American Samizdat

Wednesday, December 31, 2003. *
In a report released Tuesday by the Corporate Crime Reporter, editor Russell Mokhiber recommended that the "death penalty" should be applied to corporations convicted of defrauding the federal government. "The federal government has the authority to prohibit corporations convicted of serious crimes from doing business with the federal government," said Mokhiber, referring to the False Claims Act, also known as the "whistleblower" act. Under this act, citizens are entitled to sue corporations on behalf of the U.S. government, receiving as much as 30% of any settlement. Per Mokhiber's report:

"This debarment or exclusion authority is considered the equivalent of the death penalty, because for major health care corporations and defense corporations which rely on federal contracts, denying them federal contracts would effectively put them out of business.

"The federal government rarely exercises this authority – although it should more often to deter an ongoing pattern of criminal fraud."

HCA leads the way

The report [PDF download, 295 KB] also ranks the top 100 False Claims Act settlements by amount of the settlement. Leading the list is a $731 million settlement in December 2000 with the Tennessee-based health care giant HCA, which also occupies the number two slot with a $631 million settlement in June 2003. HCA's largest private shareholder is company director Thomas F. Frist, Jr., often named to the annual Forbes 400 Richest Americans list, whose 5,532,259 shares (1.17% ownership valued at approximately $204 million (8-Aug-03)) dwarf the combined 553,903 shares held by the company's top three officers. (Frist was formerly the Chairman, but stepped down in January, 2002.) If the name Frist sounds familiar, it should. Frist is the brother of U.S. Senate majority leader and Tennessee Republican Senator Dr. Bill Frist. Bill Frist's most recent "signature" piece of legislation is of course the pork-laden Medicare prescription drug benefit, from which HCA stands to profit handsomely. Frist has received $990 thousand in campaign contributions from the healthcare industry, including direct contributions from HCA of $24,800, over $9 thousand dollars more than HCA gave to any other candidate. Frist also has a $20 million fortune, most of it in HCA stock.

Whither Dick Cheney?

Among HCA's institutional shareholders is The Vanguard Group, Inc. (9,624,528 shares, 2.03% ownership valued at approximately $355 million). Vanguard also manages the mutual funds Vanguard Specialized-Health Care Fund (6,967,620 shares, 1.47% ownership valued at approximately $246 million (31-Jul-03)) and Vanguard 500 Index Fund (4,284,666 shares, 0.9% ownership valued at approximately $178 million (31-Dec-02)), and almost certainly has investments in HCA in other Vanguard funds. As it turns out, Vanguard also happens to manage between $16.3 and $80.7 million of Vice President Dick Cheney's personal financial assets (15-May-02, Financial Disclosure Report).

Cheney further has a more direct investment (between $500 thousand and $1 million) in HCA via American Express' AXP New Dimensions Fund (8,500,000 shares of HCA, 1.79% ownership valued at approximately $351 million (28-Feb-03)), and has modest investments in seven other American Express funds. He also has modest investments in J.P. Morgan, who ranks in as HCA's third largest shareholder (24,937,532 shares, 5.26% ownership valued at approximately $919 million (30-Sep-03)).

HCA is hardly alone

Of course, HCA is hardly the only healthcare provider to appear on the Corporate Crime Reporter's top 100 list. Indeed healthcare providers occupy the top twelve positions on the list and a full 56 of the judgements appearing on the list are against healthcare providers. Other healthcare providers appearing twice on the top 100 list were Bayer ($271.2 million) and Tenet Healthcare ($72 million).

Defense contractors were also prominent on the top 100 list, occupying 23 spots there. Defense contractors appearing twice on the top 100 list were Northrop Grumman ($191.2 million), Boeing ($129 million), and Teledyne ($112.5 million). Energy giant Shell Oil has the distinction of being the only company appearing on the top 100 list three times ($215 million).

About the top 100 list

The Corporate Crime Reporter top 100 list was compiled from all settlements made since the False Claims Act was last amended in 1986. At that time, the act was amended to reinstate the whistleblower provision and to add provisions for treble damages and protection of the whistleblowers. Since that time, recoveries under the act have skyrocketed, with the government recovering over $12 billion. The top 100 list alone provided a total of $8.2 billion – more than 65 percent – of those recoveries, and in each case in the top 100, the whistleblower(s) received or will receive in excess of $1 million. In the lesser of the two HCA settlements alone, the whistleblower's share of the recovery was over $151 million.

Perhaps even more important to note however is that all recoveries under the False Claims Act were citizen-initiated. None of these cases of fraud were uncovered by government auditors. False Claims Act recoveries thus reflect only a portion of financial fraud recoveries by our government, and certainly, many cases of fraud go undetected entirely. And there is no reason to expect that similar fraud does not take place against group and private health insurance providers.

Think defense is expensive?

The False Claims Act was amended in 1986 in response to public furor over excessive billings by defense contractors ($700 toilet seats, anyone?). Clearly, defense contractor fraud is still a major problem. It has of late however been dwarfed by healthcare fraud.

We have well in excess of 40 million citizens in our country currently without medical coverage, and this number is growing. For those with employer-provided coverage, that coverage is steadily shrinking even as co-pays and employee contributions are rising. For those privately insured, annual premium increases of over 40% are being reported.

The movement for a single-payer healthcare system for our country that covers every citizen is once again gaining steam, being buoyed for these obvious reasons. Detractors of course say that we cannot afford it, ignoring the evidence that we are already paying for it, but simply not getting it. One of many ways to pay for a single-payer system is obvious via this Corporate Crime Reporter publication. Cutting back on health provider fraud will provide literally billions of dollars a year towards this goal. But how can a single-payer system help to do this? Two ways, in fact.

First, a great expense for any medical office or hospital lies in the billing process. There are literally thousands of medical insurance providers, each with their own unique requirements for processing medical claims. All of these offices and hospitals are required to develop a billing staff with expertise in handling all of this. The medical profession itself has been complaining about this for over two decades because developing this expertise costs them money. A single-payer system almost entirely eliminates the need for and the money required to develop this level of expertise. And money removed from this billing process is money that can go into the actual delivery of healthcare.

The second way is actually twofold. First, government auditors will benefit from this single method of paying claims by being better able to better hone their skills at detecting fraud. Second, all basic medical payments will be brought under this single-payer system and this single audit function. Fraudulent billing wherever it occurs will be audited centrally and with a consistency that we simply cannot have under our current system.

Will this alone pay for a single-payer system that covers all of our citizens? It will be a big step, but most likely not. But this is only one of many ways that a single-payer system can wring tens billions of dollars annually out of our current system without at all affecting the healthcare already being provided to those currently covered. Single-payer is simply an idea whose time has arrived.

posted by Mischa Peyton at 6:19 PM
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Tuesday, December 30, 2003. *
Despite the RIAA's claims that their increasingly aggressive actions are in the name of protecting artist's rights and income, this iTunes spoof website offers an in-depth and accurate explanation of why this is absolute BS. Lots of other interesting related info is also on the site. A must for RIAA watchers, I give it 10 out of 10.

"People are paying for songs on the iTunes Music Store because they think it's a good way to support musicians. But by giving musicians just a few cents from each sale, iTunes destroys a huge opportunity. Instead of creating a system that gets virtually all of fans' money directly to artists-- finally possible with the internet-- iTunes takes a big step backwards. Apple calls iTunes "revolutionary" but really they're just letting record companies force the same exploitive and unfair business model onto a new medium..."
posted by Quantum at 10:22 PM
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Been noticing lately that the occasional whispering about the potential for martial law has increased in volume and frequency? Me, too. So today I looked around and found some interesting stuff and posted it on ddjangoWIrE. There's also this post from Monday.

Be at peace.
posted by total at 11:57 AM
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Overview of the latest independent research into the deaths of Wellstone, Carnahan and JFK Jr.
posted by New World at 9:26 AM
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The official unemployment rate in the United States sits at 5.9%. But as this article from the LA Times notes, the true rate is around 9.7% if you factor in the underemployed and those that have stopped searching for work.

This more comprehensive calculation is sometimes referred to as the U7 rate.
posted by Bill at 3:59 AM
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Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber's Mad Cow USA: Could the Nightmare Happen Here? is now available as a free download [PDF file].

This 1997 book examined how practices within the meat industry created the British Mad Cow epidemic and warned that the disease would soon make its way to American shores. Quite prescient, eh?
posted by Bill at 3:52 AM
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Monday, December 29, 2003. *
"To be born in misery and deprivation is not one’s fault;
to create and foster it is insidious."

Person of the YearThink they are waiting until after the election to revive the draft? Sorry, but it is already here. They just don't call it that yet. In a wonderful yet troubling tribute, writer Manuel Valenzuela of Axis of Logic agrees with Time magazine in their selection of the American Soldier as "Person of the Year":
The ultimate sacrifice is being paid for reasons that few comprehend, in circumstances that yearn to be understood and for a reality that is hard to believe and accept. The excuses have been many, and many have been impeachable lies and shams. Freedom and democracy are but the latest, found at the bottom of the barrel by Bush, in a last act of desperation, being the hardest to implement, therefore the hardest to prove wrong and question. Now our soldiers are made to believe these audacious deceits, when in fact they die and suffer for much more sinister motives.

For these reasons, like Time, I agree that our heroic men and women, in overcoming so much with so little and in spite of everything the elite few have done to endanger their lives and futures, should be named 2003’s Person of the Year. The reasons, however, are altogether different. Like so many, I am for our soldiers, against the war, and this article is dedicated to all those who through no fault of their own find themselves caught inside the most frightful nightmare they will ever be forced to endure.

An important reading.

Perhaps as good a sign of this as any is the now frequent issuance to our troops of "stop-loss" orders, orders preventing them from separating from the military on their agreed-upon date. The Washington Post takes a look at this in "Army Stops Many Soldiers From Quitting":
According to their contracts, expectations and desires, all three soldiers should have been civilians by now. But Fontaine and Costas are currently serving in Iraq, and Eagle has just been deployed. On their Army paychecks, the expiration date of their military service is now listed sometime after 2030 -- the payroll computer's way of saying, "Who knows?"

The three are among thousands of soldiers forbidden to leave military service under the Army's "stop-loss" orders, intended to stanch the seepage of troops, through retirement and discharge, from a military stretched thin by its burgeoning overseas missions.

So much for the "all volunteer" military.
posted by Mischa Peyton at 10:28 PM
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Scott Ritter, who led the UNSCOM Iraq weapons inspections team from 1996 to 1998, and David Kelly, Ritter's subordinate at that time and the current U.S. leader of the hunt for Iraqi WMDs, were both solicted by MI6 (Britain's CIA equivalent) in that group's effort to exagerate the Iraqi WMD threat, Ritter himself has revealed. Ritter, a stanch opponent of the current Iraq War, said that there was evidence that MI6 continued to use similar propaganda tactics up to the invasion of Iraq earlier this year. “Stories ran in the media about secret underground facilities in Iraq and ongoing programmes (to produce weapons of mass destruction),” said Ritter. “They were sourced to western intelligence and all of them were garbage.”
posted by Mischa Peyton at 8:23 PM
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Religions usually espouse peace and goodwill, so why have they sparked so many conflicts? Karen Armstrong, author of the remarkable "A History of God", offers her thoughts in today's Guardian on how Western monotheism has always fell victim to the more violent aspects of human nature. Now with Bill Moyers also offers a transcript of an interview with her. Both are fairly brief an worthwhile reading. That said, if you are at all interested in the development and traditions of Western monotheism, by all means, read her breakthrough "A History of God". A most scholarly work, it was the book that caused this Atheist to believe once again that religion at its very best is a quite beautiful thing.

No, I didn't convert back. I simply found a new and great respect for what is there.

posted by Mischa Peyton at 7:55 PM
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Sunday, December 28, 2003. *
I'll offer a a link to Noam Chomsky's article " Dictators R Us". One need only consider the 2000 presidential election to see proof positive of the contempt the GOP holds for democracy. History shows that the US government has a long history of support for dictators pliant to will of corporate capital. America's "Friendly Dictator" trading cards are a really clear and straightforward resource (circa 1990) reminding us that Saddam Hussein is one of a long line of unsavory murderous dictators that might best be described with a paraphrasing of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's comment about Somoza Sr. ( yes, there was a Jr. too) - "Hussein may be a son of a bitch, but he's our son of a bitch."

Until reading the Chomsky article I had no idea that Paul Wolfowitz was ambassador to Indonesia during the reign of Suharto, a dictator who's murderousness makes Saddam Hussein look like a rank amateur at political torture and the spilling of blood..
As Mark Zepezauer puts it in The CIA's Greatest Hits: "On a per-capita basis, East Timor is the greatest genocide since the Holocaust. Combined with the 1965 killings and other Indonesian atrocities, it puts Suharto in the first rank of twentieth-century mass murders, right up there with Hitler, Stalin, the Turks who massacred the Armenians in 1915 and the generals who run Guatemala."

A bit on Wolfowitz and Suharto's Indonesia;
Wolfowitz is worse on Indonesia, where he forged close ties with the intelligence and corporate elite. In May 1997, a year before Suharto was driven out of office, Wolfowitz told Congress of "the significant progress" Indonesia has made under the "strong and remarkable leadership of President Suharto". In an interview on PBS in February 2000, Wolfowitz was asked about General Wiranto, who had just been forced to resign after being named by Indonesian authorities as the mastermind of the 1999 military rampage in East Timor. He praised Wiranto as "the general who commanded the army during the first elections in Indonesian history". Wiranto "may have done bad things in East Timor or failed to stop bad things in East Timor, but that's what makes it so tricky," he added.

The case of Wolfowitz illustrates that support for dictators is not a solely a Republican policy; administrations of both Republicans and Democratic presidents have supported the corporate interests of their contributors rather than exporting the American ideal of Democracy.
East Timor, which was invaded and occupied in 1975 by Indonesia with US weapons - a security policy backed and partly shaped by Holbrooke and Wolfowitz. "Paul and I," he said, "have been in frequent touch to make sure that we keep [East Timor] out of the presidential campaign, where it would do no good to American or Indonesian interests."
East Timor is a classic example of the bipartisan nature of US foreign policy during the Cold War - and the secrecy surrounding US military support for authoritarian leaders like president Suharto, who ruled Indonesia from the US-backed coup in 1965 until his downfall in 1998. There is an unbroken link from the Ford-Kissinger years, when the US backed Suharto's invasion of the former Portuguese territory. This continued through the Carter, Reagan, Bush, and Clinton eras, when US policy focused on supporting Suharto's military and burnishing his image to the world.

I'd urge you to read the full links.
The present administration lied to the American people about a need to attack Iraq due to the threat of "weapons of mass destruction" and now is courting public opinion with talk of importing democracy to the middle east, starting with Iraq. Read about what Paul Wolfowitz sees as "Democracy". Things plainly are not looking too good...
posted by m at 7:26 PM
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Robert Fisk of the UK Independent is doing some of the best first person analysis coming out of Iraq today. In this story, he takes to task a number of different actions taken by coalition forces and how the coalition ended up "reporting" them. His wry conclusion is inescapable:
So let's get this right. Insurgents are civilians. Truck bombs and tanks that crush civilians are traffic accidents. And the "liberated" civilians who live in villages surrounded by razor wire should endure "a heavy dose of fear and violence" to keep them on the straight and narrow.

Somewhere along the way, they will probably be told about democracy as well.

posted by Mischa Peyton at 12:25 PM
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If you want the inside scoop on what's going on with the administration's Neocons, especially now that the Realists are back in the beltway, Jim Lobe is your "go to" man. Of course, the American mainstream press won't touch him (What's new?), but he is widely carried in middle eastern and asian press, often appearing simultaneously in three or four major dailies there.

Forget about Bush's assertion during a nationally broadcast television interview last week that Cheney will be his VP for term two, says Lobe. "Cheney has a large bull's-eye on his back, painted there by Republican 'realists'."

For them, Cheney has become a major liability, not only to Bush's re-election chances, but - as the leader of the administration's imperialist faction with the greatest direct influence on Bush himself - to US economic and strategic interests abroad as well.
Colin Powell of course is the realists' inside man, but more important are those outside realists that seem to be grabbing the reins.
They include top officials of the first Bush administration, including former national security adviser Brent Scowcroft, who chairs Bush junior's president's foreign intelligence advisory board, and former secretary of state James Baker, who just moved back into the White House as junior's personal envoy charged with persuading Iraq's creditors to forgive tens of billions of dollars of that country's foreign debt.

They also include the former president himself, according to knowledgeable sources who say he has encouraged both Scowcroft and Baker - as well as other prominent foreign-policy Republicans like Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar and Chuck Hagel - to try to get Cheney dumped from the ticket next year.

All of these folks have worked with Cheney before when he was Bush 41's Secretary of Defense, and there is no love lost between them and Cheney.

My own call remains the same as it has for the last six months: Cheney's "doctors" will suddenly advise him that a national campaign would be too stressful, and he will bow out for "health reasons". My guess is right after the Dems lock up their candidate, but no later than April.

posted by Mischa Peyton at 12:05 PM
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Saturday, December 27, 2003. *
Republican marching orders: Howard Dean not an optimist. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat...
It seems the Republican marching orders have gone out: Say "Howard Dean" and "pessimism" or "pessimist" as many times as possible in the same sentence.

Of course, there really is no vast right-wing conspiracy to coordinate media messages, so we won't be seeing that focus-group-tested term repeated over and over by supposedly independent journalists and pundits. No, that would never happen.

Blog for America:

When Up is Down, and Hope is Pessimism

Atrios senses a new meme emerging from the right-wing punditocracy, based on this morning's New York Times article on how the Bush campaign plans to distort what it is we're fighting for:

The first appearance of a talking head referring to Dean as "pessimistic" or discussing his "pessimism" was Laura Ingraham on the Friday Dec. 19 Hardball, followed by Mary Matalin on the Sunday Dec. 21 Meet the Press.

Look for it to be coming out of every Republican's mouth soon, and then it will increasingly creep into "objective" reporting. The process will go something like this. First, they'll quote Bush campaign sources describing Dean as "pessimistic." Next, they'll move onto Democratic campaign sources, often anonymous, describing Dean as "pessimistic." Next, they'll stop bothering getting the quote and just write things like, "Some have criticized Dean for his unappealing pessimism..." And, then, finally, process complete, campaign analysis pieces in print and the "objective journalists" on the roundtable shows, will just write/say things like "Dean's pessimistic rhetoric..." By the end no discussion or news story about Dean will see the light of day without the word "pessimism."

So a basic primer is due: there is nothing more optimistic than saying that the American people have the right and the responsibility of self-government. There is nothing more optimistic than running a campaign that is designed to bring people back into the political process. And there is nothing more optimistic than asserting that the American people, armed with the founding principles of our Republic, will prevail over the special interests that write our laws in the current administration.

And there's absolutely nothing more optimistic than believing that once the American people take control of their own government, we will be able to bring health care to everyone, jobs based on a new energy economy to those who are out of work, and effective environmental protection for our children and grandchildren.

This is the most optimistic presidential campaign in a generation. For Karl Rove and George Bush to say that believing in people is pessimistic-- well, that's a bit like calling the gutting of pollution controls Clear Skies, isn't it?

Optimism, optimist.
posted by BrianF at 7:33 PM
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Republican marching orders: Howard Dean not an optimist. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat...
It seems the Republican marching orders have gone out: Say "Howard Dean" and "pessimism" or "pessimist" as many times as possible in the same sentence.

Of course, there really is no vast right-wing conspiracy to coordinate media messages, so we won't be seeing that focus-group-tested term repeated over and over by supposedly independent journalists and pundits. No, that would never happen.

Blog for America:

When Up is Down, and Hope is Pessimism

Atrios senses a new meme emerging from the right-wing punditocracy, based on this morning's New York Times article on how the Bush campaign plans to distort what it is we're fighting for:

The first appearance of a talking head referring to Dean as "pessimistic" or discussing his "pessimism" was Laura Ingraham on the Friday Dec. 19 Hardball, followed by Mary Matalin on the Sunday Dec. 21 Meet the Press.

Look for it to be coming out of every Republican's mouth soon, and then it will increasingly creep into "objective" reporting. The process will go something like this. First, they'll quote Bush campaign sources describing Dean as "pessimistic." Next, they'll move onto Democratic campaign sources, often anonymous, describing Dean as "pessimistic." Next, they'll stop bothering getting the quote and just write things like, "Some have criticized Dean for his unappealing pessimism..." And, then, finally, process complete, campaign analysis pieces in print and the "objective journalists" on the roundtable shows, will just write/say things like "Dean's pessimistic rhetoric..." By the end no discussion or news story about Dean will see the light of day without the word "pessimism."

So a basic primer is due: there is nothing more optimistic than saying that the American people have the right and the responsibility of self-government. There is nothing more optimistic than running a campaign that is designed to bring people back into the political process. And there is nothing more optimistic than asserting that the American people, armed with the founding principles of our Republic, will prevail over the special interests that write our laws in the current administration.

And there's absolutely nothing more optimistic than believing that once the American people take control of their own government, we will be able to bring health care to everyone, jobs based on a new energy economy to those who are out of work, and effective environmental protection for our children and grandchildren.

This is the most optimistic presidential campaign in a generation. For Karl Rove and George Bush to say that believing in people is pessimistic-- well, that's a bit like calling the gutting of pollution controls Clear Skies, isn't it?

Optimism, optimist.
posted by BrianF at 7:33 PM
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[via Robot Wisdom]
posted by Jeremy Galinho Doido at 9:42 AM
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Friday, December 26, 2003. *
"British journalists – and British journals – are being manipulated by the secret intelligence agencies, and I think we ought to try and put a stop to it."

So says the British Journalism Review.

It is done three ways:

1) Journos are recruited to spy for them.

2) Intel. agents pose as journos and write articles under false names.

3) Intel. agents plant stories on willing journos, who then disguise their sources.

Information on similar operations in the US can be found here.

posted by New World at 9:48 AM
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The next Bush con job is headed to a television set near you in his upcoming State of the Union Address. It's called "ownership", and Robert Kuttner takes a look at what it's really all about:
The idea is that American workers aspire to be owners -- of stock for their retirement, homes, businesses, good health insurance, and skills they need to navigate multiple changes of jobs and careers. It sounds just great.

Take a closer look, however, and you will recognize the trademarked Bush combination of inspiring themes coupled with an absence of useful tools. In other words, bait and switch.

Yup! Another round of tax breaks and shelters, this time intending to replace all of the benefits your employer may currently be providing for you.

The problem? If your employer isn't first providing you with enough pay, you'll hardly be able to use any of them. Great tax breaks, except that the only people who'll be able to use them are the people who need them the least. Sound familiar?

And the beat goes on ...

posted by Mischa Peyton at 9:18 AM
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I.B.M. spokespeople are reluctant to talk or at least to be named in the press, but BIG BLUE is about to join the offshoring/outsourcing crowd. According to the Wall Street Journal last week, as many as 4,730 high-paying white-collar jobs will be shipped overseas to lower-paid foreign workers. "Our competitors are doing it ...", one spokesperson offered as justification. So what's new?

Bob Herbert takes a look.

Geebus! I wonder if they have any of those "ownership" accounts?

posted by Mischa Peyton at 9:14 AM
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Paul Krugman carves out a simple list of New Year's resolutions for the media and its reporting of the upcoming election:
  1. Don't talk about clothes. (It's an insult to the readers.)
  2. Actually look at the candidates' policy proposals. (Like Bush's "ownership society"?)
  3. Beware of personal anecdotes. (Especially those that reinforce your own prejudices.)
  4. Look at the candidates' records. (Bush is not a centrist, and Dean is not a leftist.)
  5. Don't fall for political histrionics. (The "appearance of outrage" is just so much fluff.)
  6. It's not about you. (The race is about the candidates, not the reporters.)
A rather simple list, and things that perhaps any editor should be demanding of his reporters. Too bad so few of them actually are. One might actually come to think that all these editors are demanding the exact opposite!

Which brings me to my Story of the Year for 2003:

The Collapse of American Journalism

Yeah, I know. That story didn't appear in our mainstream news. But did you think it would?
posted by Mischa Peyton at 8:56 AM
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Irving Kristol outlined what "neoconservatism" is in a Weekly Standard article a few months ago:
One can say that the historical task and political purpose of neoconservatism would seem to be this: to convert the Republican party, and American conservatism in general, against their respective wills, into a new kind of conservative politics suitable to governing a modern democracy.


The steady decline in our democratic culture, sinking to new levels of vulgarity, does unite neocons with traditional conservatives--though not with those libertarian conservatives who are conservative in economics but unmindful of the culture. The upshot is a quite unexpected alliance between neocons, who include a fair proportion of secular intellectuals, and religious traditionalists. They are united on issues concerning the quality of education, the relations of church and state, the regulation of pornography, and the like, all of which they regard as proper candidates for the government's attention. And since the Republican party now has a substantial base among the religious, this gives neocons a certain influence and even power. Because religious conservatism is so feeble in Europe, the neoconservative potential there is correspondingly weak.

posted by Klintron at 12:22 AM
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Thursday, December 25, 2003. *
Sad but true:
The Bushies are planning to run against a dovish McGovern, but there's a remote possibility they could find themselves running against a hawkish Kennedy. The bigger implication, which the rest of the world should note well, is that the general course of American foreign policy is fairly stable and won't be soon toppled -- not even by Howard Dean.

More on PNAC, see also:
posted by Klintron at 11:19 PM
Post a Comment's 2003 Political Dot-Comedy Award Nominees Announced
I'm very pleased to report that I'm a nominee in two categories in this year's Political Dot-Comedy Awards competition. My political humor as a whole is nominated in the Best Parodies (Overall Achievement) category and my Dubya's Dayly Diary is a nominee in the Best Bush Humor category. So if you have time, I'd really appreciate your voting for me in
one or both categories here. Thanks!

And even if you're not in a voting mood, I'll bet you enjoy visiting the terrific nominees in categories including Best Web Cartoons, Best Satirical News, Most Entertaining Left-Wing News & Commentary, Most Entertaining Right-Wing News & Commentary, Best Print Comic Strip, and Best Late-Night TV Comedy. You may even find some new (to you) humor sites to help you survive 2004.

FYI very few blogs are nominated. This Modern World (Tom Tomorrow) in the comic strip category is a notable exception.

posted by Mad Kane at 12:50 PM
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Wednesday, December 24, 2003. *
tobias c. van Veen on Shirer's Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
Part 1 and Part 2
The historical purview of the good vs. evil whitewash in which we view Nazi politics is complicated considerably when one considers the culpability of the major powers (and some of the lesser ones) in Hitler's rise to power--not to mention, of course, the German people's. How does this compare to today? Tony Blair, despite his rhetoric of virility, is as much an accomplice to Bush's unmitigated war as Chamberlain was to Hitler. Blair has gone out of his way to appease Bush's corporate drive for Middle Eastern power. Unfortunately, whereas Chamberlain eventually had Churchill to contend with, there seems to be no strong opposition to Blair either in the UK (save for London's Mayor, Livingstone), in Europe (save for the opportunism of France, and ironically, Germany), or of course in North America (and to make matters worse, the new Prime Minister of Canada and leader of the Liberal party, Paul Martin, is making it his top duty to bring Canada in line--like Australia--with US policies, despite a majority public disapproval of US warmongering).

posted by Klintron at 1:44 PM
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Your default gateway into a river of information contagia
posted by valis at 4:43 AM
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Alternate cover
posted by BrianF at 1:28 AM
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Tuesday, December 23, 2003. *
Monday, December 22, 2003. *
Oh, my God!
 Today's Terror 
 Threat Level: 
Feel safer yet ?

Yes, it changes automatically, and yes, you can copy this into your own profile also.
Click on Ernie or simply edit this page and scan for the "TEROR ALERT" marker.
posted by Mischa Peyton at 4:23 PM
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From RiverBend at Baghdad Burning come words of new fears taking over the people of Baghdad; the men seem on the verge of war, and the women are afraid. Don't they know it's Christmas?
I once said that I hoped, and believed, Iraqis were above the horrors of civil war and the slaughter of innocents, and I'm clinging to that belief with the sheer strength of desperation these days. I remember hearing the stories about Lebanon from people who were actually living there during the fighting and a constant question arose when they talked about the grief and horrors- what led up to it? What were the signs? How did it happen? And most importantly… did anyone see it coming?
Some do, River. Just never enough.
posted by Mischa Peyton at 1:16 PM
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"studies overwhelmingly show that for every health condition, for every disease, for every cause of death, those who have lower incomes have it much worse than those who have fatter paychecks."
posted by Mischa Peyton at 1:15 PM
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Sunday, December 21, 2003. *

Yet another case of courageous Israelis "on the ground" refusing to carry our what their hardline supporters in the US and Israel claim are normal operations

15 members of the Israeli army's top commando unit have written to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon refusing to carry out missions in the Palestinian territories.

According to Israeli media reports on Sunday, 15 reservists from the elite Sayeret Matkal unit, said they would no longer participate in the "rule of oppression" and the defence of Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territories.

The Sayeret Matkal, or General Staff Reconnaissance Unit, is Israel's most elite commando unit and has often been compared to the US military's Delta Force or the British army's SAS.

"We will no longer give our lives to the rule of oppression in the territories and to the denial of human rights to millions of Palestinians and we will no longer serve as a defensive shield for the settlements," private television quoted the letter as saying.

"We will no longer corrupt the stamp of humanity in us through carrying out the missions of an occupation army ... in the past, we fought for a justified cause (but today), we have reached the boundary of oppressing another people," it added.
posted by A.Q. at 5:50 PM
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The story began long long ago in a galaxy far way. Now, eons later, even Princess Leia and Darth Vader are friends of sorts. They are sitting at a bar and R2D2 is serving the drinks. Both are drinking Alderaan Ruge a very rare and expensive liqueur. There are however still pockets of villainy and stupidity in the far reaches of the galaxy. George, yes that George is strapped to a gurney in the corner of the room.

George: Where am I?

Darth: The Death Star

Princess Leia: Yes, THE DEATH STAR, you are strapped to a gurney on THE DEATH STAR. I'm Princess Leia and this is Ani, uh I mean Darth Vader. Mister Vader to you. We have some questions for you George.

George: I'm the Comander see, I don't have to answer questions that's one of the neat things about being the president. I don't feel like I owe anybody an explanation.

A mind probe is summoned, the needles are extended to their full length and the prick is about to get pricked. I'd also like to report that Darth would probably smile and scowl from time to time if he could. It will help if you understand that he experiences the same emotions that prompt others to scowl or to smile. The same emotions that lead others to frown or to giggle. Darth would have scowled upon hearing his childhood name, and he might very well be smiling or perhaps even giggling when he says.

Darth: Oh you'll answer my questions George, that is one of the neat things about being a Sith Lord.

George: Why am I here?

Leia and Darth ignore him.

Leia: The probe doesn't seem to be working, it's not registering any content.

Darth: The diagnostics indicate it's functioning normally. Puzzling.

George repeats: Why am I here?

Darth: You're here because, to use the earth's venacular, you're a bad motherfucker, and believe me I know something about bad motherfuckers.

At an unknown location Yoda is practicing his latest moves when suddenly he stops, "There is a disturbance in the force, he says. I fear for the 23rd letter in the alphabet, but that makes no sense. Yoda, somewhat perplexed, returns to his light sabre practice.

Darth: What should we do with him?

Princess Leia: Well we know he's a liar. We know he searches for non-existent weapons of mass destruction. He invades unarmed countries. He doesn't listen to his dad. He says lots of really stupid shit. He's been building weapons of mass destruction himself. He lacks respect for royalty (remember Leia is a Princess and Darth Vader a Lord) can you believe he recently trashed the Queens Garden and refused to eat her food. He also has a thing for Tony Blair, and frankly I just don't like his looks. I'm thinking maybe the trash compacter.

Darth: Leia, your dark side is certainly showing tonight. I suppose we could just give him to Jabba the Hutt as a gift. I've grown quite fond of the Alderaan Ruge and Jabba is the only known source. (for the sake of clarity let me add that's a known known as opposed to an unknown known)

George: I didn't do anything, let me go.

Princess Leia: Give it a rest Chimp.

Darth: Chimp

Princess Leia: Yes a term I picked up listening to an earth news station. I think it is a term of endearment.

George: But

Princess Leia and Darth in unison: Just shut the fuck up George

George: Everyone is starting to use that word when they talk about me John Kerry said I fucked up Iraq.

Darth: I'm not surprised you fuck up damn near everything you touch.

George continues trying to speak but soon begins gasping for breath.

Princess Leia: Stop Darth you're choking him, we don't want him dead, yet.

Darth: Oh alright, but tell him to quit his whining.

Princess Leia: So lets see it's either the compacter or a bribe for Jabba. What did the mind probe reveal?

Darth: Not a damn thing.

Princess Leia: Nothing, hmm.

George: Please I just want to go home I'm the President you know? I have an important meeting with the Republican National Committee they're going to get me reelected.

Leia: I thought I told you to shut up. The RNC is nothing but a wretched hive of scum and villainy. You have enough problems George, I wouldn't be worrying about a meeting with the RNC if I were you.

Leia: Where were we. Oh yes what to do with him.

Darth: We could...

Darth's voice trails off. His breathing is audible. He would be giggling here if he could.

Princess Leia: You mean? He's weak willed, manipulated by neocons, stupid...

Darth: Yes, the mind probe confirmed all that.

Princess Leia: You're thinking of using the power of the force, your fancy Jedi mind tricks.

Darth: Yes

Princess Leia: I don't see why it wouldn't work. I'm sure we could find something constructive for him to do and maybe help the planet earth at the same time. Let's give it a try.

Darth walks over and releases George from the Gurney.

Darth: It's your lucky day.

George: It's my lucky day.

Darth: You don't want to invade unarmed countries and have impure thoughts about Tony Blair.

George: I don't want to invade unarmed countries and have impure thoughts.

Darth: You've been a terrible president.

George: I've been a terrible president.

Darth You don't want to be president anymore.

George: I don't want to be president anymore.

Darth: You'll resign and move back to Texas.

George: I'll resign and move back to Texas.

Darth: Move along.

George takes the next shuttle to earth and promptly resigns the presidency. A grateful nation celebrates, and George moves back to the Crawford ranch. Every once in a while he looks over at Laura and says, "tell me again why I resigned the presidency."

Laura happier than she has been in many years smiles.

Laura: You don't really need to know.

George: I don't really need to know.

Laura: You have some chores to do.

George: I have some chores to do.

Laura: Move along.

posted by Norm at 12:16 PM
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Oh no! It's the official
posted by Mischa Peyton at 11:11 AM
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Saturday, December 20, 2003. *

A round up of sumbunall the Saddam-capture conspiracy theories floating around the net.
posted by New World at 6:58 PM
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David Brooks speaks of "The Ownership Society" in today's New York Times:
In his State of the Union address, the president will announce measures to foster job creation. In the meantime, he is talking about what he calls the Ownership Society.

This is a bundle of proposals that treat workers as self-reliant pioneers who rise through several employers and careers. To thrive, these pioneers need survival tools. They need to own their own capital reserves, their own retraining programs, their own pensions and their own health insurance.

Pioneers? I thought we left these behind a century ago.

Of course, Mr. Brooks is not speaking of those pioneers but rather of the new pioneers, the ones impoversed by a government dedicated to the establishment of a caste system that will at last entrench the financial elites firmly at the top of the food chain, leaving a great and permanent distance between them and all below.

My response to Mr. Brooks explains the rest:

This is pure crap, espoused merely to provide a convenient excuse to those who already own for why they do not have to care about those who do not. This is social Darwinism lifted to its highest and most self-serving platform. If we just toss out a few little government-sponsored "savings programs", well, all will be just fine. If folks do not contribute to them, well then, they are simply not personally responsible people. You are thus absolved.

What all well-set hypocrites like you refuse to acknowledge is the fact that as one's income drops, one cannot simply forego this or that extravagance or cut down on the price one pays for a piece of meat for the family table. At some point, one loses healthcare entirely, at another, one loses their transportation, at a third, one cuts back on food, and at a fourth, one loses their residence. And we are way before one gets to minimum wage.

Oh! But if they had only contributed to these magical accounts. Contributed what? What they never had to contribute to begin with?

The fact of the matter is that blowhards like you, all set in your swanky accomodations, are engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy, and that is the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.

In the meantime, when the administration speaks of "The Ownership Society", understand what they mean. They own. You don't. You are simply a "pioneer".
posted by Mischa Peyton at 5:44 PM
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The People vs. Saddam Hussein
No doubt it was bad news for you if you were around Saddam Hussein and he didn't like you. It tended to make for a very shortened life. Saddam was after all "a despicable tyrant", and so we'll just try him and then do whatever and be done with it. Good plan, but there is one sticking point; that bit about a "fair trial".

Now as I recall, in a fair trial the defendant gets to call witnesses and present evidence in his favor. And that's the problem; what if Saddam does just this? A trio of articles examines what evidence Saddam might offer:

  1. Ted Rall writes a somewhat tongue-in-cheek "Selected Highlights From a Future Transcript" of Saddam's trial:

    • CLAIM: During the 10-year Iran-Iraq War, Saddam committed many war crimes, causing perhaps many hundreds of thousands of deaths and possibly millions.
      COUNTER-CLAIM: In fact, then U.S. Secretary of State George Schulz expressed full support for this war, the Ayatollah Kholmeini's overthrow of the U.S.-sponsored Shah of Iran and the subsequent forceful take-over of the U.S. embassy there being of great U.S. concern. Under a directive by then president Ronald Reagan, Donald Rumsfeld was dispatched to meet with Saddam in Baghdad (12/20/83), a meeting which led to the U.S. providing Saddam with military equipment, chemical precursors, insecticides, aluminum tubes, missile components and anthrax, all intended for use in that war. Furthermore, during this time the CIA continuously delivered Saddam battlefield intelligence obtained from Saudi AWACS surveillance planes, and the Saudis during this time also provided direct financial support to Saddam for this war.

    • CLAIM: Saddam "gassed his own people" (5,000 Kurds at the town of Halabja in 1988).
      COUNTER-CLAIM: In fact, Iraq possessed (U.S. provided) mustard gas at that time. Yet, as Stephen Pelletiere, the main CIA political analyst on Iraq during the 1980s, wrote in The New York Times last January, "The condition of the dead Kurds' bodies however, indicated they had been killed with a blood agent--that is, a cyanide-based gas--which Iran was known to use." Iraq was not known to have possess similar "blood agents" at that time nor to have had the technology to develop them. If fact, there are indications that the Kurds were accidentally gassed, merely being downwind from where this gas was released by troops insufficiently trained in their usage.

    • CLAIM: Saddam illegally conducted a war of aggression against Kuwait.
      COUNTER-CLAIM: In fact, the separation of Kuwait from Iraq was imposed by Great Britain after World War I, but never acknowledged by any independent Iraqi government. Furthermore, Kuwait had purchased from National Security Council chief Brent Scowcroft's company something known as "slant drilling" technology, and was actively using it to drill under the established border between Iraq and Kuwait, stealing $14 billion in oil that legally belonged to Iraq. Furthermore, a week before the invasion (7/24/90), U.S. State Department spokeswoman Margaret Tutwiler said, "We do not have any defense treaties with Kuwait, and there are no special defense or security commitments to Kuwait," and on July 31, Assistant Secretary of State John Kelly, testifying before a House foreign affairs subcommittee, confirmed that the U.S. would not send troops to defend Kuwait if it was invaded by Saddam. Similar statements were made by then Defense Secretary Dick Cheney and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq April Glaspie.

  2. Jude Wanniski addresses the question of "The Mass Graves":

    • CLAIM: Saddam is a mass murderer. Rights groups that have been cataloging the abuses of Saddam's regime estimate the toll of missing (and presumed killed) at close to 300,000.
      COUNTER-CLAIM: If fact, only one such "killing field" has actually been located. (3,115 bodies were unearthed at Mahaweel in Southern Iraq recently.) Reports of others are merely anecdotal. They may exist, but have not actually been physically located.

    • CLAIM: But the Mahaweel killing field alone is sufficient to establish Saddam as a mass murderer.
      COUNTER-CLAIM: In fact, the Mahaweel dead have been identified as being killed in the Shiite uprising of 1991 against the Baghdad regime. This uprising was CIA-sponsored and endorsed by George H. W. Bush. Furthermore, it was a civil uprising against the then duly-constituted government Iraq, and as such, that government had a legitimate right to suppress it.

  3. And Pepe Escobar speculates on "How Saddam may still nail Bush":

    • CLAIM: Saddam defied numerous U.N. resolutions over the course of the twelve years between the 1991 and 2003 gulf wars.
      COUNTER-CLAIM: In fact, the almost sole thrust of these resolutions was that Saddam rid Iraq of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. There is simply almost no evidence that he did not, and almost no evidence that he did not do so soon after the earliest resolutions. In fact, the majority of evidence simply indicates that he was not open in his disarmourment.

    • CLAIM: Saddam trained and financed al-Qaeda.
      COUNTER-CLAIM: In fact, this claim is based on pieces of intelligence. (1) The tentative identification of an al-Queda operative from a photograph, an identification that proved to be false. (2) The receipt of medical services in Iraq by an al-Queda operative, services that were rendered however in Kurdish-controlled Iraq.

    • CLAIM: Saddam chose confrontation over compliance before the second Iraq war.
      COUNTER-CLAIM: In fact, Saddam's negotiators were attempting to deliver everything to Washington on a plate during this period: free access to the Federal Bureau of Investigation to look for WMD anywhere in Iraq; full support for the American-penned road map in the Middle East; and the right for American companies to exploit Iraq's oil. U.S. Defense Policy Board member Richard Perle confirmed these attempted negotiations.
This of course is not any sort of endorsement of Saddam. But Saddam will of course attempt to offer a substantial defense, and this is an estimate of what that defense might look like during a full and open "fair trial".
posted by Mischa Peyton at 12:48 PM
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Friday, December 19, 2003. *

Paris for Dean VP?

posted by Dr. Menlo at 11:43 PM
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Sept. 11 panel chief "clarifies" remarks
Commission Chairman Thomas Kean to CBS News on Tuesday:
"There are people that, if I was doing the job,
would certainly not be in the position they were in at that
time because they failed. They simply failed."


Asked whether we should at least know if people sitting in the
decision-making spots on that critical day are still in those
positions, Kean said, "Yes, the answer is yes. And we will."

Commission Chairman Thomas Kean to ABC's "Nightline" on Thursday:
"We have no evidence that anybody high in the Clinton
administration or the Bush administration did anything wrong."
Huh? That doesn't sound like a "clarification" to me. It sounds like a retraction.

And the next sound you will be hearing is the sound of "Taps" being played for the 9/11 Commission.

posted by Mischa Peyton at 8:46 AM
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Sorry, it's MY oil !Chris Floyd:
One of the constant refrains we hear from the malcontents carping about George W. Bush's triumphant crusade in Iraq is the charge -- the canard -- that the president and his crack team of advisers "had no plan" for the post-war period, that they've stumbled from crisis to crisis, changing policies without rhyme or reason, or have even "plunged off a cliff," as erstwhile war-hawk Newt Gingrich declared last week.

But to anyone not blinded by partisan ideology or irrational Bush-hatred, the evidence clearly shows that Team Bush has always had a very specific plan for remaking Iraq -- and is following it faithfully to this very day.


Now, is this an evil plan, conceived in ignorance and arrogance, predicated on the war crime of military aggression, an act of terrorism on a scale than bin Laden could only dream of? You bet. But let's be fair: it is a plan. You can't say that Bush hasn't got one.

So what's the plan? Ever heard of Erinys Iraq? Neither had I.
posted by Mischa Peyton at 5:42 AM
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Thursday, December 18, 2003. *
September 11 hijacker Mohammed Atta visited Baghdad in the summer of 2001 is probably a fabrication that is contradicted by U.S. law-enforcement records showing Atta was staying at cheap motels and apartments in the United States when the trip presumably would have taken place, according to U.S. law enforcement officials and FBI documents.

The new document, supposedly written by the chief of the Iraqi intelligence service, was trumpeted by the Sunday Telegraph of London earlier this week in a front-page story that broke hours before the dramatic capture of Saddam Hussein. TERRORIST BEHIND SEPTEMBER 11 STRIKE WAS TRAINED BY SADDAM, ran the headline on the story written by Con Coughlin, a Telegraph correspondent and the author of the book 'Saddam: The Secret Life.' "
posted by Anonymous at 10:05 PM
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When speaking of the Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory one doesn't get a sense of reality that maps offer, a pictoral representation makes the abstract concrete.
The maps in the hyperlinks show that the settlements or colonies that are in contention riddle the West Bank and Gaza, along with Israeli military bases. Look to see the few slated to be removed; as well as the many that will remain fixed in place.
Look at a map of the manned checkpoints, the roadblocks and the gates inside the West Bank. See the proposed four section "Palestinian state" that Sharon offers.

It seems clearly impossible that a just peace can be reached in this manner. Each of the many settlements (there are said to be at least 103) in Palestinian territory requires access roads and property. On confiscated land. They also require military presence. Israel spends 560 million dollars a year on subsidies, infrastructure and education in these illegal outposts. That is exclusive of military presence.

Israel, whose population is 0.1% of the total world population, gets roughly one-third of all US foreign aid. Annually this amounts to more than $3 billion in US taxpayer dollars going to Israel. $2.04 billion of that is military aid.

Your tax dollars support Israeli militarism in the occupied territories, find out more.
posted by m at 9:11 PM
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A Big Victory
The federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that detainees being held by the US military at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba should have access to lawyers and the US court system:
The court said their detention was contrary to US ideals.

It did not accept that the US Government had "unchecked authority".

The ruling relates to the case of a Libyan national captured in Afghanistan and currently being held at Guantanamo.

About 660 people are currently being held as "enemy combatants" at the base.

"Even in times of national emergency... it is the obligation of the judicial branch to ensure the preservation of our constitutional values and to prevent the executive branch from running roughshod over the rights of citizens and aliens alike," said the ruling by the appeals court.

It added it could not accept the position that anyone under the jurisdiction and control of the US could be held without "recourse of any kind to any judicial forum, or even access to counsel, regardless of the length or manner of their confinement".

The decision comes shortly after another US federal appeals court ruled that US authorities did not have the power to detain an American citizen seized on US soil as an "enemy combatant".

That ruling, by the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals, related to the case of so-called "dirty bomb" suspect Jose Padilla.

This is of course only an appeals court decision, and SS Chief Ashcroft will no doubt move it up the food chain to the more administration-docile Supreme Court.
posted by Mischa Peyton at 1:55 PM
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U.S. troops blasted down the gates of homes, raising cries of women and children inside, and smashed in doors of workshops and junkyards in a massive raid Wednesday to hunt for pro-Saddam Hussein militants and stamp out the increasingly bold anti-U.S. resistance.

The raid, launched before dawn and lasting until mid-morning, targeted the city of Samarra, north of Baghdad, where U.S. officials say some 1,500 fighters operate - making it one of the persistent hotspots in the so-called "Sunni Triangle."


In the Samarra raid by some 2,500 troops, dubbed Operation Ivy Blizzard, the 4th Infantry Division and Iraqi forces detained at least a dozen suspected guerrillas - though others got away, apparently tipped off about the raid.


"Samarra has been a little bit of a thorn in our side," said Col. Nate Sassaman. "It hasn't come along as quickly as other cities in the rebuilding of Iraq. This operation is designed to bring them up to speed."

"No one knows the town better than we do, we're gonna clean this place. They've made a mistake to attack U.S. forces. We will dominate Samarra," he said.


A core of about 1,500 fighters is thought to be in Samarra, said Sassaman's deputy, Capt. Matthew Cunningham. In Wednesday's sweep, soldiers used satellite global positioning devices to locate buildings pre-marked as targets.

As Apache helicopters flew overhead, troops downtown fanned out in squads of 14 to storm several walled residential compounds, using plastic explosives to break in. In one compound, the blast at the gate shattered windows in the house itself, and a one-year-old baby was cut by glass. U.S. medics treated the injury while other soldiers handcuffed four men, who were later released.

The loud blasts mixed with the sound of women and children screaming inside the houses. At one point, there was a short exchange of gunfire, but it was not immediately clear what happened.

At another home, an explosion ignited a small fire.

Elsewhere, a suspect was punched in the head and a soldier said: "You're dead. You're dead."
posted by Anonymous at 9:34 AM
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“We all realize that there are bad people out there and that we have to do something about the real problem of terrorism. But, we don’t want to do that on the backs of other innocent people’s mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers and children around the world,” strongly states David Potorti, a co-founder of the anti-war group 9/11 Families For Peaceful Tomorrows.

"Peaceful Tomorrows is insisting Bush have limited “executive privilege” and forcing him to release the next report after 30 days. He refers to leaks to the media that ‘outed’ a CIA officer married to diplomat Joe Wilson, who publicly challenged assertions that Iraq bought nuclear material from Niger. Potorti scoffed at Bush denials that Administration officials were not responsible: “It’s not a Republican or Democrat thing—this is an open government thing! It’s about what we’re willing to accept as citizens in a democracy. We spent $100 million on Whitewater [Clinton’s pre-presidential financial scandal]. Only $3 million has been spent on investigating September 11! It’s not about ‘getting Bush’—I’m no fan of Bill Clinton either! In a democracy it’s always about us—and what we’re willing to let people get away with.”

“Why no response to the attacks for two hours? Terrorists ruled the skies for two hours and no jets were scrambled from nearby bases. Not a slow response. Not a poor response. No response. No jets were scrambled until all the attacks were over,”
posted by A.Q. at 9:33 AM
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Krugman’s well-documented piece on black box voting irregularities and his assertion that "the credibility of U.S. democracy may be at stake" should have incited concern from patriots everywhere, but instead, invoked a favorite propagandist ploy by inspiring "conspiracy theory" ridicule.

"Yawn," one well-trained citizen responded. "The left just will not let this rest. When Bush wins this next election (and he will because the Dems are out of touch and being cry-babies) then what will the Dems say then? Alien conspiracy maybe?"

Does reading this quip make you feel woozy? Good! This is your brain on propaganda. And the fact that it makes you ill is a very healthy sign.
posted by Mike at 12:24 AM
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Wednesday, December 17, 2003. *
Some new punkers talk about Bush--quite a catchy tune, actually. I would love to sing this out loud at a public place somewhere. Scream it, while bobbing up and down. I can see whole crowds marching down the streets singing this one. These kids are all right.
posted by Dr. Menlo at 10:54 PM
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By yours truly, the final paragraph:
And as for the timing of that Wolfowitz memo? Was it deliberate? Was he trying to sabotage Baker's mission? It really doesn't matter. All that matters is whether or not Baker thinks it was. If he does, the next sound you'll be hearing is the door hitting Wolfowitz in the ass.
posted by Mischa Peyton at 9:56 PM
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Mr Bush reminds us honesty is not a Republican value, and assuredly not a facet of his personal philosopy of statecraft:
Presidential Dissembling on 9/11 Warnings
The problem for the president and the administration is that the White House has previously admitted that the president had personally received such specific warnings. As ABC News reported in May of 2002, "White House officials acknowledge that U.S. intelligence officials informed President Bush weeks before the September 11th attacks that Osama bin Laden's terrorist network might try to hijack American planes." As Condoleezza Rice said at a hastily called press conference to spin these revelations, the President specifically received an "analytic report" on August 6th, 2001 at his Crawford mansion that "talked about Osama bin Laden's methods of operation" and "mentioned hijacking." According to Reuters, that report was congruent with "intelligence since 1998 that said followers of bin Laden were planning to strike U.S. targets, hijack U.S. planes.".

In an interview with ABC tv Mr Bush cavalierly deals with Saddam Husseins lack of WMD's and the Bush Administrations rush to war.
Bush: Iraq intelligence was sound

US President dismisses any difference between whether Saddam had WMDs or planned to acquire them

WASHINGTON - US President George W. Bush on Tuesday dismissed any distinction between whether former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein actually had weapons of mass destruction or planned to acquire them.
"So what's the difference?" he asked

The difference? As with the 9/11 warnings you lied to America and the world, Mr Bush.
Read the full articles...
posted by m at 8:13 PM
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For the first time, the chairman of the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks is saying publicly that 9/11 could have and should have been prevented, reports CBS News Correspondent Randall Pinkston.

"This is a very, very important part of history and we've got to tell it right," said Thomas Kean.

"As you read the report, you're going to have a pretty clear idea what wasn't done and what should have been done," he said. "This was not something that had to happen."

Appointed by the Bush administration, Kean, a former Republican governor of New Jersey, is now pointing fingers inside the administration and laying blame.

"There are people that, if I was doing the job, would certainly not be in the position they were in at that time because they failed. They simply failed," Kean said. [more]
posted by Bill at 6:15 PM
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U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said Monday the Bush administration last year told him and other senators that Iraq not only had weapons of mass destruction, but they had the means to deliver them to East Coast cities.

Nelson, D-Tallahassee, said about 75 senators got that news during a classified briefing before last October's congressional vote authorizing the use of force to remove Saddam Hussein from power. Nelson voted in favor of using military force.
posted by m at 2:49 PM
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Legislative Lies
The Center for American Progress offers a handy fact sheet with supportive links that blows the corporate cover of the present administration, read "2003: A Year of Distortion for the American People".
Take a look at White House claims about GOP legislation concerning healthcare, the economy, the environment, education, Iraq, Afghanistan and Homeland Security. The claims make great soundbites, the facts show an immense disregard for the truth.

Without a collaborative and cowed media such effrontery would not even have been attempted against the American people, much less would it have been done with so much success.

With hardly a mainstream media mention to bring the realities of current legislation into public discourse we see the common good of the people trampled in a rush for corporate cash.

Help get the truth out.
posted by m at 2:20 PM
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With heartfelt thanks to mah frien' Miz LeeVanna Rama Dama Doovay, I dedicate the sediments expressed by this crissmess website to Joe Lieberman, Dick Gephardt, John Kerry, and - especially - John Edwards and Wes Clark. I hope this plays in your dreams for eternity.

Be at peace.
posted by total at 9:36 AM
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Tuesday, December 16, 2003. *
Despite what you might think, Rovey isn't always sunshine and puppydogs. Sometimes, he gets downright MIFFED with me, but what he doesn't know is that sometimes I'm poking his crankybone on purpose. See, if I know that some sensitive issue is dangling in front of him, I'll agitate and tease and rub at it until he explodes all over me.

This photo above was snapped last week when we were in Vegas, and Rovey was all a-flutter because he'd nabbed up tickets to see Sha Na Na that night. [more]
posted by Dr. Menlo at 11:33 PM
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A new Democratic group that is running advertisements against Howard Dean and has not yet disclosed its sources of financing has introduced by far the toughest commercial of the primary election season.

Though the advertisement, which began running on Friday in South Carolina and New Hampshire, is paid for by Democrats, it offers a taste of a likely Republican strategy against Dr. Dean should he win the presidential nomination.

The spot opens with a Time magazine cover featuring Osama bin Laden as synthesizer music seemingly out of a post-apocalyptic science fiction movie is heard.

As the camera focuses on Mr. bin Laden's eyes. the following words flash on the screen: "Dangerous World," "Destroy Us," "Dangers Ahead" and "No Experience."

"Americans want a president who can face the dangers ahead," an announcer intones. "But Howard Dean has no military or foreign policy experience. And Howard Dean just cannot compete with George Bush on foreign policy. It's time for Democrats to think about that — and think about it now." [more]
I can hear Karl Rove laughing from here.
posted by Bill at 10:40 PM
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An Administration Out of Control
I have few details on this, but my own Palm Beach Post has just been denied entry into a news conference on Wednesday by Jeb Bush.

The Palm Beach Post services perhaps one million readers in and around Palm Beach County, and is the only major daily that does so.

Why the Palm Beach Post has been excluded from this press conference is unknown, but the Post has recently been running a series that has been highly critical of a particular policy of Jeb's administration.

I have been seeking an alliance with the Post on another article. Perhaps this is the time.

posted by Mischa Peyton at 8:51 PM
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Is it acceptable to sacrifice thousands of innocent lives in Afghanistan and Iraq for a great and noble cause – cracking down on terrorists and eradicating terrorism? If this is the logic behind the US’s wars, isn’t this also the same logic behind “terrorist” attacks? The terrorists’ goal is not killing civilians per se; they argue that they sacrifice lives in order to achieve ends that they consider to be noble. For them, the ends justify the means. Similarly, US officials argue that they have a righteous mission to accomplish in Afghanistan and Iraq, which is why they are forced to accept the loss of some civilian lives in their quest of their goals. In that sense, what is the difference between terrorists and US forces? [more]
posted by Bill at 8:44 PM
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US forces said they shot dead at least 20 Iraqis in rebellious towns while a bomb in Tikrit wounded three US soldiers on Tuesday as violence simmered over Saddam Hussein’s capture.

Eleven attackers died when an ambush went wrong in Samarra, 125 kilometres from Baghdad, a US military statement said. A patrol "repelled a complex ambush" on Monday afternoon but emerged unscathed despite being "inundated" with fire, including automatic weapons, a home-made bomb, rocket-propelled grenades and mortar fire, the military said.
posted by A.Q. at 8:00 PM
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posted by Dr. Menlo at 7:26 PM
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Few Americans have heard of Katharine Gun, a former British intelligence employee facing charges that she violated the Official Secrets Act. So far, the American press has ignored her. But the case raises profound questions about democracy and the public's right to know on both sides of the Atlantic.

Ms. Gun's legal peril began in Britain on March 2, when the Observer newspaper exposed a highly secret memorandum by a top U.S. National Security Agency official. Dated Jan. 31, the memo outlined surveillance of a half-dozen delegations with swing votes on the U.N. Security Council, noting a focus on "the whole gamut of information that could give U.S. policy-makers an edge in obtaining results favorable to U.S. goals" - support for war on Iraq.

[ . . . ]

"This leak," Daniel Ellsberg replied, "is more timely and potentially more important than the Pentagon Papers." The exposure of the memo, he said, had the potential to block the invasion of Iraq before it began: "Truth-telling like this can stop a war." [more]
posted by Dr. Menlo at 7:11 PM
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posted by A.Q. at 2:56 PM
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Much like the eye opening post below I'd like to offer you some tools for discernment in the light of recent headlines. Since the post is really lengthy I'd ask you to go here to read more.
Especially since a lot of the same players are involved now as when Reagan and the elected President Bush dealt with Saddam we need to get the truth out.
posted by m at 12:01 AM
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Monday, December 15, 2003. *
Shaking Hands With Saddam Hussein

Here's a friendly reminder of where the Reagan administration stood with regard to Saddam. In spite of all Dubya's post-9/11 rhetoric about Saddam being an "evil-doer" and a part of the "axis of evil," it is quite apparent that once upon a time many of the figures in his administration were more than happy to cozy up to Saddam during the Reagan years (e.g., as the Rumsfield/Saddam handshake photo suggests). True, the Reagan administration did pay lip service to the notion that Baghdad's use of chemical weapons was naughty, but actions speak louder than words. The truth of the matter is that Saddam's regime served a purpose: as a secular barricade against Iran and its brand of Islamic fundamentalist (or faith-based) governing, and as a source of cheap oil. Hence, any statements of protest to Saddam's chosen warfare strategies were done with a wink and a nod. Truth is, no one in the administration really cared as long as Saddam was seen as cooperating with them.

What did we send to Iraq during the 1980s? As Michael Moore notes:

* Bacillus Anthracis, cause of anthrax.
* Clostridium Botulinum, a source of botulinum toxin.
* Histoplasma Capsulatam, cause of a disease attacking lungs, brain, spinal cord, and heart.
* Brucella Melitensis, a bacteria that can damage major organs.
* Clostridium Perfringens, a highly toxic bacteria causing systemic illness.
* Clostridium tetani, a highly toxigenic substance.

Who sent these shipments of biological agents to Saddam? None other than American Type Culture Collection.

For more details check this 1994 report from the US Senate.

Who did business with Iraq? Check out this article Made in the USA, Part III: The Dishonor Roll America's corporate merchants of death in Iraq for a detailed rundown. It's an eye-opener.
posted by Don Durito at 3:20 PM
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The news broke on Sunday, and by Monday, little eight-year-old Glenn Reynolds was in a state. He couldn’t wait for recess. When it finally came, he ran up to the sandbox where two classmates were already playing.

“We captured Saddam! We captured Saddam!" Glenn shouted. "Nya, nya, nya, naya!” A few kids playing kickball nearby turned their heads toward the commotion.

Joe continued scooping sand into a bucket. “Oh jeez. Really? And you think that’s going to change anything?”

Glenn started pacing and gesturing erratically. “Hahaha. Score one for me! Woos.”

Joe leaned toward Jack, who was navigating a dump truck over a bumpy sand road. “Is he still playing this game?”

“God yes. It never ends. It’s his favorite game in the whole world – the U.S. versus Islamic fundamentalism.”

“No, I think it’s the true patriots versus the insidious liberals.”

“It’s both, really,” Jack replied, raising the back end of the dump truck.

“Aha! You're dismayed at this victory in the war. Therefore you are objectively anti-American.”

Jack shot Joe a look. “See?”

posted by Bruce at 1:15 PM
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Voting Security Concerns Rise to New Level
From Bev Harris, author of Black Box Voting:
16 DEC 2003, Seattle WA - This is of national interest. Bev Harris, author of "Black Box Voting" and Andy Stephenson, a democratic candidate for Washington secretary of state, have uncovered new holes in the electoral system in King County and in as many as 14 additional states.

These security breaches affect both the optical scan systems (fill-in-the-dot or draw-the-line) and touch screen voting systems, and may also indicate significant security problems with absentee voting procedures.

At the Tuesday press conference, Harris and Stephenson will distribute a packet of documents to support their findings. Whereas electronic voting concerns have focused on complex issues like cryptographic security and computer source code, the new security flaws uncovered by Harris and Stephenson are more serious and also easier to explain. Because the subject matter is sensitive, reporters will want copies of the original documents to substantiate the findings, and these will be released at the news conference.

This information affects four counties in Washington State and locations in Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Maryland and Virginia.

"What we have are two intertwined security breaches which deserve immediate attention from the U.S. Congress," says Stephenson. "We need to address procedural safeguards as soon as possible to put a halt to these problems and prevent them from ever happening again."

A 20-page dossier will provide the specific U.S. locations affected, as well as the details on multiple security breaches which may have compromised the integrity of at least two dozen elections.

I haven't yet got Bev's dossier, but am familiar with at least some of what it will certainly include. All of the "official" studies to date on e-vote security focus almost entirely on the e-vote terminals (DREs) themselves. Bev will be covering the machines that tally the results from these (most certainly Diebold's), and if you are worried about the DREs, you haven't seen the tally machines yet. You could steal a whole state at once from these.

The Press Conference itself: 2 p.m. Tue. December 16 - Seattle Labor Temple - 2800 First Ave. - Seattle. When I get a link to Bev's dossier, I'll add it here.

posted by Mischa Peyton at 11:49 AM
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Can we come home now?
Following up on my earlier point (Oh, my God!), I (and most of you) did not get to set the bar on any of this Iraq business. The wingnuts did. Neither I nor you were allowed to even enter the debate (if there ever was one). First, it was WMDs. Then that morphed into "getting Saddam". We did not set those bars; they did! Well, the WMDs weren't there, and we "got Saddam". It's now time to come home.

Democracy? Fine, give them one day of it. (Let's try next Tuesday.) That's all you can "give" anyone. The Iraqi's get to vote on whatever kind of government they want. If they vote for a democracy, fine. They vote against one? Well, that's democracy. A democratic society is fully free to vote to end its own democracy if it desires.

Look. The capture of Saddam is merely a declaration of "open season" in Iraq, and after this, there is only one reason for us to stay there: to divide up the loot. Many Iraqi's think this is why we are there already, more will follow, and this administration has proven itself far to clumsy to be able to not make it appear that way.

Mission accomplished. Time to come home.

posted by Mischa Peyton at 11:15 AM
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From Greg Palast:
Former Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein was taken into custody yesterday at approximately 8:30pm Baghdad time. Various television executives, White House spin doctors and propaganda experts at the Pentagon are at this time wrestling with the question of whether to claim PFC Jessica Lynch seized the ex-potentate or that Saddam surrendered after close hand-to-hand combat with current Iraqi strongman Paul Bremer III.

Ex-President Hussein himself told US military interrogators that he had surfaced after hearing of the appointment of his long-time associate James Baker III to settle Iraq's debts. "Hey, my homeboy Jim owes me big time," Mr. Hussein stated. He asserted that Baker and the prior Bush regime, "owe me my back pay. After all I did for these guys you'd think they'd have the decency to pay up."

Keep reading.

posted by Mischa Peyton at 9:51 AM
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Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has announced that he is turning the state's 791-bed Lawtey Correctional Institution into the nation's first (fundamentalist Christian) faith-based prison, complete with job training, parenting classes, and lots of hallelujahs. Jails for Jesus! Hallelujah! Forget (just for a moment) the Constitutional issues. Studies indicate that these faith-based efforts not only do not provided better results for less money (as their advocates claim), but may actually be producing worse results.
posted by Mischa Peyton at 6:28 AM
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Sunday, December 14, 2003. *
posted by Norm at 10:26 PM
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Oh, my God!
Tim Russett is such a whore!

OK, I'll comment on it. Saddam's capture is very good news. There simply was no way that anyone could reasonably consider leaving Iraq with Saddam still out there. At least now the topic of really leaving can be put on the table.

But what is this crap with Russett bringing Lieberman on his program to comment on Saddam's capture? What in the hell is NBC's interest in promoting Leiberman's taking a pot shot at Dean, and why did Russett sell out to it? Lieberman should have had to pay for that obvious campaign commercial.

And then there's Lieberman's Saddam should be tried in someplace with the death penalty! Iraq has the death penalty, and though I personally oppose it, Iraq gets the first shot! Nobody needs Joe Lieberman telling anyone how Saddam should be tried.

So Joe, you got your free 15 minutes of fame. Hope you enjoyed it. Remember that "Anybody but Bush" mantra? Add your name to it!

posted by Mischa Peyton at 6:21 PM
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Saddam Hussein has been captured in a raid on an farmhouse in Adwar, 10 miles from Tikrit. Beneath the farmhouse he was found in a well camouflaged, vented "spider hole" with 750,000 dollars and a couple AK-47 rifles and a pistol. He was taken without a fight.
Iraqi exile Ahmed Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress says Hussein will be tried before the Iraqi people.
Asked on BBC radio if Saddam, arrested in his home town Tikrit early on Sunday, would be handed over to the Iraqi people, he said (Chalabi): "Yes. It won't be very long before a court case is prepared."

The US is not sure how the case will be disposed.
US Lt Gen Richardo Sanchez said at a news conference today that the US-led coalition was still deciding what to do with Saddam.

“At this point, that has not been determined, we continue to process Saddam at this point in time and those issues will be resolved in the near future,” Sanchez said.

This is what the NY Times Pentagon correspondant has to say about how it was planned, pre-capture, for the former Iraqi dictator to be tried.

Iraqi's are celebrating his capture.
posted by m at 7:25 AM
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Saturday, December 13, 2003. *
The same internet statistics that predicted within less than one percentage point the percentage Howard Dean won the the internet primary by shows Dennis Kucinich ahead of all the candidates except Howard Dean, who holds a strong lead on Kucinich as well. And in the California Democratic Council (CDC) Vote, Howard Dean took a commanding first place with 56.11 percent of the vote with Dennis Kucinich placing second with 17.19 percent and Wesley Clark with 14.48 percent.

Will the "mainstream media" give him the coverage he merits? After he pointed out Ted Koppel's handling of the Durham NH "debate", ABC coincidently is not having their producer travel with the Kucinich campaign. Carol Moseley Braun and Al Sharpton are also effected.
Here are Dennis and Ted:
KUCINICH: We start talking about endorsements, now we're talking about polls, and then we're talking about money. Well, you know, when you do that, you don't have to talk about what's important to the American people.
Ted, I'm the only one up here that actually...
... I'm the only up here on the stage that actually voted against the PATRIOT Act and voted against the war -- the only one on this stage.
I'm also...
... I'm also one of the few candidates up here who's talking about taking our health-care system from this for-profit system to a not-for-profit, single-payer universal health care for all.
I'm also the only one who has talked about getting out of NAFTA and the WTO and going back to bilateral trade...
... conditioned on workers' rights, human rights and the environment.
KOPPEL: Congressman?
KUCINICH: ... I may be inconvenient for some of those in the media, but, you know, I'm sorry about that.

Read the full transcript of the Durham debate. Set your pre-judgements aside.
What do you think?
Kucinich is now, with a usual estimate of two percent support in most polls, where Clinton was in the months before the Start of the 1991 Primaries.
posted by m at 8:57 PM
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At age 22 Strom Thurmond fathered a bi-racial child with his families 16 year old maid . He seems to have treated her pretty decently overall, even providing financial support throughout his publicly unacknowledged daughters life.
One complex segregationist.
posted by m at 8:06 PM
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Thousands of women have been sexually assaulted in the United States military. Thousands more have been abused by their military husbands or boyfriends. And then they are victimized again.

This time, the women are betrayed by the military itself.

Explore this comprehensive multimedia investigation by Amy Herdy and Miles Moffeit of the Denver Post.
posted by m at 6:59 PM
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Friday, December 12, 2003. *
"FORCED out of Iraq by suicide bombers, the United Nations might have to abandon its two-year effort to stabilise Afghanistan because of rising violence blamed on the Taleban, its top official in the country has warned.

Lakhdar Brahimi said his team could not continue its work in the war-ravaged nation unless security improves. He called for more foreign troops to halt attacks that have killed at least 11 aid workers across the south and east since March.

'Countries that are committed to supporting Afghanistan cannot kid themselves and cannot go on expecting us to work in unacceptable security conditions,' Mr Brahimi said.

'They seem to think that our presence is important here. Well, if they do, they have got to make sure that the conditions for us to be here are there,' he said. 'If not, we will go away.' "
posted by Anonymous at 8:40 PM
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