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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Weekend Wingnut Roundup (v. 2.0)


Yes, one's a direct quote - figure it out in the comments. No peeking.

Ace of Spades - Tip O'Neil's famous 'all politics is local' dictum spells victory in Iraq merely because the Dear Leader invoked it.

American Thinker - if we're going to have a serial adulterer as the Republican nominee, why not Newt?

Atlas Shrugs - don't you just hate the fucking Belgians?

Blogs for Bush - look, we found another Democrat stupid enough to believe the surge is working!

Blue Crab Boulevard - ammo prices are way up, but it has nothing to do with the fact that Bush's wars are sucking up all the bullets.

Captain's Quarters - naked people cause far more global warming than the rest of us.

Confederate Yankee - if I beat this dead Beauchamp horse long enough we'll win in Iraq.

GOP Bloggers - look, Mitt Romney bought enough votes to win another meaningless straw poll!

Hot Air - sure the Republican party is the worst thing to happen to women's rights in generations, but I'd like to point out that the Qur'an does similar damage if you focus on the right parts.

Hugh Hewitt - when the White House lies to you in September about the 'progress' in Iraq, remember that you will be hearing a lie carefully tailored to your demographic.

Instapundit - when the Dem-controlled Congress passes legislation they don't understand and gives Bush more powers I'll complain about it, but when Republicans do that it's fine.

Little Green Footballs - the extreme viciousness of the left is clearly demonstrated by their admission that they're nowhere near as vicious as us wingnuts.

Macsmind - you think al Qaeda is a Saudi Arabian phenomenon, but in fact the group was founded in Bosnia by one Bill Clinton.

Michelle Malkin - Brussels is a caliphate, in fact there's a violent Muslim under every fucking rock in Belgium.

NRO (Jonah Goldberg) - although I'm not sure of the Muslim view of Jesus, I'm certainly willing to post a shitload of emails claiming Muslims deny he's the Christ.

NRO (Michael Ledeen) - if I link to enough wingnuts who claim we're at war with Iran, Bush will go to war with Iran.

NRO (Rich Lowry) - Hillary was impressive and polished as always; Obama seemed strong too; everyone else faded into the background. But I can't say who won until the focus-group results are in!
Patterico's Pontifications - my rosy view of the Iraq war comes, in part, from shit I read in Popular Mechanics.

Riehl World View - I'm stupid enough to believe that Bush wouldn't have sold the Saudi's a bunch of weapons unless he needed to placate them because the Sunnis are getting screwed in Iraq ... which they are.

Another week, another crop of wingnuts.



Thursday, August 23, 2007


Naomi Seligman Steiner
July 27, 2007

Washington, DC – Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) released the most comprehensive matrix available to date detailing all offers of assistance from around the world in the wake of the Hurricane Katrina disaster.

CREW’s matrix is based on 25,000 Department of State (DOS) documents it received as a result of a lawsuit filed under the Freedom of Information Act in December 2005 for records relating to the federal government’s handling and acceptance of international offers of aid after Hurricane Katrina.

The matrix includes all international offers, whether they were rejected or accepted and the reasons why, if available. The documents reveal a number of disturbing responses to offers from 145 countries and 12 international organizations from around the world.

For example, an email from Jeffrey Goldstein, a U.S. Embassy official in Estonia, to several DOS officials, states:

It is getting downright embarrassing here not to have a response to the Estonians on flood relief. And now I see from the staff meeting notes that the task force may disband soon. We know that what the Estonians can offer is small potatoes and everyone at FEMA is swamped, but at this point even “thanks but no thanks” is better than deafening silence.

Another email responding to an offer from Argentina to DOS officials reads “All, The (sic) word here is that doctors of any kind are in the 'forget about it' category. Human assistance of any kind is not on our priorities list....It’s all about goods, not people, at this point.”

Another email describes how the transport of Israeli relief supplies loaded on a C-130 aircraft was delayed for over 48 hours on the tarmac while Israeli officials waited for clearance from the U.S. government. The unidentified author states: “I’ve been on the phone with the [Israeli] attache every couple of hours since noon . . . they’re patient, but not amused by our delay, obviously.” The documents do not reveal if or how the issue was resolved.

Melanie Sloan, CREW’s executive director said today, A review of the State Department documents reveals distressing ineptitude. Countries were trying to donate desperately needed goods and services, but as a result of bureaucratic bungling and indifference, those most in need of these generous offers of aid never received it.”

Hurricane Katrina International Offer Matrix

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a non-profit legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials accountable for their actions.

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Militarization and Annexation of North America

[SPP Protest Info Below]

by Stephen Lendman
Mostly Water
July 20, 2007

Besides the Bush administration's imperial aims and permanent war on the world, add the one at home below the radar. Its weapons include the WTO, NAFTA, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), FBI, CIA, NSA, NORTHCOM, militarized state and local police, National Guard forces, paramilitary mercenaries like Blackwater USA, and all other repressive instruments of state power and control. They target the people of three nations slowly becoming one headquartered in Washington.

That's the apparent aim of those in power here wanting one continent, "indivisible" minus old-fashioned ideas like "liberty and justice for all" we used to believe in when, as kids, we recited our "Pledge of Allegiance." They now have a whole new meaning. They're just words drummed into young minds hoping they'll still believe them when they're old enough to know better.

There may be a greater scheme for the planet ahead, but this article only focuses on what we know about and how it's unfolding so far. It has a name, in fact, several, but they all aim for the same thing - one nation, indivisible, where three sovereign ones once stood, headquartered in Washington.

The Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) or "Deep Integration" North American Union

SPP was formerly launched at a March 23, 2005 meeting in Waco, Texas attended by George Bush, Mexico's President Vincente Fox and [former Liberal] Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin. It's a tri-national agreement hatched below the radar in Washington containing the recommendations of the Independent Task Force of North America.

That's a group organized by the powerful US Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE), and Mexican Council on Foreign Relations. It advocates greater US, Canadian and Mexican economic, political, social, and security integration with secretive working groups formed to devise non-debatable agreements that, when completed, will be binding beyond the power of legislatures to change. It's also taking shape without public knowledge or consideration.

From what's already known, SPP unmasked isn't pretty. It's a corporate-led coup d'etat against the sovereignty of three nations enforced by a common hard line security strategy already in play separately in each country. It's a scheme to create a borderless North American Union under US control without barriers to trade and capital flows for corporate giants, mainly US ones.

It's also to insure America gets free and unlimited access to Canadian and Mexican resources, mainly oil, and in the case of Canada water as well. It's to assure US energy security as a top priority while denying Canada and Mexico preferential access to their own resources henceforth earmarked for US markets.

It's also to create a fortress-North American security zone encompassing the whole continent under US control in the name of "national (and continental) security" with US borders effectively extended to the far reaches of the continent. The scheme, in short, is NAFTA on steroids combined with Pox Americana homeland security enforcement.

It's the worst of all possible worlds headed for an unmasked police state, and it's the Bush administration's notion of "deep integration" or the "Big Idea" meaning we're boss, what we say goes, no outliers will be tolerated, public interest is off the table, and the people of three nations be damned.

It's also the next step in what GHW Bush had in mind when he delivered his "Toward a New World Order" speech to a joint session of Congress on another September 11 in 1990. At the onset of the "crisis in the Persian Gulf," he said "We stand today at a unique and extraordinary moment (offering) a rare opportunity to move toward....a new world order" free from "the threat of terror....and more secure...." He spoke of a "new world....struggling to be born....quite different from the one we've known." He masked his intentions in language of peace and the pursuit of justice while preparing for war on Iraq and the region that's gone on for over 16 years with no end in sight.

A new Bush administration is bringing that "New World Order" to the North American continent. Unless it can be stopped, the streets of Boston, Baltimore and Buffalo may one day look like occupied Baghdad or Bogota when drug barons clash and Colombia's US-financed military and paramilitaries step in.

SPP Unmasked

Establishing hard line security initiatives is key to making SPP's "deep integration" trade agenda work. It's being planned at a time of Washington's cooked up "war on terrorism" scheme unleashing imperial dreams not possible without the public traumatized enough to go along.

Intended is a ramped up militarized police state of enhanced border and homeland security. It's based on the phony notion that doing business and protecting the national interest and public welfare require tough measures in place to secure them at a time of threatening global terrorism.

As outlandish as it sounds, the scheme is moving ahead toward implementation. It threatens Canadian, Mexican and US national sovereignty and priorities, and their people and ours are none the wiser about it. NAFTA is a glimpse of what's ahead. It's record in 12.5 years has been disastrous with huge numbers of job losses and growing insecurity in three countries.

SPP guarantees more of the same on steroids with small businesses hurt as well. They continue being trampled by corporate giants they're no match for. Many go under or are bought out if they survive. They and working people aren't part of the SPP process, and their concerns aren't being addressed and are guaranteed to worsen as this initiative advances.

Its doing it at secret meetings like the one from September 12 - 14, 2006 in Banff, Alberta, Canada. It was co-chaired by three former high officials of the participating nations including a leading US cold warrior as Reagan Secretary of State, George Shultz. He has all the credentials SPP needs as a former Bechtel president and current board member also holding memberships at the hard right Hoover Institution and American Enterprise Institute, the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, and the Committee on the Present Danger military lobbying group.

They were part of a high-powered group of present and former government officials, top military-industrial complex representatives, Big Oil and other corporate executives, leading policy analysts, high-ranking military brass and a single Wall Street Journal self-styled Latin American expert editorialist known never to let facts conflict with the state and corporate interests she represents. She's a frequent target of this writer, and by now likely knows it - Mary Anastasia O'Grady.

Except for O'Grady, no journalists attended, and no press releases followed the meeting with its carefully scripted agenda and controlled media blackout. Yet veteran Canadian publisher, author, activist and former political candidate Mel Hurtig managed to get hold of the attendee list and published it online. He also posted topics discussed including: "A Vision for North America" (but not a people-friendly one), "A North American Energy Strategy" (for US energy security at the expense of Canada and Mexico), "Demographic and Social Dimensions of North American Integration," and "Opportunities for Security Cooperation" (aka Pox Americana).

Washington dominates the planning at all meetings with its interests getting primary attention. Along with what's mentioned above, efforts are to create uniform business practices and standards, ease the flow of US products into Canada and Mexico, remove labor constraints, and eliminate unwelcome environmental standards or restrictions interfering with the primary consideration of profits.

Also on the agenda is getting Canada and Mexico to allow more privatization of state-run enterprises like Mexico's nationalized oil company, PEMEX, and eventually open up Canada's medicare health care system to private investment. The US can't negotiate this way with its western European, Chinese or Japanese trading partners but can easily pressure most developing nations to go along with policies harming their own people, and neighboring accommodating ones like Canada, so long as their elite leading players share the benefits.

In February, 2007, a set of SPP private sector priorities were laid out by the North American Competitiveness Council (NACC) that serves as an official tri-national SPP working group. It was created at the March, 2006 second annual SPP summit in Cancun, Mexico.

The group is composed of representatives of 30 giant North American companies, with powerful US ones like GE, Ford, GM, Wal-Mart, Lockheed Martin, Merck and Chevron running things the way Orwell described in "Animal Farm" where "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."

NACC's recommendations centered on "private sector involvement" being "a key step to enhancing North America's competitive position in global markets and is the driving force behind innovation and growth." It mentioned "border-crossing facilitation, standards and regulatory cooperation, and energy integration (with a top priority of) improving the secure flow of goods and people within North America." These issues and others were discussed above explaining what they're really all about, not the usual code language hiding their real purpose.

Without using the word, NACC stressed the importance establishing policies for maximum profits. Its report said "Every measure that adds to the cost or time to cross borders within North America is in effect a tax on enterprise, a tax on investment (fair taxes in both cases), or a tax on jobs (a slap at high wages) across the region, which ultimately results in incremental costs for the consumers in all three countries (untrue as cost savings accrue to bottom lines, not consumer pockets)." Also mentioned was the need to make the North American economy "work better (and strengthen) the security and well-being of citizens" without mentioning the "citizens" NACC has in mind are dominant corporate ones and the privileged only and doing it means hard line restraint on the public.

SPP wants "to cut red tape and give consumers better access to safe, less expensive, and innovative products" that only "red tape" can help assure. Regulations, it says "impede the efficiency and competitiveness of businesses in all three countries" except ones giving them a competitive advantage and even though regulations, in fact, serve (or should serve) to protect consumers, not harm them.

Recommendations in the report call for specific action in these sectors in the order the report listed them. It placed last the one of greatest importance, energy, but here's the order priority given: food and agriculture, financial services, transportation, protection of intellectual property rights and lastly energy integration specifically emphasizing Canada's vast oil sands that make its overall reserves second only to Saudi Arabia.

Canada aims to triple its oil sands production by 2015 to three million barrels daily to feed America's insatiable energy appetite these resources are earmarked for. Mexico's oil is also targeted, but the report hides NACC's aim for state oil company PEMEX to be opened to private investment saying only while the country is "blessed with abundant reserves, (it) faces major challenges in attracting capital" needed to realize their potential. NACC wants Mexico to "increase the competitiveness in (its) energy sector" without saying it wants it privatized so foreign investors can plunder them for profit.

It also wants governments and the private sector to "work together effectively in strengthening the competitive position of enterprises" in all three countries saying, in effect, end all restrictions on how we do business even if it harms your nations, people and environment. It made 50 total recommendations it wants mostly accomplished before the end of 2008 with some longer range ones targeting 2010. They cover the range of issues discussed above and specific ones listed below:

-- developing "national critical infrastructure protection strategies" with rules providing for legal protection;
-- enhancing emergency management and disaster planning;
-- implementing planned land clearance projects, meaning less for the people and more for corporate predators;
-- putting in place more business-friendly border security practices, meaning militarizing the border;
-- further simplifying NAFTA rules-of-origin requirements, meaning no restrictions on regional trade even for unsafe products;
-- simplifying the NAFTA certification process and requirements aiming at their total elimination;
-- ending the consumer-protective US Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS);
-- removing regulatory standards and practices that impede trade even if doing it harms consumers;
-- working toward a goal of uniform global regulatory standards and practices regardless of the consequences or concern about national sovereignty;
-- easing cross-border tax burdens forcing consumers to pick up the difference;
-- cooperating in identifying common financial regulatory concerns, then work to eliminate them;
-- agreeing to unrestricted air cargo transport services between the US and Mexico;
-- completing a coordinated Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Strategy aimed at protecting them and keeping their prices high;
-- developing an initiative against counterfeiting and piracy; and
-- collaborating on expanding the supply of highly skilled people in the energy sector throughout North America and building a model to be applied to other knowledge-intensive sectors such as financial services.

NACC denies what's pretty clear about about its aims.

Saying its recommendations aren't meant to "threaten the sovereign power of any of the three countries," there's no doubt that's the central objective. It wants a North American Union headquartered in Washington with policies in place benefitting corporate giants at the expense of working people. They'll be hammered by greater job losses, fewer social services, and a loss of personal security under militarized police state conditions in the name of "national (continental) security" in the age of concocted global terror threats.

North American Future 2025 Project

This is another secretive effort with the same objective run by the US-based conservative Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). It held closed-door meeting roundtables of Canadian business leaders in Calgary as part of a project by this name. CSIS former American political heavyweights are involved including Sam Nunn, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Harold Brown, William Cohen, Henry Kissinger and others. The agenda involves preparing a final report to the US, Canadian and Mexican governments by September 30 expected to recommend the benefits of integrating the three nations into a single political, economic and security bloc.

What's known has activist groups upset including the Council of Canadians and Coalition for Water Aid. They're protesting what they say amounts to a sub rosa effort for corporate interests to control Canada's huge fresh water supply, estimated at one-fifth of the world's total. They want Canadian energy and other resources, too.

LIke NACC, CSIS carefully states its aims in what it's made public so far, showing the goals of both efforts are the same. CSIS's North America Future 2025 Project is its research effort to help policymakers "make sound, strategic, long-range policy decisions about North America, with emphasis on regional integration." It cites "six areas of critical importance to the trilateral relationship: labor mobility, energy, the environment, security, competitiveness and border infrastructure and logistics." This is all familiar terminology to be discussed in "seven closed-door roundtable sessions (with) 21 (to) 45 individuals - with an equal number from each nation."
They kicked off in Roundtable I discussing "Methodology of Global and North American Projections" followed by each of the above listed six "critical" areas. Protesters are planning to be at the third trilateral SPP summit Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper will host August 20 and 21 in Montebello, Quebec. They'll target SPP overall as well as the Harper government's efforts to advance the corporate-friendly "Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement" (TILMA) as one more nail in the coffin of Canadian national sovereignty.

The agreement between Alberta and British Columbia took effect April 1, 2007 and mandates harmonizing regulations and standards between the two provinces, removing barriers to economic development. Saskatchewan is now being targeted to sign on as efforts advance overall for a borderless North America with schemes like TILMA being used as stepping stones along the way to achieve it. TILMA for all Canada will allow Canadian companies the right to challenge any provincial laws conflicting [with] the NAFTA provisions.

SPP North American integration will go much further, of course, and Joseph Watson reported "Globalists to Formally Propose Merger of US, Canada (and) Mexico" in his July 5 Prison Planet web site article. In it, he says CSIS' "political heavyweights" will formally propose a North American union to Congress at summer's end after the conclusion of their seven secret roundtable meetings to devise it. It will contain provisions explained above that spell doom for the sovereignty of the three participating nations. Their leaders want them to become one in service to corporate giants' strategy for greater profits at the public's expense. A further aim is to harmonize regulatory standards with the European Union (EU) in a new transatlantic economic partnership that moves things closer to corporate America's dream of a militarized borderless world run by them.

The North American SuperCorridor Coalition (NASCO)

This is another organization set up to facilitate the designs of NACC and the North American Future 2025 Project for continental integration. It's a trilateral provincial, state and local government coalition aligned with the goals of corporate giants in three countries. As its name suggests, it aims to develop an international, integrated, secure superhighway running the length of the continent. If built, it would extend from Winnipeg, Manitoba; Edmonton, Alberta; and Windsor, Ontario, Canada through Kansas City, San Antonio and Laredo, Texas into Neuvo Laredo, Guadalajara, and the ports of Manzanillo, Colima and Lazaro Cardenas, Mexico.

It's planned to be a comprehensive energy and commerce-related jugular vein-sized artery for transportation, trade and strategic resources like energy. According to NASCO documents, DHS will be in charge of monitoring the entire system through high-tech sensors and trackers as a further step to securing the continent for business at taxpayers expense. This is part of the massive infrastructure planned for North American integration. If completed, it'll be a boon to business at the expense of the environment and working people throughout the continent, always the ones to lose from grandiose schemes like this one.

Plan Puebla-Panama (PPP)

Mexican President Felipe Calderon wishes to revive former President Vincente Fox's PPP that flopped but didn't die. It's a multi-billion dollar development scheme to turn Southern Mexico and Central America, all the way to Panama, into a colossal free trade paradise displacing indigenous people, destroying their culture and sacred corn, and harming the environment for profit. Fox earlier and Calderon now want to induce private investment by shamelessly handing over to them the region's natural resources, including its oil, water, minerals, timber and ecological biodiversity.

The idea is to rip into the area with new ports, airports, bullet trains, bridges, superhighways, 25 hydroelectric dams, new telecommunication facilities, electrical grids, and a new Panama Canal - for starters, with more development to follow. Also envisioned is opening the country's wildlife reserves for bioprospecting with a huge giveaway to giant seed, chemical and drug companies and connect everything with new highways linking Mexico to Central America and no doubt would connect to the proposed NASCO superhighway. The idea is to develop and facilitate business throughout the region - meaning indigenous people have to leave to make way for it, like it or not, which they don't and will fight it.

The area planned for development is enormous and so far stalled. It covers 102 million hectares with 64 million inhabitants in eight countries, few of whom will benefit from a naked scheme to exploit. It masquerades as infrastructure, private development and more without consent of the people the way it's always done. It's the reason the plan went nowhere so far. It's irrelevant to the poor, rural South who'll lose everything so corporate predators can take their land and livelihoods for private gain. They then want to sell back to the people what's already theirs like Chiapas' fresh water. It's 40% of Mexico's total and the reason Coca-Cola is dying to get hold of it. It would also destroy the last significant tropical rain forest in Chiapas' Montes Azules Integral Biosphere in the Lacandon jungle where the government wants to remove native Mayans from lands belonging to them.

Enter Felipe Calderon. On April 9, he held a one-day conference in Campeche, Mexico attended by the presidents of all Central American countries except Belize and Nicaragua, who sent their prime minister and vice-president respectively. Washington no doubt is pushing this scheme as it would be a development bonanza for US corporations if implemented and a huge opportunity for many others if ever completed.

Militarizing A Continent As A First Step

No nation is more militarized today than America. It spends more on national defense and homeland security than all other nations combined. Add to those budgets all others related to defense, still others for intelligence and covert actions, plus the net interest cost attributable to past debt-financed defense outlays and it totals over $1 trillion for FY 2007 according to one analyst's estimate and heading way above that in FY 2008 if current budget proposals pass and become law which is almost certain.

Canada and Mexico are expected to share the load as part of Washington's "war on terrorism" and are doing it. Supporting Washington is central for Canada's Stephen Harper conservative administration. It includes adhering to the 2002 Binational Planning Agreement allowing US military forces to enter Canada on its own discretion, set up shop, and exercise authority over Canadians in their own country. Harper's more hard line than his predecessors. He believes Canadian political and business interests depend on it, and he's committed to serving them no matter how ordinary Canadians feel about it. He's submissive to Washington and has been massively ramping up military spending with plans to increase it over 50% above 2005 levels to $21.5 billion annually by 2010.

That's chump change by US standards but a major commitment for a nation traditionally spending at far lower levels. Canada faces no outside threat so spending hugely on its military, unlike in the past, defies tradition and public consensus favoring social spending that's being cut to pay for it. It's also contrary to Canada's traditionally eschewing militarism and foreign wars unlike its southern neighbor's thriving on them since the nation's founding.

Business interests, not national security or the public welfare, drive Harper's agenda. America accounts for 87% of Canada's exports, and Canadian businesses are closely allied with US ones. In many instances, it's as subsidiaries with US corporations owning 20% of Canada's non-financial sector, 33% of its oil and gas industry, and many Canadian defense companies linked to US ones as subsidiaries or in a sub-contracting capacity. Canada's influential Department of National Defense (DND), its new Chief of Defence Staff, General Rick Hillier and Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor are on board with Harper as well. They're committed to ramping up the nation's military spending and linking with America's "war on terrorism." It gives them more power to lock in even more as SPP advances and outlines a plan for it across the continent.

Mexico has its part to play as well. With threats and fear-mongering, it's using drug-related violence as a pretext for cracking down on simmering unrest wherever it surfaces with plenty of US military aid to do it. The scheme is to quiet and cow millions in the country opposing democracy, Mexican-style. It made National Action Party (PAN) Felipe Calderon president in a process decided before people ever voted last July 2 the way it's always worked in Mexican politics. It's got parts of the country, like Oaxaca, in open rebellion against its state governor, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz (known as URO).

It also made the country a tinderbox of discontent with growing numbers in it fed up with sham elections, decades of repression, deepening poverty and an entrenched system of privilege for the rich and powerful. Mega-billionaire Carlos Slim just passed Bill Gates by $8.6 billion to become the world's richest man in a country with the second largest number of billionaires in Latin America after Brazil and among the top ten in the world with the greatest number of them. The US tops all nations by a wide margin with far more in New York and Los Angeles alone than anywhere else.

Calderon to their rescue to make his own richer. He's got 30,000 troops stomping on the people and fighting Washington's wars on Mexico's streets and along its near-2000 mile northern border. He also has to protect state oil company Pemex after a series of July explosions attacked the company's gas pipelines in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato. It affected 800 companies incurring losses of $5 - 10 million a day and caused 5000 people to be evacuated from 20 surrounding communities.

A group called the Popular or People's Revolutionary Army (EPR) claimed responsibility saying it demands release of two men detained unjustly in Oaxaca in May and held as political prisoners. The group's communique also said the attacks were part of a "national campaign against the interests of the oligarchy and of this illegitimate government (in power from the stolen 2006 election) that has been put in motion." It's another sign how polarized Mexican society is with those losing out in it striking back.

In the US, poverty is growing and the wealth disparity is unprecedented. However, things are much worse in Mexico. It has the world's fourth largest number of millionaires, but poverty's been rising since the 1970s, and since the mid-1980s the nation's poor have been reeling under the affects of IMF-imposed structural adjustment policies mandating large-scale privatizations and wage restraints. Then came NAFTA in 1994. It devastated millions of Mexicans, forced many north to survive, and may by one estimate eventually displace 10 million small farmers from their land (plus their families) into poverty assuring they'll head north in desperation.

Today nearly one-third of Mexicans live on $2 or less a day, and millions can't afford basic needs like enough food, decent shelter and medical care when sick. It didn't help that Felipe Calderon allowed staple corn prices to skyrocket causing tortilla prices to spike by 50% in most regions devastating impoverished consumers. They can't afford the staple they rely on, and small Mexican corn producers are even less able to compete with subsidized imports that wasn't possible post-NAFTA.

These are the issues generating mass civil unrest and disobedience that simmer beneath the surface when they're not visible on the streets like in Oaxaca since last May, 2006. It's gone on in spite of harsh efforts to crush it violently with Federal Preventative Police (PFP) and military forces launched against it on the pretext of fighting drugs traffickers and terrorism.

Calderon's 30,000 Mexican troops are also in a third or more of the nation's states, civil rights are suspended and widespread abuses are reported because the military got a mandate to "use all necessary force to resolve disturbances and return peace to society." That's just a hint of what's coming across Mexico and the continent under full implementation of SPP that won't tolerate opposition and will crack down hard against it.

Mexican law now allows it after passage of the draconian "International Terrorism Law" criminalizing dissent, calling it terrorism, and imposing harsh sentences for using "violence against persons, things, or public services that spread (enough) alarm or fear in the threaten national security or pressure authorities to take certain determinations."

The press is also targeted with prohibitions against "publish(ing) or distribut(ing) or images without the express consent of those featured," a condition impossible to meet.

Social protests may be criminalized as well with resistance movements like the Zapatistas and Oaxacan Popular Peoples' Assembly (APPO) labeled terrorist organizations and their leaders subject to 40 year mandated prison terms if charged and convicted.

And President Calderon wants Mexico's Congress to pass an amendment giving him constitutional powers to tap phones and search private residences without first obtaining court-ordered approval under any conditions he claims is "urgent."

Mexico's hard right Supreme Court of Nacional Justice (SCJN) is supportive. Last year it declared Mexico's military can aid police in cases of public security that can be anything the state says it is. The Court also ruled law enforcement officials need no court-ordered warrants to search and seize in "flagrant situations" that can also mean anything and that violates the American Convention of Human Rights adopted as Mexican law.

Then there's Calderon's war on drugs and the cartels that's, in fact, a war no different than Colombia's war on dissident resistance groups like the FARC and ELN. Like Plan Colombia, Washington has a similar one for Mexico, so call it what it is - Plan Mexico with tens of millions in funding, equipment and technology to back it up. Also call it US-supported and funded state terrorism in a grand scheme to militarize the country and crack down on dissent and resistance to authoritarian rule at the federal, state and local levels.

It's partnered with Washington in its phony "war on terrorism" to maintain order, crush opposition and incarcerate anyone interfering or in the way.

US military elements already operate inside Mexico freely and covertly, and a 1994 Pentagon briefing paper, declassified under FOIA, hinted at a US invasion if the country became destabilized or the government faced the threat of being overthrown because of "widespread economic and social chaos" that would jeopardize US investments, access to oil, overall trade, and would create great numbers of immigrants heading north.

Plans are in place and are playing out to snuff out trouble before it spirals out of control, and the proposed US immigration bill was to provide funding for it through stepped up militarization. But even with the bill defeated, the money's coming and US forces will follow if needed. Congressional budgeting calls for millions in Mexican military aid and massive new border detention centers for up to 30,000 detainees for starters with two notorious ones discussed below already operating.

What's planned on the border will also likely show up anywhere in all three SPP countries to defuse social discontent by disappearing a large new political prisoner population into black holes of repressive incarceration. That's SPP's promise and scheme to create police state North America making the continent safe for corporate interests by revoking ours.

Raymondville and Hutto Texas Immigrant Prison Detention Centers

The Willacy immigrant detention center at Raymondville, Texas, is oppressive enough to be called "Ritmo." It's run by the private for-profit MTC Corporation and is currently the largest immigrant prison in the country in the remote southern tip of the state. It cost $65 million to build, is a "tent city," and is ringed by barbed wire and 14-foot high chain-link fences. It currently holds over 2000 immigrant detainees under repressive conditions including 23 hour a day lockdowns in 10 windowless hothouses. Entire families are incarcerated there, fed poor or insufficient food, given inadequate and delayed medical care, and treated inhumanely in unsafe conditions for extended periods lasting months.

Conditions overall are abusive, disciplinary punishment harsh, with detainees having to put up with no partitions or doors separating five toilets, five sinks, five shower heads and eating areas where some days detainees lack utensils and eat with their hands. Lights are kept on round the clock, clothing is inadequate, and on cold days detainees are kept outside for an allowed daily hour in short-sleeved uniforms with no warm protective clothing like blankets, sweat shirts or jackets.

The Hutto Residential Center is another immigrant detention center in Taylor, Texas currently holding around 400 prisoners including 200 children and infants. Few detainees here or at other immigrant prisons committed crimes or were charged with any, yet they're treated like criminals because they were forced here to survive NAFTA and DR-CAFTA inflicted job losses. They're victims of US repressive trade policies but are treated like criminals made to suffer retribution for exploitative state practices committed against them.

Post 9/11, the Homeland Security Act of 2002 was passed establishing the repressive Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and in March, 2003 its largest investigative and enforcement arm - the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE). It's charged with protecting public safety by identifying and targeting "criminal" and "terrorist" threats to the country that include Latino and other desperate for work undocumented immigrants forced to come here to survive.

ICE was established to apprehend them at the border or hunt them down relentlessly once here. It has four integrated divisions, one of which is policing our southern border and conducting terror-raid undocumented immigrant worker roundups with those apprehended headed for abusive detention at facilities like Raymondville and Hutto. There and at other facilities like them, ICE-detained immigrants number around 28,000 on an average day with totals heading for 30,000 or more by year end.

Hutto is run by Corrections Corporation of America, the largest for-profit private prison operator in the country. It has 64 facilities in 19 states and the District of Columbia with a capacity for incarcerating over 69,000 inmates. It's reputation is unsavory based on former prisoner accounts of severe abuse, inadequate medical and educational services, poor or noxious food and overall inhumane conditions including rat and roach-infested cramped centers, inadequate basic hygiene, rapes, beatings and deaths at their facilities.

The Hutto facility in Taylor, Texas houses immigrant detainees. It's particularly notorious for treating young children no differently than adults, including some too young to know where they are or why and older ones with no idea why they're detained at all. Conditions are made worse by abusive guards and uncaring officials.

The daily routine is stultifying and cruel. Families are awakened at 5:30AM and allowed 30 minutes to bathe and dress. They then get 20 minutes to eat food that's often poor quality, inedible, and/or inadequate. If children haven't finished in time, their food is thrown out and they're left to go hungry.

Following meals, prisoners are returned to their cells, aren't allowed out, denied sleep during the day, and forced to sit and endure boredom to pass the time. No books are allowed, and frequent head counts are taken throughout the day to assure no one escaped. Educational facilities for children are pathetically inadequate at one hour a day in which practically nothing is taught, and conditions and treatment overall are so bad the ACLU sued DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff on March 6 on behalf of 10 abused children at Hutto. The US District Court judge hearing the case, Sam Sparks, set an expedited trial date for August, agreeing with the plaintiff that detainee treatment at Hutto fails to meet federal standards.

Homeland Security Police State Justice for Everyone

Post-9/11, Muslims and Latino immigrants have been targeted by the Bush administration, falsely charged with terrorism and other crimes, and subjected to abusive harassment and persecution. They've been victimized by mass roundups, detentions, prosecutions and deportations, the result of baseless claims they threaten national security.

If full-blown SPP security measures are implemented, anyone challenging, or seen threatening, state authority may henceforth be subjected to similar harsh treatment. It's practically that way now, but expect lots worse ahead. The rule of law will be weakened or ignored, civil liberties and essential human needs further eroded, and state and corporate power tightened enough to be in full control.

Dissent no longer will be tolerated, and anyone seen as a threat in an age of a "war on terrorism" will be targeted, just as Muslims and immigrants are today. Preparations are in progress for mass detentions with Halliburton the beneficiary of a DHS contingency contract worth up to $385 million to build US-based detention centers. Their stated purpose is for "detention and processing" in case of an "emergency influx of immigrants....or to support the rapid development of new programs (for planned) expansion facilities (able to hold 5000 or more persons)."

This language provides cover for planned concentration camps targeting anyone for indefinite detention as a perceived enemy of the state or threat to national security any time henceforth.

The idea is to have facilities ready in case martial law is declared for any reason. It might include the kind of major "terrorist" attack DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff practically signaled is coming later this summer to a Chicago Tribune editorial board July 10. ABC News also hyped the story citing a new FBI analysis of Al-Queda messages warning of "continued messages that convey their strategic intent to strike the US homeland and US interests worldwide (that) should not be discounted as merely deceptive noise." The rest of the corporate media jumped on the story as well to prepare the public for full militarization of the country if what Chertoff and a number of intelligence analysts believe is virtually certain ahead.

The Pentagon is ready if it comes with an action plan prepared in a DOD document called "Strategy for Homeland Defense and Civil Support." It envisions an "active, layered defense" both within and outside the US pledging to "transform US military forces to execute homeland defense missions in the....US homeland." It lays out a strategy for increased reconnaissance and surveillance to "defeat potential challengers before they threaten the United States." It also "maximizes threat awareness and seizes the initiative from those who would harm us."

These are ominous developments signaled with very dangerous language.

It suggests the likelihood of an impending terror attack severe enough to warrant suspension of the Constitution followed by martial law.

It means anyone may be considered a threat to national security and detained indefinitely with or without evidence to prove it. It further empowers the state, through the military, to act preventively through mass roundups and detentions. No one will be safe or spared if targeted and will be subject to police state justice granting them none.

A full-scale militarization of the country can be implemented any time on what a 1988 Reagan era Executive Order 12656 called any "national security emergency" defined as "Any occurrence, including natural disaster, military attack, technological or other emergency, that seriously degrades or seriously threatens the national security of the United States."

Other repressive legislation's already in place as well. Under Patriot and Military Commission Acts justice, constitutional rights are severely weakened, and we're all "enemy combatants" stripped of our habeas and due process rights, subject to indefinite detentions, denied our right to counsel and at the mercy of military tribunal justice with no right of appeal.

Welcome to North America's Security and Prosperity Partnership guaranteeing it to elitist interests by denying it to the people of three nations. They're to be parts of the new "united continent of America," or North American Union, run by dark forces in Washington that won't move out when a new president moves in January 20, 2009.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at Also visit his blog site at and listen to The Steve Lendman News and Information Hour on, Saturdays at noon, US central time.


Calgary SPP Protest: Protest the North American Union

Saturday, August 18, 2007

How Far Will the Crash Go and What Do we Do Now?

The “Crash of 2007-8” is underway

by Richard C. Cook
Global Research
August 18, 2007

The immediate triggers are being described quite well: the collapse of the U.S. subprime mortgage market; the vulnerability of the rest of the economy to the subprime undertow, due to the “efficiency” of the markets in spreading risk; the worldwide overextension of cheap credit; the failure of large institutional investors and Wall Street brokerages to behave responsibly; and the long-term effects of the U.S. trade and fiscal deficits which are now coming home to roost.

Amazingly, some commentators have been asking “if the monetary crisis will affect the producing economy,” and whether a recession lies ahead. In reality, the U.S. producing economy has been in a recession for the last year. This is shown most clearly by the decline in M1, the portion of the money supply immediately available to people for making purchases.

The causes of the M1 decline are two-fold. One is the weak purchasing power of American consumers, at least half of whose decently-paying manufacturing jobs have been eliminated by the outsourcing, mergers, and productivity improvements during the past two decades. The other is that while many of the U.S. corporations not connected to housing have been doing all right, their success has been tied to overseas investments and sales, such as GE and GM who are heavily invested in China.

This type of business activity props up the stock prices of these global corporations but does little for the working American. The presumption that overflow earnings from stockholders will benefit the rest of our domestic economy is the essence of “trickle-down,” supply-side economics and is part of the justification for the system that makes the rich richer and the poor poorer.

But as Barron’s reported earlier this year, much of the profits from the global corporations are being held as retained earnings for future growth, rather than being passed on to stockholders as dividends. Because of the heavy debt load corporations carry today, they are all in a grow-or-die mode. Again, the result is deficient purchasing power which works to negate the already dubious trickle-down effect.

The recession has been masked by four factors:
1) the government’s phony GDP numbers, where the “churning” of financial transactions masquerade as production;
2) the froth on the stock market that took the Dow Jones Average (DJA) from a little over 11,000 to a record-breaking 14,000 during a one-year period that ended with the decline that began in mid-July;
3) the propensity of the American consumer, which is now ending, to continue to buy goods and services on credit, including necessities of life like health care; and
4) modest growth in low-paying service economy jobs, which also may be coming to an end.

These lesser bubbles have mirrored the big ones that are bursting as lenders lose confidence in the ability of borrowers to repay. These are the housing bubble, affecting consumers; the acquisition bubble, affecting equity funds; and the speculation bubble, affecting hedge funds.

As the house of cards comes tumbling down, the leading question on financial websites and blogs is how deep will the decline go. Will it stop at the level of the recessions of previous decades, including 2000-2002, with a decline that is reflected in the DJA of somewhere around thirty-five percent from its peak? Or will it be the “Armageddon” scenario which would take us to depression-level conditions? Of course there are multiple possibilities based on a decline somewhere between a recession and a depression that would share some of the characteristics of each.

Muddying the waters is the fact that the DJA is much less reliable as a measure of economic health today than in the past. This is because today the vast majority of financial transactions now take place within the furtive secrecy of the equity, hedge, and derivative markets. No one really knows what is going on, except that on any given day an announcement is made that another fund or company has been wiped out.

Neither the Federal Reserve nor the U.S. government believes they have an obligation to gather or publish data that will help the public gauge the effects of these crises on their homes or jobs. Some might call this negligence a crime against democracy. In fact the Federal Reserve made tracking even more difficult by ceasing to report the M3 macro-currency numbers, but researchers have shown that growth in M3 is soaring while M1 goes down.

What appears to be happening right now is that the Federal Reserve, which oversees the U.S. economy on behalf of the financial, corporate, and government elites, is deliberately trying to squeeze as much debt out of the economy as it can. It is doing this with interest rates that are high relative to actual conditions, while trying to avoid the Armageddon scenario.

The Fed is carrying out its “soft-landing” policy by holding credit tight while introducing “liquidity” into the markets on a day-by-day basis through use of overnight “repos” and by cutting the discount rate for bank borrowing. Conservative columnists like George Will and Bob Novak watch and shake their pom-poms from the sidelines.

But “liquidity” is just a fancy name for more loans. The one thing we can be certain of is that every loan bears interest charges which someday, somehow, will have to be paid by a person who works for a living.

And if you wondered where the Fed got the $34 billion in liquidity it pumped into the markets on Friday, August 10, you weren’t the only one. The answer is that the Fed has a secret room upstairs where it keeps a large “printing press.” It’s legalized counterfeiting, but as with any counterfeit money, if people accept it in trade it acts just like the real stuff—for a while.

The danger, which many commentators are pointing to, is that the Fed will ignite a hyperinflation, which may be what is happening and may actually be intentional because it devalues debt. It’s what happens when debt is used to pay off debt and is in fact an invisible tax. Such inflation is difficult to discern, again because of the government’s rigged statistics. The most important indicator to watch is the price of oil, which doesn’t show up in “core inflation.”

But there are signs that the “soft landing” is working, such as a modest increase in U.S. exports. Reflecting the weak dollar, China is now charging more for its own exports, which will stimulate our industry here at home. And the Fed’s discount rate cut last Friday sparked a modest stock market rally.

Meanwhile, there is a debate over whether quasi-public agencies like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should be used to spread the housing market losses across the entire taxpaying population. While society as a whole is made poorer, many individuals who might have lost their homes or jobs are spared some pain. So it’s hard to argue against it. But this type of bail-out would benefit individual homeowners more than the big banks, so the conservative politicians and commentators oppose it.

But there’s a bigger picture. The strategy of the Fed is likely to allow the recession to proceed but it does want to get the economy moving again before the downturn goes too far. In fact they probably plan to do it in time for the 2008 presidential election.

The Fed wants to see a recovery in place by then so the American public will go back to sleep and elect another politician who will steadfastly protect the privileges and powers of the magnates who, through the Fed, rule the world. Even if a new president has some progressive ideas, he or she won’t be able to alter much if a recovery has started.

The “soft landing” is a political power play.

It’s what they did in 1984, when Ronald Reagan was reelected on a campaign theme of “It’s morning in America,” after the Fed let up following the twenty percent-plus rates it used to trash the producing economy from 1979-83. The Fed did the same with the housing bubble to get George W. Bush reelected in 2004.

The financiers’ worst fear is that if things get too bad the American people might elect a reformer in 2008. So far the corporate press has kept two such reformers—Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich—in the shadows. Now that Hillary Clinton is starting to sound more progressive, they’ll attack her overtly since she is too big a player to be ignored. The Washington Post has already begun.

So we’ll see if the Fed’s plan succeeds as well over the next couple of years as it has in the past. In the meantime, what remains firmly in place is the monetarist regime through which the financiers and the Fed have ruled America for the past thirty-six years, since President Richard Nixon closed the gold window for international exchange in 1971.

During this period, we have seen several interlocking phenomena:
1) interest rates that on the whole have been much higher than the previous period of the New Deal and its aftermath, lasting into the 1960s;
2) inflation that has eroded eighty percent of the value of the dollar;
3) replacement of our producing industrial economy with a service economy dominated by high finance;
4) almost continuous warfare with a clear objective of world domination whose purpose is to shore up the dollar as the world’s reserve currency;
5) ever-deepening public, private, and household debt;
6) the ever-widening gap between rich and poor, with increasing numbers of the poor, homeless, and hungry who are left out of the nation’s economic life;
7) a crisis in the nation’s crumbling infrastructure; and
8) the constant whipsawing of over 200 million ordinary people.

It’s our citizens who are batted around like ping pong balls between alternating conditions of boom and bust as every few years many of them watch the overnight disappearance of their homes, pensions, savings, health insurance, and jobs. Added to this is the stress that has eroded the health and even life expectancy of the U.S. population.

It’s a horrible picture created by a filthy system. It’s why religious leaders for thousands of years have characterized usury, and a culture ruled by usury, as a crime against God and humanity. The monetarist rule of the Federal Reserve is legal, institutionalized usury. Over the years they have mastered all the tools of the trade, the objective of which is to continually allow the financial superstructure to skim the cream off the producing economy. Come to think of it, isn’t that how the Mafia used to work with its protection and loan-sharking rackets?

And can anything be done about it? Of course.

In previous articles on the Global Research website and elsewhere, this writer has offered a list of reforms—mostly monetary—that can and should be made. They all involve the recognition of credit as a public utility, part of the societal commons, not the private playground of the financiers, with the Fed as their facilitator.

Low-cost credit overseen by the federal government was the basic building block of the New Deal. It was done by strong people with an ideal of public service, though in many respects they didn’t go far enough and relied too much on World War II and armaments to attain a full-employment economy. We now need a New Deal for the 21st century that would correct the flaws of the last one, resolve the present crisis, and carry us into a future that will benefit everyone, not just the privileged few.

Richard C. Cook is a retired federal analyst, whose career included service with the U.S. Civil Service Commission, the Food and Drug Administration, the Carter White House, and NASA, followed by twenty-one years with the U.S. Treasury Department. His articles on monetary reform, economics, and space policy have appeared on Global Research, Economy in Crisis, Dissident Voice, Atlantic Free Press, and elsewhere. He is the author of “Challenger Revealed: An Insider’s Account of How the Reagan Administration Caused the Greatest Tragedy of the Space Age.” His website is at

Richard C. Cook is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Richard C. Cook

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Advertising is Brain Damage

From Adbusters #73
Aug-Sep 2007

As global warming deepens, and a somber, new reality sinks in, people are starting to ask some uncomfortable questions: Why am I being told to buy a new car a dozen times every day? Why am I constantly being urged to splurge on myself ‘because I’m worth it’? Why, in this ecological age of ours, do we need a $500-billion industry telling us thousands of times each day to consume more?

In the affluent West (where 80 percent of the global ad dollars are spent), don’t we already consume enough?

The industry is trying very hard to ward off this kind of thinking.

Al Gore was given the rock star treatment at its annual bash in Cannes this year.

Young & Rubicam ceo Hamish McLennan, recently told the New York Times: “The consumer sentiment out there is just palpable . . . we have to change the way people consume.”

MTV’s slick new campaign, created by six of America’s top agencies and slated to be shown in 162 countries, is all about “environmentally friendly lifestyle choices among youth.”

The copy on their web site,, reads: “OK, so we like to consume – that’s fine – Switch isn’t here to tell you to start hugging trees and become an eco-warrior – although it’s fine, if that’s what you’re into. Nah, all we’re here to do is ask you to make little changes to the way you consume. So small are these changes that you won’t even notice them.”

Meanwhile, an even more ominous threat to the industry is looming: People are starting to blame invasive advertising for the stress in their lives.

A few of generations ago, people encountered only a few dozen ads in a typical day. Today, 3,000 marketing messages a day flow into the average North American brain.

That’s more hype, clutter, sex and violence than many of us can handle on top of all the other pressures of modern life.

So, to avoid the stress, the invasion of privacy, the information overload, the erosion of empathy, people are switching off on ad-infested TV, magazines and web sites.

There are also fledgling movements now to tax ads, to ban them from schools and even cities (see “São Paolo: A City Without Ads,” later in this issue).

The fun image that advertising has traditionally enjoyed is now giving way to a much darker picture of advertising as mental pollution. As more and more people make the connection between advertising and their own mental health, the ad game will be changed forever.


Saturday, August 11, 2007

Ethical Shopping Is Pointless

‘I am very sceptical of consumer power’ An Interview With Consumer Activist George Monbiot

New Consumer
By Tanis Taylor
August 2007

George Monbiot says we need to concentrate on pressurising government, rather than buying 'better'.

George Monbiot is the author of best-selling books The Age of Consent: a manifesto for a new world order, Captive State: the corporate takeover of Britain, and Heat: How to stop the planet burning (now available in paperback.) He writes a column for the Guardian and has been a road protester, decorated environmental campaigner and persecuted investigative journalist.
Can the planet sustain this rate of consumption?

George Monbiot:
Clearly it cannot. The problem with unrestrained capitalism is that it depends upon infinite growth, and infinite growth is impossible on a finite planet. Eventually, like yeast in a barrel, it has to consume the resources upon which it depends.

So capitalism will eat itself?

Yes. There is no point at which a corporation believes that it has taken too great a market share – they have to keep growing, keep producing, keep turning over as much capital as they possibly can or they collapse. Without brakes – which must be imposed by politics – they will consume everything.

What we need is to shift towards an economic system that seeks to achieve a steady state.

Do you have faith in Government to sort this out?

I have never had faith in government. What I do have faith in is people’s willingness and ability to force government to act. It never happens by itself.

Governments won’t act against people whom they see as their natural allies unless they are forced to do so. And that means unless they see that it is in their electoral interest to do so. It is our role to constantly create pressure for that.

So now is a time for active citizenship?

Every time is a time for active citizenship. If we want to protect any part of our quality of life we have to fight for it. You can always tell where the communities of activists are because the places in which they live are still habitable.

Where people live who have given up and don’t fight, it will be inhospitable and uninhabitable.

And what of our future habitat, if we don’t fight now?

We will see all the things that we consider most precious destroyed. It won’t happen immediately in the rich world because we in the rich nations now are very good at pushing away the activities we don’t like very much until they are out of sight – which generally means China – but it will happen.

Placards or plastic?

I am very sceptical of consumer power. I believe better consumption by itself is an entirely useless means of achieving political change. Those who have the most votes – the vote being the money you have to spend as consumers – are generally inclined to use them the least.

So poorer consumers can go through hoops to improve the quality of their consumption and try to reduce their environmental impact, but all it takes is for one very very rich person to carry on the way they are and they wipe out all of the impact that thousands of other people have attempted. I went without a car for 18 years and thought I was doing pretty well until I worked out that what I was really doing was clearing ecological space on the road for someone to drive a less efficient car than I would have driven.

Without government action, better consumption does not lead to any lasting result.

So we should all go out and buy a car?

We have to be better citizens first and better consumers second. In other words we need political change which makes our buying decisions meaningful.

If I say I’m going to go without a car for 18 years while I campaign to see that that space goes to cyclists, to buses, to existing pedestrians then it becomes meaningful. But in the absence of political action it is a form of passivity.

Shop ’n’ lobby?

Ethical buying’s the easy bit. The much more painful thing is to engage in the long, dull, sometimes slightly scary fight to make governments change policies and change regulations so that it’s not a question of you just ceasing to consume the products of slave labour or of environmental destruction but that everybody ceases to consume those products.

What difference will our one lone voice make?


There is one absolutely cast iron rule and that is that you don’t do it by yourself. You have to work with other people and in nearly all cases there are already groups which you can join.

Never never try to precipitate political change by yourself, it’s just not going to work. The lone voice might sound romantic but it’s not effective. For this to work, we will have to work with others.

The ‘lightning’ round

In which George Monbiot proposes small (sometimes preposterous) solutions to big problems.

Un-checked, global growth

I would like to see a democratisation of global government - a parliamentary assembly of some kind at the global level.

Un-democratic corporate dominance (organisations such as the World Bank and the IMF)

The solution I favour is the one propose by John Maynard Keynes in 1943 for an international clearing union instead of the World Bank and the IMF. The clearing union puts equal pressure on global debtors and global creditors to clear debts and sees that no one country develops a lasting debt or indeed a trade surplus.

Un-just trade laws and debts of the developing world

I propose that the poorest nations use the only weapon they have at their disposal which is their debt. You know how if you owe the bank a thousand pounds you’re in trouble; if you owe the bank a million pounds, the bank is in trouble.

The only way in which the poor nations can force an economic world order that reflects their interests as well as the interests of the rich is stating their intentions to foreclose on their debts. A global hold-up. All of them all at once. That I think is the only thing which the rich nations would listen to.

This article first appeared in the July/August 07 edition of New Consumer Magazine.


Judge Refuses to Stop Iowa Straw Poll

Decision sides with unsecured Diebold voting system

August 11, 2007

A federal judge on Friday refused to issue an injunction to stop the Iowa Straw Poll after a lawsuit was filed over the constitutionality of the voting process used at the event.

"In the absence of some legal violation, the Republican Party can run their (event) however they want," Judge James Gritzner said in his decision, which quickly followed the hearing because the straw poll was scheduled to start Saturday morning.

The lawsuit was filed late Thursday, and the judge said there wasn't adequate notice given to the defendants, who were served early Friday morning. The defendants included State Auditor David Vaudt, Story County Commissioner of Elections Mary Mosiman and Republican Party Chairman Ray Hoffmann. Representatives of the party attended the hearing, but the other defendants did not show.

The eight plaintiffs argued that the voting machines used at the straw poll, made by Diebold Election Systems, have fundamental weaknesses. They wanted the court to force the Republican Party of Iowa to change its methods of collecting and tallying the ballots so that the process was open to public and the votes were hand-counted.

The methods they suggested would have gotten rid of the machines, and included using clear boxes to collect the ballots, allowing each candidate an official vote counter and counting the ballots in public view.

"Everyone has a right to have their vote properly counted, this is a way to do it," said Robert Schulz, who is not a lawyer but argued the case at the hearing in federal court in Des Moines. He was listed as a plaintiff, and he leads a constitutional rights organization called "We the People."

Up to 40,000 people are expected to attend the straw poll, held at the Iowa State University campus in Ames. The daylong event, the state Republican Party's biggest fundraiser, is considered a strong indication of the candidates' organizational strength and those who place well get a big boost in campaigning for this winter's caucuses.

At the straw poll, each voter marks a ballot, which is fed into a voting machines. Officials then tally the computers' results.

The machines, the plaintiffs argued, are the same type that California's secretary of state placed rigorous security conditions on last week.

The plaintiffs also suggested that because the Story County auditor and state auditor were helping with the event, the straw poll was government-sanctioned.

Party officials disputed that claim.

"Dave Vaudt and Mary Mosiman are not appearing in their official capacity ... they are just volunteering their time," said Ted Sporer, the chairman of the Polk County Republican Party.

Steve Roberts, a member of the National Republican Committee, said the party is paying for the machines.

The plaintiffs also argued that the results of the Iowa Straw Poll could effect the candidates' chances at raising money, and their ability to do well at Iowa caucuses and further down the election path.

"The vote totals for the candidates on the ballot at the Iowa Straw Poll affects the outcome of the Iowa caucus and the 2008 presidential race," the plaintiffs said in their complaint.

Plaintiff Troy Reha, of Des Moines, told the judge that "the one thing that takes the cake, so to speak, is this issue of not knowing if my, my vote, will be counted for the person that I vote for."

"Or will a machine or a computer write it off?" he added later.

Matt McDermott, who represented the Republican Party of Iowa, argued that casting a ballot in the straw poll is not a fundamental right under the Constitution as the plaintiffs were claiming.

"There is no statute or constitutional provision that allows anyone to participate in tomorrow's nonbinding straw poll," he said, adding that "to say otherwise, it would say this court could jump in an Elk's Lodge vote, or a Moose Lodge vote."

McDermott said Friday evening that the plaintiffs filed an interlocutory or immediate appeal of judge's decision with the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals. He said it appears they want to have a hearing via telephone on Saturday morning before the straw poll voting starts.


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Indian call center lands in Ohio

More foreign companies are finding that hiring Americans offers distinct advantages

By Jia Lynn Yang
August 3 2007

It would be easy to imagine Reno, Ohio, as the type of place that would be hit hardest by outsourcing - a small American town losing out to the invisible hand shifting jobs to places like Bangalore and Guangzhou. Instead, outsourcing is bringing the jobs to Reno. Across the street from an Army Reserve center and next to a farm, a customer-service call center hums, its 250 workers answering phones for online travel agency Expedia. The center's owner? Indian conglomerate Tata Group.

The phenomenon has a name: "insourcing," the term experts are starting to use when foreign multinationals open offices on U.S. soil and hireAmericans, at a higher price, to do the very jobs they once lured overseas. In this case the center in Reno is targeted toward companies willing to pay a premium - its workers there cost up to 40 percent more than their counterparts in India - to give their U.S. customers a more culturally fluent, less frustrating 1-800 experience. (No more hearing someone read from a script ten time zones away.)

Tata, which is based in Mumbai, established its Reno roots last year when its business services unit, SerWizSol, bought the call-center business of travel-processing firm TRX; the deal also gave it a call center in Milton, Fla. "We want to be able to say to a client, If there's a piece [of call-center operations] you want to keep in America, we can do that for you," says Ricardo Layun, head of U.S. operations for SerWizSol.

Multinational corporations, of course, have been hanging shingles in the U.S. for years. According to the Organization for International Investment, firms headquartered abroad employ 5.1 million Americans in their U.S. offices. But while these jobs have typically been in manufacturing (think German carmakers' factories in the South), the mix is changing, and more companies are finding that hiring Americans offers distinct advantages. Some companies feel hearing a fellow American makes callers feel more comfortable. Other foreign firms think Americans bring a more entrepreneurial attitude to their work. In Expedia's case, its call-center workers need a firm grasp on U.S. geography.

Tata is trying hard to make a connection here. The company, which has a history in India of caring about social causes, has encouraged workers in Reno to get more involved in the community. There was a Tata float in the local Thanksgiving parade. Workers recently swept up a playground that had fallen into disrepair. And when an employee was injured in a car accident, Tata donated $500 to the family. Christy Rice, senior team leader, says those efforts demonstrate the biggest difference under the new owners. "It's less about numbers and more about people," she says.


Thursday, August 02, 2007

Dangers of a Cornered George Bush

By Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity
& Dr. Justin Frank
July 27, 2007

The “new” strategy of surging troops in Baghdad has simply wasted more lives and bought some time for the president. His strategy boils down to keeping as many of our soldiers engaged as possible, in order to stave off definitive defeat in Iraq before January 2009.

Bush is commander in chief, but Congress must approve funding for the war, and its patience is running out. The war – and the polls – are going so badly that it is no longer a sure thing that the administration will be able to fund continuance of the war.

There is an outside chance Congress will succeed in forcing a pullout starting in the next several months. What would the president likely do in reaction to that slap in the face?

What would he do if the Resistance succeeded in mounting a large attack on U.S. facilities in the Green Zone or elsewhere in Iraq? How would he react if Israel mounted a preemptive attack on the nuclear-related facilities in Iran and wider war ensued?

Applied Psychoanalysis

The answers to such questions depend on a host of factors for which intelligence analysts use a variety of tools. One such tool involves applying the principles of psychoanalysis to acquire insights into the minds of key leaders, with an eye to facilitating predictions as to how they might react in certain circumstances.

For U.S. intelligence, this common-law marriage of psychoanalysis and intelligence work dates back to the early 1940s, when CIA’s forerunner, the Office of Strategic Services commissioned two studies of Adolf Hitler.

We call such assessments “at-a-distance leader personality assessments.” Many were quite useful. VIPS found the 2004 book Bush on the Couch, by Washington psychiatrist Justin Frank, MD, a very helpful assessment in this genre. We now have two more years of experience of observing Bush closely.

As we watched the pressure build on President Bush, looked toward the additional challenges we expect him to face over the next 18 months, and pondered his tendency to disregard the law and the Constitution, we felt very much in need of professional help in trying to estimate what kinds of decisions he is likely to make.

Dr. Frank, it turned out, had been thinking along the same lines, when we asked to meet with him just three weeks ago. What follows is a collaborative Frank-VIPS effort, with the psychological insights volunteered by Dr. Frank, who shares the imperative we feel to draw on all disciplines to assess what courses of action President George W. Bush is likely to decide upon in reacting to reverse after reverse in the coming months.

Parental discretion advised. The outlook is not only somber but potentially violent—and includes all manner of threats born of George W. Bush’s mental state (as well as the unusual relationship he has with his vice president).

Things are going to hell in a hand basket for this administration, and Bush/Cheney have shown a willingness to act in extra-Constitutional ways, as they see fit.

While Bush and his advisers make a fetish of it, he is nonetheless commander in chief of the armed forces and the question becomes how he might feel justified in using them and is there still any restraining force—any checks on the increasing power of the executive in our three-branch government.

We have a president whose psychological makeup inclines him to do as he pleases. Because Congress has been cowed, and the judiciary stacked with loyalists, he has gotten away with it—so far.

But the polls show growing discontent among the people, especially over the war in Iraq. Congress, too, is starting to challenge the executive, as it should—but slowly, slower than it should. The way things are moving, there is infinite opportunity to diddle and dodge—in effect conducting business pretty much as usual over the next 18 months.

Could Start Another War...

Meanwhile, the president may well feel free to start another war, with little reference to the Congress or the UN, against Iran.

The commander of CENTO forces, Admiral William Fallon is quoted as having said we “will not go to war with Iran on my watch.” Tough words; but should the president order an attack on Iran, chances are Fallon and others will do what they are accustomed to doing, salute smartly and carry out orders, UNLESS they show more regard for the U.S. Constitution than the president does.

There is an orderly remedy written into the Constitution aimed at preventing a president from usurping the power of the people and acting like a king; the process, of course, is impeachment.

The usual focus on impeachment is on abuses of the past, and a compelling case can surely be made.

We believe an equally compelling incentive can be seen in looking toward the next 18 months.

In this paper, we are primarily concerned about what future misadventures are likely if this administration is not somehow held to account; that is, if Bush and Cheney are not removed from office.

Unless Checked

If the constitutional process of impeachment is under way when President Bush orders our military to begin a war against Iran, there is a good chance that, rather than salute like automatons and start World War III, our senior military would find a way to prevent more carnage until such time as the representatives of the people in the House have spoken.

This administration’s capacity for mischief would not end until conviction in the Senate. But initiating the impeachment process appears to be the only way to launch a shot across the bow of this particular ship of state. For it is captained by a president with a psychological makeup likely to lead to new misadventures likely to end in a ship wreck unless the Constitution is brought alongside and a new pilot boarded.

We are grateful that Dr. Frank agreed to collaborate with us and to issue under VIPS auspices the psychological assessment that follows.

Discussion of the three scenarios after his profiling of President Bush was very much a collaborative exercise aimed at applying Frank’s insights to contingencies our president may have to address before he leaves office. Our conclusions are, of necessity, speculative—and, sorry, scary.

The Assessment of Dr. Frank:

If a patient came into my consulting room missing an arm, the first question I would ask is, “What happened to your arm?” The same would be true for a patient who has no guilt, no conscience. I would want to know what happened to it.

No Conscience

George W. Bush is without conscience, and it would require a lengthy series of clinical sessions to find out what happened to it. By identifying himself as all good and on the side of right, he has been able to vanquish any guilt, any sense of doing wrong.

In Bush on the Couch I gave examples illustrating that remarkable lack of conscience. From his youthful days blowing up frogs with firecrackers to his unapologetic public endorsement of torture, there has been no change.

Observers are gradually becoming aware of this fundamental deficit. For example, after watching the president’s press conference on July 12, Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan wrote, “He doesn't seem to be suffering, which is jarring. Presidents in great enterprises that are going badly suffer: Lincoln, LBJ with his head in his hands. Why doesn't Mr. Bush?”

No Shame

George W. Bush seems also to be without shame. He expresses no regret or embarrassment about his failure to help Katrina victims, or to tell the truth. He says whatever he thinks people want to hear, whether it be “stay the course” or “I’ve never been about ‘stay the course.’” He does whatever he wants.

He lies—not just to us, but to himself as well. What makes lying so easy for Bush is his contempt—for language, for law, and for anybody who dares question him.

That he could say so baldly that he’d never been about “stay the course” is bone chilling. So his words mean nothing. That is very important for people to understand.

Fear of Humiliation

Despite having no shame, Bush has a profound fear of failure and humiliation. He defends himself from this by any means at his disposal—most frequently with indifference or contempt.

He will flinch only if directly confronted about being a failure or a liar. Otherwise world events are enough removed from him that he can spin them into his intact defense system.

This deep fear helps to explain his relentlessly escalating attacks on others, his bullying, and his use of nicknames to put people down. There is fear of being found out not to be as big in every way as his father.

What a burden to have to face his many inadequacies—now held up to the light of day—whether it is his difficulty in speaking, thinking, reading, managing anxiety, or making good decisions. He will not change, because for him change means humiliating collapse. He is very fearful of public exposure of his many inadequacies.

Contempt for Truth?

Contempt itself is a defense, a form of self-protection, which helps Bush appear at ease and relaxed—at least to big fans like New York Times columnist David Brooks.

The president’s contempt defense protects his belief system, a system he clings to as if his beliefs were well-researched facts. His pathology is a patchwork of false beliefs and incomplete information woven into what he asserts is the whole truth.

What gets lost in this process is growth—the George W. Bush of 2007 is exactly the same as the one of 2001. Helen Thomas has said that of all the presidents she has covered over the years, Bush is the least changed by his job, by his experience. This is why there is no possibility of dialogue or reasoning with him.


His certitude that he is right gives him carte blanche for destructive behavior. He has always had a sadistic streak: from blowing up frogs, to shooting his siblings with a b-b-gun, to branding fraternity pledges with white-hot coat hangers.

His comfort with cruelty is one reason he can be so jocular with reporters when talking about American casualties in Iraq. Instead of seeing a president in anguish, we watch him publicly joking about the absence of “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq, in the vain search for which so many young Americans died.

Break It!

Bush likes to break things, needs to break things. And this is most shockingly seen in how he is systematically destroying our armed forces.

In the early days of the Iraq invasion he refused to approve the large number of troop the generals said were needed in order to try to invade and pacify Iraq and acquiesced in the firing of any general who disagreed.

He turned a blind eye to giving the troops proper equipment and cut funding for needed health care. Health care and other social programs have one thing in common: they are paid for by public funds.

It may well be that, unconsciously, the government represents his neglectful parents, and those helped by the government represent the siblings he resents. If George W. Bush wanted to destroy his own family, he could scarcely have done better. Thanks to him, no Bush is likely to be elected to high office for generations to come.

Where Does This Leave Us?

It leaves us with a regressed president who needs to protect himself more than ever from diminishment, humiliation, and collapse. He is so busy trying to manage his own anxiety that he has little capacity left to attend to national and world problems.

And so, we are left with a president who cannot actually govern, because he is incapable of reasoned thought in coping with events outside his control, like those in the Middle East.

This makes it a monumental challenge—as urgent as it is difficult—not only to get him to stop the carnage in the Middle East, but also to prevent him from undertaking a new, perhaps even more disastrous adventure—like going to war with Iran, in order to embellish the image he so proudly created for himself after 9/11 as the commander in chief of “the first war of the 21st century.”

Iran would make number three—all the compelling reasons against it notwithstanding


We will now attempt to put flesh on the discussion by positing and examining scenarios that would force Bush to react, and applying the observations above and other data to forecast what form that reaction might take.

Outlined below are three illustrative contingencies, each of which would pose a neuralgic threat to George W. Bush’s shaky self-esteem, his over-determined efforts to stave off humiliation, and his unending need for self-protection.

These are not seat-of-the-pants scenarios. Each of them is possible—arguably, even probable. The importance of coming up with educated guesses regarding Bush’s response BEFORE they occur is, we hope, clear.

Scenario A: Destructive Attack on the Green Zone

The U.S. military is out in front of Defense Secretary Robert Gates and other policymakers in Washington in seeing the hand of Iran’s government behind “the enemy” in Iraq.

On July 26, the operational commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, blamed the recent “significant improvement” in the accuracy of mortar and rocket attacks on the Green Zone on “training conducted inside Iran.” Odierno also repeated that roadside bombs are being smuggled into Iraq from Iran.

Last week, Gen. David Petraeus warned that insurgents intend to “pull off a variety of sensational attacks and grab the headlines to create a ‘mini-Tet.’” (Tet refers to the surprise country-wide offensive mounted by the Vietnamese Communists in early 1968, which indicated to most Americans that the war was lost.)

Attacks on the Green Zone have doubled in recent months. Despite this, the senior military appear to be in denial with respect to the vulnerability of the Green Zone—oblivious even to the reality that mortar rounds and rocket fire have little respect for walled enclaves.

Anyone with a mortar and access to maps and images on Google can calibrate fire to devastating effect—with or without training in Iran. It is just a matter of time before mortar round or rocket takes out part of the spanking new $600-million U.S. embassy together with people working there or nearby.

And/or, the insurgents could conceivably mount a multi-point assault on the zone and gain control of a couple of buildings and take hostages—perhaps including senior diplomats and military officers.

Given what we think we know of George Bush, if there were an embarrassing attack on U.S. installations in the Green Zone or some other major U.S. facility, he would immediately order a retaliatory series of air strikes, and let the bombs and missiles fall where they may.

The reaction would come from deep within and would warn, in effect: This is what you get if you try to make me look bad.

Scenario B: Israeli Attack on Nuclear Targets in Iran.

This would be madness and would elicit counterattacks from an Iran with many viable options for significant retaliation. Nevertheless, Sen. Joe Lieberman (D, Conn) and his namesake Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s minister of strategic affairs, are openly calling for such strikes, which would have to be on much more massive a scale than Israel’s bombing of Iraq’s nuclear reactor at Osirak in 1981.

For that attack in 1981, Cheney, a great fan of preemptive strikes, congratulated the Israelis, even though the U.S. joined other UN Security Council members in unanimously condemning the Israeli attack.

Five years ago, on Aug. 26, 2002, Cheney became the first U.S. official publicly to refer approvingly to the bombing of Osirak. And in an interview two and a half years ago, on Inauguration Day 2005, Cheney referred nonchalantly to the possibility that “the Israelis might well decide to act first [to eliminate Iran’s nuclear capabilities] and let the rest of the world worry about cleaning up the diplomatic mess afterwards.”

One thing Cheney says is indisputably—if myopically—true: Bush has been Israel’s best friend. In his speeches, he has fostered the false impression that the U.S. is treaty-bound to defend Israel, should it come under attack—as would be likely, were Israel to attack Iran.

With the U.S. Congress firmly in the Israeli camp, Cheney might see little disincentive to giving a green-light wink to Israel and then let the president “worry about cleaning up.”

Reporting from Seymour Hersh’s administration sources serve to strengthen the impression shining through Bush’s speeches that he is eager to strike Iran. But how to justify it?

Curiously, a National Intelligence Estimate on Iran’s nuclear capability, a study scheduled for completion early this year, has been sent back several times—probably because its predictions are not as alarmist as the warnings that Cheney and the Israelis are whispering into the president’s ear.

Senior U.S. military officers have warned against the folly of attacking Iran, but Cheney has shown himself, time and time again, able to overrule the military.

But What if Impeachment Begins?

Is there nothing to rein in Bush and Cheney? It seems likely that only if impeachment proceedings were under way would senior officers like CENTCOM commander, Admiral William Fallon, be likely to parry an unlawful order to start yet another war without the approval of Congress and the UN.

With impeachment under way, such senior officers might be reminded that all officers and national security officials swear an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States—NOT to protect and defend the president.

It was a highly revealing moment when on July 11, former White House political director Sara Taylor solemnly reminded the Senate Judiciary Committee, that as a commissioned officer, “I took an oath and I take that oath to the president very seriously.”

Committee chair Patrick Leahy had to remind Taylor: “We understand your personal loyalty to President Bush. I appreciate you correcting that your oath was not to the president, but to the Constitution.”

The most senior officers, military included, can get their loyalties mixed up. And this is of transcendent importance in a context described by Seymour Hersh: “These guys are scary as can’t use the word ‘delusional,’ for it’s actually a medical term. Wacky. That’s a fair word.”

One does not need psychoanalytic training to see that Bush and Cheney do not care about facts, treaties (or the lack thereof), or other legal niceties, unless it suits their purpose. This gives an even more ominous ring to what Hersh is hearing from his sources.

If Israel attacks Iran, President Bush is likely to spring to Israel’s defense, regardless of whether he was inside or outside the loop before the attack; and the world will see a dangerously widened war in the Middle East.

Psychologically, Bush would almost certainly need to join the attack, mainly to sustain his illusion of safety and masculinity. And Cheney, knowing that, would be pushing him hard on U.S. energy and other perceived strategic interests.

Scenario C: Congress Cuts War Funding This Fall

We posit that Congress finally grows weary of the increasingly obvious bait-and-switch, the “we-need-more-time” tactic, and cuts off all funding except for that needed to bring the troops home.

The talk now is about getting a “meaningful” progress report in November, because September is said to be too soon. The Iraqi parliament is behaving much like its American counterpart by taking August off. But our soldiers do not get a month-long hiatus from constant danger.

It is clear even to the press that the surge has simply brought more American deaths and an upsurge of insurgent attacks. What is less clear is why Bush remains so positive. It is probably not just an act, but an idée fixe he needs to hold onto tightly.

Since doubt is dangerous, we see a compensatory smile fixed on the face of the president and other senior officials, dismissing any trace of uncertainty or doubt.

If Congress cut off funding for war in Iraq, Bush might well cast about for a casus belli to “justify” an attack on Iran.

Would the senior military again go along with orders for an unprovoked, unconstitutional war on a country posing no threat to the U.S.? Hard to say.

In this context, an ongoing impeachment process could provide welcome evidence that influential members of Congress, like many senior military officers, see through Bush’s need to strike out elsewhere. Military commanders might think twice before saluting smartly and executing an illegal order.

In such circumstances, Dick “it-won’t stop-us” Cheney, could be expected to try to pull out all the stops. But if he, too, were in danger of being impeached, uniformed military officers could conceivably block administration plans.

There is only a remote chance that Defense Secretary Gates would be a tempering voice in all this. Far more likely, he would smell in any restrictive legislation traces of the Boland amendment, which he assisted in circumventing during the Iran-Contra misadventure.

Petraeus ex Machina

With “David” or “General Petraeus” punctuating the president’s every other sentence at recent press conferences, the script for September seems clear. This is one four-star general with exquisite PR and political acumen—pedigree and discipline the president can count on.

And with his nine rows of ribbons, he calls to mind the U.S. commander in Saigon, Gen. William Westmoreland at a similar juncture in Vietnam (after the Tet offensive when popular support dropped off rapidly).

It is virtually certain that Petraeus will press hard for more time and more troops. Potemkin-style improvements will be used by Bush to justify continuing the “new” surge strategy, with the calculation that enough Democrats might be overcome by the fear of being charged with “losing Iraq.”

In the past Bush seems to have bought Cheney’s “analysis” that increased enemy attacks were signs of desperation. Hard as it is to believe that Bush has not learned from that repeated experience, it is at the same town possible to “misunderestimate” one’s capacity for wooden-headedness, particularly with respect to someone with the psychological makeup of our president.

He is extraordinarily adept at finding only rose-colored glasses to help him see.

With Cheney egging him on from the wings of the “unitary executive,” but Congress no longer bowing to that novel interpretation of the Constitution, Bush will be sorely tempted to lash out in some violent way, if further funding for the war is denied.

To do that effectively, he will need senior generals and admirals as co-conspirators. It will be up to them to choose between career and Constitution. All too often, in such circumstances, the tendency has been to choose career.

Impeachment hearings, though, could encourage senior officers like Admiral Fallon to pause long enough to remember that their oath is to defend the Constitution, and that they are not required to follow orders to start another war in order to stave off political and personal disaster for the president and vice president.

Justin Frank, M.D.