Monday, December 10, 2007

Thoughts on Tubing a Shallow Jungle Stream

Went tubing between the rocks of a shallow river lined with scratchy trees. Fun, but wasted a lot of energy avoiding obstacles. Feel I could do a lot better if I had a chance to do the river run again with some knowledge of what lay ahead. Feel the same way about my life.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Purpose of the Iraq War

  1. Re-elect Bush so he could continue to enrich the rich and impoverish the American Middle Class.

  2. Put war profits in the hands of Bush supporters.
    • Purchasing defective equipment meant that replacements would be needed.
    • Abolishing testing meant more defective equipment could be purchased.

    (Note that the overall effect of these and other developments was to further enrich the rich and impoverish the American Middle Class.

  3. Continue to train Americans as torturers.
  4. Seize Iraq oil supplies and privatize them.
  5. Privatize Iraq and destroy Iraqi middle-class in the process.

    · As in Chile after 9/11/73,weaken will of people to resist changes by overwhelming display of military might, torture, and destruction of basic services. (Note Iraq was chosen as focus of attack rather than Iran or Syria as it was known to have no significant weapons. FN)

    · Privatize water system, electricity, telephones, airline, (some 200 firms in all) and all state assets.

    · Replace Iraqi-owned businesses with multi-nationals.

    a. Foreign companies could now own 100% of Iraqi assets

    b. Investors could take 100% of Iraq profits out of country without paying tax.

    · Introduce flat-tax of 15% to replace corporate tax of 45 percent.

    · Eliminate tariffs on foreign imports (and put domestic industries at risk).

    · Introduce a new currency (printed in Britain)

    · Privatize Iraq education system.

    a. Pay foreign think tanks to develop

    b. Print new text books abroad

    Never mind that under Saddam, 89% of Iraqi’s were literate, while under New Mexico Governor Richardson only 46% are.

    For still more on the privatization of Iraq and the use of torture by the U.S. see, The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Road to Guantãnomo

“If you wish to rule a people, you must first convince them that they are only fit to be ruled. On the first day, they will laugh. On the second, they will protest. On the third, they will be convinced.”

19th Century Philippine proverb

For six years now, Marines have been passing through Guantãnomo Bay learning the art of torture. What can our government be preparing for?

Perhaps, I lack empathy as well as understanding of my government’s motives. For my immediate reaction on watching the film, The Road to Guantãnomo, was to rail at the waste of tax payer money Guantãnomo Bay is.

The film traces the actions of three young Britons of Pakistani descent who travel to Pakistan in October 2001 ostensibly to attend a friend’s wedding, only to spend the next three years as detainees in Guantãnomo, where they are both tortured and witnesses to torture. The film won an award for its director in 2006 at the Berlin Film Festival and is available today on DVD.

While in Pakistan, waiting for the wedding day, the threesome, bored, decide to bus to Afghanistan just to see what’s happening. An analogy would be the Pump House gang heading up from La Jolla to the outskirts of Watts in the mid 1990's to view the burning buildings. An alternate and less charitable point of view is the three went to Afghanistan specifically to join up with the Taliban in a Moslem jihad. Either way, they fail to make contact with the Taliban and never hold a weapon. Regardless, they are captured by the Northern Alliance and turned over to the Americans who then send them to US-occupied Cuba for extended detention.

Why were they held in Guantãnomo for three years? What could be learned from them that could not be learned in three months or three days?

The objectives of torture (barred by the Geneva convention) are short term, immediate. “Where is the bomb? When is it set to go off?” Yet the torture of the three Britons continued for a three-year period without yielding any tangible results, not that there have been tangible results from the interrogations of any of the other prisoners held at Guantãnomo.

When torture was used by the Nazi’s as well as by the Chilean Military after the U.S. backed coup which toppled the Chilean government in September 1970, its objective was to find out the names of other opponents to the regime, as well as to bring pleasure to the torturers, of course. Used by the Americans at Guantãnomo Bay, its sole function appears to be training torturers for future employment.

In the film, the “torture” practiced at Guantãnomo is not all that different from the harassment integral to Marine bootcamp and in some ways resembles the practices used in retraining a “boot” who deliberately shoots himself in the foot. No slivers of bamboo are applied under the fingernails, no “waterboarding” is shown. But other Guantãnomo prisoners have described having an electric shock device applied to their genitals (Jumah al-Dossari) and abroad US Soldiers have used beatings, waterboading, and electroshocks.

The face-to-face interrogation methods depicted in this film are laughable. It is one thing to make the American public believe there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, it is quite another to convince an individual that he’s the one standing next to Bin Laden in a photograph.

Which leaves the question: Just what are the Bush Administration and the American Military up to in Guantãnomo? Are they preparing for mass arrests here at home? Sometime in the coming year, can I look forward to being plucked off the street, hauled to the nearest football stadium and held there until I reveal the names of all my neighbors who are Democrats or Greens?

Torture is nothing new as far as the U.S. is concerned. When 9/11 witnessed the U.S.- sponsored assassination of Chilean President Allende, representatives of the U.S. military were immediately on hand to advise the Pinachot dictatorship as it tortured and disappeared some 3,200 Chileans, imprisoned 80,000 others, and drove 200,000 more from their native land. Subsequently, U.S. military personnel were to train the torturers of Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay.

What is unique about the torturers of Guantãnomo Bay is that for the first time large number of Americans, not Chileans or Argentineans or Brazilians or Nicaraguans, are being trained in the art of torture. Feel free to protest or laugh according to your nature. Either way, after the Democrats fail to rescue the American economy from the bottomless pit into which it is descending, January 1 2009 will mark the fascist takeover.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Pollution, forest fires, and combustion engines

Saw on that the smoke from the current California fires is equivalent to the emissions from 440,000 vehicles for one year. Or to put it another way, the emissions in one year from the vehicles in California is equivalent to the smoke from 40 times the present set of fires.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Good Morning, Vietnam!

From the Washington Post

By Eugene Robinson
Tuesday, September 4, 2007; Page A17

The most fascinating aspect of George W. Bush's no-holds-barred campaign to keep Congress from meddling in his foolish and tragic war is the way he has begun invoking the Vietnam War -- not as a cautionary lesson about hubris and futility but as a reason to push ahead (whatever "ahead" might mean) in Iraq.

Say what you want about the man, but he's full of surprises -- and I'm not talking about the unannounced visit he made yesterday to Anbar province. With the pivotal report from Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker due to land next week, and with the Iraqi government having made zero progress on political reconciliation, it's no surprise that the Decider would decide to be photographed touring the one part of Iraq where he can claim any measure of success.

But seeking support for the war in Iraq by reminding the nation about Vietnam? I'd feel better if I thought this was just some exquisitely subtle, deeply cynical gambit, yet I have the sinking feeling that Bush actually believes the nonsensical version of history he's peddling. I fear the man is on a mission to rewrite the past.

Last month, Bush told the Veterans of Foreign Wars at its Kansas City convention that "one unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America's withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens whose agonies would add to our vocabulary new terms such as 'boat people,' 'reeducation camps' and 'killing fields.' "

He added: "Here at home, some can argue our withdrawal from Vietnam carried no price to American credibility -- but the terrorists see it differently."

Lest anyone think this was merely a random rhetorical spasm, outgoing White House political czar Karl Rove wrote an article in the conservative National Review last week that included this passage: "If the outcome [in Iraq] is like what happened in Vietnam after America abandoned our allies and the region descended into chaos, violence and danger, history's judgment will be harsh. History will see President Bush as right, and the opponents of his policy as mistaken -- as George McGovern was in his time."


For the record, the illegal U.S. bombing of Cambodia destabilized that country and boosted the Khmer Rouge, who eventually took power and exterminated those "millions" in the "killing fields." The monstrous Khmer Rouge regime was finally ousted by . . . none other than the communists who took power in Vietnam after the American withdrawal. Oh, and it was Richard Nixon who negotiated and began the U.S. pullout. Gerald Ford presided over the fall of Saigon. Both of them were Republicans, as I recall.

And George McGovern, who never got to be president, was right.

Bush, Rove, Dick Cheney and the other principal architects of the Iraq war never served in Vietnam -- in fact, they went to great lengths to put distance between themselves and the military adventure they now describe as both necessary and noble. At the moment, though, I'm less concerned about their hypocrisy than their distortion of history.

To say the United States should not have withdrawn its forces from Vietnam is to say that there was something those forces could have done -- something beyond napalm, carpet-bombing, destroying villages in order to save them -- that would have led to some kind of "victory." Of course, Bush and the others don't say what that special something might have been, because they don't know. They're seeing nothing but a historical mirage.

Bush seems to want to return to a golden age when America confidently threw its weight around wherever, whenever and however it pleased. The problem is that no such golden age existed. American power has always had its limits, and there have always been some wars that simply couldn't be won.

Bush and his enablers seem to forget that it was Dwight D. Eisenhower -- a man with a bit more experience in running a war than the tinhorn generalissimos now occupying the White House -- who realized that the most we could achieve in Korea was a stalemate.

George W. Bush wants us to remember Vietnam? Fine, then let's remember those iconic images -- the Viet Cong prisoner being executed in cold blood with a pistol shot to the temple, the little girl running naked and screaming from a napalm attack. Let's remember how little we really understood about Vietnamese society. Let's remember how wrong the domino theory proved to be. Let's remember how much damage prolonging an unpopular war did to our armed forces and our nation, and how long it took us to recover.

Thanks for the reminder, Mr. President. When you talk about "victory" in Iraq and the Petraeus report discerns a light at the end of the tunnel, we'll think of Vietnam.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Bush not getting the praise he deserves.

Bush is not getting the praise he deserves. While he may not have put an end to illegal immigration (in fact, by failing to enforce the existing laws he seems to have encouraged it) by doing away with many of the constitutional protections and economic opportunities that once attracted the tempest-tossed to our shores, he has put a considerable damper on legal immigration.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

She lifts her lamp, tempest tossed

Back in 1900 when there was a rush from all areas of Europe to come to the United States, people had to get off a ship and stand in a long line in New York and be documented. Some would even get down on their hands and knees and kiss the ground. They made a pledge to uphold the laws and support their new country in good and bad times. They made learning English a primary rule in their new American households and some even changed their names to blend in with their new home.

They had waved good bye to their birth place to give their children a new life and did everything in their power to help their children assimilate into one culture.
Nothing was handed to them. No free lunches, no welfare, no labor laws to protect them. All they had were the skills and craftsmanship they had brought with them to trade for a future of prosperity.

Most of their children came of age when World War II broke out. Our fathers fought alongside men whose parents had come straight over from Germany, Italy, France and Japan. None of these 1st generation Americans ever gave any thought about what country their parents had come from. They were Americans fighting Hitler, Mussolini and the Emperor of Japan They were defending the United States of America as one people.

When we liberated France, no one in those villages were looking for the French-American or the German American or the Irish American. The people of France saw only Americans. And we carried one flag that represented one country. Not one of those immigrant sons would have thought about picking up another country's flag and waving it to represent who they were. It would have been a disgrace to their parents who had sacrificed so much to be here. These immigrants truly knew what it meant to be an American. They stirred the melting pot into one red, white and blue bowl.

Here we are in 2006 with a new kind of immigrant who wants the same rights and privileges. Only they want to achieve it by playing with a different set of rules, one that includes the entitlement card and a guarantee of being faithful to their mother country. I'm sorry, that's not what being an American is all about. I believe that the immigrants who landed on Ellis Island in the early 1900's deserve better than that for all the toil, hard work and sacrifice in raising future generations to create a land that has become a beacon for those legally searching for a better life. I think they would be appalled that they are being used as an example by those waving foreign country flags

(signed) Rosemary LaBonte

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The BOG problem

The BOG problem (bands of disaffected guys) reported in Thursday’s LA Times will only get worse. As the veterans return from Iraq to find themselves without jobs, they’ll form their own BOG’s or join existing ones. And these veterans have not only been trained to kill but have had more than sufficient opportunity to develop on-the-job skills.
As the country sinks into depression, with roving bands of jobless terrorizing the population everywhere—a condition endemic for years in Mexico, will the retired George W. Bush finally remove his mask to reveal a Red Chinese? Twelve years from now, this once powerful nation, broken and depressed, will be ripe for invasion.
Can anything be done to prevent this? Yes, but strangely not a single one of the Presidential candidates has yet to offer a solution. And our free press seems more concerned with the candidates’ gender and the color of their skins than with their proposals.
The solution to our problems lies in a phrase our grandparents often used, “Idle hands make the devil’s handiwork.” We need to create jobs and this means that we, the government, need to raise money to pay our employees.
The least painful solution as it affects only the want-to-be-idle rich is to reinstate the inheritance tax: 50% on all estates valued over $5 million, 90% on all estates valued over $10 million. Electronic transfers of funds by individuals to banks outside the country in excess of $10 thousand per day will be confiscated. And that graduated income tax of ours will go back up to 75% at the top-most levels.
(Yes, we can raise the top levels of the State Income tax, too. Ain’t nobody enjoying California’s balmy climate going to move anywhere.)
The first jobs we’ll create are the obvious ones: Bring back the meat inspectors, the food inspectors, the port inspectors, the IRS agents, and the border patrolmen whom Bush let go. Next, let’s get rid of all the illegal immigrants. We need the jobs they’re now filling.
Finally, we need to rebuild the bridges, levees, water towers, water pipes and sewer lines that are on the verge of the collapse. No loss as all the money we spend on repairs over here, rather than on the repair of oil pipes in Iraq, will go directly into the pockets of hard-working Americans.
How will all these changes affect the middle class? We won’t pay a cent more in taxes. But the cost of labor will rise and you’ll pay more to have your garden mowed, to buy a big Mac, or to purchase made-by-slave-labor-in-China goods. Of course, store profits will increase as more disposable income will be in our population hands. And you won’t need to buy that Uzi to protect your home just yet.

Monday, July 16, 2007

It’s the Economy, Stupid

When President Bush asks for 65,000 more troops, he really is confessing that the civilian economy has lost 65,000 more jobs.

Prior to the start of Bush-Lite’s first term, even the least savvy neo-conservative was aware that while neo-conservative economic policies would bring great benefits to the select, the mass of Americans would need undergo great privations. The question (for them) became how best to hide the forthcoming shifts until it was too late for the electorate to protest.

But it took only a few months for Bush-Lite’s approval rating to slip to unprecedented low levels. What to do? With the cooperation of members of the Saudi Royal family, Saudi Arabian dissidents were provided with the necessary funding to launch an attack within the United States. Though the plot and plotters were soon detected by branch offices of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the word from Washington Headquarters soon came down to the branches: follow but do not intervene.

9/11 arrived and with it the remarkable (as much for being unchallenged as for its sheer chutzpah) decision to launch an attack upon Afghanistan. Afghanistan when the plotters had been financed by Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E? Nonetheless, Afghanistan was selected and the war machine revved up as defective munitions and unarmored vehicles were churned out by U.S. industries. Domestic job losses were camouflaged by an increase in enrollment in the military and the conversion of national guardsmen from weekend warrior to full-time government employees. Indeed, so successful was the shift from civilian to military employment, that the manufacture of defective military goods could be outsourced abroad. Screw greedy American labor—let business keep all the profits.

As the domestic job market dried up—never mind that food products went un-inspected, water towers fell, defective sewer pipes were ignored, EPA clean-up sites remained uncleaned, and the rail lines essential to domestic defense were allowed to fall into disrepair—the need for a protective cover in the form of a second war and greater military enrollment arose. On to Iraq with its weapons of mass destruction.

Soon more than a million troops were involved in support of the fighting. The good news: A million plus barrels of oil were consumed in transporting the troops across the sea. And billions were siphoned from the American taxpayer to pay for it all.

Did civilian jobs continue to vanish abroad or were doled out at starvation wags to illegal immigrations. Of course. But again, there was a solution. In the Spring of 2007, Bush-Lite prescribed the Iraq surge and 350,000 more troops. In July 2007, to replace 65,000 lost jobs, he requested 65,000 be put into uniform.

As the US dollar slips ever downward and Americans pay more and more for basic foodstuffs, one might ask what does the future hold? Here’s my prediction:

2008, a President is elected from the Democratic party. The troops are called home and within months, the United States is in a major depression with armies of the homeless and unemployed. Reforms are called for and Congress votes to give the next President dictatorial powers.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Isn't it about time the oil companies paid their share?

Rise in Profits of major oil companies from start of US Invasion of Iraq through 2005: 2.5 Trillion dollars.

Cost to American tax payer from start of US Invasion of Iraq through 2005:
25 trillion dollars

Isn't it about time the oil companies paid their share?

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Bush critics proved wrong

Once again, those who claim George Bush is a captive of the oil companies have been proved wrong. Bush's plan for an Eastern European missile defense system (presumably to scare off terrorists) has led to Russia's President Putin increasing troop levels. Everywhere, weapons manufacturers are rejoicing, pleased that the monies they put into Bush's campaigns are paying off once again. (see Lords of War).

So Bush critics, hear this, it's not just oil companies, but weapon's manufacturers (three wars and a missile system), heroin importers (after Bush drove the Taliban out of Afghanistan), and tainted meat manufacturers (after Bush eliminated meat inspectors) who have profited from Bush's support.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Rich and Poor Still Equal in Eyes of the Law

"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread." (from The Red Lily, Anatole France, 1894)

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Multiple Choice Quiz

Who said, "It is well that war should be so terrible,
If it were not
We might become too fond of it."

a. George W. Bush
b. Dwight D. Eisenhower.
c. Robert E. Lee
d. George Fox

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Traveling in the 3rd World March 2007

Yesterday while traveling by railroad through a 3rd world country, I learned to my horror that a fellow passenger had been forced to detour thousands of miles and 24 hours out of his way, because a major east-west rail artery severed in a hurricane two years before had yet to be repaired. As is always the case in such banana republics, a thoroughly corrupt central government, rather than make repairs to the rail line through New Orleans, had chosen to spend billions on sweetheart contracts abroad (thus allowing that government’s close friends to avoid all taxes on their excess profits which surely they would have had to pay had the work been done at home).

Monday, February 26, 2007

Truth in 911 Conference, February 2007

Little truth was to be heard at the Truth in 911 conference held at Chandler AZ, the 23rd through 25th of February 2007, the latest in a series of such conferences that began in San Francisco in the summer of 2004. Relevant facts were omitted; factoids provided to replace them.

The basic facts concerning 9/11 are widely known and were made known within the first 30 days afterward: Nineteen of the 20 terrorists involved in the attack (including the one who didn’t make it to the planes) were from Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates. Financing for the attacks came from these same countries. Yet not one of the speakers at the Truth in 911 conference alluded to the terrorists’ origins nor to George W. Bush’s failure both to retaliate against these countries and to confiscate the funds of those who financed the attacks, something he had promised to do on 9/12/2001. (Come to think of it, the mainstream media including the Times never commented on his failures either.)

Instead, the speakers appeared to be groping for answers: Were the twin towers destroyed by beams from space, nuclear devices, or thermite charges? None seemed to feel that planes alone could have accomplished the task. (The is devoted to academic research on the topic.) And as for the remaining two planes, including the one that allegedly hit the Pentagon destroying financial records and facilitating the theft of trillions of dollars, most said they never existed.

Meria Heller, the opening speaker at the conference, a webcaster of some renown (at least among this particular audience), took as her theme the Bush family's denial of the many holocausts they had caused. It seemed that George W.'s grandfather had been convicted following World War II for war profiteering and selling to the Nazi's. She provided the audience with a list of restrictions government had foisted over the years on the American citizen (or consumers, as they were now known) including the Patriot Act. The audience clapped and cheered with varying volume for each item on her list, with the loudest round of applause going to the Federal Reserve Act of 1913. Go figure! But then we’ve never understood the humor in the Millard Fillmore cartoon either.

Two beliefs that all participants at the conference appeared to hold in common were that 1) The federal government has withheld information about the attacks, 2) The administration allowed the attacks to occur as part of a larger “false flag operation” aimed at scaring the public into supporting tighter government controls (goodbye Constitution) and the profit-making (for Cheney and his cronies) invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. The fear of terrorism has replaced our old fear of communism.

But as always, there are as many beliefs as there members of a movement. A full 40% of the participants, alas, feel that the same global financiers who introduced the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 were behind the 9/11 attacks. In their minds, the Federal Reserve Act, the Protocols of Zion, the World Wildlife Fund, the IRS, and the U.N. are part and parcel of the same global conspiracy. One even confided to me that it was these same Jewish bankers who had financed Hitler.

On Sunday, the final day of the conference, it split in two. The group who feared a global conspiracy met in a tent outside the hotel, while the remaining 60% of the participants gathered inside to plan the formation of a Citizens Grand Jury. This Grand Jury would further investigate the events of 9/11, including the foreknowledge of the Bush Administration and its failure to take subsequent action. It would recommend the prosecution of those responsible and, should the Congress and Courts fail to act, would undertake the prosecution itself.

But an event that occurred much earlier that Sunday, at 5:30 a.m. to be precise, best illustrates how the greater American Public stands with regards to the events of 9/11. Some one or something had triggered the fire alarm in the hotel where the conference was housed. A third of those we spoke with complained of being awoken at that early hour. (As one confided, ”I’d only gone to bed a half hour before.”) Another third said they’d heard the alarm, but hadn’t bothered to get up. And the final third asked, “What alarm?” and admitted they must have slept right through it.