resident bush: because the sheeple never learn.

He’s A Giver!

Although the poor man has recently lost more than twenty-five percent of his net worth and is down to his last fourteen billion dollars, Charles Koch remains as committed as ever to being recognized for his charitable work. Though he finds his uncharitable work far more rewarding, both emotionally and financially, he knows better than to share this lifelong passion with the general public. Give the people what they want!

“Prosperity is only possible in a system where property rights are clearly and properly defined and protected, people are free to speak, exchange, and contract, and prices are free to guide beneficial action.” — Charles G. Koch

More Dead Chugach Natives

More Dead Chugach Natives

from Greg Palast: Here are a few pit-stops on the oily trail of tears:

In the 1980s, Charles Koch was found to have pilfered about $3 worth of crude from Stanlee Ann Mattingly’s oil tank in Oklahoma. Here’s the weird part.

Koch was (and remains) the 14th richest man on the planet, worth about $14 billion. Stanlee Ann was a dirt-poor Osage Indian.

Stanlee Ann wasn’t Koch’s only victim. According to secret tape recordings of a former top executive of his company, Koch Industries, the billionaire demanded that oil tanker drivers secretly siphon a few bucks worth of oil from every tank attached to a stripper well on the Osage Reservation
where Koch had a contract to retrieve crude.

Koch, according to the tape, would, “giggle” with joy over the records of the theft. Koch’s own younger brother Bill ratted him out, complaining that, in effect, brothers Charles and David cheated him out of his fair share of the looting which totaled over three-quarters of a billion dollars from the Native lands.

The FBI filmed the siphoning with hidden cameras, but criminal charges were quashed after quiet objections from Republican senators.

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The 50 Top American Givers: Charles Koch focuses on libertarian causes, giving money for academic and public policy research and social welfare around strict conservative ideals. He co-founded the Cato Institute and contributes to groups such as the Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University. Other recipients of Koch’s charity include Florida State University, Mercatus Center at George Mason University, the Bill of Rights Institute, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Salvation Army, and Koch Cultural Trust (formerly Kansas Cultural Trust).

He’s a regular Robin Hood! Steal from the brown, give to the white — just the way God likes it…rb

May God Forgive Us

Kill and Die for Me

Kill and Die for Me

William Norman Grigg: Desertion is a moral imperative when continued service implicates a soldier in crimes against God and mankind. Indeed, there are times when desertion is a moral duty.

Yes, American enlistees swear an oath in God’s Name. Then again, so do Mafiosi. Nobody outside of that criminal fraternity considers it improper for a Mafia foot soldier to renounce his oath.

We applauded the courage of those who defected from the Red Army during its occupation of Afghanistan. (Interestingly, I don’t recall the correct term, “deserted,” being used to describe such cases.)

Apart from nationalistic special pleading, I can’t think of a way of framing an argument to justify the Soviet deserter while execrating an American stationed in Iraq or Afghanistan who follows the same course of action for the same reason: The triumph of conscience over programming.

While we should focus most of our hostile attention on the policymakers responsible for sending the military on imperial errands of that sort, we shouldn’t ignore the moral responsibility of every individual who enlists in the military and carries out the killing business such immoral policies entail.

Given the pervasive stench of imperial corruption exuded by all of our public institutions, I cannot understand how anybody possessing the moral equivalent of the sense of smell could enlist in the military, or remain therein – as if that particular organization enjoys some peculiar immunity from the decadence that afflicts the rest of the Regime.

Conservatives and others who revere the founders of our late Republic might recall that the men who won our independence and wrote the Constitution opposed a standing army, not only because it could be employed as an instrument of domestic tyranny, but also because it would offer irresistible opportunities for foreign adventurism. In this, as in so much else, the Founders’ wisdom has withstood the passage of time.

Yes, it’s entirely likely that releasing the photographs of torture and sexual assault – including homosexual rape and, God forgive us, the defilement of children – would lead to dangerous and potentially lethal complications for armed government employees who are killing people and destroying property in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, countries they invaded and continue to occupy by force.

If our rulers were genuinely concerned about danger to “our troops,” they would release the Abu Ghraib documents and bring the troops home. There – problem solved! Instead, they are illegally suppressing the photos and keeping the troops in the field – and now letting it be known that the U.S. military will remain mired in Mesopotamia (which is the more tractable of the two ongoing conflicts) for another decade or longer.

I suspect that the “danger” that preoccupies the ruling Establishment is not that confronted by the troops (about whom that Establishment cares little), but rather the danger potentially posed by those troops if enough of them escape the mental dungeon of official indoctrination and take a good, critical look at the people, institutions, and causes for which they’re hired to kill and die. Exposure to the abuse photos, and the battlefield consequences that would ensue, would tend to focus the mind in that direction.

An observation by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, who investigated the Abu Ghraib abuses, seems to underscore my point.

“I am not sure what purpose [releasing the 2,000 additional photos of prisoner abuse] would serve other than a legal one and the consequence would be to imperil our troops, the only protectors of our foreign policy – ”

Hold it right there: Taguba said “protectors of our foreign policy,” not “defenders of our independence” or “guardians of our liberties.” The foreign policy referred to entails open-ended entanglements in the affairs of nearly every nation on earth, as well as plundering huge sums from taxpayers to sustain a grotesquely huge military establishment and bribe political elites abroad.

That foreign policy cultivates misery and harvests war and terrorism. Why in God’s Name would any decent human being defend that foreign policy in the abstract, much less spill blood to implement it?

Although I wish harm or death on no human being, it seems to me a good idea to adjust the current set of incentives in such a way that at least some American military personnel, as they deal with another gust of blowback, will have an overdue confrontation with their conscience and decide unilaterally to end their service of the world’s largest criminal enterprise, the government of the United State (spelling intentional)…[snip]

Shell Oil: Nigeria’s Scammers

This video should come as no surprise, since militaries the world over seem to be working for the oil companies. Makes me wonder if we’ll ever (be allowed to) see similar videos regarding America’s military and the job they’re doing in the Middle East. I bet Obama’s working cheap compared to his predecessors. Pelosi’s probably making more than he is.

I guess we should consider ourselves lucky we ran out of oil when we did. The coal companies make a bigger mess, but they don’t seem to have the same clout (or reach). I probably don’t drive 30 miles a week, but I really need to get rid of my car…rb

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Shell = Guilty

In May 2009, multinational oil giant Shell will stand trial in United States federal court to answer to charges that it conspired in horrific human rights abuses in Nigeria in the 1990s.

The lawsuit, Wiwa v. Shell, charges Shell with requesting, financing, and assisting the Nigerian military which used deadly force to repress opposition to Shell’s operations in the Ogoni region of the Niger Delta.

The lawsuit also charges Shell with conspiring with the Nigerian military dictatorship in the prosecution of the leaders of this movement – the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP). Shell bribed witnesses to give false testimony, ultimately leading to a death sentence for nine men, including acclaimed author, activist, and leader of MOSOP Ken Saro-Wiwa. On November 10th, 1995, Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni leaders were hanged. But Shell’s crimes didn’t end there.

For over fifty years, Shell’s operations in the Niger Delta have caused environmental devastation and human suffering. And for fifty years, the associated gas produced with Nigeria’s oil has been burned off in huge roaring flares rather than being either re-injected or used commercially.

This gas flaring poisons the land and air with a toxic cocktail of pollutants, including sulphur and nitrogen dioxides, benzene, xylene and dioxins. Devastating to the local environment and to the health of surrounding communities, Shell’s gas flaring was one of the abuses that Ken Saro-Wiwa and many other Ogoni people died seeking to end.

Shell’s gas flaring in Nigeria is a climate crime too. Gas flaring in Nigeria emits more greenhouse gases in sub-Saharan Africa than all other sources combined. In addition to harming the local environment and human health in Nigeria, Shell’s gas flaring is significantly contributing to global warming, adding to the peril the planet faces. Shell must come clean:

* Stop gas flaring in Nigeria, a practice devastating to the environment and human health, and a significant contributor to global warming.
* Disclose its role in the abuses committed against the Ogoni people in Nigeria, including the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa and the Ogoni 9.

ShellGuilty is a coalition initiative of Friends of the Earth, Oil Change International, and Platform/Remember Saro-Wiwa

Victor Agosto: American Hero

There’s No Way I’m Going to Deploy to Afghanistan. It’s a matter of what I’m willing to live with,” Specialist Victor Agosto of the U.S. Army, who is refusing orders to deploy to Afghanistan, explained to IPS. “I’m not willing to participate in this occupation, knowing it is completely wrong.”

Agosto, who returned from a 13-month deployment to Iraq in November 2007, is based at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas. While in Iraq, Agosto never left his base, located in northern Iraq.

“I never had any traumatic experiences, never fired my weapon,” Agosto told IPS in a phone interview. “I mostly worked in information technology, working on computers and keeping the network functioning well. But it was in Iraq that I turned against the occupations. Through my reading, and watching what was going on, I started to feel very guilty.”

Agosto added, “What I did there, I know I contributed to death and human suffering. It’s hard to quantify how much I caused, but I know I contributed to it.”

Shmemorial Day

Though I lost heart, long ago, and now have absolutely no expectation that Americans will do anything significant to rein in the government, military, and corporations which intend to fully enslave all of humanity, occasionally I am still moved to comment on our disconnect.

So-called [self-professed] “liberal” and “progressive” bloggers annoy me the most, for the very same reasons Obama sickens me more than did Bush. Here are the words of one such deluded soul. I will not give attribution as his words are so very similar to others of his ilk, and this sort of blind stupidity runs rampant, so it’s not as though he is alone in his selfish idiocy. How ignorant must one be to plaintively suggest the following:

I’ll confess to being sympathetic to Obama’s resistance to pursuing torture prosecutions. We’re already asking a lot of this new president: fix the economy, regulate financial institutions, create national health insurance, address global warming, end two wars and build a better America.

With a plate this full, it isn’t hard to see why Obama might be resistant to moving forward on this front. Pushing ahead with criminal prosecutions of Bush administration officials would start a political war — making it much harder for Obama to move effectively on these other critical fronts.

Those of us screaming for action on torture need to be honest: doing what’s right isn’t always as clear-cut as we might wish. To take no action in the face of torture would certainly be wrong. But wouldn’t it also be wrong to pursue a few torture prosecutions of Bush administration officials if that means it will be impossible to adopt health care reform?

In weighing the rights and wrongs, how much does the wrong of an uninsured child receiving inadequate healthcare weigh against the wrong of not dragging Dick Cheney into court?

Yes, why should we waste time considering our murderous actions if such conscious behavior might keep us from improving our standard of living. Other people’s lives and suffering are so trivial when compared to our own.

Obama may have renegued on his most important campaign promises, he may have fought to continue wiretapping and other unconstitutional practices [which is perfectly acceptable, since he's "a Constitutional scholar." One should never question a person who has thoroughly studied the document he's shredding], he may be hiding behind signing statements and the lobbyists he’s appointed to his administration, he may act as “big daddily” as BushCo [believing that we are children who must accept such as "Father doesn't think it would be a good idea to legalize marijuana"], he may be “the peace candidate” who is ramping up wars and ordering the deaths of humans on new fronts — such as Pakistan — and threatening Iran and refusing to end the travesty that is Gitmo, he may be giving the entirety of Americans’ bounty to bankers and stockbrokers and the corporati [against the wishes made known by more than 80% of his constituents] — but if we dare hold him and the previous administration accountable we might not get health insurance and new jobs and a better economy! So let’s all remain as quiet as the little mice we are.

And am I the only one who finds it endlessly hilarious that we “brave” Americans are freaking out at the thought of imprisoning “terrorists” in America’s gulag? What a sniveling bunch of cowards we’ve become. We finally have the leaders we deserve, and it couldn’t have happened to a more spineless and self-obsessed collection of wankers…

This “memorial day” I will be remembering the hell we hath wrought [and continue to wreak] upon our fellow human beings, and begging God for forgiveness [and salvation]…rb

The Obama Deception

[heavily redacted] On the matter of Barack Obama’s ballyhooed “turnaround” on the torture prosecution issue:

After his groveling trip on Monday to soothe the hurt feelings of the tender little babies at the CIA — who had been feeling unloved and uncherished since the tiniest ray of media light had shone briefly on their black arts — Obama then tacked back to soothe the rumblings of his progressive base, parts of which had been disturbed by their hero’s guarantee that no Bush torturer would ever face justice.

Tuesday, he sought to appease the growing pressure by saying that he was open to the possibility of maybe potentially putting together some kind of commission or something somewhere down the line that could look into whether or not some of these charges might need to be, er, looked into a little further — although he was quick to add that he was “not suggesting” that such a thing should be done. [Original article (by Chris Floyd) here.]
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Alms for the Rich

[Excerpted from] The Big Takeover:  The global economic crisis isn’t about money – it’s about power. How Wall Street insiders are using the bailout to stage a revolution

by MATT TAIBBI
Rolling Stone
Mar 19, 2009

It’s over — we’re officially, royally fucked. no empire can survive being rendered a permanent laughingstock, which is what happened as of a few weeks ago, when the buffoons who have been running things in this country finally went one step too far.

And all this happened at the end of eight straight years that America devoted to frantically chasing the shadow of a terrorist threat to no avail, eight years spent stopping every citizen at every airport to search every purse, bag, crotch and briefcase for juice boxes and explosive tubes of toothpaste.

One Can Never Be Too Rich nor Too Immoral

One Can Never Be Too Rich nor Too Immoral

So it’s time to admit it: We’re fools, protagonists in a kind of gruesome comedy about the marriage of greed and stupidity.

And the worst part about it is that we’re still in denial — we still think this is some kind of unfortunate accident, not something that was created by the group of psychopaths on Wall Street whom we allowed to gang-rape the American Dream.

The crisis was the coup de grâce: Given virtually free rein over the economy, these same insiders first wrecked the financial world, then cunningly granted themselves nearly unlimited emergency powers to clean up their own mess.

The best way to understand the financial crisis is to understand the meltdown at AIG. AIG is what happens when short, bald managers of otherwise boring financial bureaucracies start seeing Brad Pitt in the mirror.

In the 10-year period beginning in 1998, financial companies spent $1.7 billion on federal campaign contributions and another $3.4 billion on lobbyists. They quickly got what they paid for. In 1999, Gramm co-sponsored a bill that repealed key aspects of the Glass-Steagall Act, smoothing the way for the creation of financial megafirms like Citigroup.

Then, after already getting caught paying out insane bonuses while on the public till, AIG decided to pay out another $450 million in bonuses. And to whom? To the 400 or so employees in Cassano’s old unit, AIGFP, which is due to go out of business shortly! Yes, that’s right, an average of $1.1 million in taxpayer-backed money apiece, to the very people who spent the past decade or so punching a hole in the fabric of the universe!

“We, uh, needed to keep these highly expert people in their seats,” AIG spokeswoman Christina Pretto says to me in early February.

“But didn’t these ‘highly expert people’ basically destroy your company?” I ask.

Pretto protests, says this isn’t fair. The employees at AIGFP have already taken pay cuts, she says. Not retaining them would dilute the value of the company even further, make it harder to wrap up the unit’s operations in an orderly fashion.

The bonuses are a nice comic touch highlighting one of the more outrageous tangents of the bailout age, namely the fact that, even with the planet in flames, some members of the Wall Street class can’t even get used to the tragedy of having to fly coach. “These people need their trips to Baja, their spa treatments, their hand jobs,” says an official involved in the AIG bailout, a serious look on his face, apparently not even half-kidding. “They don’t function well without them.”

There are plenty of people who have noticed, in recent years, that when they lost their homes to foreclosure or were forced into bankruptcy because of crippling credit-card debt, no one in the government was there to rescue them. But when Goldman Sachs — a company whose average employee still made more than $350,000 last year, even in the midst of a depression — was suddenly faced with the possibility of losing money on the unregulated insurance deals it bought for its insane housing bets, the government was there in an instant to patch the hole. That’s the essence of the bailout: rich bankers bailing out rich bankers, using the taxpayers’ credit card. [Complete article available here.]

“It is morally as bad not to care whether a thing is true or not, so long as it makes you feel good, as it is not to care how you got your money, as long as you have it.”  — Edwin Way Teale

How the Mighty Is Falling

It’s All Good:  Media Reports for Duty as Militarists Plan More Wars
by Chris Floyd [Empire Burlesque]
15 Mar 2009

Kissinger Bared

Kissinger Bared

Surely there is no one who still needs to be apprised of the fact that the New York Times is one of the chief organs of the American Empire, operating in a semi-official fashion to disseminate the intentions and wishes of our rulers. The fact that the paper also publishes some excellent reporting — and can even, on occasion, assume an adversarial stance against one faction of the elite or another — in no way undermines its essential function in the imperial power structure. After all, Pravda and Izvestia did the same under the Soviets.

[Of course, the dead hand of state censorship was heavier under the Soviets than in our ultra-modern, low-carb authoritarian system. We prefer witless diversion over outright repression, tasers over bullets, and the eager self-censorship of cozy, coddled media dullards over direct intervention by government functionaries -- although, to be sure, if repression, bullets and direct intervention (along with KGB-style torture, rendition, detention without trial, etc.) are deemed necessary, our elites are more than willing to oblige.]

But despite the glaring transparency of the NYT’s stovepiping duties, it is still instructive to watch these operations in action now and then, if only to keep one’s bullshit detector in fighting trim. And a story by Thom Shanker highlighted in the Times on Saturday provides an excellent example of this venerable and pernicious process.

The nugget of “news” in the story was unsurprising — but its implications were no less disturbing for that….click here to read full article.

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Obama Administration Claims Copyright Treaty Involves State Secrets?!?
techdirt

Plenty of folks are quite concerned about the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) negotiations are being negotiated in secret. This is a treaty that (from the documents that have leaked so far) is quite troubling. It likely will effectively require various countries, including the US, to update copyright laws in a draconian manner.

Furthermore, the negotiators have met with entertainment industry representatives multiple times, and there are indications that those representatives have contributed language and ideas to the treaty. But, the public? The folks actually impacted by all of this? We’ve been kept in the dark, despite repeated requests for more information.

So far, the response from the government had been “sorry, we always negotiate these things in secret, so we’ll keep doing so.”

When the Obama administration took over, there was a public stance that this administration was going to be more transparent — especially with regards to things like Freedom of Information Act requests. But when the public asks for them, we’re told they’re state secrets? This is transparency? This is openness? Read article here.

They Hate Us for Our Freedom

…our freedom to treat them like shit. Who doubts but that this uber-macho asshole is coming home to a career in law enforcement. And he just might be single, ladies!  rb

A Nation of Flaws

Lindorff, again:  The dithering and ducking going on in the Obama White House and the Holder Justice Department over the crimes of the Bush administration are taking on a comic aspect.

On the one hand, we have Obama assuring us that under his administration, there will be respect for the rule of law, and on the other hand we have this one-time constitutional law professor and his attorney general declaiming that there is no need for the appointment of a prosecutor to bring charges against the people in the last administration, in the CIA, in the National Security Agency and in the Defense Department and the military who clearly have broken the law in serious and felonious ways.

What gets silly is that America is either a nation of laws…or it isn’t. It is either a place where “nobody is above the law”…or it isn’t. There is really no middle ground here.

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And, from England [the Telegraph (we're famous!)]: The CIA has admitted to destroying 92 videotapes of interrogation sessions with terrorist suspects. The revelation that far more tapes had been destroyed than previously acknowledged came in a letter filed by US government lawyers.

The CIA should be held in contempt of court for holding back the information for so long. The investigation found that the CIA’s videotapes were destroyed, in part, to protect the identities of the interrogators at a time the Justice Department was debating whether the tactics used during the sessions – which are believed to have included the “water boarding” torture technique of partial drowning – were illegal.

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[God, I miss Harold Pinter.]  The playwright Harold Pinter turned his Nobel Prize acceptance speech into a furious howl of outrage against American foreign policy, saying that the United States had not only lied to justify waging war against Iraq but had also “supported and in many cases engendered every right-wing military dictatorship” in the last 50 years.

“The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them,” Mr. Pinter said. “You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.”

Mr. Pinter attacked American foreign policy since World War II, saying that while the crimes of the Soviet Union had been well documented, those of the United States had not. “I put to you that the United States is without doubt the greatest show on the road,” he said. “Brutal, indifferent, scornful and ruthless it may be, but it is also very clever. As a salesman it is out on its own and its most saleable commodity is self-love.”