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Corporatism and Fascism
Corporatism and Fascism
Howard Dean: Health Care Bill 'Bigger Bailout for the Insurance Industry Than AIG'
Top Democrat Urges Lawmakers to Kill the Bill and Start Over
By Huma Khan and Jonathan Karl | ABC News
The former Democratic presidential candidate argues that in the rush to pass a health care bill, lawmakers have essentially stripped it of true reforms -- mainly the choices it would give to people -- and given too much to special interest groups and insurance companies, the chief executives of which, Dean says, would get 27 percent of the money Americans contribute.
"We've gotten to this stage ... in Washington where passing any bill is a victory, and that's the problem," Dean said. "Decisions are being about the long-term future of this country for short-term political reasons, and that's never a good sign."
He said he also doesn't see cost-control measures but, rather "a whole bunch of bureaucracies and a lot of promises."
President Obama said he likes the Senate health care compromise and wants it passed by Christmas, but he faces a revolt from some liberals who say the health care bill has been gutted to appease insurance companies.
"This is a bigger bailout for the insurance industry than AIG," former Democratic National Committee chairman and medical doctor Howard Dean told "Good Morning America's" George Stephanopoulos today. "A very small number of people are going to get any insurance at all, until 2014, if the bill works.
"This is an insurance company's dream, this bill," Dean continued. "This is the Washington scramble, and I think it's ill-advised." Read more.
A QC told the court CIA admissions over his treatment would expose the government to "criminal liability for an international war crime"....
But on the second day of the hearing, Dinah Rose QC, appearing for Mr Mohamed, argued: "Admissions of serious international war crimes cannot properly be described as confidential."
She said: "The US must have have understood in sending such information to the UK that the UK is a responsible democracy and must, in some circumstances, come under an obligation further to disclose that material.
"It could never have expected admissions of such serious criminal conduct could be covered up in all the circumstances."
The High Court was entitled to find the material had "no operational intelligence sensitivity at all," she added.
The government has been accused of trying to suppress "embarrassing and shaming" evidence of the UK's role in torture, at a High Court hearing.
It is appealing against a ruling that allegations by former Guantanamo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed be made public. Read more.
Tomgram: William Astore, Grinding Down the U.S. Army
By William Astore | Tom Dispatch.com
Last week, the U.S. Army released its suicide figures for November. Twelve soldiers on active duty were classified as “potential suicides” for the month, bringing the yearly suicide total to 147, 19 more than for all of 2008, and the fifth year in a row the rate has risen. In the same week, a Rand Corporation study was released which found, not surprisingly, “that children in military families were more likely to report anxiety than children in the general population. The researchers also found that the longer a parent had been deployed in the previous three years, the more likely their children were to have difficulties in school and at home.”
In fact, you didn’t have to look far that week to see signs of trouble in the military. It’s true that Major Nadil Malik Hasan, the psychiatrist who murdered 12 military personnel and one civilian, while wounding 29, at Fort Hood, Texas, had at least briefly faded from the news. In Grant County, Oregon, however, a judge sentenced 27-year-old Jessie Bratcher, an Iraq veteran, to a state psychiatric hospital in a murder case in which he had shot an unarmed civilian during what was claimed to be a post-traumatic stress disorder-induced “war flashback.”...
The Price of Pushing Our Troops Too Far
By William Astore
When I was on active duty in the military, an Army friend used to remind me: “Any day you’re not being shot at is a good Army day.” Today’s troops, especially if they’re “boots on the ground” in Iraq and Afghanistan, don’t have enough good Army days. Many of them are on their fourth or fifth deployments to a combat zone. They’re stressed out and tired; they miss their spouses and families. And often they’ve seen things they wish they’d never seen.
But you’d hardly have known this listening to the debate over President Obama’s decision to escalate yet again in Afghanistan. Its tone was remarkably antiseptic. I can’t help recalling old wargames I played as a kid in which deploying infantry brigades to faraway places was as simple as picking up a few cardboard counters, tossing the dice, and pinning my troops to a new spot on the map. No gore splattered on my face when I rolled snake eyes after pushing my grunts too far into the Fulda Gap while playing MechWar ‘77.
As we roll the dice again in Central Asia, it’s clear that we’re pushing our Army and Marines too far. Naturally, our troops, notably the brass, will deny this. For them, it’s “Army Strong” or “Semper Fi”; only losers whine or bellyache. Well, we Americans need to recognize the limits on our troops, even if they refuse to do so.
So let me be blunt: We’re wearing them out.
Our “Wasted” Troops
Quietly, almost imperceptibly, our Army is hollowing out. Such is the predictable result of eight years of ceaseless deployments in support of ill-advised wars. Remarkably, the Army has, so far, managed to maintain its combat effectiveness, in part by its recourse to a “Stop Loss” policy -- essentially a backdoor draft (only recently curtailed by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates) that involuntarily extended the enlistments of 60,000 troops. It has also relied heavily on the use and reuse of the Reserves and the National Guard. Governor Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania noted last month on Meet the Press that “our troops are tired and worn out. [With respect to the] Pennsylvania National Guard, most of our guardsmen have been to either Iraq [or] Afghanistan, over 85 percent, and many of them have gone three or four times and they’re wasted.” Read more.
Tonight on The People Speak Radio!
Ellen Brown developed her research skills as an attorney practicing civil litigation in Los Angeles. In Web of Debt, her latest book, she turns those skills to an analysis of the Federal Reserve and “the money trust.” She shows how this private cartel has usurped the power to create money from the people themselves, and how we the people can get it back. Brown developed an interest in the developing world and its problems while living abroad for eleven years in Kenya, Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua. She returned to practicing law when she was asked to join the legal team of a popular Tijuana healer with an innovative cancer therapy, who was targeted by the chemotherapy industry in the 1990s. That experience produced her book Forbidden Medicine, which traces the suppression of natural health treatments to the same corrupting influences that have captured the money system. Brown’s eleven books include the bestselling Nature’s Pharmacy, co-authored with Dr. Lynne Walker, which has sold 285,000 copies.
About “WEB OF DEBT”
This book exposes important, often obscured truths about our money system and our economic past and future. Our money is not what we have been led to believe. The creation of money has been “privatized,” or taken over by a private money cartel. It is all done by sleight of hand, concealed by economic double-speak. “Web of Debt” unravels the deception and presents a crystal clear picture of the financial abyss towards which we are heading, pointing out all the signposts. Then it explores a workable alternative, one that was tested in colonial America and is grounded in the best of American economic thought, including the writings of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln. If you care about financial security, your own or the nation’s, you should read this book.
Ellen Brown has applied her training as a litigating attorney, researcher and writer to the monetary field, unearthing facts that even the majority of banking and financial experts ignore: ranging from the privatization of money creation, to the Plunge Protection Team, to the Federal Reserve’s `Helicopter Money.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (December 15, 2009) – Following a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives, Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today released the following statement:
“The word is that with over 15 million Americans out of work and desperately in need of extended unemployment benefits, Congress will put unemployment compensation benefits into a bill which will give another $130 billion for war.
I just returned from the US Labor Against the War Assembly in Chicago, December 4-6. There were lots of high points, including the fact that oil workers from the U.S. got together with the heads of the oil unions in Iraq and Venezuela.
But for me the most exciting part was the release of a new 28-minute DVD entitled "Why Are We in Afghanistan?" I admit to being biased, as I participated in the early drafts of the DVD, but I think it will be a great tool for educating and mobilizing union members to oppose the escalation of the war in Afghanistan. Education about the facts and the costs of the war was the number one item in USLAW’s Plan of Action; the hope is to show it at union meetings at all levels. There’s also a ten-minute version.
We have our work cut out for us. Many people who opposed the Iraq war are torn about the war in Afghanistan. Unlike Iraq, Afghanistan was and is a haven for Al Qaeda cells. "Why Are We in Afghanistan?" helps to answer these doubts. Click "Read more."
Paul Craig Roberts is an economist and a nationally syndicated columnist for Creators Syndicate. He served as an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration earning fame as the "Father of Reaganomics". He is a former editor and columnist for the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, and Scripps Howard News Service.
Near DC? TONIGHT! Emergency Action Supporting Single Payer Health Care Reform! Atrium, Hart Senate Bldg, 5:30 PM!
Dr. Margaret Flowers, advocate of Single-Payer Health Care Reform, writes:
We have reached an historic place. Tonight, for the first time in the history of the U.S., there will be single payer legislation introduced on the Senate Floor in the form of Senate Amendment 2837 put forth by Senators Sanders, Brown and Burris.
As we learned last Thursday following our rally and senate visits, our presence does make a difference. It was largely due to the actions last week and the many phone calls/emails that this amendment is coming to the floor.
Now we have another chance to be there and show our support for single payer. That is why I am asking you (even though I know this is a busy time) to join me tonight in the atrium of the Hart Senate Office building starting at 5:30 as I stand vigil during the vote. Wear your white coat if you have one. Bring a small sign. We will be in full view of many of the senate offices and our presence will make a difference (believe me that our absence will tell the senators that the support for single payer is not strong).
I hope to see you tonight!
If you can't make it, you can watch it at www.c-span.org. And if you haven't already, please call your senators and ask them to vote "yes" on SA 2837!
Make the calls to Sen. Harry Reid and your U.S. Senators NOW!:
- Washington, D.C., office: (202) 224-3542
- Las Vegas, NV, office: (702) 388-5020
- U.S. Capitol Switchboard: (202) 224-3121
Margaret Flowers, M.D.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is behind the worst of U.S. policies, from blocking the right to organize to impeding healthcare reform, from increasing global warming to arguing in favor of the Supreme Court's impending decision to allow no limits on corporate funding of elections, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the enemy of the public will.
StopTheChamber.com is encouraging corporations to drop their memberships and having some success.
We've also offered a $200,000 reward for information leading to the criminal conviction of Chamber CEO Tom Donohue. This has resulted in vicious attacks from Fox News viewers and U.S. Chamber of Commerce supporters, including hundreds of death threats which StopTheChamber.com has reported to the FBI.
After ABC News Report of Secret CIA Prison, Head Spy Resigns
Chief of Lithuanian Intelligence Steps Down Over "Black Site" Investigation
By Matthew Cole and Mark Schone | ABC News
The head of Lithuanian intelligence resigned Monday in the wake of ABC News' exclusive report that the CIA operated a secret prison for al-Qaeda detainees in 2004 and 2005.
Povilas Malakauskas, head of Lithuania's State Security department, left without prior public notice after two years in the position. Lithuanian media quoted Arydas Anusauskas, head of a parliamentary committee investigating the prison, as saying that the intelligence chief stepped down "in part" because of the government's effort to investigate the details surrounding the CIA facility.
Anusauskas told LNK TV that much of the government's investigation could have been avoided if the intel chief had told the truth about his department's involvement in the CIA program. Anusauskas told ABC News that the resignation was first discussed in September, when Malakauskas refused to provide information to investigators. Read more.
Barack Obama ran for president as a man of the people, standing up to Wall Street as the global economy melted down in that fateful fall of 2008. He pushed a tax plan to soak the rich, ripped NAFTA for hurting the middle class and tore into John McCain for supporting a bankruptcy bill that sided with wealthy bankers "at the expense of hardworking Americans." Obama may not have run to the left of Samuel Gompers or Cesar Chavez, but it's not like you saw him on the campaign trail flanked by bankers from Citigroup and Goldman Sachs. What inspired supporters who pushed him to his historic win was the sense that a genuine outsider was finally breaking into an exclusive club, that walls were being torn down, that things were, for lack of a better or more specific term, changing.
Then he got elected.
What's taken place in the year since Obama won the presidency has turned out to be one of the most dramatic political about-faces in our history. Elected in the midst of a crushing economic crisis brought on by a decade of orgiastic deregulation and unchecked greed, Obama had a clear mandate to rein in Wall Street and remake the entire structure of the American economy. What he did instead was ship even his most marginally progressive campaign advisers off to various bureaucratic Siberias, while packing the key economic positions in his White House with the very people who caused the crisis in the first place. This new team of bubble-fattened ex-bankers and laissez-faire intellectuals then proceeded to sell us all out, instituting a massive, trickle-up bailout and systematically gutting regulatory reform from the inside.
How could Obama let this happen? Is he just a rookie in the political big leagues, hoodwinked by Beltway old-timers? Or is the vacillating, ineffectual servant of banking interests we've been seeing on TV this fall who Obama really is? Read more.
December 27 marks the first anniversary of the Israeli attack on Gaza.
Join: Philly Against War, End Oppression Now and the Philadelphia International Action Center in a Protest on December 18 (3rd Friday).
4:00 – 6:00 p.m. at the Israeli Consulate, 19th Street and JFK Boulevard in Philadelphia. (1880 John F Kennedy Blvd
Philadelphia, PA 19103)
Make your voices heard in solidarity with the Palestinian people.
Lift the siege of Gaza now! Free Palestine!
The total number killed in this massacre is estimated at more than 1400. During the 3-week assault on Gaza (December 27, 2008 -- January 18, 2009), 313 Palestinian children were killed by Israelis. The number of Israeli children who were killed by Palestinians: 0. Approximately 500,000 Gazans were displaced at some point during conflict. Get the facts here.
The population of Gaza is approximately 1,417,000 of which 793,520 (56%) are children. Israel's attack on the people of Gaza - carried out by the world's 4th most powerful military- constitutes a crime against humanity. During the 3-week attack approximately 1 million people lost electricity and drinking water. Water treatment facilities were rendered inoperable and at least 16 schools were damaged or destroyed.
According to the media summary of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict:
The Foreign Ministry on Tuesday called for an end to the "absurd situation" in which arrest warrants were being issued to Israeli officials over alleged war crimes in the Gaza Strip.
"Only actions can put an end to this absurd situation, which would have seemed a comedy of errors were it not so serious," said the Foreign Ministry, a day after it emerged that opposition leader Tzipi Livni had canceled her trip to Britain after a warrant was issued for her arrest.
Senior officials in Israel confirmed reports on Monday that a British court had issued an arrest warrant against opposition leader Tzipi Livni for her role in orchestrating Israel's military offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip nearly a year ago. Read more.
Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Suit Seeking Accountability for Guantanamo Torture
December 14, 2009 – Today, the United States Supreme Court refused to review a lower court’s dismissal of a case brought by four British former detainees against Donald Rumsfeld and senior military officers for ordering torture and religious abuse at Guantánamo. The British detainees spent more than two years in Guantanamo and were repatriated to the U.K. in 2004.
The Obama administration had asked the court not to hear the case. By refusing to hear the case, the Court let stand an earlier opinion by the D.C. Circuit Court which found that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a statute that applies by its terms to all “persons” did not apply to detainees at Guantanamo, effectively ruling that the detainees are not persons at all for purposes of U.S. law. The lower court also dismissed the detainees’ claims under the Alien Tort Statute and the Geneva Conventions, finding defendants immune on the basis that “torture is a foreseeable consequence of the military’s detention of suspected enemy combatants.” Finally, the circuit court found that, even if torture and religious abuse were illegal, defendants were immune under the Constitution because they could not have reasonably known that detainees at Guantanamo had any Constitutional rights.
Eric Lewis, a partner in Washington, D.C.’s Baach Robinson & Lewis and lead attorney for the detainees, said, “It is an awful day for the rule of law and common decency when the Supreme Court lets stand such an inhuman decision. The final word on whether these men had a right not to be tortured or a right to practice their religion free from abuse is that they did not. Future prospective torturers can now draw comfort from this decision. The lower court found that torture is all in a days’ work for the Secretary of Defense and senior generals. That violates the President’s stated policy, our treaty obligations and universal legal norms. Yet the Obama administration, in its rush to protect executive power, lost its moral compass and persuaded the Supreme Court to avoid a central moral challenge. Today our standing in the world has suffered a further great loss.”
Secret reports, Secret budgets, Secret operations, Secret courts ... A Secret Government!
The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them. — Patrick Henry
As stated by Patrick Henry with conviction and passion, a democratic government will not last if its operations and policies are not visible to its public. The foundation of our democratic republic is supposed to be based on an open and accountable government. Transparency is what enables accountability.
For several decades post 1945, under the guise of the Cold War, with the creation of the Central Intelligence Agency and an aggressive foreign policy based on overt and covert intervention abroad, the seeds of excessive secrecy were planted, aggressively nurtured, and taken to heights not imaginable in our founding fathers’ vision of transparent and accountable government. Although the Watergate Scandal brought a short-lived wave of awakening, and to a certain degree defiance, by getting Americans to question the extent of and the real need for governmental secrecy, the subsequent political movements were eventually halted with no real action ever taken, thanks to a Congress unwilling to truly exercise its oversight authority over the intelligence community.
With the September 11 Terrorist Attacks the establishment had all it needed to take government secrecy to new heights where neither the Constitution nor the separation of powers would matter or be applicable. These new heights could never be reached in a functioning and live democracy, nor could they be sustained and flourish without a home marked by all the characteristics of a police state. Those new heights were indeed reached, and they surely have been not only sustained, but actually increased; notch by notch. Waving the national security flag nonstop, reminding us on a daily basis of some vague boogiemen terrorists who may be hiding under our beds, drilling the words terror-terrorists-terrorism every hour, did the magic; thanks to the US Media.
Let’s examine some of these new heights of secrecy we’ve reached and appear to have accepted:
For the fiscal year 2005, based on an official report released by the National Archives, the total security classification cost estimates for Government was $7.7 billion. Read more.
Huge Win For "Restore Justice At Justice" Campaign! Politically Prosecuted Attorney Paul Minor’s Bribery Convictions Overturned
Huge Win For Our Restore Justice At Justice Campaign
Politically Prosecuted Attorney Paul Minor’s Bribery Convictions Overturned
If you have not joined our Restore Justice At Justice Campaign, do so here.
Last spring we launched a campaign to pressure the Department of Justice to clean up all the Bush political prosecutions, starting with former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman and famed trial attorney Paul Minor. In fact, to emphasize the point, our site has photos of Siegelman and Minor flanking that of Attorney General Eric Holder. We placed ads, sent out press releases, posted blog items, sent letters to officials, held a press conference at the National Press Club, and contacted Members of Congress.
In our April 13th letter to Mr. Holder, we stated the following:
“And then there is Paul Minor, an attorney now in federal prison for a “crime” related to the funding of Democratic candidates and causes. Minor’s wife is dying of cancer in a hospital in Baton Rouge. Last month, he was given a three-hour pass to spend a moment with her (under supervision), but she had no chance to talk to him because she had been given her pain medication and lay fast asleep throughout his visit. Why should this man have to spend another hour away from his wife’s bedside, awaiting the decision of a court, when the flagrant partisan intent behind his prosecution should move the DOJ to withdraw charges, just as you did in Sen. Stevens' case? ”
Paul Minor’s wife died, he was not allowed to attend her funeral, and he has suffered grievously due to the unethical conduct of the Justice Department. But now, there is light and hope at the end of his very dark nightmare. Friday, in a unanimous decision, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals completely overturned his three bribery convictions and sent his case back for resentencing.
And guess who was a major force behind the prosecution of Paul Minor and his co-defendant, Judge Diaz? None other than the corrupt U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which spent millions of dollars to defeat Judge Diaz and worked with the White House and Karl Rove to target Paul Minor because he was a trial lawyer who went after corrupt businesses and supported Democratic candidates. And who was Minor’s prosecutor? Dunn Lampton, one of the United States Attorneys under investigation for taking on political prosecutions in exchange for not being fired by the Bush White House. So with this decision, we have a one-two win against the bad guys.
Today we issued a press release calling on Mr. Holder to immediately release Paul Minor pending the final resolution of his case, and to clean up all the remaining political prosecutions. You can help us keep the pressure on with a secure donation.
Thank all of you for being part of this important campaign. And if you have not joined, do so by signing on here. Thousands of others have already let the Department of Justice know that it needs to clean house and clean up past political prosecutions.
Please send this alert to your friends asking them to sign on.
And check out our other campaigns:
Guantanamo Detainee Deaths
By Stephen Lendman | Stephen Lendman Blog
Under the direction of Professor Mark Denbeaux, Seton Hall University School of Law's Center for Policy & Research (CP&R) published 15 "GTMO Reports," including profiles of detainees held, allegations against them, and discrepancies in government accounts explaining reasons for reported deaths.
An earlier report analyzed unclassified government data (obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests) based on evidentiary summaries of 2004 military hearings on whether 517 detainees held at the time were "enemy combatants." Most were non-belligerents. In fact, a shocking 95% were seized randomly by bounty hunters, then sold to US forces for $5,000 per claimed Taliban and $25,000 for supposed Al Qaeda members. At least 20 were children, some as young as 13.
The latest report titled, "Death in Camp Delta," covers three simultaneous detainee deaths on June 9, 2006 in the maximum security Alpha Block. Yassar Talal Al Zahrani, Mani Shaman Turki Al Habardi Al Tabi, and Ali Abdullah Ahmed were found dead shortly after midnight on June 10.
At first, the Pentagon's said they were found hanging in their cells as part of an anti-American "asymmetrical warfare conspiracy" based on medical personnel saying a short written note on each body indicated a coordinated effort to rebel against confinement as martyrs as well as longer confirming statements in their cells. At the same time, the media was shut out and lawyers prevented from visiting clients to minimize the incident and suppress truths.
CP&R's report found "dramatic flaws in the government's investigation (and) raise(s) serious questions about the security of the Camp (and) derelictions of duty by officials of multiple defense and intelligence agencies" who let them die, more likely killed them, then whitewashed the investigation to suppress it.
Why Obama still felt compelled to add 30,000 troops to the 68,000 boots already on the ground, at $1 million per soldier per year, is not much of a mystery. The fear of being branded an appeaser and losing the House of Representatives next year and the White House in 2012 to Republicans is clearly paramount. The president is out on a limb but is staying close to the trunk, which leaves little room for Republican and lukewarm left-wing supporters who would saw it off. He can see these two adversaries pre-empting his own post-imperial agenda with a new slogan -- e.g., Americans come home … time to rebuild America (before China eats our lunch).
U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus is already being auscultated by GOP scouts parsing the potential field. They recall how Gen. Dwight Eisenhower clinched his presidential campaign with "I shall go to Korea" to end an unpopular war. Once in the White House, he gave the U.S. economy a formidable booster shot -- and ordered up the interstate highway system. It became the largest public works project in history and the largest highway system (46,876 miles) in the world.
U.S. President Barack Obama has scaled back the scope of the Afghan war, now about to enter its ninth year, to a limited military objective: deny al-Qaida a safe haven. And since we are now told there are fewer than 100 al-Qaida terrorists in Afghanistan -- the rest are in Pakistan's tribal areas -- a three-way deal between the Karzai government, powerful warlords and Taliban chief Mullah Mohammad Omar would seem to be the better part of valor. After Iraq, we cannot afford another trillion-dollar war.
It took the United States 233 years (1776-2009) to amass a national debt of $1.4 trillion. This is now projected to double in the next 10 years. The national debt ceiling is going up another $2 trillion to $12.3 trillion. The federal budget deficit for 2009 hit a record $1.42 trillion; 2010 is expected to set a new record of $2 trillion. One trillion dollar bills, end to end, would cover the distance between Earth and the sun, or to the moon and back 200 times. Read more.
Like the peaks of the Hindu Kusch dominating much of Afghanistan, the war in that unhappy country increasingly overshadows the political scenery in Germany. Parallels with the situation in the USA are unmistakable.
On December 3rd the Bundestag voted on prolonging the use of German troops in Afghanistan for another year. But before the delegates crowded to the front of the house to put their ballots in the container, they were surprised to hear an unusual statement. It came close to a confession.
For three months one event has repeatedly grabbed the headlines: the bombing on September 4th of two hijacked German fuel trucks in Kunduz, in northern Afghanistan. The air attack, ordered by a German colonel, resulted in the deaths of 142 people, including women, children and many other civilians despite the fact that the trucks, stuck in the mud while crossing a river, were of no immediate danger to German troops. American pilots suggested flying low over them to frighten civilians and the Taliban hijackers away. But no, the colonel insisted on bombs -- and got them. The fuel caused a terrible explosion.
Army spokespersons, including Franz Josef Jung, Minister of Defense, tried to belittle the matter and denied any certainty about even a few civilian casualties. This was a crucial matter; it was the first such case involving German troops in Afghanistan and the worst bloodshed caused by Germans in uniform since World War Two. Read more.
Gates is quoted as saying: “One of the myths in the international community is that the United States likes war,” he said. “And the reality is, other than the first two or three years of World War II, there has never been a popular war in America.”
Mike pointed out that "Of course, Gates was spinning: the world doesn't think the American people like war, but is aware that their government prefers to maintain world hegemony through it."
But the spin machine didn't end there. In a town hall style meeting in Kirkuk, Gates ramped up the spin machine again. Asked "Why is the United States still at war after eight years?" He replied:
“I think it’s a mistake to look at Afghanistan as sort of one eight-year war,” Mr. Gates responded in the same even tone he had used all week. “We had a war in 2001, 2002, which we essentially won. And the Taliban was kicked out of Afghanistan. Al Qaeda was kicked out of Afghanistan, many of them killed. And then things were very quiet in Afghanistan.”
Without blaming President George W. Bush’s administration, which he once served, for sidelining the conflict in favor of Iraq, Mr. Gates said the second war in Afghanistan started in late 2005 and early 2006. “But the United States really has gotten its head into this conflict in Afghanistan, as far as I’m concerned, really only in the last year,” he said.
Late Friday, Mr. Gates returned to Washington after what his staff acknowledged was a very hard week. But it was nothing, they said, compared with the marathon in Afghanistan that lies ahead. Read more.
Two months ago, we launched www.StopTheChamber.com to expose the U.S. Chamber’s deception, astroturfing, lobbying excesses and election manipulation. We called for the firing of Chamber CEO Tom Donohue, criminal and congressional investigations of Donohue and the Chamber, and companies to quit the Chamber in protest of its extremist policies. The Chamber has a budget over $100 million to defeat health care for all, environmental protection, and banking regulation.
We recently increased to $200,000 our reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue for engaging in criminal conduct. Fox News and Rush Limbaugh picked up on that story last week. And, guess what? We have been flooded with hundreds of profanity laced threats of violence! Characteristics of the treats we have received show clear signs of a coordinated attack. See VR co-founder Brad Friedman’s article at The BRAD BLOG about the wave of threats. The Chamber itself has attempted to intimidate us by saying that it is considering legal action against us and peddling defamatory information to the press.
And how did we respond? We filed a formal complaint with the FBI with copies of all the threats and asked that it conduct a swift investigation to hold those responsible accountable. Now, it is crucial that we continue to respond to this attempted intimidation by strengthening our efforts. Will you help us show the 'right' that its thuggish behavior will not be tolerated?
We want to place more ads and send more press releases exposing the corrupt practices of the Chamber and its CEO. In the past month, major companies such as Apple, PG&E, Mohawk Paper and Exelon have quit the Chamber because of their conduct, and even the White House condemned their extremist positions. Please help us with a donation.
Join our campaign by signing on here. Join thousands of others who have let the Chamber and its board members know that its conduct will no longer be tolerated. From the site you can also send a letter to your Congress members asking them to launch an investigation of the Chamber.
Please send this alert to your friends asking them to sign on. We need everyone to speak up in order to stop the Chamber’s pay-to-play lobbying. Let's get the Chamber out of our way as we work to clean up the environment, provide health care for all, and have honest and transparent elections.
Mark Crispin Miller wrote:
Here, for once, is some great news--and a reminder that justice can be done, eventually; although no stroke of justice can make up for this man's horrible ordeal. Just to remind you, Paul Minor was forbidden to spend his wife's last days with her, when she lay dying of brain
cancer in a hospital; and then the DoJ--that is, Obama's DoJ--would not allow him out of prison to attend her funeral.
And for what? Why? As the Fifth Court of Appeals has now made crystal clear, this man did not engage in any bribery. (Note, incidentally, that the decision does not overturn Minor's conviction under the "Honest Services" statute--which SCOTUS will soon nullify, thereby
wiping out the other "crime" for which they locked him up.)
For this good outcome, we need to thank all those who worked so hard to shine a light on this appalling case: Scott Horton at Harper's, Larisa Alexandrovna at Raw Story, and Velvet Revolution. Because of them (and that includes, of course, Brad Friedman), a gross injustice has been righted at long last.
And now we need to focus on those many other cases that Karl Rove engineered for BushCo's sake. We cannot rest until they have him, and all his cohorts, in a federal cell, which will be a punishment long overdue, and, unlike all those others, well-deserved.
Fifth Circuit Overturns Paul Minor Bribery Conviction
By Adam Lynch | Jackson Free Press | December 11, 2009
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has partially overturned the convictions of Mississippi attorney Paul Minor and former judges John Whitfield and Walter "Wes" Teel. A federal jury convicted Minor, Teel and Whitfield in 2007 for federal bribery and honest services fraud, but they appealed, arguing that prosecutors changed jury instructions to muddy the definition of an exchange of services for corruption, among other arguments.
Attorneys representing the three argue that Judge Henry Wingate agreed to loosen the jury instructions so that jurors could decide to convict, even if there was no clear exchange of services, or quid pro quo, between the judges or Minor. All three had successfully fought back allegations of corruption in an earlier trial in which the jury instructions were more clearly defined.
Today the appeals court tossed the federal bribery charges connected to the 2007 trial, leaving intact only the charges of honest services fraud. Read more.
The Washington, D.C.-based United States Chamber of Commerce, which boasts 3 million members and very deep pockets, is commonly referred to as the world's largest business federation. Such a reputation has for years secured the group the distinction as the unofficial spokesman of American capitalism. Accordingly, the Chamber has enjoyed unrivaled access and power within the halls of Congress, particularly during the Bush administration.
"The Chamber of Commerce may not have ruled the country during the Bush years" observes Daniel Gross, "But it had the next best thing: a Republican administration in the White House and Republican control of Congress for most of that period."
With the election of President Barack Obama, however, the Chamber suddenly finds itself on the outside, looking in. Increasingly, the Chamber's platform has become indistinguishable from the Republican opposition. In recent months, a darker, more nefarious side to the Chamber has emerged, one that breaks from the group's image as the promoter of American ingenuity and entrepreneurship.
The Chamber is at the forefront of the campaign against health care reform, climate change legislation and a proposed consumer protection agency. "The U.S. Chamber of Commerce -- the self-proclaimed voice of business in Washington" writes former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, "has been wrong on virtually every major public-policy issue of the past decade." Read more.
Who knew Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter would emerge as one of the most vocal opponents in the Senate of the President's military escalation in Afghanistan?
But so it is. In an op-ed this week in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Specter not only challenges the "surge"; he also challenges fundamental premises of the war. Specter writes:
I'm opposed to sending 30,000 more American troops to Afghanistan because I don't believe they are indispensable in our fight against al Qaeda.
But if al Qaeda can organize and operate out of Yemen, Somalia or elsewhere, then why fight in Afghanistan, which has made a history of resisting would-be conquerors - from Alexander the Great in the 3rd century BC, to Great Britain in the 19th and early 20th centuries, to the former Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s?
What can one Senator do? Well, one Senator can introduce legislation, for starters. At this writing, there isn't a single piece of legislation before the Senate that expresses opposition to continuing the war indefinitely. This is in marked contrast to the House, where Representative McGovern's bill requiring the Pentagon to present Congress with an exit strategy from Afghanistan has more than 100 co-sponsors. That's like having 23 Senators.
But Arlen Specter is in a unique position to do much more than introduce legislation. He could turn his Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary into a referendum on the Afghanistan war, because his primary opponent, Joe Sestak, supports the war and supports the escalation: Read more.