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Surf-Worthy Sites:

Administration and Cost of Elections

Alaska Wilderness League

American Antitrust Institute

American Association of Retired Persons

American Federation of Government Employees

American Friends Service Committee

American Institute of Philanthropy

American Lands Alliance

American Library Asociation

American Peace

American Rivers

Americans for Computer Privacy

Americans for Democratic Action

Americans United for Separation of Church and State

Amnesty International

Anthrax Vaccine Network

Arms Control Association

Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now

Atomic Veterans of America


Behind the Label

Black Box Voting

Bread for the World

Brennan Center for Justice


Business and Human Rights Resource Center

Campaign Against Arms Trade

Campaign Against Depleted Uranium

Campaign Finance Institute

Campaign for America's Future

Campaign for Safe and Affordable Drinking Water

Campaign for the Abolition of Sweatshops and Child Labor

Campaign to Ban Genetically Engineered Foods

Campaign to Label Genetically Engineered Foods

CEE BankWatch Network

Center for Constitutional Rights

Center for Defense Information

Center for Democracy and Citizenship

Center for Digital Democracy

Center for Economic and Policy Research

Center for Food Safety

Center for International Policy

Center for Justice and Accountability

Center for National Security Studies

Center for Nonproliferation Studies

Center for Public Integrity

Center for Science in the Public Interest

Center for Voting and Democracy

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Chemical Industry Archives

Chernobyl Children's Project

Child Labor Coalition

Child Protective Services Watch

Children's Defense Fund

Chilling Effects Clearinghouse

Christian Aid

Chronic IllNet

Chronology of Incorporation and Monopoly

Citizen Action Project

Citizen Works

Citizens Against Government Waste

Citizens for Tax Justice

Citizens Network on Essential Services

Clary-Meuser Research Network

Clean Clothes Campaign

Coalition for a Competitive Pharmaceutical Market

Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers

Commercial Alert

Common Cause

Common Dreams

Commonweal Institute

Community Rights Council

Concord Coalition


Consumer Federation of America

Consumer Project on Technology

Consumer Research

Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering

Corporate Crime Reporter

Corporate Europe Observatory

Corporate Responsibility Coalition

Corporate Sunshine Working Group

Corporate Welfare Information Center

Corporate Welfare Shame Page


Corps of Engineers Watch

Council for a Livable World

Council on Hemispheric Affairs

Cronus Connection: Election Fraud and Voting Machines

Death Penalty Information Center

Defense and the National Interest

Democracy 21


Depleted Uranium Education Project

Depleted Uranium Watch

DES Action


Disabled American Veterans

Discernment Ministry International



Earth Institute


EarthRights International

Economic Policy Institute

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Electronic Privacy Information Center

Electronic Voting

Endgame Research

Energy Future Coalition

Environmental Investigation Agency

Environmental Working Group

Facts About Olestra

Fair Taxes for All

Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting


Families of
September 11

Families USA: Voice for Health Care Consumers

Family Farm Alliance

Farm Credit Quagmire

FAS Project on Government Secrecy

FDA Review

Federation of American Scientists

Fellowship of Reconciliation

Fielding's DangerFinder

Fight Bad Faith Insurance Companies

Focus on the Corporation

Foundation for Taxpayer & Consumer Rights

Fourth Freedom Forum

Free Expression Policy Project

Friends of the Earth

Genocide Documentation Centre

Genocide in the 20th Century

Global Exchange


GRACE Factory Farm Project

Gulf War Veterans

Gush Shalom

Health Care Comparisons Worldwide

Health Privacy Project

Healthy Building Network

Heifer International

History House

Human Rights Watch

iAbolish: Anti-Slavery Web Portal


Independent Judiciary

Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton

Infact: Challenging Corporate Abuse

Initiative & Referendum Institute

Instant Runoff Voting

Institute for Energy and Environmental Research

Institute for Health Freedom

Institute for Local Self-Reliance

Institute for Policy Studies

Institute for Public Accuracy

Interfaith Alliance

Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility

International ANSWER

International Atomic Energy Agency

International Campaign to Ban Landmines

International Confederation of Free Trade Unions

International Federation for Alternative Trade

International Fellowship of Reconciliation

International Institute for Environment and Development

International Labor Rights Fund

International POPs Elimination Network

Jewish Unity for a Just Peace

Keep Antibiotics Working

Landmine Survivors Network

League of Conservation Voters

League of Women Voters

Let's Invest in Families Today

Liberals Like Christ

Local Harvest

Los Alamos Study Group

Low Level Radiation Campaign

Maquila Solidarity Network

March for Justice


Measles Initiative

Mines Advisory Group


Mothers for Peace

Moving Ideas

National Center for Children in Poverty

National Coalition Against Censorship

National Coalition for Homeless Veterans

National Committee for an Effective Congress

National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare

National Farmers Union

National Freedom of Information Coalition

National Freedom Scorecard

National Gulf War Resource Center

National Institute on Money in State Politics

National Labor Committee for Worker and Human Rights

National Organization for Rare Disorders

National Parks Conservation Association

National Priorities Project

National Vaccine Information Center

National Voting Rights Institute

Native American Rights Fund


Natural Resources Defense Council

Neturei Karta

New Rules Project


No Free Lunch: Just Say No to Drug Reps

No Spray Coalition

Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development

Nuclear Control Institute

Nuclear Threat Initiative

Office of Management & Budget Watch Money in Politics

Open Society Institute

Organic Consumers Association

Our Stolen Future

Oxfam International

Participatory Democracy

Pax Christi International

People for the American Way

Pesticide Action Network North America

Physicians for Human Rights

Polaris Institute

Political Money Line

Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy

Project Against the Present Danger

Project on Government Oversight

Project Underground

Project Vote Smart

Protection Project


Public Citizen

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibity

Rainforest Action Network


Reaching Critical Will

Reclaim Democracy

Reclaim the Media


Resource Center of the Americas

Responsible Wealth

Rethinking Schools

Right-To-Know Network

Safe Tables Our Priority: Food Safety and Food-Borne Illness


Save the Children

Secretive World of Voting Machines

Send a Cow

September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows

Shared Hope International

Small Business Survival Committee

Society for Animal Protective Legislation

Soft Money Laundromat

Sojourners: Christians for Justice and Peace

Soldiers for the Truth

Soy Online Service

Sprawl Busters


Stop Carnivore

Stop Disney Sweatshops

Stop Patient Abuse Now Coalition


Sweetwater Alliance

Swords to Plowshares

Talion: Voting Machines

Tax Foundation

Taxpayers for Common Sense

Ten Thousand Villages

Third World Traveler

Tort Reform Reader


Transparency International

Traprock Peace Center

Truth About Credit

20/20 Vision

UN Landmines Fact Sheet

UN Population Fund

Union of Concerned Scientists

United for a Fair Economy

United for Peace & Justice

Uranium Medical Research Centre

US Campaign to Ban Landmines

US Congregational Life Survey

US Public Interest Research Group

Veterans for Common Sense

Vital Voices Global Partnership

VoteWatch: Repository for Voter Complaints

Water Aid

Water Barons Government Accountability Project

Wilderness Society

WISE Uranium Project

Womens International League for Peace & Freedom

World Resources Institute

WorldWatch Institute

Worldwide Fund for Mothers Injured in Childbirth


Yucca Mountain Facts

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Saturday, July 19, 2003

Follow Instructions to the Letter

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer says:

But this week, Tom Matzzie, an online organizer with the AFL-CIO, discovered that communicating with the White House has become a bit more daunting. When he sent an e-mail protest against a Bush administration policy, the message was bounced back with an automated reply, saying that he had to send it again in a new way.

Under a system that was deployed on the White House Web site for the first time last week, those who want to send a message to Bush must now navigate as many as nine Web pages and fill out a detailed form that starts by asking whether the message sender supports White House policy or differs with it...

"One of the categories is National ID Card," he said. "Does it mean you're in favor of National ID or in favor of the president's position, which it doesn't describe?"

Sorting out which ones to send to the shredder, I suppose. Or are they compiling their own version of Nixon's enemies list?

dystopia 3:22 PM - [Link]

Supply-Side Dartboard

David Stockman was Reagan's director of the Office of Management and Budget from 1981-85; I found this in his book The Triumph of Politics: Why the Reagan Revolution Failed:

"Going to war" meant it was time to call Bob Novak, the Prince of Darkness. The Evans and Novak syndicated column was a kind of supply-side dartboard. You could use it to stick somebody in the forehead fast, if you had to.

I remembered reading that somewhere, after Novak outed Valerie Plame, aka Mrs Joseph Wilson, as an alleged CIA agent the other day.

I've been ruminating on Bush family traits lately. I told DH for a long time that Barb had a vindictive streak, but he never really believed me until we watched the first part of her life story on the Biography Channel (it was all we could take), and I elbowed him every time they referred to Barb's treatment of her childhood peers. They tried to say it nicely, but it seems she was quite a terror.

I think Georgie gets it from her.

dystopia 2:38 PM - [Link]

Cheney Documents Had Map of Iraqi Oilfields

Judicial Watch finally managed to shake a few pages loose via the Commerce Department:

Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption and abuse, said today that documents turned over by the Commerce Department, under court order as a result of Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit concerning the activities of the Cheney Energy Task Force, contain a map of Iraqi oilfields, pipelines, refineries and terminals, as well as 2 charts detailing Iraqi oil and gas projects, and “Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts.” The documents, which are dated March 2001, are available on the Internet at:

The Saudi Arabian and United Arab Emirates (UAE) documents likewise feature a map of each country’s oilfields, pipelines, refineries and tanker terminals. There are supporting charts with details of the major oil and gas development projects in each country that provide information on the projects, costs, capacity, oil company and status or completion date...

“These documents show the importance of the Energy Task Force and why its operations should be open to the public,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.

dystopia 1:51 PM - [Link]

Careful: The FB-Eye May Be Watching

Marc Shultz stood in line at a coffee shop reading an article sent to him by his dad--it was about Faux News and the Weapons of Mass Stupidity. The FBI came to visit soon after--they even searched his car:

Trippi's partner speaks up: "Any reading material? Papers?" I don't think so. Then Trippi decides to level with me: "I'll tell you what, Marc. Someone in the shop that day saw you reading something, and thought it looked suspicious enough to call us about. So that's why we're here, just checking it out. Like I said, there's no problem. We'd just like to get to the bottom of this. Now if we can't, then you may have a problem. And you don't want that."

You don't want that? Have I just been threatened by the FBI? Confusion and a light dusting of panic conspire to keep me speechless. Was I reading something that morning? Something that would constitute a problem?...

To tell the truth, I'm kind of anxious to hear back from the FBI, if only for the chance to ask why anyone would find media criticism suspicious, or if maybe the sight of a dark, bearded man reading in public is itself enough to strike fear in the heart of a patriotic citizen.

I've come to a conclusion, based on all available evidence. I think most Republican political characters and Faux News viewers were picked on a lot by other kids when they were young, and they grew up without a healthy conception of their own personal power. I think that's why they're so vulnerable to the Culture of Fear that megalomaniacs have promoted amongst the peasantry throughout American history, in order to keep us turned against each other instead of united against them, i.e., the Red Scare.

Why else would they find interpersonal differences so threatening that they have to call in the law? In this case (and how many others?), it was a difference of opinion, yesterday it was Pete Stark refusing to be silenced, in Texas it was Democrats refusing to be railroaded into redistricting.

I'm supposed to depend on these little wusses to look out for me and the well-being of my country? Yeah, right--a charging goat would prob'ly make 'em scream like girls and call in an air strike.

dystopia 12:52 PM - [Link]

Today in Dystopian History: July 19

1692: Five women accused of witchcraft were executed in Salem, MA.

1814: The British captured Prairie du Chien, WI.

1847: The Choctaw Nation took up a collection and donated $710 for Irish famine relief.

1848: The first formal convention assembled at Seneca Falls, NY, to discuss "the social, civil and religious condition and the rights of women."

1867: Congress passed the third Reconstruction Act over President Andrew Johnson's veto; it virtually made the army in the South subject to Congress alone.

1899: The National Brotherhood of Electrical Workers was formed.

1921: Armed white raiders deported 58 Japanese laborers from Turlock, CA, by truck and warned them not to return.

1941: The first Army flying school for blacks was established in Tuskegee, AL.

1943: More than 150 B-17 and 112 B-24 bombers attacked Rome.

1945: Congress ratified the Bretton Woods monetary agreement.

1948: The Canwell Committee, a right-wing witch-hunting group, opened its University of Washington inquiry in Seattle.

1956: Secretary of State Dulles announced the withdrawal of the US offer to help build the Aswan Dam, driving Egypt further toward an alliance with the Soviet Union, and leading to the Suez Crisis.

1972: The USS Ranger was docked in California just before its scheduled departure for Vietnam, when a paint scraper and two 12" bolts were inserted into the No. 4 engine's reduction gears, causing nearly $1 million in damage and delaying deployment for over three months.

1974: The House Judiciary Committee recommended that President Nixon should stand trial in the Senate for any of the five impeachment charges against him.

1975: Three artists completed their mural history of the Mexican-American worker in Blue Island, IL, after fighting a court case to complete the work, stopped by a city ordinance against advertising on public walls.

1979: A collision between the Atlantic Empress and the Aegean Captain, off Trinidad & Tobago, spilled 300,000 tons of crude oil into the Caribbean Sea.

1980: The Moscow Summer Olympics began, minus dozens of nations that boycotted the games because of Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan.

1984: Geraldine Ferraro became the first woman from a major US political party to run for Vice President.

1993: President Clinton announced his Don't Ask Don't Tell policy regarding gays in the military.

1999: The US Trade Representative announced the final product list in the EU beef hormones dispute.

2000: A federal judge ordered white supremacist Ryan Wilson to pay $1.1 million in damages to fair housing advocate Bonnie Jouhari and her daughter, due to threats by Wilson and his neo-Nazi group, Alpha HQ.

dystopia 10:32 AM - [Link]

Friday, July 18, 2003

General's Wife: Complaints Aid Enemy in Iraq

Via CNN:

"When the Iraqis see media coverage of disgruntled Americans publicly campaigning for the return of our soldiers from Iraq, they are encouraged and believe their strategy is working," wrote Anita Blount in an open letter to spouses in The Frontline...

Anita Blount is the wife of Maj Gen Buford Blount, commander of the division, who is in Iraq leading his troops.

She said Iraqis who see complaints by US families could come to believe "that their continued attacks on American soldiers are having the desired effect and are diminishing the resolve of the American people to complete the task in Iraq."

Ignert bitch--I hope the other wives on base will straighten her out. I'll listen to her, Rummy, Bush, or anybody else who's got something to say against those guys or their families--just as soon as they get back from their own tours of duty totin' a rifle in Iraq.

dystopia 6:53 PM - [Link]

Mysterious Diseases Haunt US Troops in Iraq

One dead soldier and others sick, and nobody knows why. From the Springfield News-Leader:

Cindy Neusche said her son collapsed July 2 while in Baghdad and was transported to Germany. Doctors there told the family they believed Josh suffered from pneumonia due to fluid that had collected on his lungs. But then his liver, kidneys and muscles started to break down, his mother said...

Doctors and family members are still befuddled by the strange illness. There's got to be an explanation, Mark Neusche said. He prays the hospital's autopsy will reveal the cause.

"I know the doctor over in Germany said he got into some type of toxin," Mark Neusche said. "Several soldiers were in similar conditions while we were there."

"That's not under investigation," said US Army Spokesman, Lt Col Jeff Keane, from Virginia.

Found this one at

US soldiers deployed around Baghdad airport started showing symptoms of mysterious fever, itching, scars and dark brown spots on the skin, the source, who refused to be named, said in statements published Thursday, July 17, by the Saudi Al-Watan newspaper.

He asserted that three soldiers who suffered these symptoms did not respond to medical treatment in Iraqi hospitals and were flown to Washington for medication...

US officials did not come up with an explanation for the symptoms, which NATO experts tend to believe result from direct exposure to powerful nuclear radiations of the sophisticated B-2 bombs used in the war on Iraq, particularly in striking Iraqi Republican Guards forces who deployed to defend the vicinity of Baghdad airport.

The military source stressed that the shrouds of secrecy imposed by American officials on the issue were prompted by fears of creating waves of panic and anger among the troops, particularly after announcements that American troops would remain in Iraq indefinitely.

dystopia 6:44 PM - [Link]

Pentagon Retaliates Against GIs Who Spoke Out

From SFGate:

The retaliation from Washington was swift.

"It was the end of the world," said one officer Thursday. "It went all the way up to President Bush and back down again on top of us. At least six of us here will lose our careers."


I need to go find some object to throw that'll shatter with a satisfying crash. Pretend like it's somebody's head.

dystopia 6:07 PM - [Link]

Analyst Says US Ignored WMD Message

Wow--things are breaking out all over today. The Globe & Mail has this news out of Canada:

A conference of top-level military analysts was told that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction months before the Sept 11 terrorist attacks — a message that later fell on deaf ears in the US capital, analysts say.

Former Canadian military officer-turned-analyst Sunil Ram remembers the January, 2001, conference Understanding the Lessons of Nuclear Inspections and Monitoring in Iraq: A Ten-Year Review.

What he heard at the meeting he has repeated for months, he says, getting little attention from the mainstream media: that US President George W Bush had no grounds to base the invasion of Iraq on the disarmament issue.

I couldn't find anything on such a conference in January, but I found a transcript dated June 2001 and it's a fascinating read:

Question: Could you describe what the US response was when, prior to the inspectors being forced out of Iraq in 1998, the IAEA came to the conclusion that the nuclear weapons program had been destroyed, removed and rendered harmless? Did the United States take this as a basis for lifting sanctions under resolution 1284 with respect to the nuclear weapons program? The other question I would like to put to you is: what is the level of confidence in the US government that fissile material has not been smuggled into Iraq, and how confident are you that such smuggling would be detected?

Robert Einhorn: On your first assertion, I don't believe that that was what the IAEA found. I believe that the IAEA found that it had a technically coherent picture of the past Iraqi efforts to acquire nuclear weapons and that, while there remained some unanswered questions, these questions could be addressed effectively through a system of reinforced monitoring. So, you used words out of resolution 687 "to remove, destroy and render harmless." I don't know-there are people at this conference who can give expert testimony to this point, but I don't think the IAEA made a claim as grand as that...

In terms of the risks of smuggling weapons-usable materials into Iraq -- it's hard to know what you don't know. We have had no evidence that Iraq has successfully smuggled in any quantities of fissile materials for its weapons program. Whether we could detect it, I don't know. It's hard to measure that. But we're more likely to be able to detect any such efforts through our own unilateral intelligence means than through any enhanced border monitoring systems that might be put in place.

In an October 2002 interview with NPR, Einhorn said:

There are risks in striking Iraq. There are risks of using chemical or biological weapons against Iraq's neighbors. But we don't believe Iraq has nuclear weapons. So I think the risks are manageable in the case of Iraq.

dystopia 5:50 PM - [Link]

WMD Scientist's Death Rocks UK

Was just watching BBC NewsNight on C-Span--this might be big. CNN reports:

A mild-mannered British scientist was found dead in the woods on Friday after being unwittingly dragged into a fierce political dispute about intelligence used to justify war on Iraq.

British police said they had found a body matching that of soft-spoken defense ministry biologist David Kelly, a former UN weapons inspector, who had been grilled in parliament over allegations the government hyped intelligence to justify war.

The political fallout was immediate. Prime Minister Tony Blair, who learned about the discovery of the body while flying from Washington to Tokyo, promised an independent judicial inquiry into the death if the body was confirmed to be Kelly's.

I think suicide is suspected--they held up the front page of a UK paper with pictures of Blair, Straw and somebody across the front with a big headline that said something like: "Are You Pleased with Yourselves?"

OMG, they're replaying Kelley's testimony before Parliament on C-Span now. I don't know if I can watch--it seems ghoulish right now.

dystopia 5:17 PM - [Link]

Pugilistic Pols

No bodily contact took place. Rats! I can't find anything posted anywhere yet, but I did catch this part:

Come on you little wimp. You think you can take me.

That was Pete Stark, after a Republican told him to shut up.

And somebody called the Capitol police? Are you serious?

Good God.

They're still talking about it on C-Span.

I think it's about a bill they were forced to vote on without time to read it.

UPDATE: Democrats Storm Out of Ways and Means Committee

dystopia 4:28 PM - [Link]

Titanic Concerns Over Freddie Mac

I was trying to tell you this unsettling bit of news from yesterday when my Internet went out:

The recent disclosure that Freddie Mac will have to put back some $6.5 billion in gains from its derivative operations is not the good news story it pretends. This was not a case of sloppy record keeping or intentional earnings misstatement, but rather their normal accounting practice before the Enron and Worldcom scandals came to light. The people in charge of Freddie didn't get their walking papers for such prudence, but rather, for the imprudence that generated this bounty. In short, they took huge gambles in derivatives beyond the level needed to hedge their mortgage holdings and then held back some of the profits from this as a hedge against events turning against them.

Their exposure here is to hedge contracts valued at over $1 trillion, hence $6.5 billion is a small reserve should interest rates begin rising. The concern is that if rates rise, Freddie could implode much like the Long Term Capital Management hedge fund or the Orange County investment fund. Only this time, the fallout could cause a system-wide financial panic...

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal pointed out that Freddie's derivative position is so massive, it is impossible to unwind except over an extended period of time. Meanwhile, the accounting recognition of the $6.5 billion in reserves is equivalent to the ship throwing its bilge pumps overboard while Congress and the regulators are busy rearranging the deck chairs.

Now I'm gonna go get myself caught up on fresh news--when the cable came back on, I thought I heard something about a 72-year-old congressman about to duke it out with another congressman, and I'm dyin' for details.

dystopia 4:01 PM - [Link]

Internet Outage

I'm sorry--no Dystopian History today. I just got back online and it takes 3 hours to put together--collecting new history items, finding links and whittling the whole thing down to fit into the space allotted for it--and there just isn't enough time left in my surfing day.

It does take a lot of time so, by golly, I sure hope somebody's making good use of it.

I do have the entire year of Dystopian History in a huge file that keeps getting bigger and bigger, and would like put it all on a website at some point but haven't figured out how to do that just yet. Suggestions are welcome--I'm not a techie by any means. I do have FrontPage software and FrontPage for Dummies, but I can't get the dang thing to do what I want it to do.

Honestly, I think my FrontPage is broken. That must be it.

dystopia 3:44 PM - [Link]

Thursday, July 17, 2003

GOP Attorneys General Asked for Contributions

The Washington Post wants to introduce you to RAGA (again):

Republican state attorneys general in at least six states telephoned corporations or trade groups subject to lawsuits or regulations by their state governments to solicit hundreds of thousands of dollars in political contributions, according to internal fundraising documents obtained by the Washington Post.

One of the documents mentions potential state actions against health maintenance organizations and suggests the attorneys general should "start targeting the HMO's" for fundraising. It also cites a news article about consolidation and regulation of insurance firms and states that "this would be a natural area for us to focus on raising money."

The attorneys general were all members of the Washington-based Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA). The companies they solicited included some of the nation's largest tobacco, pharmaceutical, computer, energy, banking, liquor, insurance and media concerns, many of which have been targeted in product liability lawsuits or regulations by state governments.

It's not the first time--the Post reported pretty much the same thing back in March of 2000:

Republican state attorneys general are soliciting large contributions from corporations that are embroiled in--or are seeking to avert--lawsuits by states.

The Republican Attorneys General Association expects to collect $550,000--in chunks of $5,000 and up--from various companies gathered in Austin for a two-day session beginning today. The meeting features a "political briefing" Friday morning by Karl Rove, Texas Gov George W Bush's chief political strategist.

Membership in RAGA costs anywhere from $5,000 to $25,000, with increasing levels of access to the attorneys general depending on the donation...

You see what we're up against? If they can't get in the front door, they'll try the back. And, apparently, the back door's standing wide open.

dystopia 2:51 PM - [Link]

McCain May Subpoena Boeing Over Tanker Deal

McCain gets on my good side when he makes a nuisance of himself like this. From Reuters:

"We've received information from outside sources that Boeing offered this same aircraft at a much lower price to airlines in foreign countries," said McCain, an Arizona Republican. "We don't know if that's true or not"...

"I would point out that we asked for the information over a month and only two days ago did we receive the first piece of paper," McCain said at a committee hearing.

The senator said he would agree to keep the requested information confidential, but was furious at the company for only just beginning to deliver papers requested a month ago...

McCain and other lawmakers have blasted the deal as a taxpayer-funded handout to Boeing, which has been badly hurt by a slump in orders for its commercial jets since the Sept 11, 2001 hijack attacks.

Some background:

Boeing Tanker Deal Stalled by Price
McCain Rips Boeing 767 Tanker Deal
Delay Sought in Boeing Tanker Deal

dystopia 2:32 PM - [Link]

White House Pushed for Disputed Iraq Charge

According to Reuters:

Durbin told ABC's "Good Morning America" program that Tenet had told the Senate Intelligence Committee in a closed-door session on Wednesday that a White House official had pushed for including a line about Iraq's attempt to get uranium from Africa in President Bush's State of the Union speech last January...

Durbin would not name the person, whose name emerged in the secret hearing, but a US official said National Security Council weapons of mass destruction expert Robert Joseph was involved in discussions with the CIA about the speech.

"It wasn't Tenet who named anyone, but in response to questioning, other agency officials said that the conversations were with Robert Joseph of the National Security Council staff," a US official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

FYI, Robert Joseph is Special Assistant to the President and the Senior Director for Proliferation Strategies, Counterproliferation, and Homeland Defense for the National Security Council; on July 13, TIME said:

NSC Special Assistant to the President Robert Joseph denied through a spokesman that he said it was OK to use the line {in the State of the Union about Iraq, uranium and Africa} and as long as it was sourced to British intelligence. "There was a debate about whether to cite it on our own intelligence," another official told TIME. "But once the UK made it public, we felt comfortable citing what they had learned." TIME writes, "And so the line went in. While some argued last week that the fight should have been kicked upstairs to {NSC adviser Condoleeza} Rice for adjudication, White House officials claim that it never was."

dystopia 2:12 PM - [Link]

A Big Letdown

Via ABC News:

The sergeant at the 2nd Battle Combat Team Headquarters pulled me aside in the corridor. "I've got my own 'Most Wanted' list," he told me...

"The aces in my deck are Paul Bremer, Donald Rumsfeld, George Bush and Paul Wolfowitz," he said.

dystopia 1:58 PM - [Link]

Sidestepping Sanctions

What stinkin' sanctions? Mother Jones reveals how GE, Halliburton, ExxonMobil, and others continue to conduct business with terrorist states with impunity in the face of US law:

In Iran--"the most active state sponsor of terrorism," according to the State Department--General Electric is providing four hydroelectric generators to expand a dam on the Kurun River...and is also supplying pipeline compressors and gas turbines for Iran's burgeoning oil sector through...a subsidiary of Halliburton is helping to build a $228 million fertilizer plant, one of the world's largest. Another Halliburton division based in Sweden is providing the Iranian National Oil Co with a $226 million semi-submersible drilling rig, while other subsidiaries operate in Libya. A British subsidiary of ConocoPhillips helped Iran survey its Azadegan oil field, and ExxonMobil only recently sold its Sudanese gas subsidiary based in Khartoum.

US companies acknowledge that they routinely use overseas subsidiaries to trade with sanctioned countries in the Middle East and elsewhere. "We have used foreign subsidiaries to sell oil equipment in those regions," says Scott Amann, a vice president at the oil-service firm Cooper Cameron. "We're not allowed to have an American company or American operation."

But while President Bush has drawn a line in the sand with foreign governments, warning them "you are with us or you're with the terrorists," he has done little to crack down on US corporations that skirt trade embargoes designed to undercut terrorist organizations. "It is an outrage, if not actually criminal, when you have companies end-running these sanctions," says Frank Gaffney, a deputy defense secretary under Reagan...

Instead, the Bush administration has used its power behind the scenes to make it easier for American companies to do business with the very countries it has targeted in the war on terrorism...

dystopia 1:49 PM - [Link]

Denial and Deception

I shit you not--that's what the graphic says at the top of the SOTU transcript on the White House web site.

dystopia 1:35 PM - [Link]

A White House Smear

Shocking--but not surprising--blowback in the wake of Joseph Wilson's report to America on his trip to Niger, per Capital Games:

Wilson caused problems for the White House, and his wife was outed as an undercover CIA officer...he will neither confirm nor deny that his wife--who is the mother of three-year-old twins--works for the CIA. But let's assume she does. That would seem to mean that the Bush administration has screwed one of its own top-secret operatives in order to punish Wilson or to send a message to others who might challenge it...

If she is not a CIA employee and Novak is reporting accurately, then the White House has wrongly branded a woman known to friends as an energy analyst for a private firm as a CIA officer...

In this instance, it appears possible--perhaps likely--that Bush administration officials gathered material on Wilson and his family and then revealed classified information to lash out at him, and in doing so compromised national security...

The Wilson smear was a thuggish act. Bush and his crew abused and misused intelligence to make their case for war. Now there is evidence Bushies used classified information and put the nation's counter-proliferation efforts at risk merely to settle a score...

There's a whole long list of people I want to see prosecuted and sentenced to very long prison terms by the time this is all over, and it's getting longer every day.

dystopia 1:18 PM - [Link]

Manifesto Warns of Dangers of Empire

An interesting assortment of squeaky wheels has joined forces to try to make a really big noise, according to the Wall Street Journal:

An unusual manifesto is circulating through the e-mail boxes of prominent Washingtonians from an ad hoc group calling itself the "Committee for the Republic." Its five sponsors include conservative C Boyden Gray, a White House lawyer in the first Bush administration; Chas W Freeman, a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia; and Stephen Cohen, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

The manifesto is a work in progress, its authors say. But the goal is clear: to educate Americans about the dangers of empire...

The Committee for the Republic thinks it is time to have a great national debate about America's role in the post-Cold War world. I say: Bring it on.

Count me in.

dystopia 12:58 PM - [Link]

Today in Dystopian History: July 17

17, 1559: The Spanish explorer, Tristan de Luna, arrived on the coast of Florida near Appalachicola Bay.

17, 1781: Attacks by Yuma Indians closed the overland route between Mexico and Alta California.

17, 1794: During the Whiskey Rebellion, a mob of 500 armed men, protesting a new excise tax on distilleries, clashed with troops from Fort Pitt after firing on a revenue collector and burning down his home.

17, 1816: US Navy personnel in Spanish Florida were ambushed during a reconnaissance of Fort Negro, a settlement occupied by free blacks and escaped slaves; four were killed.

17, 1862: President Lincoln approved the Second Confiscation and Militia Act, which declared that any slaves whose owners were in rebellion against the government would be freed when they came into contact with the Union army.

17, 1898: Spanish troops in Santiago, Cuba, surrendered to US forces during the Spanish-American War.

17, 1916: Congress passed the Federal Farm Loan Act, which created a land bank to make loans to farmers to preserve and upgrade their crops.

17, 1944: In California, two ammunition ships exploded and killed 322, including 202 blacks assigned by the Navy to handle explosives, resulting in the Port Chicago Mutiny.

17, 1948: States Rights Democrats opposed to the nomination of President Truman met in Birmingham, AL, to endorse South Carolina Gov Strom Thurmond.

17, 1955: Arco, ID, became the first town in the US to receive nuclear-powered electricity.

17, 1963: Brown & Williamson's general counsel wrote in an internal memo, "Nicotine is addictive. We are, then, in the business of selling nicotine, an addictive drug effective in the release of stress mechanisms."

17, 1969: Secretary of State William Rogers accused Hanoi of lacking humanity in its treatment of US POWs.

17, 1971: The plumbers unit was established by Nixon aides John Ehrlichman and Charles Colson to investigate Daniel Ellsberg and to plug various news leaks.

17, 1972: The Census Bureau reported that the median US income was $10,285.

17, 1979: Nicaraguan President Anastasio Somoza resigned and fled into exile in Miami, FL, and then to Paraguay, where he was assassinated in 1980.

17, 1986: In a record-breaking US bankruptcy, LTV Corporation asked for court protection from more than 20,000 creditors, claiming debts in excess of $4 billion.

17, 1995: Michael Meeropol's statement on his parents, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, was issued.

17, 1996: TWA Flight 800 exploded shortly after take-off from NY's Kennedy Airport and plunged into the Atlantic, killing all 230 aboard.

17, 1998: The NY Times reported that outgoing CIA Inspector General Frederick Hitz admitted the CIA knew Nicaraguan contras and their backers were involved in cocaine smuggling.

17, 2002: FERC raised the electricity price cap in California from $91.87 to $250 per megawatthour, proposed a computer system to analyze bids above that amount to determine if price gouging occurred, and announced that the board of the California ISO was not truly independent, and that a new board must be appointed in consultation with a number of entities in the energy industry.

dystopia 10:11 AM - [Link]

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Recession Turning Industry Upside Down

A bleak picture of the manufacturing sector, in the Houston Chronicle:

American manufacturers have been shedding jobs for nearly three years and counting. And while other segments of the economy have been rebounding, manufacturers remain desperate for a turnaround.

"I think we're at bottom," Peter Huntsman, chief executive officer of Huntsman, Inc, the world's largest privately held chemical maker and a major player in Houston's petrochemical industry...But he added: "I've said we're at bottom for the last four years, and each year just seems to be getting worse."

US manufacturers have lost 2.6 million jobs since July 2000, including 56,000 just last month, according to the National Association of Manufacturers. Nearly 100,000 of those pink slips have been handed out in Texas.

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, does it? This is Poppy redux--war in Iraq, a scheming entourage, blind arrogance and a devastated economy. I know--I lived through it before, and I keep having deja vu.

The tax cuts are the only big difference, but Poppy had no choice--the kitty was drained by Reagan's voodoo economics and the massive looting of the S&Ls that began when Reagan signed Garn-St Germain in 1982 and continued through Poppy's watch.

This administration is another Reaganite disaster, which we've survived before, painfully, but the price keeps getting higher and higher. I really don't know how many more Republican administrations this country can afford.

dystopia 5:07 PM - [Link]

Senators Move to Block New FCC Rules

A bit of hopeful news from the Washington Post:

Thirty-five senators have latched onto a little-used law in an attempt to overturn the Federal Communications Commission's new media ownership rules, which opponents say would allow a few corporate giants to gain too much control of the airwaves and other media.

A "resolution of disapproval," which is permitted under the Congressional Review Act, has been placed on the Senate calendar for expedited consideration because it has more than the 30 signatures required to move it out of committee without a vote...

"We are moving to roll back one of the most complete cave-ins to corporate interests I've ever seen by what is supposed to be a federal regulatory agency," Dorgan said in a statement.

They might (or might not) get to vote on it before the August recess; Dorgan's proposal fixes the 35% ownership limit in law and reinstates the newspaper-TV cross-ownership ban.

dystopia 4:50 PM - [Link]

Wolfowitz Crew Told WH to Use Uranium Info

So say anonymous sources in the Free Press:

A Pentagon committee led by Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, advised President Bush to include a reference in his January State of the Union address about Iraq trying to purchase 500 tons of uranium from Niger to bolster the case for war in Iraq, despite the fact that the CIA warned Wolfowitz's committee that the information was unreliable, according to a CIA intelligence official and four members of the Senate's intelligence committee who have been investigating the issue.

The Senators and the CIA official said they could be forced out of government and brought up on criminal charges for leaking the information to this reporter and as a result requested anonymity. The Senators said they plan to question CIA Director George Tenet Wednesday morning in a closed-door hearing to find out whether Wolfowitz and members of a committee he headed misled Bush and if the President knew about the erroneous information prior to his State of the Union address...

The revelations by the CIA official and the senators, if true, would prove that Tenet, who last week said he erred by allowing the uranium reference to be included in the State of the Union address, took the blame for an intelligence failure that he was not responsible for. The lawmakers said it could also lead to a widespread probe of prewar intelligence.

Members of the Office of Special Plans included Wolfowitz, Abrum Shulsky and Douglas Feith.

dystopia 4:05 PM - [Link]

Faulty Connection

One more Bush administration lie that Timothy Noah left out (see earlier post), via

As calls mount for a full-scale investigation into the Bush administration's manipulation of intelligence on Iraq's nonexistent nuclear and chemical weapons program, let's hope that the other casus belli on which the administration based its war -- the alleged link between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein -- also gets the scrutiny it deserves.

While the link was hyped less by administration officials than by right-wing idealogues and the conservative press, an organized campaign was nonetheless launched to persuade the American public that such a connection was real -- and represented a mortal threat.

dystopia 3:28 PM - [Link]

Soldiers Complain of Low Morale in Iraq

From Yahoo! News:

"If Donald Rumsfeld were here, I'd ask him for his resignation," one disgruntled soldier told ABC's "Good Morning America" show.

dystopia 2:55 PM - [Link]

Bush Faced Dwindling Data on Iraq Nuclear Bid

Walter Pincus analyzes the case to date in the Washington Post:

But a review of speeches and reports, plus interviews with present and former administration officials and intelligence analysts, suggests that between Oct 7, when President Bush made a speech laying out the case for military action against Hussein, and Jan 28, when he gave his State of the Union address, almost all the other evidence had either been undercut or disproved by UN inspectors in Iraq.

By Jan 28, in fact, the intelligence report concerning Iraqi attempts to buy uranium from Africa -- although now almost entirely disproved -- was the only publicly unchallenged element of the administration's case that Iraq had restarted its nuclear program. That may explain why the administration strived to keep the information in the speech and attribute it to the British, even though the CIA had challenged it earlier.

This would be a good time to read (or re-read) Jimmy Breslin's How the Good Guys Finally Won: Notes from an Impeachment Summer; it'll give you a very good idea of what it was like behind the scenes, making preparations to impeach Nixon--a long and very tricky political process, and by no means a slam dunk.

They'll have to do a Spiro on Cheney before they can go after Bush--he's too compromised and no one, other than the crustiest hard-liners, wants to see Cheney be President.

Think Denny Hastert would make a good Gerald Ford? Ted Stevens is in line after him, and then Colin Powell, assuming they all survive the fallout.

Of course, that's assuming impeachment ever happens. I can dream, can't I?

dystopia 2:36 PM - [Link]

Why This Bush Lie? Part 1

Timothy Noah rounds up quite a few of them, with loads of links, in Slate:

But what makes the yellowcake lie so special? That it was a justification for going to war? Then what about Bush's comic insistence in May that "We've found the weapons of mass destruction"?...What about the cost of the war, which the Bush administration insisted couldn't be estimated in advance? Larry Lindsey reportedly lost his job...for blabbing to the Wall Street Journal that the war would cost between $100 billion and $200 billion. Mitch Daniels, then White House budget director, scoffed at Lindsey's estimate and said the cost would be more like $50 billion or $60 billion. But now the Washington Post is estimating the cost of the war and its aftermath at...$100 billion.

Why was there no media frenzy when Bush lied about this year's tax cut?...Or what about when Ari Fleischer said the prisoners of war at Guantanamo were "receiving far far better treatment than they received in the life that they were living previously"?...Or what about Fleischer's denial (twice!) that Bush had come out against civilian nation-building during the 2000 presidential campaign?...Or what about the White House fact sheet that insisted the tax cuts hadn't contributed to the deficit...even though, buried inside the White House budget documents, some renegade bureaucrat wrote, "The deterioration in the performance of the economy together with income tax relief … produced a drop in the surplus to $127.1 billion (1.3% of GDP) and a return to deficits"?

And these lies are all just from this calendar year...

How is the yellowcake lie different? Why is it the first Bush lie to send the media pack into a feeding frenzy? Why did it prompt David Broder of the Washington Post to see "the shadow of defeat" cross Bush's presidency? Why yellowcake? Why now?

Been wondering that myself the past few days--why now?

dystopia 2:09 PM - [Link]

Terror War? What Terror War?

This is a first--I'm about to quote Glenn Reynolds:

Now Tom Ridge is proving me right, with a new plan to pervert Homeland Security from its antiterror mission to an unrelated one: "The initiative, dubbed Operation Predator, will target pornographers, child prostitution rings, Internet predators, immigrant smugglers and other criminals."

What can we learn from this? Two things. One is that the Department of Homeland Security apparently thinks the War on Terror isn't important enough to occupy its full energies anymore, and that -- in the interest of bureaucratic survival -- it's branching out into the kind of operations that have generally been associated with, well, ordinary law enforcement, even if the targets, in this case, are foreigners.

I suppose that should be a relief, since it suggests that, at least in Tom Ridge's mind, we have little to fear from Osama's ilk anymore. On the other hand, I'm not comforted, because it proves that lesson two is alive and well: any powers confided to bureaucrats in the service of vital objectives will quickly be abused in the service of other, less important purposes.

I agree with Glenn (on this) but I spread the blame a little more generously. I don't think Ridge has that much pull--he does what he's told.

dystopia 1:32 PM - [Link]


In the report of his first voyage across the Atlantic, Amerigo Vespucci wrote:

Rationally, let it be said in a whisper, experience is certainly worth more than theory.

In indirect reference to the Great Interruption.

Still reading Daniel Boorstin's The Discoverers--I'm savoring it slowly because it's very, very good. Also very thick--I'm on Chapter 33 and still have about 400 pages to go.

dystopia 1:15 PM - [Link]

Today in Dystopian History: July 16

1769: Mission San Diego de Alcala was founded on Presidio Hill, the first of 21 missions in California.

1787: The Connecticut Compromise, providing for a bicameral US legislature, was adopted by the Constitutional Convention.

1798: The first US Public Health Service was created, originally serving only merchant seamen.

1855: The Salish ceded all lands in Montana and Idaho in the Treaty of Hell Gate.

1860: Emperor Norton I dissolved the United States by imperial decree.

1863: US forces aboard the USS Wyoming attacked Shimonoseki, Japan.

1866: The Second Freedman's Bureau Act was passed over President Andrew Johnson's veto, allowing former slaves to retain ownership of land.

1877: A wildcat strike of railroad firemen protesting wage cuts in Martinsburg, WV, grew into a national rebellion.

1897: The Excelsior arrived in San Francisco with Klondike gold.

1900: US troops fought on Samar Island during the Philippine war for independence.

1927: Henry Ford settled a $1 million libel suit brought by labor organizer Aaron Sapiro, whom Ford accused of being part of a conspiracy of Jewish bankers planning to seize control of national wheat production in order to hand it over to the Communists.

1934: A general strike was called in San Francisco in sympathy with striking longshoremen; 127,000 workers participated in a 2-day strike that paralyzed the area.

1945: The US tested the first plutonium weapon, Trinity, in the New Mexico desert, beginning the Atomic Age.

1945: The Deer Team parachuted into Ho Chi Minh's jungle HQ north of Hanoi to train and arm the Viet Minh and to provide medical assistance to Ho Chi Minh.

1964: Barry Goldwater said, "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice...Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."

1973: The Senate Armed Forces Committee began hearings into the secret bombing of Cambodia.

1979: In Iraq, President Ahmed Hassan Al-Bakr was forced to retire and Saddam Hussein became president.

1987: In their first major action since Oliver North's efforts to make them folk heroes, the Nicaraguan Contras killed three children and a pregnant woman.

1987: The US and UK jointly tested a 150-kiloton nuclear bomb at the Nevada Test Site.

1994: Microsoft settled antitrust charges with the Department of Justice, signing a consent decree to alter Windows licensing policies with PC makers.

1996: A $1 billion class-action lawsuit was filed against Texaco on behalf of Ecuador's Amazon Indians and settlers for over 25 years of environmental and health damages.

1998: Health Care Services Corp, the giant Medicare subsidiary, agreed to pay $144 million to settle felony charges of falsifying records, shredding records, and failing to review claims it was paid to review.

2001: The Wall Street Journal reported that Philip Morris released to the Czech government a report concluding that smokers save the state money--by dying early.

dystopia 10:10 AM - [Link]

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Political Death of a Usurper

I like those Brits--I wish I had such a way with words:

" bereft of electoral legitimacy as a Jeb Bush Floridian plebiscite..."

First thing that made me laugh out loud all day.

George Galloway delivers the verdict in the Guardian:

Tony Blair can run around the world on grand diplomatic tours. He can bask in the adulation of the Republican right in the US Congress. But he cannot hide from the fact that he has lost the plot at home. He has entered that twilight which saw the departure in tears of Mrs Thatcher in a taxi from the Downing Street she once bestrode like a colossus.

The foreign affairs select committee was wrong when it said the jury was out on the Blair war. Both the public and the Labour movement jury has already returned its verdict of guilty. Mr Blair will soon exit the political stage; it would be better t'were done quickly.

dystopia 6:05 PM - [Link]

Troops Shocked by Move to Keep Them in Iraq

How to kick a soldier when he's down, via Reuters:

Under fire and unwanted by Iraqis, soldiers in the US 3rd Infantry Division in the volatile town of Falluja were bitterly disappointed on Tuesday by a decision to keep them in Iraq indefinitely.

"It's a big shock..."

The division was the first American unit to enter Baghdad during the war and has been in the Gulf since September. Thirty-seven soldiers from the division have been killed...

"We were told three times we would be going home in a couple of months. It is not a good time to announce this. We are demotivated..."

"I felt probably a level of hopelessness that I never felt before in my life. It just felt like the knockout punch..."

I think they understand, better than any of the rest of us can, that it's very likely a death sentence for some of them.

dystopia 5:28 PM - [Link]

President Defends Allegation on Iraq

The other guy who went to Niger in February 2002 to personally check out the forged documents, in the Washington Post:

A four-star general, who was asked to go to Niger last year to inquire about the security of Niger's uranium, told The Washington Post yesterday that he came away convinced the country's stocks were secure. The findings of Marine Gen Carlton W Fulford, Jr, were passed up to Gen Richard B Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff...

In an interview, Fulford said he came away "assured" that the supply of "yellowcake" was kept secure by a French consortium...the issue did not surface again, although...routinely briefed on weapons proliferation in Africa. "I was convinced it was not an issue," Fulford said.

Barbro Owens-Kirkpatrick, the US ambassador to Niger, told Joseph Wilson in February 2002 that she had already informed Washington there was no basis to the yellowcake story.

That makes three different Americans on the ground in Niger telling (presumably) several different people in Washington the sale was bogus almost a full year before the SOTU. Have I missed anyone?

dystopia 5:03 PM - [Link]

Playing a Dangerous Game with the Turks

The trouble with Turkey, per Gulf News:

Washington has always approved of Turkey: it's a democracy, up to a point, but a democracy where the politicians ultimately have to do what the generals tell them. And the generals have always been strongly pro-NATO and pro-American.

Just the kind of place the Americans can do business with, and not have to worry too much about what the civilians think. As long as the arms supplies keep coming, and the generals are consulted regularly, all will be well indefinitely. Right?

Wrong. The war to overthrow Saddam Hussain has touched on both of the two great areas of national sensitivity: the relations between Islam and secular government, and the Kurdish question. With a country as potentially irascible as Turkey, these are issues where the lightest and most delicate touch has to be employed.

Lightest and most delicate touch? That might be a problem. I don't think we have anybody like that left to assign to the job. They all quit.

dystopia 4:19 PM - [Link]

North Korea 'On Path to War with US'

Kim Jong-Il reminds me of that kid who tugged on all the grown-ups' shirtsleeves but kept getting the brush-off--so he burned down the barn, knowing that would get their attention. From BBC News:

A senior American politician has warned that North Korea and the United States could go to war as early as this year over Pyongyang's alleged nuclear weapons programme.

William Perry, who served as defence secretary under former President Bill Clinton, told the Washington Post newspaper the key issue was that North Korea appeared to have begun reprocessing spent nuclear fuel rods...The situation with North Korea "was manageable six months ago if we did the right things. But we haven't done the right things," the Democrat politician added.

He said he had not criticised President George W Bush's North Korea policy up to now because he hoped the problem was going to be acted on, but he said "time is running out, and each month the problem gets more dangerous."

The last time we went to war in Korea, we gave up more than 33,000 US troops killed in action.

dystopia 2:39 PM - [Link]

16 Words, and Counting

Via Nicholas Kristof's column in the NY Times:

After I wrote a month ago about the Niger uranium hoax in the State of the Union address, a senior White House official chided me gently and explained that there was more to the story that I didn't know.

Yup. And now it's coming out...

Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, a group of retired spooks, issued an open letter to President Bush yesterday reflecting the view of many in the intel community that the central culprit is Vice President Dick Cheney. The open letter called for Mr Cheney's resignation.

Found the full text of the VIPS memo at USNewsLink; this was my favorite part:

We recommend that you call an abrupt halt to attempts to prove Vice President Cheney "not guilty." His role has been so transparent that such attempts will only erode further your own credibility. Equally pernicious, from our perspective, is the likelihood that intelligence analysts will conclude that the way to success is to acquiesce in the cooking of their judgments, since those above them will not be held accountable. We strongly recommend that you ask for Cheney's immediate resignation.

Found some earlier VIPS memos to Dubya--there's been a steady stream of them since February, if not longer:

Memo to Bush Re: War on Iraq
Forgery, Hyperbole, and Half-Truths
Weapons of Mass Distraction: Where? Find? Plant?
Not Worth the Paper It's Written On
Perplexed at US Refusal to Permit Return of UN Inspectors

dystopia 2:00 PM - [Link]

Funding for TIA All But Dead

Some good Wired News:

The controversial Terrorism Information Awareness program, which would troll Americans' personal records to find terrorists before they strike, may soon face the same fate Congress meted out to John Ashcroft in his attempt to create a corps of volunteer domestic spies: death by legislation.

The Senate's $368 billion version of the 2004 defense appropriations bill...contains a provision that would deny all funds to, and thus would effectively kill, the Terrorism Information Awareness program, formerly known as Total Information Awareness...

The Senate bill's language is simple but comprehensive: "No funds appropriated or otherwise made available to the Department of Defense...or to any other department, agency or element of the Federal Government, may be obligated or expended on research and development on the Terrorism Information Awareness program."

Also in Wired News, DARPA's penchant for privacy-invading projects is running into a few more obstacles than they anticipated:

A firestorm of criticism ignited after LifeLog first became public in May. Some potential bidders for the LifeLog contract dropped out as a result...

"DARPA doesn't spontaneously modify their programs in this way," he said. "It requires public criticism..."

"DARPA adds these contractual provisions to appear to be above suspicion," Pike said. "But if you can put them in, you can take them out."

Heard that. I don't think DARPA's giving up on any of it--they're just pulling back for a bit to regroup. They'll be quieter about it on the next try.

dystopia 1:22 PM - [Link]

Today in Dystopian History: July 15

1786: Morocco agreed to stop attacking American ships in the Mediterranean for a payment of $10,000.

1830: The Sioux, Sauk, Fox and other tribes signed a treaty ceding most of Minnesota, Iowa and Missouri.

1837: A smallpox epidemic decimated the Mandan tribe in Dakota Territory; out of 1,600 people, only 31 survived.

1849: The Hounds, a private police force used to track down runaway sailors who jumped ship to search for gold, attacked the Chilean district of San Francisco; a woman was killed in the violence and many were injured.

1863: Anti-draft riots ended in NYC against the implementation of the first wartime draft of US civilians; the rioters had applied special fury against blacks, black institutions, and abolitionists.

1892: US troops arrested 600 striking silver miners in Idaho, keeping them in warehouses surrounded by 14' fences for two months without hearing or formal charges.

1918: US intelligence agencies began to circulate the names and addresses of over 8,000 Mother Earth subscribers, targeting them for investigation.

1919: The War Department announced it had classified more than 337,000 American men as draft dodgers.

1944: Irene Morgan was arrested for not giving up her Greyhound bus seat to a white passenger, leading to the 1946 Supreme Court anti-segregation decision.

1948: At the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, 35 delegates from the South walked out in protest against the strong civil rights platform.

1949: President Truman signed the Housing Act, establishing a national housing policy and providing for federal aid to slum clearance programs and low-cost housing projects.

1958: A virtual civil war erupted as 14,000 US troops entered Lebanon at the invitation of the unpopular CIA-backed government.

1959: United Steel workers began a 116-day strike, ending when a Taft-Hartley injunction was granted.

1962: The first US helicopter crew was lost to hostile fire in Vietnam during a reconnaissance mission.

1970: The Oglala Sioux seized an area on Sheep Mountain, ND, demanding its return.

1978: The Longest Walk, a transcontinental walk for American Indian justice, arrived in Washington, DC, from Alcatraz Island with 30,000 marchers.

1979: President Carter's speech lamented a "crisis of confidence" in America; though he didn't use the word, it became known as the Malaise Speech.

1987: National Security Advisor John Poindexter began his public testimony before Congress under grant of limited immunity in the Iran-Contra affair.

1994: Activist Chris Sartor was arrested by employees of McDonalds.

1996: Jason Sprinkle, whose art project precipitated a bomb scare in Seattle, WA, was arrested.

1999: The US government acknowledged that thousands of workers were made sick while making nuclear weapons.

1999: Over 300 independent operators of Shell gas stations sued Shell Oil, charging that Shell used their dominant position in the market to prevent them from making a profit.

2001: The G8, meeting in Genoa, discussed the Taliban, oil pipelines, and the handing over of Osama bin Laden; the US delegation warned of a military option if the Taliban did not change its position.

dystopia 10:15 AM - [Link]

Monday, July 14, 2003

Give Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz the Boot

I'll second that--start a snowball rolling and hope it sucks 'em all in on its way down the hill. From the Boston Globe:

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld stands at the head of the table. He has outmaneuvered all his Cabinet rivals and taken over many of the functions that used to belong to the State Department, the CIA, even the Justice Department. He dominates the Cabinet as no secretary of defense has done since Robert McNamara. He is also articulate, refreshingly if undiplomatically blunt, with a no-nonsense approach that is at times both witty and exactly to the point.

His deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, is often mentioned as the most brilliant person in government. He is perhaps the most influential deputy in modern times, at the top of his game. He has seen his vision of toppling Saddam Hussein fulfilled, and he is an intellectual force behind a whole new way of looking at US foreign policy.

But for all of that, both should be fired. Here's why...

Rummy got a brand-new lease on life on September 11, and he's running with it for all he's worth. From the archives:

Some Speculations on the Return of Rumsfeld
Will Don Rumsfeld Quietly Fade Away?
Darth Rumsfeld
Rumsfeld's Lonely, Losing Battle

dystopia 5:38 PM - [Link]

Time Out

A joke printed on my Hulk popsicle stick:

Why was the food in the refrigerator afraid?

Because the milk went bad.

Yep, I can relate to that!

(Sorry--I'm feeling exuberant today.)

dystopia 4:50 PM - [Link]

The Fundamentals of Extremism

From Swan's Commentary, a review of Kimberly Blaker's book on the Christian Right's campaign to overhaul American society more to their liking:

The crisis is real. For three decades now, they have organized grass-roots campaigns, registered voters by the millions and helped elect the most conservative and reactionary members of the US comity to local, state and national offices. The body politic in Washington is permeated with people of enormous power who support and espouse the fundamentalist views of the world. Attorney General John Ashcroft, House Majority Whip Tom Delay, Sen Rick Santorum (third ranking Republican), Sen. Bill Frist (Senate Majority Leader), Sen Mitch McConnell (Senate Assistant Majority Leader), Sen James Inhofe (Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee), Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and Majority Whip Roy Blunt are just a few figures standing at the top of the iceberg who are aligned with the Christian fundamentalists. Over 40 senators and 170 House representatives are one way or the other allied with the religious right.

These people scare me spitless--I'm not kidding. Have you studied up on them yet? If not, you should, because this is one conspiracy theory that happens to be true:

Bush's Armageddon Obsession
The Highjacking of the Christian Church
Christian Reconstructionism
Luminous Fallibility

dystopia 4:16 PM - [Link]

Bush Still Knocking Head Start

Priorities in disorder, per the Dayton Daily News:

Of all the things the federal government needs to fix, President George W Bush's obsession with Head Start is perplexing...

The White House's real game plan is not to give expanded authority to states. Rather, the agenda is to move the federal government out of as many specific social-service programs as possible. That way when Washington sends generic block grants to the states for anti-poverty efforts, the states will be left with the hard choice of deciding what programs and benefits will be funded and what ones will go wanting.

dystopia 4:02 PM - [Link]

Straight Outta Parseville

Via Talking Points Memo, one of Ari Fleischer's last press conferences is recorded for posterity:

Fleischer: I think as far as the President is concerned, he's moved on. The President...

Questioner: What do you mean, "moved on"? That we shouldn't get to the bottom of it?

Fleischer: I think the bottom has been gotten to...

Some other highlights from Ari's tortuous tenure:

Watch What You Say
Enron Evasions: Lessons from Ari in the Art of Spin
Ari & I
Jesus a Pacifist?

You know what I read once? That Ari's parents raised him Democrat and they're heart-broken that he turned Republican on them, but figured it was "better than being on drugs, but not by much."

dystopia 3:47 PM - [Link]

20 Lies About the War in Iraq

Distilled into a handy printable list in the Independent.

dystopia 3:20 PM - [Link]

CIA Got Uranium Reference Cut in October

From the Washington Post:

CIA Director George J Tenet successfully intervened with White House officials to have a reference to Iraq seeking uranium from Niger removed from a presidential speech last October, three months before a less specific reference to the same intelligence appeared in the State of the Union address, according to senior administration officials.

Watched a rousing McLaughlin Group this weekend, and 60 Minutes was pretty darn good, too--so happy they're highlighting things like that on a nationwide broadcast at a time like this.

I keep thinking that grave miscalculations have been made--these people in the Washington power circle live in such an insulated bubble, they lose all perspective. Arrogance, overreaching, ham-fistedness--those are the same things that brought Nixon down. I think these guys aren't nearly as slick as they've convinced us they are.

I'm walking on Cloud 9. Maybe this scandal will blow over eventually and the villains will emerge virtually unscathed once again--stranger things have happened--but I plan to enjoy it thoroughly while it lasts.

dystopia 2:41 PM - [Link]

Retro Shock

Went to the mall this weekend--first time since Christmas, I think. Was standing in a big-name department store waiting for DH to try on some clothes, when I thought I saw a girl I went to high school with. She looked so familiar and, man! Was she still living in the 70s! Long straight hair parted in the middle, little or no makeup, granny glasses slipping off her nose, peasant blouse, blue jeans and leather thong sandals. I noted all that in a split-second.

In the next split-second, I realized I was looking at myself in a full-length mirror, and then I caught myself looking around nervously for the What Not to Wear camera. I was still laughing helplessly by the time DH came out, because I was standing in the same store where I used to buy my Jones New York suits, in my other life.

Things have definitely changed for the better.

dystopia 2:16 PM - [Link]

Today in Dystopian History: July 14

1775: In the first recorded contact between European explorers and Indians of the Olympic Peninsula, six members of Bodega y Quadra's Spanish crew were killed the Quinault tribe.

1798: Congress enacted the Federal Property Tax to fund expansion of the Army and Navy in anticipation of war with France.

1798: The Sedition Act made it a crime to write, utter or publish "any false, scandalous, & malicious" statements about the government, Congress, or the President; leading Republicans throughout the country were promptly arrested.

1828: Lower Umpqua Indians attacked a fur trapping party, killing 11.

1832: Congress appointed a committee to investigate lands west of the Mississippi River to find a suitable area for relocating Indians from Georgia, Alabama, and Florida.

1832: Opium was exempted from federal tariff duties.

1853: Commodore Perry gave a letter from President Fillmore to Japanese officials asking for trade relations.

1864: US naval forces protected the US Minister to Japan, in Yedo to negotiate American claims against Japan, and made his negotiations easier by impressing the Japanese with American power.

1866: US troops launched a punitive expedition against Tung Chow Foo, China, to avenge an assault on the US consul that took place in Newshwang.

1877: During the Great Upheaval, four years into a depression, a national railroad strike spread across the US as management attacked workers and tried to replace them; federal troops were deployed across the country.

1890: The Sherman Silver Purchase Act was passed; it was repealed after the Panic of 1893.

1921: Sacco and Vanzetti were convicted in Dedham, MA, of killing a shoe company paymaster and his guard, beginning years of appeals and protests worldwide; they were executed six years later.

1921: A Senate committee began investigating the crises in West Virginia's coal mining industry, after massive miners' strikes and company- and government-induced violence and three declarations of martial law.

1923: The American Federation of Labor was restrained from ever interfering with the country’s railroads by calling railroad employees out on strike.

1935: Black Americans in Harlem, NY, began demonstrations in support of the Ethiopian struggle against Italian fascism.

1937: Congress killed President Roosevelt's court-packing plan.

1939: At the Duvin coal mine in Providence, KY, 28 miners were killed in an explosion.

1950: The Indian Claims Commission upheld an Indian claim for the first time, awarding $3.5 million to the Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes for lands illegally taken by the US at the end of the Civil War.

1955: The Air Pollution Control Act became law.

1972: The Gainesville 8 were indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiring to set off a violent rebellion at the Republican National Convention.

1979: Somoza's US-backed dictatorship was overthrown by the Sandinista-led popular revolution in Nicaragua.

1983: Rep Crane (R-IL) and Rep Studds (D-MA) admitted to having sex with House pages.

1998: Free radio supporters rallied in Oregon and San Francisco against the FCC/NAB/OAB media monopoly.

1999: Race-based school busing in Boston ended after 25 years.

dystopia 10:26 AM - [Link]

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Books Worth Reading (linked to reviews):

The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood (1986)

How the Good Guys Finally Won: Notes from an Impeachment Summer, by Jimmy Breslin (1975)

Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco, by Bryan Burrough and John Helyar (1990)

Big Blues: The Unmaking of IBM, by Paul Carroll (1993)

Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson (1962)

The Road Ahead, by Bill Gates with Nathan Myhrvold and Peter Rinearson (1996)

Charismatic Chaos, by John F MacArthur, Jr (1992)

The American Way of Birth, by Jessica Mitford (1992)

Ethel: A Fictional Autobiography, by Tema Nason (1990)

Arrogant Capital: Washington, Wall Street, and the Frustration of American Politics, by Kevin Phillips (1994)

Flying High: The Story of Boeing and the Rise of the Jetliner Industry, by Eugene Rodgers (1996)

Clearing the Air, by Daniel Schorr (1977)

Trammell Crow, Master Builder: The Story of America's Largest Real Estate Empire, by Robert Sobel (1989)

The Triumph of Politics: Why the Reagan Revolution Failed, by David Stockman (1986)

Oil Man: The Story of Frank Phillips and the Birth of Phillips Petroleum, by Michael Wallis (1995)

Marathon: The Pursuit of the Presidency 1972-1976, by Jules Witcover (1977)

Belly Up: The Collapse of the Penn Square Bank, by Philip L Zweig (1985)