Sunday, November 28, 2004

Summary of Iraq situation: Various showing the country was better off under Saddam.

Hersh: Bush: When Even the Good News is Bad: "Hersh's message is simple and frightening: '(George W.) Bush is an ideologue, a Utopian,' Hersh said. 'He wants to clean out the Middle East and install democracy. He doesn't care how many body bags come back home. There's nothing more dangerous than an ideologue who is completely bonkers and no one is going to tell him.'

"Bush is committed to perpetual war, Hersh said. 'He risked his presidency on this war,' Hersh said. 'He could have gotten more votes if he backed off. But he insisted he hasn't made any mistakes.' Hersh has talked privately with many in the military and CIA, including some who have recently resigned. All told him that if the Iraq war had gone 'right' - say, if the Americans had been greeted as liberators - our military would have marched 'right and left' - to Syria and Iran.

"Oil is a big factor in this war, Hersh said, and so is Israel, but to Bush it's about ideology: 'Whether this man communicates with God, or is on a crusade, or really is a neo-con, or if he thought that his father's not taking Baghdad was a mistake - in any case, I think he is absolutely committed to staying in Iraq to the end.'

"After 9/11, Hersh said, America had some good choices. 'Early in 2002, the Taliban was split,' Hersh said. 'About 50 percent of the Taliban leadership hated Osama bin Laden and wanted him out. We could have worked with them. But we went ahead and treated the Taliban as one entity. The Taliban has survived. Al Queda has survived. We wanted to eliminate crazy people who want to fly planes into buildings. But instead we dehumanized everyone in Afghanistan and Iraq.'"

"Bush is told only what he wants to hear, and since he doesn't read newspapers, he has become completely divorced from reality.... We cannot win in Iraq, Hersh said. "We have no intel. We can't find the insurgents. When they bomb something, we only know about it afterward. We can't figure them out. Someone said, 'We play chess, they play Go.' All we can do is lose. All we can do is bomb."

"The United States cannot afford this endless war, Hersh said. The dollar is already falling against the Euro, and the Chinese and Japanese hold trillions of dollars of U.S. debt.

"Soon China and Russia will start buying oil in Euros," Hersh said. "They'll stop buying American in Europe because they hate us so much - Disney in Paris is already going down. Large American corporations doing business abroad are going down. We could see more anti-American violence abroad. The dollar will fall. Billionaires are now telling other billionaires to get out of the stock market and buy foreign currency and stocks.""

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Dreyfuss: 1865 Redux: "So the Democrats nominated an aloof, stiff-backed billionaire from Yale who voted for the most unpopular war since Vietnam, and they are surprised they lost. Their candidate enforced a rule at his convention that no one be allowed to attack Bush—perhaps the worst president since Ulysses Grant—and they are surprised they lost."

"When Kerry was lambasted by Bush, Cheney and Co. as a weak-kneed, cheese-eating liberal "from Massachusetts," when he was portrayed virtually as a traitor for opposing the Vietnam war, when he was ridiculed for speaking French, did he fight back? The thing about the Republicans is that they realize that a Culture War is a war, and they know how to fight it. The Democrats don't. Why didn't Kerry respond to Bush's repeated comments like, "What can you expect from a senator from Massachusetts?" with attacks of his own: "What can you expect from a failed governor from Texas, an abortion-banning, science-hating, evolution-disparaging, jingoistic, non-foreign-traveling, semi-literate book-hating, nothing-knowing, assault-weapon-loving, billionaire-supporting, Enron-snuggling, nation-bankrupting, Social Security-dismantling, Medicare-mangling man who who forgot to read the memo saying that Osama bin Laden was planning to attack us?""

"It's war. And we have to win it. The very map of the United States looks like the Civil War. We need to obliterate the South again, just like we did in 1865. And then we need Reconstruction, starting with teaching them to read a book once a year. We need to crush the south and the mountain states with a Culture War offensive and then pour salt in their fields, give them the Carthage treatment they deserve, and worse. Al From and the DLC are going to want to placate the South yet again. Democrats are going to call for a "rural strategy." I say: We need to unleash our cities in an all-out assault against "rural idiocy." We need to win the suburbs, by scaring the middle-of-the-road homeowners with the prospect of back alley abortions and no more Social Security. We need to use our real army: blacks, Latins, union workers, women, teachers, academia, and the Big Media—we do control it—to obliterate the enemy. This is war.

"And we can't do it by nominating billionaires anymore. We need to find plain-spoken candidates with working-class backgrounds to represent us. And then we need to go war. Forget about winning the war in Iraq (incredibly, Kerry actually said that in his concession speech). We need to win the war at home."

Powell movement: "It’s clear to me that the invasion of Fallujah was just a diversionary action. It was meant to distract attention from the real offensive: the blitzkrieg against the CIA and the State Department. Those two agencies were the locus of opposition to Bush’s reckless foreign policy, and they are no more. The alarmist, war-on-terror people are bashing the CIA for being “risk averse,” which is neocon nonsense, and for having failed to stop the 9/11 attacks, which is more than a little unfair. Now Goss is a giant wrecking ball. The two top officials in the Directorate of Operations walked out yesterday, and more are expected. It reminds me of the six months that James Schlesinger spent as CIA director in 1973, when, a CIA source said, it got so bad that Schlesinger requested an armed guard to accompany him as he strolled the halls at Langley.

"Putting Condi Rice at the State Department means that the Cheney-Wolfowitz axis will have a free hand—or, a freer hand. Powell, who will go down in history for his idiotic waving of fake anthrax at the UN Security Council in February 2003 and other show-and-tell fakeries cooked up for him by the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans, never really managed to stop the neocon juggernaut, whose minions will now invade the CIA and State en masse. History will judge Powell harshly, unless, of course, he decides to run for president in 2008. In any case, my guess is that Powell is too cowardly to go from show-and-tell to kiss-and-tell, so don’t expect Powell to write a tell-all book. He wants to stay friends with the Bush dynasty and the neocons. I hope I’m wrong."

John Pilger denounces Americanism

Drama of Ukraine crisis: Defection live on TV: "On Channel 1 (UT-1), the main state channel, 237 journalists are on strike now. Today, during the 11 am newscast with live translation into the Sign Language, the translator, Natalya Dmytruk, did not translate what the host was saying about the election results, but said (in Sign Language) the following (quote via Ukrainska Pravda):

""The results from the Central Election Commission have been falsified. Do not believe them. Our President is Yushchenko. I am very disgusted that I was forced to translate the lies until now. I'm not going to do it anymore. I'm not sure if I'll see you again."

"The program Dmytruk was translating into Sign Language for is the only news program in Ukraine adapted for people with hearing impairments. The audience is about 100,000 people. Dmytruk has now joined her 237 striking colleagues."

The Damage Done: "It's easy to send soldiers off to war. It's a lot harder to face them when they come home." - photo essay on wounded US soldiers.

The Two-Income Trap: "Middle-class parents are stretched thin these days. Between health care costs, child care hassles, looking for a home in a good district, and paying for college, raising a child is becoming increasingly expensive. Little wonder, then, that married couples with children are more than twice as likely to file for bankruptcy as their childless counterparts, and 75 percent more likely to have their homes foreclosed. And the danger is growing worse by the year: In 2002 1.6 million people filed for bankruptcy, many of those middle-class parents. a record . As Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Tyagi note in their book, The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Mothers & Fathers Are Going Broke, having a child is now 'the single best predictor' of bankruptcy. '

"In the face of such hardships, many families have sent both parents into the workforce to try to make ends meet. After all, surely if both parents work full-time it shouldn't be hard to ensure financial security, right? Wrong, say authors Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Tyagi, in their book, The Two Income Trap. Two-income families are almost always worse off than their single-income counterparts were a generation ago, even though they pull in 75 percent more in income. The problem is that so many fixed costs are rising -- health care, child care, finding a good home -- that two-income families today actually have less discretionary money left over than those single-earner families did. As the authors write: 'Our data show families in financial trouble are working hard, playing by the rules -- and the game is stacked against them.'"

Sounds like the iron law of rent to me: land values rise to absorb all available surpluses.

Ukrainian Opposition Leader claims he was poisoned: Dramatic before and after photos.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Bin Laden plan to break America: "The Fed has kept interest rates artificially low for long, thereby creating enormous amounts of cheap and easy money and has also pursued a policy of 'monetary inflation' (declining the value of the dollar) by printing nearly $1.5 trillion a year. These prolonged policies have artificially created huge and growing (1) credit, (2) real-estate and other asset and (3) stock-market bubbles. However, with interest rates rising, the bubbles are about to burst."

Meanwhile, John Howard claims the credit for low interest rates and a record land boom, and Mark Latham makes no attempt whatever to contextualise the domestic and international financial situation.

Nixon criminal G. Gordon Liddy gets a job on Hate Radio: "G. Gordon Liddy is vibrating with rage. 'Environmentalism is a form of pagan fundamentalism. These green wackos are fanatics like al-Quaida. Just like them,' he quivers. 'Osama believes there are 72 virgins waiting for him. The environmentalist believes human beings cause global warming. They both want to wreak havoc because of their mad beliefs. What's the difference?' ... 'Why should we listen to these fulminating feminists, proselytizing poofters, the environmentally ill, these multilateralist UN one-world government worshippers and other politically correct castrati?' he is demanding. 'Why?'"

The standard explanation for opposition to environmentalism is that it is funded by corporations because it potentially interferes with short or medium term profit taking - this in spite of the fact that the goals of environmentalism are a transition to a sustainable economy, lifestyle and indeed planet. It is hard not to see the insanity and hate on display in hate radio and other corporate outlets as other than truly irrational and disturbing. How can such a person hold down a position in any media? Are things really this bad? Do all these people have a disaster wish?

Daily Mirror front page 4/11: All time classic newpaper front page - 'how can 59 million people be so dumb? US Election Disaster.' Perhaps the reason for this extraordinary phenomena are understood by now, but perhaps also it is all too late.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Economic `Armageddon' predicted: "Roach's argument is that America's record trade deficit means the dollar will keep falling. To keep foreigners buying T-bills and prevent a resulting rise in inflation, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan will be forced to raise interest rates further and faster than he wants.

"The result: U.S. consumers, who are in debt up to their eyeballs, will get pounded. Less a case of ``Armageddon,'' maybe, than of a ``Perfect Storm.''

"Roach marshalled alarming facts to support his argument. To finance its current account deficit with the rest of the world, he said, America has to import $2.6 billion in cash. Every working day. That is an amazing 80 percent of the entire world's net savings. Sustainable? Hardly.

"Meanwhile, he notes that household debt is at record levels. Twenty years ago the total debt of U.S. households was equal to half the size of the economy. Today the figure is 85 percent. Nearly half of new mortgage borrowing is at flexible interest rates, leaving borrowers much more vulnerable to rate hikes. Americans are already spending a record share of disposable income paying their interest bills. And interest rates haven't even risen much yet."

Harldy a day passes now without dire warnings about the unsustainable US financial situation. Do the Bushies know, or care? To look at it pessimistically, its all part of the plan. The fiscal train wreck will make possible the abolition of practically all parts of the federal government except the Pentagon. Economic collapse will hasten the trend to fascism. According to Chomsky, the basic plan of the US elite is to convert the country to the Latin American model: extreme disparity in wealth, combined with a military-oligarchic ruling class. The long term focus is a grim hold on both the wealth and power of the country, and a military totally committed to holding the world's energy reserves under its domination. Everything else can go to hell.

21st Century Tolkien Studies: "So if you're still with me after my pop heresy, I want to complain about a little comment that Instapundit slipped in with his Two Towers review:

""And yeah, Viggo Mortensen's occasional off-camera antiwar blather notwithstanding, the inevitability of war, and the importance of having the will to resist evil despite the burdens and the horror is a repeated theme, twined in and around the despair and temptation points I mention above. Indeed, one speech in which Aragorn explains to Theoden that this isn't just the usual raiding, but an effort to stamp out his civilization, seems especially on point.""

If you were non-white or didnt read the corporate media and the right blogosphere you might at first misinterpret this passage. Yes, reality had to be faced that the Iraq war was inevitable from about the middle of 2002, and it was not merely a bombing raid but 'an attempt to stamp out Muslim civilization', one might conclude. And yes the Iraqi people had to consider 'the importance of having the will to resist evil despite the burdens and the horror.' But of course it was the United States, according to the likes of Instapundit, really just a tiny, defenceless and peaceloving nation, which was being forced to face the dire possibility, nay reality, of 'evil' in the form of the Beast of Babylon no less storming across the Atlantic and enslaving or killing everyone.

Iraq's new grain patent law: "For generations, small farmers in Iraq operated in an essentially unregulated, informal seed supply system. Farm-saved seed and the free innovation with and exchange of planting materials among farming communities has long been the basis of agricultural practice. This has been made illegal under the new law. The seeds farmers are now allowed to plant - 'protected' crop varieties brought into Iraq by transnational corporations in the name of agricultural reconstruction - will be the property of the corporations."

Its hard to believe that things like this could really be happening, but it is another example of the real agenda of the corporate/neo-liberal powers.

Media and the Election: "What I've found inside TV news is a drunken exuberance for stories involving celebrity, lurid crime and sex scandal -- matched by a grim timidity and fear of offending the powers that be, especially if they're conservatives. The biggest fear is of doing anything that could get you or your network accused of being liberal.

"In 2002, I was an on-air commentator at MSNBC, and also senior producer on the 'Donahue' show, the most-watched program on the channel. In the last months of the program, before it was terminated on the eve of the Iraq war, we were ordered by management that every time we booked an antiwar guest, we had to book 2 pro-war guests. If we booked two guests on the left, we had to book 3 on the right. At one meeting, a producer suggested booking Michael Moore and was told that she would need to book 3 right-wingers for balance. I considered suggesting Noam Chomsky as a guest, but our studio couldn't accommodate the 86 right-wingers we would have needed for balance."

I've seen this phenomenon in the Australia TV media. Some years ago I recall Chomsky being interviewed on the Lateline program. It was ridiculous. He was framed by no less than 3 other guests. Chomsky is obviously one of the most important commentators in the world today, and has been for years, and he deserves the courtesy of allowing his views to be explicated and discussed, rather than buried. A more recent example was an interview by SBS Dateline with Michael McKinley. It was 'balanced' by an appearance from someone from the 'Lowy Institute'. As a result the interview was downright annoying. McKinley had some sharp and interesting things to say on the Powell resignation and other matters, but half the interview time was simply wasted by bland and inane interruptions from the pro-Bush stooge.

"When we look at the media's role in the 2004 election, we make a mistake to focus on election coverage per se. The basis for Bush's victory was in place way before 2004. At the end of last year, a huge study done by the University of Maryland's PIPA, the Program on International Policy Attitudes, found that most of those who got their news from the commercial TV networks held at least 1 of 3 fundamental "misperceptions" about the war in Iraq (and some held 2 or 3 of them):

* that Iraq had been directly linked to 9/11
* that WMDs had been found in Iraq
* that world opinion supported the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

"Viewers of Fox News, where I worked for years, were the most misled. But strong majorities of CBS, ABC, NBC and CNN viewers were also confused on at least one of these points. Among those informed on all 3 questions, only 23 percent supported Bush's war.

"How can you have a meaningful election in a country where, according to polls, half or more of the American people don't know who attacked us on 9/11? They think Saddam Hussein was involved."

"Last month, PIPA released a new study that found majorities of Bush supporters, sometimes huge majorities, not only had major misunderstandings of the basic facts about Iraq, but they were misled on all sorts of other Bush positions. 74 percent of Bush supporters believed that Bush favors inclusion of labor and environmental standards in trade agreements.

"60 percent of Bush supporters said the US should not have initiated a war with Iraq unless evidence established that Iraq had WMDs and was supporting the Al Qaeda terrrorists. This should have been a bloc of Kerry voters. But they were unaware the evidence did not exist."

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Lateline with Tony Jones: Peak oil hits the TV: Some fifty years after M.Hubbert King announced the concept of 'peak oil' it hits the electronic media in Australia (just in time for the world peak itself to hit!). This is the first time I have seen it in the media, and a google search appears to pick up ZERO references to 'hubbert peak' or 'peak oil' in the Australian print media. Surely things can't be as bad as all that, perhaps I am searching wrongly? As Prof Goodstein said in the interview he conducted with Jones (strangely not transcribed to the website) this is 'the end of civilisation as we know it' and the 'biggest issue of the day' but the media and political attention is practically non-existent.... The dismal reality is that preparations for an oil shortage and transition to a renewable energy economy are and continue to be essentially negligible.

Goodstein also pointed out that for nuclear energy to replace our energy needs the US would need to build 10,000 of the biggest reactors possible, a staggering number at staggering cost, and even then uranium supplies would last only 10-20 years. Fast breeder reactors could extend the life of these supplies but the by-product is plutonium.... The really bad news seems to be that there is no substitute in sight for what we are shortly about to lose in the form of oil, and this fact simply has not hit home yet.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Some Chomsky comments on election result: "The outcome was a disappointment, but there have been disappointments before. Take 1984, when essentially the same gang of thugs—a little less tilted to the extreme reactionary statist side—won by a 2-1 margin, with about the same percentage of the electoral vote as today. And they were engaged in horrendous atrocities abroad and very harsh and destructive programs for most of the population at home. The world didn’t come to an end. In fact, activism proved quite effective.

"I don’t think that the Kerry campaign even tried to include the opinions of most of the population, including those who voted for Kerry. People will vote their class interests when they see some credible political force that might represent those interests. That’s not Kerry or the DLC. There are urban-rural differences, but even greater differences internal to each. We can reach out to people, urban or rural, by taking them and their concerns seriously, trying to understand them, and working to find ways to realize legitimate concerns, without compromising our own principles. The same way we work in, say, liberal academic communities, where there is also vast diversity."

"People voted for the imagery concocted by the PR industry. Exit polls reveal that clearly. But to discover whether the imagery is accurate, we have to compare people’s attitudes and beliefs with the actual programs. There’s plenty of interesting and credible evidence on this, and when we investigate it, we discover that people were hopelessly misled. Voters for both candidates assumed, overwhelmingly, that the candidates held their views, which is demonstrably false.... there is overwhelming evidence that the opinions of the majority of the population on major issues were simply off the agenda, either within the political parties or in mainstream discussion, with rare exceptions. That democratic deficit seems to me far more important than the possibility that the coin that was tossed was biased."

Chomsky has consistently maintained that if people were informed of the facts they would act (and vote) accordingly. This attitude makes a welcome change from the legions of deeply disappointed Democrats who are only too ready to denounce the 'stupidity' of the Red states and even talk armaments and civil war or secession.

Cognitive dissonance and support for Bush: "What we've seen in the last four years is Team Bush skillfully manipulating perceptions using the theory of cognitive dissonance. After the 9-11 terror attacks, when we invaded Iraq and killed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians, we as a nation had the option of 1. recognizing that our government is hardly better than the terrorists we condemn because we too kill civilians for political ends or 2. buying our cult leaders' patently obvious lie that "freedom is on the march." Which one do most people find more comfortable to believe? Which one rewards the believers with a sense of doing the right thing and which one punishes them with the sense that they, even they, are part of a horrible evil?

"This is why military families as a group continue to support Bush's war of aggression in Iraq. They can say 1. the war is a ridiculous fraud and our children/spouses are putting themselves in danger in an enterprise that makes America more (not less) likely to be attacked or 2. this is a heroic sacrifice that our children/spouses are willing to pay to depose a threatening tyrant and establish freedom around the world. Accepting the truth that one's own child died a preventable death for absolutely nothing requires the kind stoic realism that few people possess. It sends Americans into a confusing twilight zone of questioning everything they have been so painstakingly taught-that our war-time leaders really care about our soldiers, that they act in the best interest of the country, that when the chips are down and it really matters, our leaders are good and true, that if America decides to go to war, we must be in the right. It threatens to unhinge us from a belief system we have relied on our entire lives.

"The alternative, that our president would knowingly mislead the public to take control of oilfields, sacrifice soldiers' lives to enrich his business cronies, and kill Iraqi children to make countries like Saudi Arabia toe the American line, is just too agonizing a thought to be dreamt of for most Americans."

The American bubble in Baghdad: "They were perplexed, I was later told—astonished by what they believed was the stupidity of the document that had been handed to them. They exchanged glances as if to ask the standard Iraqi question when first encountering the CPA: could it truly be that these were the same people who had put men on the moon? ... "People just made assumptions about the level of sophistication and knowledge here. One of the Iraqi police told me a story of going to a training session given by the military, where some guy is explaining the Internet. Like, 'This is a phone.' And the Iraqi said, 'You know, we're not complete morons.' People came to the CPA, never spoke to an Iraqi, and just launched these projects." ... the CPA was visibly afraid of democracy, he said, and it was distracted by the pet theories of economic reforms. "That's where we went off the rails," he said. "Badly.""

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Complete 9-11 timeline: Unbelievable - so much forewarning, so many unusual circumstances.

Why Iraq Will End as Vietnam Did by Martin Van Creveld: Account of Moshe Dayan's visit to Vietnam in 1966.

Friday, November 19, 2004

China Barrels Ahead in Oil Market: "After a Chinese company's deal to develop an oil field in Iran, Beijing tacitly offered political support for Tehran's budding nuclear program. That put China in direct cross hairs of the Bush administration.... Only a decade ago, China shipped out more crude than it imported. This year it ... is now the world's second-largest importer of oil after the U.S. Surging Chinese demand, which has helped drive up oil prices to record levels in the last year, is expected to rise by double-digit growth rates annually for the next 15 years."

"One of China's biggest and latest energy ventures involves Iran, which the United States has sought to isolate for its alleged development of a covert nuclear arms program. Late last month, Chinese and Iranian officials signed a preliminary deal in which China's Sinopec Group would develop Iran's Yadavarn oil field in exchange for Sinopec agreeing to buy millions of tons of Iranian liquefied natural gas. The Chinese government media valued the deal at $70 billion.

"A few days later, Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing gave Iran important political support in the standoff over the Islamic republic's nuclear program. Li said Beijing opposed efforts to have the matter referred to the United Nations Security Council, although he stopped short of saying China would use its veto power if the case were sent there."

Bush's Win is a Defeat for Democrats, Not the Left: "The victory of George W. Bush on November 2 is a stunning defeat for the Democratic party. But it is not a defeat for the progressive political movement in the United States. This movement mobilized as never before, turning out voters for the election, coordinating activities among numerous organizations at the grass roots level, conducting massive demonstrations, particularly at the Republican convention, and employing a multiplicity of media tactics and resources, ranging from documentary films, the internet, alternative news outlets, and the penetration of the established media.

"Its single greatest strength, unlike the shifting stances of the Democratic party and John Kerry, was the singularity and morality of its message. It consistently pointed out the lies and corporate corruption of the Bush administration, and most importantly, the immorality and imperial goals that lay behind the invasion and the war in the Gulf. It is the US occupation of Iraq that constitutes the Achilles heel of the second Bush administration."

"The Democratic party will almost certainly continue to waffle over the Iraqi conflict. Kerry played a Hamlet-like role in the campaign, at times supporting the war, which Karl Rove and the Republican party effectively pounced on to accuse him of being a flip-flopper. Kerry stood behind the occupation of Iraq, recognizing that like the Republican party, Democrats have historically backed the designs of the US empire in the Gulf and the Middle East as well as in other regions of the world.

"But Kerry, given the his role in the Vietnam War, intuitively understood that the current war is not winnable, thus explaining his contradictory and often confused statements and votes on the authorization and financial appropriations for the war. Now the long knives will come out among the so-called centrist Democrats, insisting that the party needs to take on the moral issues as defined by the Republican party. This is a recipe for the further decline of the Democrats. The real problem is that the leadership of the party has sold out to corporate concerns and is wedded to the maintenance and expansion of US power abroad."

"Certainly, the United States, as Bush proclaims, would like to establish a US engineered democracy in Iraq. But this objective is secondary, and largely a façade. The real goal is to secure control over the petroleum resources of the region. Not only is access to oil essential for the US petro-based economy. Domination of the Gulf's petroleum reserves will also give the United States leverage over the two major contenders for global hegemony in the twenty-first century, China and the European Community.

"The harsh reality for the Bush administration is that this empire is now severely overstretched. The enormous fiscal and trade deficits are only worsened by the Iraqi occupation. An economic train wreck could even hit the United States as the war drags on with financiers and investors loosing confidence in the US economy, pulling out of the stock market and selling off their enormous holdings of dollars. Even more importantly, the US military is overextended."

"As these developments take place the left needs to denounce the Bush administration's horrendous policies and all attempt to support or condone them. This is especially important in our country because as we saw in the election many Americans have been falsely frightened into believing the war in Iraq is about protecting them against terrorists and promoting democracy.

"As William Appleman Williams, the great historian from the University of Wisconsin put it, empire has become "an American way of life." This is why much of the world has come "to hate us," not for our "freedoms", but because we have taken away their freedoms and liberties in order to allow our corporations to control and suck up their resources. By staying the course with our denunciation of this destructive empire, progressives and the left can assume the moral high ground, reshape the discourse within the Democratic party, and fundamentally alter the political direction of the United States."

Colin Campbell 2000 Lecture explicates the concept of Peak Oil in point form (with diagrams): "Our lack of preparedness is itself amazing, given the importance of oil to our lives. The warnings were rejected and discredited as if they were words of soothsayers and prophets.... Discovery reached a peak in the 1960s - despite all the technology we hear so much about and a worldwide search for the best prospects. It should surprise no one that we now face the corresponding peak of production. This simple reasoning has been however rejected by flat-earth economists and others with a blind faith in technology and markets forces. Worse still, governments have listened to bad advice. There are many vested interests bent on confusion and denial.... There is, I think, a strong danger of some ill-considered military intervention to try to secure oil." NB. This lecture was given in the year 2000.

Bush, the Neocons and Evangelical Christian Fiction: Article discusses the relations between the Neocons and the Christianist right. It raises the question of how far, how long, how deeply and how deliberately the Right has targeted Evangelicals to support the Neo-liberal, neo-con agenda. And to that extent, whether it is a mistake for people of conscience to abandon churches as merely 'superstition', thereby creating a potential for them to be deliberately influenced and manipulated by neo-liberal and neo-conservative forces. There is no human society where religion does not play a role. The need for community, ritual, ceremony (birth, marriage, death etc), spirituality, moral teaching, guidance, pastoral care etc appears to be universal.

All religions contain a tension (which mirrors the situation elsewhere in society) between morality and dogmatism, between freedom and authoritarianism. The good fight always is the fight of morality, compassion, justice, knowledge and humanism against dogmatism, fanaticism, ignorance and fundamentalism; a fight of physical and spiritual freedom against enslavement. To abandon the field thinking it is of no further import may well be a strategic blunder.

If humanists and others who cannot stomach hypocrisy abandon churches then what creature instead will slither in and curl closely around the fundamental human need for faith and hope, and the basic rituals of the seasons and of birth, marriage and death?

Monster of a Lawyer: Nominee for Attorney General Even Worse Than Ashcroft: The new Attorney General Gonzales is the author of the infamous 'torture memo', that articulated the Fuehrer principle in US politics:

"The president, despite domestic and international laws constraining the use of torture, has the authority as commander in chief to approve almost any physical or psychological actions during interrogation, up to and including torture, the report argued...

"A military lawyer who helped prepare the report said that political appointees heading the working group sought to assign the president virtually unlimited authority on matters of torture - to assert "presidential power at its absolute apex," the lawyer said...

"The working-group report elaborated the Bush administration's view that the president has virtually unlimited power to wage war as he sees fit, and neither Congress, the courts nor international law can interfere..."

"To protect subordinates should they be charged with torture, the memo advised that Mr. Bush issue a "presidential directive or other writing" that could serve as evidence, since authority to set aside the laws is "inherent in the president.""

Coupled with the resignation of Powell, the appointment of Rice as the Secretary of State, and the partisan purge of the CIA, this is a clear signal of the future direction of the Bush Administration. The neocons, by eliminating alternative or dissenting sources of information, such as the State Department and the CIA, have closed their grip on the mind of the boy emperor Bush. Rice's role, as before, is to be physically close to Bush and ensure he only gets the 'right' information. Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz appear to be running the Administration.

Lawrence of Cyberia: The (Schlieffen) Plan for the New American Century: "Immediately after the assassination of Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, world opinion - including the rival powers of the Triple Entente - was overwhelmingly sympathetic to Austria-Hungary, and supportive of whatever measures the Empire might take to punish the assassins (Nous sommes tous americains). Despite the seriousness of the assassination, it was regarded as a crime by a small sub-national group (Bosnian Serbs then, Al Qaeda now), not an act of war by a nation. So there was at first no expectation in Europe that this Balkan crisis would lead to a general war, any more than did the Balkan crises of 1912/13, which had been settled by diplomatic contacts among the Great Powers.

"But in 1914, there was a conscious decision not to proceed by international consensus (**** the UN and Old Europe!). Austria-Hungary's government, most vocally the Chief of the General Staff (von Hotzendorf) and Foreign Minister (von Berchtold - insert the name of your favorite PNAC'er here) saw the opportunity to exploit the incident as the provocation that would allow Austria-Hungary to launch a preventative war against Serbia (Iraq), removing the destabilising effect that an independent Slav kingdom (Arab regime that didn't toe the US line) exercised over the restive southern Slavs of the Empire, and asserting Hapsburg hegemony over the Balkans (US hegemony over the Mid East).

"So the Austrian government publicly blamed the government of Serbia for the death of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, describing the assassination as a "well-organised plot whose threads extend to Belgrade" (we know there are ties between Saddam and Al Qaeda), and outlining impossible demands that Serbia had to comply with if it was to avoid war (Hey Saddam, prove you’ve destroyed nuclear weapons you haven’t got). In reality, even the official Austro-Hungarian enquiry into the assassination found no evidence of official Serbian involvement in the crime, but by continuing to maintain that Serbia was responsible, Austria-Hungary could justify going to war under the pretext that she was punishing the real murderers of the Archduke."

Lawrence of Cyberia: How To Get Away With Murder

Tasmanian Devil - FAQ

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Ghawar is dying - Saudi Arabia may have already peaked: "Much discussion and hard data was devoted to the fact that Ghawar, the largest field in the world, along with all of Saudi Arabia’s other large fields, was old and tired.... Ghawar’s ultimate recoverable reserves in 1975 were estimated at 60 billion barrels – by Exxon, Mobil, Texaco and Chevron. It had produced 55 billion barrels up to the end of 2003 and is still producing at 1.8 billion per annum. That shows you how close it might be to the end. When Ghawar dies, the world is officially in decline."

Fallujah flattened: "On the humanitarian front, Fallujah is a tragedy. The city has virtually been reduced to rubble. Remaining residents, the Red Cross confirms, are eating roots and burying the dead in their gardens. There's no medicine in the hospitals to help anybody. The wounded are left to die in the streets - their remains to be consumed by packs of stray dogs. As, a Europe-wide collective, puts it, 'World governments, international organizations, nobody raises a finger to stop the killing.' The global reaction is apathy."

"[The US-installed CIA asset, the 'prime minister'] Allawi insists on the record that not a single civilian has died in Fallujah. Obviously nobody in his cabinet told him what Baghdad is talking about - the hundreds of rotting corpses in the streets, the thousands of civilians still trapped inside their homes, starving, many of them wounded, with no water and no medical aid. And nobody has told him of dozens of children now in Baghdad's Naaman hospital who lost their limbs, victims of US air strikes and artillery shells."

"Dr Asma Khamis al-Muhannadi of Fallujah's general hospital, invaded and "captured" by the marines. She confirmed that "we were tied up and beaten despite being unarmed and having only our medical instruments"; and that the hospital was targeted by bombs and rockets during the initial siege of Fallujah. When the marines came she "was with a woman in labor. The umbilical cord had not yet been cut. At that time, a US soldier shouted at one of the [Iraqi] National Guards to arrest me and tie my hands while I was helping the mother to deliver. I will never forget this incident in my life."

"Crucially, Dr al-Muhannadi also confirmed that American snipers killed more than 17 Iraqi doctors who had mobilized to answer an appeal from Fallujah's doctors broadcast on al-Jazeera: information on the massacre has been circulating in Baghdad for days."

"The resistance says that dozens of marine snipers have taken six or seven positions along Tharthar Street, the main street leading to Ramadi, and a few buildings overlooking the Euphrates in western Fallujah. But residents seem to be free to move in the narrow alleyways: the Americans only control the main roads. According to resistance reports, the mujahideen are constantly changing their positions, moving apparently undetected inside the areas they still control and reinforcing different neighborhoods with more cells of five to 20 fighters each."

"The political infrastructure in Iraq controlled by the Ba'ath Party for many decades has integrated most of the Islamic resistance groups under its command with great efficiency. It has also managed to infiltrate and smash the Iraqi counterinsurgency force that the Americans were trying to assemble. The new counterinsurgency field manual means that unlike Vietnam, counterinsurgency is now being conducted by marines and GIs. Intuitively, the totally alienated population of the Sunni triangle (the "water") has already identified the threat."

" In a press conference in Baghdad, Allawi's Interior Minister Faleh Hassan al-Naqib finally was forced to admit what Asia Times Online and an array of independent media have been reporting since the spring of 2003: that the resistance spans the whole Sunni heartland, not only Fallujah and the Sunni triangle (a lot of "water" for a few thousand "fish"); that the resistance is unified under some form of central command and control, and is not a bunch of uncoordinated groups; that the majority, at least 95%, are Iraqis, and not "foreign fighters" (thus ridiculing the Pentagon's designation of the resistance as "anti-Iraqi forces"); that former Ba'ath Party officials and former Iraqi army officers are essential protagonists; and that they have prepared for urban guerrilla warfare long before the US invasion."

Monday, November 15, 2004

The Death of Arafat and the Myth of New Beginnings: "In the weeks leading up to Palestinian President Yassir Arafat’s death American politicians and pundits have repeatedly called on the Palestinian people to use the opportunity of his passing to transform the intifada from a violent uprising into a non-violent, democratic and pragmatic program for achieving independence. This is very good advice, needless to say, except for one small problem: Palestinians have been trying to build such a movement for the last two decades, and the Israeli Government, IDF and American policy-makers have done everything possible to make sure they did not succeed.

"One of the first exponents of Palestinian non-violence, the Palestinian-American doctor Mubarak Awad, founded the Palestinian Centre for the Study of Nonviolence in 1985. His innovative ideas and training of Palestinians in the tactics of non-violent resistance to the occupation was considered dangerous enough by Israel that it expelled him from the land of his birth in 1988. During the same period, the government supported the rise to power of militant religious groups such as Hamas as a counterweight to the PLO (which that year recognized Israel’s right to exist)."

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Death and Democracy - by Pieter J. Friedrich: Review of the Iraq slaughter with the conclusion: "The obvious solution to ending the slaughter of the Iraqi people at the hands of the U.S. military is for that same military to withdraw from Iraq. An overwhelming majority of Iraqis support that solution; the aforementioned poll also found that "72 percent of Iraqis want the United States forces to leave.""

"If, as the warhawks tell us, the government truly purposes to safeguard the best interests of the Iraqi citizenry, then the only course of action they should be advocating is withdrawal."

But, of course, the 'humanitarian motive' - like the other alleged motives - is a lie, and so therefore there will be no withdrawal.

Lancet roundup and literature review: Review of the weak critiques that have been made of the Lancet study, which showed approximately 100,000 Iraqis killed by the war, thus exploding the last flimsy pretext for war, the 'humanitarian' motive.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

They voted for this mess: Steve Gilliard dispenses with courtesy and indulges in a rant against the Red states and what they voted for.

The 'Christian Nation' Bombs Again - by Dr. Teresa Whitehurst: "And so it is that Christ-free Christianity has slithered into our churches, and is aiding and abetting this terrorizing war on terror. When Christians get sucked into the "spiritual consumer" view of Jesus as (1) sweet but impractical, and (2) primarily useful as their ticket to heaven, Christianity becomes exceedingly dangerous to other people, to the earth, and – in the long run – to ourselves."

The Democrats Need a Spiritual Left: "For years the Democrats have been telling themselves 'it's the economy, stupid.' Yet consistently for dozens of years millions of middle income Americans have voted against their own economic interests to support Republicans who have tapped a deeper set of needs."

The Ten Commitments: Values for the Spiritual/Religious Left: Rabbi Lerner hits back at the 'values' of the 'born again' Christianist right.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Avnery: Yasser Arafat: "Wherever he may be buried when he passes away, the day will come when his remains will be reinterred by a free Palestinian government in the holy shrines in Jerusalem."

"The October 1973 Yom Kippur war caused another turn in his outlook. He saw how the armies of Egypt and Syria, after a brilliant initial victory achieved by surprise, were stopped and, in the end, defeated by the Israeli army. That finally convinced him that Israel could not be overcome by force arms. Therefore, immediately after that war, Arafat started his third revolution: he decided that the PLO must reach an agreement with Israel and be content with a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

"That confronted him with a historic challenge: to convince the Palestinian people to give up its historic position denying the legitimacy of the State of Israel, and to be satisfied with a mere 22% of the territory of pre-1948 Palestine. Without being stated explicitly, it was clear that this also entails the giving up of the unlimited return of the refugees to the territory of Israel."

"Arafat’s (and our) tragedy was that whenever he came closer to a peaceful solution, the Israeli governments withdrew from it. His minimum terms were clear and remained unchanged from 1974 on: a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip; Palestinian sovereignty over East Jerusalem (including the Temple Mount but excluding the Western Wall and the Jewish Quarter); restoration of the pre-1967 border with the possibility of limited and equal exchanges of territory; evacuation of all the Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territory and the solution of the refugee problem in agreement with Israel. For the Palestinians, that is the very minimum, they cannot give up more than that."

Another way of putting it is that Israel never intended to give any more than a moment's reflection to the idea of giving up the Occupied Territories, and Arafat failed in any effort to build grassroots support and solidarity for the two-state solution in both Israel itself and in the West, particularly the US.

Edwards: BBC and Fallujah: "The BBC's lunchtime news anchor, Anna Ford, opened today's news with this solemn announcement: 'Iraq's prime minister, Iyad Allawi, has said he has given American and Iraqi forces the authority to clear Fallujah of terrorists.' (Ford, BBC 1, 13:00 News, November 8, 2004)

"Almost everything in this statement is false: Allawi is not the legitimate prime minister of Iraq, he is an American-installed stooge. Allawi did not give authority to US forces to attack Fallujah - they are the authority in Iraq, Allawi is their mouthpiece. The US goal is not to 'clear Fallujah of terrorists'; it is to crush Iraqi resistance to US control of their country."

Deaths in the desert put Blair on the line: "Stark is angry as well as scared. 'Everyone is in a state of shock and there is now a real anti-government feeling here,' she said. 'We know they're doing the jobs they signed up to do and are being paid to do. But Paul was only 19. It's too young to die. I voted Labour all my life, but I'll never vote for them again.'"

"Lt Col James Cowan said that his regiment expected 'every lunatic terrorist from miles around to descend on us like bees to honey'. 'I hope the government knows what it has got itself into. I'm not sure they fully appreciate the risks,' the email read. 'The Marines we have taken over from have taken nine dead and 197 wounded since July. I hope we do better.'"

"The plasma television screen in the corner of Geoff Hoon's office has not been the bearer of much good news lately. But the images spilling out over the past three days - weeping relatives, grieving widows, accusations of sending soldiers into deathtraps, of wars fought for 'oil and money' - have reached a new low. What is only now becoming clear is the political impact not only on the Defence Secretary's career, but on that of the Prime Minister.

"Labour MPs with slender majorities may have winced hardest when one relative accused Tony Blair of being a 'murdering pig', but it is the impact on those who have until now supported the war that is crucial."

Agriculture consumes massive amounts of water: "While Australian householders are getting out their ration cards, farmers are sitting down to a banquet. In 2000, the country used 25m gigalitres of water - roughly enough to fill Loch Lomond 10,000 times over. Just 2m gigalitres of that total went to households, and nearly half of that, in turn, was used to water gardens. The vast bulk of it - 17m gigalitres, nearly 7,000 Loch Lomonds - was used in farming.

"And yet farming is rarely discussed when the question of Australia's water shortage comes up. A government-sponsored water conservation website,, offers advice on 'greywater' treatment systems, rainwater tanks and the best economy dishwashers for use in restaurants, but makes no mention of the big irrigation industries that consume most of Australia's water.

"That blind spot is depressingly common. Water shortages are a matter of constant debate in Australia, but no one ever seems to question why so much water goes to agriculture. In fact, the only time the words 'agriculture' and 'water' are linked in Australian public discourse is when a drought year comes round in the four-year El Nino cycle, and Australians are hit with pleas to increase allocation for the beleaguered farmers."

"The Murray is dying so that Australia can export rice to China. That is no idle claim. An exhaustive scientific report last year concluded that the degradation of the river could only be arrested by returning 1,500 gigalitres to the river a year; local farmers have even squealed at a more modest agreement to return 500 gigalitres. But rice on its own uses 2,000 gigalitres of the Murray each year, and Australia's 800 cotton growers, who are also mainly based around the Murray, use 2,900 gigalitres of water each year. That last figure is equivalent to 18 times the amount of water used by the UK's entire irrigated agriculture industry."

"Some farming is also necessary to support the population, nutritionally and economically, but a dry continent, such as Australia, should be concentrating on cereal crops, fruit and vegetables and livestock rather than cotton, rice, and sugar, which together account for more than one-third of the country's agricultural water usage."

Monday, November 08, 2004

China signs $100b gas deal with Iran: "The gas deal entails the annual export of some 10 million tons of Iranian liquefied natural gas (LNG) for a 25-year period, as well as the participation, by China's state oil company, in such projects as exploration and drilling, petrochemical and gas industries, pipelines, services and the like.... It is perhaps too early to digest fully the various economic, political and even geostrategic implications of this stunning development, widely considered a major blow to the Bush administration's economic sanctions on Iran and particularly on Iran's energy sector.... China, Russia and Iran share deep misgivings about the perception of the United States as a "benevolent hegemon" and tend to see a "rogue superpower" instead.... Increasingly, the image of the Islamic Republic of Iran as a sort of frontline state in a post-Cold War global lineup against US hegemony is becoming prevalent among Chinese and Russian foreign-policy thinkers."

Top Generals Speak on Iraq war disaster: "The people in control in the Pentagon and the White House live in a fantasy world. They actually thought everyone would just line up and vote for a new democracy and you would have a sort of Denmark with oil.... Iraq is a failure of monumental proportions.... It's a huge strategic disaster, and it will only get worse.... Rumsfeld was profoundly in the dark. I think he really didn't understand what he was doing.... Nothing in Iraq was guarded except for the oil fields, which tells you why we were there.... Have you seen an American strategic blunder this large? The answer is: not in fifty years. I can't imagine when the last one was."

"We screwed up. we were intent on a quick victory with smaller forces, and we felt if we had a military victory everything else would fall in place. We would be viewed not as occupiers but as victors. We would draw down to 30,000 people within the first sixty days. All of this was sheer nonsense. They thought that once Iraq fell we'd have a similar effect throughout the Middle East and terrorism would evaporate, blah, blah, blah. All of these were terrible assumptions. A State Department study advising otherwise was sent to Rumsfeld, but he threw it in the wastebasket. He overrode the military and was just plain stubborn on numbers."

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Palast: Kerry Won: "Kerry won. Here's the facts. I know you don't want to hear it. You can't face one more hung chad. But I don't have a choice. As a journalist examining that messy sausage called American democracy, it's my job to tell you who got the most votes in the deciding states. Tuesday, in Ohio and New Mexico, it was John Kerry."

A graph illustrates alleged anomalies between states using electronic machines and those not.

If true, obviously this is one of the stories of the century. However, given the documented problems with the 2000 election, the matter deserves to be thoroughly investigated (which the corporate media will not do, and Kerry has already conceded). And it is amazing that an election system could include machines with no verifiable audit trail.

Buck Up, You Lefties!: Justin Raimondo, who could not bring himself to actually recommend defeat for Bush (by the only means possible) now pins his hope on Watergate-type scandals to bring down Bush. Possibly a case of wishful thinking, if not folly. Raimondo's persistent error is to see the problem as belonging to the 'war party', rather than to the whole economic/political/military/corporate/capitalist/imperialist system. The disturbing signs of revolutionary sentiment and anti-democratic radicalism among the conservatives are being ignored.

Friday, November 05, 2004

World getting nervous about US dollar, bonds: "The Chinese and Japanese central banks may maintain their huge reserves for defensive reasons, he said, but a smaller player, like Brazil or Singapore, could try to unload its dollar reserves, triggering a global sell-off. Like a mouse in a circus, even a bit player could cause the elephants to stampede.

'"It's absolutely true that it wouldn't be in the interest of the world to do it, but any one country might think, 'I'll beat the crowd and diversify first,' " he warned. "I think that's the more likely scenario."

Orcinus: What the election was all about: ". . . And for those who don't get it? That was explained to me in late 2002 by Mark McKinnon, a longtime senior media adviser to Bush, who now runs his own consulting firm and helps the president. He started by challenging me. ''You think he's an idiot, don't you?'' I said, no, I didn't. ''No, you do, all of you do, up and down the West Coast, the East Coast, a few blocks in southern Manhattan called Wall Street. Let me clue you in. We don't care. You see, you're outnumbered 2 to 1 by folks in the big, wide middle of America, busy working people who don't read The New York Times or Washington Post or The L.A. Times. And you know what they like? They like the way he walks and the way he points, the way he exudes confidence. They have faith in him. And when you attack him for his malaprops, his jumbled syntax, it's good for us. Because you know what those folks don't like? They don't like you!'' In this instance, the final ''you,'' of course, meant the entire reality-based community.

"That, folks, is what Election 2004 was all about. This attitude of utter hatred and contempt for fellow citizens whose politics differ from yours obviously exists on both sides. And it's obviously harmful. It plays out in large acts and small, warping the fabric of our lives and poisoning the community well-being."

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Bageant: The Covert Kingdom: "You may not have heard of Rushdoony or Chilton or North, but taken either separately or together, they have influenced far more contemporary American minds than Noam Chomsky, Gore Vidal and Howard Zinn combined.... Meanwhile, our best thinkers on the left ask us to consider our perpetual U.S. imperial war as a fascist, military/corporate war, and indeed it is that too. But tens of millions of hardworking, earnest American Christians see it as far more than that. They see a war against all that is un-Biblical, the goal of which is complete world conquest, or put in Christian terminology, 'dominion.' They will have no less than the 'inevitable victory God has promised his new chosen people,' according to the Recon masters of the covert kingdom... Like it or not, this is the reality (or prevailing unreality) with which we are faced. The 2004 elections, regardless of outcome, will not change that. Nor will it necessarily bring ever-tolerant liberals to openly acknowledge what is truly happening in this country, the thing that has been building for a long, long time -- a holy war, a covert Christian jihad for control of America and the entire world. Millions of Americans are under the spell of an extraordinarily dangerous mass psychosis."

Years ago Chomsky was already commenting that the US was a fundamentalist country, unlike anything else in the industrialised world. But to read up via US blogs on dominionism and pseudo-fascism is simply mindboggling.

Election Fallout: What It Means: "There is no silver lining here, and there is no 'yes, but...' This was a conservative win, across the country, and it was a big and important one. And it will have dramatic, and longlasting, repercussions.... There were so many issues, so many problems, so many mini-disasters leading into this election, and yet the outcome -- and we will wait for the more in-depth analysis, here, but the first analyses seem very, very solid -- indicates voting took place largely among social issues, not national/international events. That, simply put, is astonishing. And the results are going to be dramatic."

Orcinus: Rural votes republican: "The death of rural America -- a brutal, slow, painful death by suffocation, as corporate agribusiness displaces the family farm -- should be a major issue for Democrats. The Jeffersonian ideal, recall, was an America built as a nation of 'citizen farmers.' It may be something of a myth, but it is one that is deeply imbedded in our national psyche, and it is not one we can just hastily dispose of like some overripe cantaloupe.

Republicans have made great headway in these states by pretending to be on their side -- mostly by wrapping themselves in red-white-and-blue rhetoric, and especially by waving the bloody shirt of hating the gummint, who by the GOP's lights has been solely responsible for the entirety of rural dwellers' miseries (this was how they managed to fleece them with the misbegotten Freedom To Farm Act of 1996, which should have been more accurately named the Giant Hogtrough For Corporate Agribusiness). Indeed, it's clear this is one of the chief purposes of the proliferation of anti-government tropes by the likes of Rush Limbaugh and his conservative cohorts: to separate working-class people from the very political presence most capable of actually protecting their long-term interests from the Enronesque predators of unfettered corporatism -- namely, the gummint."

C-SPAN: 2004 GENERAL ELECTION RESULTS: Looking at this election map it is striking how Democrat majorites are in the Northeast and West Coast, while Republican majorities are in the South and Mid West. The country is deeply divided. Bush however has won, and this time with a significant majority of the popular vote. This means that lying, corruption, incompetence and disaster are rewarded by the electorate; and that propaganda, disinformation and 'wedging' are the secrets of political success. The feature of Republican success that attracts most comment is how southern, midwestern, poor and rural voters can be got to vote 'against their economic and political interest' by removing those issues from the campaign and focussing on 'values'. To reverse this would take a broad and sustained grassroots campaign to build solidarity and expose the corrupt class-based nature of Republican politics.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Proportional Representation Society of Australia: "The Proportional Representation Society of Australia is a society which promotes the Hare Clark Quota Preferential method of Proportional Representation (Quota Preferential is also known as Single Transferable Vote or STV). Many electoral systems have major flaws which can result in apparently democratic elections having very undemocratic outcomes. While no electoral system is perfect, Hare Clark is free from these major flaws and has a great deal to commend it. It is a fair and practical way to implement representative democracy in organizations ranging from small local clubs to large countries and international organizations."

To receive the latest copies of the Society's quarterly newsletter 'Quota Notes' you need to become a member. Back issues of Quota notes are available online here.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Problems with direct democracy: "I'm struggling to make sense of the 32 voter initiative measures on my ballot. What the hell? Isn't this why we have a representative Democracy -- so people have the time and resources to make sense of complex funding issues and priorities?

"For example, California proposition 60A asks:
Surplus Property. Legsilative Constitutional Amendment
Sale proceeds of most surplus state property pay off specified bonds. Why the hell am I being asked about this? Why can't the freakin' California legislature deal with shit like this?

"And the worst part is how these initiatives are sold to the voters: Vote YES on Prop 47: For our Children. What the fuck? Great argument! And how convenient that it happens to fit on bumper stickers and lawn signs. Half the time, the other side says the same thing: Vote NO on Prop 47: Protect our children

"So voters are supposed to sift through dozens of ballot initiatives, half the time not knowing what they're voting for. And those that DO have some idea about what they're doing do so based on ridiculously simplistic campaigns. There is a place for the ballot initiative, I'm sure. But it's clear that at least here in California, it's way too easy to get a question on the ballot. "

Global Warming Has Arrived: Arctic Study: The global warming crisis, quite rightly, continues to attract attention in both the corporate and alternative media. But for some reason the fossil fuel depletion crisis, which is likely to be at least as serious as in its implications as global warming, does not attract the same degree of attention.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Orcinus: Fascism can happen here: "Two things occurred to the conservative movement in this drive for power:

-- It increasingly viewed liberals not merely as competitors but as unacceptable partners in the liberal-conservative power-sharing agreement that has been in place since at least the New Deal and the rise of modern consumer society. Ultimately, this view metastacizes into seeing liberals as objects to be eliminated.

-- It became increasingly willing to countenance ideological and practical bridges with certain factions of the extremist right. This ranged from anti-abortion and religious-right extremists to the neo-Confederates who dominate Republican politics in the South to factions of the Patriot/militia movement."

"The fact that nearly half the country is willing to endorse the manifest incompetence of a man like George W. Bush, by returning him to the Oval Office for another four years, is not a good sign in this regard. The remarkable levels of delusion and misinformation among Bush supporters is another confirmation that this is not a healthy political milieu."

"What's still lacking, however, from the basic recipe for genuine fascism is the emergence of a genuine crisis of democracy. Unfortunately, because of the extreme volatility of the political environment, the potential for such a crisis erupting exists regardless of whatever among the likely scenarios plays out in Tuesday's election ... In other words, it's clear that the "crisis of democracy" necessary to create a genuinely fascist dynamic is a real potential that lies around many corners on our current path. The key, then, is to finding the path that does not take us there."

"By far ... the most likely [scenario] to produce a real outbreak of fascism is ... in which Bush again takes charge of the Oval Office through litigation or some other abrogation of the norms of democratic rule. If it happens a second time -- and particularly if Bush does so by once again disenfranchising voters -- then there will be a strong, perhaps violent reaction from the left, who will have (quite rationally) come to the conclusion that Bush and his regime not only have no respect for democratic institutions, but that they intend to undermine if not destroy them outright.

"The danger lies with that reaction, which in this scenario would almost certainly produce mass protests: marches, demonstrations, anti-Bush rallies. These would almost certainly be accompanied by a nominal level of violence: arrests, police confrontations, some provocation-related violence, property damage. This violence would then become justification for violent counters -- the organizational groundwork for which has already been laid in the form of such anti-liberal provocateurs as the Freepers and Protest Warriors.

"The reaction to a second Bush term under illegitimate conditions, then, would likely spark a counter-reaction that would manifest condoned, organizational violence, the lack of which is one of the distinguishing characteristics of pseudo-fascism. This is the scenario in which the danger of fascism lies closest to the surface.... On the meta level, preventing fascism means averting a crisis of democracy, and dismantling the fascist architecture of the conservative movement by repudiating its tenets. If Bush wins, especially illegitimately, that will entail resisting the urge to give in to violence and anger. It will be understandable, of course, but progressives have to understand that it will only fuel a fascist nightmare by giving movement ideologues the pretext to unleash the dogs."

The 2007 Peak Oil date explained: According to this source the peak of oil production will occur at about 90 million barrels per day in the 2007. Currently, world oil production is about 82 million barrels per day.

Plan War and the Hubbert Oil Curve: Nuclear energy is unacceptable for other reasons, but even if massively increased nuclear energy is deployed there is still no timely substitute for oil. Thus the alternatives are: Plan War (the current 'plan'); Plan Titanic (tip whatever fossil fuels are left into the furnace and full steam ahead!); and Plan Powerdown (the only sane option). Unfortunately humanity is not very good at social and future planning and so a more or less disorderly and violent collapse is the pessimistic but realistic outcome. The first thing to go will be airline travel... next time you are in a plane looking down have a good long look because it may be the last time you ever fly.

Transcript of Bin Laden video: "Contrary to what [President George W.] Bush says and claims -- that we hate freedom --let him tell us then, "Why did we not attack Sweden?" ... Any nation that does not attack us will not be attacked." Bin Laden reinforces his stature as a political leader of global importance with this address directly to the American people. 3000 people were killed in the 9/11 attacks, but Bush, in an epic crime of unprovoked aggression, has killed up to 100,000 people in Iraq. And many people in the US apparently continue to wonder, 'why do they hate us?' Viewing of Bin laden's video should be compulsory in the US.