Monday, March 27, 2006

NY Times Confirms Bush-Blair Iraq War Memo

From private talks between George Bush and UK PM Tony Blair, the memo makes it clear the US was determined to go to war whether or not he had UN backing.

He is quoted discussing ways to provoke Saddam Hussein into a confrontation...

The five-page memo, dated 31 January 2003, was written by Mr Blair's then chief foreign adviser, David Manning, the New York Times says.

Summarising the two-hour White House meeting, the memo says: "Our diplomatic strategy had to be arranged around the military planning."

"Twist Arms"

..."The US would put its full weight behind efforts to get another resolution and would twist arms and even threaten," Mr Bush is paraphrased as saying.

"But he had to say that if we ultimately failed, military action would follow anyway."

...The memo indicates both leaders acknowledged it was possible no unconventional weapons would be found in Iraq before the invasion, the New York Times says.

Provoke or "Assasinate"

The note cites Mr Bush suggesting three ways in which Iraq could be provoked into confrontation.

The US "was thinking of flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in UN colours", Mr Bush said.

If Saddam fired on them, the Iraqis would be in breach of UN resolutions, he suggested.

He also indicated the US "might be able to bring out a defector" to talk about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, and mentioned a proposal to assassinate the Iraqi leader.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Are The Neocons Losing It?

Pat Buchanan writes:

While President Bush appears serenely confident about Iraq, the same cannot be said of the War Party propagandists who were plotting this conflict when Dubya was still a rookie governor of Texas.

William Kristol of the Weekly Standard now demands the firing of Donald Rumsfeld. William F. Buckley, whose National Review branded the anti-war right "unpatriotic conservatives" who "hate" America, now calls upon Bush for an "acknowledgement of defeat."

Richard Perle says the administration "got the war right and the aftermath wrong." Self-described "humiliated pundit" Andrew Sullivan confesses to "a sense of shame and sorrow." Michael Ledeen says of Bush's war, "Wrong war, wrong time, wrong way, wrong place."

Keep reading the whole story.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Who Are The Whiny Kids?

Brats from Berkeley no matter what their political orientation?

Michelle Malkin has the scoop.

Growing Rich and Fat in an Emergency of Blood and Slaughter

"Our present emergency and a common sense of decency make it imperative that no new group of war millionaires shall come into being in this nation as a result of the struggles abroad. The American people will not relish the idea of any American citizen growing rich and fat in an emergency of blood and slaughter and human suffering."

- FDR Fireside Chat May 26, 1940.

Bush's uncle benefits from Iraq war spending.

UK firms make £1.1bn war profit.

Three years and counting for war profiteers.

The Perpetual War Portfolio

War, Profit, and the State

How To Profit From Bird Flu Just Like Rumsfeld

Thursday, March 23, 2006

An Interview with Chalmers Johnson

Part I: Cold Warrior in a Strangle Land

Part II: What Ever Happened to Congress?

Chalmers Johnson served in the U.S. Navy, was a consultant for the CIA, is a professor emeritus of the University of California, San Diego, and is a military historian. He is also president and co-founder of the Japan Policy Research Institute, an organization promoting public education about Japan and the rest of Asia. He has written several books, including Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire (ISBN 0805062394) and The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (ISBN 0805070044).

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

What is Life?

"Life is algid, life is fulgid. Life is what the least of us make most of us feel that the least of us make the most of. Life is a burgeoning, a quickening of the dim, primordial urge in the murky wastes of time." - Willard Van Orman Quine

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Charlie Sheen on 9/11

Sheen joins a growing number of people questioning the official story of 9/11 and calls for a new independent investigation of the attack and the circumstances surrounding it.

Did you ever expect to hear Charlie Sheen quote Teddy Roosevelt?

"That we are to stand by the President right or wrong is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."

Or Mark Twain?

"In the beginning of a change, the patriot is a scarce man, brave, hated, and scorned. When his cause succeeds however, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot."

Here is the audio.

Bread Botheration

A very fascinating discussion of le probleme du pain over at Marginal Revolution.

Tom Slee sums up the contents:

"The number of different and (to this reader) all perfectly plausible contributors to the difference between French and American bread is astounding. A quick scan suggests:

- Taste differences are compensated for by non-taste factors (kitchen life, variety, lack of riots)
- Distribution mechanisms (supermarket vs. patisseries or boulangeries)
- Input quality (water, flour, butter, other ingredients)
- Baker quality
- Consumer expectations (soft bread) and information
- Regulations (USDA, FDA, price controls)
- Identity issues (tradition and heritage)
- Geography (commuting distances, city design)
- Consumption environment (the Eiffel Tower effect, novelty, atmosphere)
- Reputation effects
- Competition for consumers vs. corporate purchases
- Flawed premise: French bread isn't better (Germany is better, US is better, average vs. marginal differences)

When such a simple question can provoke so many possibilities, it is surprising that economists can ever actually agree on anything."

Friday, March 17, 2006

War and Peace?

A question of how early humans behaved.

Depending on which journal you've picked up in recent months, early humans were either peace-loving softies or war-mongering buffoons.

Which theory is to be believed? Perhaps a little of both?

Evidence of the Big Bang?

Physicists announced Thursday that they now have the smoking gun that shows the universe went through extremely rapid expansion in the moments after the big bang, growing from the size of a marble to a volume larger than all of observable space in less than a trillion-trillionth of a second.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Changing Face of Finance

Escape From New York

"...Yet Wall Street may prove to be a victim of its own success. For while they're still making money hand over fist, New York-based financial institutions are seeing their global positions erode. In today's flat world, capital is being formed all over the place, especially in the so-called BRIC bloc—Brazil, Russia, India, and China. (By running up gigantic debts and a huge trade deficit, the United States is contributing to the trend.) And there are growing signs that capital formed offshore is choosing to reside there..."

Saturday, March 11, 2006

The Philosophy of Liberty

A simple, but absolutely essential lesson.


The principle of self-ownership.

To take life is murder.
To take liberty is slavery.
To take property is theft.

You do not have the right to initiate force against the life, liberty, or property of others.

You have the right to protect your life, liberty, and justly acquired property.

You have the right to seek leaders for yourself, but you do noy have the right to impose rulers on others.

You choose your own goals based on your own values.

Virtue is only derived through free choice.

The people of the earth must stop asking governments to initiate force on their behalf.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Beltway Conservatives Take Swings At Bush

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank's write-up on a recent Cato forum:

Former Reagan aide Bruce Bartlett, author of the new book "Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy" called the administration "unconscionable," "irresponsible," "vindictive" and "inept."

Conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan, author of the forthcoming "The Conservative Soul: How We Lost It; How to Get It Back" called Bush "reckless" and "a socialist," and accused him of betraying "almost every principle conservatism has ever stood for."

David Boaz, Cato's executive vice president, blamed Bush for "a 48 percent increase in spending in just six years," a "federalization of public schools" and "the biggest entitlement since LBJ."

"The Committee Is...Under The Control Of The White House"

''The committee is, to put it bluntly, is basically under the control of the White House," said Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, a West Virginia Democrat and the intelligence committee's vice chairman. ''You can't legislate properly unless you know what's going on."

Rockefeller said the Republicans' bill leaves Congress to ''legislate in darkness and ignorance."

These words were spoken by Sen. Rockefeller after Senate Republicans rejected a full inquiry of the domestic spying program that was secretly authorized by President Bush.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Crash Wins!

Sometimes, the lesser of two evils does win out in Hollywood.

Once upon a time, "Chariots of Fire" really did beat "Reds" and "On Golden Pond" after all.

"We are humbled by the other nominess in this category. You have made this year one of the most breathtaking and stunning maverick years in American cinema," said "Crash" producer Cathy Schulman.

Let's hear it for the mavericks, the radicals, the vanguard, the elite.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

The Scandal That Never Was

Pentagon Loses Track of $2.3 Trillion

On Sept. 10 [2001], Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld declared war. Not on foreign terrorists, "the adversary's closer to home. It's the Pentagon bureaucracy," he said.

He said money wasted by the military poses a serious threat.

"In fact, it could be said it's a matter of life and death," he said.

Rumsfeld promised change but the next day – Sept. 11-- the world changed and in the rush to fund the war on terrorism, the war on waste seems to have been forgotten...

..."According to some estimates we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions," Rumsfeld admitted.

$2.3 trillion — that's $8,000 for every man, woman and child in America.

Congressman Gets 8 Years, 4 Months in Prison

Former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, who collected $2.4 million in homes, yachts, antique furnishings and other bribes on a scale unparalleled in the history of Congress, was sentenced Friday to eight years and four months in prison, the longest term meted out to a congressman in decades.

Cunningham accepted money and gifts including a Rolls-Royce and $40,000 Persian rugs from defense contractors and others in exchange for steering government contracts their way and other favors.

"Your honor I have ripped my life to shreds due to my actions, my actions that I did to myself," he said.

"I made a very wrong turn. I rationalized decisions I knew were wrong. I did that, sir," Cunningham said.

Cunningham pleaded guilty Nov. 28 to tax evasion and a conspiracy involving four others.

Duke's Bribe Menu.
The most disturbing thing about this is how low the prices were, $50,000 for $1 million in contract value. Alex Tabarrok from Marginal Revolution asks what makes prices low? "That's right, competition. So who was Cunningham competing with?"

Probe extends to CIA #3.

Katherine Harris Too.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Land For Sale

The Bush administration has a plan to put 300,000 acres of land up for sale in California, Colorado, and Idaho.

Environmental groups and legislators in western states have complained loudly about the plan in President Bush's proposed 2007 budget. The proposal calls for selling off forests to raise money for a rural school program, which would then be phased out over five years.

"Some of the sites in not any longer meet national forest system needs, but that's not the same as not meeting public needs generally," said Mark Rey, an agriculture undersecretary.

Sell, sell, sell it all!

Some Folks Didn't Get The Memo

A new Zogby International poll finds that 85% of US troops in Iraq said the US mission is mainly "to retaliate for Saddam's role in the 9-11 attacks."

Yet, Sept. 17, 2003, President Bush stated "[w]e have no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved in the September 11th attacks." (BBC link)

Moreover, Bush may have none as early as 10 days after 9-11-01.

The Sept. 11 Commission found no "collaborative relationship" between Iraq and al Qaeda.

Rumsfeld has "not seen any indication," Cheney says he knew of no evidence, and Rice says "[w]e never claimed that Saddam Hussein had either direction or control of 9-11."

Christian Science Monitor story on the future impact of the false link back in March 2003.

On the bright side, 72% of American troops serving in Iraq think the US should exit the country within the next year, and nearly one in four say the troops should leave immediately.