Saturday, May 31, 2008

Halliburton: Actual Providers Of Nuclear Technology To Iran?

With all the fearmongering that has been going on over the last 4-5 years with regards to Iran's nuclear energy program, including the typical evocations of WMDs, WWIII and "mushroom clouds", I dug up the following article from the vault of Project Censored ("The news that didn't make the News") which has been ranked as No. 2 in the Top 25 censored stories for 2007.

Before reading the following article, keep in mind that A) Iran may not have acquired nuclear technology through Pakistan after all; and B) the CIA may have unwittingly provided Iran with blueprints for nuclear bombs already.

Then simply remember Bush's own fearmongering words (sounding like déjà vu ... all over again):
"Iran’s pursuit of technology that could lead to nuclear weapons threatens to put a region already known for instability and violence under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust.

Iran’s actions threaten the security of nations everywhere, and the United States is rallying friends and allies to isolate Iran’s regime to impose economic sanctions. We will confront this danger before it is too late
".
And now, to the article in question ...


**********


Halliburton Charged with Selling Nuclear Technologies to Iran

According to journalist Jason Leopold, sources at former Cheney company Halliburton allege that, as recently as January of 2005, Halliburton sold key components for a nuclear reactor to an Iranian oil development company. Leopold says his Halliburton sources have intimate knowledge of the business dealings of both Halliburton and Oriental Oil Kish, one of Iran’s largest private oil companies.

Additionally, throughout 2004 and 2005, Halliburton worked closely with Cyrus Nasseri, the vice chairman of the board of directors of Iran-based Oriental Oil Kish, to develop oil projects in Iran. Nasseri is also a key member of Iran’s nuclear development team. Nasseri was interrogated by Iranian authorities in late July 2005 for allegedly providing Halliburton with Iran’s nuclear secrets. Iranian government officials charged Nasseri with accepting as much as $1 million in bribes from Halliburton for this information.

Oriental Oil Kish dealings with Halliburton first became public knowledge in January 2005 when the company announced that it had subcontracted parts of the South Pars gas-drilling project to Halliburton Products and Services, a subsidiary of Dallas-based Halliburton that is registered to the Cayman Islands. Following the announcement, Halliburton claimed that the South Pars gas field project in Tehran would be its last project in Iran. According to a BBC report, Halliburton, which took thirty to forty million dollars from its Iranian operations in 2003, “was winding down its work due to a poor business environment.”

However, Halliburton has a long history of doing business in Iran, starting as early as 1995, while Vice President Cheney was chief executive of the company. Leopold quotes a February 2001 report published in the Wall Street Journal, “Halliburton Products and Services Ltd., works behind an unmarked door on the ninth floor of a new north Tehran tower block. A brochure declares that the company was registered in 1975 in the Cayman Islands, is based in the Persian Gulf sheikdom of Dubai and is “non-American.” But like the sign over the receptionist’s head, the brochure bears the company’s name and red emblem, and offers services from Halliburton units around the world.” Moreover mail sent to the company’s offices in Tehran and the Cayman Islands is forwarded directly to its Dallas headquarters.

Keep Reading ...


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Is it just me or is there a pattern here, whereby a powerful American corporation sells potentially dangerous technologies to a country, then said country becomes a politically useful "Bogeyman-Enemy", which leads to war ... and whereby the same Corporation ends up with reconstruction contracts and such - thus profiting on all sides of the equation?

I wonder ...


(Cross-posted at DKos and The Wild Wild Left)


Friday, May 30, 2008

Late Friday Night Ode To ... (Blank)

No specific theme for tonight's Ode here at APOV - except that we're feeling bluesy, is all.

As the opener, we offer you Jimmy Page & The Black Crowes - You Shook Me:


For the middle course, we give you ZZ Top - Waitin' For The Bus/Jesus Just Left Chicago:


And for the closer, we have AC/DC - Night Prowler:


Feels good, doesn't it?

Keep on rockin' ...


Revealed: Behind The Scenes Of Operation Enduring Propaganda

In the wake of former WH press secretary Scott McClellan's revelations, especially concerning the traditional media's shameful neglect of their watchdog role in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, whereby reporters were essentially "complicit enablers" of the Bush administration’s push for war, some reporters and anchor persons have come out to corroborate such revelations (particularly concerning the roles of corporate hacks), while others remain in their self-deluded ivory towers of denial.

In any case, my (not-so-rhetorical) question is: is there anything about the MSM's subservience to the Bushies and the right-wing noise machine new here?


Answer: Not. At. All.

And then some.

In fact, virtually every blog of the progressive blogosphere has commented/criticized the traditional media's subservience and dutyful stenographism to the Bush administration over the last seven years or so (including, of course, APOV).

So in essence, what McClelland is doing is fully confirming everything that was suspected to be going on behind closed doors.

For instance: Bush secretly declassified the "cooked" 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq for Cheney and Libby to anonymously disclose to reporters.

Or this: McClelland claims that he was fooled into publicly exonerating Cheney and Rove concerning Plamegate, which turned out to be (of course) false.

Or this: the Iraq war was sold through a sophisticated political propaganda campaign by the Bush administration, which aimed at manipulating sources of public opinion and downplaying the major reason for going to war.

Which reminds me of this little post I wrote last year, titled Operation Enduring Propaganda - allow me to indulge with a few excerpts:
While being assaulted by the continuous exposures of scandalous abuses of power, politicizing of the apparels of government and erasing the separation of church and state, along with an increasing crescendo of calls for impeachment proceedings, the besieged Puppet Presidency and Unitary Regency have unleashed in recent weeks their true "surge" plans: unrelenting blitzkrieg-like, coordinated propaganda counter-strikes to sell the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, while making the case for more war in the Middle-East, through it all playing on the fear and insecurity of Americans.

(...)

Hence their current Operation Enduring Propaganda, which is of course all about the politics of fear and ignorance.

Let us review how it has been playing out so far, shall we?

Step One - Keep reminding them of the threat posed by the Bogey Man: The convenient specter of terrorism has proven to be the perfect tool to keep the public cowed in fear - the modus operandi here being "all we have to fear, we must" (...).

Step Two - Spin your current disastrous wars into successes: (...) Use Step One to keep justifying the Iraq War, while parading false experts all over the MSM to sell its "growing successes" and the "steady progress" in rebuilding Iraq, falsely branding said "experts" as "Bush critics" or "war critics" in the process so as to enhance their (non-existent) credibility - and make sure to hide the fact that they contradict their own research while dishing out the propaganda. Do the same thing with regards to Afghanistan - it is as much a part of the War against Global Terrorism(TM) and therefore must be sustained at all costs, those who beg to differ be damned. After all, facts do not matter here: it is the maintenance of the fear and ignorance of the populace which is of prime concern (see Steps Four and Five).

Step Three - Ignore, attack or ridicule all those who hold up the truth of the matter: Experts are contradicting your decisions or your arguments against pulling out your troops? They are saying that your actions have made things worse or that your strategies are not working? Ignore them, attack them, smear them, make them retire, dismiss them, punish them or simply fire them. Better yet, blame them for the failures - it is, after all, their choice of having enlisted and thus should stop complaining and do their job. And what about all those other, "regular" citizens who are likewise criticizing your wars of choice? Ridicule, demonize and/or attack them - anything that will marginalize them in the eyes of the fearful and ignorant public at large.

Step Four - Call for more wars: Because the Enemy is all encompassing, spreading his evil tentacles everywhere (at least, that is how the mantra goes), keep rattling the war sabers to include nearby "unfriendly" countries as collaborators of the Enemy - use anything and everything to support/justify potential war with those "Enemy collaborators", the facts be damned of course. Iran and Syria are two striking examples of this - after all, this is a War on Global Terrorism(TM) and you are "either with us, or against us" (...)

Step Five - Ask for increases in intelligence and military means to fight the Enemy: To have full control and wage war in the struggle to establish empire, you need all the tools you can get. The Patriot Act, the Military Commission's Act are but two examples. Keep clamoring and asking for more. On the military side of things, you have to keep the "surge" going while preparing/readying for more war (see Step Four) (...)

Step Six - Recycle through Steps One to Five: This one is self-explanatory.

(...) Such is the way I envision the state of affairs to be in the decades to come - unless, that is, Operation Enduring Propaganda gets to be roundly and permanently defeated here and now.

As always, it will be up to us to meet the challenge ... or not.
Interestingly, here are two other bits of news which demonstrate to us that Operation Enduring Propaganda keeps on rolling, as strong as ever:

A) McClelland and his book are currently being debunked/spun/minimized/ridiculed/character assasinated by the White House, the right-wing noise machine and the subservient propagandist traditional media;

B) McClelland is now warning us to take the Bush administration’s claims on Iran very seriously and be skeptical about them.

On a related note - there is yet another report that the Bush administration plans to attack Iran before the end of its term ... which is of course being denied.

And thus rolls on Operation Enduring Propaganda ...

Yes - McClelland deserves a good share of the blame for his participatory mendacity in fooling the U.S. "folks at large" while he was WH Press Secretary, as much as he warrants condemnation for his cowardice in waiting until now to put forth his admissions and revelations.

Nevertheless, his warnings should be heeded.


(Cross-posted at DKos and The Wild Wild Left)


Where Is The Outrage?

I've been asking myself the same question as the following article - over and over again.

This in turn further supports my contention that this is why we are the real problem with terrorism ...

But the real question is - are you outraged?


**********


Where Is the Outrage?

By Robert Scheer

28/05/08 "TruthDig " -- -- Are we Americans truly savages or merely tone-deaf in matters of morality, and therefore more guilty of terminal indifference than venality? It’s a question demanding an answer in response to the publication of the detailed 370-page report on U.S. complicity in torture, issued last week by the Justice Department’s inspector general.


Because the report was widely cited in the media and easily accessed as a pdf file on the Internet, it is fair to assume that those of our citizens who remain ignorant of the extent of their government’s commitment to torture as an official policy have made a choice not to be informed. A less appealing conclusion would be that they are aware of the heinous acts fully authorized by our president but conclude that such barbarism is not inconsistent with that American way of life that we celebrate.

But that troubling assessment of moral indifference is contradicted by the scores of law enforcement officers, mostly from the FBI, who were so appalled by what they observed as routine official practice in the treatment of prisoners by the United States in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo that they risked their careers to officially complain. A few brave souls from the FBI even compiled a “war crimes file,” suggesting the unthinkable — that we might come to be judged as guilty by the standard we have imposed on others. Superiors in the Justice Department soon put a stop to such FBI efforts to hold CIA agents and other U.S. officials accountable for the crimes they committed.

That this systematic torture was carried out not by a few conveniently described “bad apples” but rather represented official policy condoned at the highest level of government was captured in one of those rare media reports that remind us why the Founding Fathers signed off on the First Amendment.

Keep Reading ...


Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Nexus Of Irrelevance

I have so far refrained from wasting blog space at APOV concerning the appropriately named blog Nexus of Assholery and its owner, the self-proclaimed "real intellectual" going by the name of Patrick Ross.

After all, there are matters of significantly greater importance to blog about, such as the war in Afghanistan, the Iraq war, the incompetence of the Bush administration, the incompetence of the Harper government, torture and civil rights - to name but a few.

In any case, the main reason why I have chosen not to blog in response to anything written by Mr. Ross until today will become plainly evident as I do so now.

And why do so now, you may ask? Well, simply because Mr. Ross devoted an entire post concerning yours truly, instead of inconsequentially side-jabbing at me as he has done in the past (examples here, here, here, here and here).


To give you an idea of where Mr. Ross is coming from, I offer you the very first post he wrote, titled "Welcome, Fuckers!!!". Contrast this, if you will, with the very first post written by yours truly ("A Brave, New (Old) World ...").

Until last year, I did not know who was Patrick Ross, let alone anything about his "blog" (which is now four years old). But I did get to know him when he posted "insightful" comments elsewhere (one example here), and especially when he elected to pop in at APOV in order to deliver one of his typical "edifying" comments to my post "Of Incompetence, Delusions Of Grandeur And Monomania".

You see, in Mr. Ross' imaginary world, everyone in the progressive blogosphere is an hypocritical, intellectually challenged, clueless and factless ideologue (including yours truly), while he towers above all of us minables with his giant intellect, his impressive knowledge and his admiring, meticulous precision with facts.

But the truth is that ill-mannered, fact-challenged, adolescent faux bravado, boorish, self-important and knowledge-challenged fops like him are a dime a dozen.

Case in point with his post concerning me - allow me to dissect it forthwith.

First, Mr. Ross begins thusly:
"Sticking with the facts" requires actually reporting them

...But unfortunately, some people don't seem to understand that.

Yesterday, the irredeemably intellectually lazy ideologue who calls himself Mentarch took some time out of his busy schedule to pout about being referred to as a historical revisionist naysayer.

Except that he really hasn't. Upon examining any number of Mentarch's Afghanistan posts, any number of factual errors can be identified -- some of them actually quite prevalent in the mainstream media coverage of Afghanistan (upon which he overwhelmingly relies when he isn't just vainly linking to his previous posts), others not so much.
Apparently, in Mr. Ross' world, the only way you can convincingly make a point is by ridiculing others - like your typical fatuous fop who hopes to win any argument by intimidation and/or derision instead of, well, actually articulating a point. As for my so-called "pouting", all I wrote in my post referenced by Mr. Ross was:
Call me a "historical revisionist naysayer" if you will with regards to Afghanistan, but at the very least I stick with the facts - as I have labored to time and time and time and time and time and time and time again.

And now, here is just another day in Paradise Afghanistan as another case in point.
Only in Mr. Ross' deluded, self-ego inflating imaginary world can this be called "pouting".

But let us move on to words written in Mr. Ross' post which pass off as a semblance of points, in order to support his contention that my posts concerning Afghanistan contain a "number of factual errors":
A few examples?

Treating the Taliban as an umbrella term for all of the various insurgent groups active in Afghanistan right now -- currently, at least seven -- many of whom actually have differing and opposing goals, and are as likely to fight one another as they are to fight NATO troops.

Or insisting that the Kabul government is negotiating with the Taliban when they call upon American troops to not arrest Taliban insurgents -- despite the fact that this is actually part of a calculated government program to undercut the insurgency's manpower by pardoning their foot soldiers so long as they disarm themselves and agree to accept Afghanistan's constitution. (As it turns out, the Taliban leadership is actually ineligible for such a pardon.)

Or cherry picking examples of failures in Afghanistan -- it would be naive to pretend there haven't been any -- while willfully ignoring any successes, which really has become the modus operandi of Mentarch and some of his braying associates.
"Treating the Taliban as an umbrella term" - well, I can't take credit for this, since that is how exactly the Taliban is/has always been presented to us by NATO, our politicos, the US politicos and the media - including their conflation with al Qaeda - to sell us this never ending war. And while Mr. Ross is right concerning the uneasy, complex alliance of those tribes which are part of the Taliban, and from which it draws its roots, the fact remains that the Taliban is an organized movement with its own leaders/deciders above the tribes themselves. In any case, Mr. Ross missed the whole point (as he usually does with any blog he "challenges") of my posts with regards to negotiating with "the Taliban": if negotiation is "good policy" now, why was it not so seven years ago before we got ourselves mired in this quagmire? Especially when considering the Taliban's slow evolution into network groups over the last seven years or so, making it wishful thinking that peace and stability can be achieved in Afghanistan through military means - another one of the points alluded to in my posts.

But we all know why there were no negotiation with the Taliban then, when it was better united and constituted the government of Afghanistan: Bush wanted to rush into war badly - despite the offers of the Taliban then to hand over Osama bin Laden. These are the facts, Mr. Ross - but as always, you ignore them to whip up straw men arguments whenever needed in order to support your little, petty attacks - as you have done in the present case and as you always do.

Then we have the second "point" of Mr. Ross, where he chides me for pointing out (sorry - "insisting") that Hamid Karzai is seeking to negotiate with the Taliban while calling for N.A.T.O. troops to keep their "hands off" Taliban fighters. Where are the factual errors here? This is exactly what has been going on (and I have linked properly to sources to this effect in my posts). Interestingly, the only actual factual error here is Mr. Ross' own speculation, which of course he decides to be a "fact", that all of this is part of some tactic and whatnot to undermine the Taliban movement.

But Mr. Ross has always been good at this approach of using his own speculations, however tortuous they may be, in order to offer them as unassailable facts. Go read again his comment here at APOV, back in July of last year, as a prime example of this.

Better yet - here is another example of his "fact-challenged" analytical prowess. Or this instance whereby he flatly accuses an ex-military of knowing nothing about the military.

Last, but not least, Mr. Ross accuses me of "cherry-picking examples of failures in Afghanistan" while "willfully ignoring any successes". Aside from Mr. Ross' own actually demonstrated cherry-picking in proclaiming success in Afghanistan, he is apparently oblivious to the actual reality in Afghanistan (and on this, I let all my posts on this subject stand to that effect, regardless of Mr. Ross' warped, delusional "critique" of them), including the fact that we are certainly not winning there.

And to think that he calls me an "irredeemably intellectually lazy ideologue" ...

In the end, Mr. Ross' invariably reveals himself for what he truly is through his own words:
And if Mentarch has shown us anything, it's that if you're a "Progressive Historian" for whom the actual "historian" part of that label takes a backseat to the ideology, revising history while it's still in progress really is just the ticket.

But one shouldn't be surprised if someone as abrasively arrogant as Mentarch -- an individual who actually believes he can politicize the very concept of incompetence -- either doesn't understand this, or simply won't admit it.

Sadly, it's all par for the course.
It's all par for the course indeed ...

The fact is that I have never claimed of being an historian (I am a cellular biologist), although I do post at the site "Progressive Historians"... at the invitation of the site's administrators who are actual history scholars, teachers and graduate students. But Mr. Ross' tripe on this matter, along with his accusation that I "politicize incompetence", are nevertheless very telling of what he truly is.

And if you haven't guessed yet, here is another example of what I allude to - again concerning his opinion with regards to the Eight Principles of Incompetence, whereby he offers the following to a reminder of mine (in italics):
"Why, Mr. Ross, I am *shocked* that you omitted calling me also "stupid, because he doesn't understand that incompetence doesn't have 'principles'", as you are fond of doing in your comments at other blogs."

Hey, when it's been said, it's been said. And when it becomes obvious that you aren't smart enough to comprehend precisely why that is so, I'm more than content to leave you to your delusions -- ignorance being bliss, and all.

I just think it's funny that something you promote as some sort of philosophical epiphany completely unravels based on its premise alone.
Aside that he is obviously ignorant of the fact that "principle" also means "law" (as in "rule" and "rationale"), the shorter meaning of his own words is: "I feel threatened and I am simply jealous".

Indeed, his childish habit of gratuitously insulting and ridiculing others is just that - insecurity with pure and simple jealousy.

But of course, in Mr. Ross' imaginary world where his towering intellect rules supreme, I am the one who is "not smart enough" and "abrasively arrogant".

So - to recap what we have regarding Mr. Ross' behavior: arrogance, intellectual sloth, immaturity, aggressiveness, fact-spinning, straw man arguing, intellectual vanity, incapacity to recognize/acknowledge competence, feeling threatened by others and petty jealousy.

Sounds like incompetence to me.

And that is why the Nexus of Assholery is actually the Nexus of Irrelevance - despite four years of existence.

That is also why I will return to my policy of not wasting space at APOV concerning Mr. Ross - however much he rants, insults, decries and rages to this effect, and regardless of what he henceforth writes about APOV.

To quote the esteemed Red Tory, concerning Mr. Ross: "It would almost be comical if it wasn’t so utterly pathetic."

And to quote also the always direct Canadian Cynic: "I don't care what rubbish you want to spew, Patrick, or who you want to spew it to."

Agreed - on both accounts.


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Twisted Priorities: War Abroad And Poverty At Home

Because we at APOV always seek to inform: after reading the following article concerning U.S. military spending, and taking into account Stephen "I-can't-settle-for-Viagra-in-making-me-a-manly-man" Harper's recent announcement to significantly invest into Canada's own military in order to be "taken more seriously" in the world, I can't help but be disgusted by such wasteful spending while the poor get poorer, the homeless get no shelter and the hungry get to live with famine - day in and day out.

That is how fear-driven and completely twisted our priorities as "free and democratic" societies have become.


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War Abroad And Poverty At Home

By Paul Craig Roberts

The US Senate has voted $165 billion to fund Bush’s wars of aggression against Afghanistan and Iraq through next spring.

As the US is broke and deep in debt, every one of the $165 billion dollars will have to be borrowed. American consumers are also broke and deep in debt. Their zero saving rate means every one of the $165 billion dollars will have to be borrowed from foreigners.

The “world’s only superpower” is so broke it can’t even finance its own wars.

Each additional dollar that the irresponsible Bush Regime has to solicit from foreigners puts more downward pressure on the dollar’s value. During the eight wasted and extravagant years of the Bush Regime, the once mighty US dollar has lost about 60% of its value against the euro.

The dollar has lost even more of its value against gold and oil.

Before Bush began his wars of aggression, oil was $25 a barrel. Today it is $130 a barrel. Some of this rise may result from run-away speculation in the futures market. However, the main cause is the eroding value of the dollar. Oil is real, and unlike paper dollars is limited in supply. With US massive trade and budget deficits, the outpouring of dollar obligations mounts, thus driving down the value of the dollar.

Keep on reading ...


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Action Alert: Iraq War Resister Facing Deportation

Press Release: IRAQ WAR RESISTER FACES DEPORTATION FROM CANADA

(TORONTO) – U.S. Iraq war resister Corey Glass was told on May 21, 2008, that his application stay in Canada has been rejected and he now faces deportation.

Glass, 25, came to Canada in August 2006 after serving in Iraq as a Military Intelligence Sergeant. “What I saw in Iraq convinced me that the war is illegal and immoral. I could not in good conscience continue to take part in it,” said Glass. “I came here because Canada did not join the Iraq War. Also, I knew Canada had welcomed many Americans during the Vietnam War,” Glass stated.

It is estimated that several hundred Iraq War resisters are currently in Canada, many of them living underground.

“Corey Glass would be the first Iraq War resister to be deported from Canada. He would face imprisonment and severe penalties in the US,” said Lee Zaslofsky, coordinator of the War Resisters Support Campaign and a Vietnam War resister. “This goes against Canada’s tradition of welcoming Americans who disagree with policies like slavery and the Vietnam War.”

On December 6, 2007, the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration called on the Canadian Government to “immediately implement a program to allow conscientious objectors and their immediate family members […] to apply for permanent resident status and remain in Canada; and … the government should immediately cease any removal or deportation actions … against such individuals.”

“The Government should implement that recommendation immediately,” said author Lawrence Hill. “Corey Glass had the courage to listen to his conscience. He is working hard to build a new life in this country. He should be allowed to stay.”

“We must not forget that the invasion of Iraq was a war justified only by lies, greed and stupidity for which permission was not sought nor granted to the Bush administration by the United Nations,” said Alexandre Trudeau, son of Pierre Elliott Trudeau and director of the documentary film Embedded In Baghdad. “This outlaw war has ravaged the Iraqi landscape, destroyed tens of thousands of lives and sorely sapped the American treasury all while filling the coffers of profiteers.”

“Those Americans who served in Iraq and have come to Canada to avoid being pressed into further participation in the indignities of the American occupation there are brave men and women of principle who should be given a chance to become landed in Canada. Like many Vietnam draft dodgers before them, their heightened sense of morality and truth can only be a benefit to our nation,” Trudeau concluded.

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punditman says...

For more information please call Lee Zaslofsky at 416.598.1222 or Michelle Robidoux at 416.856.5008.

More stuff you can do:

CALL LIBERAL LEADER Stéphane Dion: 613.996.6740 or 613.996.5789

Tell him you want the Liberal Party...
  • to support the Parliamentary motion to allow Iraq War resisters to remain in Canada,
  • to oppose the deportation of people of conscience who have resisted an illegal war, and
  • to support the will of the Canadian people, not Stephen Harper’s decision to deport war resisters, and not the U.S.’s war agenda.
  • Let Them Stay!

Death-Wish Hillary Primes Manchurian Candidate

By ALEXANDER COCKBURN

Ever since she realized back in early March that Obama was going to take the nomination Hillary Clinton’s long-term strategy has been to do her best to ensure McCain will win this November so she can become the Democratic nominee in 2012. But she had a short term strategy too and on Friday she deliberately made it explicit in a newspaper office in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. There she suggested that some is likely to step up to the plate and assassinate Barack Obama in the waning moments of the California primary, just as Bobby Kennedy was forty years go almost to the day. The wish is mother to the deed. If anything does happen to Obama in California Mrs Clinton should surely be indicted as a co-conspirator.

How to else construe her grotesque remarks in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in the editorial offices of the Argus Leader newspaper. Here she told the editors, "My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. I don't understand it," she said, dismissing calls to drop out.

There is no other way to construe these sentences, not thrown over her shoulder on a campaign walk, but delivered in measured tones to the Argus-Leader editorial board, but to interpret them as Mrs Clinton’s more or less explicit statement that she is spending a million a day just to keep her hat in the ring because Obama might well get killed. Then, just like the scenario at the end of the Manchurian candidate, Hillary will straddle Obama’s bleeding body, make the speech of her life and become the assured nominee. In fact, right now she’s probably sitting down with some numbed vet and whispering coyly in her best Angela Lansbury mode to the Lawrence Harvey stand-in, “How about passing the time by playing a little solitaire?" I pass on whether Hillary reprises Angela Lansbury’s famous incestuous kiss on her son’s lips. Perhaps Sid Blumenthal is the stand-in, though I doubt he’s a very good shot.

To get added insight into what a truly nasty woman Hillary Clinton is, remember that her remarks on Friday came a couple of days after Edward Kennedy was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Next thing you know, his fellow senator is saying that California might well be celebrating the fortieth anniversary of his brother’s murder by killing the candidate he has endorsed for the nomination.

Keep Reading...

punditman says...Wow.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Canada Doesn't Need Triangulation, Mr. Dion, But True Opposition

I have so far refrained from commenting on Liberal Party of Canada leader Stéphane Dion, for the simple reason that I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt ("laisser la chance au coureur") and allow him some time to get his game on in order to demonstrate his leadership vision and qualities.

But now I find myself in complete agreement with Red Tory, Canadian Cynic and Pretty Shaved Ape: Mr. Dion, your measure has been taken and you have been found wanting.


It is a no-brainer as to why and how the (neo)Conservative minority government of Stephen Harper has so far managed to govern largely like a majority government: the opposition parties, especially the LPC under Dion, have been too busy triangulating their positions in order to buy time until the next general elections.

In other words: they have refrained from undoing Harper and his Harpies because they feel they are not "ready" to win a majority.

The problem is that in the meantime, Harper and his Harpies have been imposing their neoconservative agenda on all Canadians, including the death of Kyoto and the extension - as well as politization - of our mission in the Afghanistan quagmire (which, by the way, has not been about reconstruction for a long time, but rather as a full combat mission). And that is without including the ludicrous bills C-484 and C-537, among other "accomplishments".

Since the two years or so that we've been under the Harper minority government, Canada has slowly but surely lost its trustworthiness and relevance in the world, all the while transforming gradually into a redux version of Bush's U.S.A., if not on the way of actually becoming a subservient satrapy of our neighbors to the south.

Why, we even have one of our own generals on the ground in Iraq - Iraq, of all places!

And through it all, where were Dion and the LPC? One example as an answer:
While the Conservative minority appears to skip from scandal to gaffe to failure, Dion's Liberals not only cannot capitalize on the governments errors, they can't even manage to whip a vote. Hell, they can barely be bothered to turn up and cast a vote.
And the consequences, aside from enabling Harper and his Harpies into doing whatever they want? This:
According to the latest Toronto Star/Angus Reid opinion poll, Dion’s approval rating has sunk to its lowest level yet, with nine of 10 Canadians now saying they disapprove or are not sure of his performance as the head of the party.

Polling since the convention in Montreal almost a year and a half ago has consistently indicated that the new leader is failing to create a positive impact with the Canadian public. Had there been any hopeful signs of improvement in this regard perhaps my opinion would be rather more sanguine, but the incontestable fact of the matter is that things are actually getting progressively worse: an ever-increasing numbers of people are forming a distinctly unfavourable impression of Dion — and not, it has to be reluctantly admitted, entirely without reason.
What actually demonstrated to me the lack of vision and leadership of Stéphane Dion was this specific (and apparently forgotten) instance (emphasis added):
The last nail in the coffin of Canada's commitment to Kyoto was hammered in when the Harper government flat out announced that Canada would not meet its targets under the Kyoto accords. In the end, Harper and his Harpies came up with what I have come to call Kyoto-Ultra Light - which was such a fraud that it prompted opposition parties in the House of Commons to put forth legislation (bill C-288) in order to force the Harper government in meeting Kyoto targets by 2012. However, Harper and his Harpies resorted to the usual economic scare tactics (same ones they used against Kyoto) to debunk the bill which, since then, has remained essentially lettre morte and unlawfully ignored by the Harper government.
Such blatant disregard of the will of the House of Commons by a minority government should have warranted a swift and succint no-confidence vote and subsequent booting out of governance.

But it never happened, because doing so would have instantly triggered a general election - and Dion could not have that, figuring that he could not win a majority just yet.

So he chose to wait ... and wait ... and wait ...

Such are the landmarks of non-leaders, of meek calculators, of indecisive triangulators.

Meanwhile, Harper and his Harpies have been going forth with imposing their neoconservative agenda - largely unhindered.

They could even win a majority next time around, thanks to Dion's ineffectiveness in opposing Harper and his Harpies, in the process utterly failing in exposing them for the neoconservatives and incompetents that they truly are.

How is it that progressive bloggers, even including a neophyte like me, have done a better job in this than a supposedly experienced politician and LPC leader like Stéphane Dion?

The answer is simple: when you busy yourself at triangulating your positions and stances on issues, you lose sight of the actual job you were elected to do.

In this case: being a true leader of a true opposition party for all Canadians.

To put it in other words:
It should be obvious by now that Stephane Dion has been an utter failure as Liberal leader. And I'm tired -- really, truly tired -- of being told how he's finally learning how to run that party, or how he's finally getting comfortable with himself, or how he's finally whatever the fuck it is he's finally figured out how to do.

(...)

It's been almost a year and a half, and there's only so much "Hang in there, it's happening" someone can take. I want someone who can protect me from the imbecilic fuckwits in the Conservative Party of Canada, and Stephane Dion is not up to the job. Period. Never has been. Never will be.
For indeed, we got little or no opposition, let alone any fully articulated vision for Canada, from Dion and the LPC.

Canadians do not need triangulation, Mr. Dion - we need true leadership and vision to stop the diseases of far right Christianism and neoconservatism.

Having failed miserably so far, you should do the honorable thing for the sake of not only the LPC, but of all Canadians as well, and resign.

Then it will be up to the LPC to repair its mistake and choose a true, commited and determined leader this time around.

Otherwise, we can expect 2-8 more years of Bush-emulating Harper and his Harpies at the helm of our country.

Oh, joy.

I think it is safe to say that Canadians (including yours truly) would take a Liberal minority government over a neoconservative minority or majority one, any time.

Do you get it now, Monsieur Dion?


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Just Another Day In Afghanistan

Call me a "historical revisionist naysayer" if you will with regards to Afghanistan, but at the very least I stick with the facts - as I have labored to time and time and time and time and time and time and time again.

And now, here is just another day in Paradise Afghanistan as another case in point.

Signs (or signposts) of success indeed.

Afghanistan - time to abandon this wasteful, ludicrous political exercize ... now.

Seems to me there should be no confusion about this - except, of course, for those intellectual sloth-driven, incompetent primitive minds out there who are simply incapable of actually dealing with reality.

Just sayin' ...

APOV's Weekly Revue (05/25/2008)

Time yet again for APOV's Weekly Revue!


On the Operation Enduring Propaganda front, Steven D @ Booman Tribune sarcastically proclaims "The surge lives!", tristero @ Hullabaloo explores the further revelations of incompetence and corruption in Iraq, Eric Martin @ Total Information Awareness expounds on Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani's rising militant stand in Iraq ("it's the occupation, stupid!"), and Glenn Greenwald @ Blog of Rights expounds on the Bush Torture Regime. On a related note, Kathy @ Comments From Left Field talks about the Right's neurotic addiction to war (it's all about their wet dreams, I say).

Concerning the waste of Afghanistan specifically, Cernig @ Newshoggers focusses on Gen. Petraeus' re-affirmation that Afghanistan in the central front of the Global War on Terror(TM), not Iraq.

With regards to Iran and other assorted "evil" regimes, Matt Eckel @ Foreign Policy Watch talks about fearing to negociate with them, while Cernig (again) @ Newshoggers explains why negociation can make sense (to which I agree). In between, Jeff Huber @ The Wild Wild Left tells us how the MSM has dropped the ball on Iran once again - in part because, as explained by David Neiwert @ Firedoglake, the traditional media is busying itself at fanning the flames of immigration irrationality. Interestingly, JollyRoger @ Reconstitution introduces us to the world's worst terrorist organization - something entirely overlooked by the traditional media, of course.

On the "North American Homeland Security" front, mrvnmouse @ 1337haxOr informs us on why fingerprints are not secure, while Kvatch @ Ragebot explains how the airlines extort extra money from flyers with the complicity of the TSA.

Through it all, oil prices keep on rising while supplies can only decline, as explained by Ken Anderson @ Shockfront with his piece "The $12 Gallon".

The obvious question then becomes: why was the Bush Regime never impeached? Chris Floyd @ Empire Burlesque explains why the progressive vision has failed to make this happen. Over at The Wild Wild Left, liberalamerican expounds further on this subject with his piece "Democracy and Faith in the American People".

Meanwile, on the continuing assault of science, evolution and global warming by the religious right (intellectual sloth, anyone?), Daniel DiRito @ Bring It On! explains how with each day it is increasingly becoming harder and harder to be a climate change denying Christian creationist (weep indeed for those poor primitive minds), whereas winter rabbit @ The Wild Wild Left reminds us that climate disintegration is a human rights issue.

As a (related) aside, Tom Harper @ Who Hijacked Our Country waxes cynical at the U.S.A ranking 97th on the Global Peace Index (Canada ranked 11th, dropping three ranks from last year ...).

And speaking of Canada - Canadian Cynic @ Canadian Cynic dissects the failures of the hypocritical Federal Accountability Act passed some two years ago by the (neo)Conservative Harper government, while skdadl @ Peace, order and good government, eh? expounds on the Canadian Supreme Court's unanimous decision to order the Harper government to hand over any and all information to alleged terrorist Omar Khadr concerning his "interviews" since being incarcerated at Gitmo, so he can better prepare his defense. In between, Matt Bin @ Canadian Cynic dissects the Refugee Board of Canada's ruling that American war resister and Iraq veteran Corey Glass is not eligible for refugee status - and therefore must be deported back to the U.S.A..

Thus on this sad note concludes APOV's Weekly Revue for May 25th, 2008.


Saturday, May 24, 2008

Nice To Know I Am Onto Something Here ...

Two days ago, I wrote about the Bouchard-Taylor commission and its report. My personal observations and conclusions can be summarized as follows (emphasis added):


The commission was not without its detractors from the get-go. On the one side, there were those who feared (irrationally) that both the reasonable accommodation debate in Québec, and the commission itself, were rooted in xenophobia, racism and sexism (two examples here and here). On the other side, there were those who feared (irrationally) that the commission would act as a mouth-piece for promoting multi-culturalism and "unreasonable" accomodation to immigrants, thus severely diminishing the french culture and identity of Québec (two examples here and here).

What the two opposing sides missed is that such a debate was needed, badly. And yes, some ugly things were aired out - but such things are always better being expressed and discussed than left festering inside, forcing us to face our reality instead of clinging to myths about our society being open and tolerant or, worse, inflating stereotypes about immigrants. Likewise, immigrants participating in such a debate can not only express their concerns and experiences, but also get a full spectrum measure of the concerns and experiences of the society they have adopted and which yet remain "foreign" to them culturally.

(...)

My humble hope is that what happened here in Québec with regards to the Bouchard-Taylor commission, and what will result/is resulting from its travails, will serve as an example on how to confront and deal with the growing pains of any society who has the courage to open up to the rest of Humanity - in all its various colors and cultures.
Well 'lo and behold this editorial in today's The Star (emphasis added):
It would be easy for Canadians outside Quebec to feel smug after witnessing the spasms of intolerance that have gripped that province in the debate over "reasonable accommodation." After all, nowhere else has a town council felt it necessary to propose a code of conduct that forbids the stoning of women, as Hérouxville notoriously did.

But the result of these uncomfortable deliberations – a moderate and thoughtful report this week by academics Gérard Bouchard and Charles Taylor – warrants our attention. For while the report reflects the minority position of Quebec's francophone population within Canada, it also contains some valuable messages for the rest of the country.

One of the report's major themes can be summed up by an overused self-help mantra: don't sweat the small stuff. The authors shine a bright light on some of the controversies that whipped up public anger over "reasonable accommodation" and conclude that there were "significant distortions between facts and perceptions."

The Muslims who reportedly demanded a sugar shack make pea soup without ham and clear a dancehall so they could say their prayers? The group had arranged the modified menu a week in advance, and it was served only to its members. Prayers were conducted in the dance hall at the invitation of the owners, who wanted to free up the dining room for other patrons.

Without this and other media-fuelled tempests in teapots, the "accommodation crisis" likely would not have happened, the authors argue. This is a welcome reminder to all Canadians not to jump to conclusions or get worked up about the minor frictions that are inevitable when different cultures live together.

On the substantive side, the report emphasizes that our duties to newcomers do not stop when we let them in the door. Bouchard and Taylor recommend more government funding for settlement programs, more language services, and better recognition of international degrees and credentials to help immigrants integrate more quickly. These ideas are as applicable to Toronto as to Montreal.

Bouchard and Taylor also advocate a concept they call "open secularism" – essentially the separation of church and state. It is a sound idea in principle, but can be tricky to put into practice, as the ongoing debate over the use of the Lord's Prayer in the Ontario Legislature highlights.

Here the report fights with itself, however. To underscore the separation of church and state, the report recommends the removal of the crucifix in Quebec's National Assembly and a ban on the wearing of religious headgear such as turbans and yarmulkes by certain public officials. Don't the report's recommendations regarding these relatively trivial concerns violate the authors' first imperative, which is to focus on the bigger picture?

Bouchard and Taylor don't have all the answers. But they have provided some good ideas for further discussion. As immigrants continue to arrive at Canada's doors, it is a debate in which we all need to engage.
All I can add to this is: hear, hear!

As I already wrote: let's move on to the future indeed and explore it ... together.

Nice to know I'm not alone in thinking this way ...

Friday, May 23, 2008

Late Friday Night Ode To ... Humanity's Oldest Activity

Another triple-play tonight, this time in honor of Humanity's oldest activity. I'll give you three guesses which one it is ...

The first clue is a blues song provided by The Spicewood Seven:


The second clue is a psychedelic rock song provided by Jimi Hendrix:


And the third clue is a heavy metal song provided by Metallica:


Easy, wasn't it?

Now here's the really tough part - try answering this question:

When are we going to learn?

Afghanistan: Here Come Those Benchmarks!

We've all become very much acquainted with the so-called "Iraq benchmarks" - you know, those unrealistic goalposts enumerated by the Bush administration which keep on being moved time and again by said administration, all in order to claim that "there is progress" while justifying further occupation of the country in order to "fully achieve the benchmarks" initially set out?

Well guess what? Benchmarks are coming to Afghanistan - seven years after the start of the war over there - care of the Canadian Bush emulator Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Harpie government.

Communicating vases and quagmires
, anyone?


From the CBC (emphasis added):
A special cabinet subcommittee has been set up to co-ordinate Canada's efforts (concerning the mission in Afghanistan).

Senior government officials insist the cabinet is very focused on Afghanistan, while sources say task forces within Foreign Affairs and CIDA are working to unveil a series of "signposts of progress" on the mission, perhaps as soon as mid-June, the CBC's Stewart said.

But Roland Paris, associate professor at the University of Ottawa's Centre for International Policy Studies, told CBC News that despite the urgent need for more information on the Afghan mission, there has been "no significant change" in the level of transparency or detailed reporting from the Canadian government.

"What we've been lacking is a very specific set of goals and clear benchmarks that we can use to evaluate whether or not we are making progress toward these goals," Paris told CBC News.

He added there is "much more detailed, much more unvarnished reporting" on the mission in Iraq than the mission in Afghanistan.

Earlier this year, International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda said the government would increase the number of briefings it offers reporters on the Afghan mission in an attempt to be more open about what is happening there.

"Our goal is to better inform Canadians about Canada's activities on the ground," she told reporters at a press conference in February.

But Oda also suggested the media was at fault for government's difficulty in communicating the Canadian mission's good news stories.
Here is how I break all of this down:
- The Harper Government is working on establishing a list of signposts of progress (i.e. "benchmarks") to be waived in the face of Canadians and moved whenever politically convenient, in order to claim that "there is progress" while at the same time justifying the need for extending the stay of our troops in Afghanistan to "ensure completion of the signposts of progress", thus once again plagiarizing the Bush administration playbook of war propaganda and disinformation;

- In the meantime, the Harper government remains mum on what is actually going on in Afghanistan (see this previous post of mine and also this recent news item), preparing its full blown campaign of propaganda and disinformation which will ignore reality (like this, as example) while painting a rosy picture (like "the surge is working!" did for Iraq);

- In between, actual news reporting of what is actually going on in Afghanistan will be labelled as media bias, as usual - and never you mind that the Harper government is largely at fault for keeping at bay the news media, due to its incompetence-driven abhorrence of transparency and accountability, as well as its incompetence-driven need to control information in order to keep face and give the illusion that it is in full control of things.
All of this is quite consistent with Harper having made the war in Afghanistan Canada's War, along with his pathological emulation of the Bush administration.

And lest we forget: selling a war is much more important than whether it was right or wrong, or whether the war is being won or not.

God Bless Canada indeed.


Where Are Those Iranian Weapons In Iraq?

The US military command in Iraq continues to talk about an alleged pipeline of Iranian weapons to Iraqi Shiites opposing the US occupation, implying that they have become dependent on Iran for indirect-fire weapons and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs).

But US officials have failed thus far to provide evidence that would support that claim, and a long-delayed US military report on Iranian arms is unlikely to offer any data on what proportion of the weapons in the hands of Shiite fighters are from Iran and what proportion comes from purchases on the open market.

When Maj. Gen. Kevin Bergner was asked that question at a briefing May 8, he did not answer it directly. Instead Bergner reverted to a standard US military line that these groups "could not do what they're doing without the support of foreign support [sic]." Then he defined "foreign support" to include training and funding as well as weapons, implicitly conceding that he did not have much of a case based on weapons alone.

Keep Reading...

punditman says... Answer: Overwhelmingly, the weapons used by Iraqi insurgents are purchased on the open market, meaning that the Bush administration claims are once again, a pack of lies.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

iRack And iRan: New Products From The Bush Administration

From the "might as well laugh a little instead of depressing about it" department (huge h/t to srliberal):



'Nuff said ...


Opening Up To Humanity: Growing Pains Of A Society

(Note: although the following deals with what has been happening in my own province, I feel that the subject of the matter and its dénouement are quite à propos for any secular, free and "open" society - especially with regards to the still on-going debates about immigrants and immigration)

The Bouchard-Taylor Commission on cultural differences and immigrant integration in Québec launched a series of public hearings in September 2007, travelling throughout the province in order to hear from individual citizens, groups and institutions, in addition to experts on cultural communities, immigrant issues, religion and Québec's identity.

The commission, headed by philosopher Charles Taylor and sociologist Gérard Bouchard, aimed at capping the often bitter public debate on reasonable accomodation and integration of immigrants in the province.

The report has been released and is now available online for public consultation (the english version is to come "shortly").


The commission was not without its detractors from the get-go. On the one side, there were those who feared (irrationally) that both the reasonable accommodation debate in Québec, and the commission itself, were rooted in xenophobia, racism and sexism (two examples here and here). On the other side, there were those who feared (irrationally) that the commission would act as a mouth-piece for promoting multi-culturalism and "unreasonable" accomodation to immigrants, thus severely diminishing the french culture and identity of Québec (two examples here and here).

What the two opposing sides missed is that such a debate was needed, badly. And yes, some ugly things were aired out - but such things are always better being expressed and discussed than left festering inside, forcing us to face our reality instead of clinging to myths about our society being open and tolerant or, worse, inflating stereotypes about immigrants. Likewise, immigrants participating in such a debate can not only express their concerns and experiences, but also get a full spectrum measure of the concerns and experiences of the society they have adopted and which yet remain "foreign" to them culturally.

From my own (ahem) point of view, the whole question boiled down to this: Can there be too much reasonable accomodation? Yes. Can there be not enough accomodation? Also, yes. Must we first shed our intellectual sloth-driven fears in order to find paramount? Definitely.

Thus the main conclusions of the Bouchard-Taylor commission (emphasis added):
The time has come for Quebec to get over its collective identity crisis and adapt to the realities of a secular, pluralistic society, says a provincial commission report on the thorny issue of reasonable accommodation.

"The foundations of collective life in Quebec are not in a critical situation," said the Bouchard-Taylor commission, in its final report on the state of so-called reasonable accommodation of religious and cultural beliefs.

"What we are facing, instead, is the need to adapt," and the government must play a leading role in establishing better guidelines for "interculturalism," the report concludes.

(...)

The commission said that the insecurity in the province was largely fuelled by a crisis of perception, stoked by distortions in media reports on cases of accommodation. It also emphasized that Quebecers of French-Canadian descent, even though they are a minority in North America, remain the ruling majority in Quebec, where they have nothing to worry about.

The province needs to define its secular nature to improve relations between the majority and ethnic minorities, said the commission.

That includes greater measures, statutes and guidelines to counteract discrimination.

But accommodation should not be overly legislated, the commission said. Rather, it noted that it’s up to individuals and community groups to work out how they will accommodate each other on a case by case basis, respecting provincial guidelines.
And all I can add to this is: hear, hear!

Québec's Prime Minister Jean Charest expressed determination in following suit on the commission's report:
Premier Jean Charest promised (...) to act quickly and concretely following the release of a report into the accommodation of Quebec immigrants but he rejected the idea of a provincial constitution that would set out the fundamental values of Quebec society.

Charest said that an action plan would have the "greatest impact and most immediate impact."

The premier said the plan would defend the "profound" values of Quebecers, which are the "rule of French, gender equality (and) the separation of church and state."
Truth be told, it doesn't reality matter whether we adapt through legislation or through writting a provincial constitution (although that in itself would be problematic and play right into the hands of nationalistes/séparatistes, who still cling to the self-serving fearmongering tactic of claiming that our French-Canadian language, culture and identity ever remain in danger of being eradicated - but I disgress) - because we already have our Québec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms as as guide and template.

It is indeed time for all Québecois and Québecoises of French-Canadian descent to grow up and adapt to the realities of welcoming different cultures into our own, just like it is time for all our neo-citizens to undertake some measures of adaptation to the secular society they have chosen to live in.

In this last respect, I have no qualm that this is not only happening but will keep on happening. Why am I so confident? Simple: whenever I see a Muslim, Haitian, Eastern European, Asian - or so on and so forth - speaking French with the "Québecois" accent, including the use of typical Québecois expressions and (gasp!) cusses, or being fans of Québecois artists, I know that my culture has been adopted in large part by my fellow neo-citizen compatriots of mine, and that their children will do (or are already doing) so as well.

And I smile - because at the same time, I see and hear things from my fellow French-Canadian compatriots that they have clearly borrowed in turn from their neo-citizen compatriots - whether in music, dancing, litterature or use of expressions.

That is what I call opening up to Humanity - without intellectual sloth-driven fear, ignorance and hate.

Oh sure - there remains a tiny minority of parochial xenophobes and/or religious intolerants, just like there remains a tiny minority of immigrants who stubbornly refuse to accept little, if anything, of the culture they have elected to move into - especially its secularism.

But as years and decades go by, these two opposing minorities will slowly but surely disappear, eventually vanishing into the dark night of irrelevance while the rest of us, and our descendants, keep moving forward into the future.

Provided of course that our society and its overwhelming majority of citizens remain courageous, dedicated and vigilant to that effect.

My humble hope is that what happened here in Québec with regards to the Bouchard-Taylor commission, and what will result/is resulting from its travails, will serve as an example on how to confront and deal with the growing pains of any society who has the courage to open up to the rest of Humanity - in all its various colors and cultures.

Let's move on to the future indeed and explore it ... together.

Food for thought, eh?


(Cross-posted at The Wild Wild Left and DKos)