Monday, March 12, 2007

Iraq and 9/11 Connection PROVED!

In a stunning announcement today, Saddam Hussein (via a medium) admitted that he had been financing Osama bin Laden for years under the mistaken impression that bin Laden was somehow connected to Wheel of Fortune's Pat Sajak, and therefor, to Vanna White, for whom Saddam has had the most powerful crush, ever since he saw her in Playboy.

Wait, what?

In the real news, Halliburton is moving the offices of their CEO and their headquarters to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Also known as the Las Vegas of the Persian Gulf. In this case, Las Vegas designed for really f**king rich people. This is the kind of place where multimillionaires go to blow their bank accounts on hotels and food, where Jim Carrey could easily spend his salary in weekend.

So, it's nice to know that one of the major corporations involved in overcharging our military for basic services is moving to a tax haven. Oh, but they'll remain registered in Texas. Yes... That's reassuring.

Of course, the democrats are a little bit POed. Halliburton's known overcharges to the military during the war in iraq have been reported over and over again, Halliburton's subsidiary, Kellog-Brown-Root (KBR) has been fined a couple of times for gross overcharging (KBR is being spun off, if that's any comfort). Then again, as long as no one is looking, why not overcharge? Halliburton and KBR's contracts are known as "cost-plus" contracts, i.e., they are given a job to do, they bill the government for the job, and the government gives them a little taste (2 to 3 %) on top of the bill for "profit's" sake. Which is all well and good, except that these are "no-bid" contracts. "Just do the work, and bill what you must, we'll give you a little extra for your trouble." So, the more they bill, the more profit they get. Someone overbills, eventually, maybe, someone finds out in the government, they spank KBR or Haliburton, a fine is leveed, and the excess has to be paid back. "oops!"
If no one notices, then no one is fined, and no one has to pay anything back. And oversight has only just become a sport in Washington again. So they may have a bit of a backlog looking up all this nonsense. By which time, perhaps Halliburton will have registered in Dubai after all, and KBR will be left holding the bag for the whole problem.


Panama - 1991 Where to start, where to start. Teddy Roosevelt, that's where! "I took it!", said Pres. Roosevelt, when asked by what right the United States had taken control of the Panama Canal Zone. I didn't know that theft was acceptable under international law.

Well, we'll grandfather this one in.

In 1968 Panama had become a military dictatorship under Omar Torrijos. Not fond of opponents, Torrijos was known for having his political rivals flown over the ocean via helicopter and thrown into the sea, far from any kind of swimming distance to shore. One was even beaten to death in Coiba prison, the whereabouts of his remains unknown. Torrijos was nevertheless a fairly popular ruler, due to his educational and land reforms, guaranteeing every Panamanian citizen a shot at an education through college level for free. The folks who had been brought in to build the canal (primarily from Africa) had always been second-class citizens, and their descendants, as well, were the largest component of the most impoverished sections of Panama. Specifically an area called El Chorillo, in Panama City. Under Torrijos, they got chances for education and employment they'd never had before.

In 1977, Torrijos signed an agreement with President Jimmy Carter, turning over the Canal to the Panamanians at the end of 1999. This was seen in conservative circles in the United States as essentially giving up sovereignty of a US strategic point to a bunch of ungrateful yokels. Ronald Reagan spoke vehemently about the Panama Canal as being as much a part of America as any of the fifty states.
In 1981, just after Reagan had taken office as President, Torrijos was blown up in his plane. After a certain amount of scuffling amongst the various military folks who wanted to run Panama, General Manuel Noriega managed to get the top spot. Central America at the time became very much the hot spot for Reagan to play anti-communist, and so Panama was an important strategic strong-point. Noriega proved a useful ally in the Nicaraguan situation. He had been recruited in the seventies by the CIA (then run by later-to-become President Bush 41). What also occurred was that Noriega was starting to make more and more money as a conduit for various drugs and drug money passing through Panama.
He was also becoming more and more independent from the US, and actually rebuffed their attempts to involve him more directly with the Contras in Nicaragua.
In the late eighties, American forces began clashing openly with Panamanian Defense Forces (PDF), running operations outside the canal zone (in violation of the Treaty). Eventually, tensions got to the point where the PDF stopped and forcibly interrogated a US Army Lieutenant, nearly raping his wife, before releasing them both. This was the flashpoint that brought on the Panama invasion. Thousands of civilians were killed in the invasion, primarily in the neighborhood of El Chorillo. Noriega was cornered in the Vatican's embassy, and he eventually surrendered to the Americans.
In the elections that followed, the United States spent $10 million promoting the candidates of their choice, Guillermo Endara, Ricardo Arias Calderon, and Guillermo "Billy" Ford. Normally, a foreign power financing one side or another in US elections would be a violation of US election laws.
Since Noriega's capture and trial (he'll be up for parole in September of this year), drug trafficking through Panama has increased, doubling in the first year alone after he was arrested. To quote the excellent book by John leCarre, The Tailor of Panama, "They got Ali Baba, but they missed the forty thieves."

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

You didn't...

Faux News reporting on the Scooter Libby verdict lists one thing on the screen crawl, which said, "Scooter Libby Found Not Guilty of Lying to FBI Investigators."

ummmmmm..... Talk about selective journalism. I'm sure the fella doing the actual story reported that indeed, yes, Libby was convicted on the other four counts of the indictment (see post below), but really, if you're like me, and only get your news filtered through the "liberal" lens, this particular infographic just shoots another hole in the "Fair and Balanced" crap they keep saying about themselves. Sandy Berger (the Clinton National Security Advisor who plead guilty to misdemeanor charges of walking off with classified documents) was once shown on this network with the name "Sandy Burglar" under his face, and I do believe someone in the Infographic Department at Faux is just sittin there gigglin like a schoolgirl about how funnnnny that is.

Actually, it could really BE a schoolgirl doing the infographics with art direction by Roger Ailes. Who knows!

What is it, exactly, that tells these people at Faux that it's good for business to constantly put out BS and call it news? Isn't there a special room in Hell for these people? Some people say "the Fox News Network produces nothing but crap, and everything they say is lies."

Just using the Faux News ploy of "some people say" - kind of a catchall for, this is what our people say, which must mean that other people would say it, too, if we tell them it's what they could be saying, which means we can report it as something that some people are saying. Hannity, O'Reilly, even Bush uses it all the time, as a way of spouting some particularly heinous opinion or ridiculous position as being from "some people say." Known in the Wiki world as "weasel words."

At this point, I need sound effects. Or a barf bag.

Anyway, I'm having the time of my life listening to the deafening silence from the right-wingers that usually choke up the airwaves where I work. All of the normal standards of debate and decency go flying out the window. If there's a controversy, it's because some liberal media source has said it's so, therefor it's biased - but Bill-O is an unimpeachable source of data. I'm still hearing about aluminum tubes, and mobile bio-weapons labs, the five hundred rounds of useless shells, and the report from Rummy's special ops group at the Pentagon (which of course is more reliable than those bastards at the IAEA, and their terrorist-coddling masters, the UN).

Now, something has been proven in a court of law, prosecuted by a Bush appointee, no less, and a jury that managed to deadlock on one count of the indictment, but still managed to come up with a unanimous guilty verdict on the other four counts. Stick that in your loofah and smoke it!


Nicaragua - 1980s When Jimmy Carter withdrew support for the Somoza dictatorship on "moral grounds", the Sandinistas finally had their chance to take over the country. Somoza was out on his ear. Our government (under Ronald Reagan) illegally supported the Contras, a paramilitary organization composed primarily of former Sandinista revolutionaries and Somoza's personal bodyguards. Congress and the Senate eventually passed the Boland Amendments, cutting off funding for the Contras (as they were doing death squad-style killings and generally behaving very badly), so Iran-Contra was born.

Oliver North, Adm. John Poindexter, Eliot Abrams, et al, set up a secret method of funding the Contras that allowed President Reagan to plausibly deny that his administration was breaking the law. This included arms sales to Iran, who was at that time an avowed enemy of the United States and at war with Iraq (an ally of the US at the time - insert picture of Donald Rumsfeld shaking Saddam Hussein's hand). All of this eventually unraveled very publicly, with the major players convicted of a variety of things, but then having their convictions thrown out on technicalities. In other words, they broke the law, but couldn't have their own testimony used against them, as they were under an umbrella of immunity.

There were plenty of stories about the Contras funding their little insurgency by selling crack in California, North being very cozy with Manuel Noriega, and a couple of planeloads of guns and cocaine going down, people working for the State Department getting caught, etc.

Since then, some of them have reappeared in the political arena, most notably John Poindexter, who was for a time heading up a little department called Total Information Awareness. The TIA was to data mine everyone's records for anything. By which i mean everyone. About everything. Medical, dental, phone, internet usage, e-mail, travel, work. Surprisingly, as soon as people heard about it, there was a bit of an outcry, Rumsfeld said something like, "don't get all bent out of shape, we wouldn't do anything baaaad..." Uh, huh... riiiiiight.... And the TIA (supposedly) died on the vine. Poindexter still works for the Bush administration doing... something....

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Private Hell

As opposed to Corporal Punishment.

So one of the reasons for the deterioration at Walter Reed may have to do with the fact that the running of the place was turned over to private enterprise. Interestingly, to a fella with ties to Halliburton.

shock and surprise...


Anyway, so the number of trained personnel has dropped from 300 to around 60. And yet, the cost of running the place has probably gone up! Since private usually costs more than public (all Repugnican stories to the contrary), especially when it's one of those no-bid contracts, which I suspect it might be.

Innuendo, out the other, I know, but I can't help myself today, I'm giddy with delight, as the Libby verdict came back Four out of Five charges that he's GUILTY! Now, then...

Deceiving a grand jury, lying to FBI agents, perjury, and perjury. 25 years and a million bucks in fines. If the verdict is upheld, he's going to prison for sure. Hopefully one of those maximum-security, pound-you-in-the-a** prisons.

Naw, he'll go to Allenwood, or something dull like that. Conjugal visits (maybe even from Dick C.), food from outside, yadda-yadda-yadda. Jeez, they read the verdict, Guilty as hell on four counts, they fingerprint him and send him on his merry way, ROR. Seems a shame all those medical marijuana people having to go to prison for doing something that's supposedly legal in their state, but not legal at the Federal level. Are you confused? I sure am.

Meanwhile, at the House of Repressives, hearings continue on "Why Walter Reed Sucks." All the army folks who are at these hearings will give them a hundred or more reasons why they're not happy with the way things are. Rats, mice, cockroaches, mold, holes in the walls, in the ceilings, peeling wallpaper, bureaucratic incompetence, indifference, misdiagnoses, correct diagnoses with inappropriate treatment, easy access to alcohol and painkillers...

Doesn't pay to go out and shoot your fellow man anymore. And please, no one give me the "defending our freedoms" crap. These guys and gals are fighting in our name, but they're fighting the wrong war (mostly). I am talking about those who've come back from Iraq, not Afghanistan. The Afghan war makes a certain amount of sense, though we are gradually losing that one as well. The Iraq war is essentially swirling the bowl, and Bush & Friends are behaving as if it's whitewater rafting. Redeploy to Kuwait before it's too late, ya hicks!

Either way, no matter what war these kids are fighting in, if they've been wounded, physically or mentally, they deserve the best treatment we can give them. As usual, we look for ways to do the aftercare on the cheap. Plenty of money for recruitment, not enough for training or armor, LOTSA BOMBS!!!! and then oops back to McDonalds' Hospital for fast food health care that won't hurt your wallet.


E. Timor - 1975 The Indonesian government under General Suharto, who was part of the coup that overthrew Sukarno and killed all those Commies, decided that E. Timor was becoming a Communist country. E. Timor had only recently gone from being a Portuguese colony, and had foolishly accepted help from the People's Republic of China. So we, along with the Australians, helped the Indonesian government invade and occupy E Timor. They finally regained their independence in 2000, after the deaths of around 200,000 people, and thirty years of guerilla warfare. Kissinger and Ford both let this happen, and Jimmy Carter did little to change it back.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Yeah, sick, but what next?

The whole Walter Reed Hospital thing. When you consider the epithets thrown at all us peace-loving, truth-loving leftos, you must begin to wonder how in the hell do we repel the invasion into the brains of the American public another cheap and easy explanation of something like Walter Reed? Do we need our own vocabulary of mean things to say about the Republicans? As a regular listener to the Stephanie Miller Show on Air America (where they are not shy about coming up with rude things to say about particular Repubs), I am aware how easily one can name an individual, i.e., the SM show's name for Tom Delay is Drunky McPukeShoes.

Funny, no? I f**king think so.

On the other hand, the Republican talking points start referring to us as the Democrat party. Or the Defeatocrats. Or (horrors!) Liberal. Feminazis, Surrender Monkeys, Troop-haters, etc...

So let's come up with some really mean things to say about the Repubs that fit into a single word, or a simple sound-bite that the "liberal" media will run with. Kind of a Washington Post style invitational thing.

Please comment this blog with ideas, as the blog is short on 'em.

So, anyway, for those living under rocks, I will briefly explain the Walter Reed story as I understand it. This is one of the top hospitals in the whole military system. And apparently, it's falling to pieces - mold, rats, cockroaches. A New York City tenement from the fifties, basically.

{The woman who broke the original story on Walter Reed is also the woman who broke the original story on the CIA "Black Sites", interrogation centers in foreign countries wherein the CIA would and could detain folks endlessly, and interrogate them using basic mean techniques. Like a lot of loud Britney Spears music. Showing them Britney Spears without underwear. Or hair. On her head.}

So, our soldiers come back missing limbs, eyesight, hearing, parts of their brains gone or shaken to the point of creating an almost zombie-like state for the poor soldiers. And, in one of the most efficient hospitals in terms of computerization, these folks are left to fend for themselves against vermin, rotting facilities, holes in the ceilings, in the pipes. And the fellow who was running the place, Maj. Gen. George W. Weightman, just resigned, to be replaced by a fella that says everything has been taken care of, the building is anything but substandard.

In less than a week? Wow... so when did Superman go back to Metropolis?

On top of the physical deterioration of the place, apparently no one has time to call up Army translators so that the folks (who were persuaded to join the Army by Spanish-speaking recruiters) who cannot make themselves understood to the English-only staff can get the proper treatment. Drug and alcohol addiction have increased (alcohol is sold on base - brilliant), and the patients themselves have become so frustrated by the ineptitude of the bureaucracy that they've decided to stay in their rooms rather than go to appointments that might have been forgotten about by the administrators.

Hell, I'd be getting drunk pretty regularly, too.

The Army's response to the report?

Soldiers at Walter Reed have been told to be up at 6 every morning to be ready for a 7 am inspection. Oh, and don't talk to the media.

Simplifies things. If no one knows, no one can say anything bad. If you're afraid of being punished further (and I understand that daily inspections are something you do in boot camp and basic training, not once you've been in the field - after that it's considered punishment), you'll keep your damn mouth shut. I can see it now, the blind guy with only one arm can't get his foot locker just right: "DROP AND GIVE ME FIFTY!!!"



Chile - 1973 Salvador Allende was the democratically elected president of Chile. He was a socialist with ties to Cuba and Castro. Thanks to many of his reforms, a more equitable redistribution of wealth in the country was achieved, but at the expense of nationalizing major industry and agrarian land redistribution. The CIA and Nixon did not approve of all this socialist behavior, and sought to destabilize the country via financial support to opposition media. We also promised support to the military if they would overthrow Allende. On September 11, 1973, they did just that. Allende himself was officially reported dead by suicide. By automatic rifle (13 shots). Though there is no proof that the US was involved in the coup, we immediately sought to strengthen ties with Augusto Pinochet, who became the leader of the country afterwards. Pinochet was responsible for the torture and murder of many of his own citizens, and was later involved in assassinations that took place in other countries, including the US.