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The Buying of the President 2004: Who's Really Bankrolling Bush and His Democratic Challengers -- and What They Expect in Return

The Buying of the President 2004: Who's Really Bankrolling Bush and His Democratic Challengers -- and What They Expect in Return

Arrogant Capital

Arrogant Capital

Great American Political Repair Manual

Sam Smith's Great American Political Repair Manual: How to Rebuild Our Country So the Politics Aren't Broken and Politicians Aren't Fixed

American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush

American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush

Death in the Air: Globalism, Terrorism & Toxic Warfare

Death in the Air: Globalism, Terrorism & Toxic Warfare

The Velvet Coup: The Constitution, the Supreme Court and the Decline of American Democracy

The Velvet Coup: The Constitution, the Supreme Court and the Decline of American Democracy

into the buzzsaw

Into the Buzzsaw: Leading Journalists Expose the Myth of the Free Press

Amazon Light

Stop Policeware

Campaign for Audiovisual Freedom

Just consider what current events will sound like two thousand years from now -- the greatest nation on Earth bombing some of the smallest and weakest for no clear reasons, people starving in parts of the world while farmers are paid not to plant crops in others, technophiles sitting at home playing electronic golf rahter than the real thing, and police forces ordered to arrest people who simply desire to ingest a psychoactive weed. People of that era will also likely laugh it all off as fantastic myths...

It is time for those who desire true freedom to exert themselves -- to fight back against the forces who desire domination through fear and disunity.

This does not have to involve violence. It can be done in small, simple ways, like not financing that new Sport Utility Vehicle, cutting up all but one credit card, not opting for a second mortgage, turning off that TV sitcom for a good book, asking questions and speaking out in church or synagogue, attending school board and city council meetings, voting for the candidate who has the least money, learning about the Fully Informed Jury movement and using it when called -- in general, taking responsibility for one's own actions. Despite the omnipresent advertising for the Lotto -- legalized government gambling -- there is no free lunch. Giving up one's individual power for the hope of comfort and security has proven to lead only to tyranny.

from Rule by Secrecy by Jim Marrs

You had to take those pieces of paper with you when you went shopping, though by the time I was nine or ten most people used plastic cards. . .It seems so primitive, totemistic even, like cowry shells. I must have used that kind of money myself, a little, before everything went on the Compubank.

I guess that's how they were able to do it, in the way they did, all at once, without anyone knowing beforehand. If there had still been portable money, it would have been more difficult.

It was after the catastrophe, when they shot the president and machine-gunned the Congress and the army declared a state of emergency. They blamed it on the Islamic fanatics, at the time.

Keep calm, they said on television. Everything is under control.

I was stunned. Everyone was, I know that. It was hard to believe. The entire government, gone like that. How did they get in, how did it happen?

That was when they suspended the Constitution. They said it would be temporary. There wasn't even any rioting in the streets. People stayed home at night, watching television, looking for some direction. There wasn't even an enemy you could put your finger on.

. . . Things continued on in that state of suspended animation for weeks, although some things did happen. Newspapers were censored and some were closed down, for security reasons they said. The roadblocks began to appear, and Identipasses. Everyone approved of that, since it was obvious you couldn't be too careful. They said that new elections would be held, but that it would take some time to prepare for them. The thing to do, they said, was to continue on as usual.

from The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

By the time Oscar reached the outskirts of Washington, DC, The Louisiana air base had benn placed under siege.

The base's electrical power supply had long since been cut off for lack of payment. The aircraft had no fuel. The desperate federal troops were bartering stolen equipment for food and booze. Desertion was rampant. The air base commander had released a sobbing video confession and had shot himself.

Green Huey had lost patience with the long-festering scandal. He was moving in for the kill. Attacking and seizing an federal air base with his loyal state militia would have been entirely too blatant and straightforward. Instead the rogue Governor employed proxy guerrillas.

Huey had won the favor of nomad prole groups by providing them with safe havens. He allowed them to squat in Louisiana's many federally declared contamination zones. These forgotten landscapes were tainted with petrochemical effluent and hormone-warping pesticides, and were hence officially unfit for human settlement. The prole hordes had different opinions on that subject.

Proles cheerfully grouped in any locale where conventional authority had grown weak. Whenever the net-based proles were not constantly harassed by the authorities, they coalesced and grew ambitious. Though easily scattered by focused crackdowns, they regrouped as swiftly as a horde of gnats. With their reaping machines and bio-breweries, they could live off the land at the very base of the food chain. They had no stake in the established order, and they cherished a canny street-level knowledge of society's infrastructural weaknesses. They made expensive enemies. . .

Louisiana's ecologically blighted areas were ideal for proles. The disaster zones were also impromptu wildlife sanctuaries, since wild animals found chemical fouling much easier to survive than the presence of human beings. After decades of wild subtropical growth, Louisiana's toxic dumps were as impenetrable as Sherwood Forest.

from Distraction by Bruce Sterling


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Saturday, November 22, 2003

Global warming/Peak Oil & Gas file:

China's rising grain prices could signal global food crisis

11:19 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Friday, November 21, 2003

"abnormal dreams...exaggerated feeling of well-being...hallucination...loss of reality"

Powell touts Ambien as "non-medication" of choice in the White House

7:51 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

Perle admits Iraq invasion illegal in, "So whaddaya gonna do 'bout it, bitch?"

7:32 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

In a finding that could affect thousands of criminal cases, the National Academy of Sciences has concluded that some techniques the FBI has used for decades to match bullets to crimes are flawed or imprecise.

9:32 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Aussie journo in US to interview Olivia Newton-John deemed security threat, detained over 14 hours [u]

12:51 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Why the "Medicare" bill sucks [u]
1. Pushing Health Care Costs Higher For Older And Disabled Americans. The "compromise" bill allows drug companies to charge exorbitant prices, yet blocks the government from being able to negotiate better prices. The public interest group Consumer?s Union found that even after the drug deal is enacted, beneficiaries would pay more than they do today because of skyrocketing drug prices. This major victory for drug companies makes no sense for Medicare. Further, the proposal relies heavily on private health plans to deliver health-care services in the name of cost-saving. However, the key lesson of the "Medicare+Choice" experiment?where beneficiaries are given the option of using private health insurance?is that private health plans are not able to contain costs or offer reliable coverage. To deal with spiraling health-care costs, the bill contemplates capping government spending on Medicare, which is projected to shift additional costs to the people who use Medicare. The likely result is that many Americans will be hard-pressed to afford health-care coverage under Medicare.

12:48 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Israel's Facility 1391 [u]
It has been removed from maps and airbrushed from aerial photographs. But Facility 1391 certainly exists - you just have to ask the Palestinians and Lebanese who have been imprisoned and tortured there.

11:54 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

From Undernews Nov 14:

Iraqi Girl Blog on the Iraqi Governing Council sham
People have been expecting this for some time now. There's a complete and total lack of communication between the Council members and the people- they are as inaccessible as Bremer or Bush. Their speeches are often in English and hardly ever to the Iraqi public. We hear about new decisions and political and economical maneuverings through the voice-overs of translators while the Council members are simpering at some meeting thousands of miles away.

We need *real* Iraqis- and while many may argue that the Council members are actually real Iraqis, it is important to keep in mind that fine, old adage: not everyone born in a stable is a horse. We need people who aren't just tied to Iraq by some hazy, political ambition. We need people who have histories inside of the country that the population can relate to. People who don't have to be hidden behind cement barriers, barbed wire and an army.
Antiwar vets in Jacksonville yanked from parade.
Parade chairman Ken Conroy, a Korean War veteran, said he ejected the anti-war veterans because they were offensive and because Tallahassee police also wanted them removed. He offered to refund their $10 registration fee and said he was not suppressing the group's free speech rights.

"They can have their free speech, just not in the parade," Conroy said. "They belong on the sidewalk."


"There's a war going on that's based on lies, just like Vietnam," said veteran Tom Baxter, an Army equipment maintenance officer in Vietnam for 16 months in 1967-69. "They were lying then, and they're lying now."
Growing tide of Israelis seeking sanctuary in Europe.

11:51 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

Tom Engelhardt and Mike Davis on how the current Iraq situation is ripe for a repeat of war crimes by US soldiers
Indeed covering up American atrocities has proved a thoroughly bipartisan business. The Democrats, after all, are currently considering the bomber of Belgrade, General Wesley Clark, as their potential knight on a white horse. The Bush administration, meanwhile, blackmails governments everywhere with threats of aid cuts and trade sanctions unless they exempt U.S. troops from the jurisdiction of the new International Criminal Court.

The United States, of course, has good reason to claim immunity from the very Nuremburg principles it helped establish in 1946-47. American Special Forces troops, for example, were most probably complicit in the massacres of hundreds of Taliban prisoners by Northern Alliance warlords several years ago. Moreover, "collateral damage" to civilians is part and parcel of the new white man's burden of "democratizing" the Middle East and making the world safe for Bechtel and Halliburton.

5:50 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

"Parts of downtown Miami resembled a police state"

Police and protesters mix it up in Miami at Free Trade Zone talks
Lance Stelzer, a Miami lawyer who works on police-related issues, said authorities overreacted to the protests because of rioting outside the Seattle WTO meeting and at other free-trade meetings worldwide.

"When you have that kind of police presence dressed up in storm-trooper garb and a mentality of 'Let's close off the entire city because we had rowdies in another city,' it has a tendency to incite problems that might not otherwise exist," Stelzer said.

5:34 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

US rushes to amend "worst mistake": disbanding the Iraqi Army
Beofre the war, President Bush approved a plan that would have put several hundred thousand Iraqi soldiers on the U.S. payroll and kept them available to provide security, repair roads and prepare for unforeseen postwar tasks. But that project was stopped abruptly in late May by L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator in Iraq, who ordered the demobilization of Iraq's entire army, including largely apolitical conscripts.

Bremer reversed himself a month later, but by then the occupation had lost not merely time and momentum but also credibility among former soldiers and their families, an important segment of Iraq's population.

Now, the Americans are trying to recover -- including rehiring some of the same soldiers they demobilized -- at what one top Defense Department official called "warp speed." And while the administration's handling of the Iraqi army has been widely viewed as a fundamental decision of the occupation, a number of U.S. officials and analysts are saying it was fundamentally wrong.

"This was a mistake, to dissolve the army and the police," said Ayad Alawi, head of the security committee of the Iraqi Governing Council. "We absolutely not only lost time. The vacuum allowed our enemies to regroup and to infiltrate the country."

5:27 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

Interesting thoughts on the Turkey bombings and why the Chinese are buying up gold at Urban Survival
Let's try to be economic geniuses, shall we? What will happen to the U.S. dollar when China announces a golden Yuan or the Islamic Dinar takes off? My best guess: We will still have 50 states (plus a few in the Middle East informally) but the Dollar will be renamed the Yankee Peso. Especially after the Free Trade Area for the America's nonsense that will job jack even more positions from the US and send them to corporatist profit centers in places even cheaper to hire labor than Mexico...

2:10 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

Nice Zippy today on celbriticians

1:46 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

FBI and police surveillance of anti-war groups now routine [u]

12:21 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Nader demands corporate crime be listed in federal crime statistics [u]
Using conservative numbers issued by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, for instance, criminologist Jeffrey Reiman, a professor at American University, estimated that the total cost of white-collar crime in 1997 was $338 billion. The actual cost is probably much greater. For instance, the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, estimates that health-care fraud alone costs up to $100 billion each year. Another estimate (by University of Cincinnati Criminal Justice Professor Francis T. Cullen) suggests that the annual cost of antitrust or trade violations is at least $250 billion. By comparison, the FBI estimated that in 2002, the nation's total loss from robbery, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft and arson was less than $18 billion - less than a third of the estimated $60 billion Enron alone cost investors, pensioners and employees.

But corporate crime isn't just about the money. It's also about people's lives. The national murder rate has hovered around 16,000 per year in recent years (In 2002, the FBI reported 16,204 murders). But statistics from a respected group of occupational health and safety investigators, led by Professor J. Paul Leigh, have estimated that in 1992 alone there were 66,971 total job-related injury and occupational disease deaths. These numbers do not include the thousands of annual deaths caused by cancers linked to corporate pollution, deaths from defective products, tainted foods, and other corporate-related causes. Though we can begin to estimate, it is hard to know how many deaths are caused by corporate crime, since again, we have no official numbers or annual reports.

12:11 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Last Thursday Sam Smith linked to 2 articles on how rock 'n roll helped bring down the Iron Curtain [u]
It was the Big Bang that set off the dissident movement in Central Europe. For those lucky enough to read an illegally retyped copy or hear it broadcast over Radio Free Europe, the effect was not unlike what happened to the 5,000 people who bought the Velvet Underground?s first record: After the shock and initial pleasure wore off, many said, "Wait a minute, I can do this too!" By standing up to a system that had forced every citizen to make a thousand daily compromises, Havel was suggesting a novel new tactic: Have the self-respect to tell the truth, never mind the consequences, and maybe you?ll put the bastards on the defensive.

"I felt the need to stir things up," he told his interviewer Lederer at the time, "to confront others for a change and force them to deal with a situation that I myself had created."

This act of literary punk rock was followed, logically enough, by a defense of rock music that sparked the Charter 77 movement. Or, as Havel told a startled Lou Reed when he met the Velvet Underground?s former frontman in 1990, "Did you know that I am president because of you?"
Havel remains an iconoclast and shit-stirrer, as you'll read if you check out the rest of the article at link 2 above.

His cluelessly Hitchensesque support of the Iraq Invasion notwithstanding, Havel is one of the most interesting and entertaining -- and brave -- politicians of the last century.

12:03 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Interesting search referral of the day: "(ring laser + Montauk + terrorism)" from the office of the Prime Minister of Tasmania, Australia

12:56 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

I don't get why the AARP -- which should know better -- is not only supporting the GOP Medicare bill but spending $7 million of their members' money to advertise it

12:46 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Monday, November 17, 2003

Naomi Klein on Bremer's economic occupation

Iraq is not America's to sell
Bring Halliburton home. Cancel the contracts. Ditch the deals. Rip up the rules. Those are just a few of the suggestions for slogans that could help unify the growing movement against the occupation of Iraq. So far, activist debates have focused on whether the demand should be for a complete withdrawal of troops, or for the United States to cede power to the United Nations.

But the "troops out" debate overlooks an important fact. If every last soldier pulled out of the Gulf tomorrow and a sovereign government came to power, Iraq would still be occupied: by laws written in the interest of another country; by foreign corporations controlling its essential services; by 70% unemployment sparked by public sector layoffs.

Any movement serious about Iraqi self-determination must call not only for an end to Iraq's military occupation, but to its economic colonisation as well. That means reversing the shock therapy reforms that US occupation chief Paul Bremer has fraudulently passed off as "reconstruction", and cancelling all privatisation contracts that are flowing from these reforms.

How can such an ambitious goal be achieved? Easy: by showing that Bremer's reforms were illegal to begin with. They clearly violate the international convention governing the behaviour of occupying forces, the Hague regulations of 1907 (the companion to the 1949 Geneva conventions, both ratified by the United States), as well as the US army's own code of war.

11:15 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

Joan Didion's new book on California, Where I Was From, seems particularly timely as The Robot As Savior takes office: reviews
Didion dramatically highlights the gap between California's rosy notion of itself as a land that stood for individual entrepreneurship, and the reality of growing government
control and reliance on federal money.


Didion cites cozy, pastel paintings by artists like Thomas Kinkade as contributing to the hazily romantic view of a state that treated foreigners early in its history with vicious bigotry, underrated education's importance and committed disturbed citizens to institutions on unacceptably flimsy evidence of their mental state.

1:34 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Congressional Research Service Reports yanked from the web mirrored on the National Treasure Memory Hole site [u]

Also at MH: the deleted draft board classified ad and documentation of Army and Navy desertion figures (22,000 and 10,600, respectively, conservatively).

1:03 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Latest evidence shrubco has lost it completely file

Cheney hires the main author of "Clean Break" Netanyahu paper, a seminal Zionist/neocon policy paper from '96

Just not getting the message.

12:42 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Old news but fun anyway file:

Rep Dingell's helpful advice to CBS on the Reagan piece which so offended the Real Americans
In his letter, Dingell wrote, "As someone who served with President Reagan, and in the interest of historical accuracy, please allow me to share with you some of my recollections of the Reagan years that I hope will make it into the final cut of the mini-series: $640 Pentagon toilets seats; ketchup as a vegetable; union busting; firing striking air traffic controllers; Iran-Contra; selling arms to terrorist nations; trading arms for hostages; retreating from terrorists in Beirut; lying to Congress; financing an illegal war in Nicaragua; visiting Bitburg cemetery; a cozy relationship with Saddam Hussein; shredding documents; Ed Meese; Fawn Hall; Oliver North; James Watt; apartheid apologia; the savings and loan scandal; voodoo economics; record budget deficits; double digit unemployment; farm bankruptcies; trade deficits; astrologers in the White House; Star Wars; and influence peddling."

12:24 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Sunday, November 16, 2003

CIA says no Saddam-terrorist WMD transfer, countering Feith's feckless ravings last week

10:27 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

William Greider has a new book and a new website [u]
The Soul of Capitalism shows us where to find the leverage for changing the system. Reformers appear in surprising variety, from conservative business managers to small-town civic leaders, social agitators and ecologists, labor leaders and farmers. Greider offers many up-and-running examples -- of workers becoming owners, of pension funds withdrawing their capital from polluters, of small companies learning how to operate profitably while caring for employees and the environment, of governments reforming their public works.

Brilliantly perceptive and sweeping in its ambition, The Soul of Capitalism is also hard-headed and practical as one of our most eloquent populist spokesmen assures us why we are not powerless. Greider illustrates how American capitalism can be aligned more faithfully and obediently with what people want and need in their lives, with what American society needs for a healthy, balanced, and humane future. He proves that it is within our power to reinvent capitalism to make it work for us.

1:06 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Undernews points out 2 examples of the growing trend of "news payola"
At the NBC affiliate in Jackson, Miss., the pitch was perfectly clear.

To be interviewed by one of its news anchors -- an "exclusive two to two and a half minute segment" -- required only a "weekly investment" of $500, according to a sales flier for the program. Or $2,000 for the month.

"Absolutely -- guilty as charged," says Dan Modisett, general manager of WLBT-TV. And the only reason he ended the practice after several months is that "it was too much effort for really not enough financial gain."

Charging for interviews, it turns out, may be more widespread than commonly thought. The Post reported last month that WFLA-TV, the NBC affiliate in Tampa, was charging $2,500 for four- to six-minute segments on its morning show. Station executives defended the practice by saying that "Daytime" is an entertainment program that is separate from the news division.

1:01 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Giant Russian water tanker airplane for fighting fires ignored by US Forest Service for obscure political reasons [u]
"This plane is ten times bigger than the average tanker they're using in Arizona and Colorado and Oregon, and because it's so heavy it can fly in windy conditions where smaller planes would be grounded."

12:51 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Iraq operations a "massive failure"

Seymour Hersh says shrub's re-election chances are weak at best and Iraq would hardly be worse off if the US left it in the hands of peacekeepers
"You have a war fought by the underclass, financed by the underclass and for the profit of the upperclass," He said. "I think Bush's going to lose [the election], unless he makes some radical change, which he's not going to do."

12:22 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

First reports of the Medicare bill have scam written all over them

A 15% reduction in prescription costs isn't worth dick.

I see health insurers as the main beneficiaries here.

12:15 AM - [Link] - Comments ()


from Sassafrass (9/23/02)
"Unconventional viewpoints at 'charging the canvas'

Opinions that will ruffle feathers, from someone who clearly knows their way around information and the blogosphere."

Blog of the Day


In the eyes of posterity it will inevitably seem that, in safeguarding our freedom, we destroyed it; that the vast clandestine apparatus we built up to probe our enemies' resources and intentions only served in the end to confuse our own purposes; that the practice of deceiving others for the good of the state led infallibly to our deceiving ourselves; and that the vast army of intelligence personnel built up to execute these purposes were soon caught up in the web of their own sick fantasies, with disastrous consequences to them and us.

-- Malcolm Muggeridge

Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception.

-- Mark Twain

(link to list against Iraq War)


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[Get Opera!]


They were past the motels now, condos on both sides. The nicer ones, on the left, had soothing pluraled nature-names carved on hanging wooden signs, The Coves, The Glades, The Meadowlands. The cheaper condos, on the right, were smaller and closer to the road, and had names like roaring powerboats, Seaspray, Barracuda's, and Beachcomber III.

Jackie sneezed, a snippy poodle kind of sneeze, God-blessed herself, and said, "I bet it's on the left, Raymond. You better slow down."

Raymond Rios, the driver and young science teacher to the bright and gifted, didn't nod or really hear. He was thinking of the motels they had passed and the problem with the signs, No Vacancy. This message bothered him, he couldn't decide why. Then Jackie sneezed and it came to him, the motels said no vacancy because they were closed for the season (or off-season or not-season) and were, therefore, totally vacant, as vacant as they ever got, and so the sign, No Vacancy, was maximum-inaccurate, yet he understood exactly what it meant. This thought or chain of thoughts made him feel vacant and relaxed, done with a problem, a pleasant empty feeling driving by the beaches in the wind.

from Big If by Mark Costello

*       *       *       *

Bailey was having trouble with his bagel. Warming to my subject, I kept on talking while cutting the bagel into smaller pieces, wiping a dob of cream from his collar, giving him a fresh napkin. "There's a pretense at democracy. Blather about consensus and empowering employees with opinion surveys and minority networks. But it's a sop. Bogus as costume jewelry. The decisions have already been made. Everything's hush-hush, on a need-to-know-only basis. Compartmentalized. Paper shredders, e-mail monitoring, taping phone conversations, dossiers. Misinformation, disinformation. Rewriting history. The apparatus of fascism. It's the kind of environment that can only foster extreme caution. Only breed base behavior. You know, if I had one word to describe corporate life, it would be 'craven.' Unhappy word."

Bailey's attention was elsewhere, on a terrier tied to a parking meter, a cheeky fellow with a grizzled coat. Dogs mesmerized Bailey. He sized them up the way they sized each other up. I plowed on. "Corporations are like fortressed city-states. Or occupied territories. Remember The Sorrow and the Pity? Nazi-occupied France, the Vichy government. Remember the way people rationalized their behavior, cheering Pétain at the beginning and then cheering de Gaulle at the end? In corporations, there are out-and-out collaborators. Opportunists. Born that way. But most of the employees are like the French in the forties. Fearful. Attentiste. Waiting to see what happens. Hunkering down. Turning a blind eye.

from Moral Hazard by Kate Jennings

*       *       *       *


When the sashaying of gentlemen
Gives you grievance now and then
What's needed are some memories of planing lakes
Those planing lakes will surely calm you down

Nothing frightens me more
Than religion at my door
I never answer panic knocking
Falling down the stairs upon the law
What Law?

There's a law for everything
And for elephants that sing to feed
The cows that Agriculture won't allow

Hanky Panky Nohow
Hanky Panky Nohow
Hanky Panky Nohow

-- John Cale

© me