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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, September 16, 2006

New Clues in the Plame Mystery - Consortiumnews.com

A well-placed conservative source has added an important clue to the mystery of the Bush administration’s “outing” of CIA officer Valerie Plame after her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, became one of the first Establishment figures to accuse George W. Bush of having “twisted” intelligence to justify the Iraq War.

The source, who knows both White House political adviser Karl Rove and former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, told me that the two men are much closer than many Washington insiders understand, that they developed a friendship and a working relationship when Bush was recruiting Colin Powell to be Secretary of State.

In those negotiations, Armitage stood in for Powell and Rove represented Bush – and after that, the two men provided a back channel for sensitive information to pass between the White House and the State Department, the source said.

The significance of this detail is that it undermines the current “conventional wisdom” among Washington pundits that Armitage acted alone – and innocently – in July 2003 when he disclosed Plame’s covert identity to right-wing columnist Robert Novak, who then got Rove to serve as a secondary source confirming the information from Armitage.

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This new revelation that Armitage and Rove worked together behind the scenes also lends credence to Novak’s version of his contacts with Armitage and other administration officials, both as Novak sketched out those meetings in 2003 and then filled in the details in a column on Sept. 14, 2006.

A week after Novak revealed Plame’s identity in a July 14, 2003, column, he told Newsday that “I didn’t dig it out, it was given to me,” adding that Bush administration officials “thought it was significant, they gave me the name and I used it.” [Newsday, July 22, 2003]

In the Sept. 14, 2006, column, Novak wrote that Armitage divulged Plame’s identity toward the end of an hour-long interview on July 8, 2003. According to Novak, he asked Armitage, who was then deputy Secretary of State, why former Ambassador Wilson had been sent on the trip to Africa.

Novak wrote that Armitage “told me unequivocally that Mrs. Wilson worked in the CIA’s Counter-proliferation Division and that she had suggested her husband’s mission. As for his [Armitage’s] current implication that he [Armitage] never expected this to be published, he [Armitage] noted that the story of Mrs. Wilson’s role fit the style of the old Evans-Novak column – implying to me that it continued reporting Washington inside information.”

In other words, Novak is challenging the version spun out in the last two weeks by Armitage and his supporters who have claimed that Armitage let Plame’s name slip out “inadvertently,” almost as gossip, and never intended for it to be published.

When I asked my well-placed conservative source about that scenario, he laughed and said, “Armitage isn’t a gossip, but he is a leaker. There’s a difference.”

Nevertheless, the Armitage version was embraced by leading Washington pundits as the final proof that Rove and the White House had gotten a bum rap on the Plame affair. Washington Post columnist David Broder even demanded that those who had implicated Rove in what appeared to be a dirty trick “owe Karl Rove an apology.”

But the new information from Novak’s column and my conservative source points to a very different conclusion: that Armitage was much more part of the White House team than the “conventional wisdom” understood and that Broder and other big-time pundits were snookered again.

Key Timing Question

Novak also contradicted the Armitage scenario on another key point, that Novak supposedly had arranged the interview with the help of longtime Republican operative Kenneth Duberstein. Instead, Novak reported that Armitage’s granting of the interview came out of the blue.

“During his quarter of a century in Washington, I had had no contact with Armitage before our fateful interview,” Novak wrote in his Sept. 14, 2006, column. “I tried to see him in the first 2 ½ years of the Bush administration, but he rebuffed me – summarily and with disdain, I thought.

“Then, without explanation, in June 2003, Armitage’s office said the deputy secretary would see me.” [Emphasis added]

Novak dated that call from Armitage’s office at about two weeks before Wilson published his July 6, 2003, Op-Ed in the New York Times, entitled, “What I Didn’t Find in Africa.” The time frame of the call fits with when the White House was initiating a preemptive strike against Wilson’s anticipated criticism of Bush’s bogus claims about Iraq seeking uranium ore from Niger.

On June 23, 2003, also two weeks before Wilson’s article, Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, Lewis Libby, gave an interview to New York Times reporter Judith Miller about Wilson and, according to a later retrospective by the Times, may then have passed on the tip that Wilson’s wife worked at the CIA.

In other words, just as Bush’s operatives were launching their smear campaign against Wilson by briefing “friendly” reporters, Armitage reversed his longstanding refusal to meet with Novak and “without explanation” granted an interview. During that interview, according to Novak, Armitage encouraged him to write about Plame’s identity, much as Rove and Libby were doing with other journalists simultaneously.

After the Armitage interview, Novak got confirmation about his highly sensitive tip – a covert CIA officer’s identity – from Rove, who – according to my conservative source – had been working behind the scenes sharing sensitive information with Armitage since the earliest days of the Bush administration.

Despite all that’s been written on the Plame affair, there has never been an adequate explanation of why the President’s political adviser would ever have been granted access to a detail as discrete and dangerous as the identity of a CIA officer, the kind of information that is traditionally disseminated only on a strict need-to-know basis.

In this case, that “need to know” may have been that the Bush administration put discrediting and damaging Joe Wilson ahead of protecting the identity of a covert officer and her undercover operation, which involved investigating the spread of dangerous weapons in the Middle East.

These new clues in the Plame mystery suggest that – contrary to Washington’s “conventional wisdom” which holds that Armitage’s confession clears Rove and the White House of wrongdoing – Armitage may have simply been another participant in the ugly scheme.

[For a more details on the Plame case and Washington’s misguided consensus on the story, see Consortiumnews.com’s “U.S. Press Bigwigs Screw Up, Again.”]

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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Philosophers' Playground: Economic Justice and Caging

Our friend Oxymoronic Philosopher has a very nice meditation on an editorial by Beth Shulman -- well worth the read. It was in thinking about a point made in Shulman's wonderful book, The Betrayal of Work, that I first realized the rhetorical trick I have come to call "caging."

Caging is a way to defeat policy proposals on a set of related issues by designing public discourse in a way that makes sure that those issues never get raised. This is the rhetorical version of an intentional walk in baseball -- you don't deal with the next batter in the order, you decide who you want to pitch to. You take a whole segment of the political discussion and put it in a cage, letting out only that single issue you want in front of the public. As long as the chosen topic has an air of contention and you can spark passionate debate around it (the louder, the better), the single issue will draw all the attention and no one will notice everything you've artfully kept off the table.

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CONTINUED:

We discussed a couple of examples a few weeks ago (see the link for the difference between caging and framing). On the morally wrong side of the civil rights movement? No problem, just make sure that the only discussion around race and justice that you let out of the cage is affirmative action. That will be enough to use up all the activist oxygen in the room and the rest of the concerns just disappear. Getting your moral butt kicked over questions of gender fairness and women's rights? Just take all of it and put it in a cage, only letting out abortion. In order to defend abortion, women's organizations and advocates will devote all their time and effort to that fight and not push forward on other fronts. In fact, within the abortion debate itself, we've seen caging. Don't discuss all of abortion, the only procedure worth talking about is D&C that is done in the last trimester. Reduce the whole reduced matter even further. How low will you go? Seen as bad guys for preferring corporate profits at the expense of God's green Earth? No biggie -- just put all ecological issues in a cage and only let out National Parks and drilling in ANWR. All those green groups will have their focus pulled off of the other nasty things the contributor to your campaign are doing to save a piece of land in nowhere Alaska.

What Shulman points out in The Betrayal of Work is the caging that we see around questions of economic justice. She begins by pointing out that we have a whole slew of underpaid positions where people work hard for long hours and still are unable to achieve a humane standard of living. In the Clinton welfare reform mania, the argument peddled was Reagan's updated version of the Protestant work ethic -- all people who could work should work because working was the honorable way to feed one's family. Employment in the larger market economy was seen as a moral imperative. Any able bodied person who was not contributing to the marketplace, by virtue of not contributing to the overall financial structure of our nation, is a despicable person not deserving of concern or help regardless of personal circumstances. Using phrases like "family values," raising one's children was not seen as legitimate work because you were not punching a time clock and selling your labor to someone who could profit from it.

Now, those people who insist that all people work jobs -- any jobs -- in order to support their families, must surely also argue that anyone who follows their advice and works full time in a position in the marketplace should be able to feed his or, more often, her family, right? I mean if you are arguing that working any job is imperative for living a decent life, then one ought to be able to live a decent life while working any job. It seems logically and ethically necessary for those who championed welfare reform to also stand strongly in favor of a mandatory livable wage...um...well...it would seem that way wouldn't it...

But those folks, in fact, are by in large not in favor of progressively dealing with these questions and oppose remedies for purely financial reasons (follow the money...follow the political contributions...(cough)Chamber of Commerce(cough)morally bankrupt?(cough)...). How should we deal with this moral hotspot?

Why, cage it, of course.

The only issue we will allow on the floor is worker retraining. If people are in dead end low paying jobs, we'll talk about nothing other than how to get them more education so they can get better jobs. This seems caring, this seems compassionate. We are giving them a hand to reach the ladder so they can climb up the social hierarchy by themselves. We are teaching them to fish. What could be nicer?

But notice what is left in the cage... Let's set aside all of the problems of child care, how they can afford to go without a paycheck while training, their anxiety towards schooling in the first place,..., and say for the sake of argument that these job training programs are successful for many of these workers and they do leave to become data entry folks or nursing assistants and get slightly higher pay. Do the dead end jobs they left suddenly vanish like Siegfried and Roy's scantily dressed assistant?

Of course not, they are filled by someone else who is now caught in the horrible situation of the working poor. There will always be people in these jobs. Training some people to do other jobs is a red herring that takes our eyes off of the questions about how to humanely treat those who fill these jobs. Those poorly paid jobs, many with no benefits, will always have people in them and instead of asking the hard question about economic justice, we are led to questions of job training and whether it ought to be church-based groups that offer it, tax credits,... Et voila, POOF, what happened to the discussions of minimum wage increases, about mandatory livable wages, about guaranteed health insurance,...? Where are they? You'll find them, of course, in the cage, right where they know you won't look. posted by SteveG @ 6:06 AM
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SOURCE:


Philosophers' Playground: Economic Justice and Caging


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Philosophers' Playground: Happy Birthday Bob Newhart

This weekend's Comedist meditation focuses on Bob Newhart, whose birthday just past. Newhart has had a couple of very successful tv series and before that was a wonderful stand-up. Through it all, he was able to do something quite remarkable; he is world's funniest straightman. He has the magical ability to be very funny without actually saying things that are funny. He comes across as the world's last sane man and we laugh not at him, but at the absurdity of the universe we inhabit with him when he shows it to us through his eyes.

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In both of his programs and his stand-up, Newhart was funniest when he said nothing. His foil would make some bizarre statement that begged for a clever retort and, instead, he would just let it hang there. With his furrowed brow, the pregnant pause was funnier than any snappy comeback ever could be. The humor was not in the actual response, but in the open potentiality for what it could be. His most classic stand-up bits were phone conversations where we would only hear his side of the discussion. The funnyman -- Newhart's Gracie Allen or Lou Costello --didn't even exist, yet he could absolutely kill. The joke was in the absence of the joke.

The 14th century German theologian, Meister Eckhart, is associated with has come to be called "negative theology." Eckhart argued that God was too big to fit into human language and that the real God exists not in what is said, but what is unsaid. With our language, we cannot say what God is, only what God is not. We learn the inexpressible affirmative through negating the expressible negative. Newhart is to Comedist theology what Eckhart is to Christian theology. Bob Newhart is the great negative comedian. He has been able to create magnificent humor with nothing but straight lines. From the denial of comedy, comes comedy. Only a true genius could operate in this fashion.

Thank you, Bob Newhart, and a heartfelt button-down birthday to one of the greats.

Irreverend Steve

posted by SteveG @ 4:04 PM
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SOURCE:
Philosophers' Playground: Happy Birthday Bob Newhart


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Nulon Products Australia - "Start Ya Bastard" Instant Engine Starter


OooOooh...Condi. You came into my life and you conquered............click on picture to "embiggen" view.

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"Those who would sacrifice their liberty for safety deserve neither." - Ben Franklin.........click on picture to "embiggen" view.

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You need a Hummer.........click on picture to "embiggen" view.

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Pure Torture.........click on picture to "embiggen" view.

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Bad Reporter.........click on picture to "embiggen" view.

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U.S. Apocalyptic Vulnerabilities.........click on picture to "embiggen" view.

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Political Science 101.........click on picture to "embiggen" view.

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Federal Appeals Court: Driving With Money is a Crime

StarWars: The Force is a Tool of Satan - Episode III ALERT!

One of a kind house for sale - Fortress/Bomb Shelter

Clever Crows!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Congress Rejects Aid For Sick 9/11 Responders: Puts Financial Safety Over Human Safety | Tortdeform

Yesterday, Republican Senators blocked Senator Clinton's proposal to fund almost 2 billion for medical treatment for sick 9/11 responders. As reported in NYC's Daily News:

Senate leaders invoked parliamentary rules, saying Sen. Hillary Clinton's (D-N.Y.)amendment to a measure funding port security was not "germane." NY Daily News

As I have repeatedly explained this past week (1,2,3), the federal government’s response to the environmental effect of the WTC Ground Zero site almost precisely follow the profits over safety business model sometimes adopted by corporations.

This recent denial of comprehensive funding by the Senate further supports this characterization of the governmental response. In the wake of 9/11, federal officials downplayed and affirmatively misrepresented the danger of exposure to the WTC Ground Zero site.

I have previously gone into detail about just how reckless federal officials' conduct appears to have been. Others have also provided additional details. Congressmembers are urging criminal that charges be brought against Christine Todd Whitman, the Bush appointed former EPA chief who made the most forceful public misrepresentations that the site was safe. Indeed, A NY federal court recently found that her conduct "shocked the contemporary conscience" and waived the usually granted governmental immunity.

In short, it is clear that federal officials misrepresented the danger at ground zero, and I and others have argued that they did so, at least in large part, to save money.

So, after it is clear beyond a doubt that government officials are responsible for knowingly endangering the public health, this same federal government refuses to pay for the effects of its error.

Why?

How can you not pay to undue a wrong that you committed? Clearly, the EPA can't blame anybody else. Christine Todd Whitman said, and I quote:

"As we continue to monitor air and drinking water in and around New York City, and as EPA gets more comprehensive analysis of this monitoring data, I am relieved to be able to reassure New York and New Jersey residents that a host of potential contaminants are either not detectable or are below the Agency's concern levels….Results we have just received on drinking water quality show that not only is asbestos not detectable, but also we cannot detect any bacterial contamination, PCBs or pesticides." Christine Todd Whitman Sept. 21, 2001.

Even while her agency's own testing directly contradicted that statement.

In her more than 80 page decision, Federal Judge Deborah Batts denied Whitman immunity against the class action lawsuit and said:

"No reasonable person would have thought that telling thousands of people that it was safe to return to lower Manhattan, while knowing that such return could pose long-term health risks and other dire consequences, was conduct sanctioned by our laws....The allegations in this case of Whitman's reassuring and misleading statements of safety after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks are without question conscience-shocking."

What about the usual conservative mantra of personal responsibility?

What about governmental responsibility?

No, it's too expensive.

As I have said before, this approach to governance follows the profits over safety business model currently being advanced by the tort "reform" movement. An alternative description of this model can be "the political economy of the tort 'reform' movement."

This model is described in detail here, but a summarized version is below.

In short, an entity which makes a decision on account of profits or savings which it knows will likely endanger human life.

However, when human health and well being is negatively affected as the entity knew was likely to occur, this entity cries foul and says that righting this wrong (even if a worthy cause) would be "too expensive."

In denying this 1.9 billion in federal funding for treatment of 9/11 responders, the Republican controlled Congress did exactly that.

I’m tired of hearing about personal responsibility.

Let’s talk about collective responsibility.

Let’s talk about a responsibility to some of our nation’s greatest heroes, as well as to all Americans who are put in harm’s way by the reckless choices of government officials.

Let’s talk about putting human safety….. over financial safety.

If you or your organization is interested in learning more about or working on these types of civil justice issues, please feel free to contact me at cdugger@drummajorinstitute.org.


Cyrus Dugger
Senior Fellow in Civil Justice
Drum Major Institute for Public Policy

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SOURCE:



Congress Rejects Aid For Sick 9/11 Responders: Puts Financial Safety Over Human Safety | Tortdeform

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Bush Keeps Failing His Troops in Iraq - by Jerald Albrecht and Coleen Rowley

The administration put service members in harm's way despite a puny threat, then cut and run from its responsibilities to them.
Duty. Honor. Country. For some, the West Point creed has become a cliché. But for 130,000-plus American soldiers in Iraq, these words mean a great deal.

It's easy for those of us leading comfortable lives at home to forget about those serving in Iraq, the stresses they daily endure, and the horrors they have witnessed. It's also easy to forget that they are volunteers; they chose to leave friends and family behind to defend and preserve our way of life, at the cost of their own lives if necessary.

The value of their commitment cannot be overstated. Neither can the responsibility the commander in chief owes our troops in return, a responsibility never to frivolously squander their commitment, never to put them in harm's way except at utmost need. Unfortunately, George W. Bush has shamefully failed in this responsibility.

Bush first failed the troops when he put them in harm's way despite knowing that the threat from Iraq was practically nonexistent. He then failed to provide them with the tools to succeed: no plan to secure the peace, insufficient body armor, questionable support from Dick Cheney's Halliburton cronies and one-third the number of troops necessary to get the job done. But most shameful of all has been the willingness of Bush and the GOP leadership to use our troops as a tool for political gain.

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It is no coincidence that Congress voted on the use of force against Iraq less than a month before the 2002 elections, or that John Kerry's votes on Iraq became the crucial fodder of the 2004 campaign, or that every prominent figure who has openly questioned the conduct of the war found their patriotism called into question. Partisan use of the troops continues again in 2006, with "cut and run" on the tip of every GOP loyalist's tongue heading into November.

To Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and other supporters of the U.S. occupation of Iraq, any action other than "staying the course" is defeatism or appeasement. But it is the war supporters who have surrendered our military might and treasure to the failed neocon notion of world domination through unilateral strength of arms.

They have offered up our volunteer military machine to the sands of Iraq with no understanding of who we are fighting, how we should fight them, and whose support we can expect to have. The Bush administration has left our military twisting in the wind -- both at home and abroad.

Since the occupation began, Iraq has been on a slow, inexorable slide toward civil war; our two top generals in the region recently testified that the current situation in Iraq is the worst it's ever been.

Basic necessities like electricity, oil and drinkable water are harder to come by than they were in Saddam Hussein's time. Kidnappings, roadside bombings and beheadings are daily occurrences. Our troops know that death could come at any time, from IEDs or from insurgents lurking among Iraqi civilians.

As a consequence of the chaos, the killing of innocent Iraqis has become routine. A newly released Marine Corps report shows the United States has lost Iraq's Anbar province.

And when veterans return from Iraq, they learn the harsh reality of how their government has cut and run from its responsibilities to them. They return to fewer health care benefits, pitiful job prospects -- except possibly as private military contractors for more duty in Iraq -- and shattered lives and families.

Despite overwhelming evidence that Iraq's stability has been steadily eroding, Bush has made his intentions clear: He expects our troops to "stay the course" until he leaves office -- nearly three more years.

Hundreds of thousands of our soldiers went to Iraq because of their belief in "Duty, honor, country," and almost 2,700 have given their lives for it. To demand that they remain on an increasingly chaotic and deadly course to serve the political ends of the GOP is a shabby way to honor their sacrifice.

Jerald Albrecht, Prior Lake, is a retired major general of the Army Reserve. Coleen Rowley, Apple Valley, is the Democratic candidate for Congress in Minnesota's Second District.

Copyright © 2006 Star-Tribune
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SOURCE:
Bush Keeps Failing His Troops in Iraq


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Cesspool - by Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman

Ah, the cesspool.

That would, of course, be Congress.

Aka Capitol Hill.

We caught a whiff of the cesspool the other day when a group of corporate liberals announced that they were going to launch yet another "newspaper" to cover the cesspool.

Millionaire media mogul Robert Allbritton and journalist Martin Tolchin have teamed up to launch something they will call The Capitol Leader.

The Capitol Leader will begin publishing on November 21 and will join an already crowded field consisting of Roll Call, The Hill, the National Journal and Congressional Quarterly.

Allbritton succeeded his father, Joe L. Allbritton, as chief executive at the Washington, D.C.-based Riggs Bank. Riggs, you may recall, was sold in 2004 after it pled guilty to criminal charges related to illegally operating bank accounts for former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, and routinely ignoring evidence of corrupt practices in managing more than 60 accounts for the government of Equatorial Guinea.

Junior is now runs Allbritton Communications Co. -- which owns two local DC television stations -- and is set to be publisher of the Capitol Leader.

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CONTINUED:

Tolchin is a former New York Times correspondent who co-founded the Hill in 1994.

"There is so much going on up there that there's definitely room for another publication, and probably many more publications," Tolchin told the Washington Post. "I don't think we'll be the last."

Indeed, it won't.

And although there's surely a lot of fodder for investigative reporting on the Hill, that's not why.

It's about corporate advertising.

These Capitol Hill publications are fundamentally high-priced corporate issue-ad delivery devices to our anesthetized elected representatives. Members and staff on the Hill read the publications, so corporations know that if they take out ads in them, they reach a very select audience.

Let's look at the September 12, 2006 44-page issue of Roll Call.

It ran 19 full-page ads -- 16 of them from corporate sponsors. (The other three were ads by TIAA-CREF, Roll Call itself (promoting a Congressional basketball game), and the Alaska Wilderness League.)

The 16 full-page corporate advertisers were:

* National Cable & Telecommunications Association
* American Hospital Association
* American Petroleum Institute
* Mywireless.org (a front group for the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association)
* Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America
* Shell Oil
* Coalition for Community Pharmacy Action (a front group for the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacists Association)
* Global Military Aircraft Systems, AleniaNorthAmerica, L3 Communications and Boeing ("The C-27J JCA Is Needed Now More Than Ever.")
* American Iron and Steel Institute ("More steel is recycled each year than all other materials combined.")
* Genentech
* Lockheed Martin
* National Association of Realtors
* The Auto Alliance (BMW, DaimlerChrysler, Ford Motor, General Motors, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Porsche, Toyota, Volkswagen) ("9 Million Alternative Fuel Vehicles and Counting")
* USA For Innovation (corporate front group headed by Ken Adelman)
* TV For Us (wewantchoice.com)(telecommunications astroturf group)
* American Chemisty Council

On September 11, 2006, Roll Call carried a special 40-page B section titled "What's Next -- Guide to Congress." (The newspaper itself for that day was itself 40 pages).

This "What's Next" section carried 10 full-page ads -- nine from corporate sponsors and one from George Washington University.

Here were the corporate ads that ran in the aptly named Guide to Congress:

* Federalist Group -- An Ogilvy PR Worldwide Company ("From Capitol Hill to Main Street -- Getting Your Voice into the Conversation is Critical to Success.")
* Investment Company Institute ("Mutual Funds -- the Retirement Investment of Choice.")
* American Medical Association ("Congress Must Stop Medicare Physician Cuts Before Leaving for the November Elections.")
* Southern Company ("Why Are We Investing More Than $6 Billion in Cleaner Energy? It's Our Backyard Too.")
* DRS Technologies ("Keeping Watch -- Threat and Intelligence Surveillance, Critical Infrastructure Protection, Maritime Security, Border Management")
* National Apartment Association ("Because Not Every Home Is a House.")
* Dow Chemical Company ("Meet the Element of Change.")
* American Health Care Association (nursing homes)
* Bosch (auto parts conglomerate)

Today's 36-page The Hill (September 24, 2006) newspaper carried 13 pages of corporate ads. They are:

* National Cable and Telecommunications Association ("Cable Delivers Today. Why Wait?")
* Shell Oil Company. ("Lance Nacio is proud his office is the Gulf of Mexico, where the seafood and energy industries exist side by side.")
* American Petroleum Institute ("It's time for Congress to put our offshore oil and natural gas resources to work for America.")
* AstraZeneca (A two-page ad -- "AstraZeneca is the first pharmaceutical company to join the FDA Alliance -- a coalition committed to a strong, effective and well-funded Food and Drug Administration.")
* American Health Care Alliance (nursing home industry -- "A special thanks to our nation's governors -- and a majority of the U.S. Congress -- for standing up for our frail elderly by opposing deep cuts to nursing home care.")
* Nuclear Energy Institute ("Pass Yucca Mountain Legislation Now!")
* ProtectingAmerica.org (Insurance industry and others)
* National Association of Realtors ("Congress -- Pass Small Business Health Plans")
* Lasker Foundation and Research America (primarily pharmaceutical industry supported) ("2006 Candidates -- Your constituents want to know.")
* KnowLegis ("free e-mail alerts to put you in the know")
* Bobby Van's Steakhouse ("Best porterhouse in town, five years in a row.")
* United Technologies ("There's something in it for all of us.")

While these papers do an admirable job covering the nuts and bolts of the legislative process, including how big business influences policy-making, they have actually become part of the influence game itself.

Roll Call has a circulation of 18,000.

A full-page ad in Roll Call costs $10,175.

Unless you want the back page in color -- then you are talking about a premium.

But don't ask about the back page. It's booked for the foreseeable future.

That's why Marti Tolchin and Robert Allbritton are salivating.

Not because they want to recreate the next I.F. Stone's Weekly.

But because they want to run another K Street Weekly.

Ching.

Ching.

Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter, http://www.corporatecrimereporter.com. Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Multinational Monitor, http://www.multinationalmonitor.org. Mokhiber and Weissman are co-authors of On the Rampage: Corporate Predators and the Destruction of Democracy (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press).

Copyright © 2006 Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman
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SOURCE:
Cesspool


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Lawyer says FCC ordered study destroyed

By JOHN DUNBAR Associated Press Writer
© 2006 The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission ordered its staff to destroy all copies of a draft study that suggested greater concentration of media ownership would hurt local TV news coverage, a former lawyer at the agency says.

The report, written in 2004, came to light during the Senate confirmation hearing for FCC Chairman Kevin Martin.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. received a copy of the report "indirectly from someone within the FCC who believed the information should be made public," according to Boxer spokeswoman Natalie Ravitz.

Adam Candeub, now a law professor at Michigan State University, said senior managers at the agency ordered that "every last piece" of the report be destroyed. "The whole project was just stopped _ end of discussion," he said. Candeub was a lawyer in the FCC's Media Bureau at the time the report was written and communicated frequently with its authors, he said.

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CONTINUED:

In a letter sent to Martin Wednesday, Boxer said she was "dismayed that this report, which was done at taxpayer expense more than two years ago, and which concluded that localism is beneficial to the public, was shoved in a drawer."

Martin said he was not aware of the existence of the report, nor was his staff. His office indicated it had not received Boxer's letter as of midafternoon Thursday.

In the letter, Boxer asked whether any other commissioners "past or present" knew of the report's existence and why it was never made public. She also asked whether it was "shelved because the outcome was not to the liking of some of the commissioners and/or any outside powerful interests?"

The report, written by two economists in the FCC's Media Bureau, analyzed a database of 4,078 individual news stories broadcast in 1998. The broadcasts were obtained from Danilo Yanich, a professor and researcher at the University of Delaware, and were originally gathered by the Pew Foundation's Project for Excellence in Journalism.

The analysis showed local ownership of television stations adds almost five and one-half minutes of total news to broadcasts and more than three minutes of "on-location" news. The conclusion is at odds with FCC arguments made when it voted in 2003 to increase the number of television stations a company could own in a single market. It was part of a broader decision liberalizing ownership rules.

At that time, the agency pointed to evidence that "commonly owned television stations are more likely to carry local news than other stations."

When considering whether to loosen rules on media ownership, the agency is required to examine the impact on localism, competition and diversity. The FCC generally defines localism as the level of responsiveness of a station to the needs of its community.

The 2003 action sparked a backlash among the public and within Congress. In June 2004, a federal appeals court rejected the agency's reasoning on most of the rules and ordered it to try again. The debate has since been reopened, and the FCC has scheduled a public hearing on the matter in Los Angeles on Oct. 3.

The report was begun after then-Chairman Michael Powell ordered the creation of a task force to study localism in broadcasting in August of 2003. Powell stepped down from the commission and was replaced by Martin in March 2005. Powell did not return a call seeking comment.

The authors of the report, Keith Brown and Peter Alexander, both declined to comment. Brown has left public service while Alexander is still at the FCC. Yanich confirmed the two men were the authors. Both have written extensively on media and telecommunications policy.

Yanich said the report was "extremely well done. It should have helped to inform policy."

Boxer's office said if she does not receive adequate answers to her questions, she will push for an investigation by the FCC inspector general.
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SOURCE:
Lawyer says FCC ordered study destroyed


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Bush Push in Congress a Sign of Fear and Weakness - by Dave Lindorff

The Bush administration's full-court press against the Constitution is on, with the president getting closer to Senate, and possibly full Congressional approval of his warrantless spying program by the National Security Agency, and with a lobbying campaign on to get his program for kangaroo courts and life-time detention without trial for terror "war" detainees approved by Congress.

It's staggering to see this happening after a federal court just ruled that NSA spying without a show of probable cause is a violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the Fourth Amendment, and after the US Supreme Court just ruled that Bush was in violation of the Geneva Convention on the Treatment of POWs for refusing to treat the detainees at Guantanamo in accordance with US and International Law.

One might think this to be a case of a powerful president just steamrolling the courts and the Congress, but I think it is not a sign of strength, but rather the desperate act of a man who sees impeachment in his future, and who is acting while he can to try to cover up a few of his crimes.

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For while the list of this president's crimes against the Constitution, the Republic and the People of the United States is long and ugly, the truth is that the two areas where he is the most vulnerable to impeachment are precisely the two that he is working so hard now to make go away: the warrantless NSA spying program and the abuse of the detainees at Guantanamo and elsewhere.

This is because the president has already been found, in the first instance by a federal district court judge, and in the second by the full Supreme Court, to be a criminal (if you violate the law, you are by definition a criminal). It's just that as president he cannot simply be indicted and put on trial. That's why we have impeachment.

Bush and his legal adviser, the ethically and morally challenged Attorney General Alberto Golzales, who heads what is still officially called the "Justice" Department, but which has become more of an Enabling Department at this point, both know that if the House of Representatives is captured by the Democrats in November (only 15 seats need to change hands), there almost certainly will be impeachment hearings against the president. They know too that even Republican control of the Senate is at risk, which would make changing laws in his favor impossible.

This means that if they want to change the laws so that the president's crimes against the Constitution can be retroactively made legal, the sleight-of-hand needs to be completed in the next eight weeks, while the Republicans are firmly in charge of both houses of Congress.

Democrats are foolishly allowing this to happen, afraid to look "weak on terror," the charge that was leveled against them in the 2002 and 2204 campaigns. Their strategy, if it even deserves such a weighty characterization, is to lie low, and let Republicans debate among themselves the merits of letting the president spy on Americans at will without first clearing it with a judge, and of letting him institute detention without trial, and trial without the right to face one's accuser and to know the evidence being used to convict.

These are both terrible precedents to be setting, and Republicans and Democrats in Congress all know it. Hundreds of thousands of American patriots have died defending the Bill of Rights, and here we see a craven president, a lock-step Republican Congress and a cowardly Democratic opposition colluding to trash three of those treasured amendments in a flurry of pre-election activity.

The good news is that it probably won't work.

Even if the president succeeds in twisting enough arms to win approval for his kangaroo court at Guantanamo, it will not erase the fact that for five years he has held captives (including children as young as 7!) from the War in Afghanistan and from his program of kidnapping people all around the world in detention without recourse to a legitimate tribunal, and without protection from torture and abuse, all in violation of not only the Geneva Conventions, but of U.S. criminal law. Even if he succeeds in getting the law changed to allow him to spy on Americans without a warrant, Congress has no power to waive the Fourth Amendment, which requires probable cause before the government can seize property and monitor communications.

Furthermore, there is that huge list of other crimes, ranging from the president's refusal to provide information demanded by Congress and by the 9-11 Commission regarding what the administration knew and did before and during the 9-11 attacks, to his lying about the reasons for invading Iraq and his willful invalidating of over 850 laws or parts of laws passed by Congress (the signing statements).

That said, the Democratic Party is making a huge and historic mistake by urging Congressional Democrats to sit on their hands while Republicans debate these crucial issues, and by having campaigning candidates for Congress duck the issue of President Bush's impeachable crimes. First of all, it is insulting the intelligence of the American voter for Democrats to pretend, as does House minority leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), that impeachment will be 'off the table' if Democrats retake the House in November. Of course Democrats will hold impeachment hearings in November; they will have to, if only to challenge the president's claim that he can ignore acts of Congress by issuing 'signing statements.'

Second, it is simply stupid politics. For over a year, the Democratic leadership has been flailing around trying to find a rallying cry that could energize and excite the Democratic base to increase voter turnout this November. So far this effort has been a dismal failure. Unable to take a stand on Iraq, they have turned to their usual grab-bag of failed 'wedge' mini-issues--stem cell research, education funding, gas prices and the like - all to little effect. And yet here's impeachment is staring them in the face. An overwhelming majority of Democrats want this president impeached - for the Iraq War, for defiling the constitution, for messing up in New Orleans, for authorizing torture, and for being a dolt. Polls suggest that a majority of all voters and a sizeable chunk of Republican voters agree, if for different reasons (many genuine conservatives are aghast at the president's trashing of the constitution).

Why don't Democrats just try standing up for a change and make 'Impeach the president!' their campaign slogan for the fall? Heck, they could even appropriate Neal Young's song 'Let's impeach the President' as a campaign anthem.

While I don't expect to see that happen - Democratic leaders are too afraid of their own shadows - the good news is that Bush has screwed things up so badly, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and here at home, that it may not matter. The Democrats may win back Congress by default. And then I think Bush has it right. He will face impeachment because as cowardly as the Democrats may be, they will have no choice but to do the right thing.

Dave Lindorff is co-author with Barbara Olshansky of 'The Case for Impeachment' (st. Martin's Press, 2006). His work can be found at www.thiscantbehappening.net On Sunday, 9/17, Lindorff will be speaking at 10 am on the National Mall
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SOURCE:
Bush Push in Congress a Sign of Fear and Weakness


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Dirty Dozen: The Pentagon's 12-Step Program to Create a Military of Misfits

by Nick Turse

Military recruiting in 2006 has been marked by upbeat pronouncements from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, claims of success by the White House, propaganda releases by the Pentagon, and a spate of recent press reports touting the way the military has made its wo/manpower goals.

But the armed forces have only met with success through a fundamental "transformation," and not the transformation of the military -- that "co-evolution of concepts, processes, organizations and technology" -- Rumsfeld is always talking about either.

While the Secretary of Defense's longstanding goal of transforming the planet's most powerful military into its highest tech, most agile, most futuristic fighting force has, in the words of the Washington Post's David Von Drehle, "melted away," the very makeup of the Armed Forces has been mutating before our collective eyes under the pressure of the war in Iraq. This actual transformation has been reported, but only in scattered articles on the new recruitment landscape in America.

Last year, despite NASCAR, professional bull-riding, and Arena Football sponsorships; popular video games that doubled as recruiting tools; TV commercials dripping with seductive scenes of military glory; a "joint marketing communications and market research and studies" program actively engaged in measures to target for military service Hispanics, drop outs, and those with criminal records; and at least $16,000 in promotional costs for each soldier it managed to sign up, the U.S. military failed to meet its recruiting goals. This year those methods have been pumped up and taken over the top in twelve critical areas of recruitment that make the old Army ad-line, "Be All That You Can Be," into material for late night TV punch lines of the future.

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1. Hard Sell

When not trolling for potential soldiers via video games, websites, or most recently the social networking site MySpace.com and text messaging, the Armed Forces employ recruiters who use old-fashioned hard-sell tactics to cajole impressionable teens into enlisting. Recently, one New Jersey mother told her local newspaper about the Army's persistence in targeting her 17-year old daughter. When the mother finally asked the Army to stop calling her child, the recruiter argued vigorously against it. The mother, who otherwise praised the military, was nonetheless aghast at the recruiter's tactics. "That's what frightened and enraged me. This military person telling me that I have no rights over my child," she said.

Teens are also subject to military advertising and high-pressure tactics at school. The Boston Globe recently wrote that recruiters were now setting up booths in "cafeterias in high schools across the nation." While the State Journal-Register of Springfield, Illinois reported that local recruiters were "visiting each school about every three to four weeks." At one school, administrators were forced to "clam[p] down on aggressive recruiters" and bar at least one from ever returning to campus.

2. Green to Gray

The military has always filled its rolls primarily by targeting the young, but these days the "old" are in its sights, too. In 2005, the Army Reserves increased their maximum enlistment age from 35 to 40; then, later that year, to 42. This year, regular Army green went grayer as well with a similar two-step increase that boosted active duty enlistment eligibility to 42 years.

3. Back-Door Draft

Another group of old-timers has recently been targeted by the military: the Marine Corps Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) -- troops who have left active-duty status and transitioned back into civilian life. In August, the Marines announced that they would begin making up for a shortage of volunteers by "dipping into [this] rarely used pool of troops to fill growing personnel gaps in units scheduled to deploy in coming months." As the Boston Globe noted, it was "the first time since the invasion of Iraq three years ago that Marine commanders have taken the extraordinary step of drafting back into uniform those who have left the ranks."

For its part, the Army, according to the Washington Post, "has used its IRR several times since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. It has mobilized about 5,000 soldiers from that pool over the past five years, most of them since the middle of 2004." CBS News reports that, from the Army Reserve, "approximately 14,000 soldiers on IRR status have been called to active duty since March 2003 and about 7,300 have been deployed to Iraq."

4. Rubber-Stamp Promotions

Earlier this year, the Army admitted that, to maintain desperately needed numbers, it was forgoing almost any measure of quality when it came to its officer corps. According to 2005 Pentagon figures, 97% of all eligible captains were promoted to major -- a significant jump from the already historically high average of 70-80%. "The problem here is that you're not knocking off the bottom 20%," one high-ranking Army officer at the Pentagon told the Los Angeles Times. "Basically, if you haven't been court-martialed, you're going to be promoted to major." Despite near-guaranteed promotions, the San Antonio Express-News reported that the "Army expects to be short 2,500 captains and majors this year, with the number rising to 3,300 in 2007."

5. Foreign Legion

In July, testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness David S. C. Chu listed a series of inducements currently offered to get foreigners to risk life and limb for Uncle Sam. These included: "President Bush's executive order allowing non-citizens to apply for citizenship after only one day of active-duty military service," a streamlined application process for service members, and the elimination of "all application fees for non-citizens in the military."

While noting that approximately 40,000 non-citizens are already serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, Chu offered his own solution to the immigration crisis. With the services denied the possibility of a draft, he made a pitch for creating a true foreign legion from a group "potentially interested in military service," the "estimated 50,000 to 65,000 undocumented alien young adults who entered the U.S. at an early age." Chu then talked-up legislation like the DREAM Act -- which would give illegal aliens the opportunity to, among other options, join the military as a vehicle to conditional permanent resident status.

In addition to proposing a possible source of undocumented cannon fodder that might prove less disturbing to Americans than their own sons and daughters, Chu noted that the "military also has initiated several new programs, including opportunities for those with language skills, which may hold particular appeal for noncitizens." Just in case noncitizens aren't thrilled to the depths by the chance to serve with the occupation forces in Iraq, the Army promises expedited citizenship, quick advancement, and a host of other perks -- including a boatload of cash. In addition to "foreign language proficiency pay while on active duty," those willing to sell their "Middle-Eastern language skills and join the U.S. Army as a Translator Aide… in Iraq and Afghanistan" will receive an enlistment bonus of $10,000 -- a sizable sum given yearly per capita incomes in those countries which hover in the $800-$2000 range.

6. Mercenary Military

To solve its wo/manpower woes, the military has also enhanced its lure at home -- in the form of "more recruiters and more financial incentives." In some cases, this can mean enlistment bonuses as high as $40,000 for those documented but poor Americans looking to put themselves directly in harm's way for three years as an Army infantryman or explosive ordnance disposal specialist -- markedly more than 2005 per-capita yearly income for African Americans ($16,874), Hispanics ($14,483), and even non-Hispanic Whites ($28,946).

According to a recent Associated Press report, the Army is doling out yet more fistfuls of taxpayer dollars to entice troops to reenlist -- "an average bonus of $14,000, to eligible soldiers, for a total of $610 million in extra payments."

Marine reenlistees seem to rake in the biggest bucks of all. This July, Maj. Jerry Morgan, who runs the Selective Reenlistment Bonus Program, told Stars and Stripes that "the maximum bonus has been raised… to $60,000 for Marines" serving in five critical military occupational specialties.

Add to these sums promised benefits of up to $71,424 and $23,292, for active duty and reserve personnel respectively, to "help pay for college" and you've got a potentially life-changing bribe, provided you still have a life when that college acceptance finally comes through.

7. Abuse of Power

More recruiters waving more money has its pitfalls. Last year, amid a swirl of complaints as recruiters struggled to meet monthly goals (including tips to potential enlistees on how to pass drug tests), the Army suspended all recruiting activities for a one-day nationwide "stand down" to reexamine its methods and retrain its men. Just last month, however, the Government Accountability Office issued a report showing that "between fiscal years 2004 and 2005, allegations and service-identified incidents of recruiter wrongdoing increased, collectively, from 4,400 cases to 6,500 cases; substantiated cases increased from just over 400 to almost 630 cases; and criminal violations more than doubled from just over 30 to almost 70 cases."

What also came to light last month, courtesy of the Associated Press was this revelation: "More than 100 young women who expressed an interest in joining the military in the past year were preyed upon sexually by their recruiters." According to one of the victim's lawyers, a recruiter "said to her, outright, if you want to join the Marines, you have to have sex with me. She was a virgin. She was 17 years old." Another teenage victim spelled out the situation quite clearly, "The recruiter had all the power. He had the uniform. He had my future. I trusted him."

8. Civilian Headhunters

Not surprisingly, given tough times and an administration that never saw anything it couldn't imagine privatizing, the private headhunter has landed on the military recruitment landscape. According to Renae Merle of the Washington Post, as part of a pilot program that began in 2002, two Virginia-based companies, Serco and MPRI Inc., "have more than 400 recruiters assigned across the country, and have signed up more than 15,000 soldiers. They are paid about $5,700 per recruit."

While these companies rake in the recruitment money, the mercenary recruiters themselves reap cash bonuses, free gas cards, and suede jackets. They can augment their base salary by about $30,000 a year by successfully shuttling large numbers of aimless kids and others into the Armed Forces. As has been true with the military's use of private contractors in all sorts of roles in recent years, this step has drawn ire. According to Rep. Janice D. Schakowsky (D-Illinois), "The use of contractors for this sensitive purpose, dealing with the lives of young people, is troublesome." She was particularly worried by the lack of oversight. Quality-control has been another issue. While an Army report recommended continuing the $170 million program, it also noted that the civilian headhunters "enlisted a lower quality of recruit."

Yet the Army's less than complimentary assessment of the private sector's performance didn't sway its officials from announcing in August that they had awarded MPRI "a firm-fixed price requirements-type contract for $11,196,996 as the base-period portion of an estimated $34,272,571 contract (if all options are exercised) for recruiting services to… be performed at any of the Army's 1,700 recruiting stations nationwide."

9. How Low Can You Go?

Lowered standards have hardly remained the property of privateers these days. As Brad Knickerbocker of the Christian Science Monitor noted, "The Army has had to recruit more soldiers from the ‘lowest acceptable' category based on test scores, education levels, personal background, and other indicators of ability." Even Undersecretary of Defense Chu admitted in July that almost 40% of all military recruits scored in the bottom half of the Armed Forces' own aptitude test.

Other how-low-can-you-go indicators of the military's desperation are now regularly surfacing in news reports. Here are two examples:

Last year, the New York Times reported that two Ohio recruiters were quick to sign up a recruit "fresh from a three-week commitment in a psychiatric ward… even after the man's parents told them he had bipolar disorder -- a diagnosis that would disqualify him." After senior officers found out, the mentally ill man's enlistment was canceled, but in "[i]nterviews with more than two dozen recruiters in 10 states," the Times heard others talk of "concealing mental-health histories and police records," among other illicit practices.

In May of this year, the Oregonian reported that Army recruiters, using hard sell tactics and offering thousands of dollars in enlistment bonus money, signed up an autistic teenager "for the Army's most dangerous job: cavalry scout." The boy, who had been enrolled in "special education classes since preschool" and through "a special program for disabled workers…ha[d] a part-time job scrubbing toilets and dumping trash," didn't even know the U.S. was at war in Iraq until his parents explained it to him after he was first approached by a recruiter. Only following a flurry of negative publicity, did the Army announce that it would release the autistic teen from his enlistment obligation.

10. Armed and Considered Dangerous

In 2004, the Pentagon instituted a "Moral Waiver Study" whose seemingly benign goal was "to better define relationships between pre-Service behaviors and subsequent Service success." That turned out to mean opening the recruitment doors to potential enlistees with criminal records. In February of this year, the Baltimore Sun wrote that there was "a significant increase in the number of recruits with what the Army terms ‘serious criminal misconduct' in their background" -- a category that included: "aggravated assault, robbery, vehicular manslaughter, receiving stolen property and making terrorist threats." From 2004 to 2005, the number of those recruits had spiked by over 54%, while alcohol and illegal drug waivers, reversing a four-year downward trend, increased by over 13%.

In June, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that, under pressure to fill the ranks, the Army had been allowing in increasing numbers of "recruits convicted of misdemeanor crimes, according to experts and military records." In fact, as the military's own data indicated, "the percentage of recruits entering the Army with waivers for misdemeanors and medical problems has more than doubled since 2001."

One beneficiary of the Army's new moral-waiver policies gained a certain prominence this summer. After Steven D. Green, who served in the Army's 101st Airborne Division, was charged in a rape and quadruple murder in Mahmudiyah, Iraq, it was disclosed that he had been "a high-school dropout from a broken home who enlisted to get some direction in his life, yet was sent home early because of an ‘anti-social personality disorder.'" Recently, Eli Flyer, a former Pentagon senior military analyst and specialist on "the relationship between military recruiting and military misconduct" told Harper's Magazine that Green had actually "enlisted with a moral waiver for at least two drug- or alcohol-related offenses. He committed a third alcohol-related offense just before enlistment, which led to jail time, though this offense may not have been known to the Army when he enlisted."

With Green in jail awaiting trial, the Houston Chronicle reported in August that Army recruiters were trolling around the outskirts of a Dallas-area job fair for ex-convicts. "We're looking for high school graduates with no more than one felony on their record," one recruiter said.

The Army has even looked behind prison bars for fill-in recruits -- in one reported case, a "youth prison" in Ogden, Utah. Although Steven Price had asked to see a recruiter while still incarcerated and was "barely 17 when he enlisted last January," his divorced parents say "recruiters used false promises and forged documents to enlist him." While confusion exists about whether the boy's mother actually signed a parental consent form allowing her son to enlist, his "father apparently wasn't even at the signing, but his name is on the form too."

11. Gang Warfare

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, law enforcement officials report that the military is now "allowing more applicants with gang tattoos because they are under the gun to keep enlistment up." They also note that "gang activity may be rising among soldiers." The paper was provided with "photos of military buildings and equipment in Iraq that were vandalized with graffiti of gangs based in Chicago, Los Angeles and other cities."

Last month, the Sun-Times reported that a gang member facing federal charges of murder and robbery enlisted in the Marine Corps "while he was free on bond -- and was preparing to ship out to boot camp when Marine officials recently discovered he was under indictment." While this particular recruit was eventually booted from the Corps, a Milwaukee Police Detective and Army veteran, who serves on the federal drug and gang task force that arrested the would-be Marine, noted that other "[g]ang-bangers are going over to Iraq and sending weapons back… gang members are getting access to military training and weapons."

Earlier this year, it was reported that an expected transfer of 10,000-20,000 troops to Fort Bliss, Texas caused FBI and local law enforcement to fear "a turf war" between "members of the Folk Nation gang…[and] a criminal group that is already well-established in the area, Barrio Azteca." The New York Sun wrote that, according to one FBI agent, "Folk Nation, which was founded in Chicago and includes several branches using the name Gangster Disciples, has gained a foothold in the Army."

12. Trading Desert Camo for White Sheets

Another type of "gang" member has also begun to proliferate within the military, evidently thanks to lowered recruitment standards and an increasing urge by recruiters to look the other way. In July, a study by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks racist and right-wing militia groups, found that -- due to pressing manpower concerns -- "large numbers of neo-Nazis and skinhead extremists" are now serving the military. "Recruiters are knowingly allowing neo-Nazis and white supremacists to join the armed forces and commanders don't remove them from the military even after we positively identify them as extremists or gang members," said Scott Barfield, a Defense Department investigator quoted in the report.

The New York Times noted that the neo-Nazi magazine Resistance is actually recruiting for the U.S. military "urg[ing] skinheads to join the Army and insist on being assigned to light infantry units." As the magazine explained, "The coming race war and the ethnic cleansing to follow will be very much an infantryman's war… It will be house-to-house… until your town or city is cleared and the alien races are driven into the countryside where they can be hunted down and ‘cleansed.'"

Apparently, the recruiting push has worked. Barfield reported that he and other investigators have identified a network of neo-Nazi active-duty Army and Marine personnel spread across five military installations in five states. "They're communicating with each other about weapons, about recruiting, about keeping their identities secret, about organizing within the military." Little wonder that "Aryan Nations graffiti" is now apparently competing for space among American inner-city gang graffiti in Iraq.

Force Transformation

When the American war in Vietnam finally ground to a halt, the U.S. military was in a state of disarray, if not near-disintegration. Uniformed leaders vowed never-again to allow the military to be degraded to such a point.

A generation later, as the ever less appetizing-looking wars in Iraq and Afghanistan spiral on without end, an overstretched Army and Marine Corps have clearly become desperate. At a remarkable cost in dollars, effort, and lowered standards, recruiting and retention numbers are being maintained for now. The result: U.S. ground forces are increasingly made up of a motley mix of underage teens, old-timers, foreign fighters, gang-bangers, neo-Nazis, ex-cons, inferior officers and a host of near-mercenary troops, lured in or kept in uniform through big payouts and promises.

In the latter half of the Vietnam War, as the breakdown was occurring, American troops began to scrawl "UUUU" on their helmet liners -- an abbreviation that stood for "the unwilling, led by the unqualified, doing the unnecessary for the ungrateful." The U.S. ground forces of 2007 and beyond, fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan, or any other war du jour may increasingly resemble the collapsing military of the Vietnam War, the band of criminal misfits sent behind enemy lines during World War II in the classic Vietnam-era film, The Dirty Dozen, or the janissaries of the old Ottoman Empire.

With a growing majority of Americans opposed to the war in Iraq, even ardent hawks refusing to enlist in droves, and the Pentagon pulling out ever more stops and sinking to new lows in recruitment and retention, a new all-volunteer generation of UUUU's may emerge -- the underachieving, unable, unexceptional, unintelligent, unsound, unhinged, unacceptable, unhealthy, undesirable, unloved, uncivil, and even un-American, all led by the unqualified, doing the unnecessary for the ungrateful. Current practices suggest this may well be the force of the future. It certainly isn't the new military Donald Rumsfeld's been promising all these years, but there's no denying the depth of the transformation.

Nick Turse is the Associate Editor and Research Director of TomDispatch.com. He has written for the San Francisco Chronicle, the Nation, the Village Voice, and regularly for Tomdispatch. Articles from his recent Los Angeles Times series, "The War Crimes Files" can be found here.

© Copyright 2006 Nick Turse


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SOURCE:


Dirty Dozen: The Pentagon's 12-Step Program to Create a Military of Misfits


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Brendan Nyhan (nominal Liberal, Moderate, whatever) gets his "War With Lefties On" and is roundly spanked in the comments section.

Go read the original post and comments and see a World Class Smackdown! --pseudolus
The Horse's Mouth

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Bizarre Rodent Traits Deepen Mystery Of Genetics and Evolution


An example of a vole.
by Douglas M Main
West Lafayette IN (SPX) Sep 15, 2006
A shadowy rodent has potential to shed light on human genetics and the mysteries of evolution. Purdue University research has shown that the vole, a mouselike rodent, is not only the fastest evolving mammal, but also harbors a number of puzzling genetic traits that challenge current scientific understanding.

"Nobody has posters of voles on their wall," said J. Andrew DeWoody, associate professor of genetics in the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, whose study appears this month in the journal Genetica. "But when it comes down to it, voles deserve more attention."

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Small rodents often confused for mice, except with shorter tails and beady eyes, voles live throughout the Northern Hemisphere and are often considered agricultural pests because they eat vegetation. Nevertheless, voles are an "evolutionary enigma" with many bizarre traits, DeWoody said. Understanding the basis for these traits could lead to better understanding of the same phenomena in human genetics and genetic disorders, and could have implications for gene therapy, he said.

The study focuses on 60 species within the vole genus Microtus, which has evolved in the last 500,000 to 2 million years. This means voles are evolving 60-100 times faster than the average vertebrate in terms of creating different species. Within the genus (the level of taxonomic classification above species), the number of chromosomes in voles ranges from 17-64. DeWoody said that this is an unusual finding, since species within a single genus often have the same chromosome number.

Among the vole's other bizarre genetic traits:

• In one species, the X chromosome, one of the two sex-determining chromosomes (the other being the Y), contains about 20 percent of the entire genome. Sex chromosomes normally contain much less genetic information.

• In another species, females possess large portions of the Y (male) chromosome.

• In yet another species, males and females have different chromosome numbers, which is uncommon in animals.

A final "counterintuitive oddity" is that despite genetic variation, all voles look alike, said DeWoody's former graduate student and study co-author Deb Triant.

"All voles look very similar, and many species are completely indistinguishable," DeWoody said.

In one particular instance, DeWoody was unable to differentiate between two species even after close examination and analysis of their cranial structure; only genetic tests could reveal the difference.

Nevertheless, voles are perfectly adept at recognizing those of their own species.

"I have seen absolutely no evidence of mating between different species," Triant said. "We don't know how they do this, but scent and behavior probably play a role."

DeWoody said, "The vole is a great a model system that could be used to study lots of natural phenomena that could impact humans."

His research focuses on the mitochondrial genome, the set of DNA within the cellular compartment responsible for generating energy (the mitochondria). Some of Triant's additional work explores the unique ability of vole's mitochondrial DNA to insert itself within DNA in the cell nucleus. The nuclear genome, as it is known, contains the vast majority of a cell's DNA and is responsible for controlling cellular function and development.

"Deb's work in this area could potentially have some basic science impact on gene delivery mechanisms, such as those used in gene therapy," DeWoody said.

In this relatively new therapy, treatment involves the insertion of a gene into human patients' cells in order to counter some illness or disease like hemophilia. However, it is often difficult to insert the desired gene in the "correct" location, or a location where it does what it is supposed to do. A better understanding of the unusual prevalence of this activity in voles, and the manner in which it happens, could have important human implications.


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TPMmuckraker : Shadowy 527 Behind Calls Hitting Democrats in Several States

More signs that Bob Perry's 527 venture is a force to be dealt with this election.

The Economic Freedom Fund (EFF) is behind robo calls in at least four states; that's in addition to heavy TV ad buys and mailers (more than $500,000 worth) that the group is funding in Iowa, Georgia, and West Virginia.

In Indiana, the group's calls attacked Baron Hill, the Democratic challenger to Rep. Mike Sodrel (R-IN). You can listen to an audio of the call here (courtesy of Taking Down Words), as captured by an Indiana man who makes it a practice to record calls from telemarketers. Indiana law bans automated phone calls, and Indiana's Attorney General says he'll investigate the case.

The caller begins by identifying himself as from "Data Research" with a "45 second public survey," and then launches in to a number of leading questions. At one point, the robo voice inquires, "Baron Hill voted to allow the sale of a broad range of violent and sexually explicit material to minors. Does knowing this make you less likely for Baron Hill?"

It's not clear which vote the robo voice is referring to, but Hill spokeswoman Abby Curran said that "Baron Hill does not support allowing the sale of such materials to minors, nor has he ever supported this."

The caller ended with "this survey was conducted by the Economic Freedom Fund."

It's a classic "push poll," a dirty campaign trick used to smear an opponent, not collect data. Notably, the caller fails to collect basic polling data about the subject (such as age and party affiliation) before launching into its questions.

In Georgia, where EFF has spent more than $160,000 on ads against Rep. Jim Marshall (D-GA), similar robo calls have been hitting him on his votes for the "death tax." Marshall spokesman Doug Moore said that the calls continued today.

EFF has also been backing calls in Rep. Alan Mollohan's (D-WV) district, where the group's spent more than $330,000 on ads in the past month. “Just about everybody I talk to has gotten one," said Mollohan spokesman Gerry Griffith. “I’ve gotten two personally myself. There’s one every day.”

In Iowa, at least two local bloggers got calls from the EFF's phony pollster. Since the calls seem to differ based on the answers given by the respondent, the accounts differ a little, but a rough transcript of the call by one shows that it attacked Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-IA) on a host of conservative key issues like gay marriage, immigration, and abortion.

Here a fact that seems to reveal EFF's strategy this election; the group is targetting races that are not quite tight, but within reach. All of the calls' targets are leading their respective races by about ten points. In Iowa's 3rd, a recent poll showed Boswell leading Republican Jeff Lamberti 52-41; in Indiana's 9th, the most recent number is Hill over incumbent Rep. Sodrel (R) by 53-42; in West Virginia's 1st district, Mollohan leads Republican challenger Chris Wakim 52-42; and in Georgia's 3rd district, the latest polls show Marshall leading by at least ten points.

----------------------------

SOURCE:

TPMmuckraker September 14, 2006 08:20 PM


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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Dana Milbank - A Reprise of the Grand Old Party Line

I wonder if Rep. Boehner would rather be molesting children than carrying on the House's business? I wonder if his wife would rather be having it on with the gardener than listening to her husband's drivel. I wonder if his mother used recreational drugs when she was pregnant with him. I wonder if he reads Goebbels to get his ideas or just listens to Karl Rove's pillow talk when they are done and sharing a smoke in bed. I wonder... --pseudolus
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House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) was his genial self at a meeting with reporters yesterday morning, showing off his golf-ball-pattern tie and talking of a conversation he once had with Jack Nicklaus about the baby-blue cravat.

But 15 minutes later, Boehner had moved from the necktie to the jugular: He speculated that Democrats may be guilty of the capital crime of aiding and comforting the enemy.

"I listen to my Democrat friends, and I wonder if they're more interested in protecting terrorists than in protecting the American people," he said.

One of his listeners, offering Boehner the chance to rescind that charge, asked if he really meant to accuse Democrats of treason. "I said I wonder if they're more interested in protecting the terrorists," he replied, repeating more than clarifying. "They certainly don't want to take the terrorists on in the field."

Continued ...click on "Print Article and/or Read More" below >>>
CONTINUED
The majority leader's charge of treachery was no accident. Two months before Election Day, Republicans have revived the technique used with great success in 2002 and 2004: suggesting that the loyal opposition is, well, not so loyal.

Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) seemed to have the same talking points yesterday. In a fight for his political life, Santorum worked himself into a rage on the Senate floor, hollering: "If you listen to the Democratic leader, our lesson is: . . . Let's put domestic politics ahead of the security of this country. That's the message."

The arrival of Treason Season, heralded by the charged address President Bush gave on Monday's 9/11 anniversary, is right on schedule.

Back in 2002, Bush declared on Sept. 23 that Senate Democrats were "not interested in the security of the American people." Republicans gained seats in the midterm elections.

Two years later to the day, Bush went to the Rose Garden to say that Democrats' statements about Iraq "can embolden an enemy." A few days earlier, Republican John Thune said the words of his opponent, Senate Democratic leader Thomas Daschle (S.D.), "embolden the enemy." Bush and Thune won in November.

The aid-and-comfort line may not work as well this time, if only because polls show broad disenchantment with Bush and congressional leadership. And, unlike in 2002, Republicans have unified control of the government and find their security agenda being hamstrung by GOP holdouts as well as Democrats. But don't discount the influence of Treason Season: A Zogby poll released yesterday showed Santorum closing the gap with Democratic challenger Bob Casey.

As is often the case, Vice President Cheney launched the current round of sedition suspicions. The idea "that we should withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq," he told NBC's Tim Russert on Sunday, "validates the strategy of the terrorists."

Bush picked up the thread in his televised address Monday night, saying: "The worst mistake would be to think that if we pulled out, the terrorists would leave us alone. They will not leave us alone. They will follow us. . . . If we yield Iraq to men like bin Laden, our enemies will be emboldened." That was milder than Cheney, but not exactly the non-political speech the White House promised when it requested network time.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) rushed to the floor yesterday morning to denounce this "ploy" by Bush, saying the president "obviously was more consumed by staying the course in Iraq and playing election-year partisan politics than changing direction."

This threw Santorum into a rage, resulting in a 15-minute tirade by the agitated Pennsylvanian. "The very people that planned the attacks are the people who are in Iraq," he stipulated, drawing a conclusion different from the one the Senate intelligence committee reached. He said Democrats "can't face the reality that we have a dangerous enemy out there, an enemy that wants to destroy everything we hold dear."

Boehner, giving reporters an off-camera briefing in his office, was decidedly calmer. In shirtsleeves and sipping a Diet Coke, he told the group coolly: "I have no fears about losing our majority. None." Five minutes later, after making and repeating his supposition that Democrats prefer terrorists to Americans, Boehner added somewhat incongruously that Democrats "are the ones out there making statements."

The flap landed 90 minutes later on Tony Snow's podium in the makeshift White House briefing room. The spokesman declined multiple invitations from the press to disavow Boehner's formulation. "Do you want to let a statement like this stand from a Republican leader of Congress?" NBC's David Gregory finally asked.

"I'll get back to you on it," he said.

The exasperated Gregory tried another tack: "Can you describe how it's possible to oppose the president on the war on Iraq without emboldening the terrorists?"

"Yes, absolutely," Snow said. But not if it means pulling out of Iraq. "That," the spokesman said, "would embolden the terrorists."
© 2006 The Washington Post Company
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source:
Dana Milbank - A Reprise of the Grand Old Party Line - washingtonpost.com

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"Friday Night Funnies" came on a Thursday this week


The "Decider" is a "Leader" not a "Divider".

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Rivals, rivals everywhere.........click on picture to "embiggen" view.

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The 'Un-Lemonade".........click on picture to "embiggen" view.

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"It's not Viet Nam again! One is wet and one is dry!" -Stephen Colbert 9-13-06.........click on picture to "embiggen" view.

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