It was the Family Business -- immolating humans for profit.
Besides, it was Casual Friday.
During CNN's live coverage of the presidential inaugural parade on January 20, anchor Wolf Blitzer, CNN analyst Jeff Greenfield, and Harvard University researcher and lecturer Barbara Kellerman provided a running commentary on the festivities. At one point, Kellerman noted that despite frequent references to protesters, she, Blitzer, and Greenfield hadn't actually discussed what they were protesting or why:
KELLERMAN: Well, I was going to point that it's -- we're now using an oxymoron. That is, we're using the phrase "authorized demonstrators," "sanctioned protesters."
It seems to me that, again, I'm so old, I remember the days when protesters were neither sanctioned nor authorized. Moreover, I remember when we knew exactly what they were protesting. Now, it's interesting -- not once today in our use of the word "protesters" did we describe what most of the protesters are protesting against. It would appear to be the war. But it is not only the war.
So it's worth also remembering how, when we describe how things have changed, also the protests and the protesters have changed, as has our conception of them.
BLITZER: This is the motorcycle, the local Washington, DC, police. They are at the beginning of this motorcade. They're driving very slowly and they're now approaching this authorized area, where these demonstrators have gathered...The motorcade is driving very, very slowly, Jeff.
GREENFIELD: I guess so. Whether this is to let people look at them, I don't know. I mean, I always rely on you, Wolf, to tell us the speed of the motorcades, why they're moving slowly.
BLITZER: Look at the agents walking. They're walking pretty slowly. They're not even running. They're not walking very quickly. So this is a deliberate desire to let everybody on the sides have a chance to see what's going on, so they don't just rush by.
Kellerman pointed out that CNN wasn't telling its viewers why the demonstrators were there -- and Blitzer and Greenfield responded by talking about the speed of the motorcade! Blitzer even offered that "presumably, when the president goes by, they'll make their views known." But Blitzer wasn't going to make those views known to his audience.
CNN's Judy Woodruff later chimed in, declaring "There are 40,000 people who have seats. And then you see the protesters here. You've all been talking about it."
But Blitzer hadn't been "talking about it," and neither had Greenfield; they'd been talking about the process, the logistics -- and the speed of the motorcade ... Finally, Woodruff offered: "The protest causes range from being against the war in Iraq to being against the president's policies on women's rights, abortion rights and so forth." Better than her colleagues, to be sure, but not exactly a meaningful explanation of what the protesters thought and why.
Blitzer later referred to "angry signs railing against the president" and "some angry, angry people who don't like this president, don't like his policies and they're making their views known."
... when Kellerman suggested that if the situation in Iraq continues to go poorly, the number of anti-war protesters may increase, Blitzer and Greenfield immediately replied with:
BLITZER: And if you were looking very closely -- this is a very trivial matter, but may be interesting to some of our viewers -- at the license plate of that new presidential limousine -- and I don't know if we'll get another opportunity to see it, but from what -- there it is right there. You see what that says? USA-1. I think that's what it said. That's a pretty cool license plate to have if you want to get your own license plate for your own presidential limousine.
GREENFIELD: Yes. I think one of the great things about being president, one of the reasons why CEOs envy a guy who gets paid what they make in about a week is, you got the best parking spaces in America and the coolest private plane.
If you closed your eyes for a moment while watching CNN, you could be forgiven for thinking you were watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Blitzer eventually even cautioned against making "too much" of the protests -- as though CNN had paid them any serious attention at all:
BLITZER: And we don't want to make too much of the protesters, because we don't know how many there were.
Former Bush speechwriter David Frum pummeled Seymour Hersh's report in the New Yorker about secret U.S. operations aimed at military action against Iran, deeming the article the latest perilous wave of partisan 'mutiny' in the U.S. intelligence community.
'Read Seymour Hersh's latest piece in the New Yorker with a yellow marker in hand,' he huffed. 'Can you count how many vital national security secrets -- secrets that could potentially get US personnel killed -- have been betrayed in just this one article by serving and former agents of the Central Intelligence Agency or by serving or senior and former military officers?'
Frum points to Hersh's assertions that the Bush administration has been conducting secret reconnaissance missions inside Iran to identify nuclear, chemical and missile sites, possibly to be targeted for commando strikes. Exactly why this particular information constitutes high treason, Frum doesn't say...
Frum stays focused on what he believes to be the handiwork of rabid partisans out to get the 'neocons' and warns that the Bush White House better deal with the problem and get all the spooks marching in lockstep before things get even more out of hand.
... the administration as a whole has done a very poor job of preserving the kind of united front that might have taught those rogue officials that when American lives are at risk, all Americans must lay aside their personal vendettas and stand together.
Jan. 21, 2005 | WASHINGTON -- President Bush is readying a new budget that would carve savings from Medicaid and other benefit programs, congressional aides and lobbyists say, but it is unclear if he will be able to push the plan through the Republican-run Congress ... lobbyists and lawmakers' aides, speaking on condition of anonymity, say he will focus on Medicaid, the health-care program for low-income and disabled people. Medicaid costs are split between Washington and the states.
After two straight record federal deficits that peaked at $412 billion last year, many Republicans are eager to constrain government spending by curbing the growth of benefits. By law such programs, which consume nearly two-thirds of the budget, grow to keep pace with inflation and ever-larger numbers of recipients.
They would face the wrath of doctors -- major GOP contributors -- should Bush propose limiting the Medicare payments physicians receive. Governors of both parties are already trying to head off any effort to trim Medicaid, while farmers, veterans and other groups would be sure to combat any efforts to curtail their benefits.So, either the GOP fights him, or they lose the 2006 elections.
Jan. 21, 2005 | OSLO, Norway -- President Bush's 'Hook 'em, 'horns' salute got lost in translation in Norway, where shocked people interpreted his hand gesture during his inauguration as a salute to Satan.
That's what it means in the Nordics when you throw up the right hand with the index and pinky fingers raised, a gesture popular among heavy metal groups and their fans in the region.
'Shock greeting from Bush daughter,' a headline in the Norwegian Internet newspaper Nettavisen said above a photograph of Bush's daughter Jenna, smiling and showing the sign.
For Texans, the gesture is a sign of love for the University of Texas Longhorns, whose fans are known to shout out 'Hook 'em, 'horns!' at sporting events.
Bush, a former Texas governor, and his family made the sign to greet the Longhorn marching band as it passed during the inaugural parade through Washington during Thursday's festivities, explained Verdens Gang, Norway's largest newspaper."
Jan. 21, 2005 | WASHINGTON -- Citing a need for domestic energy, the government plans to open for exploratory drilling thousands of acres on Alaska's North Slope that have been protected for decades because of migratory birds and caribou...
While most of the 22 million-acre reserve is open to oil development, its lake-pocked northeastern corner has been fenced off, dating back to the Reagan administration, because of environmental concerns ...
... the area around Lake Teshekpuk in the northeast corner of the NPRA is among the most important molting areas in the entire Arctic for wild geese. It is also used for calving and insect relief by herds of caribou.
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Jan. 21 - Earlier this month, according to Iraqi officials, $300 million in American bills was taken out of Iraq's Central Bank, put into boxes and quietly put on a charter jet bound for Lebanon.
The money was to be used to buy tanks and other weapons from international arms dealers, the officials say, as part of an accelerated effort to assemble an armored division for the fledgling Iraqi Army. But exactly where the money went, and to whom, and for precisely what, remains a mystery, at least to Iraqis who say they have been trying to find out.
On Friday, the mysterious flight became an issue in this country's American-backed election campaign, when Defense Minister Hazim al-Shalaan, faced with corruption allegations, threatened to arrest a political rival.
In an interview on Al Jazeera television, Mr. Shalaan said he would order the arrest of Ahmed Chalabi, one of the country's most prominent politicians, who has publicly accused Mr. Shalaan of sending the cash out of the country. Mr. Shalaan said he would extradite Mr. Chalabi to face corruption charges of his own.
'We will arrest him and hand him over to Interpol,' Mr. Shalaan thundered on Al Jazeera. The charge against Mr. Chalabi, he said, would be 'maligning' him and his ministry. He suggested that Mr. Chalabi had made the charges to further his political ambitions.
'Why was $300 million in cash put on an airplane?' Mr. Chalabi asked in an interview this week. 'Where did the money go? What was it used for? Who was it given to? We don't know.'
'I am sorry to say that the corruption here is worse now than in the Saddam Hussein era,' said Mowaffak al-Rubaie, the Iraqi national security adviser, who said he had not been informed of the details of the flight or the arms deal.--Well, when the Bush crime family is involved (bonds for Hitler, even after we were at war with him, establishing Saddam Hussein's regime, establishing Colonel Noriega's regime, etc...) corruption always seems to be JOB #1.
That charge is echoed outside of Iraq as well. Isam al-Khafaji, the director of the New York-based Iraq Revenue Watch, said corruption had become an 'open secret' within the Iraqi government.--Again, Bush and his father before him and all their cronies have run America like a private fiefdom -- why should Iraq be any different?
'There is no legal system to bring charges against anyone not following the rules and not abiding by the law, especially if you're a powerful politician,' Mr. Khafaji said. 'That's the tragedy of Iraq: Everyone runs their business like a private fiefdom.'
Mr. Shalaan did not respond to several requests for an interview, but one of his aides insisted that the arms deal was legal and that the money had been well spent.Oh my -- ain't "national security" a wonderful cover to hide behind?
Reached by telephone in Lebanon, the aide, Mishal Sarraf, said the arms deal had been approved by four senior members of the Iraqi government, including Prime Minister Ayad Allawi and Mr. Shalaan.
He said it had been carried out quickly because of the urgency of the guerrilla war. He said he had not realized that the deal had been done in cash.
'We don't want to hide anything,' Mr. Sarraf said.
He said the armaments themselves had been manufactured in Poland, the Czech Republic, Turkey, Ukraine and the United States. He said the money had bought armored personal carriers, tanks and even Humvees.
Mr. Sarraf refused to say who received the money, saying it was too dangerous.'They could be killed,' he said."
WAR is a racket. It always has been.
It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.
A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small "inside" group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.
In the World War [WWI] a mere handful garnered the profits of the conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax returns. How many other war millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows.
How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle? How many of them dug a trench? How many of them knew what it meant to go hungry in a rat-infested dug-out? How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and machine gun bullets? How many of them parried a bayonet thrust of an enemy? How many of them were wounded or killed in battle?
Out of war nations acquire additional territory, if they are victorious. They just take it. This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the few – the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public shoulders the bill.
And what is this bill?
And what is this bill?
This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones. Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Depression and all its attendant miseries. Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations
Read the rest at the link above -- General Butler went on to name names and how many dollars of profit were made. Of course, this brain-challenged administration probably isn't interested in the opinion of anyone who has actually been a warrior. But he sure has their number.
-- Excerpt from a speech delivered in 1933, by Major General Smedley Butler, USMC....The flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag. I wouldn't go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers.
There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.
There isn't a trick in the racketeering bag that the military gang is blind to. It has its "finger men" to point out enemies, its "muscle men" to destroy enemies, its "brain men" to plan war preparations, and a "Big Boss" Super-Nationalistic-Capitalism.
It may seem odd for me, a military man to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent thirty- three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country's most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle- man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.
I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.
I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912 (where have I heard that name before?). I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.
During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.
So how much difference is there between the socipathic greed- and fear- mongers of 100 years ago and thse of today? (A sociopath may be defined as an individual who feels no guilt about the harm, death, and destruction he has caused. )
Washington - Social Security taxes will have to rise by half if lawmakers don't revamp the giant program, President Bush's budget chief said Friday as the administration sought support for its overhaul plans."On the other hand -- if the Social Security tax were made to apply to EVERYONE EQUALLY (i.e., the people who make of $80,000 a year pay THE SAME PERCENTAGE of their income as the people who earn $32,000 a year --- 6.2% if employed by someone else, 12.4% if self-employed), then we wouldn't have this problem.
Jan. 15 (Bloomberg) -- President George W. Bush said Congress must ``act now'' to create private savings accounts under Social Security or the U.S. government will be forced to slash benefits or significantly increase taxes in the future.He lied when he said that Kerry "saw the same information I did," when he knew it wasn't true. And he's lying now -- and now WE have the same information.
"Their strategy is, we're going to scare people, cut benefits, privatize and call it a reform agenda," said Representative Rahm Emanuel, Democrat of Illinois."Well it worked for LBJ with Gulf of Tonkin. And it worked to stampede congress and the public into bombing the crap out of the local people in Iraq.
BANDA ACEH, Indonesia, Jan. 12 - Indonesia announced Wednesday that all foreign troops assisting in the relief operation must leave by late March...
The Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and two other Navy vessels have been cruising off the coast here to provide support. American soldiers delivering the aid return to their ships at night.
Some of the large contingents of foreign troops, particularly from neighboring Singapore, have brought heavy equipment - bulldozers and backhoes - to clear smashed buildings and the debris here and in Meulaboh, a city on Sumatra's west coast that was severely damaged...
The Indonesian vice president, Jusuf Kalla, announced the deadline to Antara, the state news agency, saying that the foreign troops could stay 'no longer than three months' and that Indonesia would be better off if they left sooner.
In Washington, the White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, said that the administration was 'seeking further clarification' on the timetable from Jakarta, but that the United States was committed to helping rebuild the devastated areas. 'This is a long-term effort, and the United States will be there for the long haul,' he said, 'to help people in the region get the relief they need and to reconstruct their cities and reconstruct their lives.'Yeah, like that. As upsetting and depressing as it is, according to the old saw, to hear the words said in America, "Hi, we're your government and we're here to help you," the whole world sees us in Iraq and elsewhere and shudders at the idea of hearing the clumping of boots and the roar of engines followed by "Hi, we're American military and we're here to help you."