SADDAM CAUGHT..... WAR OVER..... LET'S GO HOME!
Note: Comments (sigh) working again...
Saturday, May 03, 2003
Out with the bad, in with the.... Better (or worse)? Our 51st State looks troubled to me..
Sources: Garner Out in Iraq Shuffle
By Knut Royce, Washington Bureau Chief, NEWSDAY
May 2, 2003
Washington -- In an apparent acknowledgment that postwar reconstruction efforts in Iraq are floundering, the White House plans to name a politically astute career diplomat to replace Jay Garner as the civilian administrator of the country, sources said Thursday.
L. Paul Bremer, ambassador-at-large for counterterrorism in the Reagan administration, will report directly to the White House, sources said....
... another former senior State Department official who worked with Bremer said that Bremer is a "voracious opportunist with voracious ambitions."
"What he knows about Iraq could not quite fill a thimble," he said. "What he knows about any part of the world would not fill a thimble. But what he knows about Washington infighting could fill three or four bushel baskets." LINK
Anyone want to buy the Administration tickets to The Quiet American?
House G.O.P. Tax Cuts Outdo Bush Plan in Favoring Wealthy
By DAVID E. ROSENBAUM, May 3, 2003, NY TIMES
WASHINGTON, May 2 ? The tax-cut plan offered this week by Republican leaders in the House would be even more favorable to the wealthiest taxpayers than the larger plan proposed by President Bush, and those with incomes of less than $50,000 would have smaller tax reductions than under the Bush plan, a computer analysis showed today.
The analysis by the Tax Policy Center at the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution found, for example, that taxpayers with incomes of more than $1 million would get an average tax cut this year of $105,636 under the plan outlined on Thursday by Representative Bill Thomas of California, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. Under the Bush proposal, the average cut for these people would be $89,509.
By the same token, taxpayers with incomes between $50,000 and $75,000 would get an average tax cut this year of $734 under the the Bush plan and $712 under the Thomas plan; those with incomes between $40,000 and $50,000 would get an average cut of $482 under the Bush plan and $456 under the Thomas version. Similar disparities exist with the smaller tax cuts at lower income levels. Eighty-four percent of all taxpayers have incomes of less than $75,000. LINK
Think about it, people with incomes of $1 million plus get an average of $105, 636 while those under 75K get $712 or less. Astounding.
Friday, May 02, 2003
At Least One Part of The Economy is Going Strong...
With pot and porn outstripping corn, America's black economy is flying high
Duncan Campbell in Los Angeles, Friday May 2, 2003, The Guardian
Marijuana, pornography and illegal labour have created a hidden market in the United States which now accounts for as much as 10% of the American economy, according to a study. As a cash crop, marijuana is believed to have outstripped maize, and hardcore porn revenue is equal to Hollywood's domestic box office takings.
Despite laws that punish marijuana cultivation more strictly than murder in some states, Americans spend more on illegal drugs than on cigarettes. And despite official disapproval of pornography, the US leads the world in export of explicit sex videos, according to Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs and Cheap Labour in the American Black Market, by Eric Schlosser.
Although the official American economy has been suffering a downturn, the shadow economy is enjoying unprecedented levels of success, much in the way that the prohibition period fuelled the illegal markets in the 30s. LINK (Thanks, Morpheus)
HYPOCRITE OF THE YEAR AWARD
Should probably go to William Bennett, author of the Book of Virtues, (and big-time critic of Bill Clinton) who the Washington Monthly revealed today as having lost over $8 million gambling. link
In addition to never mentioning gambling as a vice, it should be mentioned he never listed kindness, compassion or fairness as a virtue.
I wonder what his opinion of hypocrisy is?
NEW PROPAGANDA TECHNIQUE SURFACES IN WAR REPORTING
Tense Standoff Between Troops And Iraqis Erupts In Bloodshed
Hmm. Odd, isn't it? It's actually impossible to know what happened, who was responsible, or what it means. Did blood just suddenly start spurting from every orifice, perhaps, like the Monty Python version of a Sam Peckinpaugh-directed lawn party?
Not quite. The actual headline, had it been written as plainly as the others, would have been:
U.S. Troops Fire On Iraqis; 13 Reported Dead
Which, while a bit jarring, is how Canada's CBC (among others worldwide) covered the exact same story. (The questions of whether some Iraqis fired first, fired back, or were even armed at all, remain unresolved.)
Just a quick study in media manipulation. It's damn near constant, and the net effect is inevitably a gross and misleading disservice to readers, about as detailed and accurate as
Hiroshima, Nagasaki rocked by powerful explosions
might have been in an earlier era.
Watch and see how many times U.S. and British editors suddenly slip into passive tense only when they're delivering news that might make readers a bit uncomfortable. LINK
As for me, here is some of propaganda techniques I've seen since the 2000 Presidential selection:
1. The Slanted Verb: "There were several scenarios in which Gore might have eked out a victory". In other words won.
2. False equivalence: "Marchers demonstrated for and against the war." (12 people for, 120,000 against)
3. Headlines contradict article: Used in Flight 571 crash, 2000 election. Headline stated "Sabotage ruled out", article noted "crash pattern could only have been caused by an explosion or sabotage"
4. Claim insinuated as fact: "The Bush Administration today reported they were only one vote away from UN approval of Iraq invasion."
5. Misleading Photograph: Narrow angle shot of Saddam statue being pulled down makes it look like Iraqis were helping do it. link
6. Passive voice used to deflect blame: "News stories sometimes misleading."
1984 was only 19 years too early.
Thursday, May 01, 2003
The Secrets of September 11
The White House is battling to keep a report on the terror attacks secret. Does the 2004 election have anything to do with it
April 30 — Even as White House political aides plot a 2004 campaign plan designed to capitalize on the emotions and issues raised by the September 11 terror attacks, administration officials are waging a behind-the-scenes battle to restrict public disclosure of key events relating to the attacks. link
I dunno, allowing 9-11 to happen through incompetence or corruption doesn't seem like that big a deal to me.
Apologies for not posting. I've been detained at Guantanamo. (Actually, I've been ill.)
Monday, April 28, 2003
AMERICAN AGGRESSIVENESS EXPLAINED
American aggressiveness, whether on the international scene, as in the invasion of Iraq, or domestically as with the 20,000+ gun annual gun deaths in the US, has long been an object of speculation by experts and commentators. Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine addressed this issue in the context of the 1999 mass shootings at Columbine High School in Littletown, Colorado.
But now, a little known study done in 1997 has resurfaced with a possible explanation. The study, done with that quintessential objet d'Amerique, the Barbie doll, was actually done in Australia, but experts believe it applies here even more than abroad:
BOYS REINVENT BARBIE.
BARBIE has often been described as a role model for girls, but a new study has discovered she is just as popular with boys - but for different reasons.
To the boys she is either a sex toy or a gun.
Dr Glenda MacNaughton, of Melbourne University's department of childhood studies, gave Barbie dolls to 32 4-and 5-year-olds.
She found the boys immediately undressed Barbie, admired "Barbie's boobies", kissed her - then used her as a gun, behaviour Dr MacNaughton said was very gender stereotyped.
The 14 girls in the group concentrated on grooming Barbie, dressing her in different outfits and brushing her hair. LINK
Now American researcher Dr. Klaus Fenderbender has resurrected the study and explains why it applies to America: "It's clear that sex and violence are hardwired into the human male," he explains. "However, since Freud, we have known the civilization has the power to tame the instincts of Eros and Thanatos, the urges towards sex and death, at least in most individuals. However, in America, the decline of the civilized impulse as expressed in Hollywood movies, hip-hop, gun ownership, SUVs and other artifacts of American society has caused the sublimation process to fail and unleashed the antisocial aspect of the American character.
"I think it reaches its strongest expression in America's hostility to the French," he added. "Everyone knows that among societies the French are the most cultured. Americans resent them because they represent a civility and refinement Americans fear they can't achieve.
"Americans' homophobia is another aspect of the same thing. That's why they think of the French as pansies, even as they envy them as promiscuous.
"Face it, Americans are messed up," he concluded, while nibbling his pate de fois gras.
Republicans take aim at the 40-hour work week
Everybody gets screwed on this one, except the bosses.
AUSTIN, Texas -- Boy, there is no shortage of creatively terrible ideas from the Republican Party these days. Those folks are just full of notions about how to make people's lives worse -- one horrible idea after another bursting out like popcorn -- and all of them with these sickeningly cute names attached to them.
Consider the Family Time and Workplace Flexibility Act (Senate version) and the Family Time Flexibility Act (House version). The Bush administration is leading the charge with proposed new rules that will erode the 40-hour workweek and affect more than 80 million workers now protected by the Fair Labor Standards Act.
To hear the Republicans tell it, you'd think these were family-friendly bills, something like Clinton's Family Leave Act, designed to help you balance the difficult combined demands of work and family. With such a smarm of butter over their visages do the Republicans go on about the joys of "flexibility" and "freedom of choice" that you would have to read the bills for maybe 30 seconds before figuring out they're about repealing the 40-hour workweek and ending overtime.
As The American Prospect magazine notes, when Republicans talk about "flexibility," it means letting business do whatever it wants without standards, mandates or worker and consumer rights. Ever since FDR's New Deal, working overtime gets you time-and-a-half in money, which has the happy effect of holding the work week down to 40 hours -- or at least preventing it from ballooning grossly. LINK
How are they planning to do it? By reclassifying many employees as "managers", by excluding defense and aerospace industries, and by giving employers the option of paying back employees for overtime by vacations as much as 13 months later (in essence an interest-free loan for a year).
Why do Republicans always create recessions? Because, as bills like this illustrate, they don't realize that an economy is based on demand as well as supply, and that the workers who they hate to pay, are also the consumers who they need to have spend!
IN SEARCH OF ... (2003 version) from Ted Rall
You'll recall part of this idea came up before: LINK
Chemical Weapons Disproved (Again) and Osama Link Questioned (Again) by Intelligence Sources
No chemical weapons in barrels, tests reveal
By Judith Miller
NEW YORK TIMES
BAGHDAD, Iraq -A military team has tentatively concluded that there are no chemical weapons at a site where U.S. troops said they had found chemical agents and mobile labs. LINK
Saddam link to al-Qaeda in doubt
By Michael Evans, Defence Editor
BRITISH Intelligence officials have expressed doubt that Saddam Hussein established any working relationship with al-Qaeda despite the discovery of documents showing that an ?envoy? for Osama bin Laden visited Baghdad in 1998. LINK
The strategy, I suppose, is keep saying we found them, and even if each time it gets disproved, eventually people will believe we DID find them.
. TODAY SHOW GOES DARK ON TIM ROBBINS
TODAY SHOW GOES DARK ON TIM ROBBINS
Steve Rosenbaum, a NYC television producer, 4-19-03 from rense.com
At 8:15 Monday Morning Today Show host Mat Lauer introduced the controversy that has been kicked up by the cancellation of the 15th anniversary of Bull Durham at the Baseball Hall of Fame.
In a letter made public on Wednesday - Dale Petroskey, the President of the Hall suggested that his venue was not the appropriate venue for a highly charged political expression.
Lauer then introduced Tim Robbins, who along with his wife Susan Sarandon, had had their invitations revoked.
Lauer quizzed Robbins on free speech, and pointedly asked Robbins if he had planned to use the Hall of Fame event as a platform for a political statement. Robbins said 'of course not.'
The discussion went back in forth for a few minutes, with Lauer being neither accommodating nor confrontational. And Robbins' responses were equally measured. But Robbins did end up saying things that have hardly been heard before since the war began. "The message is if you speak out against this administration you can and will be punished" Robbins explained.
"We're sending out messages on an almost daily basis that they have no right to protest against this President" said Robbins. To which Lauer responded with a question about the Dixie Chicks and their controversial comments against the President. Robbins responded - pointing to the fact that the protest and banning of the Dixie Chicks was by Clear Channel Radio and it's connection with the Bush Administration. This conversation was unheard of in the current environment. Robins was talking serious politics on a morning chat show - and clearly hackles went up. By 8:24 Robins was explaining "We're fighting for freedom for the Iraqi people right now so that they can have freedom of speech, yet we're telling our own citizens they have to be quiet"
Lauer could have called it quits there -but he went on "When you see pictures of Iraqi's dancing and celebrating -does it change your mind?" "No" Said Robbins - "I'm ecstatic that they feel this freedom, I hope we have the resolve to get in there and make it work."
It was at this point that something happened that has perhaps never happened before in the history of morning television.
The music swelled under Robbins... Mid-sentence answering a question that had been asked just 10 seconds earlier... "We have a terrible track record" said Robbins, clearly not able to hear that music was coming up to literally 'play him off the stage'.
The camera cut to a wide shot. Lauer was leaning in and very much in conversation. Either Lauer was ignoring what must have been the deluge of invectives in his earpiece, or he just determined that he wasn't finished with this line of questioning.
But the music ended. The bumper music ended and the studio was in the two shot as Robbins said..."It's for some reason not in our best interest to keep it going and pursue it to the next level." Lauer nodded, and the camera faded to black as Robbins - mid sentence - had his microphone turned down.
A conversation about free speech. An anchor asking reasonable questions. A guest responding in equally reasonable tones. No attempt to close out the discussion - to say "Well thank you Tim". This was not a filibuster. Robbins was not hogging the spotlight. Someone in the control room simply decided that it was time to pull the plug. And without grace or ceremony, or even the face saving of letting Lauer say "We're out of time" as morning shows do on so many occasions.
A conversation about free speech and free expression was cut off mid sentence as the network went to black.
Television history was made, as million of Americans got to watch in real time just how powerful and inescapable censorship can be. Robbins wasn't revealing troop locations, or giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Remember the war has been won - by all accounts. He was discussing freedom, free speech, and why his appearance has been canceled at the Baseball Hall of Fame. NBC should invite him back and let him finish his thought - or admit at least who was on the phone to master control demanding that they pull the plug.
Sunday, April 27, 2003
Late Night Jokes from Leno
# Quick survey: How many military guys are just here because they took millions in Iraqi cash and you're just hiding out?
# If you're going to steal millions of dollars in a military operation, first you have to become a "defense contractor." That's how it works.
# According to one report, Saddam Hussein is alive and remains in Iraq. he sleeps in a different bed every night so we can't capture him. A different bed every night? So he's like Colin Farrell.
# It is now being reported that Saddam Hussein executed all his economic advisers. Today Bush said, "You can do that?" LINK
Smart Bombs, Dirty Bombs Fill Iraq
Depleted uranium: A deadly tool in the U.S. arsenal
by Beth Hawkins, City Pages
...Many of ..[the] high-tech munitions, you see, contain depleted uranium, a radioactive metal associated with a long list of rare and gruesome illnesses and birth defects. For the last month, we've pelted Iraqis with literally tons of the stuff. And while the precision with which we sent the warheads smashing into their targets did make it seem at times as if we could indeed excise a despot and his evil minions relatively cleanly, the truth is that we've also salted a wide swath of the cradle of civilization with a dust that will be toxic for some 4.5 billion years. LINK
Something to think about, no?
EGYPT'S TOBY KEITH
...Shabaan's new title came after the success of his latest hit single "Hanza Al Silah" (I'm Going to Take out My Weapon). Shabaan called on all Arabs to unite and support Iraq against Western tyranny. The singer also revealed that he is currently the number one singer and actor in Egypt. Shabaan said that he is in competition with Egyptian singer Amr Diab for the number one spot in the music industry and his second rival is Egyptian singer Hisham Abbas.
Shabaan's popularity came after his hit single "Ana Bakrah Israel" (I hate Israel) two years ago recording a major success in the market of Cairo and beyond, replacing the typical love songs that people used to listen to.
Its nice to know that patriotism, nationalistic jingoism and hatred are popular around the world. Move over, Toby Keith and Lee Greenwood!
PS. Heck, I almost forgot to mention:
...Shabaan ... announced that he has discovered the whereabouts of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussain and intends on revealing it in his upcoming song "Saddam Oh Saddam". LINK
White House seeks to Censor 9-11 Testimony
Justice Dept. Seeks Sept. 11 Transcripts
WASHINGTON, April 25 ? The Justice Department has asked to review the transcripts of secret Congressional hearings on the Sept. 11 terror attacks before they are handed over to a new federal commission that is also investigating the attacks, panel officials said today.
The commission's executive director, Philip Zelikow, said the Justice Department had expressed concern that material in the transcripts might "raise an issue of presidential executive privilege" and needed to be reviewed before it was shared among commission members.... link
Yes, it is important that even the investigators who are supposed to find out the truth, shouldn't be allowed to find out everything.
US Plans Blockade of N. Korea
US plans 'Cuba lite' blockade on North Korea
By Julian Coman in Washington, (Filed: 27/04/2003)
The Pentagon is planning a permanent selective blockade of North Korean shipping, to prevent the country's threatened export of nuclear materials to other rogue states and terrorist organisations.
The move, nicknamed "Cuba Lite" for its echoes of the tactics used during the 1963 Cuban missile crisis, is America's first reaction to last week's warning by a North Korean envoy that Pyongyang intends to "transfer" nuclear devices or other material overseas. LINK
Hopefully, it will only risk a "lite" version of WWIII...
9-11 Coverup Continues
Panel's Lack Of Access to 9/11 Papers Is Decried
Saturday, April 26, 2003; Page A11
...Roemer, a former Democratic House member from Indiana, tried to review the transcripts of the joint hearings held last year by the House and Senate intelligence committees. He learned that he had no permission to see them, even though he had served on the joint committee hearings and had, therefore, read the material before.
Roemer called the experience outrageous. He noted that the commission, by law, must build upon the work of the congressional inquiry, which found that organizational problems and human failings had prevented U.S. intelligence agencies from unraveling the Sept. 11 plot. LINK
First, they tried to name Henry Kissinger as panel head, then they wouldn't give the panelists security clearances, now this.
Could it, just could it, be that they have something to HIDE?