Thursday, June 30, 2005

So Much For How Well "Things" Are Going in Iraq

So Much For How Well “Things” Are Going In Iraq!

Only a people's movement will stop the war - September 24, Washington DC,
I Hope to see as many of you there as are possibly able to make it. Additional important information on this is right below the articles I have posted in this. Also, make certain to read very carefully the comments “Bush’s Vietnamization Speech” below by the International Action Committee. Plus information is provided by
No Draft, No at the tail end of this for those needing additional information on anti-draft and anti-recruitment efforts and what people can do to join in with these efforts. -- Jack

The Vietnam Solution: (Full Article Here)
"Over the past two weeks, I've had extended conversations with former diplomats and intelligence officers about Iraq. To a man (and woman), they were pessimistic, and blackly so. Over the past 18 months, one of them told me, the intelligence community put out two National Intelligence Estimates on Iraq and an additional major supplement, all of which told the White House the truth: that the war in Iraq is not going well, and is likely to get worse. So the administration knows the truth, at least if they choose to believe their spies and analysts. (Of course, the work product of the spies and analysts may get worse if the new bosses—John Negroponte, the director of national intelligence, and Porter Goss, the CIA director—have their way. Negroponte, the U.S. ambassador in Baghdad, spent his days penning happy-talk propaganda about how well the war was going, which got back to Secretary of State Colin Powell last year and almost, almost persuaded him that the war was winnable.) But, just as "intelligence and facts" were being fixed around policy in 2002, it appears that in 2005, the Bush administration is once again ignoring its intelligence community and choosing to portray the war as progressing along nicely."

Iraq: A Bloody Mess (Full Article Here)

A Defeat Bred in Deceit (Full Article Here)
The news now from Iraq is only depressing. All the roads leading out of the capital are cut. Iraqi security and US troops can only get through in heavily armed convoys. There is a wave of assassinations of senior Iraqi officers based on chillingly accurate intelligence. A deputy police chief of Baghdad was murdered on Sunday. A total of 52 senior Iraqi government or religious figures have been assassinated since the handover. In June 2004 insurgents killed 42 US soldiers; so far this month 75 have been killed.

General Casey’s and Secretary Rumsfeld’s remarks make it clear that the Defense Department has given up the prospect of military victory: The situation in Iraq, Gen. Casey said, “…will ultimately be settled by negotiation and inclusion in the political process.” Rumsfeld says the US troops are being killed and maimed in order to “create an environment that the Iraqi people and the Iraqi security forces can win against that insurgency.”After three years of fighting, Rumsfeld still doesn’t understand that the Iraqi people are the insurgency. Is Rumsfeld still clinging to the myth that the insurgency is an outside element injected into Iraq?

Here is what the Rummy had to say about government secrecy during the Vietnam War—what a difference a few years makes: (Full Article Here)
It wasn’t all that long ago when a young conservative congressman from Illinois named Donald Rumsfeld spoke eloquently on the floor of the House of Representatives during the Vietnam War about the need for the Johnson administration to speak more truthfully about that conflict.

Army Lowers Standards and Increases Bonuses, but Still Falling Short of Recruiting Goal: (Full Article Here)
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Army probably will come up well short of the 80,000 new recruits it needs during fiscal 2005, despite adding a thousand more recruiters, boosting enlistment cash bonuses to a record $20,000, spending $200 million on upbeat television ads and beginning to lower its standards.
The following information is from the mulitiple organizations that have come together in opposition to the war in Iraq, and Bush in general. And specifically for the organizing of the march on Washington this Sept. 24-26. I will be there and hope to see as many as possible there.--Jack

Bush's 'Vietnamization' Speech

In November 3, of 1969, then-President Richard Nixon gave what would become known as his "Vietnamization" speech. The parallels with Bush's speech tonight are striking and ominous. Nixon declared that he would not announce a timetable for withdrawal, saying that it depended on training the South Vietnamese puppet forces. He was confident in their progress, saying, "The South Vietnamese have continued to gain in strength. As a result they have been able to take over combat responsibilities from our American troops." He said, "I have not and do not intend to announce the timetable for our program. And there are obvious reasons for this decision which I am sure you will understand. As I have indicated on several occasions, the rate of withdrawal will depend on developments."

He said that the withdrawal of U.S. troops would depend on "the level of enemy activity and the progress of the training programs of the South Vietnamese forces. And I am glad to be able to report tonight progress on both of these fronts has been greater than we anticipated when we started the program in June for withdrawal." He also claimed that "Enemy infiltration, infiltration which is essential if they are to launch a major attack, over the last 3 months is less than 20 percent of what it was over the same period last year."

Nixon's speech completely ignored that fact that the puppet regime in Saigon had no popular support and that the resistance to U.S. occupation was growing daily. The people of Vietnam, like the people of Iraq, were determined to throw out the occupiers and free their country. It was 6 years and tens of thousands of deaths later that the U.S. was forced to evacuate Saigon, as the people of Vietnam drove out the occupation and overwhelmed the weak and corrupt U.S.-installed government. Bush's Vietnamization speech sounded as if it were written by the same speech writer--it made the same misrepresentations and laid out the same disastrous course as Nixon's speech 36 years ago. Tonight Bush claimed that the training of "Iraqi security forces" is proceeding well, saying, "The new Iraqi security forces are proving their courage every day.

More than 2,000 members of the Iraqi security forces have given their lives in the line of duty. Thousands more have stepped forward and are now in training to serve their nation. With each engagement, Iraqi soldiers grow more battle-hardened and their officers grow more experienced." He likewise ignores the fact that the Iraqi people do not support occupation, and that the resistance is growing, becoming more sophisticated, and is widely supported by the people of Iraq.

Last month there were about 700 reported attacks against U.S. forces using improvised explosive devices -- the highest number since the war began. In March, 35 U.S. soldiers died in Iraq, 52 were killed in April, and 80 died in May. Bush claims that "when the Iraqi's stand up, we will stand down", and that the U.S. is working toward "an Iraq that can defend itself, defeat its enemies, and secure its freedom." But the real enemies of freedom in iraq are the armies of occupation. It is important to understand that the resistance is a response to 12 years of sanctions, a war that has killed 100,000 people, and a brutal colonial occupation. Oppression and occupation inevitably bring violence. The Iraqi people have the absolute right to defend their country from foreign invaders, and we fully support their right to do so. We cannot allow the destruction of Iraq and its people to drag on - Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said Sunday that the occupation could last as long as 12 years. We must take action now to end the war.

"Ideology that hates freedom, rejects tolerance and despises all dissent" President Bush repeatedly referred to the people of Iraq as "ruthless killers" and "terrorists," playing once again to anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bigotry. He referred to the tragic events of September 11, 2001 at least six times in his speech to justify the ongoing war and occupation, even though he knows that the people of Iraq had nothing to do with the attacks on that day. He claimed that the resistance fighters in Iraq are motivated by an "ideology that hates freedom, rejects tolerance and despises all dissent." To most of the world, this phrase describes, not the women and men struggling to free their country from occupation, but the Bush Administration itself.

The neocons in the White House have lied in order to justify a war of conquest. They have practiced and justified torture and abuse of prisoners. They have waged war on basic rights with the Patriot Act and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. Bush claims to be fighting under the banner of "the great ideal of human freedom". Yet no President has done more to curtail free speech or to control the "free" press. And no President has done more to apply the law selectively, to further his own political agenda, or to pack the courts with right wing extremists.

Who pays the price for global war?

Since the invasion of Iraq, Johns Hopkins University estimates more than 100,000 Iraqis have been killed, most of them women and children. Thousands are being held in U.S. prison camps, subject to torture and abuse.

As of yesterday, 1,734 U.S. military personnel have died in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion and more than 13,000 have been wounded, according to Defense Department figures. The young people who are killed, injured, and permanently disabled are not the children of Wall Street. They are children from the poorest and most oppressed communities, forced into the military because of the lack of options. Many of them are returning home to find that there are no jobs, that housing prices have skyrocketed, and that healthcare is not available. Hundreds of returning veterans are now homeless. Meanwhile, working people in the U.S. are finding it harder to make ends meet, as billions of tax dollars have been spent on the war instead of jobs, education, and health care. Cities are forced to slash their budgets, laying off workers and cutting essential services. Schools are overcrowded, understaffed, and underfunded. Healthcare is a luxury. This is not just a war against the people of Iraq. Under the pretense of waging a "war on terror," Bush is waging a war of terror against working people everywhere.

We must organize to fight back.

Only a people's movement will stop the war: September 24, Washington DC

It is clear that the Bush Administration intends to conitnue the war and occupation of Iraq, in defiance of interantional law. It is also clear that coporate-owned politicians will not and cannot stop the war.Only a massive peoples' resistance can stop the war. We must do everything within our power to build a united front to bring the troops home now. On September 24, tens of thousands of activists will take to the streets of Washington DC to demand "Troops Out Now!"The International Action Center is part of the Troops Out Now Coalition, which is working to build a massive united presence on September 24. Now is a critical time--military recruiting is down, Bush's approval ratings are plummeting, and opposition to the war is growing. What we do now can make a difference, and we have a responsibility to build a massive united demostration.

The Troops Out Now Coalition Statement on September 24 raises the following critical points: The vital importance of building a united front against the war.

Our emphasis needs to be on building a large, militant antiwar movement that is capable of stopping the war. TONC renews its appeal to the small but influential forces in the antiwar movement who refused to work together for the fall and beyond to reverse their positions and help unleash the full mass potential of the struggle to shut the war down.
That building a united movement means including, not excluding the struggles of oppressed people.

Support for the Right of all Palestinian refugees and their descendants to return to their original homes and property in all of historic Palestine is not negotiable.

That unity means much more than organizational unity. It means, more importantly, that the antiwar movement reaches out to and embraces the struggles of oppressed people here and internationally. It means solidarity with the struggle of communities of color, with LGBT communities, with immigrants, and with struggles against racism, sexism, and all forms of oppression. It means solidarity with the people of Iraq, Palestine, Haiti, the Philippines, and everywhere that people are struggling against U.S. colonial occupation.

The antiwar movement needs to look to new and more effective tactics to stop the war. Activists raised the slogan "Troops Home Now, or We'll Shut It Down!" and discussed the idea of declaring a moratorium against the war, including walkouts, civil disobedience, and other direct actions to bring the cities to a stop until the war is ended.

The struggle to end the war will be won by mobilizing a massive movement in the streets. Counting on elections and pro-war politicians to end the war is, at best, a misdirection of time, energy, and resources. Only the people will stop the war. To that end, it is important to immediately begin planning and mobilizing now for the September 24 March in Washington DC, the Millions More Movement events on the weekend of October 14-16, and the Moratorium Against the War

We need your help to build a massive, united demonstration:
Organize transportation from your area.
Donate to help bring thousands of activists to Washington DC on September 24.
Endorse the Troops Out Now Unity Call.

We Won't Go Help Shutdown Military Recruiting and Resist the Draft

One of the most effective ways to stop the war is to cut off the supply of fresh troops.Across the U.S., parents, youth, and activists are realizing that if we can stop the flow of troops, we can stop the war. The movement against military recruiting is having an impact far beyond what is reported by the corporate media. Recruiters are being driven off campus or challenged by activists who present opposing information. Groups of parents, educators, youth, and activists are meeting across the country to discuss strategies to defend our young people against the predators in uniform.

No Draft No Way launched its website in June of last year - This site includes updated information about the draft and military recruiting, strategies and tactics for challenging the militarization of our schools, and downloadable leaflets, petitions, and fact sheets.

Since the launch of the site, thousands have signed the online petition against the draft and the No Draft No Way network has grown to include hundreds of activists all across the country. It is vitally important that we provide these local organizers with information and tools.

In order to meet this urgent need, the Youth and the Military Education Project is publishing We Won't Go - A Guide to Counter-Recruiting and Draft Resistance. This 120-page book will present, in a brief and accessible format: the truth behind military recruiters' lies; students' rights on campus; information about the draft and alternatives; how to organize an opt-out campaign to keep students' personal information out of the hands of recruiters; and how to organize a local protest, including publicity, legal issues, making placards, and working with the media. This small, easy-to-read book, written by counter-recruiting activists, current and former members of the military, and youth, will be available in bulk at discounted prices for community and youth organizations, classrooms, and libraries. It will be sent to clergy, educators, parent associations, and community leaders across the country.

We are rushing to get We Won't Go - A Guide to Counter-Recruiting and Draft Resistance to publication so that thousands of activists can use this material a part of a national campaign to educate and mobilize youth against militarism and the war. This book must be at the printers by July 15 in order for us to have it ready for the start of the new school year.

Can you help us with this urgent effort to publish We Won't Go - A Guide to Counter-Recruiting and Draft Resistance? We will include a special acknowledgement section in the book, showing appreciation for those who make a contribution to this effort. Your name can be listed there, or you can donate anonymously.

Donate online at:

An Open Letter to America from a Soldier in Iraq

I received the following letter from Bobby who is one of the founders of “American's for Shared Sacrifice” late yesterday. Bobby, who is retired military and both a Vietnam vet and Gulf War 1 vet. He also has a son doing his second tour in Iraq. The next time anyone tries to tell you how high troop morale is or how well things are going in Iraq, just show them this young man’s letter. What is so heartbreaking is this is not just a singular young man’s opinion—I’ve received so many letters like this I have lost count. We must “Bring Them Home Now!” -- Jack

An Open Letter to America from a Soldier in Iraq

To the People of the United States:

It is time for the truth, the real truth. Not the deception that President Bush is trying to force you to accept. I am not writing this out of anger or hate, I just feel you deserve the truth. I am, however writing this anonymously to avoid retaliation from my military unit commanders.

I am a Soldier currently deployed to Iraq for a second tour. I am not upset with my current situation as I signed up to defend my country; I just wish I were defending my country. The armed forces were brought to Iraq for reasons that have been proven to be false, so why are we still here? Ask yourself this question, why are young American Soldiers dying for someone else's cause we don't quite understand? We deserve to know why we are really here. The terrorists that are here cannot get to the states, so they bring the fight and the dying here to Iraq.

To those people safe in Washington, DC or elsewhere in the nation who say the fighting is subsiding, come on patrol with me. The violence is worse now then ever before and will get worse until our hands are untied. The rules of engagement the government has laid out for us to follow here are getting us killed. They need to open their eyes, take a step back and adjust their rules or the death toll will keep rising.

To those of you who say every death is worthy I ask this, would you feel the same if it were your friend, brother, son or daughter? I have lost friends to this war that are irreplaceable, but it is okay because the president tells us he knows what’s best? Tell that to the majority of Soldiers at Walter Reed hospital who have lost their limbs. This war has in no way made America safer. We have made Iraq a country of terrorists by coming here. We are fighting for a cause in Afghanistan, but here in Iraq we are settling a personal vendetta. Yes we are helping some people but is it worth one American life? In my eyes and many other Soldier’s eye, and our numbers are growing, the answer is NO. The problem is now we are swallowed up in a war in a country that at one way or another, by one civilization or another, has gone on for centuries. Like a never ending sandstorm in the desert, we are swallowed up.

There is one thing the American public should know. We don't ask for your tears, your pity or your pride. We ask you remember those who served, those who died and those in our government who caused the bloodshed. Remember us any way you want just remember us. Remember that today the fighting is still going on. Remember in twenty years that we were here dying. We all make choices in our life; the hope is those in charge will now make the right choices. My question is what do you think this war is really about?

Forwarded by the Mother of an Anonymous Soldier from Iraq.

Who includes this in response to President Bush's Sideshow performance at Fort Bragg, NC last night:

A Soldier Mother’s Tears

Have you ever heard the crying of a mother in the night?

Missing, paying her son will be all right
Or the despair of a soldier’s mother whose son has lost his life
Praying that the sun won't rise, no way to hide her eyes
There can be no happiness or joy
As they fight and die for one man’s glory
Don't think for a moment that this will not come to your door
As they continue to die a draft will be needed for more
You will be the next mother-crying no to this war
And fear will accompany you every time you answer your door
As an officer brings news that another life is lost
For this president will continue his vengeance at all cost
There can be no worse fear; you might lose your own son
Speak out, come forward, demand this war be done!

My heart goes out to this Mother and the newest member of Military Families Speak Out (MFSO) who joined today after hearing the President's speech last night. It wasn't so much what George Bush said that made her decide as where he said it from.

She agreed that it was more like a Presidential campaign speech leading up to the November 2004 election than trying to rally the nation behind the many questions surrounding the Iraq War. What a waste of military manpower to have to endure that speech.

Contact for this Letter to the Editor:
Bobby "Army Dad" Hanafin
Dayton, OH 45431

Note: Can arrange interview with Military Families Speak Out (MFSO) member above.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Mr. President, You Are Immoral

The following is from an Iraqi Shieks web log. It was written in response to what Bush had to say yesterday. So while Bush keeps talking about “sacrifice” which was something he was unwilling to do in the past, and what the vast majority of American’s are not having to do, the death toll in Iraq keeps climbing daily. -- Jack

Mr. President, You are Immoral

I usually try not to post when I am angry. I didn’t wait up last night to hear Mr. Bush’s speech. I followed it this morning. I wish I didn’t. A few excerpts from President Bush’s speech on 28th June, 2005: "After September the 11th, I made a commitment to the American people: This nation will not wait to be attacked again. We will defend our freedom. We will take the fight to the enemy."

"There is only one course of action against them: to defeat them abroad before they attack us at home. The work in Iraq is difficult and it is dangerous. Like most Americans, I see the images of violence and bloodshed. Every picture is horrifying, and the suffering is real. Amid all this violence, I know Americans ask the question: Is the sacrifice worth it? It is worth it, and it is vital to the future security of our country."

"Our military reports that we have killed or captured hundreds of foreign fighters in Iraq who have come from Saudi Arabia and Syria, Iran, Egypt, Sudan, Yemen, Libya and others. The terrorists know that the outcome will leave them emboldened, or defeated. So they are waging a campaign of murder and destruction. And there is no limit to the innocent lives they are willing to take."

… I could not follow the rest of that historic speech. I did not have the stomach!Mr. Bush, you are immoral.

This is my country you are talking about. We had a tyrant but we had no terrorists before you decided to make my country a battleground against international terrorism.

You gloat about killing “hundreds” of terrorists in a battle that is killing many thousands of innocent Iraqis, whom you pay some pathetic lip service. But how can I blame you? You did not bother count. People are still debating whether 20,000 or 200,000 were killed.

Are the lives of Iraqis so cheap in your eyes? Is this your understanding of friendship?

Mr. President, you are immoral! Any Congress that does not impeach somebody who utters these words within a week is also immoral. Any American who agrees with you on this is also immoral.

You keep linking Iraq and 9/11 (5 times in a single speech)… and yet so many of your parrots keep repeating (even on this very blog) that you didn’t. Mr. President, you and your parrots are all so immoral. What has Iraq ever had anything to do with 9/11? I feel sorry for America.

You are also wicked… still playing on primitive feelings of fear, revenge and selfishness of some of your countrymen. Presumably you believe that there are sufficient numbers of those. Perhaps you are right! But what if you are wrong in your confidence in winning against those for whom “there is no limit to the innocent lives they are willing to take”? Our population is unfortunately limited.

All those innocent lives are dear to their families and friends. Oh, but they are not American. They do not count. Besides, you cannot be wrong; when have you ever been wrong before?

And you and those Americans who support you have the audacity to want us to be grateful, for ridding us of Saddam, because he was killing Iraqis. That was none of your business anyway. Don’t tell me you did it for our eyes… to save Iraqi lives.

Hypocrites! America was an ardent supporter in the 1980’s while he was fighting Iran… and killing Iraqis. You made him stronger. How would you have liked it if some Iraqis had decided to take the battle to your cities to fight the source of support he was receiving… to make Saddam weaker? Would that have made any sense to you? Would that have been justifiable? Or is America largely deprived of people capable of projecting themselves into other people’s positions?

On top of everything, you are not weakening international terrorism. You are making it stronger. Listen to your own CIA. Listen to anybody else in the world that is not a puppet or a parrot. You are also adding to it hatred from people who have nothing to do with terrorism. Hatred that will last for generations. Or is your country immune to hatred? One decent American I had been in communication with a while ago wrote: “… It represents for me a parable of our time. It causes me to peer into the sky, shake my head and wonder how long, how long before we see that too much innocent blood is being poured out in our name?

Too many people who are not enemies are being killed. And too many more are being inoculated against ever being our friends.” Not everybody in America agrees with you. But you do seem to have a sufficient number of followers both in Congress and elsewhere in America.

What I would really like to know most is how many Americans were outraged by the immorality of the President’s presentation of his case!!

How should Iraqis look at your army that is intentionally making their homes, towns and villages a battlefront to fight it out with your enemies? Have the Iraqis been asked if they agree to make so many sacrifices to protect your country? Sacrificing the safety of their own children to protect yours? Or was it taken for granted that they would agree… because they suffered before? But there was one truth in your speech: "Some wonder whether Iraq is a central front in the war on terror." Among the terrorists, there is no debate.You are so right on this one!

# posted by Abu Khaleel @ 4:42 PM 2 comments

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

An Impeachment List on Bush & Company

In addition to this essay by Bernard Weiner, also read this by Francis Boyle: The National Campaign to Impeach President George W. Bushby Professor Francis A. Boyle:

15 Things Learned About Bush&Co.: An Impeachment List.
By Bernard Weiner
Co-Editor, The Crisis Papers
Source : The Crisis Papers

Though my degrees are in government and international relations, I hadn't been part of the political arena in an activist way since "The Sixties" -- roughly the Civil Rights Movement late-'50s through the anti-Vietnam War mid-'70s. Instead, after years of college teaching, I found myself more engaged in cultural work as a playwright, poet and newspaper reporter, and, for nearly two decades, as a theater critic.

When 9/11 arrived, something snapped open in me, as it did for many Americans. The world indeed had changed, not just the fact that the U.S. was attacked in such a horrific way and had to respond but also, and perhaps more significantly, in the brazen, power-hungry way the Bush Administration had chosen to use those multiple terror-murders.

My political instincts and intuitions were re-activated, along with a desire to talk about what I saw happening, and I began writing political analyses for a wide variety of internet websites. If one examined those early columns, one could see a moderate progressive struggling, along with everyone else, in trying to make sense of what was going on politically, socially, economically.

After a year or so of writing for other publications, co-activist philosopher Ernest Partridge and I in November of 2002 founded our own website The Crisis Papers (, where we not only would publish our political analyses but also link to the best writing we found out there on the Web, and help the fledgling resistance gain momentum.

Two years later, just prior to the 2004 election, we found we were receiving close to a half-million hits a month. We were able to share our own ideas and stimulate our readers' thoughts about the Bush Administration, the "war on terrorism," the various scandals, the torture policy established from the top, and, especially, the unwise, dishonorable, illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq, etc.


Below is a quick list of fifteen things that I -- and maybe half of my fellow Americans -- have learned since George Bush first moved into the Oval Office four-plus years ago. Don't know about you, but making such lists helps me sum-up and clarify my thoughts, giving me something to chew on when figuring out what to do next, including the possibility of moving on some of these items as grounds for impeachment. See what you think.

1. I've learned that while many of us in the late-'80s and early-'90s were celebrating the implosion of Soviet-style communism and the end of the Cold War, others already had been drafting aggressive plans to exploit the fact that the U.S. was now the sole Superpower on the planet. If you want to know why America is in Iraq, you need look no further than the theoretical writings of the neo-cons associated with The Project for The New American Century, who essentially run Bush Administration foreign/military policy. Among the founding members: Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Jeb Bush, Paul Wolfowitz. For an introductory primer, see How We Got Into This Imperial Pickle.

2. I've learned that these neo-cons realized their aggressive views were way out of the mainstream and thus that their goal of assuming "global hegemony" would have to be put on hold "absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event -- like a new Pearl Harbor." Their wish came true on September 11, 2001; then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said 9/11 presented the Bush Administration with "an enormous opportunity" for the implementation of its agenda in the world. (Note: All the words inside quotation marks are theirs, not made up by me.)

By the way, it seems overwhelmingly apparent that Rice, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al., were quite aware weeks ahead of 9/11 that a spectacular terrorist attack was coming from Al Qaida, but, for their own reasons, chose to look the other way and do little or nothing to prepare themselves or the country for what was about to come down.

3. I've learned that Karl Rove, et al., taking note of how so many presidents (especially Bush the Elder) plunged in the polls after successful foreign adventures, realized that while Americans rally around a president during wartime, other concerns often take precedence once the hostilities cease. So Rove and Rumsfeld and Cheney and Wolfowitz decided to make sure that hostilities never cease.

They reacted to 9/11 by declaring a never-ending "war on terrorism," thereby ensuring that the U.S. would be kept on a permanent war footing, and Bush would be a "wartime president" during his entire residency in the White House. (Note: There definitely are bad guys out there anxious to do more damage to the U.S., and those murderous thugs need to be dealt with, but what we're talking about here are the reckless, imperial measures chosen by the Bush Administration that just happen to coincide with fulfilling their agenda.)


4. I've learned that Bush toady Alberto Gonzales, then White House counsel, used this "permanent war" rationale as a justification for instituting the closest thing to a dictatorship in the U.S. since Richard Nixon, except that the Bush Administration makes Nixon's crimes look fairly puny in comparison.

According to the twisted legal philosophy Gonzales and his aides came up with, Bush can do whatever he likes whenever he says he is acting as "commander-in-chief" during "wartime." Since it's a permanent war they say we're in, it follows that under the guise of "national security" and "the war on terrorism," Bush can do pretty much what he chooses to do. It is permissible for Bush to make his own law, or to ignore a law on the books, because his authority to do so is "inherent in the President," the Gonzales theory claims. Astounding!

The Supreme Court shot down Nixon when he tried to assert something similar -- that when the President takes an action, it is ipso facto legal because he's the President. We shall have to wait to see how the current Supreme Court will deal with this much more expansive interpretation, especially if Bush can appoint a few more HardRightists to it. The Supremes already fired a warning shot across his bow, telling Bush last year that though the President is granted extra powers during "wartime," he went way beyond the Constitutional pale by refusing prisoners in U.S. care access to the legal system. But Bush simply continues to delay implementation of the high court's ruling, or tries to go around the decision.

5. I've learned that Gonzales and Pentagon lawyers, using the "commander-in-chief-during-wartime" rationale, have attempted to legally justify use of "harsh interrogation techniques" (read: torture) on those terror suspects by inventing a new term, "enemy combatants," not used in the Geneva Conventions Against Torture of Prisoners of War. Various watchdog groups, including the International Red Cross, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the United Nations, have expressed grave reservations about the treatment by U.S. forces of their detainees; indeed, Amnesty International urged governments around the world to consider bringing war-crimes charges against American officials.

6. I've learned that among the first actions taken by the Bush Administration in early-2001 were those eliminating legal liability for U.S. officials or soldiers from domestic criminal laws and international conventions regarding the torture of prisoners in U.S. care. We didn't fully understand why the Administration was taking these steps until a year or two later, when the extent of U.S. abuse (and deaths) of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo and elsewhere become evident. The Administration made sure that only lower-level guards and officers were charged with the deaths and abuse crimes, even though the orders and "atmosphere" that winked at anti-torture laws had come down the chain of command from the White House and Pentagon authorizing the use of "harsh interrogation methods" of terrorist suspects.


7. I've learned that the hardest prisoners to crack were either "ghosted" -- i.e., kept off the rolls so that the International Red Cross would not know they existed to check up on their interrogations and care -- or were "rendered" to countries abroad (such as Uzbekistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, et al.) where they could be severely tortured without running afoul of U.S. laws and military regulations. The CIA uses special planes for flying these high-profile prisoners to the severe-torture countries. Such behavior makes me ashamed for my country. Note: Bush has never ordered an end to all torture and "rendering" activities.

8. I've learned that torture and permanent war abroad have been linked to police-state tactics at home -- mainly in controversial sections of the so-called USA Patriot Act, barely read (if read at all) and passed in great haste and fear after 9/11. The result is the creation of a militarist, neo-fascist atmosphere within America. Those opposing this, or other policies of this Administration are smeared with accusations of giving aid and comfort to the enemy (Ashcroft), or being soft on terrorism (Rove/Cheney).

9. I've learned that much of the corporate-owned mass-media -- newspapers, network news, cable pundits, radio talk-shows -- support the Bush Administration, out of fear of reprisal or because they are ideologically or economic ally in tune. This means that the broad base of the American population, in a state of constantly-hyped fear, does not have adequate information to counter the massive lies and propaganda barrage of the Administration. Though there are a few voices of rationality and truth-telling in the mainstream media, in general citizens must seek out foreign news outlets and/or progressive websites to access alternative points of view. Note: Currently, the Administration is moving to neuter even moderate alternative voices, such as might be found on NPR/PBS, and is devising ways of reining in critics on the internet.

10. I've learned that the HardRightists are not content to control the Legislative and Executive Branches, and much of the Judicial Branch and most of the news media. They are moving to obtain near-total control of the Judiciary by packing the important appellate courts with extreme rightwing judges, and Bush is hoping to nominate at least two FarRight justices to the Supreme Court during this second term, which could alter American jurisprudence for decades to come.


11. I've learned that this is an Administration that appears to be severely allergic to fact and truth. For example: To delay the inevitable, Bush appointed his own scientific panel to investigate the issue of global warming; when those supposedly Administration-friendly scientists reported that the situation was even worse than other scientists had thought and that immediate remedial action was called for, Bush called their report the product of "government bureaucracy" -- as if that epithet ended the discussion right there -- and continued on his merry way. When confronted by truths in Iraq and elsewhere -- for instance, that the war is not going well on the ground -- the Bush Administration just ups the decibel level on its lies and continues on with rosy-colored optimism as if the truth on the ground just doesn't matter. Or, it denounces the media that report what's really going on militarily in Iraq. In short, Bush and his dozen or so most-trusted aides exhibit a bunker mentality, letting nothing in that will interfere with their fantasies and delusions and constructs of deception.

12. I've learned that the Bush Administration, which does everything to ease law-enforcement pressure on polluting corporations, has the worst environmental record in modern times. It permits the polluters effectively to write the regulations of their industries; it opens up once-protected natural areas to more logging, mining, mineral extraction; it even lied to residents of lower Manhattan in the days and weeks after the 9/11 attacks about how it was safe for them to return to their homes, schools and businesses. It wasn't until two years later (!) that the EPA revealed it knowingly had withheld the truth about how bad the air was; thousands of New York citizens now face long-term health consequences as a result of this mendacity.


13. I've learned that the Democrats in the Senate and House too often are complicit in helping Bush&Co. implement their plans and programs by rolling over in the face of the Republicans' smash-mouth politics. The Dems are a bit better now than they were in Bush's first term, but they still haven't figured out that being an Opposition Party means acting like one, not trying to play patty-cake with the Republicans, who mainly want to politically slash their throats and eliminate them as an obstacle to seizing full control over everything.

It is not too soon to seriously start thinking, and organizing, a broad alternative party -- perhaps the Greens in association with a new entity (maybe a reconstituted Progressive Democrats of America) -- if the Democratic Party doesn't start developing a consistent spine in Congress. At the very least, it would be good to have this new party gaining electoral ground on the local and state levels, building the infrastructure and street-smart leaders for the future, even if a national candidate is not put forward in 2008.14. I've learned that America's voting system is thoroughly corruptible and cannot be trusted to yield the actual results. It's not that I object because Republican companies manufacture the voting machines and control the secret software that counts the votes; I would feel the same way if Democrat companies were in charge. We simply cannot have a privatized voting system, with secret software, and with no certified way of checking that the votes are honestly cast and fairly counted. And, even if the companies are not manipulating the tallies -- and there are indications that they may have done just that -- it's been demonstrated many times how absolutely easy it is for hackers (or company technicians) to enter the vote-counting system, alter the numbers and exit without anyone being the wiser.

Our country simply has to return to paper ballots, hand-counted, if we want to be taken seriously as a nation dedicated to fair and honest elections. Right now, even with (or because of) our high-tech computer systems, we're just about on par with the most corrupt third-world country in terms of a transparent, honest vote-counting system.


15. Finally, there is Iraq, which (as was the case with Lyndon Johnson and Vietnam) will be the death of Bush's legacy and which potentially could get him impeached during his term, or put on trial domestically and in The Hague after he leaves office. Thanks to insiders who have left the Administration, the demonstrable facts, and now the so-called Downing Street Memos from England, I have learned, we all have learned, that there were immense immoralities and crimes perpetrated by our own government (and the Blair regime) in preparing for, launching, and carrying out this war and occupation.

And those crimes continue to this day.Bush-Blair/Cheney/Rumsfeld, et al. tried to maintain that they went to war against Iraq only because Saddam forced them to do so because of his supposed stockpiles of deadly WMD about to be used against America and Britain and Iraq's neighbors. However, it has long since been clear, and now is verified by the leaked top-secret Downing Street Memos, that both governments were lying through their teeth, about the supposed WMD and that Saddam "didn't allow U.N. weapons inspectors in," and much more. (Here are the actual texts of these top-secret minutes and memoranda.)

Both the Brit and the American governments knew that Iraq was a paper tiger, devoid of imminent threat and any major weapons of mass destruction, and that Saddam had no connection to 9/11; he was contained and, for the foreseeable future, was going nowhere. But the desire of Bush and the neo-cons to attack Iraq had been an obsession long before 9/11, because of their plans to control the oil and to use Iraq as a base for altering the geo-political landscape of the Middle East. Bush and Blair, in order to justify the war to their respective populations, and to the international community, had to find "intelligence and facts" that could be "fixed" around the already-agreed-to policy of war.

Both in England and in the States, there were no such intelligence and facts; in this country, as hard as Cheney leaned on them, CIA and State Department analysts were unable to supply believable facts and intelligence to the White House. The political window for attack was about to close. So Rumsfeld set up his own "intelligence" unit, the Office of Special Plans, stocked it with political appointees of the PNAC persuasion, and, surprise, got the "intelligence" the neo-cons wanted, stovepiped it directly to the White House (thus not having to run it by the professional analysts), and the war was green-lighted.

The American and British peoples were simply lied to. The British were told that chemical shells could hit U.K. bases within 45 minutes, Rice and Cheney and others warned about mushroom clouds over U.S. cities, U.S. Senators were told Iraq could launch drone planes to drop toxins along the East Coast, and so on. (Note: Lying to Congress is a serious crime, an impeachable one.) Colin Powell was dispatched to the United Nations and told some laughable whoppers based supposedly on "incontrovertible" intelligence. The Congress, and the mass-media, bought in to the lies; the U.N. Security Council, first wanting to hear the final report from U.N. weapons inspectors in Iraq, didn't.

Ten million people in countries around the world demonstrated to try to stop the coming war, convinced that it was illegal, that it was based on lies and deceptions, and that it would open a Pandora's box of increased Islamist terrorism around the world. Bush paid no attention; he began bombing Iraq long before the invasion, in mid-2002, nine months before he received authorization from Congress to launch a war as a last-resort. The "shock&awe" ground invasion began in March of 2003. To date, more than 1700 U.S. troops are known to have died in combat there (if that government figure is the correct total; how can we be sure?), with tens of thousands of our soldiers maimed; maybe as many as 100,000 Iraqis have died, most of those innocent civilians -- "collateral damage."


Because of its Iraq invasion, occupation and tortures, the U.S. is a hated pariah in most of the world, morally isolated, economically vulnerable, anathema to Muslims worldwide (many of whom have not forgotten that Bush initially used the term "crusade" to describe his mission), a magnet target for terrorists everywhere. Our already-stretched-thin troops are bogged down in a bloody quagmire in Iraq now and presumably will be for years to come; Rumsfeld the other day said a dozen years is not out of the question.

Bush and Rumsfeld, who have botched the Occupation from day one, have no plan other than to keep repeating the mantra that the U.S. will "stay the course." Clearly, to stay is to prolong the agony for all concerned; there needs to be a major adjustment to "the course," but we see no evidence of any thinking along those lines in the White House.

Well, I could go on and on with things learned since 9/11 about this arrogant, greedy, power-hungry, bullying, ideologically blinded crew. But let's stop here. The American people -- especially moderate Republicans, appalled at how their once-proud party has been hijacked by extremists -- are waking up, shaking off their political torpor and their real and manufactured fear. (Tom Ridge, for example, admitted recently that he had been sent out regularly by the White House to announce phony "terror"-alerts.) As recent polls indicate, the American citizenry is voicing a demonstrable lack of faith in, and support for, Bush and his cronies, and their disastrous, reckless policies.

Perhaps this list -- and ones you will devise on your own, and pass around to your friends -- can be helpful in keeping that momentum building. It's time to get America back on its track. And to do that, one way or another, Bush&Co. must go. This nightmare must end -- before they take us all down with them.

If they resign right now, I say let's pardon them all. Anything. Just go!

Developer Seeks Souter's Property

The following is in response to the recent Supreme Court decision that now allows virtually any government body, local, state or federal, to take people’s property and turn it over to land developers. One at a time, BushCo is rolling back every right, freedom and liberty we in this country at one enjoyed. They are quickly fading into past memory as BushCo marches forward in turning this nation into a totally autocratic dictatorship. Read the article below, then read what Ron Strom is attempting to do in response to the Supreme Courts decision.

Washington, D.C. — Today, the U.S. Supreme Court delivered a blow to home and small business owners throughout the country by allowing the government to use eminent domain to take homes so that businesses can make more money off that land and possibly pay more taxes as a result.

Now read the following…you gotta love this! It’s going to be interesting to see how this plays out. After all it is now the “law of the land” and Souter was one of them that just said so. Let us see if the “law” also applies to those that make the “law.” -- Jack

Developer seeks Souter's property
Looks to build 'Lost Liberty Hotel' at home of Supreme Court justice
By Ron Strom
© 2005

A private developer contacted the local government in Supreme Court Justice David Souter's hometown in New Hampshire yesterday asking that the property of the judge – who voted in favor of a controversial decision allowing a city to take residents' homes for private development – be seized to make room for a new hotel. Logan Darrow Clements faxed a request to Chip Meany, the code enforcement officer of the town of Weare, N.H., seeking to start the application process to build a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road, the present location of Souter's home.

Wrote Clements: "Although this property is owned by an individual, David H. Souter, a recent Supreme Court decision, Kelo v. City of New London, clears the way for this land to be taken by the government of Weare through eminent domain and given to my LLC for the purposes of building a hotel. The justification for such an eminent domain action is that our hotel will better serve the public interest as it will bring in economic development and higher tax revenue to Weare.

"The Kelo v. City of New London decision, handed down Thursday, allows the New London, Conn., government to seize the homes and businesses of residents to facilitate the building of an office complex that would provide economic benefits to the area and more tax revenue to the city.

Though the practice of eminent domain is provided for in the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution, this case is significant because the seizure is for private development and not for "public use," such as a highway or bridge. The decision has been roundly criticized by property-rights activists and limited-government commentators.

According to a statement from Clements, the proposed development, called "The Lost Liberty Hotel" will feature the "Just Desserts Café" and include a museum, open to the public, "featuring a permanent exhibit on the loss of freedom in America." Instead of a Gideon's Bible in each room, guests will receive a free copy of Ayn Rand's novel "Atlas Shrugged," the statement said.

Clements says the hotel must be built on this particular piece of land because it is a unique site – "being the home of someone largely responsible for destroying property rights for all Americans."

"This is not a prank" said Clements. "The town of Weare has five people on the Board of Selectmen. If three of them vote to use the power of eminent domain to take this land from Mr. Souter we can begin our hotel development."

Clements says his plan is to raise investment capital from wealthy pro-liberty investors and draw up architectural plans. These plans would then be used to raise additional capital for the project. While Clements currently makes a living in marketing and video production, he tells WND he has had involvement in real estate development and is fully committed to the project. "We will build a hotel there if investors come forward, definitely," he said.

Clements is the CEO of Freestar Media, LLC, which is dedicated to fighting "the most deadly and destructive force on the planet: abusive governments," the website states. The activist says he is aware of the apparent conflict of someone who is strongly opposed to the Kelo decision using it to purposely oust an American from his property. "I realize there is a contradiction, but we're only going to use it against people who advocated" the Kelo decision, Clements told WND.

"Therefore, it's a case of retaliation, not initiation." Clements says some people have already offered to put money into the project.

BushCo, China and Who Will be Next?

Who is going to be next on the U.S. BushCo/Rumsfled “hit list?” Afghanistan, then Iraq, now Syria and Iran are targets. Add to the list China by the people who have increased this nation’s military budget to over $441 billion which is pretty much what the rest of the world combined spends on the military, and that does not include the almost $300 billion for Iraq in the past three years. But due to “black budgets” we have no idea what the real military budget is. And these are the people demanding “transparency” with China and its military budget, how ludicrous! How to generate even more fear and nationalistic xenophobia—just watch and listen to BushCo, they will show you how. Summary of a Study of Strategic Influence, Perception Management, Strategic Information Warfare and Strategic Psychological Operations in Gulf II , as is; An Interview with (ret.) Colonel Sam Gardiner describes "what propaganda literature would refer to as the big lie.” Both are a must read – Jack

Chinese bid for Unocal, Pentagon worries over military spending lead to fresh discussion of Chinese 'threat'.
By Matthew Clark

Since the Chinese state-owned oil company CNOOC Ltd. offered to buy oil and gas company Unocal Corp. on Thursday, various news sources have been examining whether or not the deal would threaten US national security.

"Congress was building pressure on the Bush administration to carefully examine the bid by CNOOC, which is 70 percent owned by the Chinese government," reports The Associated Press. "Chinese bid for Unocal adds fuel to fire," reads a headline from Sunday's Washington Post.

In a report on National Public Radio's Morning Edition, Republican Illinois Congressman Donald Manzullo says he worries that the Chinese bid to buy Unocal could mean that China would keep the company's vast Asian oil reserves for itself, and not put the oil on the open market, thereby giving China an economic 'leg up.'

"The Unocal issue arises at a time of record oil prices, unease over China's $160 billion trade surplus with the United States and an appetite in Congress to punish China with tariffs unless it revalues its currency," reports Reuters.

"From the dusty plains of East Africa to the shores of the Caspian Sea, China is seeking to loosen the grip of the United States on world energy resources and secure the fuel it needs to keep its economy in overdrive," reports The New York Times.

If the bid were rejected by the United States on national security grounds, as some members of Congress have publicly advocated, China could be motivated to build more ties to rogue states and step up its courtship of major oil producers in Africa and Latin America that in the past have looked mainly to the United States market.

Chinese officials have "appealed for less political wrangling" over a China's bid for Unocal, reports BBC. It should be viewed as a "normal commercial activity", a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said.

Also, in the first part of a two-part series, The Washington Times reports that "China is building its military forces faster than US intelligence and military analysts expected, prompting fears that Beijing will attack Taiwan in the next two years, according to Pentagon officials."

A spokesman for the Taiwanese opposition Kuomintang party, Chang Jung-kung, says the assessment by US officials that China might attack Taiwan in two years is inacccurate, reports Taiwan's Central News Agency.

Chang noted that the Pentagon assessment does not take into consideration what he claimed is the latest development that the relationship between Taiwan and China has entered a new phase since KMT Chairman Lien Chan's journey of peace to China in late April and early May.

Taiwan's President Chen Shui-Bian initially opposed Mr. Lien's trip to China, warning Lien against falling into traps set by Beijing.

China's state-owned People's Daily Online reports that "the Pentagon has more than once viciously exaggerated Chinese military outlay, spreading a 'China threat theory.'"

In 2004, Pentagon offered a 54-page report with tens of thousands of words, trying its utmost for exaggeration and instigation. The report asserted luridly that China's military expenditure reached between 50-70 billion US dollars.

According to The People's Daily, "many international observers pointed out that strong political motives and huge economic interests have been driving the Pentagon to recklessly fabricate its 'China threat' theory."

First, exaggeration of China's military power can not only exacerbate Congress suspicion and hostility against China, but also dredge for benefits for all US military departments in order to obtain a bigger defence budget. The exaggeration can also enable the US to find a pretext for its opposition to the European Union's lifting of arms embargo on China and for making public opinions in order to enlarge its arms sales to Taiwan.

But points out that in March 2005 China announced that its military budget will rise 12.6 percent, to 247.7 billion yuan ($29.9 billion). But, according to, "most analysts estimate China's real spending on defense is at least three times as great as the publicly disclosed figure."

China's defense spending is by no means transparent. For many years, much of the reported annual increases in China's official budget was absorbed by high inflation rates. However, the largest problem in estimating defense spending arises from inadequate accounting methods by the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA). Budgeted functions are hidden under construction, administrative expenses, and under state organizations such as the Commission on Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (COSTIND), which mix PLA and other state activities.

Japan's defense minister Yoshinori Ohno urged China on Monday to be more transparent about its military spending. "China's military expenditure has been increasing 10 percent annually for the 17th consecutive year," he said. "Japan's military spending is just 0.8 percent of its GDP. This shows how Japan is a peace-oriented country."

China also poses a growing intelligence threat to the US, according to current and former US officials cited in a Reuters report earlier this month.

With the Bush administration embroiled in Iraq and the war on terrorism, intelligence experts fear it may be ignoring a determined Chinese strategy to acquire sensitive technology with commercial and military applications through informal spy networks with potentially thousands of operatives. Such efforts could eventually erode US economic and military prominence, officials and analysts said.

"China is stepping up its overt and covert efforts to gather intelligence and technology in the United States, and the activities have boosted Beijing's plans to rapidly produce advanced-weapons systems, reports The Washington Times in part two of its two-part series on China's growing threat to US security.

China's spies use as many as 3,200 front companies -- many run by groups linked to the Chinese military -- that are set up to covertly obtain information, equipment and technology, US officials say. ...

Additionally, the Chinese use hundreds of thousands of Chinese visitors, students and other nonprofessional spies to gather valuable data, most of it considered "open source," or unclassified information.

Chinese officials deny suggestions of spying.

Veterans Continue to be Left Behind

The next time someone tries to tell you how much this country does for its veterans, have them read some of the articles and reports below. Other than a lot of flag waving, a lot of nice sounding speeches, feigned outrage, then this nations veterans end up paying the “cost of war” for the rest of their lives and the V.A. is there for them less and less every year. BushCo is great about sending young people to war, as were his predecessors, but when it comes to picking up the pieces of those who come back from war, this country is just not there for them. A lot of fine speeches have been given articulating “honoring the troops” until they come back at least, then they get the same thing as we did when we came back from Vietnam: “sorry, we’re closed as we ran out of money. Go home and come back another time. No room at the Inn.” It was just a couple of months ago that one of the heads of Rumsfelds Department of War told us and the world that “continued payments to veterans are a threat to our national security.” So much for “honoring” the troops, ala BushCo and cheerleaders! -- Jack

What's Killing Our Soldiers and Veterans At Home?
VFVC thinks you ought to know about the disturbing numbers of military members that are dying from suicide while serving and after returning home from the Middle East. Are we ready to treat and care for service members and veterans who need help to deal with mental injuries that are a part of going to war?

From Vietnam to Iraq: The Veterans Health Care Crisis

"I don't understand how they can do efficacy tests with children at the same time that we are discovering more and more U.S. soldiers who have been harmed by the vaccine," said Steve Robinson, executive director of the National Gulf War Resource Center for service members and veterans. "[NIH officials] want parents to want their children to be vaccinated against the anthrax terrorist attacks that have not happened.",0,6500899,print.story

Since Mike Norton, of Layton, began displaying the pictures of American soldiers killed in Iraq on an illuminated sign in his front yard, his home has been vandalized, cars have stopped in front of his home and honked horns in the early morning hours and he has received anonymous harassing phone calls.

The Bush administration, already accused by veterans groups of seeking inadequate funds for health care next year, acknowledged yesterday that it is short $1 billion for covering current needs at the Department of Veterans Affairs this year.

President Bush gives lip service to the sacrifices of American men and women fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan but his budget gives returning veterans the back of his hand.

"Back in April, Democrats tried to ensure the VA had enough funding to provide those who have served their country with needed healthcare services. Karl Rove, the White House, and the VA lied to you to make sure this didn't happen. Knowing that, do you think Karl Rove should be lecturing Democrats about supporting the troops?"

The Defense Department began working yesterday with a private marketing firm to create a database of high school students ages 16 to 18 and all college students to help the military identify potential recruits in a time of dwindling enlistment in some branches.

Divorce Rates in Military Up Sharply
The number of active-duty soldiers getting divorced has been rising sharply with deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq.

Exponential Enrons Ahead

If PUHCA is repealed there is going to be a rush for wild energy stock speculation as there will no longer be any controls on energy producing companies. There will be a massive "bubble" created much the same way the housing bubble was created. Energy prices will soar and those who are investors will be the only winners, at least until the bubble goes pop, which it will. And then the floor will cave in and a repeat of the depression will be the result. Right now the only thing propping up our economy is the housing bubble, which is going to pop. If PUHCA is done away with, combined with the housing bubble our economic fate would be sealed. Bush & Company has really done a number on us. -- Jack

Exponential Enrons Ahead
By: Kelpie Wilson

One of the least-discussed provisions in the Bush energy bill that has passed the House and is now fast-tracked in the Senate is PUHCA repeal. "Pooka repeal," you say, "what's that?"

The Public Utilities Holding Company Act (PUHCA) is a cornerstone New Deal financial reform signed into law in 1935. It was the biggest battle in FDR's first term. Utilities had become cash cows for power moguls who created complex holding company pyramids for milking ultra-reliable ratepayer income to feed speculative investments. The crash of 1929 knocked these structures flat and took down millions of small investors who had been sold on the reliability of utilities as an investment.

Does any of that sound familiar?

Both the House and Senate versions of the energy bill now contain the PUHCA repeal provision. At the insistence of Democrats, the Senate added in some extra oversight by FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission), but it is a thin reed compared to PUHCA.

Supporters of PUHCA point out that for 50 years, we have had reliable, cheap electric power that has allowed strong economic growth, and that no PUHCA-regulated energy holding company has ever gone bankrupt. Furthermore, it was partial PUHCA repeals in the 1990s that opened the door to Enron, Westar and other energy debacles. To repeal PUHCA now is equivalent to blowing up the barn after the horses have escaped, never mind shutting the barn door.

PUHCA subjects utility finances and operations to strict regulation by the states and federal government. Most importantly, it restricts ownership of utilities to public or private entities that are in the business of producing power, and keeps speculators out. Replacing this kind of control with mere oversight is a joke. It is like trying to rebuild the barn with splinters.

Lynn Hargis is an attorney with a long professional career in power generation, including ten years at FERC. For the past two years, she has held a volunteer position at Public Citizen educating the public about the perils of PUHCA repeal. She says that "it is clearly impossible for a state (or even federal) utility commission, with its limited staff, to review, much less understand and control, the books and records of a huge conglomerate ..." Once PUHCA is gone, she predicts, "there will be a white-hot fury of buying and selling utilities and utility assets - it will be a revival of the 1920s, when three huge companies owned half of all utilities."

There has been a lot of media focus on the $18 billion in tax incentives contained in the Senate energy bill, but almost nothing about PUHCA repeal, even though the latter is by far the greatest prize: according to Lynn Hargis the value of all regulated utilities exceeds one trillion dollars.

Hargis says there will be so much money chasing these utilities that even the venerable public-owned and municipal-owned utilities (PUDs and MUDs) won't be able to hold out.

And get ready to start paying your power bill to Halliburton because some of the companies best positioned to take advantage of this deregulation are oil companies: "The top five oil companies now control 50 percent of US oil production. If they also controlled public utilities, they would be too powerful for any government to regulate," said Hargis.

Also, the impact on renewable energy could be devastating. "If GE owns your utility," Hargis told me, "nothing will be able to stop them from shoving a nuclear plant down your throat. This will kill renewables."

David Sokol is CEO of MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company, a subsidiary of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway that is now in the process of acquiring PacificCorp, a western utility based in Portland, Oregon. In a 2002 issue of Electric Perspectives, an industry newsletter, Sokol made the case for PUHCA repeal, calling it "the most blatantly out-of-date energy law." In fact, the law as it stands would prevent him from acquiring PacificCorp.

Sokol claims that: "Consumers have saved tens of billion of dollars since Congress began the process of opening wholesale electricity markets to competition 10 years ago." He also argues that by restricting utility ownership, PUHCA is keeping new capital out of the energy industry that is needed for upgrading the electric power transmission grid.

I spoke with Jack Casazza, an electrical engineer who was a Senior VP for an investor-owned utility and who now serves on a task force investigating the power blackout of August 14, 2003. Casazza scoffs at the idea that regulation is keeping needed grid upgrades from happening. "Warren Buffett doesn't know what he's talking about," he said, "and he doesn't have very good technical people. Utilities today have no problem investing in transmission facilities if they are needed and provide economic returns."

On the other hand, grid reliability is an issue of vital concern, and labor is the key. Jim Spellane, communications director for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), said that the problem with grid reliability arose with deregulation in the 1990s. "It squeezed things like maintenance and worker training."

Casazza echoed that opinion and said that one significant cause of the 2003 blackout was labor reductions. He wondered how Warren Buffett "would get the 25 percent rates of return he is used to. He can't cut labor, that's already been cut."

The IBEW issued a statement on June 15 praising the Senate Energy Committee for including the new FERC authority in the bill, while recognizing that the greater regulatory powers of PUHCA were still needed. The union had flatly opposed any PUHCA repeal in the past, but Spellane said, "We could see this energy bill has legs. It is going to pass and we want to make sure that the FERC oversight does not get stripped out along the way." House Republicans are against even that minimum amount of consumer protection and Spellane said the IBEW will oppose the final bill if it does not include it.

Senator Ron Wyden was the only member of the Energy Committee who voted against sending the bill to the Senate floor. A top reason given for his dissatisfaction was repeal: "The bill also repeals the Public Utility Holding Company Act (PUHCA) without providing adequate safeguards to prevent captive ratepayers from getting fleeced to support unregulated businesses of utility parent companies."

Jack Casazza is wistful for the utilities of the past. "I'm a believer in capitalism," he said, "and I believe in getting a reasonable return on my investment. But the company I came up in believed that you don't hurt the customer. I have grandchildren and I want to see this country run so they benefit, not so Warren Buffett can put money in his pocket."

Lynn Hargis fears we are headed for another Great Depression. She said, "Not only is it going to be horrible for the whole country, but nobody is even talking about it."

Kelpie Wilson is the t r u t h o u t environment editor. A veteran forest protection activist and mechanical engineer, she writes from her solar-powered cabin in the Siskiyou Mountains of southwest Oregon. Her first novel, Primal Tears, is forthcoming from North Atlantic Books in Fall 2005.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Buy America - So China Does Just That With BushCo's Help

Buy America – So China Does Just That With BushCo’s Help
By: Jack Dalton

The single greatest “hostile” takeover of a nation is under way, and it is our nation. Thanks to the unbelievable growth of Wal-Mart, more of what the consumer here purchases is being made in China, while U.S. jobs continue to disappear. This nation is now in serious debt to China. At the same time China is experiencing huge national growth which means they need an increasing amount of oil to provide the energy to fuel its growth. China is now exceeded only by the U.S. in its “need” for more oil.

The PNAC—Project for a New American Century—in its essay, “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” stated how the U.S. must eliminate all competition/competitors to the U.S.; that is to include all social, economic and political competition as well as in business. This is to include air, ground, sea and outer space competition.

The Carlyle Group is a “group” of investors. They make their money by investing in other companies, to the extent that Carlyle gains controlling interest thru their “investment” in many of those companies. The majority of the upper tier at Carlyle are also members of the PNAC. They are the same people that signed on to “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” which articulated the absolute need for this country to squash any and all “competitors” in anything and everything, real or perceived, to the U.S., external and internal.

CitiGroup is the largest investment bank on the planet. The Carlyle Group owns controlling shares in CitiGroup/CitiBank. So now we have the PNAC whose members are also partners in the Carlyle Group which is heavily invested in the CitiGroup.

Last year in 2004, CitiGroup bought controlling interest in Chinas 2nd largest “development bank (investment bank). A side note: CitiBank a few years ago also bought 49% interest in Banamex a large bank in Mexico. Banamex was on the international list of banks laundering massive amounts of drug money…something to the tune of $500 billion a year—it does get interesting does it not? Narco-News ended up in a two year court battle with Banamex/CitiBank when Al broke the story about this. Al did win the case and CitiBank could not do what they wanted to do, shut Al and Narco-News down. I wonder how much of the billions in drug money coming out of Afghanistan CitiBank is handling today. But, back to where I was at before I digress too much.

In Oct/Nov of 2000, this nation attempted to negotiate with the Taliban in Afghanistan on behalf of UNOCAL, for an oil pipeline thru northern Afghanistan. That did not happen so the State Department told the Taliban to “accept our carpet of Gold, or you will receive a carpet of bombs.” We all know what happened next—BOOM! Now UNOCAL has its oil pipeline with 4 U.S. military bases to protect it at taxpayer expense.

Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Doug Feith, Michael Leeden, John Bolton, Richard Pearle among many others in government today, were and are all members of the PNAC. In fact they are founding members along with Bill Krystal of the Weekly Standard and Charles Krauthammer of the American Enterprise Institute. They are also the one’s who came up and were behind the “Iraq Liberation Act” in 1998. They are also at the heart of the BushCo war cabinet.

Of late, a lot of fingers in Washington have been pointed at the growing “threat” to us posed by China. China is the biggest competitor this nation has for the worlds dwindling oil reserves and soon China will need even more oil to sustain its economy than what we demand.

If you want to eliminate a competitor such as a nation, pull them into the WTO--as we know that thru the WTO a nation’s laws can be circumvented--then take over one of its banks, which gives the access to the internal economy, and using WTO rules along with the power of the bank, “restructure the economy” so that no matter what happens the investors will still make money. The ultimate in playing both ends against the middle, don’t you think? And that is what is taking place right now.

China’s banks and oil company has made an $18.5 billion bid for UNOCAL. CitiGroup owns controlling interest in one of the banks involved in this “deal” and Carlyle Group owns controlling interest in CitiGroup and the members of the PNAC are part and parcel a part of both CitiGroup and the Carlyle Group. And these are the very same people that have led this nation, under the banner of G.W. Bush, into a “war of aggression” and a “war against the peace.”

These are the very same people that have outsourced American jobs to cheap labor markets so the U.S. multinationals bottom line will be higher. These are the same people who have all but eliminated our ability to challenge U.S. corporations in court for the harm they cause. These are the same people who consistently tell us we are a nation of laws that adheres to the “rule of law” while BushCo openly turns the “rule of law” on its head.

These are the same people that while telling us how great the economy is are setting about the business of making sure they are protected financially, while eliminating any chance at financial security for those in this nation. All the new “laws” coming out of congress; all the federal court decisions being made in the past 5 years have all been skewed to the very wealthy and to U.S. multinationals, with us, the people of the nation, being left totally out of the picture. These are the same people who invoke the name of the American people behind everything they do, while everything they do leaves the American people behind. And then they tell us we must now “watch what we say” and give us “free speech zones.

So the next time any of you feel the need to cheer for what BushCo has bestowed upon us and the rest of the world try and remember that those behind this madness believe as did John Jay who in 1777, during the writing of our Constitution stated, “The people who own the country ought to rule the country.” Only now it should be changed to, “the people that own the country ought to rule the world” as that is what they are headed toward.

There is no lie that is beyond them; there is no back-room deal that is beyond them; there is no deception that is beyond them; in fact there is virtually no one that Bush has appointed to a government position that has not come out of the those who want to turn our governing body into one big corporate board of directors. Virtually everyone Bush has appointed came out of corporate America or was a corporate lobbyist.

BushCo & Company are making self-serving back-room deals, as they have with the taking over of one of China’s banks, while continuing to point their collective fingers at “evil” China and declare it a threat to our security. At the same time U.S. multinationals and investment banks are plowing borrowed money into China’s economy with the aid of the same people calling China a threat to the U.S.

With the world facing “Peak Oil” and the emergence of China as a growing economy, and the decline of Saudi oil, U.S. investors will continue to make money, only now thru China’s oil industry. For BushCo, it’s all about power and money. Who gets hurt in the process is of no concern to them. Both ends against the middle is going on here, and we are the ones in the middle getting squashed.

Thru this all we are constantly reminded by BushCo that “freedom and democracy” is on the march! My question is simple--by whose definition? A “For Sale” sign was hung on this nation when Bush & Company manipulated not only our system of elections, but the courts as well, when he was “appointed” to the seat of power; and he is now the man that tells us about freedom on the march.

Thru the WTO this consortium of ideologues that make up BushCo will attempt to do to China what it has done everywhere else, and that simply is to privatize, privatize, privatize. Wal-Mart is going strong in China as are all the other U.S. multinationals that are there. Now, U.S. companies are buying into Chinas banks that are trying to buy up U.S. companies. That’s a win-win for multinationals and their investors, and a lose-lose for us and the Chinese people.

Welcome to “free market capitalism, freedom and democracy” BushCo style. I hope you find the following articles as interesting as what I have. And if what I have written here seems confusing, that’s because this is rather confusing in terms of all the inter-connectedness of all these various right-wing organizations, their corporate connections and their nexus with government as they maintain a high level of “plausible deniability” in everything they do. Am I correct in how I am looking at this? I believe that I am, but time will most assuredly tell.

That said, I am certain of this: no one operates under a cloak of such secrecy as does BushCo if they do not have “things” to hide. And I am firmly convinced BushCo not only has a lot to try and hide, but it has even more to answer for.

Additional sources and references:

U.S. Firm to Control China Bank

Citigroup Buys 8.3 Percent PDB Stake

Citigroup regroups
Citigroup unveiled "aggressive growth plans" for its consumer, retail, corporate and investment banking operations in China last month. During the launch of a new dual currency card with Shanghai Pudong Development Bank, Charles Prince, the group's Chairman and CEO (above), said that he was "very bullish" about the way the Chinese regulators and the government are dealing with the banking system. Citigroup is planning new offices in Beijing, and perhaps Guangzhou, and an investment banking presence will be built involving analysts specializing in Chinese companies. Prince did say, however, that the pace of any expansion depends on the opening of the market in line with China's accession to the WTO, and the group's ability to strike partnerships with Chinese institutions. So far, Citibank has expressed interest in taking an equity stake in China Construction Bank as part of the Chinese bank's IPO expected to take place early next year.

But the political debate about China is lagging behind events on the ground. The $18 billion bid for Unocal by the China National Offshore Oil Corporation ( CNOOC), China's third-largest oil company, was merely the latest and by far the biggest move by a Chinese company to buy a formidable American company.

Oil. Big Profits. Big changes? By Edward Teague
Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM), buoyed by record oil prices, became (by market capitalisation, $411BN Shares at $64) the largest company in the world. They have taken No1 place from General Electric (NYSE:GE) whose Market Capitalisation is today, $382. BN Exxon Mobil also claim to be the largest oil co in terms of proved reserves and production, including 36% of known North American oil and gas reserves.

Comment to my article by Cathrine Austin Fitts: wrote:>Do you have any criticisms of this piece? It seems to explain well theUS/China/Neocon relationship:

Cathrine's Response:
Yes...I did not read carefully....but it looks like the gist isright.....this is why I call it a financial coup d'etatAdd to that my hypothesis that they got the money by stealing it from theUS government....$ 4 trillion well as pumping and dumpingour pension funds with telcom, enron and fraud....say a total of10 trillion.Hence, we are being bought with our own money...Which is why it is so important we stick all the 10 trillion of debt backto them....they are planning on sticking us with the debt they used to float the bubble that made it possible for them to steal the money...

Jack Dalton is a disabled Vietnam veteran, activist and writer. His blog is Jacks Straight-Speak, and he is a columnist for the POAC as well as many other web publications.