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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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Friday, November 28, 2003

U.S. is battling for higher drug prices overseas

10:38 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Congress allows Draconian reduction in overtime benefits [u]

12:29 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

"Twenty-one days until you choose which Kool-Aid to drink"

Demo opponent compares Green Party mayoral candidate for San Francisco to Jim Jones

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

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Update on the media reform debate
Given that both houses of Congress have overwhelming endorsed a return to the 35% cap and large sectors of the Republican base have opposed further media consolidation, there seemed precious little wiggle room for serving deregulatory ideologies and the interests of the major broadcast networks who contribute heavily to GOP coffers. (Notably the Democrats do not so much as have a token voice in this negotiating session).

But the White House appears to have found a way to have its cake and eat it too. Stevens has reached a compromise with his party leaders. The cap will be set at 39%. And it will be permanent. Why are these two things significant? First, 39% is not a randomly selected number. It just so happens that Viacom (owners of CBS) owns stations reaching 38.8% of American households, and New Corp (owners of Fox) owns stations reaching 37.8%. Had the 35% limit stuck, they could well have been forced to sell off some stations to come into compliance. With a 39% limit, CBS and Fox can keep their stations while NBC and ABC can substantially expand holdings. Second, the 39% compromise is a permanent solution, not an appropriations rider which would only have blocked the move to 45% for one fiscal year.
Read the whole article (short) and sign the petition.

Also tune into Bill Moyers' NOW this Friday on PBS for a special on media concentration, or watch it online starting Dec 1 here.

9:14 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

US losing support of Iraqi police as attacks include police fatalities
Iraqi police say they are underpaid, poorly armed and lack equipment to protect themselves from increasing attacks by insurgents. Frequently branded as collaborators with the U.S. occupation, many police resent the Americans and some even express sympathy for the guerrillas.


About a dozen Iraqi policemen who spoke to The Associated Press on Wednesday said they were not deterred by the bombings and would continue working for the police force.

Still, they expressed resentment toward the Americans, who are better armed and less vulnerable to attack. Several policemen referred to the resistance against the Americans as a jihad, or holy war, and said Iraqis had a legitimate right to fight occupation.

"Take a look at the American bases," said Lt. Miqdad Thamer, 25, in Baqouba. "They are hiding behind barricades while we are here in the streets with not even guns to protect ourselves.

"We are getting attacked because they think we cooperate with the Americans. This is not true. We are trying to bring security to the city."

Traffic officer Salman Khaizaran said attacks will continue - against Americans as well as Iraqis - so long as U.S. troops remain. "If they want the attacks to stop, they must leave the cities and hand over security responsibilities to us."

3:31 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Murky case of Chinese human rights expatriate found guilty of selling US microprocessors used in military tech to China

3:28 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

"They just can't understand why you have to settle for a half a bagel here, with a hole in the middle"

AARP members are burning their membership cards and flooding the Net forums in "what could be the biggest revolt in its ranks since the 1980s."
"It's a firestorm out there. I am absolutely convinced that on this issue AARP doesn't speak for their membership," said Edward Coyle, executive director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, which represents more than 3 million retirees.


In West Palm Beach, Fla., Sam Oser, a 77-year-old retiree, organized a protest in his retirement community and burned his AARP card.

"The more we thought about the Republican plan - the more we thought about it, the angrier we got and we felt the AARP was really selling us out," he said.

Julia Kayser, 76, of Easthampton, N.Y., the president of a local AARP chapter, said that during a recent visit to a senior center, where she serves lunch as a volunteer, she told people they ought to quit the AARP.

"A lot of people will not renew their membership when it comes due," said.

Card-burnings and protests were also reported in such places as Washington, D.C., Webster Groves, Mo., and San Francisco.

"We don't think AARP in the least represents seniors on this issue," said Bruce Livingston, executive director of Senior Action Network in the San Francisco area. "We're going to encourage people to quit. This is just the beginning."

3:24 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Hiring of shadowy mercs by CIA's paramilitary arm (Special Operations Group) "places one more veil over its activities" in Afghanistan, Iraq, ?

3:17 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Police state creep file:

How the military is gradually " assuming major new domestic policing and surveillance roles"
It's not that we're heading toward martial law. We're not [oh really??]. But outside the view of most of the public, the government is daily expanding military operations into areas of local government and law enforcement that historically have been off-limits. And it doesn't seem far-fetched to imagine that those charged with assembling "actionable intelligence" will slowly start combining databases of known terrorists with seemingly innocuous lists of contributors to charities or causes, that membership lists for activist organizations will be folded in, that names and personal data of anti-globalization protesters will be run through the "data mine." After all, the mission of Northern Command and other Pentagon agencies is to identify groups and individuals who could potentially pose threats to Defense Department and civilian installations.

Given all this, it might be a good time for state and local governments to ask themselves whether the federal government, through the military, is slowly eroding their power to manage what -- for very good reasons -- have always been considered local responsibilities.
No shit.

3:07 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Martial law is just around the corner file:

In case you missed the Gen. Franks comment which was widely circulated last week:
Discussing the hypothetical dangers posed to the U.S. in the wake of Sept. 11, Franks said that "the worst thing that could happen? is if terrorists acquire and then use a biological, chemical or nuclear weapon that inflicts heavy casualties.

If that happens, Franks said, "... the Western world, the free world, loses what it cherishes most, and that is freedom and liberty we?ve seen for a couple of hundred years in this grand experiment that we call democracy."

Franks then offered "in a practical sense" what he thinks would happen in the aftermath of such an attack.

"It means the potential of a weapon of mass destruction and a terrorist, massive, casualty-producing event somewhere in the Western world ? it may be in the United States of America ? that causes our population to question our own Constitution and to begin to militarize our country in order to avoid a repeat of another mass, casualty-producing event. Which in fact, then begins to unravel the fabric of our Constitution. Two steps, very, very important."

3:03 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Police state is here file:

Blairco planning PATRIOT-like near-martial law measures

These would prohibit demonstrations like the recent ones during shrub's visit.

2:55 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Tribal trditions in South Africa are the source for a new model for reducing recidivism through "restorative justice" [u]
...a nation grappling with one of the world's worst violent-crime problems is building on tribal traditions that uplift both victim and perpetrator. The result could be a model of how to integrate such "restorative justice" into a legal system.

Not that the two men's reconciliation was easy. Nor is restorative justice simple to implement - or often very popular. But with 85 percent of young South African offenders heading back to prison within six months of their release, there's growing support for anything that works.

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

Death of New York file:

Rent controlled apts. disappearing

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

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

What the latest GOP scam -- the "Medicare" bill -- will mean re drug benefits and overall

See post below as well.

4:37 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

"I am good, I feel like an angel"

"Good Catholic" Pinochet says Marxists should be asking him for forgiveness

In case you don't know about the Allende assassination and coup in Chile in '73, here's a short review.

4:33 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

A couple long quotes on Undernews from Baghdad Burning seem to express the often astounded outrage of average Iraqis at the occupation
Everyone has at least one Klashnikov and a couple of guns. Every male in the house is usually armed and sometimes the females are too. It's not because we love turning our homes into arsenals, but because the situation was so dangerous (and in some areas still is) that no one wants to take any risks. Imagine the scene: a blue mini-van pulls up? 10 dirty, long-haired men clamber out with Klashnikovs, pistols and grenades and demand all the gold and the kids (for ransom). Now imagine trying to face them all with a single handgun? if Baghdad were SECURE people would give up their weapons. I hate having weapons in the house.

1:19 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

From Undernews
It has been estimated that it would cost about $1.2 billion an election cycle to have legislated public campaign financing of federal elections. The current energy bill gives $23.5 billion in unlegislated campaign financing to coal, oil, and gas interests in the form of tax breaks. In other words, one could fund our national elections for nearly 20 years for what Congress is now paying back to some of its campaign contributors.

1:02 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Monday, November 24, 2003

The Miami Model: Paramilitaries, Embedded Journalists and Illegal Protests [American Samizdat]
Watching the embedded journalists on Miami TV was quite entertaining. They spoke of venturing into Protesterland as though they were entering a secret al Qaeda headquarters in the mountains of Afghanistan. Interviews with protest leaders were sort of like the secret bin Laden tapes. There was something risque, even sexy about having the courage to venture over to the convergence space (the epicenter of protest organizing at the FTAA) and the Independent Media Center. Several reporters told of brushes they had with "the protesters." One reporter was quite shaken after a group of "anarchists" slashed her news van's tires and wrote the word "propaganda" across the side door. She feared for the life of her cameraman, she somberly told the anchor back in the studio. The anchor warned her to be careful out there.

So dangerous was the scene that the overwhelming majority of the images of the protests on TV were from helicopter shots, where very little could be seen except that there was a confrontation between police and "the protesters." This gave cover for Timoney and other officials to make their outrageous and false statements over and over.


At one point during a standoff with police, it appeared as though a group of protesters had gotten into a brawl amongst themselves. But as others moved in to break up the melee, two of the guys pulled out electric tazers and shocked protesters, before being liberated back behind police lines. These guys, clearly undercover agents, were dressed like any other protester. One had a sticker on his backpack that read: "FTAA No Way."

The IMC has since published pictures of people dressed like Black Bloc kids - ski masks and all - walking with uniformed police behind police lines.
Believe nothing in the Mass Media about stories like this.

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

10,000 demonstrate at Ft Benning against training school for Latin American soldiers and Iraq occupation

8:48 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

Al Arabiya TV station shut down by Iraqi Council

2:14 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

AFL-CIO may sue Miami over police abuses at Free Trade protests [Urban Survival]
Early on Thursday morning, Bentley Killmon boarded a chartered bus to take him from Fort Myers to Miami so he could protest the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas. The 71-year-old, retired airline pilot said he was amazed by the heavy police presence in downtown Miami when he arrived.

Throughout the day, he said he watched police overreact to incidents. He saw a 53-year-old woman get shot in the chest with rubber bullets. He saw other peaceful protesters being gassed with pepper spray. He saw young people, who weren't doing anything illegal or improper, being pushed and harassed by cops.

"My father was in the Norfolk City Police Department for many years," he said. "Until Thursday, I respected the badge. I respected the job the police had to do. But I no longer respect the badge. Not in Miami. Not after what I saw. Not after what happened to me and others."

As the day ended, Killmon, along with others from the Alliance for Retired Americans, were trying to find their way back to their buses.

"We ran into a line of brown shirts," he said, referring to the uniforms worn by the Miami-Dade Police Department. "They were very rude. They would not let us pass, and they sent us down the railroad tracks.

"That's when we saw the black shirts coming at us," he said. Miami police wore black uniforms.

"They were pointing their guns at us," he continued. "I guess they had those rubber pellets in them, but I didn't know, I was just incredibly frightened. Some of the people with us got down on their knees, and as I got down on my knees, I was briskly pushed to the ground. It felt like I had a foot to my back knocking me down. Everyone in our group was knocked to the ground and handcuffed. I had my hands cuffed behind my back for 7 ˝ hours."

Killmon said he was charged with disorderly conduct.

"I still don't know what it was I did," he said Saturday.

After spending the night in jail, he said a judge dismissed the charges against him.

"Miami was a police state," he said.

2:11 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

North Carolina science school for high school juniors & seniors offers free in-state college tuition to graduates

2:38 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Stupid antiterrorist tricks

New Zealand PM Helen Clark frisked by Aussie airport security

Nice one, mate.

2:07 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Sunday, November 23, 2003

The Gore Vidal interview in L.A. Weekly
Do you not think of Bush and Ashcroft as Americans?

I think of them as an alien army. They have managed to take over everything, and quite in the open. We have a deranged president. We have despotism. We have no due process.


So the corruption predicted by Franklin bears its terrible fruit. No one wants to do anything about it. It's not even a campaign issue. Once you have a business community that is so corrupt in a society whose business is business, then what you have is, indeed, despotism.

11:47 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

Our medieval semiosphere

Counterpunch interview with Sam Smith
One of the reasons I have spent my life in the alternative media is because I think it's a good thing to do while waiting for something good to happen. And certainly better than working for the archaic media. The conventional press rarely does anything useful in helping human evolution or social transformation. This is why the Washington Post is still bragging about Watergate, a story that is 30 years old. Nothing much has happened since.


...we are living in quasi-revival of the middle ages in which social behavior and choices are governed by mythology rather than rationality--only with the arbiter being cable television rather than religion. The truth no longer seems to set us free; it just makes us catatonic. Far easier to pretend we're living in a movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the lead role.

7:56 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

How cannibalizing the commons for the market is killing the economy (pdf) [u]

7:52 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

Being a supplier for Walmart can crush a company or make them send jobs overseas [u]
Wal-Mart wields its power for just one purpose: to bring the lowest possible prices to its customers. At Wal-Mart, that goal is never reached. The retailer has a clear policy for suppliers: On basic products that don't change, the price Wal-Mart will pay, and will charge shoppers, must drop year after year. But what almost no one outside the world of Wal-Mart and its 21,000 suppliers knows is the high cost of those low prices. Wal-Mart has the power to squeeze profit-killing concessions from vendors. To survive in the face of its pricing demands, makers of everything from bras to bicycles to blue jeans have had to lay off employees and close U.S. plants in favor of outsourcing products from overseas.

Of course, U.S. companies have been moving jobs offshore for decades, long before Wal-Mart was a retailing power. But there is no question that the chain is helping accelerate the loss of American jobs to low-wage countries such as China. Wal-Mart, which in the late 1980s and early 1990s trumpeted its claim to "Buy American," has doubled its imports from China in the past five years alone, buying some $12 billion in merchandise in 2002. That's nearly 10% of all Chinese exports to the United States.

One way to think of Wal-Mart is as a vast pipeline that gives non-U.S. companies direct access to the American market. "One of the things that limits or slows the growth of imports is the cost of establishing connections and networks," says Paul Krugman, the Princeton University economist. "Wal-Mart is so big and so centralized that it can all at once hook Chinese and other suppliers into its digital system. So--wham!--you have a large switch to overseas sourcing in a period quicker than under the old rules of retailing."

7:34 PM - [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)


Philip K. Dick


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insound (music and mags) (books & music cheap)
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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