Saturday, September 29, 2007

"...a toddler that...lacks elementary patience"

I thought so. I've been asked whether I believed the impact in Peru was our spy satellite or a meteorite. All I could say was that, while both stories are extraordinary and hard to believe, the satellite story makes more sense than the meteorite story. Further, (1) you won't hear another word in the news about a satellite crash or meteorite strike, and (2) if the satellite crash story is true, and I have a feeling it is, the White House has been planning to attack Iran almost immediately.

Think Progress:

The New York Sun, a reliable neoconservative outlet that has advocated for a Dick Cheney presidential campaign, declares today: "Attack on Iran Said To Be Imminent." The article’s lead states:

In a sign that U.N. Security Council-based diplomacy is losing steam, a number of sources are reporting that a military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities may be imminent. France and America also are pushing for tighter economic sanctions against Tehran, without U.N. approval.

Yesterday's edition of Le Canard Enchaîné, a French weekly known for its investigative journalism, reported details of an alleged Israeli-American plan to attack Iran's nuclear facilities. The frontpage headline read: "A report sent to the Elysée — Putin tells Tehran: They're going to bomb you!" [...]

Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said this week: "Definitely what we are seeing is a confrontation in the making."

And if the Bush administration can’t establish the need to go to war based on the threat of a nuclear Iran, it appears appears ready to claim that Iran’s cross-border activity in Iraq may justify military action. On that front, Congress — not wanting to appear weak — is facilitating the administration’s case. [live links excluded]

Lots of good sources in that article. One of them:

Glenn Greenwald:

The Washington Post's Dana Priest, one of the country's most knowledgeable and reliable reporters, made this rather extraordinary observation yesterday about the prospects that the Bush administration would bomb Iran:

West Chester, Pa.: History seems to be repeating it self as the drumbeat for war with Iran, based on accusations not backed up by any facts, intensifies. Do you think the Bush administration will launch a war (perhaps sending only the bombers) against Iran and if they do what are the likely consequences for the Middle East?

Dana Priest: Frankly, I think the military would revolt and there would be no pilots to fly those missions. This is a little bit of hyperbole, but not much. Just look at what Gen. Casey, the Army chief, said yesterday. That the tempo of operations in Iraq would make it very hard for the military to respond to a major crisis elsewhere. Beside, it's not the "war" or "bombing" part that's difficult; it's the morning after and all the days after that. Haven't we learned that (again) from Iraq?

There have been some equally extraordinary reports about what appears to be the virtual refusal of senior military officials to permit a war with Iran. Several months ago, it was reported that the CENTCOM Commander, Admiral William Fallon, blocked what had appeared to be the successful efforts by Dick Cheney and administration neocons to send a third aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf and "vowed privately there would be no war against Iran as long as he was chief of CENTCOM":

At a mid-February meeting of top civilian officials over which Secretary of Defence Gates presided, there was an extensive discussion of a strategy of intimidating Tehran's leaders, according to an account by a Pentagon official who attended the meeting given to a source outside the Pentagon. The plan involved a series of steps that would appear to Tehran to be preparations for war, in a manner similar to the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

But Fallon, who was scheduled to become the CENTCOM chief Mar. 16, responded to the proposed plan by sending a strongly-worded message to the Defence Department in mid-February opposing any further U.S. naval buildup in the Persian Gulf as unwarranted.

"He asked why another aircraft carrier was needed in the Gulf and insisted there was no military requirement for it," says the source, who obtained the gist of Fallon's message from a Pentagon official who had read it.

Fallon's refusal to support a further naval buildup in the Gulf reflected his firm opposition to an attack on Iran and an apparent readiness to put his career on the line to prevent it. A source who met privately with Fallon around the time of his confirmation hearing and who insists on anonymity quoted Fallon as saying that an attack on Iran "will not happen on my watch". [...]

For obvious reasons, it is not a positive development to have the U.S. military serve as the primary check on the crazed warmongers who have control of our government. In a country that lives under civilian rule, that really is not and should not be the role of the military. Priest's claim that "the military would revolt" if it was ordered to bomb Iran is, at least in one sense, disturbing.

At the same time, the reason this is happening seems clear. Neoconservative extremists want endless war, and they are supported by the most powerful faction in our government, led by Dick Cheney, who has prevailed in every significant conflict over the last six years. And their radicalism has eroded not only the standing and strength of the United States as a country, but is close to shattering our military forces as well. Even with Iraq draining away all of our resources, they are eager, hungry and increasingly impatient for a new war with the much more formidable Iranians. [live links excluded]

Glenn goes on to say that the unanimous opposition of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the "surge" did nothing to dissuade him. The Joint Chiefs are similarly unanimously opposed to attacking Iran. It makes sense to me. They don't want to die in a global nuclear war, which an attack on Iran could easily start, and if not, they don't want to get hanged by The Hague. Glenn goes on to mention a comment that in approving the Lieberman-Kyl amendment, Congress may have implicitly given the White House authorization to commence hostilities. Certainly what you, the military, the whole world or I think about it doesn't matter even a little to the Bush administration.

John W. Dean:

Nixon was an authoritarian president. So was Reagan. Indeed, it was during the Reagan years that conservatives made a complete change in their thinking about the American presidency. This change -- not coincidentally, I believe -- occurred as authoritarian conservatives began to dominate the GOP.

The authoritarian conservative philosophy was fully articulated by Terry Eastland, a former Reagan Justice Department Director of Public Affairs, in his 1992 book Energy in the Executive: The Case for the Strong Presidency. This is a book that was studied closely by then-Halliburton Chairman Dick Cheney, and then-Texas Governor George W. Bush and his staff, long before they arrived in Washington in 2001.

"Reagan demonstrated that the strong presidency is necessary to effect ends sought by most conservatives," Eastland wrote. For conservatives, Eastland's book made clear, a strong president is one who wears his commander-in-chief uniform every day, and tells Americans how they should think and act, rather than one who responds to the wishes of the voters. It is a Father-Knows-Best presidency, one that considers Americans to be children who do not know what is best for themselves.

Nixon created the "imperial presidency." After the public rejected that concentration of power, in the aftermath of Watergate, Reagan restored the imperial presidency in another guise. Now, Bush and Cheney have created the post-imperial presidency. Using the threat of terrorism as their justification, Bush and Cheney have embraced the so-called "unitary executive theory" - which, in truth, is merely another term for an authoritarian presidency.

Eastland, like many conservatives, thought it a poor showing when Ronald Reagan left office with the highest approval ratings of any post-World War II president. Quoting the voice of authoritarian conservatism, Charles Krauthammer, Eastland assessed this supposedly unfortunate aspect of the Reagan presidency to be "Like dying rich… a great moral failure." As this comment shows, authoritarians do not want Americans to love or even necessarily like their president; indeed, they believe a president must be doing something wrong if they do.

Bush and Cheney's actions must surely bring a smile to the faces of folks like Terry Eastland and Charles Krauthammer, as they sink lower and lower in their approval ratings, spending all their good will and then some. Authoritarian conservatives will no doubt be disappointed if Bush and Cheney do not manage to get to single-digit ratings before they leave.

Many observers have suggested that the Bush/Cheney Administration may, in the eyes of history, be the worst ever. Yet this condemnation must seem beside the point to authoritarians, for these people simply do not care what others think of their performance. What is important, in their eyes, is simply that these leaders and their compliant followers are doing things the way they believe they must be done, and enforcing their will upon any who dare to dissent or disagree.

People who still don't believe the U.S. would preemptively attack Iran simply aren't paying attention. It's a shame the most serious antiwar effort in our country is in the Pentagon. I've never been more proud of our military. These stories paint a picture of a United States that would have already attacked Iran and a world which may have been destroyed by now except that our military has said no to Bush and Cheney. Is it more comforting or disturbing?

It is surprising they haven't issued an order to nuke every continent. Having turned the whole world against them, what other choice do they have? Still not convinced insane people run this country?

Juan Cole:

I made two claims about the transcript published by El Pais of Bush's conversations with Spanish leader Jose Maria Aznar on 22 February, 2003, at Crawford, Texas.

The first is that the transcript shows that Bush intended to disregard a negative outcome in his quest for a UN Security Council resolution authorizing a war against Iraq. Bush wanted such a resolution. He expressed a willingness to use threats and economic coercion to secure it. But he makes it perfectly clear that he will not wait for the UNSC to act beyond mid-March. He also explicitly says that if any of the permanent members of the UNSC uses its veto, "we will go." That is, failure to secure the resolution would trigger the war.

Uh, that is the opposite of the way it is supposed to work. If you can't get a UNSC resolution, and you haven't been attacked by the state against whom you want to go to war, then you are supposed to stand down.

Both because he set a deadline beyond which his "patience" would not stretch (the poor thing had already waited four months; I mean, is he a toddler that he lacks elementary patience?), and because he specified a UNSC veto as a signal for his launching of the war, Bush made it very clear that he was willing to trash the charter of the United Nations and to take the world back to the 1930s,to an era of mass politics when powerful states launched wars of choice at will on the basis of fevered rhetoric and fits of pique.

The second claim that I made was that Bush was aware of, and rejected, an offer by Saddam Hussein to flee Iraq, probably for Saudi Arabia, presuming he could take out with him a billion dollars and some documents on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs. Both provisions were intended by Saddam to protect him from later retaliation. The money would buy him protection from extradition, and the documents presumably showed that the Reagan and Bush senior administrations had secretly authorized his chemical and biological weapons programs. With these documents in his possession, it was unlikely that Bush would come after him, since he could ruin the reputation of the Bush family if he did. The destruction of these documents was presumably Bush's goal when he had Rumsfeld order US military personnel not to interfere with the looting and burning of government offices after the fall of Saddam. The looting, which set off the guerrilla war, also functioned as a vast shredding party, destroying incriminating evidence about the complicity of the Bushes and Rumsfeld in Iraq's war crimes.

The claims by some pundits that Saddam's reported desire to take documents on his WMD programs out of the country proves he had such programs in 2003 or that he wanted to somehow retain specialized knowledge involved in them, are silly. Saddam had destroyed his chemical, nuclear and biological programs and stockpiles, which we know from the most extensive postwar inspections in the history of mammal life. Almost certainly, he wanted to keep with him the documents that showed precisely that-- that he was in fact in compliance with UN resolutions (which he was) and so could not on those grounds be subject to extraordinary rendition and delivered to the Hague. Also, as I say, he may well have wanted to keep with him documents with which to blackmail the Bush family, which in the 1980s had been involved in winking at and enabling his WMD capabilities.

Aznar asked Bush if he would grant Saddam these guarantees, and Bush roared back that he would not. (That is the answer to those who want to know where in the text Bush declines Saddam's offer to flee. Nobody in his right mind would flee without guarantees; by declining them, Bush scotched the deal.)

By refusing to allow Saddam to flee with guarantees, Bush ensured that a land war would have to be fought. This is one of the greatest crimes any US president ever committed, and it is all the more contemptible for being rooted in mere pride and petulance.

Note that even General Pervez Musharraf allowed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to go to Saudi Arabia with similar guarantees, even though Sharif was alleged to have attempted to cause Musharraf's death. A tinpot Pakistani general had more devotion to the good of his country, and more good sense, than did George W. Bush.

The passage in which Bush agrees with Aznar that it would be better if Baghdad fell without a fight refers to the possibility that the Iraqi officer corps would assassinate Saddam and decline to put up a fight. Bush would very much have liked such a fantasy to come true.

But he did not need to fantasize. He had a real offer in the hand, of Saddam's flight. He rejected it. By rejecting it, he will have killed at least a million persons and became one of the more monstrous figures in recent world history.

I have done a translation of the transcript, with some dictionary work. I would be glad of any corrections, but I think it is good enough for government work. No one can read it without recognizing that Bush was champing at the bit to go to war; that he only wanted the UNSC as a fig leaf and was determined to ignore it if it did not authorize the war; and that he had a deal on the table from Saddam but absolutely refused to pursue it, preferring instead either a sanguinary conflict or his adolescent fantasy of Baghdad falling without a shot.

The Bush administration has forsaken everything the military wants in the way of new technology to keep its preemptive wars against nonhostile nations alive. It ignores 71% of the population who say they want the wars ended. Congress won't stop them, leaving us to wonder whose job it is. I call on the military, American citizens and the international court to join hands and stop these maniacs before they destroy the world.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Bush on social security: "lie-down-and-rot"

You have to hand it to George W. Bush. There isn't a single person on the face of the earth he doesn't want to be passionately angry at him. The man doesn't understand politics at all—he's truly the antithesis of Dale Carnegie's Winning Friends and Influencing People. Anyone with a smidgeon of common sense or who's been to a movie theater or show knows if you want a group's agreement, loyalty, cooperation, adulation, you give them something they want. Not George. He wants to take everything away from everyone and give it to a few people who are already too wealthy. Now that he has his wars and domestic surveillance running full bore, he's gone back to his orgasmic obsession with eviscerating social security, like he did with habeas corpus and posse comitatus.

It would be a damn shame if anyone but the wealthiest one-tenth of one percent made it out of the Bush administration alive. What better way to assure a glowing legacy than complete agreement that everyone profited wildly from wise neocon governance by wiping out the 99.9% of people you robbed to make them so very rich? A smart plan, but it depends on the unfailing disintegration of that 99.9%—and, try as he has and will continue, Bush just doesn't have the snap to get rid of all those troublesome bodies. It's enough to keep you awake nights crying about how he can't wipe out the whole world despite stealing two elections, and that people will remain to write his real legacy for future generations, vilifying Bush and America more than Hitler and Nazi Germany.

So, today we got this story from MSNBC to get us acquainted with our short, future retirement of starvation and death:

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration said in a new report Monday that Social Security is facing a $13.6 trillion shortfall and that delaying needed reforms is not fair to younger workers.

Okay, hold it right here. What is this figure, $13,600,000,000,000.00 shortfall? Below is a graph of the 2008 Discretionary Budget Request showing social security and medicare costing $10.1 billion. Did they pull the $13.6 trillion out of their asses? That amount is more than a thousand times what social security and medicare will cost next year. Is $13.6 trillion the needed outlay for the next five centuries? And what is this rationale about not being fair to younger workers? Is it so fair to everyone else? This is typical neocon-speak. Make big claims and never explain the reasoning, and run away from evidence and empirical data.

A report issued by the Treasury Department said that some combination of benefit cuts and tax increases will need to be considered to permanently fix the funding shortfall. But White House officials stressed that President Bush remains opposed to raising taxes.

How typically unimaginative and servile. Yes, all you baby boomers really screwed America with the calamitous moral failing of your occurring in such irresponsibly high numbers. Damn you to hell, you shouldn't have done that! But we'll fix you, we'll fix you and you damn fucking sure won't do that again: we're going to tax honest, working people out of existence while eliminating your social security benefits—and take anything else you might have as well. That way, there's more money for defense.

It said delaying necessary changes reduces the number of people available to share in the burden of those changes and is unfair to younger workers. "Not taking action is thus unfair to future generations. This is a significant cost of delay," the report said.

In another key finding, the report said: "Social Security can be made permanently solvent only by reducing the present value of scheduled benefits and/or increasing the present value of scheduled tax increases."

The paper went on to say: "Other changes to the program might be desirable, but only these changes can restore solvency permanently."

Then Bush goes on to say useless things, and the article says it's a daunting problem. Then, there is a link to another article in Newsweek by Robert J. Samuelson:

There's already a bipartisan consensus: do nothing. No one plugs cutting retirement benefits or raising taxes, the obvious choices. [...]

The aging of America is not just a population change or, as a budget problem, an accounting exercise. It involves a profound transformation of the nature of government: commitments to the older population are slowly overwhelming other public goals; the national government is becoming mainly an income-transfer mechanism from younger workers to older retirees.

Consider the outlook. From 2005 to 2030, the 65-and-over population will nearly double to 71 million; its share of the population will rise to 20 percent from 12 percent. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid—programs that serve older people—already exceed 40 percent of the $2.7 trillion federal budget. By 2030, their share could hit 75 percent of the present budget, projects the Congressional Budget Office. The result: a political impasse.

Social security, medicare and medicaid already exceed 40% of the federal budget? That's a very big claim which certainly isn't supported by the 2008 Discretionary Budget Request, which shows it as a tiny fraction of one percent. Yes, Robert, consider the outlook.

Over the years, the major think tanks have published tens of thousands of words on Social Security and Medicare. Most of the reports are technical, though some propose major (even radical) changes. But the two programs are usually treated separately, and the larger questions of adjusting to an aging society are mostly evaded. I think I know why: wrenching honesty might be deeply embarrassing.

Liberals might have to concede that government could grow too large and that spending and benefit cuts are needed. Conservatives might have to concede that, even with plausible benefit and spending cuts, tomorrow's government would be bigger than today's. For think-tank scholars, brutal candor might offend friends and political mentors. For the ambitious, it might jeopardize future appointments to top government jobs.

Yes Robert, liberals might have to concede that you are just another neocon blowhard mistating facts to bolster your role as a GOP sycophant and Official Corporate and Defense Fundraiser. Robert's article is almost completely worthless, except when he says:

As an antidote to this timidity, I propose that some public-spirited sugar daddy (the MacArthur Foundation? Warren Buffett?) sponsor a short book. A possible title: "Facing Up to an Aging America."

I just love to laugh at idiots. Robert, if you write to Warren every day and ask nicely, he might let you give him fellatio sometime. You could become one of those public restroom weinie washers republicans like, and like to be, so much.

The reality of inequality. The "enormity of the problem" can be daunting, especially if you write the sentence that way. All that's really needed is a little leadership to spell things out in clear language.

The year I graduated from college, affirmative action became the law, and I had the pleasure of being denied graduate school and many jobs because, as a white man, I did nothing for affirmative action. The way it was sold, I was all for affirmative action. Then, I discovered the real purpose was to decimate the middle class, which was dominated by whom—let's all say it together—white men.

I didn't establish a track record in various career paths because there was always a reason for my company to lose me: no experience fresh out of school, I had original ideas which helped a client's bottom line and it scared my boss, the company didn't want to pay me $11,000 a year, liars who dropped bombs like he sells heroin to small children, he's an alcoholic, he's a sex offender, he's a union organizer. It was so easy to keep me out of a job. Finally I've found myself forcibly and involuntarily retired for reasons I won't discuss, but now I'm totally dependent on social security.

Before that, I had known years of going hungry and losing my home, and struggling for basic sustenance. During one thirty day period I had nothing more to eat than a five pound bag of sugar. Despite the fact all my bosses told me I was not the best worker they had, but the best worker they'd ever seen, once some clown told the lie, I was history, hungry and in harm's way. But, just when I start thinking my ghost story is the scariest I ever heard, someone next to me tells one that makes my hair stand on end. I'm not telling you all this to cry for myself.

I noticed in my time in the workforce that every single person, almost without exception, suffers unjust discrimination which operates as something more than a temporary setback or inconvenience. I knew a lot of talented, hard-working individuals who were good about staying on the job, living cheaply and simply and saving money, who suffered some private disaster that wiped them out and thrust them to the netherlands of poverty. Yeah, I knew a few people who got rich, and their ability and industry played an important role, but it was far more important that they had a little good fortune and not too much misfortune that they left behind a record of achievement and received monetary reward. That didn't happen to the vast majority of us, and I saw far more unfair things happen to others than what happened to me.

It always happened for the same few reasons: some authoritarian type wanted to prove his or her strength and teach "character" or simply punish the innocent; a radically changing economy caused companies and old trades to become obsolete; someone shows initiative or works extra hours, is cast as a fool and thrown out. Stuff like that. My last 13 years, I worked over 100 hours a week, many weeks 160 hours or more, which meant getting practically no sleep, so don't get the mistaken idea I wasn't trying. I worked harder and longer than anyone I ever knew, and knew many people who worked hard and smart. It didn't help me at all. But, I walked away alive, so in my mind I'm a very big success. Too many people I knew didn't.

Fixing social security. Social security isn't broken. It is the only self-funded federal program, so get over the incorrect notion it's broken. The problem is social security does everything it can to keep your money while Washington loots it. For once, how about considering a model from some other perspective than the supply side? You don't have to make money on everything, and the destitute don't contribute to a healthy economy. "Experts" quote different figures, but you can figure retirees to number over 70 million by 2030, making them the biggest political and social bloc in the nation. That's a group politicians should listen to for their own sake, although I don't have to tell you they never will.

If you're in your 20s or 30s, you don't think much about it. But you'll do little more than blink your eyes and roll over in bed, and the quality of your retirement will become your number one personal issue. The Bush administration plan for retirees is "lie-down-and-rot"—let everyone be bludgeoned to death as a worker and thrown into the gutter to decompose as a retiree. It's a hell of a plan. For the sake of enough money to be able to live somewhere, eat and have transportation, retirees can live productive lives and make important contributions in society, but the business-blunderbuss-George-Bush plan is to add retirees to the people he wants dead, and now, spending their savings on foreign wars, prisons, eavesdropping and harrassment—you know, punk-ass shit like that.

I say social security should make every retired person fiscally solvent—or rich, but not necessarily rich; however, every individual should be extremely solvent in retirement and easily able to provide for his or her housing, health care, food and transportation. Hey, let them buy me a nice, big house in the country and let me drive new cars. I haven't been able to buy a new vehicle for 30 years. If public servants don't want to make that happen, retirees may hunt them down like the vermin they are. Let them know they have that choice. I hang by the slenderest of threads. With the way the cost of everything has shot up thanks to the gigantic GOP budgetary deficit and irrresponsible policy at the Federal Reserve and elsewhere, I can hardly feed myself and keep the internet and electricity turned on. Social security's annual 1% adjustment for cost of living isn't cutting it when we're actually seeing double-digit inflation, triple-digit in the case of some necessary commodities. And the government's answer is to just cut off my income? What have I to lose? If you don't face these choices today like I do, you will—believe me—so quickly it will seem immediate and unbelievable in retrospect. If the system that never gave as much as it asked plans to give nothing for retirement, then the people controlling that system can answer to us with their jobs and personal welfare. I read an article the other day that said the waste in Bush's wars was more than what the IRS collected in taxes last year. How could that be? Shave a little out of every federal program, defense in particular, and make funding social security of primary importance. We didn't force this "get them before they get you" situation, they did. I'm not afraid of these people. I faced death every minute of every day during my last very hazardous career. If retired baby boomers understand they have the strength of numbers, and can muster the teaspoonful of courage it takes to insist on the good quality of life every American has earned, social security will work like a well-oiled sewing machine.

Put some poor people to work in Washington. Rich lobbyist-thieves, bankers and oil men despise those not born into privilege no matter how many of us there are, and they can be swatted like flies.

Update: I mentioned "public bathroom weinie washers" in this article and you might have assumed I was referring to Sen. Larry Craig and his troubles in Minnesota. Tomorrow a judge will hear his request to throw out his guilty plea for disorderly conduct following his arrest in the Minneapolis airport bathroom sex sweep. I wish to make a few comments about that case before the hearing.

I read the police report and saw the comedic reenactment on Countdown with Keith Olbermann. I don't mean to defend this silly behavior or an undistinguished republican lawmaker, but the event doesn't seem to rise to the standard of noncompliance with the law, as mentioned in this article by Frank Rich in Sunday's New York Times.

Such a police fundraiser is extraordinary, causing me to assume it came in response to complaints from airport patrons. I'm struck by the meanness of statements made about Craig from all directions, and I didn't mean to be a part of that. As a commercial driver for many years, I used public bathrooms in every state. I have firsthand knowledge of sexual encounters of all types in parking lots and bathrooms, and I can tell many, many stories. I always refused. Looking for love while traveling is a very bad idea, and a good way to get robbed or killed. I saw every kind of thing there is. I had no trouble saying no, and never considered it a problem. As Rich said, "[e]ven had he invited the police officer to a hotel room, there still would have been no crime. The last American laws criminalizing gay sex between consenting adults were thrown out by the Supreme Court in 2003." The advance noted in the complaint of finger-waving and toe-tapping is behavior totally unknown to me, causing me to wonder if it even happened in the first place.

Sex of all kinds is handled clumsily and poorly in the context of our culture, politics and religion. I joked around a lot in this article making some points which are hard to express, but I'm serious when I tell you we're a failure as a society when it comes to discussing intimacy. There was no need for any of that to happen to Larry Craig, and the ensuing scandal was embarrassing in its unkindness and craven ignorance. The judge would be correct to throw this one out tomorrow. I care about what politicians do in their public lives, don't care about what they do in their private lives, and I don't want to know.

Friday, September 21, 2007

U.S. military coup may be imminent

I joke around a lot these days to hide the fact I feel discouraged. It doesn't come much from current events, although the news lately isn't anything so damn good. I'm following a number of news stories, as always. And I'm still cleaning up after little Mickey Mouse, if you can believe it. It's very dirty work. So, I haven't felt a lot of pressure to comment about U.S. vs Iran, but I just read an odd, short article that rankled my ass.

I won't deluge you with links and quotes. You are no doubt aware there is talk now about striking 2,000 targets in Iran, and right-siders are pounding the war drums loudly. This baloney has gone on so long, you have to ask yourself whether or not the Bush/Cheney syndicate is really serious. Maybe we're to be lulled into a placid state of complacency, as if it were really necessary. The Russians just warned us that an attack on Iran would have "catastrophic" results.

Get ready for catastrophe beyond our wildest dreams if a story I read this morning is true. First, let's review a little:

Barnett R. Rubin:

The Bush-Cheney policy on Iran is unlikely to have any outcome but war, not because of the threat of the use of force, but because of its objective: regime change. The President and Vice-President have never echoed the disavowals of this goal by other officials. Their supporters at AEI, the Weekly Standard, and elsewhere, make it clear that the goal of the policy is destroying the regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Even if this were not true, the government (and not only the government) of Iran believes it is true. In repeated discussions on several continents over the past five years, Iranian officials have told me that the main obstacle to improvement in U.S.-Iran relations is the agenda of regime change – not Israel, not Iraq, nothing else. No amount of pressure or threats will force the Iranian government to negotiate its own destruction. Therefore as long as regime change is the goal, or appears to be the goal, Iran has no credible incentives to comply with any demands. Threats are useless. Sanctions are useless. In any case, sanctions will strengthen and enrich the regime, as they almost always do. [...]

There is an alternative to war, but it has to start with an end to regime change as a policy goal. There are then a number of areas, such as counter-narcotics in Afghanistan and the territorial integrity of Iraq, where the U.S. and Iran have clearly complementary interests and could start a dialogue. I will not attempt to sketch a road map here, and it will be difficult to move far as long as the current administrations are in power in both countries.

The alternative of war will have terrible effects including:

• No support for the U.S. from any country but Israel (though Saudi Arabia and other Arab states may not be too unhappy) and the demolition of whatever still remains of the U.S.’s international standing except as a warmaking power; that reputation will also quickly dissipate as this war, too, fails to achieve its objectives.

• Rapid deterioration of security in (at least) Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan; note that much of the support for Benazir Bhutto, whom the U.S. hopes will help shepherd a political transition in Pakistan, comes from Pakistani Shi’a, who will turn violently anti-American in the event of an attack on Iran; northern Afghanistan is also under the de facto control of groups supported by Iran against the Taliban; the government of Iraq in Baghdad will oppose an attack on Iran, but our new friends in Anbar province, whom President Bush visited on Labor Day and who fought Iran for Saddam Hussein, will support it and maybe even volunteer to fight.

• Gasoline prices may reach $7/gallon within a week and probably go higher rapidly, especially if Iran makes even partially successful attempts to block the Strait of Hormuz.

• Either there will be a movement of national solidarity against invasion in Iran from across the entire Iranian political spectrum, or (less likely) Iran will collapse into some kind of civil disorder, with nuclear materials littered about.

• Hizbullah and Hamas will unleash missile attacks and perhaps suicide bombings on Israel, and Israel will respond harshly in Lebanon and Gaza (at least).

• Such an attack will also have other unpredictable consequences, which I will therefore not try to predict.

What course of action do I suggest?

The immediate goal for Democratic presidential candidates and the Democrats (and sensible Republicans) in Congress should be to use the power of the legislative branch to prevent the administration from launching a war. I can think of two possible ways to do this:

• Pass an Act of Congress stating that the 2001 AUMF does not authorize a preemptive strike against Iran (or a strike in response to an alleged provocation–recall Tonkin Gulf). In this case, Congress would claim that war with Iran requires new authorization.

• Cut off funding for any war with Iran not specifically authorized by Congress in accordance with the law after September 30, when spending starts out of next year’s budget. Presumably they won’t be able to start the war by then and rely on the “support the troops” argument.

You saw what happened with "our new friends in Anbar province." Clearly, the U.S., Iranian and other governments around the world are taking the collapse of the dollar and war with Iran seriously, and as inevitable. From February, 2006:

Mike Whitney:

The bottom line on the bourse is this; the dollar is underwritten by a national debt that now exceeds $8 trillion dollars and trade deficits that surpass $600 billion per year. That means that the greenback is the greatest swindle in the history of mankind. It’s utterly worthless. The only thing that keeps the dollar afloat is that oil is traded exclusively in greenbacks rather than some other currency. If Iran is able to smash that monopoly by trading in petro-euros then the world’s central banks will dump the greenback overnight, sending markets crashing and the US economy into a downward spiral.

The Bush administration has no intention of allowing that to take place. In fact, as the tax-cuts and the budget deficits indicate, the Bush cabal fully intends to perpetuate the system that trades worthless dollars for valuable commodities, labor, and resources. As long as the oil market is married to the dollar, this system of global indentured servitude will continue.

Battle Plans

The Bush administration’s attention has shifted to a small province in southwestern Iran that is unknown to most Americans. Never the less, Khuzestan will become the next front in the war on terror and the lynchpin for prevailing in the global resource war. If the Bush administration can sweep into the region (under the pretext disarming Iran’s nuclear weapons programs) and put Iran’s prodigious oil wealth under US control, the dream of monopolizing Middle East oil will have been achieved.

Not surprisingly, this was Saddam Hussein’s strategy in 1980 when he initiated hostilities against Iran in a war that would last for eight years. Saddam was an American client at the time, so it is likely that he got the green-light for the invasion from the Reagan White House. Many of Reagan’s high-ranking officials currently serve in the Bush administration; notably Rumsfeld and Cheney.

Khuzestan represents 90% of Iran’s oil production. The control over these massive fields will force the oil-dependent nations of China, Japan and India to continue to stockpile greenbacks despite the currency’s dubious value. The annexing of Khuzestan will prevent Iran’s bourse from opening, thereby guaranteeing that the dollar will maintain its dominant position as the world’s reserve currency. As long as the dollar reigns supreme and western elites have their hands on the Middle East oil-spigot, the current system of exploitation through debt will continue into perpetuity. The administration can confidently prolong its colossal deficits without fear of a plummeting dollar. (In fact, the American war-machine and all its various appendages, from Guantanamo to Abrams Tanks, are paid for by the myriad nations who willingly hold reserves of American currency.) [...]

This strategy has been called the “Khuzestan Gambit”, and we can expect that some variant of this plan will be executed following the aerial bombardment of Iranian military installations and weapons sites. If Iran retaliates, then there is every reason to believe that either the United States or Israel will respond with low-yield, bunker-busting nuclear weapons. In fact, the Pentagon may want to demonstrate its eagerness to use nuclear weapons to deter future adversaries and to maintain current levels of troop deployments without a draft. [...]

...step by step, Iran is being set up for war. What difference does the provocation make? The determination to consolidate the oil reserves in the Caspian Basin was made more than a decade ago and is clearly articulated in the policy papers produced by the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) The Bush administration is one small province away from realizing the its dream of controlling the world’s most valued resource. They won’t let that opportunity pass them by.

Simply occupying a small province makes more sense than leveling the whole country, as if any of it makes sense. The Bush administration has larger dreams. Seymour Hersh wrote in the spring of 2006 the strategy of attacking "underground bunkers" with RNEPs (robust nuclear earth penetrators) has been replaced with an operation called "over the shoulder" bombing—firing tactical missiles up and then down armed with nuclear warheads, thought to yield five megatons. If that is true, those warheads yield more than 300 times that of the bomb used to destroy Hiroshima. How would the U.S. respond if Russia or China did this to Iran? What will they do to us?

Iran knows full well, as do the governments of every country on earth, the United States has submarines equipped with tactical missiles poised to bomb them should they launch a preemptive attack. For some reason, the Bush administration doesn't consider a counterstrike against the U.S. as possible, or problematic. I assume they know it will happen, and they just don't care, or it's the outcome they desire.

This goes beyond theory and rhetoric, and if this article can be believed, the U.S. military believes a preemptive, nuclear attack on Iran is imminent, and is trying to stop it:

Russian Military Intelligence Analysts are reporting today that one of the United States most secretive spy satellites, the KH-13, targeting Iran was "destroyed in its orbit" with its main power generator powered by the radioactive isotope Pu-238 surviving re-entry and crashing in a remote region of the South American Nation of Peru, and where hundreds are reported to be ill from radiation poisoning.

Western media reports are stating that the US spy satellite debris hitting Peru was caused by a meteor, but which, according to these reports, would be "impossible" as the size of 30-meter crater, if caused by a meteorite, would have hit the ground with about as much energy as 1 kiloton tactical nuclear weapon, and which would have been recorded by the seismic stations around the World.

Most astonishing about these reports, however, are that they state that it was the Americans themselves who destroyed their own spy satellite with the attack upon it being made by the United States Air Forces' 30th Space Wing located at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

This incident further fuels the intrigue involving the United States War Leaders plans to attack Iran in their attempt to engulf the entire Middle East in Total War, but, against which, according to Russian Military Intelligence Analysts, a "high ranking and significant" faction of the American Military Establishment is opposed to. [...]

Though the rival American power blocs do seem to have maintained their uneasy truce, and which have, to date, prevented further attacks within the United States itself, these latest events, according to these reports, appear to show that this truce is now breaking down over threats and planning by the American War Leaders to attack Iran, and which Russia has warned would be "catastrophic."

What remains unknown to us, at this time, is what counter-planning the American War Leaders have in store for furthering their war aims against Iran as the United States Military have "clearly signaled" that it will not allow nuclear weapons to be used, even to the extent of denying to their War Leaders one of their most prized spy satellites used to guide their nuclear cruise missiles to their intended Iranian targets.

As the American peoples desire for war appears to be exhausted, and with new polls showing their President and Congress' approval ratings at "record lows," these reports paint a frightening picture of an American War Leadership determined to engulf the entire World in Total War in order to perpetuate their hegemony.

Not since last century’s German Nazi and Japanese Empire’s has the World seen such naked aggression towards the capture of the Earth's resources, and which caused the deaths of nearly 100 million people, but which the United States and its Western Allies now seem determined to see through to its brutal, and bloody end. [interesting live links removed]

The last article is dated September 20, 2007. It makes startling, blood-curdling claims. Bush and Cheney can insist evil powers are forcing their hand, but I don't buy it. Would this be happening if Gore and/or Kerry had gone to the White House, as voters intended? I can't picture it; in fact, if voters had put my old General Electric toaster in the White House instead of Bush, we'd be a prosperous nation at peace. I loathe what Bush, Cheney and their rubberstamp GOP Congress have done to America, and no penalty exists that is harsh enough to bring them to justice.

Update: Here is an example of the typical "mainstream" news story about the event, titled "Meteorite likely caused crater in Peru."

Such impacts are rare, and astronomists still want to do other tests to confirm the strike.

Other details don't add up, they said -- such as witness accounts of water in the muddy crater boiling for 10 minutes from the heat. Meteorites are actually cold when they hit Earth, astronomists say, since their outer layers burn up and fall away before impact.

Experts also puzzled over claims that 200 local residents were sickened by fumes from the crater. Doctors who examined them found no evidence of illness related to the meteorite, and one suggested a psychosomatic reaction to the sight and sound of the plunging meteor. [...]

More details emerged when astrophysicist Jose Ishitsuka of Peru's Geophysics Institute reached the site about 6 miles from Lake Titicaca. He confirmed that a meteorite caused a crater 42 feet wide and 15 feet deep, the institute's president, Ronald Woodman, told The Associated Press on Thursday.

Ishitsuka recovered a 3-inch magnetic fragment and said it contained iron, a mineral found in all rocks from space. The impact also registered a magnitude-1.5 tremor on the institute's seismic equipment -- that's as much as an explosion of 4.9 tons of dynamite, Woodman said.

Local residents described a fiery ball falling from the sky and smashing into the desolate Andean plain.

Doctors told an Associated Press Television News cameraman at the site that they had found no sign of radioactive contamination among families living nearby. But they said they had taken samples of blood, urine and hair to analyze.

Peasants living near the crater said they had smelled a sulfurous odor for at least an hour after the meteorite struck and that it had provoked upset stomachs and headaches. But Ishitsuka said he doubts reports of a sulfurous smell.

Meteor expert Ursula Marvin said that if people were sickened, "it wouldn't be the meteorite itself, but the dust it raises."

A meteorite "wouldn't get much gas out of the earth," said Marvin, who has studied the objects since 1961 at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Massachusetts. "It's a very superficial thing." [...]

Modesto Montoya, a member of the medical team, told El Comercio that fear may have provoked psychosomatic ailments.

"When a meteorite falls, it produces horrid sounds when it makes contact with the atmosphere," he said. "It is as if a giant rock is being sanded. Those sounds could have frightened them."

This so-called "official" story is just weird and impossible to believe. Boiling water? Radiation testing? Give me a break. Yes, those rock-grinding sounds of descending meteors always cause symptoms of radiation sickness and boiling water. It's just your imagination, nothing to see here...move along... I admire how the reporters don't seem to question a bit of it. No wonder the mainstream media has made itself irrelevant.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Interruptions are stupid

I hate interruptions. I may not have a big, urgent mission in the world, but my daily tasks are important to me. Now I'm being interrupted by the trillion droppings left by a mouse the cats didn't want to catch, for some reason. Finally, I broke out a trap. It doesn't look or seem like a big problem, but I just spent four days cleaning out from under the kitchen sink, and I'm still not finished. But, I'm getting there. Before I'm done, I'll need to clean every pot and pan, all the flatware, all the kitchen implements and a variety of other gadgets along with the places they are stored, thanks to this prolific little shithole.

It reminds me of the Bush administration's approach to war, and I think about that while I clean. As a nation, we could have great aspirations, or it could be nothing more than business as usual; but, the least of our country's business is better than wasting lives and incomprehensibly vast resources on war.

Bush and Cheney don't care. They don't want to learn or follow the law, and what better way to evade accountability than to have the country at war? Oil and military industries fund GOP campaigns, so war is great for them. T. Boone Pickens was grinning ear to ear today on Faux News about how great his money situation is thanks to Bush policies. What could be wrong?

It's a reprehensible outrage, and a big problem to those of us who aren't the richest one-tenth of one percent in the world, that's what's wrong. If you weren't sickened enough by the scripted, propaganda Iraq tours for politicans and think tankers and President Dickface's announcements of how eager he is to attack Iran, don't miss Keith Olbermann's remarks regarding Robert Draper's book, Dead Certain, in which Bush declares he's setting up a situation which will keep our military presence in Iraq for all eternity. YouTube has the video.

I'll have some remarks about Iran later, but you can pretty much guess how that will go.