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That said, if you must use Firefox (and I don't blame you, it's become my browser of choice, too)
...get the "IE Tab" extension. This allows you to view problem pages with the IE rendering engine. Very cool!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Brilliant men always betray their wives

Einstein's affairs should surprise no one, says Desmond Morris. It is all in the genius's genes

So Albert Einstein did not, after all, spend all his waking hours chalking up complex symbols on a blackboard. According to letters newly released this week, he devoted quite a bit of it to chasing the ladies. And with considerable success.
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To many, the idea of Einstein having 10 mistresses does not fit the classical image of the great, remote genius. Why was he wasting his valuable time with the exhausting business of conducting a string of illicit affairs - affairs that would cause havoc with his family life, damaging especially his relationship with his sons?

The answer is that he, like many other intensely creative men, was over-endowed with one of the human male's most characteristic qualities: the joy of risk-taking.

Every creative act, every new formula, every ground-breaking innovation, is an act of rebellion that may - if successful - destroy an old, existing concept. So every time a brilliant mind sees a new possibility, it is faced with a moment of supreme risk-taking.

The new formula, the new invention, may not work. It may turn out to be a disaster. But the man of genius - such as Einstein - has the courage to plough ahead, despite the dangers, both on and off the intellectual field.

Not that Einstein is by any means an isolated instance. Indeed, far from being the exception he is closer to the norm where great men and sex are concerned.

During a presidential visit to Britain, John F. Kennedy once shocked an elderly Harold Macmillan when he complained to him that if he didn't have sex with a woman every day he suffered from severe headaches.

Kennedy was insatiable and impatient. He was reported to make love with one eye on the clock and to be through with a girl as soon as he had had sex with her in three different ways. If possible, he preferred two girls at once and seduced almost every young woman he met, from starlets to socialites, secretaries to stewardesses. Oh yes, and not forgetting strippers.

But then the compulsion in dominant males to take the highest of risks - a compulsion that seems to be innate - is one that dates back to prehistoric times.

Our arboreal relatives, the monkeys, simply fled up into the high branches when danger threatened and, while feeding, all they had to confront was a fruit or a berry. But when our early ancestors came down to live on the ground, they had to give up scampering aloft to escape and also had to face dangerous competitors and prey when turning to meat-eating as a new way of life.

To become successful hunters required a new personality trait - bravery. If the primeval hunters were to survive as carnivores they had to be courageous and take serious risks. The females of the tribe were too important to expose to these dangers - their vital reproductive role ruled them out. But the males were expendable. If, inevitably, a few of them were killed, the others could easily maintain the reproductive rate of the still very small tribes. So it was the males who evolved into the pack-hunters who would become genetically programmed as risk-takers and whose job it was to bring home the bacon.

Today, going to the office or the factory, or working on the farm - the modern equivalents of the ancient hunt - are far less hazardous, but the deeply ingrained urge to take risks still remains. Proof of this comes from the fact that men today are much more accident-prone than women. Throughout life women are less likely than men to die of a violent accident. By the age of 30, males are 15 times more likely to die of an accident than females.

For special males - the most adventurous ones - there are two choices. Either they can engage in risk-taking of the physical kind - join the SAS, get launched into space, or trek to the South Pole -or they can explore new ideas, create new art forms or invent new technologies and thereby change the way we all live.

Men with brilliant minds, whose creativity brings them enormous success, sometimes find themselves in a curious situation. They are so highly rewarded by society for their achievements that they are unable to limit their curiosity to new problems in their special fields. It starts to spill over into other areas.

Novel sexual experiences, for instance, suddenly seem irresistible. It is not the mating act itself that is so important - that varies very little. It is the thrill of the chase and the excitement of a new conquest that drives them on. Once the conquest has been made, the novelty of the affair soon wears off and another chase is begun. Each illicit episode involves stealth and secrecy, tactics and strategy, and the terrifying risk of discovery, making it the perfect metaphor for the primeval hunt.

Aiding and abetting these erotic adventures is the fact that the fame, power and wealth that these especially brilliant men have received as rewards for their achievements make them very attractive figures to the opposite sex. They may have a face like an angry hippopotamus but, thanks to their high status, they somehow manage to ooze sex appeal, much to the disbelief and dismay of the handsome failures who carry out menial tasks for them.

The great philosopher Bertrand Russell, who for all his undeniable intellectual brilliance could never have bedded a woman on looks alone, was described as suffering from ''galloping satyriasis". He claimed he could not see a sexual partner as sexually attractive for more than a few years, after which he had to make a new conquest.

He had affairs with a long line of women, a few of whom he later married. They included a young secretary, an MP's wife, the daughter of a Chicago surgeon, a researcher, an actress, a suffragette, several teachers, the wife of a Cambridge lecturer and his children's governess.

His private life was described by one biographer as ''a chaos of serious affairs, secret trysts and emotional tightrope acts that constantly threatened... ruinous scandal''. This was risk-taking of the highest order.

Picasso was also a sexual glutton, described by a friend as being obsessed with sex. There was a long procession of women in and out of his life: Fernande and Eva, Olga and Marie-Therese, Dora and Françoise, Alice and Jacqueline, and many more. He was quoted as saying: ''There's nothing so similar to one poodle dog as another poodle dog, and that goes for women, too.''

Similarly, his great friend, Gauguin, abandoned his family and moved to Tahiti where he was able to indulge in his passion for sexual adventures by welcoming a different local girl into his hut each night. Sometimes, he had as many as three in one night. And he continued his sexual odyssey even after his body was visibly disintegrating from the syphilis that killed him.

That genius of the cinema, Charlie Chaplin, was an even more active sex addict, capable, he said, of ''six bouts a night''. Whenever he was bored he would set about seducing a girl. He had four wives (three of them teenagers) and an endless procession of mistresses, some of them alarmingly young. His greatest thrill was the prospect of deflowering a virgin. When one of his virgins became pregnant at 16 he was forced to marry her. That marriage lasted only two years, during which time he enjoyed the company of five mistresses.

As a young man he visited brothels, but later was attracted to talented and important women and managed to seduce a cousin of Winston Churchill's, the daughter of playwright Eugene O'Neill, actresses Paulette Goddard, Mabel Normand and Pola Negri, and William Hearst's girl-friend Marion Davies. However, his sexual risk-taking eventually led to his downfall and he was driven out of America as a ''debaucher'', his legacy forever tarnished.

But then men with great talent or power, from Elvis Presley to Bill Clinton, Toulouse-Lautrec to John Prescott, will, it seems, more often than not put their careers or family lives in jeopardy in order to satisfy the primeval hunter's thrill. It is, sadly, simply a by-product of the human exploratory urge, and one of the prices we - and wives the world over - have to pay for being the most innovative species on the planet.
# Desmond Morris is author of 'Watching - Encounters with Humans and other Animals'

Information appearing on telegraph.co.uk is the copyright of Telegraph Group Limited and must not be reproduced in any medium without licence. For the full copyright statement see Copyright
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SOURCE:
Telegraph | Entertainment | Brilliant men always betray their wives

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Friday, July 14, 2006

What's Rove Got to Do With It?

By Robert Parry
July 13, 2006

Right-wing columnist Robert D. Novak’s confirmation that White House political adviser Karl Rove was one of his sources for identifying Valerie Plame as a CIA officer leaves unresolved two other troubling questions – who passed this sensitive information to Rove and why was Rove cut in on such a discrete intelligence secret.

A key national security principle for dealing with narrow life-or-death secrets, such as the identity of an undercover CIA officer, is compartmentalization. It’s not just whether officials have the appropriate level of security clearance; they also must have a “need to know.”
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The fact that political guru Rove was a source on Plame’s identity for at least two reporters – columnist Novak and Time magazine correspondent Matthew Cooper – suggests that George W. Bush’s White House had put political damage control ahead of national security.

In July 2003, Plame’s husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, criticized Bush for “twisting” intelligence to justify the invasion of Iraq. Striking back, the White House sought to discredit Wilson by claiming that Wilson had taken a fact-finding trip to Africa partly arranged by his wife.

When that claim and Plame’s identity were published in a Novak column also in July 2003, her career as an undercover CIA officer tracking weapons of mass destruction was destroyed. Those events eventually led to the appointment of special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who reportedly has decided not to indict Rove over the leak.

Protected Secrets

Still, there’s the underlying issue of how the White House decides which secrets must be protected and which ones can be bandied about to discredit critics. Bush has angrily denounced press disclosures about controversial programs that involve spying on Americans or subjecting detainees to torture in secret prisons, but he has continued to defend and employ Rove despite his role in outing Plame.

Among intelligence professionals, the exposure of a clandestine CIA officer is considered possibly the worst kind of leak. It jeopardizes not only the personal safety and career of the undercover officer, but it puts at risk any foreign citizens who may have assisted the spying operation.

Plame also operated in a highly sensitive role under “non-official cover,” that is, a spy working outside the protection of a U.S. embassy. NOCs face extreme danger if caught spying in a hostile country.

Some of Bush’s defenders have argued that Plame’s assignment to CIA headquarters meant there was no need to maintain her secret cover. But that argument misses the point that many CIA employees who work out of CIA headquarters at Langley, Virginia, are still on covert status, as was Plame.

Also, the justification for Plame’s exposure – that she had played a minor role in her husband’s fact-finding trip to Niger to investigate suspicions that Iraq was trying to buy yellowcake uranium – represented a lame excuse. By July 2003, it was clear, too, that Wilson’s findings, casting doubt on the Niger suspicions, were correct.

Nevertheless, after Wilson wrote an Op-Ed article for the New York Times on July 6, 2003, criticizing Bush’s use of the Niger allegations despite the evidence to the contrary, the White House – led by Vice President Dick Cheney – conducted a smear campaign against Wilson.

In tearing down Wilson, the White House also exposed Plame. The leak of Plame’s identity and its publication by Novak on July 14, 2003, apparently was intended to undercut Wilson by suggesting his trip was a case of nepotism or that he was unmanly because his wife had a hand in arranging his unpaid assignment.

It’s also possible that the White House simply was punishing a critic by destroying his wife’s career. After disclosure of her identity, Plame’s CIA career was ruined and she resigned from the government. Her cover company, Brewster Jennings & Associates, also was exposed and her counter-proliferation mission wrecked.

Even to this day, Bush has done nothing to discourage his political supporters from denigrating Wilson, who gets routinely mocked in the right-wing news media as a flaky self-promoter or a partisan Democrat.

Novak Speaks

In a new column – on July 12, 2006 – Novak broke three years of near-total silence on his role in the Plame case. Though Novak still refused to identify his initial source for the Plame information, he did reveal that his second source was Rove, “whom I interpret as confirming my primary source’s information.” [Washington Post, July 12, 2006]

A year ago, Newsweek reported that Time’s Cooper also had learned about Plame’s identity from Rove. According to an internal Time e-mail, Cooper informed his editor that Rove offered a “big warning” not to “get too far out on Wilson” and that “KR said” the Niger trip was authorized by “wilson’s wife, who apparently works at the agency (CIA) on wmd issues.” [Newsweek, July 18, 2005, issue]

Though the evidence is clear that Rove helped disseminate the news about Plame’s identity, prosecutor Fitzgerald declined to seek prosecutions under laws that protect the identities of CIA officers or national security secrets.

In October 2005, Fitzgerald did indict Cheney’s chief of staff I. Lewis Libby, who was another source for journalists about Plame, but the charges related to perjury, lying to the FBI and obstruction of justice, not the underlying offense of exposing a CIA officer. Libby has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to go on trial in 2007.

In not indicting Rove, Fitzgerald apparently judged that Rove’s testimony – while not entirely accurate – didn’t rise to the level of perjury.

But there remains that troubling question: Why did Bush bring political operative Rove into the compartment on the secret identity of a CIA officer?

The fact that political adviser Rove was one of the busy bees cross-pollinating this sensitive information to the Washington press corps is evidence that Bush indeed did put politics and his image ahead of protecting legitimate national security secrets.

Rove had no reason to know who Plame was, except as part of a public relations attack against her husband and as political damage control for Bush. Rove’s only real need to know would appear to be for an assignment to punish a messenger for delivering some unwanted news.

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com. It's also available at Amazon.com, as is his 1999 book, Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth.'

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SOURCE:
Consortiumnews.com

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Triumph of the Authoritarians

by John W. Dean

Contemporary conservatism and its influence on the Republican Party was, until recently, a mystery to me. The practitioners' bludgeoning style of politics, their self-serving manipulation of the political processes, and their policies that focus narrowly on perceived self-interest -- none of this struck me as based on anything related to traditional conservatism. Rather, truth be told, today's so-called conservatives are quite radical.
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For more than 40 years I have considered myself a ``Goldwater conservative," and am thoroughly familiar with the movement's canon. But I can find nothing conservative about the Bush/Cheney White House, which has created a Nixon ``imperial presidency" on steroids, while acting as if being tutored by the best and brightest of the Cosa Nostra.

What true conservative calls for packing the courts to politicize the federal judiciary to the degree that it is now possible to determine the outcome of cases by looking at the prior politics of judges? Where is the conservative precedent for the monocratic leadership style that conservative Republicans imposed on the US House when they took control in 1994, a style that seeks primarily to perfect fund-raising skills while outsourcing the writing of legislation to special interests and freezing Democrats out of the legislative process?

How can those who claim themselves conservatives seek to destroy the deliberative nature of the US Senate by eliminating its extended-debate tradition, which has been the institution's distinctive contribution to our democracy? Yet that is precisely what Republican Senate leaders want to do by eliminating the filibuster when dealing with executive business (namely judicial appointments).

Today's Republican policies are antithetical to bedrock conservative fundamentals. There is nothing conservative about preemptive wars or disregarding international law by condoning torture. Abandoning fiscal responsibility is now standard operating procedure. Bible-thumping, finger-pointing, tongue-lashing attacks on homosexuals are not found in Russell Krik's classic conservative canons, nor in James Burham's guides to conservative governing. Conservatives in the tradition of former senator Barry Goldwater and President Ronald Reagan believed in ``conserving" this planet, not relaxing environmental laws to make life easier for big business. And neither man would have considered employing Christian evangelical criteria in federal programs, ranging from restricting stem cell research to fighting AIDs through abstinence.

Candid and knowledgeable Republicans on the far right concede -- usually only when not speaking for attribution -- that they are not truly conservative. They do not like to talk about why they behave as they do, or even to reflect on it. Nonetheless, their leaders admit they like being in charge, and their followers grant they find comfort in strong leaders who make them feel safe. This is what I gleaned from discussions with countless conservative leaders and followers, over a decade of questioning.

I started my inquiry in the mid-1990s, after a series of conversations with Goldwater, whom I had known for more than 40 years. Goldwater was also mystified (when not miffed) by the direction of today's professed conservatives -- their growing incivility, pugnacious attitudes, and arrogant and antagonistic style, along with a narrow outlook intolerant of those who challenge their thinking. He worried that the Republican Party had sold its soul to Christian fundamentalists, whose divisive social values would polarize the nation. From those conversations, Goldwater and I planned to study why these people behave as they do, and to author a book laying out what we found. Sadly, the senator's declining health soon precluded his continuing on the project, so I put it on the shelf. But I kept digging until I found some answers, and here are my thoughts.

For almost half a century, social scientists have been exploring authoritarianism. We do not typically associate authoritarianism with our democracy, but as I discovered while examining decades of empirical research, we ignore some findings at our risk. Unfortunately, the social scientists who have studied these issues report their findings in monographs and professional journals written for their peers, not for general readers. With the help of a leading researcher and others, I waded into this massive body of work.

What I found provided a personal epiphany. Authoritarian conservatives are, as a researcher told me, ``enemies of freedom, antidemocratic, antiequality, highly prejudiced, mean-spirited, power hungry, Machiavellian and amoral." And that's not just his view. To the contrary, this is how these people have consistently described themselves when being anonymously tested, by the tens of thousands over the past several decades.

Authoritarianism's impact on contemporary conservatism is beyond question. Because this impact is still growing and has troubling (if not actually evil) implications, I hope that social scientists will begin to write about this issue for general readers. It is long past time to bring the telling results of their empirical work into the public square and to the attention of American voters. No less than the health of our democracy may depend on this being done. We need to stop thinking we are dealing with traditional conservatives on the modern stage, and instead recognize that they've often been supplanted by authoritarians.

John W. Dean, former Nixon White House counsel, just published his seventh nonfiction book, ``Conservatives Without Conscience."

© 2006 The Boston Globe
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SOURCE:
Triumph of the Authoritarians

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Dan Rather Stands By His Controversial 60 Minutes Broadcast

by Katrina vanden Heuvel

The other night Dan Rather was back in center ring. In an hour long interview with CNN's Larry King. Rather spoke with quiet fury about the suits at CBS who treated him, a 44-year employee, so disgracefully. It turns out that at the end, it was the lawyers--not actor-turned corporate honcho Leslie Moonves--who told Rather "we just don't have a place for you." But, as Rather understood--as has anyone watching the networks these last years--CBS News is a cog in an entertainment company.
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"There came a time," he told King (who also works for an entertainment company with a news division) " when I realized...that we were working for not CBS and not CBS News. We were working for Viacom News...a larger entertainment company....but I want to do news that matters. And so much of the news these days...it's so driven by ratings, so driven by demographics, so driven by, we used to be told stockholder value. It's driven by things other than the public interest. I want to do news that's fair and accurate, do it with integrity and I want to do it in the public interest."

In one of the more interesting exchanges, Rather talked about 60 Minutes's controversial broadcast about Bush's National Guard record.

King: "You're saying that was a fair report, I mean that was--you believe that report to this day?" Rather: Do I believe the truth of the story? Absolutely.

Rather added, "...We had a lot, a lot of corroboration..it wasn't just the documents. But it's a very old technique used when those who don't like what you're reporting, believe it can be hurtful, then they look for the weakest spot and attack it, which is fair enough." But, he added, " It's a diversionary technique."

Rather is right.

In the days after "60 Minutes" aired its September 2004 report raising tough questions about President Bush's pampered "service" in the Texas National Guard, the heart of the story was obscured by a rightwing blog-fueled controversy over the authenticity of the so-called Killian memos. Instead of asking the White House tough questions about the well-documented information contained in the broadcast, too much of the media focused almost exclusively on the claims and counter-claims made about the disputed documents.

To be sure, Rather and his producers played into the hands of a Bush spin machine that, to this day,remains expert at peddling the lie that a liberal media is out to distort the president's record. As The Nation's John Nichols wrote at the time, "By relying on a few documents that were not adequately verified, CBS handed White House political czar Karl Rove exactly what he needed to steer attention away from the real story." But it always remained true, as Rather said at the time, that " Those who have criticized aspects of our story have never criticized the heart of it...that George Bush received preferential treatment to get into the National Guard and, once there, failed to satisfy the requirements of his service." The basic story was, in fact, well-reported by Texas columnist Molly Ivins and investigative reporter Lou Dubose almost five years before CBS's report. And in the days before and after 60 Minutes broadcast, the AP, the Boston Globe and US News & World Report all raised new questions about Bush's military record. Though each of these stories, as a good report by FAIR pointed out at the time (Sept 14, 2004), were "accompanied by significant official documentation, developments in the investigations by AP, US News and the Globe [were] largely sidetracked by the fixation on questions about the authenticity of documents aired on CBS on September 8." As FAIR's report concluded, It was like "the equivalent of covering the sideshow and ignoring the center ring."

Here's a modest editorial idea for Rather. Now that you're back with a weekly news program on Mark Cuban's HDNet TV-- and with the editorial freedom and mandate to do tough investigative reports, how about documenting the full story about the White House coverup of George W. Bush's military service?

Katrina vanden Heuvel has been The Nation's editor since 1995 and publisher since 2005. She is the co-editor of "Taking Back America--And Taking Down The Radical Right" (NationBooks, 2004) and, most recently, editor of "The Dictionary of Republicanisms" (NationBooks, 2005).

© 2006 The Nation


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SOURCE:
Dan Rather Stands By His Controversial 60 Minutes Broadcast

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9/11 A Bush Conspiracy? Get Real

by Tony Norman


A couple weeks ago, a colleague slipped me a burned copy of "Loose Change," a freelance documentary about 9/11 that won't be turning up on the History Channel anytime soon.

Though calling it to my attention can only be interpreted as an endorsement of its views on some level, my colleague went out of his way to withhold judgment, other than to say it raised a lot of questions for him.

Like most people in this business, he's a good guy. He wants desperately to believe that history isn't so open-ended that it's susceptible to the brute passions of 19 zealots with 72 virgins and high-tech martyrdom on their minds.

Still, he was circumspect even as he handed me the disc. Questioning the official narrative of what happened on Sept. 11, 2001 is risky business.
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Though I believe all sorts of outlandish things from the Nicene Creed and Arlen Specter's "single-bullet theory" to the likelihood of stolen elections in Florida and Ohio, I can't make the leap of faith necessary to give the Bush administration credit for masterminding a conspiracy of the scale and complexity of 9/11.

Maybe I'm too cynical for my own good, but this White House doesn't strike me as sufficiently evil, imaginative or competent to pull off a military-assisted coup under cover of a terrorist attack.

Certainly, everything this administration has done since 9/11 is inimical to American democracy, but there's a difference between exploiting a horrible situation for partisan advantage and planning the atrocity in the first place.

To believe "Loose Change" is to imagine Osama bin Laden the unwitting patsy of American neo-cons so fiendishly clever that they're able to manipulate al-Qaida into believing that 9/11 was their handiwork when Vice President Dick Cheney was the actual culprit.

Mr. Cheney may be the closest thing we have to Shakespeare's Cornwall and Richard III rolled into one, but he's also the man who couldn't make it off a hunting range without shooting a companion in the face.

Illuminati? Cheney barely qualifies as Three Stooges material. Neither he nor his ostensible boss, President Bush, knew what hit them the morning four passenger planes smashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a lonely field in Shanksville, Pa.

The infamous classroom footage of President Bush reading "My Pet Goat" to elementary kids in Florida the morning of the attacks also exonerates him in a perverse way.

Anyone who saw Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9-11" will never forget the look of fear and confusion on the President's face as he struggled to keep his composure during the most traumatic day of his life.

If Mr. Bush had conspired to orchestrate 9-11, wouldn't he have been holed-up with Cheney in a bunker far from intrusive cameras when hell started falling from the skies?

Wouldn't Mr. Bush have taken to the airwaves earlier to calm the nation with a resolutely brilliant speech had he known the terror attacks were coming? Would he have left that duty to New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani stoically dodging falling buildings at Ground Zero if he and Cheney were pulling the strings of everything behind the scenes?

When Gregory Itzin as President Charles Logan went from feckless political hack to Machiavelli-on-steroids during the fifth season of "24," it was a great turn that, nonetheless, underscored the show's unbelievable weekly plot twists.

But unless we're prepared to believe George Bush is as great an actor as Gregory Itzin, even the most rabid administration critic has to concede that the look of stupefied wariness on the president's face was real. He had no idea what was going to happen next and he was as terrified as the rest of us.

Conspiracy theories represented in documentaries like "Loose Change" and the dozens of books and hundreds of web sites devoted to "telling the truth about 9/11" are the ironic fruit of the administration's cynical manipulation of information. It's compulsive secrecy led to the universal distrust with which it is held.

If not for the cowardice and "resurgent patriotism" of the mainstream media in the aftermath of 9/11, the Bush administration's political ineptitude would've become fodder for late night comics and tough-minded exposes years ago and possibly spared us the Iraq war.

The search for answers about 9/11 took a back seat to regurgitating the self-serving propaganda of an administration caught flat-footed by terrorists affiliated with those who attacked the WTC a decade earlier.

In the absence of a vigilant press, a thousand conspiracy theories have bloomed. The full truth will eventually be pieced together by a future generation of journalists and historians who don't give a damn about being included on this White House's Christmas card list.

© 2006 PG Publishing Co., Inc.
=============
SOURCE:
9/11 A Bush Conspiracy? Get Real

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Why Enron Chief Was Better Than "Philanthropists"

by Ted Rall

Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Ken Lay--all thieves. Compared to the world's two richest men, however, Lay was small potatoes. So why are we praising them, and kicking Lay while he's down--six feet down?

Yeah, yeah, I watched the documentary ("Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room"). Lay and his sidekick CEO Jeffrey Skilling, used bluster, lies, a bunch of fictional Excel spreadsheets and an updated Ponzi scheme to create what appeared to be the nation's seventh largest energy company. Even when the truth--that Enron had negative net assets--was about to come out, Lay continued to talk up his BS company and its fraudulently inflated stock. Shareholders, many of them employees whose retirement savings were invested entirely in Enron, believed his reports that the company's finances were solid. Meanwhile, while he lied through his teeth to thousands of men and women who would be ruined because they believed him, he secretly cashed out millions of dollars of his own.
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Federal prosecutors say that Lay and Skilling illegally bilked Enron out of $183 million, including company bonuses paid during their conspiracy to pump up the company's stock and Lay's use of its line of credit to pay off millions in personal debt for such items as a $200,000 yacht for his wife Linda's 2001 birthday party. When Lay died last week of a heart attack, having been found guilty of a fraud that led to the 2001 collapse of Enron, he had been awaiting sentencing. The New York Post, noting that Texas law may protect Lay's estate from forking over the $43.5 million the Securities and Exchange Commission had sought as restitution, published one of its instant classic front pages: pictures of the deceased executive and a coffin, under the headline "Before They Put Cheato Lay's Coffin in the Grave, CHECK HE'S IN IT."

True, Lay was scum. But the "I Spit On Your Grave" act is a new phenomenon. Cruel and avaricious titans of industry typically receive the kid gloves treatment when they pass on to the Great Equities Desk. In 1989 Steven J. Ross, chairman and chief executive of Time Warner, paid himself a record $78.2 million--more than 9,000 times the average salary of his employees, thousands of whom he had cheerfully laid off the year before. When some cynics mentioned that Ross' victims might be jumping for joy at the news of his 1992 death from prostate cancer, they were universally and loudly denounced as rude and unfeeling.

Lay stole $43.5 million. Ross overpaid himself at least $78.2 million (worth $121.9 million today). Now consider investor Warren Buffett and Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, worth $44 billion and $50 billion, respectively, according to Forbes. Each one has accumulated one thousand times more cash than Ken "#1 Bush Campaign Donor" Lay. But we're supposed to like, and even admire, these rogues.

Buffett and Gates may not have broken any laws--although, in Gates' case, the Clinton-era Justice Department thought he'd cheated millions of American consumers by violating anti-trust laws--but it's hard to see how their billions are more ethically legit than Lay's misbegotten millions. Sorry, but "working hard" doesn't cut it. I don't care if you stay late at the office every night, work weekends and holidays, or you never go on vacation. It doesn't matter how smart, imaginative, or lucky you are. It just isn't possible to earn $44 billion in a single lifetime.

Not honestly, anyway.

Gates and Buffett have created a lot of pain and misery on their way to "earning" their combined $94 billion. (Bear in mind, that's what they're worth. That doesn't include what they've spent.) Gates scammed his dough the old-fashioned way: overcharging his customers and underpaying his employees. Somewhere along the way to accumulating $50 billion, doesn't it occur to a guy that he could charge a little less than $200 for buggy, instantly obsolete software? Or that it's time for a company-wide raise? He could even hire (gasp) unionized American workers instead of building plants in the Third World and relying on the slave labor of prison inmates!

It's harder to draw a direct line between Buffett's convoluted arbitrage machinations and the reduced incomes of thousands of other people, but anyone who has been downsized by a shareholder-terrorized managing board has experienced the impoverishing of the workers whose employers he targets.

Now we're supposed to be shocked and awed by Buffett's decision to give $37 billion--about 85 percent of his assets--to Bill Gates' foundation. "Stunning in its generosity," raved the Christian Science Monitor. "The scale of Mr. Buffett's philanthropy is matched by its good sense," chimed the Washington Post. Recent grants paid out by the Gates Foundation include $100,000 for the museum at Pearl Harbor, $241,500 "to provide sustainable public access computer hardware and software upgrades" to libraries in Los Angeles, and $21 million "to provide curriculum and support for teachers as a part of a transformation that aims to prepare...Chicago public school students for success in post-secondary education."

Good causes all, but maintaining Pearl Harbor is one of the reasons we pay federal taxes. Why does a national war memorial need help from Gates? One can't help but wonder whether L.A. libraries and Chicago schools might be less cash-strapped in the first place if so much of our society's wealth hadn't been monopolized by America's tiny, increasingly powerful oligarchy, rather than going to city taxpayers in the form of fair wages and affordable computers.

Factoid: the average member of the Forbes 400 list of the richest Americans has seen his income rise 3.5 times--from $800 million (adjusted to 2006 dollars) to $2.8 billion--in the last 20 years. Meanwhile, real income for more than half the population increased...zero. Nada. Zip.

To his credit, Buffett acknowledges the rising income disparity. "What has gone on in this country in recent years is a huge benefit to the very rich and not much that relief to those below," he told Fortune in 2005. But philanthropy won't slow the United States' slide into Third Worlddom. And it doesn't help the philanthropists' victims. All things considered, a $45 million lout like Ken Lay hurts America less than a $44 billion one like Bill Gates.

Consider a burglar who boosts your TV and then, thinking better of it, donates it to an orphanage. His act of generosity beats the alternative--keeping it for himself. But you'd probably prefer that he'd returned it to you, or better yet, never stolen it at all.

Ted Rall is the author of "Silk Road to Ruin: Is Central Asia the New Middle East?," an analysis of America's next big foreign policy challenge.

© 2006 uClick, LLC

###
=============
SOURCE:
Why Enron Chief Was Better Than "Philanthropists"

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A Maverick Media Mogul Takes on Mainstream Spinelessness

by Katrina vanden Heuvel

"I will tell you that there won't be any corporate considerations. No earnings per share issues, No worries about advertisers and what they might think." Okay, you probably think these are lines from a recent Nation editorial or Bill Moyers' latest speech.
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It's actually Mark Cuban blogging about his negotiations with Dan Rather to launch a program on HDNet, his high-definition cable channel that reaches about 3 million homes. (Later this week, Rather will announce that he's joining Cuban's channel--launching "Dan Rather Presents" this October. ) Cuban also owns HDfilms production company.

At a time when CBS News is run by "by bean counters and profiteers with no interest in serious news," as Moyers recently put it, the billionaire entrepreneur and owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball franchise seems ready to revive public interest journalism.

At a time when newspapers and traditional media seem clueless about their future, Cuban sees opportunity. In a recent post on his popular blog, Cuban lamented what he calls the loss of spine and guts in mainstream journalism. "Young people aren't turning away from mainstream media because they don't care about current events," he writes, "but because the media don't know how to connect with them."

(Cuban also likes to boast that HDNet News is working to hire "the young and the restless to go out and produce stories that matter. Stories that have payoff." )

Echoing any number of Nation editors/writers, Cuban adds, "Even for a 21-year old, it's not just about Paris Hilton, Bradgelina and the latest rap feud. Kids want to learn. They want to know. Journalism matters....We will produce news reports that matter to people of all ages."

I think he's one of the the most interesting media moguls around. What's appealing is that Cuban isn't just talking the talk. As Dan Rather might say, this guy "walks the walk"--putting his money into projects like "Sharesleuth," a new investigative website launched last month that will, as Cuban puts it, "do nothing but try to uncover corporate fraud." He's hired longtime business reporter, Christopher Carey, away from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, to run the site--which will go live next month.

Last Spring, Alex Jones, Director of the Kennedy School's Shorenstein Center on the Press wrote that "Traditional media of all kinds are retreating from the job of covering news on politics, policy and other topics because some consider them boring--the kiss of death. What might be alternative ways to keep accountability widely available?"

Mark Cuban may just be the alternative needed to shake up the traditional media world.

Katrina vanden Heuvel is editor of The Nation.

© 2006 The Nation
=============
SOURCE:
A Maverick Media Mogul Takes on Mainstream Spinelessness

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It's in the Bag!

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Don't Get Mad. Get Even!

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Condiment? or Side? You be the Judge!

Spider Spooge

Pistachio Pesto

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This One's For Scoopernicus

Oink! Frickin' Oink!

Top of the Foodchain

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Andrew Bosworth, Ph.D.: 'Orwellian economics'

Andrew Bosworth, Ph.D., Virtual Citizens

Currently, the Party uses the phrase "Gross Domestic Product" as if people were rolling up their sleeves to build machines and harvest crops. But increases in "GDP" these days come from consumption, not production. And the bad news gets worse: the consumption is not coming from savings, but rather from credit-card debt. In a giant circle of nonsense, this ends up increasing our national "GDP."

The housing boom accounts for much of the economic "growth," but few people realize that "home owners" have little or no equity in their homes, and that each move in the creative-financing shell game (between banks, mortgage companies and speculators) only adds to the mighty "GDP."

About 5 - 10% of GDP, as it turns out, is Walmart - a tsunami of cheap Asian stuff once made in the United States. Apparently, there is money to be made hollowing out America's middle class. The failed-but-somehow-eternal war in Iraq also gets factored into the GDP. Halliburton, arms merchants, Madison-Avenue propaganda companies - it all gets to be included. So does the Vatican-sized embassy in Baghdad (outsourced) and the permanent military bases there (outsourced).
___continued...click link below >>>
CONTINUED...

Let's continue to scratch the surface of the rosy statistics being promoted by the Party's portable speakerphone, George W. The "low unemployment" figures mask a reality of millions of part-time, poorly-paid and uninsured workers. The poverty rate over the past six years has jumped to nearly 40 million people, and the number of Americans with no health insurance has risen to some 50 million people. Now, there are even indications that life expectancy is beginning to decline in the US, especially for adult males. Not a good sign.



Only the most partisan hack can deny that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer under the Bush regime. Why is this happening? Joseph Schumpeter, the Austrian economist, recognized that free enterprise periodically gives way to "monopoly capitalism" - shorthand for clusters of oligopolistic firms earning supernormal profits, and this is especially true for industries with enormous economies of scale, like petroleum or pharmaceuticals. They begin to squeeze consumers and write laws to make that happen.

It boggles the mind that some Americans are willing to believe Party-backed economic data. The Party's manipulation of statistics is now an established fact of life. The Party hid statistics regarding who really benefited from the "Middle Class Tax Cuts." It suppressed records regarding who gets audited by the Internal Revenue Service. It manipulated the real financial costs of the war in Afghanistan and of adventurism in Iraq. And the Party, in order to make the manufacturing sector look more robust, even entertained including hamburger making as manufacturing. George Orwell once said: "But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought." So it seems.

Unfortunately, free enterprise has already given way to monopoly capitalism. It's not a trend; it's a done deal. The cars you drive, the gas you buy, the food you eat, the appliances you prepare it with, the clothes you wear, and the media you watch is all traceable to a half-dozen industries in each sector. Previous Republican administrations (Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford) would have taken corrective action in the spirit of Teddy Roosevelt. They would have tried to break the stranglehold of corporate oligarchs on Congress, but the Bush regime's empowers a predatory, parasitic form of capitalism, redistributing wealth from the bottom-up by cutting social programs like student loans and increasing corporate welfare. It's drive-by, gangsta capitalism.

In a final tribute to George Orwell, the Outer Party's Dear Leader celebrated having a 300 billion dollar deficit - lower than the politically-propelled projection of more than 400 billion dollars. It's a trick the Inner Party learned three years ago: come up with pessimistic projections and then break out the champagne when the figures come in.

All of this is designed to take our eyes off the fact that the American economy is now underwritten by $9 trillion of debt and depends upon $2 billion dollar infusions of foreign capital every day, largely from China.

Alan Greenspan, Former Chairman of the Federal Reserve, once made a comment regarding the economy several years ago. He said something along the lines that while that economic data appeared troublesome the "fundamentals" were sound. Today, it's the reverse - at least at first glance.

Source: Virtual Citizens
http://www.virtualcitizens.com/bosworth_2006-07-13_economics.html

=============
SOURCE:
The Smirking Chimp - Andrew Bosworth, Ph.D.: 'Orwellian economics'

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Torture is as Torture does...

Poor Halliburton

"Beer is proof the God loves us."- Franklin

The Scopes Monkey Trial

Blah3 - The Ten Commandments vs. Hammurabi's Code...

This is a great little post and comment I found over at Blah3.com. check 'em out & bookmark 'em! --pseudolus
=====================================

Contributed by: Monkeyfister

The Christianistas keep trying to claim the “Ten Commandments” are the basis of American Law, and keep trying to use this claim as the as the reason to place the “Ten Commandments” onto American Public Spaces, and into Public Law.

Well, here are The Ten Commandments As Per The Torah, and here is the The Code Of Hammurabi, written during the birth of Mesopotamia. These Laws were written and establised throughout the region, including in Egypt, long before the Dynasties of Egypt were even born; and even longer than that before “Moses brought the Commandments down from Mt. Sinai.” Hammurabi's Codes were the first Laws ever written unto Mankind... So, we compare and contrast:
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The Ten Commandments, as Taken from the Torah, and Their Origins:

1.I am Adonai Your God. (Exodus)
2.Thou shalt have no other gods before Me. (Exodus)
3.You shall not take the Name of Adonai Your God in vain. (Exodus)
4.Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it separate. (Exodus)
5.Honor your father and your mother. (Hammurabi, Code #195 and others)
6.You shall not murder. (Hammurabi Code #210, 214, 229, 230 and others)
7.You shall not commit adultery. (Hammurabi, Code # 129-133 and several others)
8.You shall not steal. (Hammurabi, Codes #6, 8, 9, 21, 22 and many others)
9.You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. (Hammurabi, Code #1-3 and many others)
10.You Shall not covet anything that belongs to thy neighbor. (wife/property)... (Hammurabi, Codes #6,8,9,21,22, and others)

The "Christians" (Council of Nicea) combined Commandments #1 and #2, and seperated Commandment #10 into two seperate Commandments...

Hmmmm... It looks like the Christianistas are looking at only 40% of their beloved “Ten Commandments being handed down 'From God'.” Hammurabi seems to have proceeded them by several hundred to several thousand years... As the first four “Commandment Laws” are ultimately of “Religeous Establishment,” I can't see the First Amendment of the Constitution Of The United States Of America making room for it in any Public Place or Law.

So sorry, Christianistas. You lose. Put your sculptures on your Church Grounds, in your own front yard, say what you will in your own yard, and on your Church Grounds... Keep your bullshit OUT of Publically-Owned places... You're violating the Constitutional Law of America every time you try. You're only demonstrating your own insanity every time you try. Just stop it, and get over yourselves already... You're wrong. You'll never be correct. Quit while you're behind. The Law is against you.
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comment by anonymous is as follows:

The Ten Commandments vs. Hammurabi's Code...
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, July 13 2006 @ 10:29 AM EDT
Sheesh. Ok, grab a history book and follow along.

The United States system was an outgrowth of the English common law system, wich existed in England for many years. Back before the Norman invasion. To the time of the Germanic inflow into Britain. After the Christian Romans left, the Angles, Saxons, Jutes, etc. moved in and set up their system including basic rights, limited democracy, and so forth.

So, if you want the religious basis for what would eventually become the United States, I guess you're just going to accept the fact that it was a bunch of HEATHENS! Yup, just like the names of the days of the week, our nation is founded on the principles of followers of Odin, Thor, et al.

So, let's get back to our religious roots in this country. Grab a spear or an axe, pour a tall horn full of mead, get some friends, and go loot the local Christian churches.
SOURCE:
Blah3 - The Ten Commandments vs. Hammurabi's Code...

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The Big Picture: Top Industries: Revenue Gains

Very interesting list compiled by Fortune magazine for the Fortune 500. These are the industries which have seen the greatest gains in revenue by percentage basis:

1 Securities 47.2
2 Mining, Crude-Oil Production 32.2
3 Petroleum Refining 28.3
4 Homebuilders 27.4
5 Banks: Commercial and Savings 24.3
6 Energy 19.2
7 Insurance: Life, Health (stock) 18.8
8 Building Materials, Glass 14.0
9 Health Care: Insurance & Managed Care 12.6
10 Network and Other Comm Equipment 12.5
11 Chemicals 12.3
12 Industrial & Farm Equipment 9.7
13 Metals 9.5
14 Aerospace and Defense 8.1
15 Wholesalers: Health Care 7.9
16 Diversified Financials 7.7
17 Health Care: Other 7.4
18 Pharmaceuticals 7.4
19 Trading 7.2
20 Utilities 7.1
21 Household and Personal Products 6.8
22 Specialty Retailers 6.5
23 Airlines 6.4
24 Engineering, Construction 6.4
25 Insurance: P & C (stock) 6.2
26 Food & Drug Stores 5.9
27 Motor Vehicles & Parts 5.2
28 Telecommunications 5.0
29 Electronics, Electrical Equipment 4.5
30 Beverages 4.1
31 Entertainment 3.9
32 Mail, Package, Freight Delivery 3.4
33 Computers, Office Equipment 3.3
34 Computer Services and Software 2.8
35 General Merchandisers 2.1
36 Tobacco 1.0
37 Food Consumer Products 0.0

Pretty fascinating stuff . . .

>

Source:
Fortune Global 500
http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/global500/2006/index.html
=============
SOURCE:
The Big Picture: Top Industries: Revenue Gains

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Douglas Adams's Mac IIfx

: "At the end of 2003, I was looking to buy a Mac IIfx for some hacking. I needed a Mac with six NuBus slots and the IIfx is the fastest model that fitted my requirements. One turned up on eBay and I was able to win the auction at a sensible price. The seller was a computer scrapper who had no knowledge or interest in the history of the system."
========
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Douglas Adams's Mac IIfx

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Rep. Jim McDermott: Transfer Secretary Rumsfeld to Iraq | The Huffington Post

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld arrived on an unannounced visit to Iraq today and proclaimed: "Each time I come to Iraq I see progress."

Iraq is a nation disintegrating into homicidal chaos. It is a country whose leaders acknowledge is on the brink of all-out civil war. But, the President's Pentagon appointee, the man controlling the fate of 129,000 U.S. soldiers in Iraq, stands up and flat out misleads the troops who don't get to go home to the U.S. at the end of the day, like Rumsfeld does.

[Ad]
America's independent government watchdog agency, the General Accountability Office, just released a report that confirms the President does not have an adequate plan to stabilize Iraq, and the occupation by U.S. forces is fueling the sectarian violence.

Rumsfeld can claim things are getting better to reporters while standing inside a fortified U.S. base, but that flies in the face of the facts.

Three years later, the only plan the President and his Defense Secretary can articulate is to stay indefinitely. Our military generals know full well this so-called plan guarantees more needless U.S. casualties, and Iraqi leaders know it guarantees more sectarian violence.

In the past, I and others have called for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Today, I offer a better plan. The President should keep his political appointee. In fact, the President should transfer Secretary Rumsfeld to Iraq. He should be stationed there until every last U.S. solider leaves the nation we are now occupying.

The Secretary says he sees progress every time he visits. Imagine what he might see by actually living and working there. By working in Iraq, the Secretary could accept direct responsibility for generating more of what he calls progress every time he visits Iraq.

The only true thing we can say about Iraq today is that it is on the brink of dissolving into unspeakable violence. We cannot pretend our way out of Iraq, and we cannot pretend the Iraqi people believe our presence is stabilizing the country.

Iraq needs a plan that does not include the occupation of the country by foreign soldiers, including U.S. soldiers. Until this Administration admits that it cannot shoot its way to victory, Iraq will grow more and more violent.

If Defense Secretary Rumsfeld was stationed there, America might finally get an honest assessment of the war and a roadmap to peace.
=============
SOURCE:
The Blog | Rep. Jim McDermott: Transfer Secretary Rumsfeld to Iraq | The Huffington Post

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The Horse's Mouth - on minimum wage

TIMES FORGETS THAT SOME ECONOMISTS ARE FOR A MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE. In today's Times piece about Democratic plans to make a minimum wage increase an issue in the midterm elections, reporter Kate Zernike writes that many economists oppose an increase and lets a conservative economist argue the case against a boost -- but forgets to mention that many economists are for an increase, too. From the piece:

Business groups, supported by many economists, have always fought such increases on the argument that setting wages above normal market levels will cause employers to cut back on hiring the very low-wage workers an increase would be intended to benefit.

“The minimum wage raises the take-home pay for some people at the expense of others,” said Kevin A. Hassett, an economist at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative policy group.

“It is wrong to redistribute money from the worse-off workers to other low-income workers.”

For some reason, the Times didn't make any mention at all of the fact that many economists disagree with this assessment and favor an increase (to see a rundown of economists who back a boost go here and click on the PDF link). Nor did the paper let even one of these many economists rebut the anti-minimum wage argument in any serious substantive way. The only argument in favor of a boost the paper acknowledged is that the minimum wage hasn't risen in a long time while inflation has reduced its value to the lowest level in years. But that overly narrow argument is based on nothing more than appeals to sympathy for minimum-wage workers; the piece doesn't tell you that many experts believe it has zero in the way of pernicious effects on the rest of us.

The last increase under Bill Clinton was accompanied by a skyrocketing of low-income employment, and as the Prospect's own Ezra Klein has pointed out, states with high minimum wages tend to have low unemployment rates. If you're going to include the broader substantive case against an increase, isn't it incumbent on you to include the broader substantive case for it, too?

--Greg Sargent

Posted by Greg Sargent on July 13, 2006 06:36 AM
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SOURCE:
The Horse's Mouth

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

'Bush's bunker mentality on display in Baghdad'

Nicholas von Hoffman, The New York Observer

One reason the Iraqis don't believe that the U.S. is going away any time soon is because of an almost breathtaking sight the miserable inhabitants of Baghdad see every day.

In the near distance there is a forest of cranes, part of what The Times of London says is the only American construction job on time and on budget in Iraq. The newspaper reported that "residents deprived of air-conditioning and running water" are furious as they watch the massive U.S. embassy rising in the city--a building that they say is bigger than anything Saddam Hussein built.

The embassy, surrounded by 15-foot thick walls, covers 104 acres and includes its own water and sewage system, its own electrical generation plant, 21 buildings and enough room for 8,000 people to work.

If the report is correct, the project, costing more than half a billion dollars, is being built by a Kuwaiti contractor without employing a single Iraqi. We can only guess at how many thousands of troops will be needed to keep the place safe.

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Who can say how that squares with Presidential declarations about the U.S. not tarrying in Mesopotamia, and more recent ones claiming that once the killing slows down to a dull roar, we're outta there. Maybe President Bush doesn't know that he is shortly to be the proprietor of a palace that is literally larger than Vatican City. Are we crazy or what?

In the sticky morass which is Iraq, no one can tell which statements are lies, which are ignorance, which are misinformation, which are bigotry, which are religious fanaticism, which are propaganda, which are oil-related and which are simon-pure insanity. The public here in the United States gets only fragments of news. The journalists, even the credulous rah-rah-by-jingo types, cannot be faulted, since they take their lives in their hands when they venture out from their bunkers to attempt to cover a story.

(Readers of Juan Cole's authoritative Informed Comment blog get a daily tally of deaths, murders and atrocities not available to TV viewers and ordinary newspaper readers. The simple numbers tell the story of a large and growing bloodbath.)

How believable is the official story of the three detainees or prisoners of war or captives in Guantanamo simultaneously committing suicide? They were incommunicado in solitary confinement, and yet they arranged to do away with themselves at the same time by the same means. Huh? We are asked to accept as truthful an account in which the three each hide behind laundry they had drying in their respective six-by-eight-foot cells so their guards couldn't see them dangling from their homemade nooses. Let's not go so far as to cry out "Give me a break!"--but this plot line does bear looking into.

The parents of at least one of the alleged suicides doubts the story, which, if their doubts are borne out, may mean that their guards were so indifferent they didn't keep watch, or that they saw what the three were doing and didn't interfere, or that they killed them. In this situation, so rife with ill will and suspicion, a third-party autopsy is called for, but instead the government is going to do another investigation of itself. The Pentagon has even kicked journalists covering the story off the base.

Why would the guards have murdered three of the prisoners? From what we have been told about the dead men, they do not seem to have been the "high-value" types that the C.I.A. would want murdered. Maybe the guards just went crackers. Or maybe the men did kill themselves as described. Being a guard at Guantanamo must be almost as painfully soul-destroying as being a prisoner.

Rear Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., the boss of the Guantanamo mess, was quick to offer his opinion about the three dead men: "They are smart, they are creative, they are committed .... They have no regard for life, neither ours nor their own. I believe this was not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us."

In every war in the 20th century fought by Americans, our top people said that the other side had no regard for their own lives, i.e., that they were fanatical semi-humans without normal human feelings. From the bloody Huns of World War I through the Japanese kamikazes to the drugged Chi-Coms on the Yalu River, our enemies have been a subspecies and, we can presume, they have had pretty much the same picture of us. Certainly, that is the picture one gets from the translations of the occasional fulminations released on the world by Osama bin Laden. As for "asymmetrical warfare," that's the admiral's way of saying the other side doesn't fight fair, as if anybody ever did. But, hey, it's the Islamo-fascists vs. the Christo-imperialists.

Lest a person think that Admiral Harris is a lone deviate in his opinions, this from Colleen P. Graffy, the deputy assistant secretary of state for public diplomacy, if you can imagine such a title: "Taking their own lives was not necessary, but it certainly is a good P.R. move .... It does sound like this is part of a strategy in that they don't value their own lives, and they certainly don't value ours; and they use suicide bombings as a tactic."

Crazy, demented animals, they have been brainwashed out of any sense of self-preservation. Die for Allah? Yes, maybe. Die for P.R.? I don't think so. Much the same was said of Native Americans way back when they were called Indians and the only good one was a dead one.

If Ms. Graffy and her co-workers in Washington stoke animosities against the Islamic sub-persons who "don't value their own lives," what must be the state of American emotions in Iraq? These sub-people, these self-killers, want to take us with them, and we can't seem to stop them. Unlike Ms. Graffy, who eats in nice restaurants, is highly paid, lives a comfortable, safe life and doubtless has convinced herself that she is "serving" her country by doing so, many of the troops in Iraq are on the ragged edge.

Hence Haditha. In many wars, soldiers suddenly lose it and kill a bunch of the other side's civilians and, from all we read, not a few of our soldiers have long since lost the capacity--if anybody ever had it--of telling good Iraqis from bad ones. The Haditha Marines were on their third tour of duty because there are no fresh replacements, and apparently they went postal. It is surprising that more don't--or perhaps they already have. Indeed, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki has said that such rampages are not rare.

A story is going about that some of the Haditha Marines were drunk and/or high on drugs when they killed those people. Overused, increasingly exhausted, with no replacements available and no reinforcements backing them up, the danger exists that part of the American expeditionary force is disintegrating. Obviously, decomposition has taken hold in a few platoons. Is it spreading? If the Pentagon knows--and in an organization crammed with yes-men, it may not--it will not be holding any press conferences on the subject.

Nor should it. But if discipline and good order at the platoon and company level drops below a certain point, the whole force will be in jeopardy. Discussions about exit strategies will become academic. We'll have to get our people out of there as fast as we can and as best we can. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that our people will be making a dash for safety down the same Kuwait-Baghdad highway on which Saddam Hussein's army was destroyed by the U.S. in 1991.

Yet even if this worst case comes true, the whole force will not disintegrate. There will still be reliable formations which can be used to man the colossal defensive fortifications protecting the new embassy, where the thousands of government workers, their contractors and body servants can live a la Americaine while conferring the blessing of freedom and self-rule on bleeding Iraq.

copyright (c) 2005 the new york observer, L.P.

Source: New York Observer
http://www.observer.com/20060717/20060717_
Nicholas_von_Hoffman_opinions_vonhoffman.asp
=============
SOURCE:
The Smirking Chimp - Nicholas von Hoffman: 'Bush's bunker mentality on display in Baghdad'

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'Can and should Bush be prosecuted for war crimes?'

Ray Hanania, Southwest News Herald

Although we might be able to distort politics, lobby international agencies and use foreign aid to swing support to and from important issues, principles of law do not change and always come back to haunt those who violate them.

Despite the chorus of fascist support that President George W. Bush continues to receive from many Americans whipped up by politics and emotions, the fact is Bush has violated some fundamental principles of law that can, should and will come back to haunt not just him but us as Americans.
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The first is the president's violation of the Fourth Geneva Conventions.

It is a crime to violate the Fourth Geneva Conventions, not just according to international law but also according to U.S. laws. And, we are violating the Fourth Geneva Conventions in the manner in which we are

1) arresting and detaining prisoners in Iraq and around the world under the guise of "War on terrorism," and



2) in the manner in which we are mistreating those prisoners by denying them legal representation and also using torture.

In some cases, our soldiers are committing war crimes at these detention centers when they follow orders to violate the Fourth Geneva Convention and their actions result in the death of the prisoners.

Several have died.

The second is the actual killing of civilians in Iraq.

Just recently, we learned of an American soldier who, with help of his fellow Marines, raped a young Iraqi woman and then murdered her and her family to cover up the crime.

There have been several other high profile cases of U.S. Marines acting as serial killers rather than as the Proud American Soldiers that they are supposed to be, murdering innocent civilians in cold blood out of emotion and revenge.

Although we are being told that there are exceptions, the fact that the U.S. Military in many cases is engaged in covering up these crimes, as in Haditha, Iraq, suggests that they are in fact just the tip of the iceberg in terms of international war crimes and violations of international laws.

Who is responsible?

The soldiers sent to fight an illegal war or the man who sent them?

In the case of our prosecution of former Iraqi Dictator President Saddam Hussein, Hussein is being prosecuted for the actions of his soldiers in repression of a revolt and punishing individuals involved in a plot to assassinate him.

It's not simply a matter of how he killed the dissidents, using poison gas.

And keep in mind, these murders occurred nearly 20 years ago and were ordered by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Couldn't President Bush and his administration also be charged with war crimes for oppressing people who challenged his own administration, which is in fact as illegal as was Saddam Hussein's own government?

Then, there is the intentional killing of not on two of Saddam Hussein's soins in an unprovoked bombing and then assault on their home, but the murder of scores of civilians and relatives who were in the home when it was attacked by U.S. Marines.

In fact, the Bush ordered attacks took place several times before they actually murdered Saddam Hussein's two sons, Uday and Cusay, who were both convicted of crimes in the court of one-sided American public opinion and the biased American news media, abut never convicted of any crimes in a court of law.

Let's not forget that the evidence is even more compelling against President Bush when we weigh in his lies about the reasons for invading Iraq. Today the issue of weapons of mass destruction is a political football. But tomorrow, it will be a fact evaluated on the basis of international laws.

There were no weapons of mass destruction. Worse, Bush and his administration clearly and intentionally lied in order to deceive the American public into supporting an invasion of Iraq.

The invasion of Iraq sought to exploit the fears and emotions of the American people following the unrelated terrorist attacks of September 11 in New York.

There was no al-Qaeda presence at all in Iraq. Saddam Hussein, a secular dictator who opposed religious fanaticism, was not engaged in any dialogue or coordination with al-Qaeda at any level, and he had nothing to do with Sept. 11.

Yet, we are fighting a war in a country, Iraq, that did nothing to America. Why? Because President Bush used the power of his office and exploited American public fears to avenge his father and take down someone who was his father's greatest adversary.

Finally, but just as important in the context of violating laws and committing war crimes, is the abuse of power by President Bush; his abuses have been courageously documented by the New York Times and a handful of other American media despite threats and intimidation against the foundation of this country's "Free Speech pillar." That they continue to report the truth despite the demagoguery that is passed off as "free speech" deserves our highest admiration.

The Patriot Act was improperly adopted by Congress. It never received a hearing in Congress. The document that was introduced was replaced at the last minute by Bush and voted on, even though members of Congress complained vocally about the switch.

Though the sneaky strategy was not illegal, the manner in which it was imposed on Americans only compounds Bush's illegal actions.

Unlike the American people, who seem more like emotional ping pong balls bouncing from reason to emotional insanity at the whim of a reckless president, the law does not change. It is founded on principles of justice that cannot be applied indiscriminately, one way for you and one way for me.

That consistency will one day catch up to President Bush. Probably not while he is in office but in the years that follow as Americans regain their senses and clear their vision of the rhetoric and polemics fed to them by the Bush administration.

I am going to quote Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, the brother of the late President John F. Kennedy, and someone who continues to stand up for the principles that JFK advocated and that we all, as true Americans, once embraced:

"The reckless abuse of power by George Bush and his rightwing allies is a continuing danger to the nation. It can and must be stopped, and the best way to do that is at the ballot box this Election Day - which is less than five months away," Kennedy wrote in a letter I received a few days ago.

"The Bush administration's arrogance and incompetence have made our country weaker at home and more hated in the world than at any other tome in our history, and made the war on terrorism harder to win."

Sen. Kennedy cites all of the points I have made, plus reminds us of the most serious violation of law that I think should most offend Americans who come to their senses" Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind of Sept. 11, is still alive and at-large. Instead of committing our resources to capture him, we are wasting them on Iraq where laws are being violated, corporations tied to the president's pals are reaping windfall profits that put Enron to shame, and war crimes continue to take place in our good name.

America is a great country. Our Constitution is a great document.

Prosecuting President Bush and his administration would be a first step to restoring this country's greatness and returning it to being a virtuous champion of international freedoms.

Ray Hanania writes about everything under the sun. You can reach him at rayhanania@aol.com.

© Copyright 2006 Vondrak Publishing Company, Inc.

Source: Southwest News Herald
http://www.swnewsherald.com/online_content/2006/07/071106rh_bush.php
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The Smirking Chimp - Ray Hanania: 'Can and should Bush be prosecuted for war crimes?'

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Stephen Pizzo: 'Calling all suckers'

Stephen Pizzo, News For Real

"To proceed from one truth to another, and connect distant propositions by regular consequences, is the great prerogative of man."
-- Samuel Johnson: Rambler #158


Oh man, am I going to get in trouble for this post. But, damn it, someone needs come right out and just say it. So here goes.

We liberals are often accused of being elitists, that we look down on fellow Americans, those red-state folk who consider Wal-Mart the best thing to happen to America since Hostess Cup Cakes.

Well, it's time to come clearn. We do. We've tried not to, but they make it really hard. So it's time to come out of the closet. We do look down on them. But not for the reasons they think we look down on them. It's not because they prefer a night with Jerry Springer than live theater or because they can't tell the difference between Ripple and a good California Merlot or prefer a Big Mac with fries to a healthy salad.

No. The reason we look down on them has nothing to do with any of that kind of trivial stuff. We look down on them because they are natural born suckers. And, as such have aided and abetted in the the closest thing that we've seen to a constitutional coup in American history. Oh, and because they don't seem to care, in fact, like it.
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We look down on them because, as a group, they know more about current NASCAR standings than they know -- or care to know -- about what's afoot within the top ranks of their own government. And, as we've learned at each election since 1994 - they vote.

These Wal-Mart-ers prefer their information on the light side, hold the nuance. As they flip their TV remotes through a couple hundred channels of brain Novocaine, they occasionally cross paths with the news. And the news wants those glazed eyeballs. FOX and CNN now compete for the Wal-Mart-er demographic. Both networks know that Wal-Mart-ers suffer from notoriously short attention spans and that they hate stories that take more than 30 seconds to explain. But that they are particularly partial to animal stories and any footage showing some poor guy getting slammed in the crotch by an object moving at high speed.

CNN knows that if it's going reel in these mouth-breathers they must do so quickly, before they can relocate their remotes. Which explains why that, at a time when the seeds of civil war first sprouted in Iraq, and Iran began building nukes, and North Korea built more nukes, and 45 million American's, including many of these very viewers, could not afford health insurance, and the polar ice caps began to shrink, and genocide raged in Sudan, CNN served up near-nonstop coverage of ---- "BREAKING NEWS: The Run-a-Way Bride."

In a recent editorial, scholar Robert Rapaport put it this way:

"Should we call it "The Cracker Factor?" Unless explained by CNN's presence in Atlanta, or the ghost of Scarlett O'Hara rampant, how do we account for this previous year's crop of overheated, overexposed, over-the-top stories about life-supported-spouses, kidnapped children, missing high-schoolers, run-amok lacrosse teams, and run-away brides, emanating from the American South? ... " Wallowing in the coverage of this Confederate cornpone-ucopia has been enough of a slog. Worse, are the scoldings we Yankee/liberals seem destined to endure about our social, political, and moral shortcomings from such Southern scions as Senators Bill Frist and Saxby Chambliss, the Revs. Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, and former House Republican generalissimo's, Tom Delay and Newt Gingrich. It is enough to make an ex-New Englander conjure up the satanic despoiler himself; General William Tecumseh Sherman, for a second tromp through Georgia. (Full)

Rapaport gets it just right. Look no further than CNN's Wolf Blitzer, who named his daily news show, "The Situation Room." When you name a daily show, "The Situation Room," there damn well better be a friggin "situation" every day. Lacking stories any real news person would consider a "situation," CNN pumps up whatever is happening at the moment, no matter how trivial, declaring it "situation" de jur.

All of which is perfectly fine as far as our Wal-Mart-er viewers are concerned. They prefer a trivial "situation," to a news story that forces them to balance opposing views or challenges their low-brow opinion on how things oughta be. So it came to pass that a story about a goofy looking woman who deserted her boyfriend at the alter, became a ratings winner -- the nacho chip version of news. No upsetting pictures of starving childrent or global warming hand wringing. And definitely no booooooooorrrring footage of some Democrat alleging the President of the United States may be breaking the law or aiding and abetting in war crimes. ("In the old days, dang it, we knew what it meant for a President to break the law, like when Clinton lied about sex. Now that was something! Grunt, grunt." )

Yes, we liberals look down on them, the Wal-Mart-ers, those zombie suckers. Because they not only don't know much, but don't care to. They are the great un-curious mass that elected one of their own kind to run our country. They are universally un-curious. Science and supertition homogenize in their brains. Most march dutifully off to church each Sunday's clutching a King James version of the Bible, yet show no curiosity why the God they claim is Perfection, required a royal editor. Or that since their bible is a "version," -- says so right inside the cover -- a version of what? If there are other versions, what's that all about? Never mind. These folks like their religion the same way they like their politics - straight up, unmixed, uncomplicated, like beer. Anything that challenges their religious or social beliefs are, at best, just noise, unworthy of consideration and, at worst, seditious.

These people brush aside evidence that the neo-conservatives they elected to high office are less like their father's Republicans and a lot more a pack of neo-fascists. (And they definitely don't want to hear a history lecture on how ordinary Germans, working stiffs just like them, were suckered by Nazi Party seventy years ago. Because, the Wal-Mart-ers grunt, whatever the superficial similarities, it's not fascism when we do it.)

The Wal-Mart-ers have been quiet since they returned George W. Bush, et al to office in 2004. But the neo-cons have begun stirring up their sucker-brigades in preparation for the November mid-term election. I know because I've begun getting hate-emails from these knuckle-draggers:

Mr. Pizzo:

Did you know the Swift Boat people are genuine heroes, not phonies like Kerry and Murtha. But then real heroes make Liberals feel guilty about enjoying the protection of real men. I do know you Liberals NEVER WANT TO TO READ THE OPPOSITE POINT ..... You're so full of shit. You should be considered anti-American. You, like Murtha are quick to present the negative and now you, your kind, including Murtha are shown to be liers and full of shit.

(Most Wal-Mart-ers seem to suffer from a sticky ALL CAPS key. It's their way of grunting, virtually.)

Anyway they are baaaacckkkk -- the Wal-Mart-er voters. They've put down their remotes, rallied by the call of the wild neo-con. Called back into action for November. From radio talk shows, to the floor of Congress, to the White House, the sucker bait has been put out:

* "The liberals are burning your flag! Are you gonna let them get away with it?"
* "Boys are marrying other boys! Girls are marrying other girls. Is your child next?"
* "Your President took the guy the runs Japan to Graceland today! Whata guy -- A real guy... not like those two fairies in that gay cowboy movie!"
* "Fur-in-ers - maybe carrying dirty bombs! -- are flooding across our borders and the liberals want to take your gun away."
* "The liberal media is undermining the war and aiding the terrorists."

Sucker bait. And it's strong stuff apparently. Because it's able to make the Wal-Mart-ers vote against their own interests -- not once, but over and over again.

Memo
From: K. Rove

Subject: Calling all suckers.

We need you real Americans once again. Pay no attention to the fact that, since you put us in power, we've gutted the US industrial base, supplanted good paying skilled jobs with low-paying service jobs. Or that you, and everyone you know, are drowning in debt or that you may not be able to afford health insurance. Oh, and pay no mind to the pile of federal IOU's that has soared to stars over the past six years, it's not a problem. It's just paper. And even as record hurricanes, tornadoes and forest fires devastate whole regions, don't listen to those liberal global warming alarmists. They just want to raise your taxes.

Pay no attention to any of that stuff. Because none of that is more important than making sure the godless liberals do not gain control of Congress this November. So drop that remote. Cancel that trip to Wal-Mart. America (and God!) needs you to vote Republican this Fall. It's us against the tax raising, flag-burning, gay-marriage loving, god-hating liberals -- and their friends in the terrorist-loving media.

We know we can count on you.

Karl

Yeah, I know it's silly crap. But have no doubt about it -- it works -- every time. These suckers have the flattest learning curve in the history of mankind. If they were chickens they'd accept a dinner invitation from Col. Sanders.

So there. I got it off my chest. Call me culture snob if you must. But that's how I feel. I am sick and tired of trying to pretend that those folks... the Wal-Mart-ers.. actually have something valuable to teach us. Or, that while I may disagree with them on some things, the ideas that motivate them hold any moral equivalence with the actual challenges facing America and the world. Because they don't. Not even close. The issues that motivate the Wal-Mart-ers are simplistic, divisive sucker bait, set out for suckers who, time and time again, gobble it all down, even though there own lives get worse each time. Only a moron would fall the same scam so many times. There's simply no other way to interpret such behavior.

Still, as I said, there's a helluva lot of them out there, and Democrats have learned that these folks cannot be ignored. The GOP has perfected the care and feeding of this army of zombie suckers into an fine art. When summoned they march, stiff-legged, to Karl Rove's violin - every time.

So, it's time to start dealing with them. But how?

As I see it there's only two ways to deal with them this group. One way is to engage them, try to win them over to our side. That's what Hillary Clinton is trying to do with her silly-ass flag burning amendment. Instead of fighting the "vast rightwing conspiracy," Hillary court it. Which is okay I guess if all you care about is getting caried into high office on the backs of morons.

The other way - the better way -- is for liberials to free themselves from the lodestone of political correctness -- to stop pretending the Wal-Mart-er demographic is worthy of an iota of respect. Instead of trying to humor them, confront their lazy ignorance and their knee-jerk jingoism. Question their own patriotism when they try to insert religious dogma into the secular political process, or make excuses for unconstitutional misbehavior by the executive branch. Six years ago excuses could be made for them. But now the damage those they put into power is so evident no future excuses can be made for them. They're like parents who continued to send their kids to slumber parties with Michael Jackson.

I'm tellin' ya, the time has come to crack heads, figuratively speaking, with these low-brow, ill-informed voters. Because democracy is not a state of nature but a state of mind. And as such, it requires just that - a mind - to be effective. It needs minds that think, question, examine and votes based on facts rather than mindless nonsense.

It's time liberals get past their reluctance to call a spade a spade when it comes to the GOP's army of ignoramus suckers. Because, as the last six years have shown with brutal clarity, these sucker voters, even more so than terrorists -- represent nothing less than a clear and present danger to our own democracy.

Source: News For Real
http://newsforreal.com/
=============
SOURCE:
The Smirking Chimp - Stephen Pizzo: 'Calling all suckers'

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'The stolen election of 2004'

Michael Parenti, The Columbus Free Press

The 2004 presidential contest between Democratic challenger Senator John Kerry and the Republican incumbent, President Bush Jr., amounted to another stolen election. This has been well documented by such investigators as Rep. John Conyers, Mark Crispin Miller, Bob Fitrakis, Harvey Wasserman, Bev Harris, and others. Here is an overview of what they have reported, along with observations of my own.

Some 105 million citizens voted in 2000, but in 2004 the turnout climbed to at least 122 million. Pre-election surveys indicated that among the record 16.8 million new voters Kerry was a heavy favorite, a fact that went largely unreported by the press. In addition, there were about two million progressives who had voted for Ralph Nader in 2000 who switched to Kerry in 2004.

Yet the official 2004 tallies showed Bush with 62 million votes, about 11.6 million more than he got in 2000. Meanwhile Kerry showed only eight million more votes than Gore received in 2000. To have achieved his remarkable 2004 tally, Bush would needed to have kept all his 50.4 million from 2000, plus a majority of the new voters, plus a large share of the very liberal Nader defectors.

Nothing in the campaign and in the opinion polls suggest such a mass crossover. The numbers simply do not add up.

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In key states like Ohio, the Democrats achieved immense success at registering new voters, outdoing the Republicans by as much as five to one. Moreover the Democratic party was unusually united around its candidate—or certainly against the incumbent president. In contrast, prominent elements within the GOP displayed open disaffection, publicly voicing serious misgivings about the Bush administration’s huge budget deficits, reckless foreign policy, theocratic tendencies, and threats to individual liberties.

Sixty newspapers that had endorsed Bush in 2000 refused to do so in 2004; forty of them endorsed Kerry.

All through election day 2004, exit polls showed Kerry ahead by 53 to 47 percent, giving him a nationwide edge of about 1.5 million votes, and a solid victory in the electoral college. Yet strangely enough, the official tally gave Bush the election. Here are some examples of how the GOP “victory” was secured.

---In some places large numbers of Democratic registration forms disappeared, along with absentee ballots and provisional ballots. Sometimes absentee ballots were mailed out to voters just before election day, too late to be returned on time, or they were never mailed at all.

---Overseas ballots normally reliably distributed by the State Department were for some reason distributed by the Pentagon in 2004. Nearly half of the six million American voters living abroad---a noticeable number of whom formed anti-Bush organizations---never received their ballots or got them too late to vote. Military personnel, usually more inclined toward supporting the president, encountered no such problems with their overseas ballots.

---Voter Outreach of America, a company funded by the Republican National Committee, collected thousands of voter registration forms in Nevada, promising to turn them in to public officials, but then systematically destroyed the ones belonging to Democrats.

--- Tens of thousands of Democratic voters were stricken from the rolls in several states because of “felonies” never committed, or committed by someone else, or for no given reason. Registration books in Democratic precincts were frequently out-of-date or incomplete.

---Democratic precincts---enjoying record turnouts---were deprived of sufficient numbers of polling stations and voting machines, and many of the machines they had kept breaking down. After waiting long hours many people went home without voting. Pro-Bush precincts almost always had enough voting machines, all working well to make voting quick and convenient.

---A similar pattern was observed with student populations in several states: students at conservative Christian colleges had little or no wait at the polls, while students from liberal arts colleges were forced to line up for as long as ten hours, causing many to give up.

---In Lucas County, Ohio, one polling place never opened; the voting machines were locked in an office and no one could find the key. In Hamilton County many absentee voters could not cast a Democratic vote for president because John Kerry’s name had been “accidentally” removed when Ralph Nader was taken off the ballot.

---A polling station in a conservative evangelical church in Miami County, Ohio, recorded an impossibly high turnout of 98 percent, while a polling place in Democratic inner-city Cleveland recorded an impossibly low turnout of 7 percent.

---Latino, Native American, and African American voters in New Mexico who favored Kerry by two to one were five times more likely to have their ballots spoiled and discarded in districts supervised by Republican election officials. Many were given provisional ballots that subsequently were never counted. In these same Democratic areas Bush “won” an astonishing 68 to 31 percent upset victory. One Republican judge in New Mexico discarded hundreds of provisional ballots cast for Kerry, accepting only those that were for Bush.

---Cadres of rightwing activists, many of them religious fundamentalists, were financed by the Republican Party. Deployed to key Democratic precincts, they handed out flyers warning that voters who had unpaid parking tickets, an arrest record, or owed child support would be arrested at the polls---all untrue. They went door to door offering to “deliver” absentee ballots to the proper office, and announcing that Republicans were to vote on Tuesday (election day) and Democrats on Wednesday.

---Democratic poll watchers in Ohio, Arizona, and other states, who tried to monitor election night vote counting, were menaced and shut out by squads of GOP toughs. In Warren County, Ohio, immediately after the polls closed Republican officials announced a “terrorist attack” alert, and ordered the press to leave. They then moved all ballots to a warehouse where the counting was conducted in secret, producing an amazingly high tally for Bush, some 14,000 more votes than he had received in 2000. It wasn’t the terrorists who attacked Warren County.

---Bush did remarkably well with phantom populations. The number of his votes in Perry and Cuyahoga counties in Ohio, exceeded the number of registered voters, creating turnout rates as high as 124 percent. In Miami County nearly 19,000 additional votes eerily appeared in Bush’s column after all precincts had reported. In a small conservative suburban precinct of Columbus, where only 638 people were registered, the touchscreen machines tallied 4,258 votes for Bush.

---In almost half of New Mexico’s counties, more votes were reported than were recorded as being cast, and the tallies were consistently in Bush’s favor. These ghostly results were dismissed by New Mexico’s Republican Secretary of State as an “administrative lapse.”

Exit polls showed Kerry solidly ahead of Bush in both the popular vote and the electoral college. Exit polls are an exceptionally accurate measure of elections. In the last three elections in Germany, for example, exit polls were never off by more than three-tenths of one percent.

Unlike ordinary opinion polls, the exit sample is drawn from people who have actually just voted. It rules out those who say they will vote but never make it to the polls, those who cannot be sampled because they have no telephone or otherwise cannot be reached at home, those who are undecided or who change their minds about whom to support, and those who are turned away at the polls for one reason or another.

Exit polls have come to be considered so reliable that international organizations use them to validate election results in countries around the world.

Republicans argued that in 2004 the exit polls were inaccurate because they were taken only in the morning when Kerry voters came out in greater numbers. (Apparently Bush voters sleep late.) In fact, the polling was done at random intervals all through the day, and the evening results were as much favoring Kerry as the early results.

It was also argued that pollsters focused more on women (who favored Kerry) than men, or maybe large numbers of grumpy Republicans were less inclined than cheery Democrats to talk to pollsters. No evidence was put forth to substantiate these fanciful speculations.

Most revealing, the discrepancies between exit polls and official tallies were never random but worked to Bush’s advantage in ten of eleven swing states that were too close to call, sometimes by as much as 9.5 percent as in New Hampshire, an unheard of margin of error for an exit poll. In Nevada, Ohio, New Mexico, and Iowa exit polls registered solid victories for Kerry, yet the official tally in each case went to Bush, a mystifying outcome.

In states that were not hotly contested the exit polls proved quite accurate. Thus exit polls in Utah predicted a Bush victory of 70.8 to 26.4 percent; the actual result was 71.1 to 26.4 percent. In Missouri, where the exit polls predicted a Bush victory of 54 to 46 percent, the final result was 53 to 46 percent.

One explanation for the strange anomalies in vote tallies was found in the widespread use of touchscreen electronic voting machines. These machines produced results that consistently favored Bush over Kerry, often in chillingly consistent contradiction to exit polls.

In 2003 more than 900 computer professionals had signed a petition urging that all touchscreen systems include a verifiable audit trail. Touchscreen voting machines can be easily programmed to go dead on election day or throw votes to the wrong candidate or make votes disappear while leaving the impression that everything is working fine.

A tiny number of operatives can easily access the entire computer network through one machine and thereby change votes at will. The touchscreen machines use trade secret code, and are tested, reviewed, and certified in complete secrecy. Verified counts are impossible because the machines leave no reliable paper trail.

Since the introduction of touchscreen voting, mysterious congressional election results have been increasing. In 2000 and 2002, Senate and House contests and state legislative races in North Carolina, Nebraska, Alabama, Minnesota, Colorado, and elsewhere produced dramatic and puzzling upsets, always at the expense of Democrats who were ahead in the polls.

In some counties in Texas, Virginia, and Ohio, voters who pressed the Democrat’s name found that the Republican candidate was chosen. In Cormal County, Texas, three GOP candidates won by exactly 18,181 votes apiece, a near statistical impossibility.

All of Georgia’s voters used Diebold touchscreen machines in 2002, and Georgia’s incumbent Democratic governor and incumbent Democratic senator, who were both well ahead in the polls just before the election, lost in amazing double-digit voting shifts.

This may be the most telling datum of all: In New Mexico in 2004 Kerry lost all precincts equipped with touchscreen machines, irrespective of income levels, ethnicity, and past voting patterns. The only thing that consistently correlated with his defeat in those precincts was the presence of the touchscreen machine itself.

In Florida Bush registered inexplicably sharp jumps in his vote (compared to 2000) in counties that used touchscreen machines.

Companies like Diebold, Sequoia, and ES&S that market the touchscreen machines are owned by militant supporters of the Republican party. These companies have consistently refused to implement a paper-trail to dispel suspicions and give instant validation to the results of electronic voting. They prefer to keep things secret, claiming proprietary rights, a claim that has been backed in court.

Election officials are not allowed to evaluate the secret software. Apparently corporate trade secrets are more important than voting rights. In effect, corporations have privatized the electoral system, leaving it easily susceptible to fixed outcomes. Given this situation, it is not likely that the GOP will lose control of Congress come November 2006. The two-party monopoly threatens to become an even worse one-party tyranny.

Michael Parenti's recent books include The Assassination of Julius Caesar (New Press), Superpatriotism (City Lights), and The Culture Struggle (Seven Stories Press). For more information visit: www.michaelparenti.org.

© 2006 The Columbus Free Press
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SOURCE:
The Smirking Chimp - Michael Parenti: 'The stolen election of 2004'

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