Above the Fray

Friday, January 30, 2004

More Aluminium Tales:

Guess that is a big Yeppers on the question about Yale and Kerry..

Skull & Bones: The Secret Society That Unites John Kerry and President Bush

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Through the looking Glass II by Carroll

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Let us wander through the green pastures of speculation. You may choose to believe all, some or none of the below.

The Bush administration wanted to invade Iraq before there was a Bush administration. Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz, both major players in the first days of the Bush administration, said so in public in 1998.

The idea was to solidify America's status as the only superpower. America was to be the new Rome; a new Pax Romana would reign over the world. We would enforce the Pax Americana with generous dollops of money and brief bursts of gunfire.

We would be "bringing democracy" to the benighted nations of the world, but the democracy would be on our terms. We would insist on religious freedom and free trade.

When Bush took office, this plan was already in place. (Documents revealed by Paul O'Neill reveal that it was talked about in the first Cabinet meeting.) Iraq was selected as a starting point because it was weak, not because it was strong. The Hussein government was getting increasingly isolated; its grip was loosening. Taking it over would be, relatively speaking, a cakewalk.

The Sept. 11, 2001, disaster was, for the hawks, both a welcome excuse and an irritating distraction. An excuse because much more military action could be justified under the rubric of fighting terrorism. An irritant because the invasion of Iraq would have to be postponed for the invasion of Afghanistan, which was harboring the leaders of the forces that attacked us.

The administration knew the lessons of history: Never try to occupy Afghanistan. It's barren, tribal, difficult and not worth the trouble. Right now, I suspect, the administration is looking for a way to declare victory and get out. When Bush said in 2000 that it was not interested in "nation-building, " the Afghanistan adventure is exactly what he had in mind.

There was another problem: Money had to be found for both Afghanistan and Iraq, but the president also had to honor his pledge to cut taxes. He very much needed his rich friends to bankroll a second term and to ensure continuity with another Republican president in 2008. The Pax Americana would also cover the United States, one nation with one idea and one political party.

The administration handled this problem the way it handled most problems: It ignored it. It denied it existed. "Ronald Reagan proved that deficits don't matter," said Dick Cheney, and it was so.

Another problem: The threat of the evil Iraq had to be built up because the "new Rome" plan probably would not fly with the voters. Bush couldn't just say that Saddam Hussein was a cruel dictator, because there are lots of cruel dictators in the world and it has never been our policy to overthrow them merely because they are cruel. (Indeed, far more often it has been our policy to support them.)

Thus, the very embarrassing "weapons of mass destruction" meme. We had chosen Iraq because it was weak, then pretended it was strong to get public support for the invasion. But now it was revealed that Iraq had not posed a threat to anyone but its own citizens since the first Gulf War.

Another problem: These new policies were making a lot of Muslims angry. The administration could have fixed that merely by supporting the Palestinians against the Israelis, but that idea did not fly. It did pretend to be interested in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process for a while, but that excursion into reconciliation seems to be over now. Peacemaking is not really on the current American agenda.

No matter. We still controlled Iraq. This was good for three reasons: 1) Iraq is centrally located, so we can apply pressure on all the neighboring countries to institute democracy (or "democracy," your choice), 2) Iraq is rich in natural resources, so Bush can keep his backers happy by handing out useful contracts, and 3) Iraq is a fine launching point for the planned Christian missionary infiltration of the last great heathen empire.

The new American empire is Christian. This is the mission, and George Bush was elected to fulfill that mission. The job is already well under way --

the continent of Africa is becoming Christianized at an astonishing rate, and missionaries are swarming around the globe, carrying seed packets and Bibles. The wave of religious conversions is comparable to the sudden impact of Islam in the world 14 centuries ago.

With that goal -- global political and religious hegemony -- it's not surprising that the Bush administration has little time for things like individual civil liberties and balancing the budget. It is, as he said once, a crusade. Take a pikestaff, friend, and join the throng.

A small speculative fantasy about an alternative universe. Nothing to see here, really. Move along.

Please, send your letters of outrage to jcarroll@sfchronicle.com.

j Carroll San Francisco Chronicle

Wednesday, January 28, 2004


Spot on, as they say:

Dear voters, You're fired
By Brian McGrory, Globe Columnist, 1/27/2004

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Voters, come in, please. Take a seat. We need to have a little talk.

Listen, you've done some great work over the years, you really have. The entire country owes you a huge debt of thanks. But on behalf of the news media, the Washington pundits, various powerbrokers, assorted columnists, and esteemed talking heads, I have some news that it doesn't give me any pleasure to give.

You're fired.

No, I know, it seems abrupt, but it really isn't. We've been thinking about this since we caught you having that illicit fling with John McCain. The bottom line is, you're unreliable, and this electoral system needs to be fixed.

Do you have any idea how many millions of dollars we spend on polls? We have national polls, state polls, tracking polls, rolling polls, rolling tracking polls, tracking rolling polls. And when we use irrefutable science to determine exactly who wins what race and why, you willfully ignore the memo. So there's the problem: You're not paying enough attention, and I don't mean to the boring candidates. To us.

You're sure not paying enough attention to the roughly 50,000 fund-raising stories and analyses we've provided over the last year that have told you exactly why Howard Dean is going to walk away with the nomination or why Wes Clark still has a chance or why John Kerry has none at all. Forgive my tone of incredulity, but how could you possibly ignore the crucial fact that some candidates can already afford to advertise in New Mexico while others can't?

So let me ask one simple question: Do you have any idea how much it costs to house and feed R. W. "Johnny" Apple and the rest of the New York Times newsroom in Des Moines for a week? Are you aware of what the Suites of 800 Locust charges a night? Do you know that cuts of beef at the 801 Steak and Chop House run somewhere north of $35 apiece? You think Richard's Bistro in Manchester is cheap?

And for what, all this money? So you can vote any way you want and make us look like idiots?

I don't mean to pile on, but didn't you realize that we dismissed Kerry's candidacy with a steady stream of bitterly snide and snarky jokes many months ago. Did you fail to see that the firing of his campaign manager in November was the biggest story of the decade and that his appearance on Leno showed that he couldn't possibly win?

Likewise, did you miss the whole Dean coronation we held? Didn't you know that with all that Internet money and all those kids in orange, he couldn't possibly lose? Did you ignore how often the news magazines had him on their cover?

How do you think all this makes us feel in the news business? Well, I'll tell you exactly how it makes us feel: jittery. We're up here in New Hampshire long past the time when we like to call things done, and you keep getting in the way. Dean's down, Dean's up. Kerry's surging, Kerry's sliding. Who do you think you are, waiting until Primary Day to make up your mind?

Now we've got million-dollar-a-year analysts on national television hedging their bets. What gives you the right? And some people are starting to think this thing might go one primary, one caucus at a time, until a candidate wins enough delegates. Obviously, the system's broken and needs to be fixed.

So you're out. We don't have enough for severance, but here's a limited edition DVD of the McLaughlin Group and the Capital Gang facing off in a steel cage debate in Madision Square Garden, political discourse at its best.

And what will we do instead, you ask? We'll still head to Iowa and New Hampshire for the quirky campaign events. Great visuals, what with the snow-covered fields and the flannel shirts, exactly as the Founding Fathers would have wanted it.

But on caucus day and Primary Day, we'll have a new mantra, something a little more appropriate for the Information Age: "We Report, We Decide." And nobody gets in our way.

Boston.com Dear voters, You're fired

Aluminium for the mind:

Just a thought,

About John Kerry ::: "A graduate of Yale University..."

Skull and Bones too???

Just a thought doncha know...

Real Relevant Indicator:

I am not that entranced over tracking the candidates.. they put out the B.S. to get the votes just like the opposition. All their proposals will change with the prevailing winds [nothing new here] The real indicators of change are:

1] What are the folks voting on [the key variable] and

2] How many are voting [subset, where are the votes coming from.]

This little observation is interesting,

Open Source Politics:

"One of the biggest losers of the day was President Bush, who lost more than 2500 votes to write-in Democrats - from registered Republicans .

Not to mention that on the heels of record turnout in Iowa,

Democrats turned out in record numbers in New Hampshire as well. The numbers in recent elections show that high Democratic turnout could be a deciding factor in November.

All of this is on top of dropping poll numbers, a sticky situation in Iraq, a case for war that has basically all disappeared, mixed economic news (Kraft just wiped out the entire employment gain from December), and poorly thought-out domestic policies that the people don't support. "

The major key issue seems to be 'electability' [bad word.. more corruption of the English language..and so it goes], in other words voters are looking at the 'pragmatics' of the process. The other issues seem to be taking a back seat to this one factor. I can't say that I disagree.

If this really is a voter priority, then my faith in the inherent balancing system in democracy will be restored. It remains to be seen whether this will be enough to reverse the imbalance in November, but at least others [of a significant number] have noticed and don't approve of governance by 'critical parent', fiat, and distortion of reality..more on this later].

Note to Benedict: Your observations about Kerry are as always, trenchant, and true. As you know I have had first hand experience with the 'good ole boys club' of our folks in governance.

Outsiders cannot prevail unless they have done the song and dance and paid respects to the system that is [the real system that is]. Dean did not do this... The thing to remember is the phrase 'what's going on is not what's going on'. In short, since the 1960's, there has been a meta governance system implanted in Washington.

Outsiders may apply, but there are certain rules they have to follow. If they don't, they never get in. If they stealth themselves in, like GW, they will be removed.

[The list of rules that the GW crowd has broken is long and subject for another post .] However, one example...

There is a rule that you don't mess with Govt employees and the civil service. Minor and cosmetic changes are tolerated, but major acts of disrespect and or attacks are not. GW's contempt for these folks is obvious. Further, it appears that the GW crowd acts in accordance with the philosophy of the 'modern Machiavelli', Leo Straus. [aka, neo conservatives.. which is a weasel word for elitists..but I digress]

They operate off the rule: there are no friends nor allies, just mutual interest groups. Dismiss, betray, and attack if it serves your purpose. [This works for a few times since the allies are in disbelief and can't imagine that they too fit this category. However as time goes on, a pattern emerges, and with the change in operating assumptions, comes a change in the tone of the games].

Fellow Repubs are finding out that loyalty doesn't count nor protect.. I am hoping that this has become clear to the Repubs and that a backlash will occur [there are emerging signs, however, all this will be done 'below the radar' of us common folk].

Anyway, the major error made was to mess with the CIA . They blamed them for bad intelligence...this is sorta ok, since it doesn't effect them much and they know how to endure bad PR. They tried to decrease their independence by sweeping them under the Homeland Security agency..not to be tolerated, just endured for a time and passively sabotaged. The real error was to 'out' an operative. A big big 'no no' [and I agree].

This became public as the Phlame affair. It hasn't gotten much press of late since the details are boring, and the gang has thrown a lot of dirt in the air in the hopes that it will confuse and distract the public [which it has].

But the professional members of the company have not forgotten. This type of behavior threatens the core of their mission. If any politician feels free to share information on their activities, the entire agency is at risk [life and death type]. They will send a message.... actually, they have been, but very subtlely.

There have been a number or little events and leaks that tell me that they are on a 'payback' mission. [and probably have some allies in the other security agencies since what happens to one will happen to others]. This will be 'the death of a thousand cuts' technique. Some of the moves will be in the public sphere, some will be in the meta reality. No arrows will point to them, directly, but everyone of the club will know and understand.

Of late, there have been a few incidents of a low impact type, I predict that the real WMD will be employed near the November dateline [actually Sept is a good month, if I were on their strategy team..lol]

I realize that tis might be 'tin foil hat' theory, but I believe that the GWB gang will be neutralized and the stealth folks will be expunged regardless of the election outcome.

This still doesn't deal with the Corporation as Citizen/State problem, but at least the active boosters of this situation will lose some of their leverage. I am not as optimistic about this situation. I think the switch point has been reached and passed. All that can be changed is the rate of change.

Think Blade Runner... but this is for another time... and so it goes.

Friday, January 16, 2004

An Awe Moment

Who hasn't had one of these... awkward as hell, but in this case redemption..

...Now there were various luminaries there and it was quite flattering to hear that some of these people have visited the site. But let me share with you a private moment.

Early on I noticed that one of the folks there was Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.

Schlesinger, if you’re not familiar with him, is one of those few people who is quite literally a legend in his own time. I don’t know precisely how old he is. But, to give you a sense of the range we’re talking about, the book that made his name as an historian, The Age of Jackson, came out, I believe, in 1946.

Schlesinger is an historian and an advisor to president Kennedy, but also a towering figure in 20th century American political life, particularly in the first phase of the Cold War when his name was almost a shorthand for liberal anti-communism and Cold War Liberalism. The key book here is The Vital Center, published I believe in 1949 --- a phrase and concept of high moment, before it got cheapened in the 1990s to refer to mere political centrism.

In any case, as you can probably see, Schlesinger is a rather big deal to me. So toward the end of the whole event, after most folks had left, I saw Schlesinger and two women standing off to one side. And I thought, this is my chance. How can I let it go by?

So I walked over to where the three were talking and planted myself there like a schoolboy and waited.

And I waited, and waited a bit more until they, a touch awkwardly, turned their attention to me. When they did, I introduced myself and told him what a great admirer I was of his and what an honor it was to meet him and so forth. When I did this I explained that in addition to my semi-reputable work as a blogger I was also a trained historian with a Ph.D. in American history and the works.

Now normally I never mention this, or say such things. And I’m half embarrassed to mention to you that I did. But given Schlesinger’s merit in the profession, and my limited window of opportunity to play up my admiration, I thought I’d make an exception for myself in this one case. I probably figured that I’d be making clear that I knew who he was, that my admiration wasn’t just a pleasantry, or perhaps, candidly, that I wasn’t just some yahoo.

To be polite Schlesinger’s wife asked me to explain to them just what a blog is. And though I get this question pretty often, it turns out to be a rather challenging one if the people you’re trying to explain it to don’t necessarily have a lot of clear web reference points to make sense of what you’re saying.

I ended up telling them that it was something like political commentary structured like a personal journal with occasional reporting mixed in.

Now, as I was explaining and watching the looks on everyone’s faces it was incrementally becoming clear to me that this was playing rather like saying that something was like a washing machine structured like a rhinoceros with the occasional sandwich thrown in. And, as Schlesinger himself had said rather little through all this, it was also dawning on me that being one of the four guests of honor at this little event was providing no guarantee against making a bit of a fool of myself.

So we let the brief conversation come to a merciful end and they started to walk away. And, as he was turning to leave, Schlesinger said, “Are you Joshua Micah M ….”

“Yeah, that's me.”

“You work for Charlie Peters [i.e., for The Washington Monthly]. I’m an admirer of your journalism.”
Then they walked away. My day was made. -- Josh Marshall

Joshua Micah Marshall

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Trust Me

Trust is a terrible thing to waste...

"Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few… No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare." James Madison

Former Bush aide: US plotted Iraq invasion long before 9/11
Date: Sunday, January 11 @ 09:34:23 EST

By Neil Mackay, Glasgow Sunday Herald

GEORGE Bush's former treasury secretary Paul O'Neill has revealed that the President took office in January 2001 fully intending to invade Iraq and desperate to find an excuse for pre-emptive war against Saddam Hussein.

O'Neill's claims tally with long-running investigations by the Sunday Herald which have shown how the Bush cabinet planned a pre- meditated attack on Iraq in order to "regime change" Saddam long before the neoconservative Republicans took power.

The Sunday Herald previously uncovered how a think-tank - run by vice-president Dick Cheney; defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld; Paul Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld's deputy; Bush's younger brother Jeb, the governor of Florida; and Lewis Libby, Cheney's deputy - wrote a blueprint for regime change as early as September 2000.

The think-tank, the Project for the New American Century, said, in the document Rebuilding America's Defences: Strategies, Forces And Resources For A New Century, that: "The United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein".

The document - referred to as a blueprint for US global domination - laid plans for a Bush government "maintaining US global pre- eminence, precluding the rise of a great-power rival, and shaping the international security order in line with American principles and interests". It also said fighting and winning multiple wars was a "core mission".

O'Neill was fired in December 2002 as a result of disagreements over tax cuts. He is the first major Bush administration insider to attack the President. He likened Bush at cabinet meetings to "a blind man in a room full of deaf people", according to excerpts from a CBS interview to be shown today.

"From the very beginning, there was a conviction that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go," O'Neill said. "For me, the notion of pre-emption, that the US has the unilateral right to do whatever we decide to do, is a really huge leap."

O'Neill and other White House insiders have given the journalist Ron Suskind documents for a new book, The Price Of Loyalty, revealing that as early as the first three months of 2001 the Bush administration was examining military options for removing Saddam Hussein.

"There are memos," Suskind told CBS. "One of them marked 'secret' says 'Plan for Post- Saddam Iraq'."

Another Pentagon document entitled Foreign Suitors For Iraqi Oil Field Contracts talks about contractors from 40 countries and which ones have interests in Iraq.

O'Neill is also quoted in the new book saying the President was determined to find a reason to go to war and he was surprised nobody on the National Security Council questioned why Iraq should be invaded.

"It was all about finding a way to do it. That was the tone of it," said O'Neill. "The President saying, 'Go find me a way to do this.'"

White House spokesman Scott McClellan rejected O'Neill's remarks. He said: "We appreciate his service. While we're not in the business of doing book reviews, it appears that the world according to Mr O'Neill is more about trying to justify his own opinions than looking at the reality of the results we are achieving on behalf of the American people."

Reprinted from The Glasgow Sunday Herald:

Planning is everything

Monday, January 05, 2004

See Nothing Hear Nothing:

An interesting crowd control technique.. round up protesters and put them miles away from the action. Limit or eliminate media access. Old news, but what I found disturbing was the intrepretation of protest as terriorism!.. not from a PPPundit, but from law enforcement.

When President Bush travels around the United States, the Secret Service visits the location ahead of time and orders local police to set up "free speech zones" or "protest zones," where people opposed to Bush policies (and sometimes sign-carrying supporters) are quarantined. These zones routinely succeed in keeping protesters out of presidential sight and outside the view of media covering the event....

...Protesters have claimed that police have assaulted them during demonstrations in New York, Washington and elsewhere.

One of the most violent government responses to an antiwar protest occurred when local police and the federally funded California Anti-Terrorism Task Force fired rubber bullets and tear gas at peaceful protesters and innocent bystanders at the Port of Oakland, injuring a number of people.

When the police attack sparked a geyser of media criticism, Mike van Winkle, the spokesman for the California Anti-Terrorism Information Center told the Oakland Tribune, "You can make an easy kind of a link that, if you have a protest group protesting a war where the cause that's being fought against is international terrorism, you might have terrorism at that protest. You can almost argue that a protest against that is a terrorist act."
Van Winkle justified classifying protesters as terrorists: "I've heard terrorism described as anything that is violent or has an economic impact, and shutting down a port certainly would have some economic impact. Terrorism isn't just bombs going off and killing people."

Got it now? The new line is Disagreement equals Traitor. Protest equals Terrorist. These are the folks that we are to trust. I am sure they will interpret my behavior in a fair and balanced way.. after all if you have nothing to hide why should you be concerned?

Are you concerned yet?Bush Free Speech Zones

Sunday, January 04, 2004

We report, You Decide:

Fair and Balanced? I think this is deja vu all over again.

...If the police discover anything "suspicious," they are to report it immediately to their local Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), according to the FBI bulletin released on Christmas Eve.

..."The joint terrorism tasks forces are chaired in 56 regions of the country by the FBI, and those task forces include members of other federal agencies, such as INS, Customs, AFT, and CIA, as well as state and local law enforcement. Homeland security would be included as well," noted FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III last month.

"The importance of these task forces is that they have transformed a federal counter-terrorism effort into a national effort, creating a force multiplier effect, and indeed providing effective real time information sharing among the participants."

...In other words, a federally coordinated police force integrating elements of the military, the CIA, numerous federal agencies, and nearly every police department in the nation.

...Section 4 of this legislation will "detail any employee within the Central Intelligence Agency" to state and local law enforcement. In other words, your local police department may not only be working in tandem with the CIA, individual officers will also be "deputized" and answerable directly to the CIA. In order to do this, the bill will amend the Central Intelligence Agency Act of 1949 and its long regretted (and often violated) restriction on domestic activities.

...All of this follows the CIA's installation of analysts and covert action operatives in "each of the 56 FBI field offices in the United States" last year, according to the AP. The CIA claimed their agents would only serve only as "conduits of information," providing law enforcement with "distilled intelligence" from the CIA.

But a spokesman also indicated members of the CIA's "operational branch" were among those being assigned to the domestic FBI offices -- in other words, "operatives responsible for carrying out dirty tricks ranging from election rigging to assassinations," as the AP characterized it.

..."Routine spying on dissidents is a sign of a police state, and unless we stop this administration's cavalier attitude towards fundamental rights we face a serious threat to our democracy," warned Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Routine spying on political enemies is the FBI's raison d'être.

...As author Jonathan Vankin notes, in the 1960s the CIA infiltrated police departments around the country and trained officers in clandestine methods. According to Verne Lyon, a former CIA undercover operative, the CIA "used its contacts with local police departments and their intelligence units to pick up its 'police skills' and began in earnest to pull off burglaries, illegal entries, use of explosives, criminal frame-ups, shared interrogations, and disinformation [against domestic political groups].

CIA teams purchased sophisticated equipment for many starved police departments and in return got to see arrest records, suspect lists, and intelligence reports. Many large police departments, in conjunction with the CIA, carried out illegal, warrantless searches of private properties."

The Farmer's Almanac, FBI Data