Saturday, August 25, 2007

Carlin: "They Gotcha by the Balls!"

Politicians hide behind three things: The Flag. The Bible. And education!
"I'll tell you what they don't want. The owners of this country don't want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking - they’re not interested in that. That doesn’t help them. That’s against their interests.

--George Carlin

And now they're coming for your Social Security. "It's a big club. And you ain't in it". That brings up America's number one export: bullshit!

Carlin poses the question: how long does it take you to spot someone who is full o'shit?

George Carlin is perhaps the last American to tell the unvarnished truth. And the unvarnished truth is that nothing you've been taught is true. It's all bullshit. "They've" gotcha by the balls. And the "owners of this country" like it like that. That's why they are called "conservatives". It is, after all, "their" country. They bought and paid for it with your money.

An update:

How Bush Allowed an Army of For-Profit Contractors to Invade the U.S. Treasury

How is it done? How do you screw the taxpayer for millions, get away with it and then ride off into the sunset with one middle finger extended, the other wrapped around a chilled martini? Ask Earnest O. Robbins -- he knows all about being a successful contractor in Iraq.

You start off as a well-connected bureaucrat: in this case, as an Air Force civil engineer, a post from which Robbins was responsible for overseeing 70,000 servicemen and contractors, with an annual budget of $8 billion. You serve with distinction for thirty-four years, becoming such a military all-star that the Air Force frequently sends you to the Hill to testify before Congress -- until one day in the summer of 2003, when you retire to take a job as an executive for Parsons, a private construction company looking to do work in Iraq.

Now you can finally move out of your dull government housing on Bolling Air Force Base and get your wife that dream home you've been promising her all these years. The place on Park Street in Dunn Loring, Virginia, looks pretty good -- four bedrooms, fireplace, garage, 2,900 square feet, a nice starter home in a high-end neighborhood full of spooks, think-tankers and ex-apparatchiks moved on to the nest-egg phase of their faceless careers. On October 20th, 2003, you close the deal for $775,000 and start living that private-sector good life. ...

Thursday, August 23, 2007

"Bobby Kennedy died believing his brother's killers had not been found"

Chasing Assassins

by Guest Columnist, Matthew Stevenson

A review of Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years, By David Talbot, Simon & Schuster,478 pages

When President John F. Kennedy was gunned down in Dallas in November 1963, his younger brother Robert, then the U.S. attorney general, was having lunch at his home in northern Virginia. As recounted in Brothers, David Talbot’s stirring and troubling history of Bobby’s descent into the underworlds of conspiracy, word of the shooting reached him when J. Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI, telephoned. In a monotone, Bobby’s nemesis and wily subordinate said: “I have news for you. The president’s been shot.”

Hoover had long resented the intrusions of the 37-year-old attorney general into the lair of the FBI. Despite his rank in Washington’s civilian chain of command, Hoover had regarded the brothers Kennedy as just another couple of bootleggers on whom to run a file and maintain a stakeout. Of November 22, Talbot continues: “Twenty minutes later, Hoover phoned again to deliver the final blow: ‘The president’s dead,’ he said and promptly hung up. Again, Kennedy would remember, his voice was oddly flat—‘not quite as excited as if he were reporting the fact that he had found a Communist on the faculty of Howard University.’” In the first of many messages that the assassination delivered to Robert Kennedy, this one from Hoover pointed out that the lifeblood of the attorney general’s political power had ebbed away in one of Parkland Hospital’s emergency rooms.

That November afternoon, between his shock, grief, and anger, Bobby Kennedy worked the phones. His political life in Washington had been spent either running his brother’s campaigns or investigating the grassy knolls of the Mafia, corrupt labor unions, and what an earlier attorney general, A. Mitchell Palmer, had called the Red Menace. He was on familiar ground. He spoke with Roy Kellerman, the Secret Service agent who had been in the limousine with the president. He spoke with Dave Powers and Kenneth O’Donnell, political aides to President Kennedy who were in the car behind the president’s when it rolled into Dealey Plaza. All of them used the words “ambush” or “a flurry of shots” to describe what had happened. Talbot writes: “O’Donnell and more than one Secret Service man would tell Bobby the same thing that day: They were caught in crossfire. It was a conspiracy.”

That evening, Bobby met Air Force One on its return from Dallas. He accompanied his brother’s body and widow to Bethesda Naval Hospital for what would turn out to be the most controversial autopsy in American history. Even before the assembled doctors bungled determining whether the President had been shot in the front or the back, Bobby had decided that it “was not a ‘he’ who had killed his brother—it was a ‘they.’” In Talbot’s most memorable phrase in a book of disturbing conclusions, the attorney general had become “America’s first assassination theorist.”

Just to be clear, Robert Kennedy never attended an annual gathering of assassination buffs or speculated about “Umbrella Man” or “Badge Man” or the “Three Tramps.” He did unleash his own investigative hounds, including the capable Walter Sheridan, who within 48 hours reported that Jack Ruby had received “a bundle of money” from Chicago mobsters with links to Jimmy Hoffa, the Teamsters union boss whom Bobby had tried for years to throw behind bars. Talbot writes: “Later, Kennedy would remark when he saw Ruby’s phone records, ‘The list was almost a duplicate of the people I called before the Rackets Committee.’” Talbot also concludes that both Jacqueline and Bobby believed JFK had been killed by “a large political conspiracy ... Perhaps there was only one assassin, but he did not act alone.” They never suspected Castro or the Russians.

Talbot, founder and former editor in chief of, thinks clearly and writes well. His narrative style makes for compelling reading, bringing to life historically complex subjects such as U.S.-Cuban foreign relations. Talbot is good at rendering dialogue, pithy in describing the long cast of shady characters, and capable of capturing history either in vignettes or still life scenes set around otherwise drab conference tables. Best of all, his prose is easy to visualize. While the book is a biography of Robert Kennedy and his response to the assassination of his brother, along the way Talbot concludes that more than three shots were fired in Dallas, that President Kennedy was the victim of a plot, and that government agencies like the CIA and FBI had their own, self-serving reasons for pinning the rap on a lone gunman—in this case, Lee Oswald.

Talbot bases many of his own conspiracy conclusions on the observations of the two close aides to the president: “O’Donnell and Powers, both World War II veterans, distinctly heard at least two shots come from the grassy knoll area in front of the motorcade. But when they later told this to the FBI, they were informed that they must be wrong. If they did not change their story, it was impressed on the men, it could be very damaging for the country.” Even so, Powers still told the Warren Commission: “My first impression was that the shots came from the right and overhead, but I also had a fleeting impression that the noise appeared to come from the front in the area of the triple overpass. This may have resulted from my feeling, when I looked forward toward the overpass, that we might have ridden into ambush.” Indeed, few, if any, of the witness statements from those in or near JFK’s car confirm any of the conclusions of the Warren Commission.

Though the narrative core of the book is Bobby’s personal journey to the heart of an American darkness, the title also refers to the men surrounding Jack and Bobby. The words come from Shakespeare, who described those who fought alongside Henry V at Agincourt: “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.” To develop the bonds of such New Frontiersmen as Robert McNamara, Ted Sorensen, Richard Goodwin, Dave Powers, Ken O’Donnell, Walt Sheridan, and many others, Talbot weaves into his story numerous interviews with surviving “brothers.” If they are dead, he meets with their widows or children. These encounters add a personal plumb line to an otherwise dispassionate account. For example, the widow of Special Agent Kellerman tells Talbot her husband died “always accepting that there was a conspiracy.”

Talbot admires the “good” Bobby Kennedy, the one who sought “newer worlds” and quoted Aeschylus. He has reservations about the “bad” Bobby, who fronted for Sen. Joseph McCarthy and stalked “enemies within.” Talbot writes in the author’s note that he was “a 16-year-old campaign volunteer for Robert Kennedy when he was shot down in Los Angeles. For me, aggressively pursuing the hidden history of the Kennedy years was an attempt to find out where my country had lost its way.” Talbot does share with the conspiracists the sense that America’s decline and fall begins with the coup d’etat in Dallas and that the whitewash of the Warren Commission can be read as submission to men who would be kings, if not hit men.

According to Talbot, the black hole of the Kennedy presidency—the vortex down which Jack and Bobby are pulled—is the paramilitary failure at the Bay of Pigs, on Cuba’s southwest coast. In April 1961, three months after the Kennedys rode into Camelot, several thousand so-called Cuban freedom fighters, trained and equipped by the CIA, attacked the Cuban shore. According to the logic of the half-cocked invasion, once ashore the rebels were to be greeted as liberators and march on Havana, where they would topple Castro’s revolution. The Eisenhower administration had produced the low-budget thriller, but left it for airing during the new president’s prime time.

In turn, for John Kennedy the Bay of Pigs reaffirmed everything he suspected about military incompetence—something he may have witnessed firsthand on lonely patrols among the choppy waters around the Solomon Islands during World War II. He might have devoured James Bond novels and bought into the myths of the Green Berets, but he also had qualities, in the words of social critic Paul Fussell, of a “pissed-off infantryman,” a junior officer who thought the military brass had conducted the war to gloss their reputations—at the expense of those at the sharp end. Kennedy had little love for Castro or the Cuban revolution, but his personal after-action account of that battle was to conclude that the more dangerous foe was his own government’s militarism. Talbot describes JFK raging after the Bay of Pigs: “I have got to do something about those CIA bastards.” Later JFK said about the Army: “They always give you their bullshit about their instant reaction and split-second timing, but it never works out. No wonder it’s so hard to win a war.”

The Bay of Pigs debacle may have ended Kennedy’s confidence in the Joint Chiefs and their intelligence brethren, but it did not cover the family’s political side bets that Castro-baiting was a way to carry Florida’s electoral votes. Jack thought of Cuba as a “good, safe menace” to be exploited for political gain. He assigned Bobby to monitor Operation Mongoose, yet another back channel tuned to a frequency that might somehow overthrow Castro’s regime, partly with the help of Mafia assassins. One reason, according to Talbot, that Bobby never took his conspiracy investigations too far publicly was the chance that they might have revealed not just his role in the CIA’s Cuban adventures, but the cooperation of the same mobsters whom Bobby had devoted his career to investigating. In an interview, former Kennedy Justice official Nicholas Katzenbach tells Talbot: “I think the idea he could be responsible for his brother’s death might be the most terrible idea imaginable.”

One tragedy of the Kennedy assassination is that while one part of JFK’s administration is prosecuting and deporting gangsters, other bureaus of the same government are recruiting exactly the same hit men to whack Castro. Indeed, Talbot concludes that one incentive for the mobsters to play Cuban games was the hope that it might earn them immunity from Robert Kennedy’s prosecutions. But its consequence was to align two rogue elements that hated the Kennedy administration—the anti-Castro wolf pack and the Mafia—and place them under the loose leadership of the CIA, which had its own elements that despised the president.

In a further tragic irony, after the Bay of Pigs, Jack had assigned Bobby to rein in the darker impulses of the CIA, where he would stop many mornings on the way to the Justice Department. Bobby, whom Adlai Stevenson nicknamed “the black prince,” was atop the house of cards in which both kings and jokers were wild.

According to Talbot, the Cuban missile crisis in October 1962 collapsed the deck. In exchange for the withdrawal of the Russian warheads, Kennedy pledged not to invade Cuba and decommissioned missiles in Turkey. Ironically, the confrontation brought Kennedy closer to Khrushchev, because both of whom felt themselves hostage to militarism. But it severed any civil relations the president had with certain intelligence and military circles. Air Force Gen. and Joint Chief Curtis LeMay said: “We had a chance to throw the Communists out of Cuba. But the administration was scared to death [the Russians] might shoot a missile at us.” Talbot develops this thesis: “For those militants who were part of the massive juggernaut organized to destroy the Castro regime, the peaceful resolution of the missile crisis was a betrayal worse than the Bay of Pigs.” The rogue elements, which Bobby and Jack thought could be maintained at a slow boil for political purposes, were suddenly steaming. Talbot concludes: “The assassination conspiracy against Castro—a three-headed Gorgon featuring the CIA on top, flanked by the Mafia and its Cuban accomplices—was again in motion.” Little wonder that on November 22, 1963, Bobby Kennedy called one of his own Cuban conspirators and said accusingly: “One of your guys did it.” Talbot adds that RFK might well have said: “One of my guys did it.”

Reading about the assassination, I sometimes get the feeling that chartered buses were shuttling gunmen to Dallas because, by November 1963, so many diverse elements saw their survival in Kennedy’s demise. “In the weeks preceding Dallas,” Talbot writes, “he was informed of two serious assassination plots against him—one in Chicago and the other in Tampa. We can now conclude that Kennedy was, in fact, being methodically stalked in the final weeks of his life.” Talbot describes many of the groups harboring murderous grievances, such as a New Orleans mobster, Carlos Marcello, whom Bobby Kennedy was trying to deport: “Marcello told his visitors that he had made up his mind that President Kennedy had to go, but his assassination had to be arranged in such a way that a ‘nut’ would be set up to take the blame—‘the way they do it in Sicily.’”

Talbot also delves into Kennedy family history to explain how some of these confrontations had evolved, writing about Joseph Kennedy Sr.’s liquor dealings with the mob and Bobby’s later crusade against racketeering: “In his role as the scourge of organized crime, Bobby had found a way to combine his father’s raging will with his mother’s religious purity. But Joe Kennedy knew how dangerous an enterprise this was.” Talbot interviews the author Gore Vidal, who was related to Jacqueline Kennedy and was a friend of Jack’s: “The tragedy was Joe Kennedy getting a stroke,” Vidal said. “He could have settled the problem with the Mafia in two minutes.”

Because Robert Kennedy was not a witness to his brother’s killing, he did not testify before the Warren Commission, officially called The President’s Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, which emphasizes the extent to which Lyndon Johnson handpicked its members and dictated its conclusions. Publicly, Bobby accepted its findings. Privately, he agreed with the thoughts of his Harvard roommate. Ken O’Donnell called the Warren Commission “the most pointless investigation I’ve ever seen.”

Among the many flaws in the composition and mandate of the Warren Commission, the most glaring is that the committee lacked investigative powers. It was at the mercy of the CIA and the FBI to conduct its investigation, and both organizations had a lot to hide. The CIA, for example, refused to reveal the extent to which it had collaborated with organized crime to try to assassinate Castro. Nor did it reveal the files it had on contacts with Lee Oswald, dating to his time in the Soviet Union. Likewise, the FBI had similar interests and files on Oswald’s bizarre movements and affiliations. Talbot writes: “In the days following the assassination, [CIA Director John] McCone would conclude that there had been two shooters in Dallas, in striking contrast to the official version of the crime of a lone gunman, which was being ardently promoted by Hoover and the FBI.” In their own ways, for their own institutional reasons, both agencies preferred cover-up over truth in answering the question that National Book Award novelist, Don DeLillo, raises in Libra: “Who arranged the life of Lee Harvey Oswald?”

Despite being “one of the first—and among the staunchest—believers in a conspiracy,” Robert Kennedy did little to encourage those challenging the lone-gunman orthodoxy. He had little time for New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison, who was, according to Talbot, “shining light on a crucial corner of the conspiracy—a world of zealous CIA plotters, Cuban expatriates, far-right militants, and mercenaries, where President Kennedy was considered a traitor.” Bobby’s gumshoe, Walt Sheridan, did not trust or like Garrison, who placed Oswald, during the summer of 1963, in the company of such Camp Street lowlifes as Guy Banister and David Ferrie. Bobby may also have resented Garrison for disrupting Kennedy’s grand plan, to go public with his conspiracy conclusions only after he had become president. In turn, Garrison could never understand Bobby’s reluctance to join forces and track down the assassins. “If they killed my brother,” Garrison said, “I’d be in the alley waiting for them with a steak knife, not sitting at the Kennedy Center watching a ballet with them.”

Robert Kennedy, like other conspiracists, did not believe that his government could ever tell the truth about JFK’s assassination. Hence his decision, according to Talbot, to seek the presidency, in part so that he could mobilize the full powers of the executive branch to chase assassins. Nevertheless, when he was finishing his term as attorney general and later in the Senate, Robert showed little passion for bringing government power against those he privately suspected of complicity in the crime. (His initial timetable was to run in 1972, nine years after Dallas.) Talbot writes wistfully that had Bobby reconciled even a little his hard feelings toward Lyndon Johnson, and had the two men worked together, it might have been possible to come closer to the truth about what happened in Dallas. Talbot believes Johnson had too many conflicts of interest to delve deeply into the assassination. The murder—in his home state, in his presence—had made him president of the United States. Talbot speculates that Johnson now faced the prospect that the truth might force his hand to confront Russia or Cuba with nuclear weapons. Better, in that case, to have Earl Warren round up a usual suspect.

As admirable and articulate as I find Talbot’s writing and sense of history, on a personal level I wish I did not have to confront the conclusions in Brothers. I was 9 years old when President Kennedy was killed. I had seen him in person a month before and found it difficult to reconcile the memory of his bright red hair and wide smile with the grainy images of sudden death beamed up from Dallas. Similarly, I was 14—about the same age as Talbot—when Robert Kennedy was assassinated. Several months before he was shot, I had met him in a small group, the only boy in a group of League of Women Voters. He took a few minutes to chat with me about school and sports. I got the news of his shooting on my bedside radio one hot summer morning, as I was dressing for school. Since then, I have never needed to be reminded of either assassination.

After the deaths of the two Kennedys, I managed to steer clear of various assassination theories. I own few of the 2,000 books on the events in Dallas. Without a lot of facts, I accepted Oswald’s lone-gunman guilt as an article of faith, though if ever asked about the Warren Commission, I compared the probability of its conclusions to that of the Immaculate Conception. I managed, nevertheless, to avoid dwelling on the SBT (Single Bullet Theory or the so-called Magic Bullet), Hoover’s evidence of a second Oswald, the strange CIA disinformation of David Phillips, or the congressional transcripts of gangland’s Santos Trafficante’s testimony. I did, however, visit Dallas on occasion, and sometimes drove through Dealey Plaza. I went to the Texas School Book Depository Museum, inspected the sniper’s lair of scattered boxes, and imagined the sight lines of a Grassy Knoll Shooter. The visits to Dealey Plaza made me think Oswald could never have killed Kennedy from his depository window (it’s a long way, over trees, into a moving a car), but that a fatal shot from the knoll lined up both with autopsy forensics, the Zapruder film, and eyewitness testimony.

With Talbot’s book in hand, I have also been forced to think about his conclusions and, by extension, those of the thousands of conspiracists: If more than three shots were fired in Dallas, then the president was attacked by at least two gunmen, and thus was the target of a concerted effort to overthrow the head of government. Further, if the Warren Commission whitewashed evidence of rebellion, then the U.S. has been living for almost 50 years on the stage sets of democracy, unwilling to confront such banana republican principles as the belief that electoral happiness can be found with a warm gun.

A subtext in Talbot’s argument is that John Kennedy was killed for his opposition to the militarism that led to Vietnam, Granada, Iran-Contra, and finally the Sunni Triangle of Iraq. Obviously the mixed record of JFK’s foreign policy—with its deployment of special forces and covert operations in places like Indochina and the Caribbean—contradicts the thesis that Kennedy was killed only because he believed in pacifism. But it is impossible to read Talbot’s account of the Bay of Pigs or the Cuban missile crisis and believe that JFK would have given the Joint Chiefs a blank check in Vietnam. He quotes a 1954 statement that Kennedy made on intervention: “I am frankly of the belief that no amount of American military assistance in Indochina can conquer an enemy which is everywhere and at the same time nowhere, an ‘enemy of the people’ which has the sympathy and covert support of the people.”

The fact that I am loitering with skepticism near the Grassy Knoll or reviewing the confessions of E. Howard Hunt and James Files does not mean I am ready to blame JFK’s death on the mob, the CIA, Lyndon Johnson, anti-Castro elements, J. Edgar Hoover, Clay Shaw, right-wing extremists, or Lee Oswald. (Sadly, we need all the government documents and yet another investigation, with the most modern forensics. This time the Internet guys can run it.) At the same time, Talbot’s book has let me embrace the empiricism of the conspiracists, who bring to the democracy something absent in the Warren Commission: common sense and inquiring minds. It’s too bad their energy cannot be harnessed to understand the murky shadows of the USA Patriot Act, the budget deficit, the war in Iraq, and Social Security’s impending bankruptcy.

Matthew Stevenson is a contributing editor to Harper’s Magazine. His books can be purchased at He is the cohost of The Travel Hour, a radio program.
My thanks to Matthew Stevenson for allowing The Existentialist Cowboy to "reprint" his excellent review above. Following are videos that I felt might speak directly to today's world and domestic politcial situaiton.

John F. Kennedy's Prophetic Message

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Discovery Institute, Free Republic Pimp Intelligent Design, Attack Their Own Strawmen

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

Free Republic and Discovery Institute are using the same words to attack their own strawman --a so-called "Wedge Document" exposing the tactics of Intelligent Design partisans. "A giant urban legend", they call it. They flatter themselves. I only heard about it on their websites in which the same article is run word for word. No one on the "left"would have written it and even the Freep says the Discovery Institute is the culprit.

A better word than giant is "conservative circle jerk"! What's typical of this camp fire coziness is the mutual satisfaction both conservative entities hope to get by blaming others for their idiocy.

All is done in the name of their search for absolute knowledge, a fool's errand if there ever was one. Warning: don't be fooled by the link on Freep that says "Evolution News". It goes straight to a Discovery Institute shill site, a "front" that has nothing to do with real or scientific theories about evolution. It's a typical right wing bait and switch.

Some background on this farce. Not too long ago a so-called "Wedge Document" outlined a plan by Intelligent Design (ID) proponents to subvert American education, science and the humanities. The document was roundly disowned by the right wing even though the document outlined a campaign that ID proponents had, in fact, embarked upon. Free Republic themselves attribute the document to the Discovery Institute which had apparently eschewed it only to recant later when pinned down. Now --both sites blame the left! But for what? No one on the left wrote it and Freep still attributes the document to Discovery. But the left is supposed to have fallen for it!! Stop me, my sides are hurting!

It is fair to characterize Intelligent Design [ID] itself as nothing more than a public relations campaign.
In 1999 someone posted on the internet an early fundraising proposal for discovery Institute’s Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture. Dubbed the “Wedge Document,” this proposal soon took on a life of its own, popping up in all sorts of places and eventually spawning what can only be called a giant urban legend. Among true-believers on the Darwinist fringe the document came to be viewed as evidence for a secret conspiracy to fuse religion with science and impose a theocracy. These claims were so outlandish that for a long time we simply ignored them. But because some credulous Darwinists seem willing to believe almost anything, we decided we should set the record straight.

--Free Republic: Discovery Institute's “Wedge Document”: How Darwinist Paranoia Fueled an Urban Legend

I have news for "Free Republic". Telling me what I already know does not refute me. Repeating what so-called "Darwinists" know about the ID movement hardly amounts to a broadside. The freeper site, in fact, borrows its post verbatim from the discovery Institute (or is the other way 'round?). I can hardly call the freepers unbiased. At last, the only refutation of what were, in fact, ID tactics amounts to mere labeling, name-calling, typical of the ilk. If the "Wedge Document" is an "Urban Legend" it is only so among the stooges of the right wing, the circle jerk, the closed loop of equally closed minds. Until I stumbled upon the pair of them, I had never heard of the damn thing!

The discovery of "Wedge Document" itself means that someone created it even as the ID movement discredited itself. The ID movement has always been a mere PR campaign, perhaps the very campaign described and revealed by the "Wedge Document". That it might have been created to discredit one side or the other simply doesn't matter. Even before it was discovered, there was every reason to suppose that a subversive, anti-science sub-culture was overtly out to subvert the pursuit of truth itself anyway. The "Wedge Document" simply makes no difference one way or the other. ID is still creationism in fancy dress using big words.

That is the crux of it. ID proponents are all about content and ideology. The pursuit of truth, by contrast, is all about method and reason.
The Wedge Document is an internal memorandum from the discovery Institute (the leading proponent of Intelligent Designer "Theory") that was leaked to the Internet in 1999. The discovery Institute later admitted to its authenticity. Since then, discovery Institute hasn't talked very much about the document, or the strategy it outlines. The reason is crushingly obvious, since the Wedge Document makes it readily apparent that the discovery Institute is flat-out lying to us when it claims that its Intelligent Designer campaign is concerned only with science and does not have any religious aims, purpose or effect.

--Lenny Frank re: The "Wedge Document" [document reprinted on Frank's site]

Frank is entitled to his opinion. It is at least as good as the various opinions of the Discovery Institute and that's not saying much. Frank states that Discovery owned up to the document. But who cares? A movement is what a movement does and the tactics and methods of ID are the real issue. Those methods are precisely what makes ID not science.
...we are convinced that in order to defeat materialism, we must cut it off at its source. That source is scientific materialism. This is precisely our strategy. If we view the predominant materialistic science as a giant tree, our strategy is intended to function as a "wedge" that, while relatively small, can split the trunk when applied at its weakest points. The very beginning of this strategy, the "thin edge of the wedge," was Phillip Johnson's critique of Darwinism begun in 1991 in Darwinism on Trial, and continued in Reason in the Balance and Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds. Michael Behe's highly successful Darwin's Black Box followed Johnson's work. We are building on this momentum, broadening the wedge with a positive scientific alternative to materialistic scientific theories, which has come to be called the theory of intelligent design (ID). Design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.

--The Wedge Document

The "Wedge Document" reads like a right wing strategy paper.
  1. A major public debate between design theorists and Darwinists (by 2003)
  2. Thirty published books on design and its cultural implications (sex, gender issues, medicine, law, and religion)
  3. One hundred scientific, academic and technical articles by our fellows

  4. Significant coverage in national media:
    • Cover story on major news magazine such as Time or Newsweek

    • PBS show such as Nova treating design theory fairly
    • Regular press coverage on developments in design theory
    • Favorable op-ed pieces and columns on the design movement by 3rd party media
  5. Spiritual & cultural renewal:
    • Mainline renewal movements begin to appropriate insights from design theory, and to repudiate theologies influenced by materialism
    • Major Christian denomination(s) defend(s) traditional doctrine of creation & repudiate(s)
    • Darwinism Seminaries increasingly recognize & repudiate naturalistic presuppositions
    • Positive uptake in public opinion polls on issues such as sexuality, abortion and belief in God
    • Ten states begin to rectify ideological imbalance in their science curricula & include design theory
  6. Scientific achievements:
    • An active design movement in Israel, the UK and other influential countries outside the US
    • Ten CRSC Fellows teaching at major universities
    • Two universities where design theory has become the dominant view
    • Design becomes a key concept in the social sciences Legal reform movements base legislative proposals on design theory
ACTVITIESResearch Fellowship Program (for writing and publishing) (2) Front line research funding at the "pressure points" (e.g., Daul Chien's Chengjiang Cambrian Fossil Find in paleontology, and Doug Axe's research laboratory in molecular biology)(3) Teacher training (4) Academic Conferences (5) Opinion-maker Events & Conferences (6) Alliance-building, recruitment of future scientists and leaders, and strategic partnerships with think tanks, social advocacy groups, educational organizations and institutions, churches, religious groups, foundations and media outlets (7) Apologetics seminars and public speaking (8) Op-ed and popular writing (9) Documentaries and other media productions (10) Academic debates (11) Fund Raising and Development (12) General Administrative support
This is not the way science is conducted. Science does not hire PR firms, recently called "think tanks" for PR reasons. Science does not try to sell you on relativity, evolution, quantum physics or string theory. Science is ever self-correcting. Science is not an ideology, it is a method and a process. Science is not a set of shibboleths to which you must pay obeisance or pledge allegiance. Science cannot, by definition, ever become a cult, a religion or an entrenched ideology. What might be a working hypothesis today may be disproved tomorrow. Intelligent Design is "creationism" written with jargon. It is hardly intelligent, considerably ideological, and most certainly disingenuous. It is defined by its "content", a dogma sold politically. It is not and cannot be science. The "Wedge Document" proves, forever, the un-scientific nature of "Intelligent Design".

The Wedge Document is at odds with ethics based upon the pursuit of truth. In the empiricist tradition, at the very core of America's founding, we inherit a methodology, an ongoing activity by which verifiable truths may be discovered and weighed according to the evidence. Those who carry this banner include John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and James Madison. Among the more recent, less popularly known philosophers are A.J. Ayer and a panoply of logical positivists who value the quest itself as opposed to a pre-conceived end result.

Not content to write for academia and other philosophers, Bertrand Russell would reach a wider public with The Problems of Philosophy (1912) and, his nobel prize winning, A History of Western Philosophy (1945), in which Russell explores the idea that western civilization is essentially Greek civilization. Russell did not arbitrarily separate education from the pressing issues of the day; rather, he linked progress in education with social progress in general. He is famous for debunking fallacy, propaganda, and, most memorably, superstition and religion. He thought widespread superstition to have unwelcome social consequences. It is tragic that American society did not take to heart Russell`s simple admonition:
I wish to propose for the reader's favorable consideration a doctrine which may, I fear, appear wildly paradoxical and subversive. The doctrine in question is this: that it is undesirable to believe a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true.
That simple doctrine might have replaced political ideologies of all sorts in America. Language, Truth and Logic by A.J. Ayer should be required reading in American high schools. It is the defining explanation of the "verifiability criterion of meaning" --the cornerstone of logical positivism.

Ayer identifies the characteristics of "significant propositions" -- propositions which purport to contain real and meaningful information about the world i.e, verifiable information. It is the ability to state, at least in theory, the conditions under which a proposition may be shown to be either true or false. In a world in which no one has a monopoly on truth but many are willing to pervert it, it is essential that we think clearly about what can be proven and what is just meaningless bunkum.

Ayer's "Logical Positivism" is seen by many to be lacking the "human touch", thought by some to be untenable from a practical standpoint, "Godless" by various ideologies. It is, in fact, the logical basis of empiricism, the antidote to ideology.

In the work of Jacob Bronowski we find a critique of "logical positivism", a critique that saves it from itself. In his Science and Human Values, Bronowski points out a social injunction implied in Ayer's analytical methods, It takes the following form:
"We ought to act in such a way that what is true can be verified to be so."
In the activity of pure science, there is, then, an ethic. Bronowski writes even more convincingly about verification, culture and civilization than about symbols and formal systems.
This is the act of creation, in which an original thought is born, and it is the same act in original science and original art. But it is not therefore the monopoly of the man who wrote the poem or who made the discovery. On the contrary, I believe this view of the creative act to be right because it alone gives a meaning to the act of appreciation.


'The society of scientists is simple because it has a directing purpose: to explore the truth. Nevertheless, it has to solve the problem of every society, which is to find a compromise between man and men. It must encourage the single scientist to be independent, and the body of scientists to be tolerant. From these basic conditions, which form the prime values, there follows step by step a range of values: dissent, freedom of thought and speech, justice, honour, human dignity and self-respect.'

--J. Brownowski, Science and Human Values, New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1965, p. 11.

Bronowski's critique derives an ethic from the practice of science, an ethic based upon what science does, not what scientists themselves believe. Bronowski places the foundations of Western Civilization upon an existentialist affirmation --a single value, the pursuit of truth itself. This value is not itself subject to proof. It is chosen. It is an existential choice, one that Jean-Paul Sartre himself might have made. It was Sartre, after all, who summed it up: "A man is nothing else but what he makes of himself". Eariler, Voltaire: "I have no name but the name that I have made for myself". And with that, we come full circle to Bertrand Russell's belief that the discipline he found in Ancient Greece --the pure pursuit of truth --is at the very foundations of our culture.

I found another take on Bronowski and Clark. It is from the nationally syndicated Engines of Our Ingenuity hosted by my good friened, Dr. John Lienhard of The University of Houston's College of Engineering.
Clark and Bronowski converge on hope, they converge on belief, they converge on the pervasive unity of the human species. Of course both are wary. In the end, Bronowski says,
We are all afraid ... That is the nature of the human imagination. Yet [we have] gone forward. ...
And a worried Kenneth Clark, facing the social upheaval of the late '60s, says (as much to himself as to us),
... civilization has been a series of rebirths. Surely this should give us confidence in ourselves.
They both clearly assert our capacity for saving ourselves. They realize that technology, science, and the other arts have always converged upon our problems. And they surely remain our only real hope in troubled times.

-Dr. John Lienhard, Engines of Our Ingenuity, No. 1880: Clark and Bronowski

Bronowski, who understood science as well as art, wrote a perfect synthesis of both sides of the human brain, this perfect description of the cultural role that is often played by science. He embraces its contradiction and transcends it in another paradigm. At a time when modern philosophy had consigned human values to the realm of meaninglessness, Bronowski, conjoined them in a supreme act of creativity.

Bronowski is best known for his monumental Ascent of Man, a series that he wrote and hosted for the BBC. In thirteen episodes, Bronowski traced the evolution of human society. Many characterize this monumental achievement as refuting Kenneth Clark's earlier Civilization series. That criticism misunderstand both Bronowski and Clark. I prefer to think of both efforts as book ends on a single shelf.

Despite fallacious assertions by the Wedge Document amid even more absurd behavior by the likes of Free Republic and the Discovery Institute, it has fallen to secular minds to advance the spirit of inquiry. It is during those times in which we lose confidence in our progress that humankind seems eager to seek out comforting or religious ideologies. Russell, who connected broad departures from ancient priesthoods originating in Greece with the emerging spirit of science taking shape over centuries of European history, also saw in an anti-democratic authoritarianism a persistent threat which would in his lifetime result in fascism and Nazism.
"There is over a large part of the earth's surface something not unlike a reversion to the ancient Egyptian system of divine kingship, controlled by a new priestly caste. Although this tendency has not gone so far in the West as it has in the east, it has, nevertheless, gone to lengths which would have astonished the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries both in England and in America. Individual initiative is hemmed in either by the state or by powerful corporations, and there is a great danger lest this should produce, as in ancient Rome, a kind of listlessness and fatalism that is disastrous to vigorous life.

I am constantly receiving letters saying: 'I see that the world is in a bad state, but what can one humble person do? Life and property are at the mercy of a few individuals who have the decision as to peace or war. Economic activities on any large scale are determined by those who govern either the state or the large corporations. Even where there is nominally democracy, the part which one citizen can obtain in controlling policy is usually infinitesimal. Is it not perhaps better in such circumstances to forget public affairs and get as much enjoyment by the way as the times permit?' I find such letters very difficult to answer, and I am sure that the state of mind which leads to their being written is very inimical to a healthy social life.

As a result of mere size, government becomes increasingly remote from the governed and tends, even in a democracy, to have an independent life of its own. I do not profess to know how to cure this evil completely, but I think it is very important to recognize its existence and to search for ways of diminishing its magnitude."

-Bertrand Russell, Authority and the Individual, p. 18-19:
The most moving moment in the Ascent of Man occurred in an episode entitled: 'Knowledge or Certainty'. In it, Bronowski visited Auschwitz where many members of his family had died.

We have to cure ourselves of the itch for absolute knowledge and power. We have to close the distance between the push-button order and the human act. We have to touch people.

Jacob Bronowski,"Ascent of Man"

Monday, August 20, 2007

Bush Losing Conservative Support, Faces "historical obliteration"

The Free Republic advertises itself as a forum for a "grassroots" conservative movement. As such, it has been the source for much odious GOP, conservative ideology and propaganda. These are folk who still believe Saddam planned 911, even though Bush himself blamed al Qaeda. But when contributors to Free Republic start using words like "historical obliteration", Bush's hard core should pay attention.
TheHill | July 11, 2007 | Dick Morris

Are they traitors or prophets, these Republicans who have jumped ship and called for Bush to begin pulling out of Iraq

Sens. George Voinovich (Ohio), Richard Lugar (Ind.), John Warner (Va.), and Pete Domenici (N.M.)? More likely the latter. A look at the political map and the electoral calendar tells us that GOP Sens. Arlen Specter (Pa.), Norm Coleman (Minn.), Olympia Snowe (Maine), Susan Collins (Maine), Chuck Hagel (Neb.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Gordon Smith (Ore.) are probably not far behind them............."

If you haven’t been counting, that comes to 11 Republican defections —enough to force a vote even if the Dems lose Joe Lieberman (Conn.). A veto override? Add in the likes of marginal-state GOP senators like John Thune (S.D.), Kit Bond (Mo.), John Ensign (Nev.), Chuck Grassley (Iowa) and a handful of others and it’s possible. Retiring Sen. Wayne Allard (R-Colo.) might just do his party a favor on his way out.

The Republican senators are coming to realize that Bush needs to begin to pull out to save his party, even if it puts Iraq at risk. With the president’s favorability down to 29 percent in the USA Today poll, and 26 percent in Newsweek, the party leaders are coming to realize that they are not planning to join Bush in retirement — at least not yet — and that unless he begins the pullout, the GOP cannot hold on to the White House.

--Bush will have to pull out of Iraq, or face historical obliteration

And here --a soupcon of conservative disillusionment.
Bush is the biggest problem of all. He doesn’t look or sound like he’s in charge. The American people can sense a vacuum of leadership. I stuck up for Bush for many years on this, but my gut tells me there will be some juicy books written about this period that reveal how much influence Cheney had over this process.


The tide has turned-big time. Ask the troops on the ground. There are marine units whose biggest problem now is boredom!...
Testy, are we?
I'm also worried about the next generation.

Yeah right. That's why you wanna hightail it out of the very place that Al Qaeda has identified as the central front in their war against us.
And the following I post with my refutations:
The long term ramifications for the World’s major powers are too great to just shove the Middle East aside. Oil is the life line of ours and their economies.
Therefore, we must suppose, it's OK to commit mass murder and steal the oil. More evidence in support of my thesis: "conservatism" is a mental illness. In theological terms: it is evil.
The War was never about winning but about prevention.
Indeed, it was. The "prevention" of peace.
Even if the Dems win they will have problems withdrawing from the Middle East.
Conservatives will then blame Democrats for Bush's war. Democrats, meanwhile, would be better off supporting the worldwide movement to bring Bush and his conservative co-conspirators to justice for war crimes.

The issue that you should look at is how the war is being fought. Up until now the war and the politics were handled very poorly. It appears that some real progress is being made.
Indeed, there has been "progress". The civilian "kill count" is over one million and counting. Conservatives call this "progress".
Bush has not really explained what is going on and how it affects our true interests( or a very poor job of it).
There is a rational explanation. The man who read "three Shakespeares"in one weekend cannot put two words together meaningfully.
Islam is a religion of the sword that could easily dominate the whole region- they have done it before so they believe they can do it again.
Nevermind that it is their region. If Islam is the religion of the sword, then Christianity must surely be the religion of the nuke. Is there a difference? Perhaps, the body count.
It sounds so cool to cut and run.
A contradiction in terms. Nothing said by a "conservative" sounds cool. Still --cutting and running is preferable to staying, stealing and murdering.
If America fails who will be there to pick up the pieces( China, Russia, India)?
America is falling and the pieces are being picked up as we write. Thanks to the conservative idiots who were suckered by Bush.

Here's a gem:
Our politicians pulled out of Viet Nam and Cambodia and didn’t have to answer for it because the horror was not in your face 24 hours a day.

When we pull out of Iraq, it will be.
The horror of it is in our faces 24 hours a day now! But, I suppose that not having horror in your face makes it OK but only if you are of the "conservative" persuasion. The bottom line: even when conservatives are ocassionally correct, it is for wrong and immoral reasons.

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

The war on Iraq threatens the US Economy as mass murder ceases to be profitable

Seen yesterday on a swiss newspaper the folllowing headline: "American Dream, Global Nightmare". It is fast becoming an American "cauchemar" as well. Albert Einstein wrote that the purpose of socialism is to overcome and advance beyond a "predatory phase of human development". In Bush we have reverted to it. Bone headed GOP "trickle down economics" and imperial oil theft abroad threatens an economic train wreck, indeed, democracy itself. A new study confirms that military spending is an economic albatross, a depressing drag on the economy, that will increase joblessness, deprive millions more of an education. Military spending and Pentagon waste soak up federal monies better spent on education, infrastructure, and job creation. Pentagon waste takes monies out of circulation and depresses the economy. Only a tiny part of the economy will benefit --the filthy rich already bought and paid for by Bush's unfair, inequitable tax cuts for what he called "his base". Wealth does not trickle down. [See: The Politics of Rich and Poor: Wealth and the American Electorate in the Reagan Aftermath, Kevin Phillips; and a Hat Tip to Vierotchka re: Swiss headline]

A militarized society is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Much is made of the fact that the military provides opportunities for high school dropouts, the disadvantaged who might not otherwise get an education or a job. The military, it is said, takes these poor folk off the streets. Indeed, it takes them off the street and puts them in the line of fire in wars of naked aggression where suicide rates speak to the issue of our immoral position in Iraq. Moreover, had not the military, by soaking up the lions share of all federal spending, more monies might have been budgeted for truly productive programs like education and training. What is to be said about a society that finds it necessary to send young people off to die in immoral wars in order to get them employed and off the streets?
The Chinese government has begun a concerted campaign of economic threats against the United States, hinting that it may liquidate its vast holding of US treasuries if Washington imposes trade sanctions to force a yuan revaluation.

Two officials at leading Communist Party bodies have given interviews in recent days warning - for the first time - that Beijing may use its $1.33 trillion (£658bn) of foreign reserves as a political weapon to counter pressure from the US Congress.

Shifts in Chinese policy are often announced through key think tanks and academies.

Described as China's "nuclear option" in the state media, such action could trigger a dollar crash at a time when the US currency is already breaking down through historic support levels.

It would also cause a spike in US bond yields, hammering the US housing market and perhaps tipping the economy into recession. It is estimated that China holds over $900bn in a mix of US bonds.

China threatens 'nuclear option' of dollar sales, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

The Reagan/Bush Formula is simplistic and simple-minded: increase defense spending while cutting taxes for the rich. Reagan did not pioneer the formula. It had already been used to disastrous effect by the GOP cabal preceding the Great Depression. It did not work for Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover and it did not work for Ronald Reagan. Nor has it has worked for Bush. Does the GOP have an endemic learning problem that in some 100 years, they still don't get it? We would call a doctor an idiot if he told you just keep on doing whatever it is that's making you sick!

The tax cut is properly blamed for Reagan's infamous recession of some two years in which millions were out of a job and out of luck. In prosperous Houston, thousands of the recently affluent lost their suburban homes only to live under overpasses and improvised tents. Bush has made all the same blunders, all the same mistakes.

In his Decline and Fall of the American Empire, Gore Vidal called the Pentagon an "economic black hole". Indeed, there is vindication for that position in a study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research. The study makes a convincing case that military spending has the effect of depressing the economy.
  • After an initial demand stimulus, the effect of increased military spending turns negative around the sixth year. After 10 years of higher defense spending, there would be 464,000 fewer jobs than in the baseline scenario with lower defense spending.

  • Inflation and interest rates are considerably higher. After 5 years, the interest rate on 10-Year Treasury notes is projected to be 0.7 percentage points higher than in the baseline scenario. After 10 years, the gap would rise to 0.9 percentage points.

  • Higher interest rates lead to reduced demand in the interest-sensitive sectors of the economy. After 5 years, annual car and truck sales are projected to go down by 192,200 in the high military spending scenario. After 10 years, the drop is projected to be 323,300 and after 20 years annual sales are projected to be down 731,400.

  • Construction and manufacturing are the sectors that are projected to experience the largest shares of the job loss.

  • --Center for Economic and Policy Research: The Economic Impact of the Iraq War and Higher Military Spending
One is tempted to make an analogy with pre-depression America, dominated by GOP presidents Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover, all of whom are identified with laissez-faire capitalism. During the Roaring Twenties, Americans danced the Charleston and the Black Bottom (don't ask!) and played the stock market. Someone wrote a paper about how easy it was to get rich. When it all all came crashing down, a famous pop tune summed it all up: "Brother, Can you Spare a Dime?"

GOP regimes slashed taxes and regulations; monopolies were winked at if not encouraged. It was an era characterized, as was Reagan's administration, by great inequalities in income and wealth. The US was on the Gold Standard and the Fed maintained a tight money policy. The Great Depression is still a great source of GOP embarrassment but apparently insufficient to inspire a change of policy. Sure enough, Reagan's tax cut of 1982 benefited only the very rich.

With respect to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan specifically, CEPR commissioned Global Insight, economic forecasting company, to create a macro-economic model that would simulate the impact that an increase in annual US military spending might have on the economy. With an increase of 1 percent of GDP, the simulation demonstrates higher interest rates, reduced net exports, depressed housing construction and car sales, and a slower job creation rate. In other words --an economic slowdown. If not stopped --recession, depression.

There is much to be learned form the Roman experience. Roman legions had not always been the professional hard core types we see in spectacular movies like The Fall of the Roman Empire in the '60s or the more recent Gladiator. Legions of the Republic were most often laborers, shopkeeper or farmers. I doubt that any of them benefited or profited in any way from Rome's increased militarism. Often --whenever a war du jour was over --a returning legionnaire would find that his farm had been confiscated by an aristocrat who had seized it for back taxes (presumably) and had converted into a villa or a vineyard or both. Eventually, ordinary jobs were out-sourced to slaves from the far flung reaches of empire and it is not hard to imagine unemployment rising as the Republic became Empire and as the empire became a military dictatorship. It easy enough to imagine Rome's poor, out of work, hungry, in need of weapons of mass distraction i.e, bread and circuses.

War was then as it is now --a racket, a lose-lose deal for everyone but the very, very rich, the military/industrial complex.

GOP politicians are known to favor military bases and local folk often think it a plus when a base locates near them. Merchants have visions of easy sales. But what hope is there for a small town having the misfortune to be the location of a nearby base as well as a nearby Wal-Mart? I would think it time to "up sticks" and move on.

Job are said to be created wherever military bases are established. Indeed, base towns often spring up around a base but disappear when bases are closed. Many have been closed over the last twenty years or so. Many not closed were scaled down. There was a time when local merchants jacked up prices upon word of increases in military pay. But, on the whole, the creation of bases leaves much to be desired as a way of stimulating or even creating an economy. Better to have a smaller town with a healthy local economy than a "tent" city following or dependent upon bases.

Nixon, upon embarking upon a federal deficit, is said to have remarked: "We are all Keynesians now". Even those politicians running on platforms of "fiscal restraint" or "balancing the budget" love deficits for the votes and financial support it buys them. It was an easy way to buy votes without having to pay for them out of your own pocket. Democrats, sadly, could never make up in sheer numbers, the dollars lost kissing up to the GOP. Most politicians are eager to run up deficits. It is instructive that the highest deficits have been run up by politicians espousing smaller government and balanced budgets. Mssrs Reagan and Bush are two out of a multitude.

I stated recently that a nation could boot strap its GDP in the short term by going to war but this a very, very cynical move. As the study cited points out, the gain is ephemeral. Alas --GDP is only a number. It doesn't tell you how many are employed in creating it; nor does it tell you to whom the benefits of higher GDP will "trickle".

If the likes of Reagan and Bush are determined to run up ever higher deficits, then, at the very least, the American people should demand a better return on investment. The point of the articles cited, however, would indicate that after about five or six years, the return on war is ever diminishing. Profits made murdering people are short lived. Past a certain point, there is nothing more to be gained by piling up more bodies. In the language of economics, mass murder will have reached the point of diminishing returns.

That there is no more booty for Bush to make with Murder, Inc raises another question that you will not find asked or answered in the MSM. That is, what was/is the rationale for Bush's campaign of torture? Are there not more effective ways of stealing oil? Certainly, a near mass torture program embarked upon by this would-be "President" has enriched but only a few perverts like Blackwater and other anonymous, shadowy friends of the CIA. Nor can it be supposed or imagined that torture has in any way made the theft of Iraqi oil easier, but rather, harder! Then --why is Bush doing it? Is it done for the sake of perversion alone? Is the American government peopled with perverts and sadists? What is the return on the investment this nation has made perpetrating sexual perversions on and to the people of Iraq? Is the Bush regime America's first whacked-out, perverted government? Is Bush the Crawford Caligula? What has the nation gotten for the jollies Bush and his GOP conspirators got off?

As Gore Vidal said of the monies spent building a tank, the Iraq war is a fiscal black hole. Even if the oil fields are seized and secured, it will benefit only Halliburton, Exxon-Mobil and other Bush partners. Little if any of this money will trickle down. Nor should you expect prices at the pump to fall. Since Ronald Reagan popularized "trickle down" thinking, wealth has consistently trickled up.

Back to Vidal's parable of the tank. Once built the economic benefits of building the tank are over. The tank never returns a dime. We have seen how US military forces have used the tank in Iraq ---to shoot at civilians at random, to run over and smash cars owned by Iraqi civilians! Where is the money in killing and harassing for pure "sport"?

The same amount of money spent building schools and educating children is a real investment in a nation's future. Monies diverted to military expenditures almost never come home but the blow-back from imperialism and torture is called "terrorism".

Even David Stockman recanted the years he spent shilling for Reagan. He eventually called supply side economics (trickle down theory) a fraud, specifically "a Trojan Horse" and blamed a "noisy faction of Republicans" for its rise.

To be sure, US production doubled between 1939 and 1944. But there is nothing in Keynes or any other economist that would support the idea that only military spending will do the trick. The issue, rather, is how are the deficits to be spent? How is the wealth to be distributed? But for a short period of time in Clinton's second term (check the Census Bureau, Dr. Daniel Weinberg), the incomes of the very, very rich have increased exponentially and to the detriment of every other group and to the detriment of our economic health as a whole.

Weinberg's brief of 1997 was the first and only good news on that front since Ronald Reagan cut taxes for filthy rich folk back in 1982. Under Bush, the bad old days are back, perhaps to stay. This is not what Keynes had in mind. The pump is not primed if the filthy rich are hoarding their gains. In the end, the house of cards will collapse.

Again--I cite Rome. I have alluded to the domestic effects of Rome's foreign adventures and occupations. Like the US since WWII, Rome became addicted to war. It is instructive that at Adrianople, Valen's army was composed entirely of legionaries from conquered provinces. The bottom line might have looked good in a very general sense but the benefits of empire were confined to a handful of filthy rich aristocrats in Rome. You may have read my allusion to Didius Julianus in a previous article. My thesis, based upon what is known about that incident and reported by Gibbon is that Rome's currency had already collapsed. When the Roman Empire was sold at auction, it was done so in Greek currency --not Roman. The smart money had dumped the sestertius. When Bush auctions off America, will it be sold in Euros? The US is most certainly at a point comparable to that of Rome of about 190 AD. China is already threatening to pull the plug on the ever weakening US dollar.

Bush also learned from his grandfather that there is big money -- a killing in fact --in the industrial murder business. Our own Treasury Department is the source for the following information about how US corporations, primarily US Steel, for whom Prescott Bush was banker, helped Hitler arm and wage war on the world while carrying out mass murder throughout Europe. US steel produced the following percentages of war munitions for Hitler and his Nazi war lords: Pig iron 50.8%; Pipe & tubes 45.5%; Universal plate 41.4%; Galvanized sheet 38.5%; Heavy plate 36%; Explosives 35%; Wire 22.1%.
George Bush's grandfather, the late US senator Prescott Bush, was a director and shareholder of companies that profited from their involvement with the financial backers of Nazi Germany.

The Guardian has obtained confirmation from newly discovered files in the US National Archives that a firm of which Prescott Bush was a director was involved with the financial architects of Nazism.

His business dealings, which continued until his company's assets were seized in 1942 under the Trading with the Enemy Act, has led more than 60 years later to a civil action for damages being brought in Germany against the Bush family by two former slave labourers at Auschwitz and to a hum of pre-election controversy.

How Bush's grandfather helped Hitler's rise to power

Bush also learned how to outsource murder and atrocity in ways that benefit his right wing supporters. It's called "private enterprise" but in reality it's a form of socialism, farming out work to partners, robber barons, death merchants and hired murderers like Blackwater, a gang of paid thugs whom National Public Radio charges has strong connections with America's radical, religious, fascist right wing.
NPR: The war in Iraq has been partly out-sourced to private military contractors which are performing many of the services that used to be done by the military. My guest, Jeremy Scahill, has written a book about one of those companies, Blackwater, which he describes as "the world's most mercenary army and the embodiment of the Bush administration policy of privatizing military functions." The company, which was founded in 1996, made headlines in 2004 when four of its men were ambushed and set on fire by Sunni gunmen in Fallujah. The charred remains of two of the men were hung on a bridge for public display. The families of the four men are suing Blackwater for wrongful death, raising a lot of questions about accountability and oversight when private contractors play a major role in war. Jeremy Scahill is a Polk Award-winning journalist who is a frequent contributor to The Nation and a correspondent for the radio and TV show, "Democracy Now." Jeremy Scahill -- if you wanted to write about a private military contractor, why did you focus on Blackwater?

--Blackwater: USA in Fallujah

Wars are a quick and shallow fix! The Iraq war has not had a beneficial effect on the US economy. Only a very few are paid well these days and they are paid handsomely. Everyone else lives paycheck to paycheck, doing well to pay the mortgage, to put food "on your family", and keep a car in the garage. Many throughout the world would envy that lifestyle were it not a "Truman Show" financed with borrowed money and China's evil motives for propping up the dollar. As Charles Fort once said of the possibility of extraterrestrial aliens, "I think we are property". American industry is out-sourced but there is always a slave wage to be made at Wal-Mart if you are willing to become a slave of the evil empire, if you are willing to become "property".

Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?

Donald Duck in "Der Fuhrer's Face"

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