Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Torture=Bad -- I mean, duh

Okay, let me see if I’ve got this right, cuz it’s really, really, really difficult to wrap my mind around it.

There was a compromise last week between the so-called Rebel Republicans, led by Sir John McCain the Lion Hearted, and the Bush administration regarding our country’s treatment (widely regarded as torture) of terror suspects and, presumably, anyone else being detained by the military, including, but not limited to, members of the press.

A compromise.

On torture.

Meaning, sometimes it’s okay to torture people.

In the words of Pete Townshend, “Is that exactly what I though I read?”

Here’s the issue, as I understand it:
In June, the Supreme Court ruled by a 5-3 vote — you can prolly guess who the three were — that the Bush Administration’s policy on handling terror suspects violated US law. We’re already in absurd territory by this point in the story, since it took a Supreme Court ruling to come up with a no-brainer like this, not to mention the fact that this no-brainer is beyond the ken of three of our Supreme Court justices. As a result of this ruling, Congress must now craft legislation regarding the military’s treatment of detainees in the War on Terror that does not violate US law, to say nothing of commonly accepted morality, both of which stick pretty close to the third Geneva Convention. The Bush Administration’s position is that the third Geneva Convention is for pussies and he can do whatever the fuck he wants. The so-called Rebel Republicans hold that some of the details of the third Geneva Convention don’t apply to the War on Terror, but that mostly it’s a righteous document so we should employ convoluted legalese to make it look like we’re adhering to international law without really doing so.

So, to recap, the POTUS, a BORN-AGAIN CHRISTIAN, who campaigned on the theme of “compassionate conservatism,” wants to torture with impunity. And Sen. McCain, the good cop in this good-cop-bad-cop routine, himself a victim of torture, wants legislation that violates inconvenient aspects of the third Geneva Convention. Meanwhile, as the Philadelphia Inquirer reports, “the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Ike Skelton of Missouri, called the compromise ‘promising.’”



In the words of David St. Hubbins, “Can somebody check me on this?”

The United States of America, the greatest nation in the history of the universe, the shining beacon of freedom and hope, is arguing in favor of torture.

There are no good reasons to torture someone, unless it’s just for shits and giggles. It is a purely sadistic exercise that produces no actionable intelligence. As Nice Guy Eddie observes in Reservoir Dogs, “If you beat him long enough, he’ll tell you who started the Chicago Fire, but it doesn’t make it so.”

The general consensus among intelligence experts is that torture doesn’t work. At best, as suggested in Seymour Hersh’s book Chain of Command, torture, when conducted by professionals, may expedite the corroboration of intelligence gathered from other sources. But how many torture professionals does a democratic republic have on hand at any given time? Not very many, hopefully. And unfortunately, with a coke-addled, dry drunk, pseudo-christian redneck at the helm in the White House, the demand for “torture professionals” has outpaced supply and the results are heartrending. As Abu Ghraib showed, once the demand is created, non-professionals rush to fill the vacuum.

“The Christian in me says it’s wrong, but the corrections officer in me says, ‘I love to make a grown man piss himself,’” admitted Abu Ghraib ringleader Cpl. Charles Graner.

Allowing rank-and-file jarheads like Graner, who have no training in “aggressive interrogation measures,” as they are euphemistically called, to operate utterly free from supervision, is a recipe for the very global distrust of America that we are now experiencing. When you include the fact that such measures are useless, unnecessary and morally reprehensible, our military’s professionalism plummets to sub-human levels.

But the lack of professionalism the United States brings to torture isn’t limited to the treatment of detainees. Our methods for identifying terror suspects are equally corrupt. Take Canadian telecommunications engineer Maher Arar, for example. From Wikipedia:

On September 26, 2002, Arar was returning to Montreal from a family vacation in Tunisia. During a stopover at JFK Airport he was detained by United States immigration officials. They claimed that Arar was an associate of Abdullah Almalki, a Syrian-born Ottawa man whom they suspected of having links to the al-Qaeda terror organization, and they therefore suspected Arar of being an al-Qaeda member himself. When Arar protested that he only had a casual relationship with Almalki (having once worked with Almalki's brother at an Ottawa high-tech firm), the officials produced a copy of Arar's 1997 rental lease which Almalki had co-signed. The fact that US officials had a Canadian document in their possession was later widely interpreted as evidence of the participation by Canadian authorities in Arar's detention.
He was
deported to Syria on October 7 or 8. The Canadian government was notified on October 10, 2002 and Arar was later discovered to be in the Far'Falastin detention center, near Damascus, Syria.
The deportation was condemned by the Canadian government and by groups such as
Amnesty International. On October 29, 2002, the Canadian foreign affairs department issued a travel advisory strongly cautioning Canadians born in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya and Sudan against travel to the United States for any reason. The advisory prompted US conservative Pat Buchanan to describe Canada as "Soviet Canuckistan".
The American ambassador to Canada,
Paul Cellucci, later told Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham that all Canadian passport holders would be treated equally. In November 2002, Canadian privacy commissioner George Radwanski recommended that birthplace information be removed from all Canadian passports, in part because of fears of profiling in the United States and other countries. The recommendation was not implemented, but Canadian passport regulations already allowed citizens to request that this field be left blank.

Arar was held in a coffin-sized cell for 10 months in Syria, where he was beaten and forced to confess to training in Afghanistan, a country he has never visited. A report by Dennis O'Connor, Associate Chief Justice of Ontario, states that no evidence exists to link Arar to any terrorist groups or activities. Arar’s lawsuit against members of the Bush Administration was dismissed due to national security concerns.

It would be nice to be able to report that Arar’s ordeal was an isolated incident, but unfortunately there are others. On New Year’s Eve 2003, Khalid El-Masri, a German citizen of Lebanese descent traveled by bus to Macedonia for vacation. Since his name closely resembles that of a suspected Al Qaeda operative — Khalid Al-Masri — Macedonian officials detained Masri and alerted the CIA. A CIA “black snatch team” flew Masri to a secret prison in Afghanistan called the “salt pit,” where they tortured and raped him. CIA investigations into Masri’s background quickly exonerated him, but they continued his detention and interrogation anyway. Eventually, word of his situation reached then National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, who demanded his release. In May of 2004, five months after the beginning of what was supposed to be a brief holiday, Masri was turned loose on a deserted road in Albania. After convincing Albanian border guards that he wasn’t a terrorist, Masri returned home to find that his wife and children had returned to Lebanon thinking he had abandoned them. They were eventually reunited.

Like Arar, Masri’s lawsuit against his CIA captors was dismissed for national security reasons.

Okay, so torture doesn’t work and either does our apparatus for identifying terror suspects. So, why do we keep doing it?

Because it’s fun.

Torturers from Algeria to Phnom Penh speak of the rush received when they have complete control over another person. Torture is about manipulating or controlling someone, not obtaining information. In the instances in which useful information was obtained through torture, other methods would have worked, too, and usually more quickly, as demonstrated time and again throughout history. Doesn’t President Bush know that? Doesn’t our born-again compassionate conservative president realize that by arguing in favor of torture, he is joining the ranks of Josef Mengele and the Khmer Rouge and Idi Amin and Doc Duvalier? In past decades, America was criticized for supporting despots like Amin and Duvalier; as if that wasn’t bad enough, now we are taking a gigantic step backward by adopting their methods.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Pork Barrel Politics

In the vein of C&L’s Late Night Music Club, I present this video for the song "Itsu," by a group called Plaid. Enjoy.

From Wikipedia:
One of the earliest examples of pork barrel politics in the United States was the Bonus Bill of 1817, which was introduced by John C. Calhoun to construct highways linking the East and South of the United States to its Western frontier using the earnings bonus from the Second Bank of the United States. Calhoun argued for it using general welfare and post roads clauses of the United States Constitution. Although he approved of the economic development goal, President James Madison vetoed the bill as unconstitutional. Since then, however, U.S. presidents have seen the political advantage of pork barrel politics. Read On

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Sunday Sermon

There is a phenomenon occurring with disturbing regularity in the comment sections of lefty blogs: religious intolerance.

It seems some commenters are finding it difficult to maintain their open-mindedness in light of the current administration’s exploitation of certain weird Christian sects emanating from the American Southeast and the Colorado Springs area. But it’s important to keep in mind that, just as a succession of Soviet dictators exploited socialism in order to satisfy their own hunger for power, the current administration is exploiting Christianity (and, for that matter, Judaism & Islam) for the very same purpose.

Nothing even remotely like socialism occurred in the Soviet Union. It was a dictatorship in which a tiny minority had money and power while the vast majority languished in intellectual, emotional and economic poverty. Similarly, Bush’s shameless manipulation of religion bears no resemblance whatsoever to the Sermon on the Mount or any other genuine religious text. As a result, there is nothing even remotely like Christianity occurring in the White House.

But to use Bush or Jimmy Swaggart or Jim & Tammy Fay or the ghetto storefront charlatan as an excuse for religious bigotry is inexcusable. We don’t dismiss all of capitalism because of the “clapper” or the Popeil Pocket Fisherman, so we shouldn’t dismiss all of religion because Pat Robertson claims he can leg-press a ton. As Blue Gal demonstrates in this post, most Christians — indeed, most religious people — are honest, productive citizens who are embarrassed by these childish extremists.

It is not difficult to see why this is happening. If you’ve ever had a roommate or significant other with a slightly annoying habit — leaving dirty socks around the apartment, say — then you’ve encountered this problem before, albeit in a microcosmic way. The problem seems minor, and it is. Someone else believes something that you don’t. It could be that they don’t think dirty socks are any big deal; or it could be that they think a virgin gave birth to the messiah. It’s neither here nor there as far as you’re concerned, and yet it’s annoying. But it shouldn’t be. So rather than express your annoyance early on, you clam up and let it build and build until something awkward happens. Your co-workers come over for drinks one evening, and — YIKES — there are filthy socks everywhere.


Well, the incident didn’t really deserve that, now did it? But, you see, by not having the slightly uncomfortable discussion when the difficulty first presented itself, you insured the occurrence of a huge fucking blowout later on.

But there is another dynamic involved. For decades, the devout in America have enjoyed the luxury of publicly pronouncing their faith, and even attempting to convert others to their faith, without any significant challenge from non-believers. Many of these efforts even take place on Public Property, which, some argue, is a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Sometimes, as with Luis Palau, they even employ deception as a means for luring the innocent into their clutches. Palau festivals, such as CityFest in Houston, feature pop stars, skateboarders and, often, a video message from President Bush himself, to attract folks who would probably stay away if they knew in advance that it was a Christian event. Notice how it’s called CityFest and not ChristianFest or EvangalismFest? CityFest makes it sound like Taste of Chicago or Summerfest in Milwaukee, not a Christian revival. Of course, for me to point that out means to many that I am practicing religious intolerance, and since I know that will be the response, usually I don’t say anything. So, as with the dirty sock thing, my annoyance grows into frustration, which grows into anger, which grows into…



There are frequent attempts by Christians to advance the myth that America was founded as a Christian nation, and that assertion is often used in defense of things like Houston’s CityFest. But nothing can be further from the truth. By the time of the Declaration of Independence, the so-called Founding Fathers had developed a pronounced animosity towards religion in general and Christianity in particular. As Thomas Jefferson wrote in a letter to a friend, “In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own.” Ben Franklin, Tom Paine, the Adams bros., among others, had suffered at the hands of Puritans and Calvinists in their younger years; and in adulthood, the King’s inherent divinity made honest intellectual debate impossible when it came to public policy. That is why the very first amendment to the Constitution protects both the freedom to worship as we choose and the freedom to talk about it. Jefferson had perhaps the most crystalline understanding of our Constitution. He should — he wrote it. Here is what he said about the First Amendment: “All men shall be free to profess AND BY ARGUMENT to maintain their opinions in matters of religion.” (Emphasis mine) The argument is never held, though, because polite society views religious debate as religious intolerance, and as a result, people who should know better get to repeat and repeat and repeat the nonsense that America was founded as a Christian nation. One result of this is that non-believers throw the gloves off when at last there appears a forum in which they can reveal their true feelings about religion. Then, of course, the good Christians — by which I mean most Christians — feel rejected from the larger struggle for justice. Justice, after all, was what Jesus was all about, even if Jesus exists only on the pages of some book. By dividing ourselves into believers and non-believers, those of us who long for justice ensure that what we will receive instead is ‘just us.’

So instead of dividing ourselves into believers and non-believers in God, we should be dividing ourselves into believers and non-believers in justice. As Ben Franklin, perhaps our founders’ most rigid non-believer, put it, “Morality or Virtue is the end, Faith is only a means to obtain that end; and if the end be obtained, it is no matter by what means.”

Monday, September 11, 2006

9/11 Is a Joke, Pt 3: The Hydra


“Nothing just happens in politics. If something happens you can be sure it was planned that way.”
—Franklin D. Roosevelt

In a 1954 letter to his brother, President Eisenhower wrote:

“Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or businessman from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.”

As history has shown, Eisenhower was wrong to — as George W. Bush would say — misunderestimate Hunt and the others referred to in the letter, but he was right to identify that crowd as the insane miscreants that they were.

Haroldson Lafayette Hunt was a businessman and bigamist who fathered fourteen children by three wives and a mistress. Two of his marriages were concurrent. He is the father of Kansas City Chiefs owner, Lamar Hunt.

In 1934, Hunt used his poker winnings to bankroll a new oil and gas company called Hunt Oil. Before long Hunt Oil had operations in Canada and South America. Today, Hunt Oil is a subsidiary of Hunt Consolidated, a real estate and oil holding company owned by another Hunt offspring, Ray Lee Hunt.

H.L. Hunt poured millions into ultra conservative politics. He bankrolled two rightwing radio shows called Facts Forum and Life Line, which he used to promote the extreme views of the John Birch Society and Senator Joseph McCarthy. In 1951, he launched General Douglas MacArthur’s unsuccessful presidential campaign. In the 60s, Hunt helped finance two rightwing extremist groups — the Cuban Revolutionary Council, an anti-Castro organization with ties to the Mafia and the CIA, and the International Committee for the Defense of Christian Culture, which essentially functioned as a rightwing intelligence network operated through Christian missionaries abroad.

In 1961, President Kennedy initiated an effort to restructure federal tax schedules pertaining to the oil and gas industry. In the early 20th century, as the strategic importance of oil became apparent, favorable tax codes were established to encourage oil exploration and production. By 1960, however, the oil industry had produced many billionaires who paid little in income tax. Kennedy estimated that the government was losing around $185 million per year in uncollected income tax from oil tycoons. Kennedy specifically targeted Hunt, who, Kennedy noted, earned over $30 million a year in personal income but paid virtually nothing in income tax. Naturally, Hunt resented this initiative and intensified his support for ultraconservative politicians. Some evidence even suggests Hunt was involved in Kennedy’s assassination.

It would probably come as no surprise, therefore, that Hunt financed the political campaigns of conservative Republicans like Richard Nixon, George H.W. Bush and Edwin Walker, but he also supported at least one Democrat and even the Nation of Islam.

Hunt’s prodigious proclivity for procreation produced a plethora of protégés anxious to advance the as yet un-named neoconservative agenda. nifty, eh?

Ray Lee Hunt, for example, is the finance chairman of the Republican National Committee. He is also a Bush Pioneer, has a seat on the board of directors of Halliburton, and is a member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. In 1984 (appropriately enough), Hunt Oil discovered an untapped oil reserve in Yemen. This discovery increased Ray Lee’s personal wealth from $200 million to over $2 billion, securing him a spot on Forbes’ list of the world’s richest people.

Another Hunt spawn, Nelson Bunker Hunt, is the scoundrel behind Silver Thursday, the result of Hunt’s attempt to corner the international silver market. That venture bankrupted Hunt, but with the help of the Federal Reserve and support from his family, he was back on his feet in no time, reinventing himself as a thoroughbred breeder with several championships and awards to his credit. Like the other Hunts, Nelson Bunker funnels millions into such rightwing organizations as the Moral Majority, Promise Keepers and the International Association for the Advancement of Ethnology and Eugenics.

But today’s links to H.L. Hunt and his ilk include more than just family ties; indeed, the entire neoconservative Hydra can be said to have hatched from the seeds sown by Hunt in the 50s & 60s, including its three main heads — Halliburton, the Carlyle Group and the Project for a New American Century.

A quick glance at Halliburton’s subsidiaries provides a clear picture of the connections between early archconservative industrialists and today’s neoconservative movement. Dresser Industries, for example, a Dallas, Texas energy products company went public under the guidance of Prescott Bush, who sat on the company’s board of directors for over 20 years. George H.W. Bush worked for Dresser before leaving in 1951 to form Zapata Oil. In 1988, Dresser Industries acquired a pipe fabricating company called M.W. Kellogg. Ten years later, when Halliburton acquired Dresser, M.W. Kellogg was merged with Halliburton’s construction subsidiary, Brown & Root, to form Kellogg, Brown & Root, now known as KBR. Brown & Root, also from Texas, achieved its success through a symbiotic relationship with H.L. Hunt’s friend, Lyndon Johnson, who, as congressman, senator & president awarded the firm many lucrative public contracts. During the Vietnam Era, Brown & Root came under fire for overcharging the military for its services. Those charges would be repeated 40 years later in Iraq.

Camps Under Fire
In 2005, civilian whistleblowers came forward to allege that Halliburton and its subsidiaries were benefiting from the company’s relationship with former CEO and current US Vice President, Dick Cheney. Bunnatine Greenhouse, the former chief contracting officer for the Army Corps of Engineers, accused the government of awarding secret, no-bid contracts to Halliburton subsidiary KBR when cheaper and better alternatives existed. She also accused KBR of overcharging for those services. Rory Mayberry, KBR’s Food Program Manager, accused the company of providing outdated food rations to military personnel and of deliberately falsifying the number of meals they provided and submitting false claims to the government for payment. Mayberry also testified that employees who spoke with government auditors were routinely sent to camps under fire, meaning military bases experiencing heavy casualties. “The threat of being sent to a camp under fire was their way of keeping us quiet,” he testified. An audit by the Defense Contract Audit Agency found $186 million in overcharges, but the no-bid contracts continue.

Since the September 11th attacks, Halliburtion stock has risen in value from around nine dollars per share to around $69 by late 2005. As of this writing Halliburton’s share price is $30.80. Its annual revenues over the same period have increased from $12.5 billion in 2002 to $20.5 billion. In short, the War on Terror has been good for Halliburton.

The Carlyle Group
The Carlyle Group makes Halliburton look like pikers. Known by many as the “ex-president’s club,” this private equity company wields more power than most governments. One of Carlyle’s most distinguishing characteristics is its ‘revolving door’ approach to employment. This approach often makes it difficult for outside observers to determine who is “officially” employed by the company at any given time; this in turn makes it difficult to determine exactly which conflicts of interest are in play at any given time. But a quick perusal of the company’s personnel past & present supplies a clear understanding of the company’s influence. Former US President George H.W. Bush, current President George W. Bush, former British Prime Minister John Major, former South Korean President Kim Dae Jung, former Secretary of State James Baker, former Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci, former Prime Minister of Thailand, Anand Panyarachun all are or have been members of the Carlyle Group. Add to that several dozen other lesser-known cabinet members and elected officials who have served as official employees or “private consultants” through the years. This incestuous relationship with governments around the globe puts the Carlyle Group in a unique position to invest with unprecedented insight. Moreover, since Carlyle is a private equity company and not a trader in common public securities, it is virtually immune from oversight or regulation. What this means, of course, is that the company can engage in what is essentially insider trading with impunity. Government officials put certain policies in place, and then leave their government posts to join the Carlyle Group, where they initiate investment strategies that exploit the very policies they enacted while in government. It’s brilliant.

The Iron Triangle
CIA agent, Secretary of Defense, powerful businessman, the career of Frank Carlucci provides a fascinating glimpse into the power structure often referred to as the Iron Triangle — a partnership between the Pentagon, Wall Street and various governments around the world. Frank Carlucci was President Reagan’s Secretary of Defense from 1987 to 1989. It was during this time that the defense industry’s nightmare occurred: The Cold War ended. With no inevitable war with the Evil Empire looming just over the horizon, there was no longer any justification for the immense taxpayer-funded defense contracts that comprised such a large chunk of the federal budget. Defense contractors all over the world began selling off assets and laying off workers; they became sitting ducks for leveraged buyouts.

At the end of Reagan’s term, Carlucci became chairman of the Carlyle Group. Under Carlucci, the Carlyle Group became the 9th biggest defense contractor, but the only defense contractor that doesn’t actually manufacture anything. Carlucci used that post-Cold War slump to scoop up struggling defense industry companies, and he used his government connections to insure budget approval for his company's products. Three years later, Carlucci’s close friends, President Bush and General Powell, stationed 600,000 troops in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia as part of Operations Desert Shield & Desert Storm — troops that needed the supplies and support of the companies Carlucci had acquired.

When you consider the number of industry experts and former/future government officials employed by Carlyle, it becomes impossible to deny the alarming level to which the line between corporate profit and public policy had become blurred. Click here to read how the blurring of this line helped Carlyle turn their investment in a company called United Defense into a $237 million post-9/11 paycheck.

It is interesting to note that on the morning of 11 September 2001, the Carlyle Group was hosting a meeting at a Washington hotel. George H.W. Bush was in attendance, as was Shafig bin Laden, Osama’s brother. Carlyle et al. have taken great pains to minimize the importance of this partnership, referring to it as just a strange coincidence. Okay fine. But what do you make of recurring strange coincidences? In 1981, when John Hinckley Jr. tried to kill President Reagan, Vice President Bush was involved in a close business relationship with John Hinckley Sr. Their sons, Neil Bush and Scott Hinckley, had a dinner meeting on the day of the shooting. So on two separate occasions, relatives of Bush’s business associates were involved in spectacular, politically motivated crimes. I mean, I’m not sayin’; I’m just sayin’. Nahm sayin’?

But so far, all I have revealed is influence peddling and narrow corporate interest — albeit on a huge scale — not the orchestration of a gigantic false flag terrorist attack. For that, you would need something to suggest an ideology other than naked avarice. The Project for a New American Century provides just such an ideology.

PNAC was formed in 1997 to promote the philosophy of American global dominance, commonly referred to as neo-conservatism. Looked at charitably, it could be argued that the vacuum created by the Soviet Union’s collapse made it possible for destabilizing despots Slobodan Milosovic or burgeoning economies like India or China to achieve positions of worldwide supremacy. A preferable alternative, perhaps, would be an American-led effort to strengthen Western economies while promoting democracy and fair trade in emerging nations. Indeed, those are key phrases employed by PNAC to promote their vision of American global hegemony. The only problem is that democracy and fair trade are the least of their desires. The names of PNAC’s members pop up again and again throughout the neoconservative community, vividly illustrating that what they really want is a global government operated by the entities they control — entities like Halliburton, Whackenhut, DynCorp, the Carlyle Group, Marsh & McClennan, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, to name a few of the Hydra’s heads.

A New Pearl Harbor
In September of 2000, one year before the attacks, PNAC issued a 90-page report entitled, Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategies, Forces and Resources for a New Century, which suggested “that America should seek to preserve and extend its position of global leadership by maintaining the preeminence of U.S. military forces.” The report called for vigorous and even aggressive defense and promotion of Israel, Taiwan and South Korea, not to mention “the need for a substantial American force presence in the (Persian) Gulf.” The report conceded that these recommendations would incur widespread resistence from the public “absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event — like a new Pearl Harbor.” One year later, the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were attacked, and many of PNAC’s recommendations were implemented soon thereafter.

There’s no point in rehashing the copious physical evidence in the attacks themselves, or the fact that the 9/11 Commission Report ignored the copious evidence. Other sites cover that stuff better than I could here. My point here is simply to attempt to convey what I feel is an accurate analysis of the current American zeitgeist, and to reveal why something like the September 11th attacks was therefore inevitable.

The last two or three weeks has seen a barrage of commentaries — here’s one, here’s another, and anotherhere’s one more — attempting to debunk what they refer to as ‘conspiracy theories,’ culminating in a book by the wholesome folks at Popular Mechanics. The tone of these articles ranges from helpful but condescending, like the tone you might use with a fellow juror, to hostile and condescending, like the tone you might expect from, say, Michelle Malkin. What they seem to be reacting to is a poll conducted by Ohio University and Scripps Howard News Service indicating that over a third of Americans believe that “people in the federal government either assisted in the 9/11 attacks or took no action to stop the attacks because they wanted the United States to go to war in the Middle East.”

But as David Ray Griffin likes to point out, the question isn’t whether or not you believe in the conspiracy theory; the question is which conspiracy do you believe in. The accepted conspiracy theory is that 19 guys with box cutters evaded several layers of security and hijacked and crashed four airliners causing three skyscrapers to collapse and damaging the only unoccupied portion of the Pentagon without arousing NORAD or the Air National Guard. Another conspiracy theory is that rogue elements in the government, with the help of friends at powerful corporations, orchestrated the attacks for the purpose of launching an endless war abroad and eliminating civil liberties at home — in short, the creation of a corporate feudal state. Using the principle of Occam’s Razor, that is, accepting the explanation that makes the fewest assumptions, we are forced to conclude that the latter theory is the correct one.

Let’s return to the kids’ horseplay analogy I used in part one. Halliburton, the Carlyle Group and PNAC, along with a few other multinational organizations, are the main tricksters, the 36 percent (not to mention the victims and their families) represent the kid on his ass; everyone else represents the other kids — happy that they aren’t the ones who fell flat on their asses and uneager to start asking uncomfortable questions.

Robert Anton Wilson once said, “I have often wondered why people have such a powerful taboo against examining who owns and runs this nation.” From what I can tell, there are two reasons: fear and complacency.

I’m not sayin’; I’m just sayin’.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Like I Said...

I've mentioned this before, but it bears repeating: AMERICANS ARE DUMB. About four years ago, I was having dinner with some co-workers at a nice restaurant in Mexico City. The Americans at a nearby table thought it was the absolute height of hilarity to talk like Cheech Marin every time the waiter showed up. In pathetic, broken Spanish, I attempted to apologize to the waiter for my countrymen's embarrassing behavior. In excellent English, the waiter told me there was no need to apologize - he could tell I was embarrassed and that was apology enough.
There is something terribly, terribly wrong with a society in which willfully ignorant dunderheads rise to the top while thoughtful, compassionate citizens struggle to make ends meet. But as Bertrand Russel observed, "the trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt."

Saturday, September 02, 2006

My Linguistic Profile

***Your Linguistic Profile:***
60% General American English
20% Upper Midwestern
5% Dixie
5% Midwestern
5% Yankee
What Kind of American English Do You Speak?

Five percent Yankee and five percent Dixie, eh? How's that for doing my part to reunite this fractured nation? Take the quiz. It's interesting. (H/T Tuckmac)