top aide, former Capitol Hill staff member Patrick Murray, was treating senior officials disrespectfully and risked widespread resignations, the officials said. . . . Yesterday, the agency official who oversees foreign operations, Deputy Director of Operations Stephen R. Kappes, tendered his resignation after a confrontation with Murray. Goss and the White House pleaded with Kappes to reconsider and he agreed to delay his decision until Monday, the officials said. . . . Several other senior clandestine service officers are threatening to leave, current and former agency officials said. . . . The disruption comes as the CIA is trying to stay abreast of a worldwide terrorist threat from al Qaeda, a growing insurgency in Iraq, the return of the Taliban in Afghanistan and congressional proposals to reorganize the intelligence agencies. The agency also has been criticized for not preventing the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and not accurately assessing Saddam Hussein's ability to produce weapons of mass destruction. . . . "It's the worst roiling I've ever heard of," said one former senior official with knowledge of the events. "There's confusion throughout the ranks and an extraordinary loss of morale and incentive." . . . Goss's arrival has been especially tense because he brought with him four former members of the intelligence committee known widely on the Hill and within the agency for their abrasive management style and for their criticism of the agency's clandestine services in a committee report. . . . Three are former mid-level CIA officials who left the agency disgruntled, according to former colleagues. The fourth, Murray, who also worked at the Justice Department, has a reputation for being highly partisan. When senior managers have gone to Goss to complain about his staff actions, one CIA officer said, Goss has told them: "Talk to my chief of staff. I don't do personnel." . . . The overall effect, said one former senior CIA official, who has kept up his contacts in the Directorate of Operations, "is that Goss doesn't seem engaged at all." . . . Michael V. Kostiw, who was Goss's first choice for executive director -- the agency's third-ranking official -- withdrew his name after The Washington Post reported that he had left the agency 20 years ago after having been arrested for stealing a package of bacon. . . . More generally, Goss's aides arrived at the CIA with harsh views of the clandestine service. Their views were laid out in a House intelligence committee report in June. "There is a dysfunctional denial of any need for corrective action," the report said. The clandestine service suffers from "misallocation and redirection of resources, poor prioritization of objectives, micromanagement of field operations and a continued political aversion to operational risk." . . . The report was drafted primarily by Jay Jakub, whom Goss appointed to the newly created position of special assistant for operations and analysis. . . . The House report's critique brought on a tough response from then-CIA Director George J. Tenet and led to a near-breakdown in relations between the agency and the panel staff.
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posted by Lorenzo 12:12 PM
Bush's Fascist Government Using Poor Children in Toxic Chemical Tests
EPA WILL USE POOR KIDS AS GUINEA PIGS IN NEW STUDY ON PESTICIDES
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), led by Bush appointees, plans to launch a new study in which participating low income families will have their children exposed to toxic pesticides over the course of two years. For taking part in these studies, each family will receive $970, a free video camera, a T-shirt, and a framed certificate of appreciation. In October, the EPA received $2 million to do the study from the American Chemistry Council, a chemical industry front group that includes members such as Dow, Exxon, and Monsanto. The EPA's Linda Sheldon says the study is vital, because so little is known about how small children's bodies absorb harmful chemicals. As of press time, none of the EPA's employees are offering to have their own children take part in this research project. The Organic Consumers Association is calling on the nation's citizens to demand the EPA forgo this project before its scheduled launch in early 2005. Sign petition by clicking here and forward this email to family and friends... http://www.organicconsumers.org/epa-alert.htm
[COMMENT by Lorenzo: So now how do you feel about the comparison of the USA today and Germany in the 30s? It seems obvious to me that Bush's neocon Nazi friends are going after the poor people like Hitler went after the Gypsies. We are living in dark days, my friends.]
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posted by Lorenzo 4:14 PM
New Report Shows Something Strange About the 9/11 Story
www.septembereleventh.org: news article
(Kevin Ryan, Underwriters Laboratories, Nov 11, 2004)
The following letter was sent today by Kevin Ryan of Underwriters Laboratories to Frank Gayle of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Underwriters Laboratories is the company that certified the steel componets used in the constuction of the World Trade Center towers. The information in this letter is of great importance.
Having recently reviewed your team's report of 10/19/04, I felt the need to contact you directly.
As I'm sure you know, the company I work for certified the steel components used in the construction of the WTC buildings. In requesting information from both our CEO and Fire Protection business manager last year, I learned that they did not agree on the essential aspects of the story, except for one thing - that the samples we certified met all requirements. They suggested we all be patient and understand that UL was working with your team, and that tests would continue through this year. I'm aware of UL's attempts to help, including performing tests on models of the floor assemblies. But the results of these tests appear to indicate that the buildings should have easily withstood the thermal stress caused by pools of burning jet fuel.
There continues to be a number of "experts" making public claims about how the WTC buildings fell. One such person, Dr. Hyman Brown from the WTC construction crew, claims that the buildings collapsed due to fires at 2000F melting the steel (1). He states "What caused the building to collapse is the airplane fuel…burning at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The steel in that five-floor area melts." Additionally, the newspaper that quotes him says "Just-released preliminary findings from a National Institute of Standards and Technology study of the World Trade Center collapse support Brown’s theory."
We know that the steel components were certified to ASTM E119. The time temperature curves for this standard require the samples to be exposed to temperatures around 2000F for several hours. And as we all agree, the steel applied met those specifications. Additionally, I think we can all agree that even un-fireproofed steel will not melt until reaching red-hot temperatures of nearly 3000F (2). Why Dr. Brown would imply that 2000F would melt the high-grade steel used in those buildings makes no sense at all.
The results of your recently published metallurgical tests seem to clear things up (3), and support your team's August 2003 update as detailed by the Associated Press (4), in which you were ready to "rule out weak steel as a contributing factor in the collapse." The evaluation of paint deformation and spheroidization seem very straightforward, and you noted that the samples available were adequate for the investigation. Your comments suggest that the steel was probably exposed to temperatures of only about 500F (250C), which is what one might expect from a thermodynamic analysis of the situation.
However the summary of the new NIST report seems to ignore your findings, as it suggests that these low temperatures caused exposed bits of the building's steel core to "soften and buckle." (5) Additionally this summary states that the perimeter columns softened, yet your findings make clear that "most perimeter panels (157 of 160) saw no temperature above 250C." To soften steel for the purposes of forging, normally temperatures need to be above1100C (6). However, this new summary report suggests that much lower temperatures were be able to not only soften the steel in a matter of minutes, but lead to rapid structural collapse.
This story just does not add up. If steel from those buildings did soften or melt, I'm sure we can all agree that this was certainly not due to jet fuel fires of any kind, let alone the briefly burning fires in those towers. That fact should be of great concern to all Americans. Alternatively, the contention that this steel did fail at temperatures around 250C suggests that the majority of deaths on 9/11 were due to a safety-related failure. That suggestion should be of great concern to my company.
There is no question that the events of 9/11 are the emotional driving force behind the War on Terror. And the issue of the WTC collapse is at the crux of the story of 9/11. My feeling is that your metallurgical tests are at the crux of the crux of the crux. Either you can make sense of what really happened to those buildings, and communicate this quickly, or we all face the same destruction and despair that come from global decisions based on disinformation and "chatter".
Thanks for your efforts to determine what happened on that day. You may know that there are a number of other current and former government employees that have risked a great deal to help us to know the truth. I've copied one of these people on this message as a sign of respect and support. I believe your work could also be a nucleus of fact around which the truth, and thereby global peace and justice, can grow again. Please do what you can to quickly eliminate the confusion regarding the ability of jet fuel fires to soften or melt structural steel.
1. http://www.boulderweekly.com/archive/102104/coverstory.html 2. CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, 61st edition, pg D-187 3. http://wtc.nist.gov/media/P3MechanicalandMetAnalysisofSteel.pdf 4. http://www.voicesofsept11.org/archive/911ic/082703.php 5. http://wtc.nist.gov/media/NCSTACWTCStatusFINAL101904WEB2.pdf (pg 11) 6. http://www.forging.org/FIERF/pdf/ffaaMacSleyne.pdf
Site Manager Environmental Health Laboratories A Division of Underwriters Laboratories
-- For more information about UL, its Marks, and its services for EMC, quality registrations and product certifications for global markets, please access our web sites at http://www.ul.com and http://www.ulc.ca, or contact your local sales representative.
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posted by Lorenzo 3:04 PM
Republican Vote Fraud in Ohio is Confirmed
In last Tuesday's election, 29 precincts in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, reported votes cast IN EXCESS of the number of registered voters - at least 93,136 extra votes total. And the numbers are right there on the official Cuyahoga County Board of Elections website:
Bay Village - 13,710 registered voters / 18,663 ballots cast
Beachwood - 9,943 registered voters / 13,939 ballots cast
Bedford - 9,942 registered voters / 14,465 ballots cast
Bedford Heights - 8,142 registered voters / 13,512 ballots cast
Brooklyn - 8,016 registered voters / 12,303 ballots cast
Brooklyn Heights - 1,144 registered voters / 1,869 ballots cast
Chagrin Falls Village - 3,557 registered voters / 4,860 ballots cast
Cuyahoga Heights - 570 registered voters / 1,382 ballots cast
Fairview Park - 13,342 registered voters / 18,472 ballots cast
Highland Hills Village - 760 registered voters / 8,822 ballots cast
Independence - 5,735 registered voters / 6,226 ballots cast
Mayfield Village - 2,764 registered voters / 3,145 ballots cast
Middleburg Heights - 12,173 registered voters / 14,854 ballots cast
Moreland Hills Village - 2,990 registered voters / 4,616 ballots cast
North Olmstead - 25,794 registered voters / 25,887 ballots cast
Olmstead Falls - 6,538 registered voters / 7,328 ballots cast
Pepper Pike - 5,131 registered voters / 6,479 ballots cast
Rocky River - 16,600 registered voters / 20,070 ballots cast
Solon (WD6) - 2,292 registered voters / 4,300 ballots cast
South Euclid - 16,902 registered voters / 16,917 ballots cast
Strongsville (WD3) - 7,806 registered voters / 12,108 ballots cast
University Heights - 10,072 registered voters / 11,982 ballots cast
Valley View Village - 1,787 registered voters / 3,409 ballots cast
Warrensville Heights - 10,562 registered voters / 15,039 ballots cast
Woodmere Village - 558 registered voters / 8,854 ballots cast
Bedford (CSD) - 22,777 registered voters / 27,856 ballots cast
Independence (LSD) - 5,735 registered voters / 6,226 ballots cast
Orange (CSD) - 11,640 registered voters / 22,931 ballots cast
Warrensville (CSD) - 12,218 registered voters / 15,822 ballots cast
It sure looks like the Fascist Christian Party (FCP) got their money's worth when they invested in those electronic voting machines ... and these results are only from one county in Ohio, add in the rest of Ohio and Florida and you've got a big-time stolen election. [Also see The Elections Are Rigged...PERMANENTLY]
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posted by Lorenzo 10:28 AM
The Republicans' New Seal
I received the following in an email from a friend. Here is what it said:
Republicans now have control in both houses. It`s only right that we would want our own new seal.
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posted by Lorenzo 3:07 PM
Diebold Source Code Hacked
Dr. Avi Rubin is currently Professor of Computer Science at John Hopkins University. He "accidently"got his hands on a copy of the Diebold software program--Diebold's source code--which runs their e-voting machines. . . . Dr. Rubin's students pored over 48,609 lines of code that make up this software. One line in partictular stood out over all the rest: #defineDESKEY((des_KEY8F2654hd4" . . . All commercial programs have provisions to be encrypted so as to protect them from having their contents read or changed by anyone not having the key..The line that staggered the Hopkin's team was that the method used to encrypt the Diebold machines was a method called Digital Encryption Standard (DES), a code that was broken in 1997 and is NO LONGER USED by anyone to secure prograns.F2654hd4 was the key to the encryption. Moreover, because the KEY was IN the source code, all Diebold machines would respond to the same key. Unlock one, you have then ALL unlocked. . . . I can't believe there is a person alive who wouldn't understand the reason this was allowed to happen. This wasen't a mistake by any stretch of the imagination. This was a fixed election, plain and simple. . . . This second coup d'etat is either stopped now or America ceases to be.
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posted by Lorenzo 9:44 PM
Anti-War Protesters Shut Down Army Recruitment Center in Hollywood
Saturday, November 7, 2004, About 1,500 people met at Hollywood and Highland and marched to the recruiting station at Sunset and LaBrea to protest the occupation of Iraq and the stolen election. About 500 people entered the parking lot of the Army recruiting center in a mini-mall at LaBrea and Sunset. Police seemed somewhat unprepared but recovered after about 15 minutes and inserted themselves between the protestors and the recruiting center. After reinforcements arrived, they then proceeded to sweep across the lot, driving everyone out the LaBrea exit and into the main mass of demonstrators. Reportedly four arrests were made by the LAPD. [SEE ABOVE LINK for reports about this demonstration.
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posted by Lorenzo 4:34 PM
US Military Tanks Patrol Anti-war Rally in L.A.
LOS ANGELES, November 9, 2004 - At 7:50 PM two armored tanks showed up at an anti-war protest in front of the federal building in Westwood. The tanks circled the block twice, the second time parking themselves in the street and directly in front of the area where most of the protesters were gathered. Enraged, some of the people attempted to block the tanks, but police quickly cleared the street. The people continued to protest the presence of the tanks, but about ten minutes the tanks drove off. It is unclear as to why the tanks were deployed to this location. Uploaded here is video from the event.
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posted by Lorenzo 4:23 PM
Maybe this is where America ends
(Leonard Pitts Jr., Baltimore Sun, November 8, 2004)
We are, he pointed out, a nation founded not on common ancestry but rather, shared ideals: liberty and justice for all. Maybe, he said, that sort of bond ultimately cannot hold. It would be no surprise to him, he wrote, to see the U.S. split into two or more separate countries in his lifetime. He is 32. . . . I intend no endorsement of his prediction when I say that it struck me hard -- mainly because I could not airily dismiss it. Could not say with certainty that it will not happen. . . . If and when it does, some observers will be primed to blame so-called hyphenated Americanism. But it seems apparent after this week that the fissure that divides us most dramatically is less about race or ethnicity than something larger: culture, an unresolved clash of worldviews, mores and norms. It's the morality, stupid. . . . To say I am merely depressed that he was reelected is to say the Titanic sustained a little paint damage. I speak not from any particular affinity for John Kerry but, rather, from a conviction that Bush's peculiar combination of faith-based zealotry and utter incompetence constitute a clear and present danger to national security and international stability. . . . Small wonder that everywhere I go, people are talking about moving to Canada. That's the kind of joke you make when you no longer recognize your country. . . . That disconnect is not about liberalism vs. conservatism. Agree with them or disagree -- I've done both -- there is a certain pragmatism to traditional conservatives. You know where they're coming from: small government; personal responsibility; fiscal restraint. And their arguments are usually grounded in something recognizable as logic. . . . But social conservatism is another thing entirely, a mutant strain unhindered by critical thought. These are the nominal Christians whose Bibles are so long on judgment yet so short on compassion, the soldiers of the new American theocracy who want to force creation ''science'' on the schools and deportation on the Muslims. They are the super patriots who regard criticism as treason, the pious moralizers who believe single mothers should be barred from teaching in public schools. They are blind guides who see tens of thousands dying in Iraq and think the defining issue of the election is what gay men do in bed. They give God a bad name. . . . And their chosen leader is about to embark on his second term as president of the United States. . . . One nation splitting in two? I hope my reader is wrong.
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posted by Lorenzo 11:45 AM
The Elections Are Rigged...PERMANENTLY
(Larry Chin, From the Wilderness, November 5, 2004)
Using a variety of criminal methods that they have perfected over the past four years, the George W. Bush-Dick Cheney-Karl Rove syndicate stole another election, and extended their illegal occupation of the White House. Experienced, informed and unblinking observers were not fooled by any aspect of this utterly predictable goose-step towards full dictatorship. . . . The US political and economic system, exemplified by Bush-Cheney, is deeply criminalized. It is designed to profit by killing things. It thrives on war and oppression. It is sustained by collusion, fraud, lies, cover-up, and the indoctrination and manipulation of minds. It does not, and never has, represented its people. Its operatives heed no laws. They "make" law. These facts must be burned into the consciousness of every decent human being. . . . Criminals do not obey laws. Criminals do not believe in "democracy". . . . Criminals do not "permit" elections. . . . It is foolish, then, to expend one's energies in "clean" election activities, and expect good results. To quote one of George W. Bush many recent Freudian non-slips, "we make elections." The 2004 presidential election was just one more "manufacture". . . . In the 2002 mid-term elections, the Republicans "shocked" Democrats by solidifying their power in Congress, using the same fraudulent methods, along with new and improved black box technology. . . . "The technology had a trial run in the 2002 mid-term elections. In Georgia, serviced by new Diebold systems, a popular Democratic governor and senator were both unseated in what the media called 'amazing' upsets, with results showing vote swings of up to 16 percent from the last pre-ballot polls. In computerized Minnesota, former Vice President Walter Mondale-a replacement for popular incumbent Paul Wellstone, who died in a plane crash days before the vote-was also defeated in a large last-second vote swing. Convenient 'glitches' in Florida saw an untold number of votes intended for the Democratic candidate registering instead for Governor Jeb "L'il Brother" Bush. A Florida Democrat who lost a similarly 'glitched' local election went to court to have the computers examined-but the case was thrown out by a judge who ruled that the innards of America's voting machines are the 'trade secrets' of the private companies who make them." . . . The probability of a fix was obvious throughout the 2004 presidential campaign. Corporate media polls continued to predominantly favor Bush, never dipping his rating below 48 percent, despite his trouncing in three straight debates with Kerry, and despite mushrooming war scandals. This was in stark contrast to independent surveys that showed Kerry with commanding leads. Kerry momentum, and massive Kerry/anti-Bush voter turnout, was evident on election day, and confirmed by exit polls with dominant Kerry numbers. . . . Then what? . . . Greg Palast reveals in exhaustive detail that John Kerry won the 2004 election and had it stolen through such methods as "spoilage", intimidation, polling place chicanery, ethnic cleansing of polls. . . . "The American vote count is controlled by three major corporate players, Diebold, ESS, Sequoia, and a fourth, SAIC, Science Applications International. All four are hard-wired into the Bush power structure, the Bush crime family. . . . "They have been given millions of dollars by the Bush regime to complete a sweeping computerization of voting machines that were just used in the 2004 election. The technology involved had a trial run during the 2002 mid-term elections. Georgia had Diebold machines in every precinct. As a result, a popular Democratic governor and senator were both unseated in what the media called an "amazing" 16 percent swing. . . . "Diebold's Walden O'Dell, a top Bush fundraiser, publicly committed himself to delivering his home state Ohio's votes to Bush. At Diebold, the election division is run by Bob Urosevich. Bob's brother, Todd, is a top executive at "rival" ES&S. The brothers were originally staked by Howard Ahmanson, a member of the Council For National Policy, a right-wing steering group stacked with Bush true believers. Ahmanson is also one of the bagmen behind the extremist Christian Reconstruction Movement, which advocates the theocratic takeover of American democracy. . . . "The four companies are interconnected; they are not four "competitors". Ahmanson has large stakes in ES&S, whose former CEO was Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska. When Hagel ran for office, his own company counted the votes, and his victory was considered "an amazing upset". Hagel still has a million dollar stake in ES&S. . . . "Sequoia is the corporate parent of a private equity firm, Madison Dearborn, which is partner in the Carlyle Group. (Also see here.) . . . "Meanwhile, SAIC is referred to a "shadowy defense contractor". They have gotten into the vote count game both directly and through spinoffs by its top brass, including Admiral Bill Owens, former military aide to Dick Cheney, and Carlyle Group honcho Frank Carlucci and ex-CIA chief Robert Gates. SAIC's history of fraud charges and security "lapses" haven't prevented it from becoming one of the largest Pentagon and CIA contractors, and will doubtless encounter few obstacles in its entrance into the vote counting business. . . . "Unless electronic vote tabulation is history, and these companies are driven out of business, it's their country. Not ours. . . . "Nobody knows, and no one will ever know, what the actual vote count was. . . . "There are no checks and balances left. The US Senate now has 55 of these Republicans. When they hit 60, which is what will happen in 2006 mid-term elections-trust me-that means that no matter what Bush and the crime family want to do, they can do it. The House (of Representatives) is gone for the next two to five generations. It's gone. . . . "The last thing rational people in this country need right now is this whistling-past-the-graveyard horse hockey. Nothing is going to happen; it's going to get worse. There will never again be a legitimate election in this county. . . . "Until we get rid of the machines. . . . The people who put the software together-do you think that they are in this business to promote democracy? To promote representative government? Then you are a fool, and you don't deserve anything other than the lash. . . . Kerry did not lose the election. The vote was stolen. Get that through your head." . . . The Bush syndicate owns and runs the machines that make the votes. They control all branches of the federal government. . . . Will any of the Bush administration criminals ever be punished for their war crimes? Then one must ask, who is going to prosecute? Who is going to hear the cases? The Bush Justice Department? The Bush FBI? The Supreme Court? . . . When you play fair in a rigged game, it doesn't matter how hard you work, or even what you do. Insanity is repeating the same mistake, expecting a different result. . . . Kerry Welcomes Fascism with Open Arms . . . John Kerry's pitiful and immediate capitulation, surrendering with even less of a fight than Al Gore in 2000, despite clear, overt and gross vote fraud across the country, including Ohio-Diebold's home state-was sickening. . . . Bush's Skull & Bonesfraternity brother then spoke of "healing" and uniting behind Bush, a speech grotesquely reminiscent of Al Gore's sickening 2000 declaration that Bush was "mah president." . . . Twice now, with Gore and Kerry, Democrats have won the White House, and then refused to speak the truth about the crime, and fight for the people who bled for them. Twice, America has been sold out. . . . Could it be that this time, Kerry played the American people in just another game of bait-and-switch? . . . Will those who supported Kerry actually heed his command, and obediently march in step, "without anger or rancor," and follow George W. Bush, the strutting tyrant, and the most dangerous and irrational collection of mass-murdering war criminals in modern history? . . . In a cynical view, and one that is likely accurate, the election of 2004 may have been nothing more than an elaborate trial balloon, a "good cop-bad cop" theater that is mandated every few years to uphold the appearance of legitimacy. Our candidates lie, all the while gauging the effectiveness of long-term manipulation programs. They think, are the people still gullible and uninformed? What slogans and illusions can we fool them with? Is the "war on terrorism" mindset still unwavering? How far can we push them? Will they accept the baseball bat in the face, or the velvet glove to the nose? . . . Webster Tarpley, author of the Unauthorized Biography of George Bush writes: "If Bush retains control of the White House, we can expect a neocon fascist dictatorship or martial law emergency regime in 2005 or 2006, possibly as the result of synthetic terrorism. The neocons are in a desperate flight forward mentality which seeks to avoid the penal consequences of what they have already done with Valerie Plame, the Niger yellowcake forgeries, the Israeli mole scandal, and the Chalabi betrayal of state secrets. The neocon preference is for early war with Iran. War with Russia and China cannot be excluded somewhat further down the road." . . . Add to that the relentless horror that will be inflicted when the effects of Peak Oil (also see From The Wilderness and Richard Heinberg) crash home in earnest, the body bags pile higher with new wars, and the lives of Americans (including Bush drones) and people all over the world continue to be destroyed. . . . Robert Lederman wrote of Racicot: "Numerous members of the Bush family, including his father and brothers and at least one of GW's prospective cabinet appointees - potential GW Bush Attorney General Marc Racicot - have a history of alleged involvement in drug running at the highest levels. We're not talking about buying drugs for personal use here but massive importations of heroin and cocaine with the full involvement of foreign dictators like George Bush pal Manuel Noriega and the Mafia." . . . Hitler himself wrote: "The victor will not be asked, later on, whether he told the truth or not. In starting and waging a war, it is not right that matters, but victory. Have no pity." . . . Hitler had nothing on the George W. Bush administration.
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posted by Lorenzo 3:33 PM
Puritanism and the Bush Junta
(George Monbiot, The Guardian, November 9, 2004)
Puritanism was primarily the religion of the new commercial classes. It attracted traders, money lenders, bankers and industrialists. Calvin had given them what the old order could not: a theological justification of commerce. Capitalism, in his teachings, was not unchristian, but could be used for the glorification of God. From his doctrine of individual purification, the late Puritans forged a new theology. . . . At its heart was an "idealisation of personal responsibility" before God. This rapidly turned into "a theory of individual rights" in which "the traditional scheme of Christian virtues was almost exactly reversed". By the mid-17th century, most English Puritans saw in poverty "not a misfortune to be pitied and relieved, but a moral failing to be condemned, and in riches, not an object of suspicion ... but the blessing which rewards the triumph of energy and will". . . . the late Puritans added another concept. They conflated their religious calling with their commercial one. "Next to the saving of his soul," the preacher Richard Steele wrote in 1684, the tradesman's "care and business is to serve God in his calling, and to drive it as far as it will go." Success in business became a sign of spiritual grace: providing proof to the entrepreneur, in Steele's words, that "God has blessed his trade". . . . Of course, the Puritans differed from Bush's people in that they worshipped production but not consumption. But this is just a different symptom of the same disease. Tawney characterises the late Puritans as people who believed that "the world exists not to be enjoyed, but to be conquered. Only4 its conqueror deserves the name of Christian." . . . Ronan Bennett's excellent new novel, Havoc in its Third Year, about a Puritan revolution in the 1630s, has the force of a parable. An obsession with terrorists (in this case Irish and Jesuit), homosexuality and sexual licence, the vicious chastisement of moral deviance, the disparagement of public support for the poor: swap the black suits for grey ones, and the characters could have walked out of Bush's America. . . . So why has this ideology resurfaced in 2004? Because it has to. The enrichment of the elite and impoverishment of the lower classes requires a justifying ideology if it is to be sustained. In the US this ideology has to be a religious one. Bush's government is forced back to the doctrines of Puritanism as an historical necessity. If we are to understand what it's up to, we must look not to the 1930s, but to the 1630s.
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posted by Lorenzo 1:38 PM
Evidence Mounts that the Vote Was Hacked
(Thom Hartmann, CommonDreams.org, 06 November 2004)
When I spoke with Jeff Fisher this morning (Saturday, November 06, 2004), the Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from Florida's 16th District said he was waiting for the FBI to show up. Fisher has evidence, he says, not only that the Florida election was hacked, but of who hacked it and how. And not just this year, he said, but that these same people had previously hacked the Democratic primary race in 2002 so that Jeb Bush would not have to run against Janet Reno, who presented a real threat to Jeb, but instead against Bill McBride, who Jeb beat. . . . "It was practice for a national effort," Fisher told me. . . . And some believe evidence is accumulating that the national effort happened on November 2, 2004. . . . While the heavily scrutinized touch-screen voting machines seemed to produce results in which the registered Democrat/Republican ratios largely matched the Kerry/Bush vote, in Florida's counties using results from optically scanned paper ballots - fed into a central tabulator PC and thus vulnerable to hacking - the results seem to contain substantial anomalies. . . . In Baker County, for example, with 12,887 registered voters, 69.3% of them Democrats and 24.3% of them Republicans, the vote was only 2,180 for Kerry and 7,738 for Bush, the opposite of what is seen everywhere else in the country where registered Democrats largely voted for Kerry. . . . In Dixie County, with 4,988 registered voters, 77.5% of them Democrats and a mere 15% registered as Republicans, only 1,959 people voted for Kerry, but 4,433 voted for Bush. . . . The pattern repeats over and over again - but only in the counties where optical scanners were used. Franklin County, 77.3% registered Democrats, went 58.5% for Bush. Holmes County, 72.7% registered Democrats, went 77.25% for Bush. . . . Yet in the touch-screen counties, where investigators may have been more vigorously looking for such anomalies, high percentages of registered Democrats generally equaled high percentages of votes for Kerry. . . . Even more significantly, Dopp had first run the analysis while filtering out smaller (rural) counties, and still found that the only variable that accounted for a swing toward Republican voting was the use of optical-scan machines, whereas counties with touch-screen machines generally didn't swing - regardless of size. . . . Others offer similar insights, based on other data. A professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, noted that in Florida the vote to raise the minimum wage was approved by 72%, although Kerry got 48%. "The correlation between voting for the minimum wage increase and voting for Kerry isn't likely to be perfect," he noted, "but one would normally expect that the gap - of 1.5 million votes - to be far smaller than it was." . . . While all of this may or may not be evidence of vote tampering, it again brings the nation back to the question of why several states using electronic voting machines or scanners programmed by private, for-profit corporations and often connected to modems produced votes inconsistent with exit poll numbers. . . . Those exit poll results have been a problem for reporters ever since Election Day. . . . Election night, I'd been doing live election coverage for WDEV, one of the radio stations that carries my syndicated show, and, just after midnight, during the 12:20 a.m. Associated Press Radio News feed, I was startled to hear the reporter detail how Karen Hughes had earlier sat George W. Bush down to inform him that he'd lost the election. The exit polls were clear: Kerry was winning in a landslide. "Bush took the news stoically," noted the AP report. . . . But then the computers reported something different. In several pivotal states. . . . Conservatives see a conspiracy here: They think the exit polls were rigged. . . . Dick Morris, the infamous political consultant to the first Clinton campaign who became a Republican consultant and Fox News regular, wrote an article for The Hill, the publication read by every political junkie in Washington, DC, in which he made a couple of brilliant points. . . . "Exit Polls are almost never wrong," Morris wrote. "They eliminate the two major potential fallacies in survey research by correctly separating actual voters from those who pretend they will cast ballots but never do and by substituting actual observation for guesswork in judging the relative turnout of different parts of the state." . . . He added: "So, according to ABC-TVs exit polls, for example, Kerry was slated to carry Florida, Ohio, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, and Iowa, all of which Bush carried. The only swing state the network had going to Bush was West Virginia, which the president won by 10 points." . . . Yet a few hours after the exit polls were showing a clear Kerry sweep, as the computerized vote numbers began to come in from the various states the election was called for Bush. . . . How could this happen? . . . So far, the only national "mainstream" media to come close to this story was Keith Olbermann on his show Friday night, November 5th, when he noted that it was curious that all the voting machine irregularities so far uncovered seem to favor Bush. In the meantime, the Washington Post and other media are now going through single-bullet-theory-like contortions to explain how the exit polls had failed. . . . But I agree with Fox's Dick Morris on this one, at least in large part. Wrapping up his story for The Hill, Morris wrote in his final paragraph, "This was no mere mistake. Exit polls cannot be as wrong across the board as they were on election night. I suspect foul play."
[COMMENT: The last real election in the U.S. took place in 1996. If you still think there is a chance that we might have free and fair elections again one day in this country, I've got some swamp land in Florida that might interest you. Take a look at Ruth Lopez's article for a reality check about the true state of affairs in Amerika.]
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posted by Lorenzo 3:49 PM
A Nation Gone Crazy
(Ruth Lopez, BuzzFlash, November 7, 2004)
Yeah, I know the drill: I'm supposed to 'get over it'. Well, I will not pretend to act like this is fine. That the system worked. That we did what we could, that they won honestly, or, even if they didn't, that it's time to move on. . . . No, I am devastated and I weep for my country. But I am also as angry as I am heartsick. . . . Within a few short hours of Kerry's concession speech, the left wing focus shifted to how we will win next time. Next time. This pathetic mewl of defiance completely falls within the definition of insanity: repeating the same behavior and expecting different results. . . . There won't be a next time, not as long as we lie to ourselves. . . . While we're sitting around sniveling and dreaming of our revenge, the bully and his friends are going to get bigger and stronger. These people dream of world domination. The American electoral process is a minor impediment to them. Ignoring this reality is the road to insanity and failure. . . . It's a bitter pill to swallow, but I say at least be big enough to see this for what it is. . . . The next election will be less of an election than this election. . . . There will be no next time on those terms. This country is now headed inexorably down a road that will take a generation or more to get off of, If we even can. If America as we know it even survives. . . . Nations do go crazy sometimes, and the progression of symptoms we've been exhibiting here in the Good Ol' USA has entered rubber room territory. We are a people in dangerous denial. Don't participate in it by accepting this insanity as your reality. Even as everyone around you buys into the comfort zone of 'next time', stay strong by never acknowledging it as your truth. Whatever else you do, for God's sake, at least see this for what it really was. . . . The extreme right-wing of the Republican party has not only sealed a majority rule in this election, they now have carte blanche for the next two years to further consolidate their hold on everything that truly fosters democratic participation: the media, the Supreme Court, voting machines, gerrymandered Republican districts that guarantee majority re-election indefinitely. You name it, their iron fist is now wrapped around it. Even the Internet. . . . Never forget: by rolling over as we all collectively just did, we have kept in office the man who granted himself the power to take any of us, declare us enemies of the state, strip us of our citizenship, torture us and jail us indefinitely, with no due process. Just because they've only done it so far to swarthy looking men who don't really look 'American' to Bush's supporters doesn't mean the rest of us are exempt. All the warm fuzziness of network anchor assurances do not change that. . . . We have given Bush two completely unobstructed years to enhance and consolidate those powers before facing the electorate again. By that time, the electoral process will be more akin to some bizarre national obsessive compulsive ritual than any kind of real participatory process: voting will become useless repetitive behavior compulsively acted out to relieve national anxiety with no reality based connection. We'll vote in record numbers again, the votes will be manipulated, and our TV pundits will console us with meaningless explanations. More insane behavior. . . . Americans used to be so smug about Soviet elections. What a joke they were. Not like us. Well, welcome to the new America. We'll all go vote on our shiny new privately owned electronic machines, machines that will be everywhere by the next national 'election', with votes that will be counted by privatized vote counters. Don't worry your little heads about paper trails or accountability. To question is to undermine confidence in our leadership. Good citizens don't do that. Go home and turn on your privately owned corporate media outlets who will soothingly tell you that everything is all right. A few malcontents may have to be put down, but the people will have spoken: the Great Leader can continue his Holy Mission. God loves us, we're Americans. . . . And the next election will be even less of an election than the previous election. And the election after that even less. But they will look great on TV. . . . Why are we taking this so complacently? I mean, seriously, what is it going to take? When will enough be enough? Are we waiting for someone to tell us what to do? Are we waiting for someone to do it for us? Or are we so afraid to lose what we have that we will trade what we should value most for it? . . . I think of the men who formed this nation. They were a tiny minority, but they didn't wait for someone to tell them it was time for a revolution. They thought; long, deep and hard, and then they acted. One of those men said, "Any man willing to trade liberty for security will have neither." I don't think most of us can even conceive of the true depth of that concept. These men, our founding fathers, weren't poor. They had a lot to lose. Some of them lost everything. Some of those signatures on your Declaration of Independence are names of men who started out their fight wealthy men of property and who died broken and penniless by the time it was over. But they believed that freedom was more important than their wealth and comfort. These weren't slaves fighting for their freedom, with nothing to lose but a life of slavery. These were men who led comfortable middle and upper class lives. Could that happen now? Who among us really has the stomach for that? We are so comfortable. We are shackled by our comfort and so terrified of losing it that we ignore the price we are paying with our humanity, and our sanity. Never mind. Turn on the TV, we'll fight next time. Next time. . . . In WW II Germany, the good German citizens of towns downwind of Auschwitz and Dachau swore that they never knew what was being done by their government. As hundreds and hundreds of thousands of bodies were incinerated not even a few miles upwind of them, they swore they never noticed the smell that was horribly obvious to the liberating soldiers. They didn't want to know and therefore they didn't. Perhaps they did it out of misguided nationalism, or fear for their very lives, but they did it. They were as insane as the Nazis. Ignoring the truth is the road to insanity and failure. . . . We have to be like the few in Germany who held on to the truth and their humanity through the darkest times. Like those who worked in the resistance. Who hid Jews at their own peril, because it was the right thing, the sane thing, to do. Who looked at the truth head on and survived with their sanity and their humanity bruised but intact. We have to be Fair Witnesses to the truth around us, never giving in to the easy and comfortable propaganda that let's us off the hook. That starts with a brutally honest look at what just happened. . . . When madness is all around, like a turbulent, relentless sea, the only thing worth hanging onto is a hard, unflinching grasp of the truth. . . . No matter what happens now, at least hang on to the truth.
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posted by Lorenzo 11:07 PM
America Retreats Into An Age of Darkness
(Garry Wills, New York Times, November 4, 2004)
Mr. Rove understands what surveys have shown, that many more Americans believe in the Virgin Birth than in Darwin's theory of evolution. . . . This might be called Bryan's revenge for the Scopes trial of 1925, in which William Jennings Bryan's fundamentalist assault on the concept of evolution was discredited. Disillusionment with that decision led many evangelicals to withdraw from direct engagement in politics. But they came roaring back into the arena out of anger at other court decisions - on prayer in school, abortion, protection of the flag and, now, gay marriage. Mr. Rove felt that the appeal to this large bloc was worth getting President Bush to endorse a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage (though he had opposed it earlier). . . . Can a people that believes more fervently in the Virgin Birth than in evolution still be called an Enlightened nation? . . . America, the first real democracy in history, was a product of Enlightenment values - critical intelligence, tolerance, respect for evidence, a regard for the secular sciences. Though the founders differed on many things, they shared these values of what was then modernity. They addressed "a candid world," as they wrote in the Declaration of Independence, out of "a decent respect for the opinions of mankind." Respect for evidence seems not to pertain any more, when a poll taken just before the elections showed that 75 percent of Mr. Bush's supporters believe Iraq either worked closely with Al Qaeda or was directly involved in the attacks of 9/11. . . . The secular states of modern Europe do not understand the fundamentalism of the American electorate. It is not what they had experienced from this country in the past. In fact, we now resemble those nations less than we do our putative enemies. . . . Where else do we find fundamentalist zeal, a rage at secularity, religious intolerance, fear of and hatred for modernity? Not in France or Britain or Germany or Italy or Spain. We find it in the Muslim world, in Al Qaeda, in Saddam Hussein's Sunni loyalists. Americans wonder that the rest of the world thinks us so dangerous, so single-minded, so impervious to international appeals. They fear jihad, no matter whose zeal is being expressed. . . . It is often observed that enemies come to resemble each other. We torture the torturers, we call our God better than theirs - as one American general put it, in words that the president has not repudiated. . . . President Bush indicated that he would "reach out to the whole nation," including those who voted for John Kerry. But even if he wanted to be more conciliatory now, the constituency to which he owes his victory is not a yielding one. He must give them what they want on things like judicial appointments. His helpers are also his keepers. . . . The moral zealots will, I predict, give some cause for dismay even to nonfundamentalist Republicans. Jihads are scary things. It is not too early to start yearning back toward the Enlightenment.
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posted by Lorenzo 11:47 AM
Fascist Christians Promise Civil War
(David D. Kirkpatrick, New York Times, November 4, 2004)
Exulting in their electoral victories, President Bush's conservative supporters immediately turned to staking out mandates for an ambitious agenda of long-cherished goals, including privatizing Social Security, banning same-sex marriage, remaking the Supreme Court and overturning the court's decisions in support of abortion rights. . . . "Now comes the revolution," Richard Viguerie, the dean of conservative direct mail, told about a dozen fellow movement stalwarts gathered around a television here, tallying up their Senate seats in the earliest hours of the morning. "If you don't implement a conservative agenda now, when do you?" . . . "Make no mistake - conservative Christians and 'values voters' won this election for George W. Bush and Republicans in Congress," Mr. Viguerie wrote in a memorandum sent to other prominent conservatives. "It's crucial that the Republican leadership not forget this . . . Dr. James C. Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family and an influential evangelical Protestant, said he had issued a warning to a "White House operative" who called yesterday morning to thank him for his help. . . . Dr. Dobson said he told the caller that many Christians believed the country "on the verge of self-destruction" as it abandoned traditional family roles. He argued that "through prayer and the involvement of millions of evangelicals, and mainline Protestants and Catholics, God has given us a reprieve." . . . "But I believe it is a short reprieve," he continued, adding that conservatives now had four years to pass an amendment banning same-sex marriage, to stop abortion and embryonic stem-cell research, and most of all to remake the Supreme Court. "I believe that the Bush administration now needs to be more aggressive in pursuing those values, and if they don't do it I believe they will pay a price in four years," he said. . . . Dr. Dobson and several other Christian conservatives said they believed the expanded Republican majority in the Senate and the defeat of the Senate Democratic leader, Tom Daschle, put them in striking distance of both amending the constitution to ban same-sex marriage and approving the appointment of enough conservative Supreme Court justices to overturn Roe v. Wade and other abortion rights cases. . . . Austin Ruse, president of the conservative Catholic Culture of Life Foundation, suggested that if Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist steps down, Mr. Bush could begin to repay his social conservative backers by naming Justice Antonin Scalia to replace him. "We'd love to see Scalia in that spot, and I think we have earned it," Mr. Ruse said. . . . The strongest argument that Christian conservatives played a decisive role in the election came in Ohio, where a ballot measure to ban same-sex marriage passed by an overwhelming margin. Conservatives said the proposal increased conservative turnout and helped Mr. Bush win a narrow, pivotal victory. [COMMENT: Well, he didn't really win Ohio, but Kerry let him take it anyway. That was always the agreement.] . . . Most conservatives, however, agreed that among the three arms of the right - religious traditionalists, opponents of big government and foreign policy hawks - it was the religious right that pulled the most weight in Mr. Bush's re-election.
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posted by Lorenzo 7:39 PM
Is a new civil war on its way?
I believe we live in a country that is really culturally divided now... maybe the way Pakistan and India are.
-- Chris Matthews, MSNBC
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posted by Lorenzo 9:37 AM
Why vote when your vote won't be counted?
(Greg Palast, November 4, 2004)
It's my job to tell you who got the most votes in the deciding states. Tuesday, in Ohio and New Mexico, it was John Kerry. . . . Most voters in Ohio thought they were voting for Kerry. CNN's exit poll showed Kerry beating Bush among Ohio women by 53 percent to 47 percent. Kerry also defeated Bush among Ohio's male voters 51 percent to 49 percent. Unless a third gender voted in Ohio, Kerry took the state. . . . So what's going on here? Answer: the exit polls are accurate. Pollsters ask, "Who did you vote for?" Unfortunately, they don't ask the crucial, question, "Was your vote counted?" The voters don't know. . . . Here's why. Although the exit polls show that most voters in Ohio punched cards for Kerry-Edwards, thousands of these votes were simply not recorded. This was predictable and it was predicted. [See TomPaine.com, "An Election Spoiled Rotten," November 1.] . . . The election in Ohio was not decided by the voters but by something called "spoilage." Typically in the United States, about 3 percent of the vote is voided, just thrown away, not recorded. When the bobble-head boobs on the tube tell you Ohio or any state was won by 51 percent to 49 percent, don't you believe it ... it has never happened in the United States, because the total never reaches a neat 100 percent. The television totals simply subtract out the spoiled vote. . . . And not all vote spoil equally. Most of those votes, say every official report, come from African American and minority precincts. . . . We saw this in Florida in 2000. Exit polls showed Gore with a plurality of at least 50,000, but it didn't match the official count. That's because the official, Secretary of State Katherine Harris, excluded 179,855 spoiled votes. . . . And here's the key: Florida is terribly typical. The majority of ballots thrown out (there will be nearly 2 million tossed out from Tuesday's election) will have been cast by African American and other minority citizens. . . . First and foremost, Kerry was had by chads. But the Democrat wasn't punched out by punch cards alone. There were also the 'challenges.' That's a polite word for the Republican Party of Ohio's use of an old Ku Klux Klan technique: the attempt to block thousands of voters of color at the polls. In Ohio, Wisconsin and Florida, the GOP laid plans for poll workers to ambush citizens under arcane laws—almost never used—allowing party-designated poll watchers to finger individual voters and demand they be denied a ballot. The Ohio courts were horrified and federal law prohibits targeting of voters where race is a factor in the challenge. But our Supreme Court was prepared to let Republicans stand in the voting booth door. . . . New Mexico reported in the last race a spoilage rate of 2.68 percent, votes lost almost entirely in Hispanic, Native American and poor precincts—Democratic turf. From Tuesday's vote, assuming the same ballot-loss rate, we can expect to see 18,000 ballots in the spoilage bin. . . . Spoilage has a very Democratic look in New Mexico. Hispanic voters in the Enchanted State, who voted more than two to one for Kerry, are five times as likely to have their vote spoil as a white voter. Counting these uncounted votes would easily overtake the Bush 'plurality.' . . . Already, the election-bending effects of spoilage are popping up in the election stats, exactly where we'd expect them: in heavily Hispanic areas controlled by Republican elections officials. Chaves County, in the "Little Texas" area of New Mexico, has a 44 percent Hispanic population, plus African Americans and Native Americans, yet George Bush "won" there 68 percent to 31 percent. . . . So we can call Ohio and New Mexico for John Kerry—if we count all the votes. . . . But that won't happen. Despite the Democratic Party's pledge, the leadership this time gave in to racial disenfranchisement once again. Why? No doubt, the Democrats know darn well that counting all the spoiled and provisional ballots will require the cooperation of Ohio's Secretary of State, Blackwell. He will ultimately decide which spoiled and provisional ballots get tallied. Blackwell, hankering to step into Kate Harris' political pumps, is unlikely to permit anything close to a full count. Also, Democratic leadership knows darn well the media would punish the party for demanding a full count. . . . What now? Kerry won, so hold your victory party. But make sure the shades are down: it may be become illegal to demand a full vote count under PATRIOT Act III. . . . I used to write a column for the Guardian papers in London. Several friends have asked me if I will again leave the country. In light of the failure—a second time—to count all the votes, that won't be necessary. My country has left me.
[COMMENT: Since 1996 there hasn't been anything that even remotely resembles a free and fair election in the U.S. Voting as a means of changing the direction of government is a thing of the past now. A cultural civil war has been brewing in the USA for quite some time now. Soon it will be brother against brother once again. I suspect that it is going to get really messy over here before much longer, better keep your heads down.]
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posted by Lorenzo 8:46 AM