Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Michael Robinson Making Sense on Progressive Politics at TPM Cafe

Re: How Pathetic is Progressive Politics? (2.00 / 1) (#67)
by Michael Robinson on Jun 28, 2005 -- 04:11:40 AM EST

I just had an epiphany reading your comment.

I've never been able to put myself in the conservative mindframe of loathing and reviling "Demoncrats", "DemocRATS", "liberals", "the extreme left", "ex-hippies" etc. But suddenly, it hit me: it's the narcissism.

Narcissism is to the Left what hypocrisy is to the Right--the defining vice of one group that enrages the other.

Try this exercise: imagine the Left without narcissism, without the politics of the aggrieved, without the self-important "take my ball and go home" reflex, without the self-absorbed niche-market elitism.

Pretty hard, isn't it?

That's what's pathetic about progressive politics, not some pissant fundraising problem.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

You May Already Be an Iraq War Profiteer


UConn offering master's degree in homeland security

STORRS, Connecticut (AP) -- A new program at the University of Connecticut will offer a master's degree in homeland security.

At least 70 students have applied for the expected class of 25 for the program this fall, which UConn is offering in partnership with the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.

"Business and industry are looking for a curriculum that prepares them for the same kinds of things government employees are being trained for," said Krista Rodin, dean of UConn's College of Continuing Studies.

"This is an emerging field," Rodin said. "We do not have a curriculum like this anywhere in the country."

The program is aimed at working adults in both the public and private sector. Students will learn how to respond to disasters such as outbreaks of diseases or terrorist attacks that endanger food supplies.

Students spend five weeks of the 20-month program at UConn's main campus in Storrs. The rest of the program will be done online.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

I can't wait to see the rest of the curriculum: Cronyism 101, Creative Accounting 211, Inventory Dismanagement 221, Not-bidding no-bid contracts, Throwing bricks of cash in plastic bags without counting it 400, Recruiting Young Republicans for Colonial Service 100, Competitive War Profiteering 301, Outsourcing Torture 201, Managing Pentagon Mismanagement 402, and lastly and most importantly, The Criminalization of Government Oversight as Business Opportunity 444.

Monday, June 20, 2005

How Supreme is the Internet Court of Appeal? The MSM is a Puppet on how many strings?

Response to PressThink, The Downing Street Memo and the Court of Opinion in News Judgment

Internet as Supreme court of appeal--an interesting angle, Jay.

I think the critical point is the claim of internet sovereignty. No doubt there is a news process that continues online regardless of where the MSM goes. To the degree that newer online news coverage continues to displace conventional MSM outlets the claim of internet sovereignty will become more and more true as time goes on. Still, I'm a little hesitant to embrace the court of appeal paradigm.

I'm more tempted to compare the internet to parliaments in constitutional systems where sovereignty lies with the monarch. Such parliaments have an advisory capacity that works only to the degree that the monarch respects or fears popular opinion, but they have absolutely no direct means of effectively enforcing their will upon the King (read MSM) outside of trying to influence opinion at the margins (somewhat similar to the state at which the US court system increasingly find itself as the Republican congress begins its novel and probably unconstitutional strategy of defunding enforcement of court decisions it disagrees with). Doesn't Parliament advising at the pleasure of the King take us closer to where the internet is today--a player, but at the mercy of the MSM's unilateral respect or contempt for competing interpretations, the truth, and the will of the people? For example, how do we know if or when a ruling has been issued by the internet in the event the MSM chooses to ignore it (or even scoff at it) indefinitely?

It also seems important to remark that even granted we agree on this diagnosis as to why both the Swift Boat story and the Downing Street story eventually got mainstream play after initial news blackouts by way of a similar internet to MSM feedback loop, this conclusion regarding what empirically caused the MSM to behave in this way has no necessary bearing whatsoever on the comparative legitimacy of the stories as journalism or news.

It tells us that in addition to corporate self-interest, obeisance to polls, and political party intimidation, we now have an additional system of feedback in play. There is absolutely nothing that guarantees this new internet feedback loop will generally be used to drive stories toward the truth as opposed to toward disinformation and organized propaganda beyond the efforts of those of us who push it in the former direction to the best of our ability.

This is why it is so essential that the MSM get past the view from nowhere. As it stands, the MSM is still a puppet on a string--one more string than before the arrival of the internet--but still in denial of its own agency. Until it recognizes and takes responsiblity for its own agency, its own decision-making and implication in setting the agenda, it will continue to be played, sometimes for better (as I would argue it was in this case), and sometimes for worse (I'll let you fill in your own blank here).

Sunday, June 19, 2005

US Rejects Japan, G-4 Consensus to Reform UN Security Council

Daily Yomiuri:
Osamu Kawakami / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writer

Japan's bid for permanent membership on the U.N. Security Council appears to be in jeopardy because the government has failed to persuade the United States--the most influential U.N. member--to support or at least not to block the so-called Group of Four's plan for the council's expansion.

Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura's first reaction to learning of the U.S. position was "It's so unexpected." This is what he told U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in his telephone conversation with her shortly after 10 p.m. Thursday, about two hours before the State Department announced its U.N. reform plan.

According to sources, Rice told Machimura to examine the U.S. statement and not to be hasty in submitting the resolution prepared by the G-4--Japan, Brazil, Germany and India--to the U.N. General Assembly.

Japan has worked since May with its G-4 partners, who all aspire for permanent membership of the Security Council, on the resolution calling for the council's combined membership of permanent and nonpermanent members to be increased from 15 to 25.

While drafting the resolution, Japan also worked behind the scenes to gain the United States' support or at least understanding for the resolution.

But the U.S. answer, as announced Thursday by Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns, was "only an embarrassment for us," according to a government source.

Burns, though he reiterated Washington's support for Japan's permanent membership, said the number of new permanent members should be limited to two, while the G-4 plan calls for six.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi responded to the U.S. announcement by expressing his concern that it was intended to split the G-4.

"Japan can't buy this [U.S.] proposal. We must stick to cooperation among the G-4 and the four countries must stand together," Koizumi told reporters Friday.

Another government source, however, was pessimistic about maintaining the G-4 position.

"As the United States doesn't want to see the European Union getting more say on the international stage, Germany's permanent membership, at least, was out of the question for Washington. Berlin must have been shocked by the U.S. announcement, and the G-4 may end up in disarray," the source said.

As to why Washington made the announcement at this juncture, a senior Foreign Ministry official cited mounting opposition in the United States to Security Council expansion.

"The dominant view in the U.S. Congress, as well as among the public, is against expansion because the process in the Security Council may become more complicated and the council may end up less effective. The U.S. government, therefore, needed to prevent the G-4 plan from proceeding," the official said.

The administration of former U.S. President Bill Clinton called for an expansion in the council to 21 or more members, but the number in the latest U.S. proposal was scaled back to "19 or 20."

Japan's diplomatic efforts to convince the United States on the need for council expansion appear to have borne little or no fruit.

The government says it will stick to the G-4 framework, seeking more support for the resolution the four countries are preparing while at the same time lobbying the United States for its understanding.

But the gap between the U.S. and G-4 plans is so wide that it will be extremely difficult to reach an agreement. The United States is more concerned about streamlining the world body's secretariat rather than changing the Security Council.

The U.S. proposal also is likely to boost the group of countries that have opposed the G-4 plan, including China, Italy and South Korea.

"If the G-4 resolution loses momentum and fails to gain more support, we may as well think about starting with a clean slate, working on a new plan together with the United States toward this autumn," when the U.N. reforms will be debated in earnest, a government source said.

The government is now awaiting the outcome of the 53-member African Union summit meeting on July 4 and 5 in Sirte, Libya, as the first important test for the G-4.

"We'd like to see what kind of position the AU, which has 53 votes in the U.N. General Assembly, will express on Security Council reform, upon examining the latest U.S. proposal. That will be an important factor as we make our own decision about how to proceed," a government source said.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

New York Times and Rush Limbaugh vs. Reality of Bush's Crimes

Palast for Conyers: The OTHER ' Memos' from Downing Street and Pennsylvania Avenue
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Greg Palast, unable to attend hearings in Washington Thursday, has submitted the following testimony:

Chairman Conyers,

It's official: The Downing Street memos, a snooty New York Times "News Analysis" informs us, "are not the Dead Sea Scrolls." You are warned, Congressman, to ignore the clear evidence of official mendacity and bald-faced fibbing by our two nations' leaders because the cry for investigation came from the dark and dangerous world of "blogs" and "opponents" of Mr. Blair and Mr. Bush.

On May 5, "blog" site Buzzflash.com carried my story, IMPEACHMENT TIME: "FACTS WERE FIXED," bringing the London Times report of the Downing Street memo to the US media which seemed to be suffering at the time from an attack of NADD -- "news attention deficit disorder."

The memo, which contains the ill-making admission that "the intelligence and facts were being fixed" to match the Iraq-crazed fantasies of our President, is sufficient basis for a hearing toward impeachment of the Chief Executive. But to that we must add the other evidence and secret memos and documents still hidden from the American public.

Other foreign-based journalists could doubtless add more, including the disclosure that the key inspector of Iraq's biological weapons, the late Dr. David Kelly, found the Bush-Blair analysis of his intelligence was indeed "fixed," as the Downing Street memo puts it, around the war-hawk policy.

Here is a small timeline of confidential skullduggery dug up and broadcast by my own team for BBC Television and Harper's on the secret plans to seize Iraq's assets and oil.

February 2001 - Only one month after the first Bush-Cheney inauguration, the State Department's Pam Quanrud organizes a secret confab in California to make plans for the invasion of Iraq and removal of Saddam. US oil industry advisor Falah Aljibury and others are asked to interview would-be replacements for a new US-installed dictator.

On BBC Television's Newsnight, Aljibury himself explained,

"It is an invasion, but it will act like a coup. The original plan was to liberate Iraq from the Saddamists and from the regime."

March 2001 - Vice-President Dick Cheney meets with oil company executives and reviews oil field maps of Iraq. Cheney refuses to release the names of those attending or their purpose. Harper's has since learned their plan and purpose -- see below.

October/November 2001 - An easy military victory in Afghanistan emboldens then-Dep. Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz to convince the Administration to junk the State Department "coup" plan in favor of an invasion and occupation that could remake the economy of Iraq. An elaborate plan, ultimately summarized in a 101-page document, scopes out the "sale of all state enterprises" -- that is, most of the nation's assets, "… especially in the oil and supporting industries."

2002 - Grover Norquist and other corporate lobbyists meet secretly with Defense, State and Treasury officials to ensure the invasion plans for Iraq include plans for protecting "property rights." The result was a pre-invasion scheme to sell off Iraq's oil fields, banks, electric systems, and even change the country's copyright laws to the benefit of the lobbyists' clients. Occupation chief Paul Bremer would later order these giveaways into Iraq law.

Fall 2002 - Philip Carroll, former CEO of Shell Oil USA, is brought in by the Pentagon to plan the management of Iraq's oil fields. He works directly with Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith. "There were plans," says Carroll, "maybe even too many plans" -- but none disclosed to the public nor even the US Congress.

January 2003 - Robert Ebel, former CIA oil analyst, is sent, BBC learns, to London to meet with Fadhil Chalabi to plan terms for taking over Iraq's oil.

March 2003 - What White House spokesman Ari Fleisher calls "Operations Iraqi Liberation" (OIL) begins. (Invasion is re-christened "OIF" -- Operation Iraqi Freedom.)

March 2003 - Defense Department is told in confidence by US Energy Information Administrator Guy Caruso that Iraq's fields are incapable of a massive increase in output. Despite this intelligence, Dep. Secretary Wolfowitz testifies to Congress that invasion will be a free ride. He swears, "There's a lot of money to pay for this that doesn't have to be U.S. taxpayer money. …We're dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction and relatively soon," a deliberate fabrication promoted by the Administration, an insider told BBC, as "part of the sales pitch" for war.

May 2003 - General Jay Garner, appointed by Bush as viceroy over Iraq, is fired by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The general revealed in an interview for BBC that he resisted White House plans to sell off Iraq's oil and national assets.

"That's just one fight you don't want to take on," Garner told me. But apparently, the White House wanted that fight.

The general also disclosed that these invade-and-grab plans were developed long before the US asserted that Saddam still held WDM:

"All I can tell you is the plans were pretty elaborate; they didn't start them in 2002, they were started in 2001."

November/December 2003 - Secrecy and misinformation continues even after the invasion. The oil industry objects to the State Department plans for Iraq's oil fields and drafts for the Administration a 323-page plan, "Options for [the] Iraqi Oil Industry." Per the industry plan, the US forces Iraq to create an OPEC-friendly state oil company that supports the OPEC cartel's extortionate price for petroleum.

The Stone Wall

Harper's and BBC obtained the plans despite official denial of their existence, then footdragging when confronted with the evidence of the reports' existence.

Still today, the State and Defense Departments and White House continue to stonewall our demands for the notes of the meetings between lobbyists, oil industry consultants and key Administration officials that would reveal the hidden economic motives for the war.

What are the secret interests behind this occupation? Who benefits? Who met with whom? Why won't this Administration release these documents of the economic blueprint for the war?

To date, the State and Defense Department responses to our reports are risible, and their answers to our requests for documents run from evasive to downright misleading. Maybe Congress, with it's power of subpoena, can do better.

Blogs, the Media and Democracy

Let me conclude with a comment about those pesky "blogs" that so bother the New York Times. We should stand and offer a moment of quiet gratitude to the electronic swarm of gadfly commentators who make it so much harder for the US media to ignore news not officially blessed. Yes, Judith Miller's breathless reports for The Times that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction may have maintained "access" for the mainstream press to its diet of White House propaganda, but the blogs insure that, whatever nonsense the US press is biting on, the public need not swallow.

Greg Palast's investigative team was this week named winner of a 2004-5 Project Censored award from the California State University at Sonoma Journalism School for their exposé of the secret US plans to seize Iraq's oil assets. Special thanks to the chief investigator on Iraq, Leni von Eckardt, as well as additional support from Matt Pascarella. The investigation was conducted for Harper's Magazine, BBC Television Newsnight and "blog" outlet TomPaine.com.

View the BBC television reports and the Harper's and related reports at www.GregPalast.com

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Freedom Blogger Awards

Congratulations to all the award winners, especially Jay Rosen.
Check out the Reporters Without Borders website in general.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Harry Shearer: When Will Political Theology Meet the Press?

At Pressthink, Harry Shearer challenges Bush Republican credo that an ethical US press must be a chauvinist US press:
You quote a National Review writer thusly: "Readers expect a certain amount of American-ness in their reporters. They expect that since the source of these reporters’ liberties is the U.S. Constitution, then perhaps they owe the U.S. a tiny bit of loyalty."

Don't conservatives, and Christians, and the Founders, believe that the source of these reporters' liberties (and those of the rest of us) is (to use one formulation) Nature and Nature's God, not the Constitution? Isn't it an article of conservative faith that it is liberal dogma to suggest that rights originate in government or in government documents, even founding documents? Shouldn't the guy from National Review get his theology of rights straight?

Would that intellectual coherence mattered to "the movement."

Harry Shearer website
Shearer at the Huffington website

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Chris Hedges: War, Reality and Myths.

Chris Hedges:

We are losing the war in Iraq. We are an isolated and reviled nation. We are pitiless to others weaker than ourselves. We have lost sight of our democratic ideals. Thucydides wrote of Athens' expanding empire and how this empire led it to become a tyrant abroad and then a tyrant at home. The tyranny Athens imposed on others, it finally imposed on itself. If we do not confront the lies and hubris told to justify the killing and mask the destruction carried out in our name in Iraq, if we do not grasp the moral corrosiveness of empire and occupation, if we continue to allow force and violence to be our primary form of communication, if we do not remove from power our flag-waving, cross-bearing versions of the Taliban, we will not so much defeat dictators such as Saddam Hussein as become them.

Read the whole thing.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

When I'm Reporting, I'm a Citizen of K Street: Response to Jay Rosen, "When I Report, I'm a Citizen of the World"

I found this little tour through Franken's press think mildly fascinating (especially the "citizen of the world" part) and also timely for things I am trying to discern at PressThink. In my last post on Watergate as "newsroom religion," I described part of it:

In the daily religion of the news tribe, ordinary believers do not call themselves believers. (In fact, "true believer" is a casting out term in journalism, an insult.) The Skeptics. That's who journalists say they are. Of course, they know they believe things in common with their fellow skeptics on the press bus. It's important to keep this complication in mind: Not that journalists are so skeptical as a rule, but that they will try to stand in relation to you as The Skeptic does.

Bob Franken is saying, "I stand in relation to the U.S. military as skeptic does to unproven claim." Attempts to question him about the exclusivity of this stance, other possible stances, or situations where "skeptic" doesn't apply will raise fundamental problems of belief and professional identity that are, in fact, untreatable within newsroom religion or CNN's professional code.

Thus, a perfectly valid line of inquiry, "how does a citizen-of-the-world philosophy interpret the case of Danny Pearl?" (along with "You are American, Bob") brings out in Franken a mild form of hysteria: "I think your employers at the New York Times would be horrified, horrified! to hear you say a thing like that."

My Response:

Where might we find professional journalists actually practicing this religion? Shouldn't that question be at the forefront of thinking through this critique of the press religion: We know journalists CLAIM they practice this relgion, but is this a religion that actually informs their PRACTICE of journalism? Can a reporter practice this religion and even keep a job anymore? Most of the journalism I read is White house pimping or distraction with human interest trivia. Is the "view from nowhere" why they and especially their editors make White House pimping and distraction job #1?

Challenging the view from nowhere strikes me as an attack on the Christian's belief system after they've been thrown into the Forum and the lions have been set loose. Nobody roots for the Christians anymore, that's why watching them get eaten by lions is a regularly scheduled spectator sport (Fox news, O'Reilly, Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, etc.). This post effectively says, "And it's time you get over that crazy Christianity stuff, too!" as the lion licks its chops and gulps them down.

American news media is unquestionably one of the most parochial, narrow-minded news media systems on earth (They certainly fall short of Britain, France, Germany, and Japan in range of widely disseminated opinion). The idea that the most serious problem facing it is detachment from the US boggles the mind. We might have something here if we could explain how the view from nowhere could be the ideology of covering kidnapped white women, Michael Jackson, and the daily White House lie without qualification or discomfort. If they we eliminate the view from nowhere, will any of that stuff diminish? Is the view from nowhere really problem number one for the most parochial press corps on earth?

How about CNN's recent experiment running CNN international for an hour a day in the US? For my money, that addressed 80% of what's wrong with the pablum that passes for news in the US. Columbia Journalism Review recently ran a very shrewd piece on the shock of seeing actual international news on CNN. If international news is such a shock to the US viewer's system, what does that say for your "view from nowhere is the dogma that is dragging down contemporary US journalism" thesis? Are they compatible? If so, how?

For whatever reason, the broadcasts shockingly included just the kind of facts about the international news that CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS, CNN, and FOX routinely screen out of "news" coverage. They reported international events, names, dates, occurences, places, competing factions, etc. Did those shows reflect the view from nowhere? If not, why not? If they did, SIGN ME UP!

I would like to occasionally hear some real news broadcast or written from the USA outside of Democracy Now! One of the reasons Bush's ludicrous lies about Iraq went on unchallenged for so long is that Americans didn't know enough simple social studies facts about the Middle East to realize half of what he was saying was logically impossible (Zarqawi was being supported by Saddam when Ansar al Islam was located in the no-fly zone controlled by the US and Britain. Patently false Bush/Limbaugh disinformation given a minimal news literacy of the region.) Is the "view from nowhere" why most Americans don't even know the names of the leaders and major religions of the countries we bomb or get in 'realpolitik' bed with?

What bias would I promote?
The media would have to start reporting actual news before bias in the news can even come up for discussion. In a hypothetical world where that happened, I would call for a bias close to what Democracy Now! regularly uses. The US government and the White House have no trouble getting their views expressed. Even the pretense of democracy requires context, history, and news literacy that unembarassedly calls out geographically impossible disinformation in the first news cycle for what it is.

Current US news practice is the media equivalent of Sensenbrenner's gavel to stop congressional testimony if it suggests there might be problems with the Patriot Act. Is it the "view from nowhere" that brings down the gavel on opposing viewpoints in US newsrooms and network nearly everyday? Is the "view from nowhere" what puts the Downing Street Memo on p.A18, while Judith Miller's lies were consistently pg.1 and the retractions p.A18?

Question #1: Is there any treatment for "the view from nowhere" that doesn't make the world's most parochial news media EVEN MORE parochial?

Question #2: If I were to name a religion the press suffered from in terms of what they actually do, rather than what they SAY they do, it would be the "view from K Street." On this view, my editors and I will report stories that don't cause problems for investors and business ("controversy") or interfere with pro-media legislation we have pending. It is this sort of logic that leads CBS to turn down advertising from open-minded Christians but accept it from gay-bashing right-wing Christians. How might we begin to imagine a cure for "When I Report, I'm a Citizen of K Street"?

While it is difficult for me to connect the view from nowhere to journalism as it is practiced, it is extremely easy for me to connect Jay Rosen's contention that the "view from nowhere" is a religion to the contemporary political landscape: The founding premise of Leo Strauss, deacon of neo-conservatism and Powerline's beloved Claremont Institute, is that the Enlightenment is simply another religion in secular humanist clothing. In fact, while Strauss defends the necessity of orthodox religious practice as necessary to the fabric of a healthy society, he condemns the Enlightenment as everything the Enlightenment says traditional religion is: dogmatic, close-minded, uncritical, rigid, authoritarian, tyrannical, and worst of all hypocritical. After all, it claims to be releasing us from dogma and here it is a dogma. Better we should stick to dogmas that speak in their name. Sound familiar?

"Strauss's reconstruction of the dialectic of Enlightenment suggests that the attempt to give a rational foundation of ethics is itself irrational, is based on an act of faith in human self-assertion. Strauss's conclusion is that the Enlightenment, understood as the project to give a rational foundation to ethics, is from the start set against itself, set against the project of opposing reason to faith, science to prejudice: the Enlightenment is always already a Counter-Enlightenment. Conversely, there is more authentic enlightenment in the Counter-Enlightenment opponents of the Enlightenment project than in its defenders."
Miguel Vatter, "Strauss and Schmitt as Readers of Hobbes and Spinoza," p.180

Strauss and Rosen also disagree: Strauss thinks all ethics must be grounded in natural law and therefore be universal or nihilistic. Rosen seems to think particularized association with your country of citizenship is a prerequisite for a meaningful discussion of ethics and morality.

As Garth Brooks says, "I'm Looking for love in all the wrong places..."

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Refuting Peggy Noonan's Cold War Fantasy

In Peggy Noonan's world, Mark Felt is responsible for Cambodian genocide. To be generous, we may describe this as wishful thinking:

Even if Mr. Felt had mixed motives, even if he did not choose the most courageous path in attempting to spread what he thought was the truth, his actions might be judged by their fruits. The Washington Post said yesterday that Mr. Felt's information allowed them to continue their probe. That probe brought down a president. Ben Stein is angry but not incorrect: What Mr. Felt helped produce was a weakened president who was a serious president at a serious time. Nixon's ruin led to a cascade of catastrophic events--the crude and humiliating abandonment of Vietnam and the Vietnamese, the rise of a monster named Pol Pot, and millions--millions--killed in his genocide. America lost confidence; the Soviet Union gained brazenness. What a terrible time. Is it terrible when an American president lies and surrounds himself by dirty tricksters? Yes, it is. How about the butchering of children in the South China Sea. Is that worse? Yes. Infinitely, unforgettably and forever.

And so the story that Mark Felt was Deep Throat exposes old fissures, and those fissures are alive and can burst open because a wound this size--all this death, all this loss--doesn't really heal.

Noonan vs. Reality:

Tony Iltis:

Establishment media accounts of Cambodia's recent past focus on the genocidal rule of Pol Pot's Communist Party of Kampuchea (Khmer Rouge) between 1975 and 1979. This regime could be used by Cold War propagandists as the ultimate proof of Communist barbarity and an excuse for the US government having waged war against “Communism” in Indochina (Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos).

What actually happened in Cambodia during the '70s contradicts the myths created by this propaganda onslaught:

* Pol Pot's horrific rule was preceded by devastating US aggression. In 1969, the US launched an unprovoked bombing of Cambodia (with whom the US was not at war) which lasted until 1975.

* The Cambodian resistance took the ultra-violent direction that it did in 1975 only because of the destruction and dislocation created by the US war. The Pol Pot holocaust, far from being a justification for the US holocaust, was the direct result.

* Cambodia was liberated from the horrors of Pol Pot, not by intervention from the western “democracies”, but by intervention from Communist Vietnam and a force of Cambodian Communists.

* Following the overthrow of Pol Pot, the US and other western powers and China rearmed the Khmer Rouge and installed them in camps along the Thai-Cambodian border. They also encouraged the alliance which was formed between the Khmer Rouge and Ranariddh's FUNCINPEC.

Other Kissinger/Ford teamwork:

Kissinger has been blamed as the mastermind of the secret and illegal bombings of Cambodia beginning in 1969 during the Vietnam War, which by some estimates killed as many people as the subsequent Pol Pot regime. An estimated 600,000 to one million people were killed in this decade long holocaust. U.S. B-52s pounded Cambodia for 160 consecutive days in 1973, dropping more than 240,000 short tons of bombs on rice fields, water buffalo, villages; this was 50% more tonnage than we dropped on Japan during WWII. At the time the Pol Pot took over in April 1975 Cambodia was a devastated nation on the verge of mass starvation with crops unsowed and vast numbers of refugees in and around Phnom Penh suddenly cut off from the U.S. aid that had kept them alive. High U.S. officials were estimating a million deaths from starvation before the Khmer
Rouge takeover

President Ford and Secretary of State Kissinger also gave the go ahead to Indonesia's invasion of East Timor and subsequent massive war crimes there.

Ben Kiernan, Recovering History and Justice in Cambodia, p.79

The Khmer Rouge won the war in April 1975. They emptied Cambodia’s cities into the countryside, persecuting and murdering the deported towns-people, who tended to be more educated than the peasantry. Pol Pot’s new communist regime, called Democratic Kampuchea (DK), also committed genocide against the Khmer Buddhist monkhood, the traditional bearers of cultural literacy. DK expelled 150,000 Vietnamese residents from Cambo-dia, killed all 10,000 who stayed, and carried out larger, less systematic genocide against the country’s Chinese and Muslim minorities. In all, 1.7 million people died in four years. Upgrading the traditional term for routing enemies, DK’s slogan became kchat kchay os roling (“scatter them to the last”). Targeting history too, the Khmer Rouge scattered libraries, burned books, closed schools, and murdered schoolteachers. Three-quarters of Cambodia’s 20,000 teachers perished, or fled abroad.
As the genocide progressed, for geopolitical reasons, Washington, Bei-jing, and Bangkok all supported the continued independent existence of the Khmer Rouge regime. When U.S. President Gerald Ford and Secretary of State Kissinger visited Indonesian president Suharto on 6 December 1975, the transcript released in 2001 reveals that Ford, deploring the recent U.S. defeat in Vietnam, told Suharto: “There is, however, resistance in Cambodia to the influence of Hanoi. We are willing to move slowly in our relations with Cambodia, hoping perhaps to slow down the North Vietnamese influ-ence although we find the Cambodian government very difficult.” Kissinger explained Beijing’s similar strategy: “the Chinese want to use Cambodia to balance off Vietnam….We don’t like Cambodia, for the government in many ways is worse than Vietnam, but we would like it to be independent. We don’t discourage Thailand or China from drawing closer to Cambo-dia.”

Big Tobacco Kills 1,000 times as many Americans as Al Quaeda EVERY YEAR

Number of Americans killed by Al Quaeda over the last ten years:


Number of Americans killed by Big Tobacco over the last ten years:


Amount Bush spent to fight "Al Quaeda" so far:


Amount Bush's Justice Department wants to fight Big Tobacco:


Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Best of the Nat King Cole Trio According to Mark Anderson

1. Sweet Lorraine
2. Gone with the Draft
3. Scotchin' with the Soda
4. Slow Down
5. This Will Make You Laugh
6. Stop! The Red Light's On
7. Are You Fer It?
8. Gee Baby, Ain't I Good to You?
9. If You Can't Smile and Say Yes
10. It's Only a Paper Moon
11. I Just Can't See for Lookin'
12. What Can I Say After I Say I'm Sorry
13. To a Wild Rose
14. (I Call My Papa) Fla-Ga-La-Pa
15. It is Better to Be By Yourself
16. But She's My Buddy's Chick
17. Oh, But I Do
18. I Don't Know Why (I Just Do)
19. This Way Out
20. Could'Ja
21. Baby, Baby All the Time
22. (Get Your Kicks On) Route 66
23. Homeward Bound
24. Chant of the Blues
25. If I Were You Baby, I'd Love Me
26. Walkin'
27. Send for Me

Responding to Rosen's Deep Throat, J-School, and Newsroom Religion

This is an important and central chapter in your ongoing demystification of the fossilized news church you write about. After accounting for the narcissistic, false heroism of Woodward and Bernstein and Bush's decertification of the press, however, there is another part of the media environment still left to be addressed. I'm just a year older than yourself and I also have very formative memories of the Watergate hearings.

I was raised in a deeply Republican midwestern family and to this day, my mom thinks Dick Nixon's country did him wrong. Naturally I was rooting for Nixon to be exonerated. As the hearings went on, I was increasingly impressed with Republicans on the committee, such as the Republican Senator from Tennessee, who demonstrated an actual interest in the facts as well as a protectiveness of Nixon. Republicans like him allowed me to maintain at least a modicum of self-respect as a Republican. At a certain point, it became clear that there were Republicans with scruples who were ashamed by what Nixon had done and were determined to help the opposition party put a stop to it BECAUSE IT WAS IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE COUNTRY EVEN IF IT WOULD TEMPORARILY HURT THE PARTY. Nixon was revealed as a lawless tyrant. How could that be a pro-Republican party value? In the early seventies, influential Republicans were ashamed when their leaders held themselves to be above the law, even if they felt the degree of wrongdoing was exaggerated (in fact, just the opposite proved to be true).

Based on the MSM's PR stage for convicted Nixon stormtroopers like Liddy and Colson this last week you'd never guess that moment in history had occurred. For today's Republicans, truth stops at the party's edge. The cult of party personality requires rallying around a lawless tyrant caught red-handed. Mark Felt has a character flaw because his loyalty to the tyrant wavered while the tyrant's attorney general was busy destroying evidence. My point is the one Stephen Colbert made on the Daily Show the other day: the problem today is not that the media lacks the credibility to take on lawlessness within the government, our problem is that today THE TRUTH lacks the credibility to get anything done.

If Liddy and Colson and Noonan and Buchanon were intentionally trying to position the Republicans as the party of lawless, tyrant-friendly, totalitarians, they couldn't be doing a better job. For Republicans, the truth and respect for the country don't have enought credibility to require withholding support for the cult of Nixonian tyranny. Stalin was popular too. Maybe that should give Hewitt pause when he equates approval ratings and profits with ethical standards. He and his fellow apologists for tyranny might want to start drawing slightly finer distinctions in this area. I realize the regular practice of corporate law (same goes for the Powerliners) requires that be done in your spare time.

During Watergate, the truth eventually led to Republican shame and return to the rule of law. Today, truthful exposure of a lawless executive run amok simply leads to more and bigger lies. Raging right alongside the myth of Woodward and Bernstein, we have the seething victim complex of the ruling party that THEY are the heroes unjustly shot down by the falsity of unscrupulous media bias, that ANYTHING coming from the press that criticizes a Republican is biased on its face because it criticizes a Republican. These myths are of a piece.

Demythologizing the heroism of the Washington Post also requires demythologizing the Republicans' quasi-Nazi interpretation of media coverage of the TET offensive as the stab in the back that plunged the US into decades of moral darkness, that Watergate was a Democratic conspiracy to undermine a great American hero, that Nixon's documented crimes can just be politically wished away and it will be so--away from the light of Nixonian tyranny and Ford Administration support for Pol Pot.

The Republicans' "They stabbed our heroes in the back just as we were saving the free world"* victim mythology also needs the curtain pulled back on it. Thanks to people like Colson, Noonan, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and McLellan, as well as full blown fascists like Liddy and Coulter, the truth doesn't have the credibility that it once had.

*In Bush Republican-speak, "saving the free world" means sending 500,000 Americans across the Pacific to kill millions of Vietnamese in their own country after they rebelled against the French colonial government we restored to power after we defeated the Japanese. Would staying longer and killing millions more Vietnamese have prevented mass murder in Cambodia? That's Noonan's calculus.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Newsweek Bashing Revealed as White House Psy-Ops

Military Details Koran Incidents at Base in Cuba

WASHINGTON, June 3 - A military inquiry has found that guards or interrogators at the Guantánamo Bay detention center in Cuba kicked, stepped on and splashed urine on the Koran, in some cases intentionally but in others by accident, the Pentagon said on Friday.

The splashing of urine was among the cases described as inadvertent. It was said to have occurred when a guard urinated near an air vent and the wind blew his urine through the vent into a detainee's cell. The detainee was given a fresh uniform and a new Koran, and the guard was reprimanded and assigned to guard duty that kept him from contact with detainees for the remainder of his time at Guantánamo, according to the military inquiry.

The investigation into allegations that the Koran had been mishandled also found that in one instance detainees' Korans were wet because guards on the night shift had thrown water balloons on the cellblock.

In another case, a two-word obscenity was written in English on the inside cover of a Koran, but investigators could not determine whether a guard or detainee had written it.

Last week, the head of the investigation, Brig. Gen. Jay W. Hood, commander of the Guantánamo Joint Task Force, announced at the Pentagon that his preliminary findings had uncovered five cases in which the Koran was mishandled at the prison, but he refused to provide details.

In releasing those details in a final report on Friday, General Hood emphasized that any abuse of the Koran was unusual and that the military had gone to great lengths to be sensitive to the detainees' religious faiths, including issuing more than 1,600 Korans at the detention center.

"Mishandling a Koran at Guantánamo Bay is a rare occurrence," General Hood said in a statement released by the military's Southern Command. "Mishandling of a Koran here is never condoned."

The investigation was started about three weeks ago after Newsweek magazine published an article asserting that a separate inquiry by the military was expected to find that a Koran had been flushed down a toilet at the detention center. The magazine later retracted the article, but the assertion led to violence in the Muslim world that left at least 17 people dead.

General Hood said last week that there was no credible evidence to substantiate the claim that a Koran had ever been flushed down a toilet at the prison.

The final report released on Friday said that four of the five incidents took place after January 2003, after written procedures governing the handling of the Koran had been put in place. That contradicted an account provided last Thursday by General Hood, who was asked directly whether all five of the incidents had taken place before January 2003, and replied: "Not all of them. One of them occurred since then."

A spokesman for the task force, Capt. Jeffrey Weir, said in a telephone interview that he could not explain General Hood's comments last week. "Maybe he misspoke," Captain Weir said. "I'm not sure why he would have put it that way."

The military released the findings of the investigation about 7:15 p.m., Eastern time, well after the broadcasts of the network television evening news programs. A Pentagon spokesman, Bryan Whitman, denied that the military was trying to bury bad news late on a Friday night, a tactic often used by government agencies. "It was completed and we try not to hold these things after their reviews are completed," Mr. Whitman said in a telephone interview.

Military policy acknowledges that some Muslims consider a non-Muslim touching the Koran as a desecration.

"The Southern Command policy of Koran handling is serious, respectful and appropriate," said Lawrence Di Rita, the Pentagon spokesman, who was traveling with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld at a security conference in Singapore. "The Hood inquiry would appear to affirm that policy."

The report said investigators had examined nine alleged incidents in which the Koran was mishandled, either intentionally or unintentionally, and confirmed five of them. Four involved guards at the detention center; one involved an interrogator.

According to the military's statement on Friday, this is what happened in the five confirmed incidents of Koran abuse.

In February 2002, a detainee complained during an interrogation that guards at Camp X-Ray had kicked the Koran of a detainee in a neighboring cell four or five days earlier, the inquiry's report said. The interrogator reported the complaint on Feb. 27, and confirmed that the guards were aware of the complaint.

The report said there was no evidence of any investigation into the incident, and investigators did not say why they believed it was credible or who might have been responsible.

On July 25, 2003, a contract interrogator apologized to a detainee for stepping on the detainee's Koran in an earlier interrogation. The detainee accepted the apology and agreed to tell other detainees and ask them to stop disruptive behavior caused by the incident.

The interrogator was later fired for "a pattern of unacceptable behavior, an inability to follow direct guidance and poor leadership," the military statement said.

On Aug. 15, 2003, two detainees complained to one set of guards that their Korans were wet because guards on the night shift had tossed water balloons on the cellblock. The complaints were recorded in the cellblock's log, but there was no indication that the incident was ever investigated. Investigators described the guards' conduct as "clearly inappropriate" but said it did not cause any disturbance among detainees.

Less than a week later, on Aug. 21, a detainee who spoke conversational English complained that someone had written a two-word obscenity in English in his English-version Koran. The complaint was recorded in an electronic log. "It is possible," the military's statement said, "that a guard committed this act; it is equally possible that the detainee wrote in his own Koran."

On March 25, 2005, a detainee complained to the guards that urine had come through an air vent in his cellblock, and splashed him and his Koran as he lay near the vent. A guard who had left his observation post to urinate outside acknowledged that he was to blame. He had urinated near the vent, and the wind blew it into the vent, from which it splashed into the cell.

The senior guard on duty immediately relieved the guard, and ordered that the detainee receive a fresh uniform and a new Koran. The guard was reprimanded and assigned to duty where he had no contact with detainees for the remainder of his assignment at the detention center.

General Hood's report found 10 other alleged incidents, 7 involving guards and 3 involving interrogators, where the military personnel accidentally touched the Koran, touched a Koran within the scope of their regular duties or did not touch the Koran at all.

The inquiry concluded that none of these events involved mishandling of the Koran, but that some were clearly alarming to detainees, including a case in late 2002 in which an unidentified marine, during an interrogation, was said to have squatted down in front of a detainee "in an aggressive manner."

In the process, the report said, the marine "unintentionally squatted down over the detainee's Koran," and "this provoked a visible reaction from the detainee."

The report also found 15 incidents in which detainees had mishandled the Koran.

The military's statement said the investigation had examined 31,000 documents, both on paper and electronically; classified and unclassified computer drives used by task force personnel; and legal documents and news articles for any mention of possible abuses of the Koran.

General Hood concluded that the current policy regarding the handling of the Koran was appropriate, but the military statement said that some additional minor changes, which it did not describe, were under review.

Pentagon Still Fighting Fantasy Iraq War

Reports of terrorists meeting in Syria were flawed, U.S. officials say

Knight Ridder Newspapers
(KRT) - U.S. intelligence has no evidence that terrorist Abu Musab al Zarqawi visited Syria in recent months to plan bombings in Iraq, and experts don't believe the widely publicized meeting ever happened, according to U.S. officials.

Two weeks ago, a top U.S. military official in Baghdad, Iraq, told reporters that Zarqawi had traveled to Syria in April and met with leaders of the Iraqi insurgency to plan the recent wave of bombings against American troops and the Iraqi government. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity.

In the following days, top Bush administration and Iraqi officials increased their threats against Syria.

The reassessment comes amid a debate within the U.S. intelligence community over how to fight the insurgency and over Syria's role in it, the officials said.

Some analysts argue that, while Damascus has been unhelpful in stopping terrorists crossing its border, its importance is being exaggerated and that the key to defeating the insurgency is in Iraq, not in Syria or Iran.

Three officials who said that the reports of Zarqawi's travels were apparently bogus spoke on condition of anonymity because intelligence matters are classified and because discussing the mistaken report could embarrass the White House and trigger retaliation against them.

The allegation by the U.S. military official in Baghdad that Zarqawi and his lieutenants met in Syria suggests that, despite the controversy over the Bush administration's use of flimsy and bogus intelligence to make its case for war in Iraq, some officials are still quick to embrace dubious intelligence when it supports the administration's case - this time against Damascus.

One of the U.S. officials said the initial report was based on a single human source, who has since changed his story significantly. Another official said the source and his information were quickly dismissed as unreliable by intelligence officials but caught the attention of some political appointees.

These officials and two others said the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies were mystified by the reports of Zarqawi's visit because they had no such information.

"We are not aware of any information that suggests that Zarqawi met in Syria with his lieutenants in April," a defense official said. "However, it doesn't preclude his having met with them most likely in al Anbar," a largely Sunni Muslim province in western Iraq.

The Jordanian-born Zarqawi leads the al-Qaida in Iraq group, which has claimed responsibility for some of the country's deadliest bombings.

U.S. military officials, confirming postings on a Web site used by Zarqawi's group, believe that he was wounded recently in a firefight in Ramadi, west of Baghdad.

Syria has long supported Palestinian terror groups that attack Israel, and Syrian officials have said they're unable to police the long border with Iraq. France and the United States sponsored a U.N. Security Council resolution that forced Damascus to withdraw its troops from Lebanon following the February assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld issued a thinly veiled warning Wednesday to Damascus against providing harbor to anyone allied with Osama bin Laden's network.

"Any country that decides it wants to provide medical assistance or haven to a leading terrorist, al-Qaida terrorist, is obviously associating themselves with al-Qaida and contributing to a great many Iraqis being killed, as well as coalition forces in Iraq. And that is something that people would want to take note of," Rumsfeld said.

But there are sharp differences within the U.S. government over the roles Syria and Iran are playing in the insurgency, which has claimed the lives of more than 800 Iraqis and 80 U.S. troops since Iraq's Shiite-led government was named April 28.

A U.S. official said experts at the Pentagon believe "the keys to the insurgency are external to Iraq" and that closing the Syrian and Iranian borders to the transit of Islamic extremists, weapons and cash would cripple the guerrillas.

But officials at other agencies see the insurgency - the bulk of which is being waged by former members of Saddam Hussein's regime and Sunnis opposed to the Shiite-led government and its U.S. allies - as "an internal Iraqi phenomenon," he said.

Despite the charges that Syria is an important supporter of the insurgency, the U.S. Army has deployed only 400 U.S. soldiers to patrol a 10,000 square-mile area in northwest Iraq abutting Syria and Turkey, Knight Ridder reported this week.

While there's no doubt that insurgents, weapons and cash have crossed into Iraq via Syria, current and former officials say Syria's efforts to stop them too often have been dismissed.

Syria has been "the route of choice" for foreign jihadists trying to enter Iraq, but "putting too much focus on Syria could divert attention away from the much bigger problem: our inability, so far, to deal effectively with the insurgency's center of gravity inside Iraq," said Wayne White, a veteran Middle East intelligence analyst who recently left the State Department.

One official said many fanatics coming to Iraq to wage holy war cross from Saudi Arabia, a close U.S. ally, which also borders Iraq.

Comparing Syria's efforts with Saudi Arabia's, he said: "I'm not sure they're doing any worse."

(John Walcott contributed to this report.)

© 2005, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Video of "Free" Fallujah

This is a website with video footage of the US Marines handiwork in Fallujah.
Doesn't it make you proud to be an American?

Do Mainstream Media Protocols Preemptively Spike REAL Journalism?

Do mainstream media standards for press coverage even allow for the possibility of investigation?

Greg Palast:

It was in the summer of 2001. A few months earlier, for the Guardian papers of Britain, I'd discovered that Katherine Harris and Governor Jeb Bush of Florida had removed tens of thousands of African-Americans from voter registries before the 2000 election, thereby fixing the race for George Bush. Hosenball said the Post-Newsweek team "looked into it and couldn't find anything."

Nothing at all? What I found noteworthy about the Post's investigation was that "looking into it" involved their reporters chatting with Florida officials -- but not bothering to look at the voter purge list itself.

Yes, I admit the Washington Post ran my story -- seven months after the election -- but with the key info siphoned out, such as the Bush crew's destruction of evidence and the salient fact that almost all those purged were Democrats. In other words, the story was drained of anything which might discomfit the new residents of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Let's not pick on the Post alone. Viacom Corporation's CBS News also spiked the story. Why? "We called Jeb Bush's office," a CBS producer told me, and Jeb's office denied Jeb did wrong. End of story.

The Downing Street Memo: Say Hello to Your un-Free Press in Your un-Free Country

What are we to make of the effective mainstream media muzzling of the Downing Street memo? It strikes me as a paradigm case of the domestic US media setting an agenda that looks like demented fantasy from the perspective of any other press culture on earth.

Why do we have wall-to-wall echo-chamber treatment of White House psy-ops on Newsweek and almost no mention of what appears to be extremely credible information that may establish beyond the shadow of a doubt that Bush is at the very least a liar? How will we know if the press refuses to cover it?

FEAR OF THE TRUTH AND ITS POLITICAL CONSEQUENCES is the phrase that most immediately comes to mind when describing current non-coverage. Despite Kevin Drum's call for a press spine, press non-coverage suggests the mainstream believes it has already lost the culture wars. Do they now neuter themselves out of fear rather than respect for the truth?

In any event, we'll have to have an independent counsel investigate OR A FREE PRESS THAT DOES ITS JOB before we find out how completely intelligence was manipulated and precisely how many impeachable offenses he may have committed.

Outside of faith-based press initiatives (like making the literally incredible assertion that George W. Bush is not a serial liar), is there any way to interpret the effective news blackout that doesn't lead to the conclusion that we no longer have a free press in the United States of America?

The only other possible coherent defense of Bush administration behavior is the posiiton that the US is not and should not be a democracy in matters of security and national defense. Does a decades long state of emergency (W.W.II--Cold War--"War on Terror") effectively mean we've given up on democracy? Is that good enough? Has the press already thrown in the towel?

If you wish you had a free press and a free country, check out this site and do something about it. Also here.