Thursday, March 30, 2006

Two and a Half Men

I guess one somewhat eccentric actor is ok. So CNN Showbiz Tonight was allowed, for three nights, to give interviews with Charlie Sheen, who was questioning 9/11, generally a taboo media topic unless huge "Conspiracy Theory" headlines accompany it.


But they crossed the line when, in pursuit of the stellar ratings they were getting, Ed Asner was to follow up on a fourth night. A little too much credibility from the old papa bear type of guy. So that was killed from the top. It would be hard to say the "prostitute loving, cocaine sniffing Asner" in the inevitable disparaging tin foil hat stories that follow such interviews.


And in a rather foolish attempt to deflect the Sheen coverage, we have Moussaoui, possibly equipped with a stun belt (just to make sure), suddenly deciding that, after all this time, he was not just the 20th hijacker, but was to have joined shoe bomber Richard Reid and commandeer a fifth plane into the White House. Sacre bleu! Never mind that nobody, in their wildest dreams, could think these two patsies are capable of doing that. But it serves as a distraction, and, perhaps, might reinforce the 9/11 myth in people's minds.


But some damage has already been done. Articles are beginning to come out that have good information in them(1,2). More crucially, after 4 years of seeing what 9/11 has been used to justify, more and more people are no doubt willing to step back and look at the wild "conspiracy theories" more seriously. That's what happened to me. I was completely on board with the bin Laden scenario for over 3 years until it started seeming way too convenient, too serendipitous, that he did exactly what this administration needed done.


I'll be writing a number of blogs on 9/11 down the road. About how the evidence that it was an inside job is truly overwhelming; how the mechanisms for spreading the cover story and suppressing investigation were already in place. There's already a lot out there on this; here are a few good places to start(1,2). But it's important to try to spread the word. The "war on terror" is just an Orwellian ruse, and understanding that 9/11 happened to initiate an imperialist and fascist agenda having nothing to do with terrorism is key to understanding what is going on in the world today.

Friday, March 24, 2006

The Israel Lobby

What is our country based on, but freedom of expression, freedom of ideas? Seems to be a pretty important principle.


The effect of the Israel lobby is getting some coverage right now, due to the publication - in England, of course, no American outlet would touch it - of the paper "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy". It's by two fairly well respected professors and discusses the influence of the Israeli lobby on the American government and media.


First, a quick disclosure. I'm Jewish, and a pro-Israel sort of guy. But that country, like our own, has been hijacked by an immoral right wing group that tries to justify imperialism, brutality, and curtailment of civil liberties in the name of national security. So it's very important to be honest and not let the threat of accusations of anti-semitism suppress legitimate criticism.


I read the article, and felt that overall it was excellent and said a number of things that really needed saying. The basic points are:



  • The pro-Israel lobby, and in particular AIPAC, has enormous influence on our government, to the point of being able to dictate certain policies and curtail debate.

  • They also have a huge influence in the American media, which portrays an overly pro-Israel view of the middle east conflict.


Honestly, these things are fairly well known to Washington insiders and those who pay close attention. But the paper is significant exactly because what it says is quite true, and as a result of this it is difficult for respectable, objective sources to publish this kind of information. Because the influence of the lobby is not openly discussed the net effect is that there is a powerful and often hidden warping of both our foreign policy and news reporting. As the paper says, "the Lobby boasts of its own power and then attacks anyone who calls attention to it".


Nothing proves the point better than the reaction to the paper itself. As I mentioned, the authors found it virtually unpublishable in America. The American mainstream media has ignored it (with a few notable exceptions), and I don't buy for a second that it's because it's not newsworthy. The Jewish media have tried to smear it by deriding its academic qualifications and making much of the fact that David Duke likes it, an obvious attempt to taint it by association with the truly anti-semitic "Jews control the world" crowd. Harvard has already been pressured into disassociating itself from it.


What more need be said? The opponents of the paper are doing an excellent job of vindicating one of its main theses.


The paper is off on certain points. As with many analyses of this nature, it does over-emphasize its arguments. Clearly, the war in Iraq was as much for American hegemony via energy resource control as it was about Israel. All one has to do is look at the makeup of the PNAC to understand that there are a number of agendas in the neocon policies that dovetail very nicely. And the hypocrisy of the administration and the brutality of the Iraq war have had at least as much to do with the fall of America's standing in the Islamic community as our support of Israel. And finally, of course, it assumes the Western backed terrorist attacks are solely Islamist based, and so erroneously asserts our support for Israel is the cause of these.


But overall it says quite soundly something that needs to be said. And suppressing or smearing this kind of reasoned discourse merely pushes America farther down the repressive road it's already on.


Thursday, March 16, 2006

Spooked

I recently got this email about my piece "Cold Blooded Killers" on Paul Wellstone's death:



I always thought it was a hit and I'm glad to read your commentary on it. It always seemed statistically unlikely that Paul Wellstone would die in a plane crash. There aren't that many plane crashes and if there is going to be one, and it will be the death of a Senator, what's the probability that it will be the one Senator who had the gut to stand up to the Bush and his cabal. Maybe this is why the rest of the crowd has lost its nerve. Thanks.




This brought to mind something that a Democratic congressman told Michael Ruppert soon after the crash, while discussing the possibility that Wellstone was murdered:



I don't think there's anyone on the Hill who doesn't suspect it. It's too convenient, too coincidental, too damned obvious. My guess is that some of the less courageous members of the party are thinking about becoming Republicans right now.




Along these lines, I have hunch about the actions of Mark Dayton, the other Democratic senator from Minnesota. In July, 2004, he bacame the first senator to challenge the 9/11 commission's report. Then, in the fall, he suddenly ups and leaves Washington until the election due to "terrorist threats" that nobody else in Washington seems too worried about. I remember when that happened: everybody who was paying attention, including me, thought it was very odd. Of course at the time I still had no idea what was actually going on; it took me a long time to catch on.


What I suspect is that he, too, had finally figured it out. 9/11, the anthrax attacks, Wellstone's murder, the whole bit. He finally realized it was true. Perhaps he even got threatened directly. One way or the other, he felt his life was in particular danger, not because of Arab terrorists, but because he finally knew who was really behind these events and knew that, as a maverick questioning the 9/11 commission, Washington was not a safe place to be. It may seem like a stretch but - perhaps not.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Capitol Hill Blue - A Review

Web site: www.capitolhillblue.com



Background


This is Doug Thompson's site. He has worked as a journalist, as a congressional staff member, and as a lobbyist. Evidently this gave him more than a little distaste for Washington, since the site's motto is "Because nobody's life, liberty or property is safe while Congress is in session or the White House is occupied." The current site was formed in 1994; he claims it to be the oldest surviving internet news site. True or not, it's been around a long time by world wide web standards.


Discussion


While the site does have some news links and various op-ed pieces, far and away its greatest attraction is Thompson's "Rant". Very appropriately named, Thompson rails against the inbred corruption of both Congress and the White House.


While the rants are fun to read, what makes this blog-like site stand out is that he has a lot of Washington connections and sources that give him inside information. He's pretty good about verifying what he hears, so he comes up with stuff that's hard to find elsewhere and is usually reliable. He talked about the warrantless NSA spying well before the NY Times did, and similarly the declining atmosphere in the White House due to Bush's ill temper long before it was discussed by Newsweek. He recently quoted Bush as having said that the Constitution "is just a goddamned piece of paper" - pretty good stuff. It seems that White House aides like to talk to him - probably one of the few ways they can let off some steam. No wonder Rove is getting obsessed with leaks.


Amusingly enough, he was embraced by the right wing when Clinton was in office, and the left wing now. He claims to be a centrist.


Summary




Overall : Very good, but very limited.


Analysis: Thompson's understanding of the machinations and corruption in Washington is excellent. He doesn't stray too far from this, which is the area where he has the most expertise.

News: OK - some news links, but nothing out of the ordinary.


Bias: Extreme anti-Congress/White House bias, but for the right reasons. Not partisan in that he hates the Democrats and Republicans equally.


Pros: There's sometimes information here that is hard, if not impossible, to find elsewhere. Besides this, the Rant can be fun.


Cons: Non-Rant pieces on site are hit-or-miss. Some good, some terrible. The Rant itself can be a bit of a, well, rant.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Cold Blooded Killers

When Cheney recently said that Iran will face "meaningful consequences" if it persists with its nuclear program, it rang a bell.


Here are a few quotes involving the Bush administration and Minnesota senator Paul Wellstone, who died in a plane crash 11 days before the 2002 elections.


Six months before WellStone's death, an article in The Nation magazine reported:



Paul Wellstone is a hunted man. Minnesota's senior senator is not just another Democrat on White House political czar Karl Rove's target list, in an election year when the Senate balance of power could be decided by the voters of a single state. Rather, getting rid of Wellstone is a passion for Rove, Dick Cheney, George W. Bush and the special-interest lobbies that fund the most sophisticated political operation ever assembled by a presidential administration. "There are people in the White House who wake up in the morning thinking about how they will defeat Paul Wellstone," a senior Republican aide confides. "This one is political and personal for them."



A few days before his death, at a meeting with war veterans, Wellstone said that Cheney had told him:



"If you vote against the war in Iraq, the Bush administration will do whatever is necessary to get you. There will be severe ramifications for you and the state of Minnesota."



The day after his death, Michael Ruppert reported:



The day after the crash I received a message from a former CIA operative who has proven extremely reliable in the past and who is personally familiar with these kinds of assassinations. The message read, "As I said earlier, having played ball (and still playing in some respects) with this current crop of reinvigorated old white men, these clowns are nobody to screw around with. There will be a few more strategic accidents. You can be certain of that."



There are plenty of other reasons to think that Wellstone's death was an assassination - or perhaps more accurately, a mob style hit, disguised as a plane crash. A good starting point for looking into this is here.


"Severe ramifications" - When Cheney said Iran will face "meaningful consequences", what it had reminded me of was his warning to Wellstone: "There will be severe ramifications".


Reading about this, even after seeing the brutality in Iraq, even after realizing that Cheney and Rumsfeld were key participants in 9/11, was eye-opening. This was not a detached operation involving the deaths of unknown people. This was a cold blooded, and yet personal, murder. This was someone who had crossed them too many times and had to be eliminated.


At that point I understood just how incredibly like the mafia this gang really is. They are not "conservative politicians". They are a criminal organization.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

An Appeal for Help

I got an email today in response to the "Support Our Troops" article, which was also posted on OpEdNews, where I publish some of the blogs.



Hi Jon, I am writting to thank you for your honesty. I wish more people cared about what is going on over there, And what heartache those left behind at home go through every secound of every day. My son is a US Marine. He got back from his 3 deployment to Iraq, He turned 19 over there the first year, the 2nd year he turned 20 in Fallujah,3rd year he turned 21 on the Syrian border. We are VERY LUCKY HE CAME HOME TO US. Everyday we continue to loose more lives, WHEN WILL IT END??? WHAT CAN WE DO??? I AM NOT WILLING TO LET MY SON GO OVER THERE AGAIN & I WILL DO EVERYTHING I CAN TO KEEP HIM FROM GOING AGAIN!! I do not understand why we have these toll numbers on McDonalds on how many hamburgers they have sold or the lottery numbers...Why isn't there a billboard in every city, with a running toll on it how many soldiers we are loosing every day??? I tried to get my elected representives to help me get a fund raiser on this and was told that the ""Current Administration would NEVER ALLOW THAT!!"



I've read lots of things like this, both from those in the military as well as their parents. But it's more painful when something is addressed directly to you. Honestly, I'm not sure what can be done - one of the most effective recourses, the power to vote, is being rapidly removed (I'll write about that in the near future). But it is important to do something. I've come to understand that no matter how bad one thinks this administration is, the truth is much worse, and I'd encourage all readers to try to do something, even something small, to try to halt what is, essentially, a true move towards fascism in America.

Monday, March 06, 2006

The Incompetence Excuse

Accusing this administration of incompetence is easy to do. The president is a boob who can't tie his shoes without getting instructions through a hidden earpiece. He hires cronies like Brownie, who's main qualification for becoming head of FEMA was failing as a commissioner for a horse association. So when things go wrong, it's easy to attribute that to incompetence.


But often the truth is much worse, and incompentence is simply used as a cover-up for intentionally criminal acts. This article will look at the three most glaring examples of this.


Iraq


This is the most obvious, and most well accepted, instance of the incompetence excuse. If you were to believe this administration, it was all "curveball's" fault. Everybody was being misled! If only we had better intelligence.


Of course, we didn't need the Downing Street Memo to know that ''the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy''. As the NY Times puts it, while trying to squirm out of their lack of reporting on the memo while it was making international headlines, it wasn't that important because "Three years ago , the near-unanimous conventional wisdom in Washington held that Mr. Bush was determined to topple Sadam Hussein by any means necessary". The recent comments by Paul Pillar also serve to emphasize this point: the intelligence was irrelevant.


This one has gotten so much coverage that over half of the country understands it was a hell-bent administration, not incompetent intelligence, that led us into this war.


9/11


"Failure to connect the dots." That's the big catch phrase about 9/11. Once again, our intelligence community just didn't get it right. Once again, this alleged incompetence is hiding the reality that many powerful people in this administration were part of the 9/11 operation, and were working hard to make sure that the dots were not connected.


Colleen Rowley, the FBI agent whose attempts at investigating the 9/11 plot were thwarted from above at every turn, says it best: "jokes were actually made that the key FBIHQ personnel had to be spies or moles, like Robert Hansen, who were actually working for Osama Bin Laden to have so undercut Minneapolis' effort". Of course it was Cheney and Rumsfeld's moles that she was dealing with, though she had no way of knowing that. Many others have reported similar obstructions (see chapter 6, "Did US Officials Obstruct Investigations Prior to 9/11" of David Ray Griffin's "The New Pearl Harbor").


Similarly, the FAA and NORAD are the convenient foils for the failure to get fighters up in time to intercept the hijacked aircraft. The DoD order issued in June 2001 requiring Rumsfeld to OK such interceptions, the redirection of the planes into holding patterns or over the Atlantic, and the multiple war games going on that both confused NORAD personnel and served as cover for the operation are rarely mentioned.


And, most famously, there is the inability to capture bin Laden. As Kerry liked to say, we "outsourced" his capture to the Northern Alliance, a major military blunder. But the reality was quite different: the escape route was intentionally left open, and helicopters assisted in rescuing the remaining Al-Qaeda members.


It's possible to go on, but these examples illustrate how incompetence becomes a cover story for a complex plot that was, in the end, fairly competently carried out.


New Orleans


Who knew the levees were breached? And when did they know it?


If you read the news right now, you'd think that was a major issue, a crucial problem to be solved in ascertaining blame for the failure to help those stranded in New Orleans after Katrina.


Everybody knew the levees might be breached. The mainstream news was screaming this in the days before Katrina arrived - others, for much longer.


The lack of help for those in New Orleans was not due to incompetence, but to a systematic plan to deny them help. Here's the testimony of Aaron Broussard, president of Jefferson Parish, on "Meet the Press":



Let me give you just three quick examples.  We had Wal-Mart deliver three trucks of water, trailer trucks of water.  FEMA turned them back.  They said we didn't need them.  This was a week ago.  FEMA--we had 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel on a Coast Guard vessel docked in my parish.  The Coast Guard said, "Come get the fuel right away."  When we got there with our trucks, they got a word.  "FEMA says don't give you the fuel."  Yesterday--yesterday--FEMA comes in and cuts all of our emergency communication lines.  They cut them without notice.  Our sheriff, Harry Lee, goes back in, he reconnects the line. He posts armed guards on our line and says, "No one is getting near these lines."



"Three quick Examples." He's right - there were many reports coming out then not of an inability to help, or of incompetence in providing help, but of the intentional withholding of help and interference with help being otherwise provided. "FEMA comes in and cuts all of our communication lines". That is not incompetence. That is sabotage. Similarly, it is active interference that prevents the Coast Guard from delivering fuel or Wal-Mart from delivering water. This is not a matter of someone not knowing that there was a dire situation in New Orleans; quite the opposite, it is someone who did know what was going on there actively stopping people, both governmental and not, from going in and helping.


Why was help thwarted? Was it a turf fight of some sort, or an attempt to experiment with martial law? Was it part of more a complex plot involving bombing the levees and clearing out poor people, as those in the ninth ward claim? I certainly can't answer these questions, but I do know that much more than incompetence was involved.


In Conclusion


The incompetence excuse often ends up being a safe haven for the left. It's acceptable, it doesn't challenge any mainstream notions, and it lets them get their digs in. But it is important not to ignore the facts, the ones that point out acts that are quite intentional, and always harmful. History does tend to repeat, and allowing them to get away with criminal behavior, again and again, and only accusing them of incompetence, will increase the probability that these acts will continue.


I've noticed that, more and more, people are beginning to realize just how radical and unscrupulous this administration is. It's important to continue to expose this, and not help them cover up their most drastic acts.