Archive for July, 2007

Bush’s draft dodge, withdraw from Iraq or reinstate the draft

July 28, 2007

Bush’s draft dodge

The president doesn’t support a draft, but our Army isn’t built to fight a war such as Iraq without one.

By Lawrence J. Korb and Max A. Bergmann, LAWRENCE J. KORB is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and a former assistant secretary of Defense in the Reagan administration. MAX A. BERGMANN is a research associate at the center.
May 26, 2007

PERHAPS THE ONLY issue in which there is near-total bipartisan unity in Washington is opposition to the draft. Those who oppose continuing the war in Iraq object to the draft for obvious reasons. But supporters of the president’s Iraq policy should not get off so easily.

By vetoing the initial Iraq war supplemental spending bill because it contained a timetable for withdrawal, President Bush clearly believes that a substantial number of U.S. troops will be needed in Iraq for an indefinite period of time. But how are we going to sustain operations in Iraq beyond 12 to 18 months? The president insists that setting a withdrawal timetable will tie the hands of commanders on the ground, but it is not the timetable that will tie their hands. It is the breaking of the U.S. Army.

Currently, our ground forces, specifically the Army, are stretched to their limits. Our soldiers and Marines have been fighting in Iraq for more than four years and in Afghanistan for almost six. To meet the demands of the president’s surge, the Army is scrambling to find enough troops. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates has already been forced to extend tours for soldiers serving in Iraq from 12 to 15 months. Soldiers are being sent back to Iraq for their second and third deployments; some have not even been home a year before being sent back. Many new recruits are being sent into intense combat in Baghdad without proper training. And in some cases, the Army has been so desperate that, as Mark Benjamin of Salon magazine first reported, it is even forcing injured soldiers back into combat before they have adequately recovered. Retired Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey recently remarked that “the ground combat capability of the U.S. armed forces is shot.”

Meanwhile, the National Guard is in even worse shape. The head of the National Guard has said that 90% of the Army National Guard is poorly equipped, raising real questions about the Guard’s ability to respond to disasters like Hurricane Katrina and the tornado that wiped out Greensburg, Kan. Yet more than 13,000 Guardsmen have been notified that they likely will be sent back to Iraq in 2008.

The Army was simply not built to fight protracted ground wars like the one in Iraq. After the draft was ended in 1973, the current all-volunteer system was created out of the mind-set of “no more Vietnams.” The Army was intended to be a small, highly trained fighting force that would act in an initial-response capacity to repel and counter the Soviets or other aggressors.

In the event of a major conflict, the active-duty Army would be supported in the short and medium term by the National Guard and Reserves. But if a conflict were to grow in length or intensity, the Army would revert to the draft. The all-volunteer force was not put in place to be an alternative to conscription but was intended to be a bridge to it. This is why we require young men to register with the Selective Service System when they turn 18.

Although the president and his administration have insisted that operations in Iraq will be difficult and will take a long time, Bush has done nothing to seriously prepare for such a long-term commitment. Considering the current state of the Army, if the president wants to sustain a substantial number of U.S. troops in Iraq beyond the next 18 months, he should call for reinstating the draft. That would be the responsible path.

Yet the president will never call for the draft. He knows the country would never support the level of sacrifice for this war that implementing a draft would demand. But this is one of the very reasons why the all-volunteer Army was designed the way it was — to prevent a commander in chief from fighting a war that lacks the support of the public.

Instead, the president will lean even more heavily on those who have already served. As a result, troops will be sent back for their third, fourth and fifth deployments; through “stop-loss” orders, soldiers will be prevented from leaving the service even though they have fulfilled their term of duty; deployments will be extended even longer; and the National Guard and Reserves will stay on duty in Iraq, further depleting our already thin domestic response capability.

In the end, the president will not only be unable to stabilize Iraq, he will have destroyed the finest army the world has known.

If the president is committed to fighting the war in Iraq over the long term, instead of simply running out the clock on his presidency, he should have the courage of his convictions and call for reinstating the draft. If not, the only responsible course is to set a timetable to bring the troops home.


Did Bush / Cheeny cabal have Tillman wacked?

July 27, 2007

Was Pat Tillman eliminated to silence a powerful anti-war voice?

It’s looking more and more like Pat Tillman was murdered — executed if you will. The incredible revelations were revealed in a new AP story that doesn’t draw any conclusions, but whose fresh details paint a picture of an Army-wide cover-up and an execution-style assassination. From Yahoo:

Army medical examiners were suspicious about the close proximity of the three bullet holes in Pat Tillman’s forehead and tried without success to get authorities to investigate whether the former NFL player’s death amounted to a crime, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.
“The medical evidence did not match up with the, with the scenario as described,” a doctor who examined Tillman’s body after he was killed on the battlefield in Afghanistan in 2004 told investigators.

The doctors — whose names were blacked out — said that the bullet holes were so close together that it appeared the Army Ranger was cut down by an M-16 fired from a mere 10 yards or so away.

10 yards away? How do you fuck up so badly that you manage to put 3 bullets — in a tight grouping — in the head of a fellow Ranger? It doesn’t seem very likely, especially when there was zero evidence of enemy fire. That means that they were not in the fog of war and the confusion that follows from it.

It’s also worth noting that the Tillman story has changed several times. First, he was killed by enemy fire. Then he was killed by friendly-fire. Now it seems the “friendly” might have been aiming right at him.

Who would want Tillman dead, and why? Prison Planet has some theories:

The evidence points directly to it and the motivation is clear – Tillman abandoned a lucrative career in pro-football immediately after 9/11 because he felt a rampaging patriotic urge to defend his country, and became a poster child for the war on terror as a result. But when he discovered that the invasion of Iraq was based on a mountain of lies and deceit and had nothing to do with defending America, he became infuriated and was ready to return home to become an anti-war hero.
As far back as March 2003, immediately after the invasion, Tillman famously told his comrade Spc. Russell Baer, “You know, this war is so fucking illegal,” and urged his entire platoon to vote against Bush in the 2004 election. Far from the gung-ho gruff stereotype attributed to him, Tillman was actually a fiercely intellectual man with the courage of his convictions firmly in place.

Tillman had even begun to arrange meetings with anti-war icons like Noam Chomsky upon his return to America before his death cut short any aspirations of becoming a focal point for anti-war sentiment.

This is the last thing the Bush/Cheney administration needed. Could they have possibly given the order to assassinate Tillman and then cover it up?

Former presidential candidate Wesley Clark said he thought the orders to whack Tillman must’ve come from the very top. Tillman could’ve become an anti-war voice much more resonant among men and conservatives than Cindy Sheehan. He represented a threat precisely because of his service, his life story and his fierce, questioning intelligence. The latest (and most pathetic) propaganda seems designed to paint Pat as an atheist to undermine America’s trust in him:

But the latest documents give a different account from a chaplain who debriefed the entire unit days after Tillman was killed.

The chaplain said that O’Neal told him he was hugging the ground at Tillman’s side, “crying out to God, help us. And Tillman says to him, `Would you shut your (expletive) mouth? God’s not going to help you; you need to do something for yourself, you sniveling …”

If there was no enemy fire, why were they on the ground? How do we know this account wasn’t completely fabricated? I think Congress needs to talk to the doctors and investigators who attempted to pursue the homicide angle, but were stymied.

How come all of these anti-war people tend to die mysteriously?
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Robert Baer – 911 inside job

July 27, 2007

Baer offers an analysis of the Middle East through the lens of his experiences as a CIA operative.

In a 2003 interview, Baer supported the premise that 9/11 was planned and executed by Osama bin Laden. However, when asked by Thom Hartmann in 2006 whether he was “of the opinion that there was an aspect of ‘inside job’ to 9/11 within the U.S. government?”, Baer responded, “There is that possibility, the evidence points at it.”

REEFER MADNESS – the war on drugs

July 27, 2007

by Woid

Like the “war on terror,” the “war on drugs” shows every sign of going on forever. (That other “war” against an abstraction, LBJ’s “war on poverty,” is the only one that actually ended. Poverty won.)

You know the stats: the United States, that beacon of freedom, has over two million citizens in prison– plus the hundreds of thousands more in local jails– more than any other country on earth. (That’s out of 9 million worldwide.) And, by various estimates that I just quickly googled, between 25% and an astounding 55% of them, depending on who you belive, are doing time for drug-related convictions. Even looking at the lower estimate, that means more than half a million Americans in jail for drugs. (More info.)

Some of those prisoners are big-time dealers, no doubt, convicted of big-time felonies. But lots of them were busted for mere possession, often for the most innocuous “drug” of them all, marijuana.

Until the 1930s, the weed wasn’t seen as evil by the public. It was an underground phenomenon, restricted to the underclasses and the social outcasts (like artists and musicians). Then an ambitious Fed named Harry J. Anslinger saw an opening. Anslinger had been the Assistant Prohibition Commissioner (how’s that for a job title?) in the Bureau of Prohibition. In 1930, he moved over to the newly formed Federal Bureau of Narcotics, just before his old job vanished with the end of alcohol prohibition. And he came up with something else to demonize: marijuana.

All of the laughable anti-pot propaganda of the past can be traced back to Anslinger’s campaign against cannibis. At first, the government was less concerned with the evils of pot, and more with the revenue they were losing by not being able to tax its use. Anslinger changed that paradigm, and we’re still living with the results.

He’d been in his Narc job for four years before he saw the opportunity at hand. In conjunction with William Randolph Hearst, whose newspapers gave him a platform, Anslinger began a relentless campaign against the threat of pot. Most of his sensational stories were completely baseless– claims of mad potheads committing murder and assorted depravities. There was a strong racist element to the stories, many of which were about those perennial threats, “colored people” and Mexicans (who were threatening to flood the country and take away jobs– sounds vaguely familiar).

Seventy years later, marijuana is still classified as a “narcotic”– which it isn’t– and even misdemeanor possession can ruin lives. (Kids applying for federal college loans, for example, are permanently disqualified if they’ve ever been convicted on drug charges.)

Unsurprisingly, our cowardly political class has been afraid to do anything to change the situation– even though many of them now make the ritualistic statement that they “experimented” with pot in their bygone days. The fact that literally hundreds of millions of Americans have smoked pot at one time or another (say, 4:20 p.m.) hasn’t given Congress the courage to deal with the injustices of our drug laws… even those against the most innocuous of drugs, the one that’s far safer than the alcohol that fuels their lobbyist-hosted lunches.

Over the past few years, states have been moving to modernize their ancient anti-pot laws– against the objections of the DEA. A number of states have legalized medical marijuana, available from state-licensed dispensaries with a prescription. Opponents say that medical marijuana laws are just a wedge to open the door to legalization… and maybe that’s true.

The dispensaries that have set up shop here in Southern California are like candy stores for potheads. (So they say…. your correspondent has not visited one.) Varieties of weed are labeled with names like “Purple Haze” and “Green Crack.” Hash, hash oil, and other delicacies that have been extremely rare in the underground market for years are freely on sale, along with lollipops and other goodies. (So they say… etc.)

This has been infuriating to the DEA, the “Drug Czar,” and the Bush “administration,” who have been doing everything they can to ovverride the states.

This week, the House of Representatives did them a big favor. Yes, the new, Democratic, supposedly more progressive, House. For several years, Rep. Maurice Hinchey, a rare progressive voice from formerly conservative upstate New York, has introduced amendments cutting off funding for Federal efforts to crack down on state-sanctioned medical marijuana. His amendment came up for a vote on Wednesday, and lost– by a smaller margin than in past years, but still decisively, 262-165. Surprisingly, 15 Replicants voted in favor, some for libertarian reasons, like Ron Paul and some who are allegedly stoners, like Dana Rohrabacher. More disturbingly, 79 Democrats voted against– not just the regular reactionaries who always vote with the Republicans (like Barrow and Mathesonl and Taylor and Carney and Hill and Salazar…) but also some of the progressive freshmen like Mike Arcuri, John Hall, and Jerry McNerney.

So much for states’ rights, that issue supposedly so dear to the Replicants. Worse, so much for the individual liberties that Democrats claim to stand for– at least on this issue.

On Wednesday, the same day the Hinchey Amendment was defeated, the DEA raided and shut down 10 medical marijuana dispensaries in the L.A. area, arresting people who were there to protest. I’m not aware whether there were more raids in other cities– but if there weren’t, it’s a safe bet there will be.

We’re not just talking about potheads being deprived of their magic lollipops. Closing down the dispensaries, against the will of the voters of California or any other state, means that people whose pain could be eased by medical marijuana– cancer patients, AIDS patients, glaucoma victims– will just have to go back to suffering as they did before the medical marijuana laws passed.

There are many issues that are more life-and-death than this one. But here’s just one more marker of our plodding progress toward becoming a police state. And among others, there are 79 Democrats who can take the credit, or the blame– including quite a few who should have the courage to stand up on this issue. Some of them are on the Blue America list that DWT has done so much to support. The current Blue America candidates who voted in favor of Hinchey’s legislation– to leave marijuana to the states– are Tom Allen (ME), Steve Cohen (TN), Jerrold Nadler (NY), Carol Shea-Porter (NH), and Hilda Solis (CA). Today might be a good day to show them a little love.

Maybe you’d like to talk to those other reps about this. If so, here’s the complete list of who voted yes and who voted no; you can find their phone numbers on the site. Oh, and while you’re on the phone, tell them to show some courage on impeachment too.

Prescott Bush Plotted Coup against the USA in 1933 – I guess the apple doesn’t fall from the tree / bush

July 25, 2007


The coup was aimed at toppling President Franklin D Roosevelt with the help of half-a-million war veterans. The plotters, who were alleged to involve some of the most famous families in America, (owners of Heinz, Birds Eye, Goodtea, Maxwell Hse & George Bush’s Grandfather, Prescott) believed that their country should adopt the policies of Hitler and Mussolini to beat the great depression.

Mike Thomson investigates why so little is known about this biggest ever peacetime threat to American democracy.

Stiffen Your Upper Lip

July 24, 2007


Posted by Taki Theodoracopulos on July 21, 2007

In a city scarred forever by terror, New Yorkers could be forgiven for fearing the worst. I am referring to last Thursday’s Lexington Avenue explosion which had everyone experiencing 9/11 deja vu. Shoppers ran for cover, dodging flying rubble, while a truck was swallowed when the tarmac opened up into a giant crater. But not to worry. As everyone knows, it was an explosion caused in an underground steam pipe. The point of my story is the reaction to the blast. A woman died from a heart attack and at least thirty people were injured in the panic, some seriously. I was not there, but was witness when a small airplane plunged into a building near my house last Autumn—killing the pilot, a New York Yankee pitcher. That was when I realized that average Americans are not exactly cool under fire.

Europeans are often derided by Hollywood scriptwriters and late night comedians as quick to leave the field of battle, but I’d hate to see, say, New Yorkers’ reactions to the firestorm which engulfed Dresden and Hamburg, not to mention Berlin. Further south, when I was a young boy in Athens, we were pounded daily by the American and British air forces, but as far as I know the pounding had very little effect on me or any other Greek. Our house, north of Athens, was near the royal summer palace and its tiny military airport which the Germans had turned into a base. There was many a time when I ran out of the shelter thinking the silver foils released by the Allied planes were chocolates. (It was a way of disorienting the crude anti-aircraft radar possessed by the Axis forces). More than once a kind German trooper emerged from his trench to stop me from getting pulverized.

And I won’t even go into Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or the firebombing of Tokyo by the kindly Curtis Le May. So, what is the point of my story? Easy: I happened to be in London couple of weeks ago when the bombs failed to go off. My English friends insisted we dine at Wilton’s, one block away from where the car bomb was located, as a matter of principle. When the next day a bomb did go off in the Glasgow airport, burning only the suicide bomber but no innocents present, I particularly liked the monosyllabic reaction of one John Smeaton, a baggage handler who tackled one of the fleeing terrorists: “This is Glasgow, you know, we’ll be aboot ye.”

In other words, we don’t let anyone do this in our backyard without a rather severe beating. There were no screams, no one got hysterical, and no one had a heart attack. Contrasting the calm that prevailed in England after the July 2005 attacks, in which tens were killed and hundreds injured, with those following the U.S. and Spanish ones, one is struck by the calm of the former. Perhaps it’s because British values reside not in trite phrases a-la-Bush, but in institutions. In peace time Brits can be prickly, aggressive, dour and unpleasant. But these very traits equip the people admirably when dealing with terrorism. Maybe Bush and Cheney should turn down the rhetoric. And look toward those “friends” like the Saudis and the Gulf states whose deep pockets are once again financing Qaeda operatives and setting up new training camps. But as they say, if you want to win power, play to the emotions, not the reason. In America it works every time.

Who Is John D. Bates?

July 21, 2007

bates.jpgYesterday, federal district Judge John D. Bates “dismissed a lawsuit filed by former CIA officer Valerie Plame and her husband [Joe Wilson] against Vice President Cheney and other top officials over the Bush administration’s” retaliatory leak of Plame’s identity. Bates’s decision yesterday is in line with a long record of injecting his personal political agenda into the administration of law. Some other recent examples include:

– In August 2006, Bates “ruled that it was acceptable for the president to sign a bill that had not been passed by Congress.” A clerical error resulted in the President receiving a version of a law approved by only one half of Congress. Bates upheld the law, despite the President being warned of the error before signing the bill. [LINK]

– In December 2002, Bates protected the Bush administration by narrowly dismissing a lawsuit filled by the U.S. Comptroller General David M. Walker against Cheney. Walker “wanted Mr. Cheney to reveal the names of industry executives who helped the administration develop” its energy policy. Bates argued turning the records over to Walker “would hobble an administration’s essential, legitimate ability to receive frank information and advice.” [LINK]

– From September 1995 to March 1997, Bates served as Deputy Independent Counsel to Whitewater investigator Ken Starr. During that time, Bates wanted open access to what Sen. Pat Leahy called, the “dresser drawers of the White House.” At the time, Bates “successfully argued that the White House had to turn over documents related to then-first lady Hillary Clinton.” [LINK]

Furthermore, shortly after he was appointed to the FISA court, the Bush administration sought and received approval to continue its domestic spying program.

Ryan Powers

what are the ods that cheney launches?

July 21, 2007

Tomorrow Bush is having some routine brain surgery and the most hated man in America will take over as president. People all over the world will be, no doubt, conflicted in their prayers.zapirobushcartoon.jpg

Subprime mortgages, there’s an old saw on Wall Street that, in times of panic, money returns to its rightful owners

July 19, 2007

Tranche Warfare

Who will be left holding the bag as subprime mortgages go bad?

By Dave Mulcahey

The greatest boom in property values since record-keeping began has produced a population more in debt, and with less equity, than before it all got going.

Now that the real estate bubble seems poised to go the way of its dot-com predecessor, a new narrative has taken hold in the business press. Where once reporters breathlessly touted double-digit, year-on-year gains in home prices, they now warn darkly of the “meltdown” underway in the class of exotic mortgages that added so much punch to the party.

After months of dismal reports for the real estate industry—declining sales, rising inventories, softening prices, rising foreclosure rates—the news took a sharp turn for the worse in late June, when the investment bank Bear Stearns shut down two hedge funds whose holdings were laden with securities backed by subprime mortgages.

Suddenly, finance pundits and insiders were speculating about just how far the damage of bad subprime loans would spread. Could it be “contained”? Were more hedge funds on the verge of implosion? Was the debacle about to touch off a system-wide credit crunch?

Why Germans Supported Hitler

July 19, 2007


Why Germans Supported Hitler

by Jacob G. Hornberger

It has long intrigued me why the German people supported Adolf Hitler and his Nazi regime. After all, every schoolchild in America is taught that Hitler and his Nazi cohorts were the very epitome of evil. How could ordinary German citizens support people who were so obviously monstrous in nature?

Standing against the Nazi tide was a remarkable group of young people known as the White Rose. Led by Hans and Sophie Scholl, a German brother and sister who were students at the University of Munich, the White Rose consisted of college students and a college professor who risked their lives to circulate anti-government pamphlets in the midst of World War II. Their arrest and trial was depicted in the German movie Sophie Scholl: The Final Days, which was recently released on DVD in the United States.

Of all the essays on liberty I have written in the past 20 years, my favorite is “The White Rose: A Lesson in Dissent,” which I am pleased to say was later reprinted in Voices of the Holocaust, an anthology on the Holocaust for high-school students. The story of the White Rose is the most remarkable case of courage I have ever come across. It even inspired me to visit the University of Munich a few years ago, where portions of the White Rose pamphlets have been permanently enshrined on bricks laid into a plaza at the entrance to the school.

A contrast to the Scholl movie is another recent German movie, Downfall, which details Hitler’s final days in the bunker, where he committed suicide near the end of the war. Among the people around Hitler was 22-year-old Traudl Junge, who became his secretary in 1942 and who faithfully served him in that capacity until the end. For me, the most stunning part of the film occurred at the end, when the real Traudl Junge (that is, not the actress who portrays her in the film) says,

All these horrors I’ve heard of … I assured myself with the thought of not being personally guilty. And that I didn’t know anything about the enormous scale of it. But one day I walked by a memorial plate of Sophie Scholl in the Franz-Joseph-Strasse…. And at that moment I actually realized … that it might have been possible to get to know things.