Tuesday, December 4, 2007

U.S. Gives Head Fake on Iran

In a classic good cop, bad cop routine the United States and Israel continue to toy with Iran. Uncle Sam decided to bring the suspect the slightest bit of good news with its latest National Intelligence Estimate. "I sort of believe you," said the goateed man in the red, white and blue top hat. "But you'll have to give me more."

Once that small bit of more comes out, wham! The bad cop, Israel pounds the little bearded suspect's head against the wall. Israel officially discounted the U.S. estimate saying "even if the Islamic republic halted its programme in 2003, as said in a new US intelligence assessment, Israel believed it has since been relaunched."

Those focus groups helped American war mongers devise this strategy. Israel can take out Iran's nuclear facilities and our citizen's will say "that's their business." Then the U.S. can come to the aid of our ally when Iran rages in retaliation. We're all being set up at the moment. You can get excited about the apparent U.S. change of heart, Iran but don't be surprised when the bad cop comes wheeling around the corner throwing haymakers. Words won't stop missiles, yours or theirs.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Terror Attack Around 2008 Elections?

If Osama bin Laden is as shrewd and calculating as they make him out, he won't be the man behind any terror attacks prior to U.S. elections in 2008. The political tide of 70% of Americans wanting out of Iraq favors his aim of having no foreign troops in the Middle East. So why would he order an attack with success tantalizingly close?

What's more likely is the release of chatter that indicates a looming terror threat. Funny how every Christmas and New Year's Fran told us to "party on". One might think Islamic fundamentalists would love to strike a blow at Western decadence, but they never seem able. Now that an election looms, that could go the wrong way.... be very afraid!

Let's see, John Negroponte gets back from "counseling" Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who just declared martial law to save democracy and Fran talks about needing to secure the election. Consider her words in a CNN report:

“We know that Al Qaeda views these periods as being a particularly vulnerable period,” she said on CNN’s ‘American Morning.’ “We don't have any specific information, but given our experience and what we know, I believe we've got a real obligation to prepare for that transition between the election and the inauguration in a special way.” Townsend offered this warning as she prepares to leave her job counseling President Bush on homeland security matters.

Who's counseling who, Mrs. Townsend? And are you in need of a convenient diversion? What about your boss?

Freedom's Watch New Website Strives for Independence

Ever vigilant on the pursuit of freedom, Freedom's Watch announced their redesigned website. After checking the new media center, I found not a peep about the military crackdowns in Pakistan and Burma. Apparently it's not at all about freedom. That begs the question, what is Freedom's Watch really about? It's intended to perpetuate the permanent campaign. Gag! Will they not stop until virtually every American declares themselves an independent?

Hurry folks, drop your Republican and Democratic labels ASAP. Then maybe we can get our country back from the Freedom Watchers and the "bipartisan" Israel Project, two groups determined to mine the language of war. Democracies don't war? Let's see Israel attacked democratic Lebanon, the U.S. invaded Iraq based on false information and Turkey wants to pull an Israel with Iraq.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Smashing Fists

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez doesn't know when to keep his mouth shut. During a visit to Iran, he said "Here are two brother countries, united like a single fist." And here in America we have our own version of two manly entities in hand embrace. The first party is U.S. corporations, currently not in decline as they spread globally in search of new markets and ever expanding profits. The second is the U.S. government exemplified by our military, also with a worldwide presence and projected to grow in both size and capability.

America has a clear history of acting to reduce threats to switch oil trading from dollars. It has a clear history of taking out leaders who nationalize Western corporate interests. Mr. Chavez promotes both, while Mr. Ahmadinejad has a whole country trading without the benefits of U.S. products. The Bush administration wants both of these yahoo's gone. If they keep talking smack, my guess is that's what we'll hear. It will be the sound of Chavez's single fist hitting a depleted uranium shell, paid for with U.S. dollars. Boys, you may need to see a hand specialist!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Beware the Deputy

When was the last time a bald Deputy Secretary of State showed up in Pakistan armed with forceful words? The first time Richard Armitage threatened consequences if Pakistan didn't line up with the U.S. in the war on terror. John Negroponte's trip is clearly intended to get the dictator back in line with "freedom as the tonic to hopelessness that breeds terror."

Of course, it's important to note Pervez Musharraf's implied threat of loose nukes told to the BBC just before meeting with the current bald deputy. But I'm not worried about John as he's fully capable of delivering veiled threats of his own.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Negroponte Delivers Uniform Message to Dictator

Heavy handed Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte goes where ineffective Condoleeza Rice can't. He just arrived in Pakistan to tell the Pakistani dictator to change his dress, free up some press and schedule elections at the end of a gun barrel. Well, it sounds like the wild, wild West with George W. and John already rough riding in the region.

We'll see if Pervez decides to join and make it a threesome. He clearly blazed his own trail far off the road to democracy. But my guess is Musharraf still wants to play with some of those military toys, provided courtesy of Uncle Sam's largess. Right now he is four wheeling in a Hummer. So far, he hit the independent judiciary, ran over a god damned piece of paper, shut out the light of independent media and is doing doughnuts around his political opponents, stuck in place from fear.

What toys did Mr. Negroponte offer the Pakistani dictator for his compliance with U.S. wishes? Big carrots and big sticks, that's what George Bush is all about. The problem is Bush can't use his Hitler comparison on the Iranian President while Pervez dances around in uniform. Strange days? Indeed!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Privacy Irony: Individuals vs. Government

Just yesterday the Deputy Director of National Intelligence suggested Americans should redefine privacy to mean "properly safeguarding personal information" by government and businesses. Today, a news report shows the White House cannot safeguard its own e-mails. Despite federal laws requiring the capture and retention of government documents, the White House stopped archiving its e-mail in 2003. Legal proceedings seek to find the status of electronic communications since then.

Being a citizen with nothing to hide, I welcome government review of my e-mails and phone calls. But I get puzzled when the group saying I should be open, wants to close itself off to outside review. If the patriotic citizen should be open and transparent, so should the accountable government.

Yet cutting into the malodorous onion, another layer of irony exists. Suppose the only place the "missing 5 million e-mails" exists is the giant AT&T vacuum cleaner that deposited every citizens e-mail into a huge storage bin? No wonder everyone's scrambling to grant immunity to the telecoms.

Once Congress goes flaccid for the spying Bush administration once again, then recalcitrant George can deny the White House e-mails made it into the hopper before moving quickly to the chipper. W. recycles lies and excuses, if not actual e-mail paper. Open up, George! Leaders model the way...

Lying Just Might Get Candidate Elected in Ohio

Political candidates in the U.S. aren't known for telling the truth. But committing outright lies against one's opponent, how could that be rewarded in America? By not being punished, that's how.

In Ohio, the range of penalties for spreading falsehoods during a campaign is rather small for the Commission charged with enforcement. They can do nothing, issue a letter of reprimand or refer the case to courts for prosecution. In a hotly contested and ugly race the Commission found both candidates guilty of infractions, but imposed no penalties. That could lead one to believe there are rules, but they're not enforced.

The article tried to justify lying by calling it "spin", which makes the political definition of misrepresentation sound justifiable. "But your honor, I was only giving spin." The end result is elected leaders lie and cheat to win. We've seen it before in America's boardrooms with stock option backdating. There the shareholders suffer from executive malfeasance. Here the voting public gets inaccurate information on which to make critical leadership choices. Either way the small person gets the shaft.

How can we vote for truth, honesty and the American way if it's not modeled in campaigns? We can't. The Supermen are long gone from the U.S. leadership stage, in their place are a bunch of Lex Luthors.

Army Upgrades PTSD to Real Time

The U.S. Army has recalled soldiers with post traumatic stress disorder to Afghanistan and Iraq. A psychiatrist weighed in on the practice:

Dr. Judith Herman is a psychiatrist who specializes in PTSD. She said she does not think it is safe to send a mentally ill soldier back to war. "Personally I'm appalled by the practice," Herman said. "I don't think it's safe for the individual soldier. I don't think it's safe for his unit either to send someone who is so impaired back into a situation of danger."

Not only is it unsafe, it's against the Army's policies. The official policy of the Defense Department states "soldiers with serious psychiatric problems could only be sent back to the war zone if they were stable for at least three months."

I can just hear Donald Rumsfeld, "You go to war with the Army you've got..." Ours bears the mental scars as it lowers standards to expand in size. The impact of such actions is predictable and it won't appeal to the hearts and minds of the Muslim world.

Markets Trump Freedom Every Time

Even Nobel Prize winner and ex-VP Al Gore found the venture capital market seductive enough to follow the siren's call. He joined two other friends in a series of green investment schemes. One is a Silicon Valley venture capital fund and the other arose from Al & Bill's excellent London adventure three years ago, a $1 billion "sustainable" investment fund.

Mr. Gore reflects the new Democratic Party that opened its campaign trough wide to corporate donors, except Al is clearly on the giving end. at least for the moment. Consider several things he said in the Fortune article:

In the long term, though, they want to help drive something much larger, "bigger than the Industrial Revolution and significantly faster," as Gore puts it.

"We all believe that markets must play a central role."

How do these apply to past mega-shift events, fire, electricity and the internet? It seems all three developed without markets playing any kind of role. As a pre-historic discovery, the ability to make fire at will likely helped the whole tribe. Those indigenous people may or may not have bartered, a rudimentary market.

Electricity in nature was discovered by Ben Franklin. It was his hobby. One of America's founding fathers did his work because it was interesting to him. This leads to the development of the internet. The interconnected network of computers started as a means to allow researchers to communicate with one another. It morphed into a huge market some twenty years after its initial creation.

History shows people make unique discoveries more from an interest in learning, more from the diligence of pursuing their life's mission. Markets can accelerate or bury these discoveries. Recall the recent discovery of "burning water"? A scientist passed a radio frequency wave through salt water. The vibration caused the hydrogen to separate from the oxygen in H2O, enabling the gas to burn.

What existing markets will crush this discovery? The five biggest oil companies make a combined $100 billion profit. The political market allows such firms to buy influence from our elected officials. The sword of regulation can just as easily swing to close a promising new discovery, protecting entrenched market leaders.

"Something bigger than the Industrial Revolution and much faster" involves major new paradigms. I guarantee "the market" won't do the actual innovating. A creative person or innovative team will make the potentially world changing discovery. If they're like their predecessors, they'll offer it free to humanity like Jonas Salk. If they're more like Al Gore and his band of green (money) worshippers, then expect a new OGEC, the Organization of Green Energy Companies. They'll set the price on carbon trading, decide how much to charge for a barrel of french fry oil, and lobby to keep that radio frequency in the government's permanent vault.

My guess is people want things to flip soon. I for one am tired of $3 a gallon gas, high electricity bills, and ever rising air fares. Texas has "free market" electricity well above the national average. TXU just took on a boatload of debt in its acquisition by private equity firm, KKR. A local San Angelo hospital did likewise when Triad sold to Community Health Systems. It seems markets and their associated buyouts add costs for the customer to bear.

Al can promote his newest money making venture, but I get to wonder what happened to switch our country's focus from guaranteeing freedom to worshipping free markets. Free people can make world changing discoveries. Those kowtowing to the altar of free markets know to keep purchasing, otherwise their god will fall.

Yet, markets do cycle and the world is due for a crash. From the debris will likely come major changes. Let's hope its not the Reaper.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Redefined Privacy Should Go Both Ways

The Deputy Director of National Intelligence encouraged Americans to redefine their expectations of privacy. From now on people cannot expect their private conversations, messages and communications to remain such. Like the good warden has the right to search any inmates mail, government and businesses will similarly safeguard citizen's communications and financial information.

The intelligence chief testified before Congress as it considers the latest iteration of "necessary updates" to FISA law, the last having passed in August. Concerned citizens believe that bill allows the government to snoop on phone calls and e-mails without a court order.

As for the expectation of anonymity, Thomas Jefferson suggested that to be a critical right of citizenry when necessary to combat a government working against the people. So how do we know our leaders aren't working to feather their bed, while the people's business goes unfinished? Most of us don't, therefore the government should give up its right to confidentiality except in the most critical matters of national security.

George Bush should release his e-mails and other documents on the firing of the attorney generals. Fran Townsend should reveal any communications she had with representatives of The Carlyle Group or LifeCare Hospitals as she prepared the White House Lessons Learned report after Hurricane Katrina. If the U.S. apprehended innocent people and tortured them in the war on terror, then it should admit such and make it right. If not, then those who feel abused should be given their day in court.

The problem is the people's government expects the governed to surrender information and rights while the central monstrosity hides more information under the guise of the ever expanding unitary executive. I'd make a comment about units occupying the executive, but that might get scooped up by the feds e-mail sucker and get me a few more S's on my next boarding pass. That is, if they let me fly. The rights, they are a changing...

Freedom to Assassinate

The British Ministry of Defence announced its mobilization of the Reaper, an unmanned aerial vehicle capable of gathering intelligence and unleashing quick, deadly strikes with its Hellfire missiles or laser guided bombs. The BBC reported the killer drone's use in Afghanistan.

The timing is interesting as an unclaimed missile strike occurred in Pakistan just as Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's finger itched on pulling the trigger on martial law. Was it from a British Reaper? Consider elements from the news story:

Local people say the missile was launched from an unmanned drone aircraft and that the dead were believed to be militants.

The Pakistan military says it was not involved in the incident in the village of Danday Darpakhel.

In Washington the Pentagon has denied that a US drone plane from Afghanistan was involved. "Every indication was that there was no US military involvement in this activity that you've seen," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said, the Associated Press news agency reports.

Correspondents say that US forces based in Afghanistan have used drones in the past to attack militants in Pakistan.

"A drone was flying very low and fired the missile. It destroyed three houses," a villager told the Reuters news agency.

Someone needs to tell those correspondents to update their fact books. The British now have the Reaper in Afghanistan. It's amazing the press has to ask the question in the exact right way to get an honest answer. The U.S. involvement is one of its companies made and sold the attack drone to the British. My guess is the Pakistani people don't draw such subtle distinctions. They might think "a democracy just destroyed my friend's family and house. Why would I want that?"

Free and Fair Elections

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf is all over the map on the timing of elections and silent on re instituting the constitution. But in yesterday's press conference the General, having taken off his uniform, said "We should have elections before the 9th of January." Well, George Bush should be happy as his two demands seem underway. Pervy wore a dark suit instead of his General's uniform and an election is coming. That voting will occur at the end of gun barrel apparently has no bearing. Given the checklist below, someone's looking a bit Hitlerish around the edges:

Independent Judiciary-history
Free Press-cancelled
Political Opposition-suppressed

It's going to be hard to make a little man in a windbreaker look like Adolf while Pervy's working his magic as a strong American ally. But if anyone can pull it off, its Chimpy McHitler (George W. Bush's nickname taught to me by Jay Ambrose).

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Trends in Freedom of Speech and Press

What if George W. Bush took his practice of message management beyond the scope of his speaking engagements where security staff jettison folks with the wrong bumper sticker or t-shirt slogan? It might look something like Pakistan. Through a dictatorial decree any criticism of Pervez Musharraf is now a crime. Who gets to pay first? It's three British journalists employed by The Telegraph.

One offensive editorial suggested the dictator's rule was "a combination of incompetence and brutality." What other world leaders fit that description? Unfortunately there's a line of "qualified" candidates, and behind them is another line wanting to run. If the trends continue, not only will habeas corpus be optional in a democracy, so too will free speech and a free press. Enjoy it while it's still here folks.

There's another line of powerheads working to discredit it, if not completely take it away. They range from new Justice Department Chief Mukasey who alluded to "bloggers who are also terrorists or spies" to politico Karl Rove who called some bloggers "nutty" from the whacko, fringe. Even newsman Jim Lehrer took a shot at people trying to fill the gaps in official news report coverage. He suggested the blogworld can only comment on already reported stories.

Huh? How many reporters lived through a dead powerless flooded hospital and evacuated a Gulf Coast hospital before a record hurricane? Very few, I bet. Yet, these experiences served as the basis for this blogger's tracking the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Do my discoveries qualify as news?

The White House's not mentioning The Carlyle Group's LifeCare Hospital's 24 patient deaths in their Lessons Learned report is a fact for anyone to check. It could be my opinion as a hospital administrator that this helps the politically connected private equity firm as they go to court for those wrongful death lawsuits, but my guess is many legal scholars would agree.

What about Senator Evan Bayh's recent Presidential exploration? His wife Susan flipped her stock option awards received as a board member for huge health insurer WellPoint? My finding this huge dollar boost to the family's income happened weeks after the esteemed Senator put together an exploratory committee for a Presidential run. Within 24 hours of my e-mail Senator Bayh reporting this researched nugget, he surprised everyone by dropping his bid for the White House. Coincidence or related? Only the Senator can answer for sure.

My point is there are stories the mainstream media won't or can't find. A more recent one involved The Carlyle Group's sale of two U.S. aircraft companies with operations at over 50 airports to Dubai Aerospace. Sales of ports and stock exchanges to UAE government owned companies incited furors, but airport operations? On 9-11 terrorists didn't use the NYSE or ships to perpetrate their nefarious plans. There are citizens with unique skills/backgrounds able to shed beneficial light on happenings, issues or questionable dealings. That government, political experts and members of the media want this curtailed or discredited means several things. We could be shedding light where they don't want it or are messing with their gravy train. My blogger's opinion, it's "some of both." While post quality may vary from piece to piece on my three sites, they're all free. If you choose to peruse for opinion, commentary or actual news find my contributions at:

Ari's Freedom Switch (95 posts)
PEU Report (150 posts)
State of the Division (1500 posts)

Friday, November 9, 2007

Is Freedom's Watch Asleep?

One might expect a group truly concerned with freedom to utter something over the recent events in Pakistan and Burma, but not Freedom's Watch. So far they've only trained their eyes on Iraq and are rumored to be spying Iran.

Those paying attention to Pakistan know President Bush merely wants a dress change and scheduled elections. Dropping the uniform must occur quickly in George's eyes. Otherwise W.'s Hitler comparison, intended for Iran, could morph over to Pakistan. Do you recall a mustached military leader dancing with a globe? What if he's pointing to Pakistan instead of Iran?

As for Burma, Total SA and Chevron remain free to send billions to the military junta to support their strong arm tactics. Funny, how Israel can withhold Palestinian tax money but the U.S. can't order Chevron to embargo Burma's gas proceeds until their behavior improves. It seems no one in the Bush administration is worried about Pakistan or Burma, otherwise their marketing arm might actually weigh in on issues of freedom.

Pervez and the ruling Burmese generals are well off the road to freedom, four wheeling in heavy handed terrain. As long as they're running over their subjects in an American branded Humvee built cheaply in Asia, things seem to be copacetic. Who'd have thought the U.S. would become a freedom caricature?

Pakistani Martial Law & Suicide Bombers

Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf finally got his relief valve opened as pressure soared from the international community. A blast, a possible suicide bomber, occurred outside the home of a government official in Northwest Pakistan. The minister of political affairs had a narrow escape in the bombing of his house.

After declaring martial law last Saturday, the Pakistani President committed a litany of undemocratic acts, all in the name of combating extremism. Few of acts actually involved the Islamic extremists he supposedly targeted, except one. On Sunday, the BBC reported 28 militants were freed, some suspected suicide bombers. In return the government got hundreds of soldiers back.

Did one of those freed militants conduct the bombing? I hope the Pakistani people can find out, but with their independent media shuttered, it could be difficult to investigate.

Meanwhile, free Americans can observe the bombing happened in the lawless tribal region, which remains lawless, even under the imposition of martial law. President Musharraf's troops control lawyers, judges, political opponents and the independent media in other parts of the country. If the problem is extremists, why aren't the military and paramilitary folks headed to Waziristan where al Qaeda and pro Taliban militants congregate? That's where the bombing just occurred. Why are they cracking heads in formerly free and safe areas of the country?

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Negroponte Cements "Busharraf Alliance"

Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte told Congress that Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf is an "indispensable" ally in the U.S.-led war on terrorism and that "partnership with Pakistan and its people is the only option." So what happens when this indispensable ally goes Rambo on its own people, those Pakistani's in partnership with America? Virtually nothing other than a request for dress change and holding elections in the near future at the end of a gun barrel.

Did John Negroponte mention the Musharraf regime's release of 28 Islamic extremists as his thugs cracked canes on lawyers, members of the independent media, and Bhutto supporters? Did the Deputy Secretary suggest what our Pakistani partners are to do without a constitution guaranteeing basic human rights and an independent judiciary capable of safeguarding the same?

The White House rode to Mr. Negroponte's defense. "It's been about five days," White House press secretary Dana Perino said. "I grant you that it feels long for all of us who are interested in wanting to get instant reaction. We are trying to get Pakistan back on its path to democracy."

Do you wonder why they use word's like instant reaction vs. rapid response? One invokes the image of a spoiled child, someone who might suggest a constitution is just a G-damned piece of paper. The other suggests a quick assessment based on a deep understanding of the system and its causes, followed by timely and appropriate action. What happens when the later runs into the former?

Pervez Musharraf looks like the very thing Bush has decried in the Middle East, a heavy handed dictator allied to a U.S. that prefers security over democracy. How does the government reframe the obvious comparison to Saddam Hussein and the Shah of Iran? Dana's doing it by implying anyone expecting immediate and forceful action is a spoiled brat.

I'm not asking for anything other than what America traditionally stood for as the world leader in freedom, civil rights, and improving the human condition. The sooner we return to those roots the better. Pervez Musharraf is four wheeling well off the road to democracy with the apparent support of John Negroponte. Something should be done other than a uniform change that helps George Bush's Iran rhetoric.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

What a Difference a Year Makes!

The Capital Cafeteria loudspeaker called out a special promotion given the visit of French President Nicolas Sarkozy. After speaking to Congress, the legislators joyfully made their way to lunch. As they perused the fine offerings, a neatly dressed man spoke into the microphone.

"Get your free French Fries, here! By Congressional order French fries are as American as apple pie. Yes, they actually passed something today besides hot air and gas, which reminds me. The Chile Fries are now banned as the Vice President got Chile mixed up with Venezuela."

Yes, what a difference a year makes. Freedom Fries are gone, and France lined up as the good cop in our negotiations with Iran on nuclear technology. But what else happened?

Pakistan did a 180 degree turn. Earlier this year Vice President Dick Cheney visited Islamabad to encourage President Musharraf to do more to crack down on al Qaeda in his country. While claiming to go after those same Islamic extremists, the Pakistani President just suspended the constitution and installed martial law. He quickly set his sights on dismantling the few key legs left of democracy, an independent judiciary, a free and independent press, and his non-extremist political opponents.

As the Bush administration tried to make Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad look like Hitler, out paraded the Pakistani dictator in his military uniform. George's face deflated at the visual, so he called Pervez personally to tell him "take your uniform off". Until that happens, my guess is the Hitler reference stays buried.

But the U.S. is in a quandary and must make Pakistan look better than Burma, the prior scene of closed media and protester head cracking. So what did the Bush administration say?

"Pakistan has been on the path to democracy. Burma hadn't been on the path to democracy. And it requires different tactics to achieve the common objective."-George W. Bush

Both have left the path and are off roading. Pervez strikes lawyers and Bhutto supporters with his Hummer, while the Burma junta runs over Buddhist monks. In neither case have U.S. companies restrained the business they do with brutal leaders.

"Let me remind you that this is a country of 150 million inhabitants who happens to have nuclear weapons. It is very important for us that one day we shouldn't wake up with a government, an administration in Pakistan, which is in the hands of the extremists."-Nicolas Sarkozy

I think we're all aware of this, Mr. French President. The problem is the visual of Pervez dressed in his military uniform tossing the helium filled globe around the room. What additional leverage does he currently have with those nuclear weapons?

"No country has done more in terms of inflicting damage and punishment on the Taliban and the al-Qaida since 9-11," Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte told the House Foreign Affairs Committee. "Their record is quite impressive."

Well, Mr. Negroponte, care to explain why Pakistan released 28 suspected suicide bombers right after conducting their coup? That act combined with Cheney's Februrary dress down raises doubts to your statement. The Washington Post reported on his trip on Feb. 27th, 2007:

The White House signaled its growing impatience with Pakistan's failure to crack down on Islamic extremists, dispatching Vice President Cheney for an unannounced visit yesterday to pressure President Pervez Musharraf to do more against a resurgent Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters.

Arresting judges, media, lawyers, and political opponents and releasing the very Islamic extremists cited as the reason for imposing martial law? Something isn't adding up. I feel some Bush math coming on...

Extra Pay for Beating Women Too?

Pakistani police reported earning extra pay for beating and arresting protesting lawyers. Now that the attention has shifted to supporters of political leader Benazir Bhutto, is the "pay for performance" plan still in effect? An AP writer reported:

Police beat and arrested the few activists who broke through barricades topped with barbed-wire, including several women. Naheed Khan, a close female aide to Bhutto, waded into the brief melee, whacked a policeman on the shoulder and screamed at him: "Who are you? How dare you take action against women?"

I can imagine his response. "I'm an extrinsically motivated employee, rewarded for perpetrating violence. Each strike, whew, gets me more, whack, income. Nothing personal, ma'am, just earning my cash bonus...crack!" Never mind that Ms. Bhutto recently negotiated with Pakistani President to work together against Islamic extremism, the supposed reason for declaring martial law. I've seen very few extremists in the crackdown against thousands of lawyers, media members and political opposition, but I hear they hide well.

Rudy Already Fails on Campaign Promise to Protect America from Aliens

It seems Rudy Giuliani already failed on his campaign promise to the boy in New Hampshire to protect America from aliens from outer space. The leader of a huge group with aspirations to return to their extra-terrestrial roots (thus leaving the rest of humanity behind) just endorsed Rudy's Presidential bid. Considering Rev. Pat's resemblance to ET and Rudy's to the bald, pro-torture alien, might these gentlemen be in cahoots in more ways than a simple political endorsement? Pat grew fond of Rudy during a long airplane ride to Israel. Is Rudy the guy who can pull strings to get his newest supporter back in on the Christian development on the Sea of Galilee? That is, if Rev. Robertson's praying last summer with Israeli P.M. Ehud Olmert for victory didn't already do the trick. Funny how Pat prayed with the Israeli leader while Mr. Olmert preyed on Lebanese Christians. I bet they agree on two things, the Freedom to be a Christian and the Freedom to do business internationally...

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Dick Wants Freedom in Peru

Guess who's been silent on the loss of liberty in Burma and Pakistan? That would be the two bellwether's of freedom in America, Freedom's Watch and the Federalist Society. Neither made so much as a peep on behalf of oppressed people in those countries. But noted speaker, Vice President Dick Cheney (in the above picture from Islamabad) did weigh in on Peru. His was an accident.

While criticizing Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez at a World Affairs Council meeting, Mr. Cheney said "the people of Peru deserve better." Dick is just the man to give them "a better leader" courtesy of U.S. tampering. What other insights does the V.P. have for us? Last year he spoke to the Federalist Society about the role of the judiciary and the war on terror, both key issues in dictator ruled Pakistan. What did he say?

"The Federalist Society stands firm, as well, for the principle that courts exist to exercise not the will of men but the judgment of law. Federal judges are appointed for life and serve outside the democratic process." Not in Pakistan, Mr. Cheney! Courts have been disbanded and lawyers placed in jail by the thousands. The Federalist Society did mention Pakistan on international iintellectual property rights.

"The relative safety (since 9-11) is the result of focused, determined, necessary efforts to track down these enemies, to understand their ambitions, to stop them before they strike again, and to deny them safe havens and access to even deadlier weapons." Rumors are that Musharraf is in cahoots with Islamic extremists. The day of his coup, BBC news reported 28 suspected suicide bombers were released in a prisoner exchange for soldiers.

"And it is they, the terrorists, who have ambitions of empire. Their goal in the broader Middle East is to seize control of a country, so they have a base from which to launch attacks against governments that refuse to meet their demands." Pakistan has nuclear weapons.

"The United States has also carried out our commitment to deny the terrorists control of any nation. That's why we continue to fight Taliban remnants and al Qaeda forces in Afghanistan. And that's why we're working with President Musharraf to oppose and isolate the terrorist element in Pakistan." Who knew those terrorists infiltrated Pakistan's lawyer community, independent media and Supreme Court? That sounds serious enough for the country to be bombed back to the Stone Ages. Where's Richard Armitage when you need him?

The Vice President characterized a court order tying the hands of the President of the United States in the conduct of a war as very troubling. And this is a matter entirely outside the competence of the judiciary. Conduct of a war? The war on terror? Can you see where this is going in an eerily silent Pervez Musharraf kind of way?

"All of this has been sorted out before -- not in our own era, but in the time of the Framers themselves. And what was true in 1789 is equally true (today)." Actually no, Mr. Vice President. Under the bill in Congress, H.R. 1955 most of our Founding Fathers would be characterized as "homegrown terrorists" that advocate "ideologically based violence".

And we know, as Ronald Reagan did, that "no weapon in the arsenals of the world is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in today's world do not have. It is a weapon that we as Americans do have." Well, other than those nukes, it appears Pakistan has been disarmed as their men and women are no longer free...

One might expect the Vice President to eloquently speak out on behalf of the Burmese and Pakistani people, much as he did for an oppressed South American country. So if you hear him cite Thailand or India, you'll know Dick is in the right neighborhood! Then the wait will begin for the other two groups to weigh in. Will Freedom's Watch pop first or the judicially staid Federalist Society?

Bush's Torture is Clinton's Sex

As you look at the picture, can you just hear George W. Bush say, "Take this dictation, torture means ....and if you get it wrong, I'll turn you over to the CIA!" The photo is ironically from the same room Bill Clinton redefined other words, including fidelity.

Apparently, the American public is smart enough to decide what words mean. They don't need redefinitions courtesy of a sleazy President in power. From his mouth Bill Clinton spurted his famous line, "it all depends on what your definition of sex is". George W. appears to pull his waffling from the other orifice and fooling only his rabid supporters. Nearly 70% of Americans believe waterboarding is torture, irregardless of what the current occupants of the White House say.

Update 3-9-13:  The Guardian revealed Pentagon Chief Donald Rumsfeld and General David Petraeus oversaw U.S. imposed torture programs in Iraq..  None have been charged with war crimes. 

Free to Earn Extra Pay in Pakistan

CNN reported that capitalism is alive and well in dictatorial Pakistan. "Police earned cash bonuses for beating and arresting hundreds of lawyers Monday who had gathered outside of Lahore's courthouse, police sources said."

If America can't export the full blown version of democracy, at least the junta swallowed U.S. motivational techniques hook, line and sinker. What will Pervez do when he realizes extrinsic motivators are short lived? Look at the billions in U.S. aid to Pakistan since 9-11. It takes greater and greater external rewards to garner the same impact. Mr. Musharraf clearly wants more...

Monday, November 5, 2007

How to Not Look Like Hitler, Pervez!

White House Press Secretary Dana Perino foreshadowed the President's urging of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to "remove his military uniform". I can just hear George W. say:

"You can still order 'em around, have gov'ment officials use harsh interrogation techniques on prisoners, suspend basic democratic rights and attack other countries on flimsy information. But Pervy, you can't wear the uniform, otherwise you look like Hitler and that ruins my Iranian comparison. So ditch the stars and bars and wear a suit like me."

Take Off the Uniform

U.S. Secretary of State Condi Rice gave Pakistani President Musharraf a subtle clue as how to proceed with martial law in his country. It's OK to be the unitary executive with tremendous powers but one cannot do it in a military uniform. Sure you can be the Commander-in-Chief and order the world's most powerful military to attack other countries on a virtual whim (otherwise known as fabricated intelligence), but "No weara da uniform!"

If President Musharraf continues to dress as a soldier, then familiar analogies come to mind. What other leader in the 20th century disbanded their elected body, took over the court system and oppressed his citizens? That would be Adolf Hitler. While U.S. President George Bush tries to make the appellation stick to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Pervez Musharraf wears it proudly. Please, Pervy take off the uniform, you can still be a despot without it.

As for those January elections continuing as scheduled, expect a landslide victory for Mr. Musharraf. Voting at the end of a gun barrel can be quite motivating. Those who can't stomach pulling the lever on his behalf won't show up. Is it because they're in jail without a lawyer? The number of opposition held now sits at 3,500.

Be Very Afraid Mr. Jefferson

Naomi Wolf lists 10 things rulers do to close an open society. One of those it to highlight a grave and material threat to national security. While the enemy starts out looking very different than the common citizen, it soon morphs, potentially into your next door neighbor. Such is the current war on terror.

The head of Great Britain's expert intelligence service MI5 said there at least 2,000 people in the UK who pose a threat due to their support for terrorism. The United Kingdom has 60 million people. The internal threat is .036% of the total population.

The United States Congress wants to grow the pool of potential domestic terrorists with H.R. 1955: The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007. The law seeks to identify "homegrown terrorists" that advocate "ideologically based violence". This comes after a report saying there is little evidence of Islamic radicals in the U.S. Out of 300 million residents, only 158 terror cases were prosecuted with only 4 convictions since 9-11.

If Congress were to apply the same definitions in the bill to our founding fathers how would the creators of democracy fare? Would Thomas Jefferson be jailed and his university shuttered?

"As revolutionary instruments (when nothing but revolution will cure the evils of the State) [secret societies] are necessary and indispensable, and the right to use them is inalienable by the people." --Thomas Jefferson to William Duane, 1803. FE 8:256

His language clearly meets the standard of "advocating ideologically based violence" set by our current elected officials. Jefferson proposes using secret societies to accomplish revolution. What would happen to him under H.R. 1955? Would he find himself back under King George? (The above picture is a statue of Thomas Jefferson at the College of William and Mary. There Jefferson participated in a secret society known as the Flat Hat Club. The picture was taken over Halloween, a most scary time of our already deeply disturbing year.)

It Turns Out Islamic Extremists are Lawyers!

Never mind the stereotype that Islamic fundamentalists are poor, uneducated, crude people. Pakistani President declared war against Islamic extremism and his first official battle was against 2,000 protesting lawyers. Shouting "Go (as in leave) Musharraf Go", the attorneys defended themselves against armed soldiers with rocks and tree branches. Over 250 were carted off to jail while a number were beaten mercilessly.

President Pervez Musharraf must have a very serious infestation of extremists. I knew they'd invaded the madrassas, but law schools? Traditionally attorneys are the carrier of basic rights for relatively powerless individuals. We've all hear it on TV police shows, "You have a right to an attorney."

So who else did Musharraf detain in his war on extremism? Funny, the list sounds more like the President's political opponents for the planned January election than fundamentalist Islamists. Of nearly 2,000 detained the AP says most are opposition leaders, lawyers and human rights activists who might mobilize protests. At least 67 workers and supporters of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto - who in recent months has held talks with Musharraf over an alliance to fight extremism - had been arrested.

If he's arresting people who were collaborating with him to fight extremists, what has he done with the real terrorists? You can't have a war without warriors, so Pervez freed 28 suspected suicide bombers in a prisoner exchange with pro-Taliban warlords in the lawless tribal region believed to be holding Osama bin Laden. Huh? Arresting judges, lawyers, closing the media and simultaneously freeing the enemy? What dark comedy on the world stage is this!

To stir up the hornets nest of Pakistan even more, a country that operates military drones unleashed a missile into a housing complex in that same region while the coup planning took place. Did the Obama inspired U.S. military attempt another unilateral strike on Osama in its war on terrorism? Or did we give that technology to a heavy handed dictator so that he can use it on his own people? Ninety percent of Pakistan's billions in U.S. aid since 2001 is military in nature. Pervez has the tools courtesy of American largess, he's now using them on his own people. U.S. politicians show no indication of their ability to stem the flow of money to either junta declaring martial law, Pakistan or Myanmar.

American continues its tampering in a region of the world that recalls past U.S. sponsored nightmares. Condi Rice calls the Pakistani situation "highly regrettable" while imploring President Musharraf to jump back on the road to democracy. Sorry, Ms. Rice, Pervez has gone off-roading with an American gifted Hummer.

When he comes back to the highway, only he knows. Who will supply him while he's out in the human rights desert? Might American companies provide him the tools he needs to live the lifestyle to which he's become accustomed? They do it for the junta in Myanmar, why not Pakistan too?

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Hitler Globe

Pull out your world globe and give it a good spin. With your eyes closed press harder until it comes to a stop. Do that six times, recording where your finger rested. What countries did you hit? How many of them currently have leaders with Hitler like characteristics? How many of those elected officials have taken rights away from their people the last ten years? How many have called leaders of other nations Hitler? How many have been compared to Adolf by other foreign leaders?

America's president loves to compare his Iranian counterpart to Hitler. Unfortunately two countries flew high up the Hitler scale recently with their martial law crackdowns, Pakistan and Myanmar. What will George W. do, now that his major ally in the war on terror looks more Hitlerian than the leader of the Axis of Evil? I can just hear him on the phone in the Oval Office :

"Damn that Pervez! I told him not to do it first! I susplicitly ordered him to wait until after I declared Martial Law after my preventive war with Iran. Once we drop nukes on Ahmadinejad's nuclear facilities, some of our sissy anti-war types will want to protest and I won't have it. No fucking way. Not only did Pervy beat me to the punch, he now makes Mahmoud look sane. Karl, how are we going to handle this?"

"Righteous indignation, Mr. President. Pour it on heavy, but keep the military support going strong. And make sure our corporations get in there quick. What does Musharraf need in the ways of goods and services to keep his country oppressed?"

"I'm so glad you're available by phone when there's a crisis."

"Me too. I'll send you the bill..."

U.S. Military & Corporations Support Junta's

In yet another non sequiter, sponsors of the U.S. government in Washington continue business as usual in two countries beset by military crackdowns. In his televised address late yesterday Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said Pakistan was at a "dangerous" juncture, and that its government was threatened by Islamic extremists who were "imposing their obsolete ideas on moderates."

For that reason he closed down independent media outlets, cut phone service from the capital and preventively arrested some 500 people, including fifty peaceful members of a human rights organization. The report doesn't indicate how many are from threatening Islamic extremist groups. But apparently those extremists use the independent media as well as phones to plan their attacks. I must say I'm surprised they gather at human rights offices. Who'd have thought it?

The news also reported Musharraf suspended the constitution while "scores of paramilitary troops blocked access to the Supreme Court and parliament." His army carted off Supreme Court Justices and other political opponents. A total of 1,500 such persons are estimated being held, many taken in early morning raids. As the ruler of the new junta in Pakistan, Pervez issued two edicts after balling up the "God ____ piece of paper", formerly known as the Constitution.

Musharraf issued two ordinances toughening media laws, including a ban on live broadcasts of "incidents of violence and conflict." Also, TV operators who "ridicule" the president, armed forces, and other powerful state bodies face up to three years in jail.

Did the Pakistani President pay close attention as the junta in Myanmar cracked down on peaceful Buddhist monks? Control the media, control the message. Did Pervez note the dollar flow from energy resources remains wide open for the dictatorial leaders? Total SA, Chevron and their like provide the heavy handed generals with billions in annual funding.

Apparently, the General cleared his martial law order with someone in the U.S. Otherwise, why would Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell say the emergency declaration "does not impact our military support" of the Muslim nation or its efforts in the war on terror?

Fascism is alive and well in Pakistan and Myanmar, supported by the U.S. military and international corporations. Those same groups happen to sponsor the government in D.C. The government industrial monstrosity is about two things, blind loyalty and ever growing profits. It's not about openness, transparency, effective leadership, or good governance. Few leaders are willing to answer to the people anymore. Isn't that what democracy is all about?

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Pakistan Chooses Security with Martial Law

Pakistani Dictator Pervez Musharraf chose security over democracy by declaring a state of emergency. CNN reported the order came due to "increasing violence and unrest." Thus the military was mobilized and communications cut off. One might expect soldiers to go to parts of the country beset by aforementioned violence and unrest.

It turns out Pakistani people behave terribly to one another in the hallowed hall of the Supreme Court and at independent media outlets, because that's where the military went! People near telephones have been known to pick up the dense plastic objects and smack each other over the head, thus no more phone service!

Apparently the liberal mainstream media wormed its way into terrorist populated Pakistan where it then proceeded to falsely portray waterboarding to the world. If Pervez hadn't acted, surely Rudy Giuliani would launch a pre-emptive strike.

But that only covers independent media outlets, what about the Supreme Court? It turns out Mr. Musharraf faced a looming decision regarding his ability to continue serving as both head of the army and head of state. Pervez decided to conduct a pre-emptive strike of his own, which the Supreme Court matched and raised with a declaration of unconstitutionality. But the Pakistani leader won the round when he showed his cards, all AK-47's. The judges threw up their hands and were escorted away. It is believed they joined their friends in the liberal mainstream media and Pervez's political rivals, one of which sat on an airplane on the ground in Karachi's airport.

Pakistan stands as a closed society at this moment, much like Myanmar. This is from AP reports:

Seven Supreme Court judges immediately came out against the state of emergency, which suspended the constitution. Police blocked entry to the Supreme Court building and later took the chief justice and other judges away in a convoy, witnesses said. The government halted all television transmissions in major cities other than state-controlled Pakistan TV. Telephone service was cut in the capital, Islamabad.

What's the response from the shining light of freedom and democracy? So far, no comment. I expect it to be as earth shaking as President Bush's hollow words on Myanmar. He chose to support 760 employees of a Chevron natural gas production field over 47 million citizens. Billions in energy dollars flow to the oppressive military junta in Myanmar and George W. won't stem the flow from companies within his borders.

I expect George W. to say something like this:

"Anytime a leader has to take drastic action to ensure the peace and stability of their country, the world is concerned. It is America's hope that the suspension of constitutional rights in Pakistan are temporary and a return to normalcy will be advanced by people keeping cool heads. We want the benefits of freedom and democracy extended to all peoples. Heck even Myanmar has an official road to democracy. But watch out for Buddhist monks walking on the side of the road. Sometimes a Hummer blows a tire and blam! Road kill. So all you Pakistani's, watch out while you traverse the road to freedom. World militaries have the right to the same road. Pervez just turned his into a toll road, something we plan to spread mightily in America. Ask Mary Peters in the Transportation Department. Have I rambled long enough?"

May the blessings of peace be with the Pakistani people. They do not suffer alone as many world leaders lose their heads and commit offensive acts against their constitutions and their people. The shining light of democracy has dimmed considerably under George W. Bush's watch. For inspiration, the Pakistani people may need to look at other governments for insights. However, I hope the true heart of America beats firmly under the current yoke of obfuscation and oppression. May it pulse strong on behalf of the suffering people in Pakistan. The problem is our government will likely be AWOL. How can the American people show their solidarity, other than we suffer with you?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Freedom to Tune Out

Tell the boys at Carlyle, I'm checking out for awhile. Above is my report to their affiliate Nielsen Media. Also, I won't be needing any internet ads or tubes for file sharing. Let's just hope I don't need health insurance, long term acute care hospital services or nursing home care anytime soon. It's bad enough renting Hertz cars, nibbling on Dunkin' Donuts, or licking a Baskin-Robbins Pralines n' Cream ice cream cone. Will we still have the freedom to buy from non-Carlyle companies in a few years? One could ask Dr. Pepper, but time will tell. Those interested in learning more about The Carlyle Group are free to go to The PEU Report. But be prepared to hold your nose!

No Final Resting Place

The pilot of the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the world's first nuclear bomb passed away at the age of 92. Paul Tibbets Jr. requested no funeral or headstone, fearing that either would provide his critics with a place to protest. Apparently we don't have the freedom to rest peacefully. Bless Mr. Tibbets and others doing their duty as part of the war machine, mobilized by leaders unable to solve their differences peacefully. Bless us all as our American President talks about World War III.

Damage Leaders Can Do

Reading a New York Times piece on Blackwater Security I realized the heavy losses Dr. W. Edwards Deming cited from poor leadership. An ex-employee of the private security firm spoke of his dealing with management:

“They do have a few people at the upper levels of Blackwater who are a little bit unsophisticated and rather disdainful of anything that goes to oversight and due process,” he said. “The reason they get the caricature that’s been created is that they do have a few cowboys in their midst.”

And America has at least one in the White House. The heavy losses continue...

Freedom to Control Speech After Death!

Blackwater Security claims the right to control the speech of its employees after death. One might expect rigor mortis to curtail that ability, but Blackwater desires to leave no room for doubt. Does an autopsy speak about that person after death? Or does the giant private army want to control their employee's speech in the afterlife? The issue raises so many questions.

Just as The Carlyle Group pursued a bold legal strategy after the death of 24 patients in their just acquired long term acute care hospital in New Orleans, Blackwater does likewise. Carlyle's LifeCare claims their patients became wards of the federal government as soon as FEMA evacuation teams set up in the area. This novel defense means federal personnel miles away could be responsible for managing the clinical conditions of acutely ill patients and not the LifeCare doctors and nurses just feet away. That is if the LifeCare doctors really stayed and didn't abandon their patients in a time of disaster?

Blackwater's legal innovation seems just as twisted. The New York Times reported:

Blackwater is pursuing a bold legal strategy, going so far in a North Carolina case as to seek a gag order on the lawyers for the families of four Blackwater employees killed in an ambush in Falluja in 2004. The company argues that the dead men had signed contracts that prohibited them from talking to the press about Blackwater and that this restriction extended to their lawyers and their estates even after death.

Are the dead people still employed by Blackwater? Are they still punching a clock and receiving paychecks? What obligation do surviving family member's have to the private mercenary company?

It seems corporations can make just about any claim to avoid responsibility for their glitches or mistakes. That heavy hitter, politically connected lawyers and public relations firms are enabling their bizarre behavior shows how much out country has changed.

The little guy or gal harmed by a pharmaceutical drug or suffering due to uncovered treatments by their HMO has little recourse. Yet, the deep pocketed firms living off the government tit can hire politically connected shills to craft strange legal defenses to save them from having to pay out of their overflowing coffers.

Watch the Supreme's this coming spring for more insights as the drunk sea captain defense is floated by Exxon to get out of paying punitive damages to the people of Alaska. I can assure you Carlyle will be watching closely as they try to make a Joseph Hazelwood of their own.

Communist Foe to Friend Playbook

Cuba needs to read the tea leaves. United Nation's votes for the U.S. to lift its embargo of its neighbor to the south are meaningless. For the 16th consecutive year, the international community condemned America's shuttering of the Cuban economy. Only Israel, Palau and the Marshall Islands supported the U.S. position.

A State Department representative spoke boldly to the 183 countries critical of the United States. He urged the world to press Cuba towards democracy instead of voting against US policy.

"It is long past time that the Cuban people enjoy the blessings of economic and political freedom."

As the United States has open diplomatic and economic relations with the most populous communist country in the world, China, what can Cuba do to emulate their success? I suggest the following:

1) Allow students to rally in a downtown historic square for weeks as the world watches. Then send in tanks, arrest the dissenters, torture them in prison, and continue making cheap goods for American companies. Offer to do the work of Mexican maquiladora's for $1.50 a day vs. $30. Stir the pot for ten years and then watch as exports to your democratic U.S. friends explode.

2) Take all the dollars your capitalistic friends send and invest part in politically connected private equity firms, Blackstone, The Carlyle Group, KKR, Texas Pacific Group etc.

3) Don't be surprised when your top down, hierarchical leaders smell money and do anything, including making poor, even dangerous products, to obtain more. Be prepared to execute offenders, arrest, and jail others. Should someone come around espousing Dr. W. Edwards Deming's teachings on quality, throw them out of the country. Knowledge can be constrained by visa cancellation and controlling internet content. Drive in greed and use fear!

The following suggestion is a bonus, garnered from watching America's shining light of freedom on actions in Burma.

4) Allow U.S. oil companies a small stake in highly profitable oil and gas fields in your country. Get them to slip in a grandfather clause for whatever capital investment they plan to make in your country, preferably under a Republican President from an American family dynasty. Once the project is finished, use the billions in cash payments to build your army, buy weapons, and further oppress your people. Don't worry, the U.S. foreign policy is economically driven. If your natural resources are making ka-ching for U.S. companies, the price for abusing your people is small. To help 760 local employees making good money under Chevron, the U.S. will sacrifice 47 million.

There's the playbook Cuba! Open your eyes if you want U.S. trade. But your oil and gas better be sold in dollar denominations. To do otherwise is fighting words!

As for the wise words of the State Department employee, Chinese students still await political freedom...

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Karen Hughes Leaves as a Failure

The woman charged with "winning the hearts and minds" of the Muslim world should head back to Texas with her head hanging. Despite glowing words from Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice about her stellar contributions, the Muslim world trusts the West less than ever.

According to the Pew Research Center, Muslims find Westerners to be arrogant, immoral, greedy, violent and selfish. Karen's top boss, President George Bush models most of these characteristics on a daily basis. While the data varies by country, Turkey, a U.S. ally now has the most negative view of westerners. Indonesia, the country with the largest Muslim population in the world and trading partner with the U.S. scored westerners this way:

Arrogant 72%
Greedy 76%
Violent 64%
Selfish 81%
Immoral 60%

Generous 30%
Honest 20%

So pin a medal on her George! Then line her up with L.Paul Bremer and Norman Podhoretz as the flag bearers of Bush doctrine. The world already knows the impact of the President's rhetoric and policies. It's in the numbers, Mr. Bush...

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

University of Virginia May Have to Close due to H.R. 1955

The University of Virginia may be in trouble if Congress passes H.R. 1955: The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007. The law seeks to identify "homegrown terrorists" that advocate "ideologically based violence".

Founding father and past President Thomas Jefferson clearly meets the definitions included in the bill. Consider his admonitions:

"The oppressed should rebel, and they will continue to rebel and raise disturbance until their civil rights are fully restored to them and all partial distinctions, exclusions and incapacitations are removed." --Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Religion, 1776. Papers 1:548

"As revolutionary instruments (when nothing but revolution will cure the evils of the State) [secret societies] are necessary and indispensable, and the right to use them is inalienable by the people." --Thomas Jefferson to William Duane, 1803. FE 8:256

A University founded by a homegrown terrorist surely can't stay in business long. Will its closing devalue my undergraduate degree? I'll let you know...

Monday, October 29, 2007

Blackwater vs. New York Times Reporter

What happens when someone in a case has critical information to ascertain if any crimes have been committed? How does a modern democracy behave? Consider two examples:

1) A reporter for a highly regarded newspaper gets confidential information from a government insider which is later published by a different reporter. What should happen to her?

2) Guards working for a private security firm kill 17 Iraqi citizens while escorting an embassy convoy. What should happen to them?

Note the differences in our shining examples. I'm sure the free world will. For accepting a phone call from a member of the White House, NYT reporter Judith Miller spent 85 days in jail for not testifying.

The Guardian reported on the Iraqi shooting investigation. Three senior law enforcement officials said all the Blackwater bodyguards involved - both in the vehicle convoy and in at least two helicopters above - were given the legal protections as investigators from the Bureau of Diplomatic Security sought to find out what happened. `Once you give immunity, you can't take it away,'' said a senior law enforcement official familiar with the investigation.

Naomi Wolfe cites 10 things a government does to close a society. Intimidating the media, controlling stories, and impeding the free flow of information is clearly on Bush's priority list. Another strategy is to create a para-military force above the rule of law. Bingo!

Why does the government toss a reporter in jail for not testifying while potential thugs can seemingly say "not talking" in return for immunity? There's a clear double standard and Ms. Wolfe's book puts it in context.