28 May 2007


This is one of many photos I snapped during a visit to the American cemetery in Luxembourg, way the hell back in 1987. Crap, I just realized that makes it twenty years ago -- now that makes me feel even more tired and old than I do already. Oh well, so much for ego and self-esteem. Who needs ’em? Anyway, it was the weekend before Memorial Day that year, and I was a US Air Force chucklehead stationed in Germany, doing my dubious best to protect the Western World from being over-run and brutally enslaved by the ruthless Soviet hordes ... or so we were told, periodically, by the hilariously uninformative propaganda commercials broadcast on the Armed Forces Network electric tee-vee.

A few hours on a bus brought me and a few compatriots to Luxembourg, where we guzzled beer and ate pizza and, basically, all the things that twenty-something GI’s overseas managed to do in that era. Tramping out to the American cemetery was part of the package; as a sort of “student” of the Second World War, admittedly my interest was peaked by the historical aspects of what the boneyard signified, not so much by the fact that thousands of soldiers killed in the war -- mostly during the Battle of the Bulge -- are actually buried there. Not that I didn’t appreciate that fact, but when you’re young and it’s more than forty years after the end of the war ... you understand.

Well, I was a generationally removed GI in Europe, and it was Memorial Day. I wonder what these poor bastards would think if they were here today and could check out this little video from Take Back The Media: what do you suppose would cross their minds if they were to discover that a descendant of Nazi sympathizers and war profiteers is now the de facto dictator of the nation that they served in the titanic struggle to destroy the Nazis? Would that be seen as cruelly ironic, maybe, or as a sick joke, or what?

About the only conclusion I can draw, on this Memorial Day, is that the Nazis actually won the war after all.

Again, take a look: www.takebackthemedia.com/bushnonazi.html

24 May 2007


Enough is enough. One “compromise” too many, one sell-out over the line, an “opposition” party that is categorically neither. By completely dissipating the mandate handed to them last November, pissing it away in the cowardly Vichyite manner to which we’ve become all too familiar, the so-called “leadership” of the Democratic party has declared that they, in the same inimitable fashion as the drooling thugs otherwise known as the Republicans, have no interest in paying the least bit of attention to the dumb saps -- the voters, how quaint -- who put them in office. Representative democracy, dying as it has been since at least December 2000, has officially expired; to be sure, the outward trappings are still there, the empty forms and hollow rituals. But it’s a mere husk of what it could or should be, an obscene hoax, a seriously un-funny farce that would induce gut-ripping peals of insane laughter if it wasn’t so sickening.

What I can’t understand is what the Democrats are thinking, really, when they attempt to engage the spiritual inheritors of the jackboot tradition in the zero-sum game known as political warfare. Do they seriously believe that an armory of softballs and cream pies is going to be at all effective against the disciplined ranks of Neo-Con stormtroopers arrayed before them, heavily-armed ideological zealots motivated by nothing but winning, unencumbered by any reluctance to commit any act that furthers their objectives? That signals either a singular naivete on the part of the Democratic leadership, or (more believably) that they simply recognize the role they’ve been assigned to play within the Neo-Con framework of power and domination. In other words, they support the basic tenets of the Neo-Con program but present themselves as the “principled” opponents of the regime, maintaining the infuriating, totally transparent fiction that there’s some sort of “deliberative” process at work ... Either that, or they really are the cheese dog cowards they seem to be. Whatever.

I don’t know what the answer is, but here’s a thought: Impeach Reid and Pelosi. They’re plainly as much a danger to the world as the Rove-Cheney consortium is.


Keith Olbermann put it all much better than I can, a few days ago. Bear with me, I know everybody’s read the transcript and/or seen the video, but I’m gonna reprint the whole damn thing anyway:

This is, in fact, a comment about… betrayal.

Few men or women elected in our history-whether executive or legislative, state or national-have been sent into office with a mandate more obvious, nor instructions more clear: Get us out of Iraq.

Yet after six months of preparation and execution-half a year gathering the strands of public support; translating into action, the collective will of the nearly 70 percent of Americans who reject this War of Lies, the Democrats have managed only this:

* The Democratic leadership has surrendered to a president-if not the worst president, then easily the most selfish, in our history-who happily blackmails his own people, and uses his own military personnel as hostages to his asinine demand, that the Democrats "give the troops their money";

* The Democratic leadership has agreed to finance the deaths of Americans in a war that has only reduced the security of Americans;

* The Democratic leadership has given Mr. Bush all that he wanted, with the only caveat being, not merely meaningless symbolism about benchmarks for the Iraqi government, but optional meaningless symbolism about benchmarks for the Iraqi government.

* The Democratic leadership has, in sum, claimed a compromise with the Administration, in which the only things truly compromised, are the trust of the voters, the ethics of the Democrats, and the lives of our brave, and doomed, friends, and family, in Iraq.

You, the men and women elected with the simplest of directions-Stop The War-have traded your strength, your bargaining position, and the uniform support of those who elected you… for a handful of magic beans.

You may trot out every political cliché from the soft-soap, inside-the-beltway dictionary of boilerplate sound bites, about how this is the "beginning of the end" of Mr. Bush's "carte blanche" in Iraq, about how this is a "first step."

Well, Senator Reid, the only end at its beginning… is our collective hope that you and your colleagues would do what is right, what is essential, what you were each elected and re-elected to do.

Because this "first step"… is a step right off a cliff.

And this President!

How shameful it would be to watch an adult hold his breath, and threaten to continue to do so, until he turned blue.

But how horrifying it is to watch a President hold his breath and threaten to continue to do so, until innocent and patriotic Americans in harm's way, are bled white.

You lead this country, sir?

You claim to defend it?

And yet when faced with the prospect of someone calling you on your stubbornness–your stubbornness which has cost 3,431 Americans their lives and thousands more their limbs–you, Mr. Bush, imply that if the Democrats don't give you the money and give it to you entirely on your terms, the troops in Iraq will be stranded, or forced to serve longer, or have to throw bullets at the enemy with their bare hands.

How transcendentally, how historically, pathetic.

Any other president from any other moment in the panorama of our history would have, at the outset of this tawdry game of political chicken, declared that no matter what the other political side did, he would insure personally-first, last and always-that the troops would not suffer.

A President, Mr. Bush, uses the carte blanche he has already, not to manipulate an overlap of arriving and departing brigades into a ‘second surge,' but to say in unequivocal terms that if it takes every last dime of the monies already allocated, if it takes reneging on government contracts with Halliburton, he will make sure the troops are safe-even if the only safety to be found, is in getting them the hell out of there.

Well, any true President would have done that, sir.

You instead, used our troops as political pawns, then blamed the Democrats when you did so.

Not that these Democrats, who had this country's support and sympathy up until 48 hours ago, have not since earned all the blame they can carry home.

"We seem to be very near the bleak choice between war and shame," Winston Churchill wrote to Lord Moyne in the days after the British signed the Munich accords with Germany in 1938. "My feeling is that we shall choose shame, and then have war thrown in, a little later…"

That's what this is for the Democrats, isn't it?

Their "Neville Chamberlain moment" before the Second World War. All that's missing is the landing at the airport, with the blinkered leader waving a piece of paper which he naively thought would guarantee "peace in our time," but which his opponent would ignore with deceit.

The Democrats have merely streamlined the process.

Their piece of paper already says Mr. Bush can ignore it, with impugnity.

And where are the Democratic presidential hopefuls this evening? See they not, that to which the Senate and House leadership has blinded itself?

Judging these candidates based on how they voted on the original Iraq authorization, or waiting for apologies for those votes, is ancient history now.

The Democratic nomination is likely to be decided… tomorrow.

The talk of practical politics, the buying into of the President's dishonest construction "fund-the-troops-or-they-will-be-in-jeopardy," the promise of tougher action in September, is falling not on deaf ears, but rather falling on Americans who already told you what to do, and now perceive your ears as closed to practical politics.

Those who seek the Democratic nomination need to-for their own political futures and, with a thousand times more solemnity and importance, for the individual futures of our troops-denounce this betrayal, vote against it, and, if need be, unseat Majority Leader Reid and Speaker Pelosi if they continue down this path of guilty, fatal acquiescence to the tragically misguided will of a monomaniacal president.

For, ultimately, at this hour, the entire government has failed us.

* Mr. Reid, Mr. Hoyer, and the other Democrats… have failed us. They negotiated away that which they did not own, but had only been entrusted by us to protect: our collective will as the citizens of this country, that this brazen War of Lies be ended as rapidly and safely as possible.

* Mr. Bush and his government… have failed us. They have behaved venomously and without dignity-of course.
That is all at which Mr. Bush is gifted.

We are the ones providing any element of surprise or shock here.

With the exception of Senator Dodd and Senator Edwards, the Democratic presidential candidates have (so far at least) failed us.

They must now speak, and make plain how they view what has been given away to Mr. Bush, and what is yet to be given away tomorrow, and in the thousand tomorrows to come.

Because for the next fourteen months, the Democratic nominating process–indeed the whole of our political discourse until further notice–has, with the stroke of a cursed pen, become about one thing, and one thing alone.
The electorate figured this out, six months ago.

The President and the Republicans have not-doubtless will not.

The Democrats will figure it out, during the Memorial Day recess, when they go home and many of those who elected them will politely suggest they stay there-and permanently.

Because, on the subject of Iraq the people have been ahead of the media….

Ahead of the government…

Ahead of the politicians…

For the last year, or two years, or maybe three.

Our politics… is now about the answer to one briefly-worded question.

Mr. Bush has failed.

Mr. Warner has failed.

Mr. Reid has failed.

So. Who among us will stop this war-this War of Lies? To he or she, fall the figurative keys to the nation.

To all the others-presidents and majority leaders and candidates and rank-and-file Congressmen and Senators of either party-there is only blame… for this shameful, and bi-partisan, betrayal.

23 May 2007


Forms and substance are like the dew on the grass, destiny like the dart of lightning -- emptied in an instant, vanished in a flash.

-- Eihei Dogen, A Universal Recommendation for Zazen

Infrequent commentaries appended to some of these dreadful blog posts, few and far between as they are, have begun resonating, somewhat indistinctly, down in the more obscure nooks and crannies of my rather threadbare psyche. There’s this slight buzzing, an almost audible vibration, right below what is presumed to be the hard surface of my conscious mind; whether the direct result of polite criticism of my unforgivably hidebound cynicism, or perhaps the unwholesome side-effects of mixing too much black coffee with allergy medication -- or if it’s something more fundamental that transcends these pathetic considerations of mere ego -- is an open question. Something strange is going on, in any case.

I don’t mind criticism, since I’ve spent the better part of my life committing plenty of offensive and/or ridiculous acts that should be criticized. What’s significant here, at the moment, are a number of ideas that have germinated in some of the more robust heaps of critical fertilizer -- as it were -- that have been gently trowled on this monument to anonymity. By the way, you all who’ve been thoughtful enough to leave comments on this blog know who you are; no disrespect whatsoever is intended by the use of the word “fertilizer” ... I just wanted that said.

The first notion, and perhaps the only one that really matters, is wondering why in the hell I, or anybody for that matter, would bother with this sort of thing. What do we hope to accomplish? Seriously. In a virtual world thoroughly dominated by a handful of bloated monstrosities, grown arrogant and dictatorial as they preen and pose on their domineering pedestals, operating like Frankenstein’s digital traffic cops to keep all us faceless nobodies in line -- well, you get the picture. We haven’t a chance; the big dudes, whether by luck or perspicacity or technical savvy, or by virtue of seeing the potential that the blogging phenomenon truly had and getting in hugely right at the start, have created a hoggy heaven for themselves. The rest of us are just the toiling millions, who are (I suppose) expected to be content with the crumbs of obscurity and anonymity dispensed so magnanimously by the Koses of the world.

So, again: why do it? There are surely as many answers to that as there are bloggers out there, madly pounding away on laptop keyboards in every coffee house and brewpub on every corner in every town and country ... I can’t speak directly for anyone but myself, of course, but my reasons probably have at least some sort of universal application, being as they are spawned from an overactive imagination and an overwhelming sense of loathing and frustration, which are common currency these days. Since there’s absolutely no hope (or really any desire) for something like “commercial” success with this thing, there’s no reason whatsoever to tailor the material to anyone’s sensibilities or expectations. It is what it is, if I may be forgiven for using one of the blandest cliches ever coined. I read and walk around and look at things; I sift and I chew and tear shit apart -- the result is, well, this blog. I realize that, at times, it would seem that I’m about to snap my cap, that the over-taught rubber band that holds my psychological equilibrium together is getting ready to break. I began this blog primarily to prevent
such unhappy occurrences.

Well, before we return to our regularly scheduled program of foul-mouthed, despair-curdled iconoclastic bullshit, let me add just one thing: if the chuckleheaded human inhabitants of the earth didn’t need to have a new one torn once in awhile, there probably wouldn’t be any blogs at all.

Does any of this make sense? Anyway, thanks for the comments, my friends.

19 May 2007


Typical quasi-suburban coffee house tableau, American style, circa 2007: the doddering old fuck with the loose-leaf notebook is singing to himself again, pausing periodically to marshal his apparently limited supply of wind; just outside is a true hard-case homeless guy dressed in rags; across the street, of course, is the exercise emporium surrounded by SUVs; the dramatic Bosnian cashier projects her huskily compelling and rather stentorian voice into every corner of this painfully cheerful room; a steady stream of retirees, determined-looking corporate scumbags, and Valley Girls with cell phones troop in, chock full of empty righteousness and a completely misguided and erroneous sense of purpose ...

A symphony of superciliousness, a stunted stage-play of stupidity, an obscene caterwaul of hollow activity and wasted motion -- and now, it’s pushed even further along the one-way track straight down the swirling center of Beelzebub’s favorite commode by the sudden appearance of the slightly confused-looking business freak who plays with tarot cards.
Tarot cards?


No doubt about it -- we live in a weirdly fucked-up country. All you have to do is walk around with your eyes open to realize it. Where else in the western world would an ambulatory carbuncle of religio-ideological toejam like Jerry Falwell be eulogized as some sort of “great leader” of the overwhelmingly misnamed “Moral Majority,” who proudly “led evangelicals to the GOP” (
Sacramento Bee, 16 May 2007)? Nowhere but here. Where else on this dilapidated jalopy of a planet could ostentatious ignorance be held up as a worthwhile goal to which one should aspire, whether you’re the fat wobbling loudmouth chomping your diseased gums over “American Idol” (“There’re only three left! Oh my god!”) or the Supreme Meat-Puppet Stooge himself, George W. Bush? Why, the good old USA, naturally. What other society on earth so prides itself in being a living embodiment of Walter Lippman’s psycho daydreams of a technocratic dystopia administered by corporate executives and public-relations hacks, those he termed the “responsible men” who might “live free of the trampling and the roar of a bewildered herd”? Yes, you guessed correctly -- the United States of America.

It’s dfficult to fathom why we even bother to continue with this experiment, this notably failed exercise befouled by falsehood, distortion, misconception, misunderstanding, larceny, bigotry, ignorance, stupidity ... Actually, upon reflection, it’s not all that hard to figure out; so long as you can sincerely subscribe to one (or all) of the above characterizations, enthusiastically accepting your bleak position among the “bewildered herd” while the “responsible men” go about the business of dictating what you should do and think, then there’s really nothing
to figure out. That is the crux of the existential dilemma we face today, why so many reasonable people out here are constantly bashing their skulls against (mostly) virtual brick walls of sheer rage and frustration: the institutionalized lack of inquisitiveness, bland credulity masking an appalling depth of ignorant disregard, energetic bubblings while gleefully feeding at the corporate dog dish ... all as practiced by the “herd.”

Well, anyway. Only in America ...

16 May 2007


News item: “Death Deals Taliban a Blow” (Sacramento Bee, 14 May 2007). The Taliban? A blow? Oh yeah -- Afghanistan. I remember now. The other Neo-Con war, the war that was “won” five and a half years ago with the ignominious ouster of this self-same Taliban from the rickety, makeshift levers of power in Kabul. You remember: mercenary warlord armies with dramatic names like “Northern Alliance,” US special force troopers riding donkeys, people being broiled alive in locked boxcars, former Unocal executives being installed as figurehead “presidents,” Operation Anaconda, massacres at Mazar-i-Sharif, torture chambers at Bagram, Afghani wedding parties and Canadian infantrymen being “mistakenly” blown to bits by US Air Force pilots on speed, “al-Qaeda,” Pat Tillman ... Osama ...

Do you remember now?

It was a war that began dramatically enough, conveniently legitimized by the so-called “terrorist” attacks of September 11th but gathering dust on Neo-Con drawing boards long before then. Remember the 40 million bucks (or was it 45?) Bush handed to the Taliban government in the spring of 2001, ostensibly as a “reward” for the Taliban’s program to (supposedly) eradicate opium poppies? A “reward” that was, in reality, a cheapskate’s attempt to bribe a group of ridiculous religious fanatics into allowing the construction of oil and gas pipelines across Afghanistan, from the Caspian Sea to Pakistan and the Indian Ocean. Remember? Mullah Omar and his chuckleheads pocketed the money and proceeded to give the middle finger to the Bushniks and the pipeline consortium, demanding a bigger slice of the oily Caspian pie; there being no honor among thieves, the Neo-Con apparatus then strung-out the self-designed impasse as long as they could, until the PNAC-inspired events of that September allowed a radical alteration of the game all these fucksticks were playing. The rest, as they say, is history.

Or is it? Apparently not, if newspaper headlines such as the one above are any indication.

Obviously, we’re not supposed to think about Afghanistan. Or much of anything, really. Thinking runs the risk of uncovering the truth, or at least a version of something that may or may not approximate the truth. We can’t have
that. Hierarchies and power structures don’t normally function properly if they’re too heavily encumbered with the truth; that’s always been the case with the government of the United States, but particularly since the Rove-Cheney engineered Supreme Court putsch of 2000.


So what’s the truth about Afghanistan? The truth is, it doesn’t
matter what the truth is. It doesn’t matter that it’s a militarily untenable medieval rubble heap, or that the puppet “central government” has no effective authority beyond the confines of Kabul (and hardly any in Kabul itself), or that the Taliban is still stirring things up more than five years after supposedly being overthrown, or that the sad destroyed country has become a mere backwater sideshow to the premier Neo-Con monument to imperial hubris -- Iraq. None of this matters because nobody really gives the tiniest little fuck about it. An establishment dishrag like the Sacramento Bee can report, somewhat obliquely, that there’s still combat raging in the great Neo-Con/PNAC success story otherwise known as Afghanistan, that the Taliban are back and stronger than ever, and that the relatively small NATO contingents there are little more than sitting ducks waiting to be turned into tattered shreds of raw hamburger ... The public responds with a collective yawn; the “opposition party” in Congress yaps and yelps and scampers about like a pack of toothless Pomeranians, barking about “benchmarks” and “accountability” but tacitly enabling the whole Neo-Con project; and the Bee follows up their piece on Afghanistan with stories about Governor Schickelgruber’s proposal to privatize the state lottery, the price of gasoline, and Barry Bonds ...

Oh well, never mind -- sinister piece of human waste Jerry Falwell bit the big one yesterday, so we can safely stuff the
other disastrously failed Bush war into the mental incinerator where it belongs.

12 May 2007


From David Sirota, a couple days ago:

TIMELINE: The Secret Bush-Democratic Trade Deal & What It Means

Thursday, May 10th was a whirlwind day on the political frontlines in the War on the Middle Class, as a handful of senior congressional Democrats and the White House - cheered on by K Street lobbyists - joined forces today to announce a "deal" on a package of trade agreements that could impact millions of American workers and potentially calls into question the entire election mandate of 2006 (I say potentially because the full details are still being concealed by both Democrats and the White House). You'll notice the irony of the deal with just a glance at the front of the New York Times business section (screen captured above) - the U.S. government reported another widening he deal was agreed to (though its details have still not been made public) on the very same day of America's job-destroying trade deficit.

Because so much has transpired in the last 6 hours, I'm going to summarize it here chronologically in bullet points to make it easier to digest.

I've been covering it live all day, but figured for brevity it would be best to put it in one place. For context, remember that, as Public Citizen has documented and as business publications like Forbes Magazine has confirmed, Democrats won their congressional majority in 2006 thanks to scores of challenger candidates specifically running against lobbyist-written trade policy. This 2006 lesson is particularly important to Democrats who, in the early 1990s experienced their own President campaign for office opposing unfair trade deals, then ram NAFTA through Congress "over the dead bodies" of workers, then watch the Democratic majority get decimated in the following election. I want to stress, we still don't know the details of the deal, but we do have some critically important information to analyze.

Here's the timeline of the day:

- Mid-afternoon today, six populist, fair trade Democrats author a letter to the House Democratic leadership demanding a full Democratic caucus debate over a secret trade proposal that Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-NY) and Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) have been negotiating with the White House. This proposal has been kept ultra-secret even from fellow Democratic lawmakers, much like the Cheney energy task force. The negotiations have coincided with Baucus and Rangel forming a joint corporate fundraising PAC, and with Baucus's International Economic Summit, where the lineup of speakers demanded Baucus support more free trade pacts and ignore the Montana State Senate's resolution urging him to stop such pacts in the future. The letter from the populist Democrats follows similar earlier letters of concern from rank-and-file Democrats.

- About an hour after the letter is sent, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has refrained from taking a position on the secret negotiations, sends out word of a major press conference that would be held at 6pm EST with herself, Baucus, Rangel, Bush Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Bush Trade Representative Susan Schwab. The press conference is to announce a "deal" whereby these senior Democrats agree to support a package of pending trade deals with Peru, Panama, South Korea and Colombia, supposedly in exchange for major reforms to these trade deals, including the addition of strong labor and environmental protections. The press conference is sponsored by the New Democrats - the group of Democrats that have historically supported lobbyist-written trade pacts and that was instrumental in passing the credit card-industry-written bankruptcy bill. No progressive Democrats appear at the press conference.

- Immediately after the press conference, the New York Times reports that Pelosi, Rangel and Baucus appear to be cutting a "deal" with Bush that the majority of Democrats do not support "Despite the endorsement of Rangel and Pelosi," the Times wrote, "many Democrats say that half or more of the Democrats in Congress may vote against the deal." The Times also notes that the deal "paves the way" for Congress to grant Bush's request to reauthorize fast track authority - the authority that allows presidents to eliminate basic labor, human rights and environmental protections from trade pacts. The Associated Press soon reports that "a half-dozen House Democrats with strong labor ties, watching the news conference from the back of the room, later expressed strong dissatisfaction" with the deal and the process used to make a deal. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) says, "The strongest voices for workers and the environment were not included" in the negotiations and were not informed of the deal. Similarly, Rep. Michael Michaud (D-ME) says, "I'm very disappointed that Speaker Pelosi held a press conference before meeting with the caucus. In a democratic process Democrats ought to know." None of the stories include any comment from representatives of labor, human rights or environmental organizations.

- Both a news release from Pelosi and a document sent to Capitol Hill staffers from Baucus's Senate Finance Committee about an hour after the press conference trumpets new labor protections in the deal, but does not say that multinational unions will be able to go to courts to demand enforcement of labor laws - a key privilege multinational corporations currently have in working to dismantle federal and state consumer protection, environmental and labor laws at a cost of at least $1.8 billion to U.S. taxpayers.

- An hour after the press conference, the Associated Press reports that Rangel says the trade deal was designed by those who "didn't want the U.S. trade representative to be a lobbyist just for U.S. businesses." The same AP story reports that several of Washington's most powerful corporate lobbying groups offered effusive praise for the deal.

- About an hour and a half after the press conference, the Financial Times reports that "the terms of the deal are still being finalized...Democrats were on Thursday resisting making a commitment to seek the passage of a pending trade agreement with Colombia. The Colombian pact has been singled out because of government links to right-wing death squads, the high level of political violence, and killings of trade unionists. The exclusion of Colombia is a setback for the administration...Business lobbyists were less than enthusiastic about the administrations' concessions, which were a sign that the tremendous influence of corporate lobbyists over trade deals had been weakened slightly."

- Two hours after the press conference, Agence France Press newswire reports that, in fact, the deal includes Colombia and that K Street is cheering the pact because the labor protections are apparently weak. U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and Republican Party bigwig Tom Donohue tells AFP that he is "encouraged by assurances that the labor provisions [in the deal] cannot be read to require compliance with ILO Conventions." This shocking revelation, which undermines all of the claims made at the press conference, is somehow not reprinted nor probed by any other major media outlet.

- Three hours after the press conference, the House Ways and Means Committee issues a press release that includes a quote from Republican Rep. Wally Herger saying that the deal apparently includes assurances of passage of fast track. "We now have a way forward on Panama, Peru, Colombia, South Korea and even reauthorization of TPA," Herger says. The New York Times final story for tomorrow's paper is posted online noting that Rangel is now, for the first time, publicly agreeing to support an extension of fast track. He justifies his new position by claiming he believes the upcoming Doha trade talks are designed to help poor people in the developing world - an assertion that flies in the face of a recent Tufts University report that says exactly the opposite. The full details of the deal still have yet to be released.

- Five hours after the press conference, the Washington Post reports that "Thea M. Lee, the legislative policy director for the nation's largest confederation of labor unions, the AFL-CIO, said last night she could envision no scenario that would win labor's approval for a trade deal with Colombia." Lee has been quoted just hours before by Reuters saying the AFL-CIO could not support any deal that allowed the United States to avoid being forced to comply with international labor standards. Because the deal's details have still not been released, it remains unclear whether unions will, in fact, be given the ability to sue in international courts for the enforcement of labor protections - the same ability corporations currently are granted in trade pacts to sue in international courts to eliminate state and federal environmental/consumer protection laws that cut into corporate profits. The AFL-CIO, like other major union, environmental, human rights and consumer protection organizations, has yet to issue a formal statement on the deal.

- Five and a half hours after the press conference, the Hill Newspaper reports that K Street lobbying groups are trumpeting Baucus, the Senate's key player in the deal. �It is hard to argue that Max Baucus or others have not been receptive to the business agenda,� says a top official of the Business Industry Political Action Committee.

- Six hours after the press conference, Washington Post business columnist Steve Pearlstein, one of the leading opinionmakers on trade issues, declares the deal to be a "major achievement" even though the full details of the deal have yet to be released. Pearlstein's declaration flies in the face of an article he wrote less than a year ago urging Democrats "to take [free trade] hostage" and not "give away the store." His article appears to be the pundit class's starting gun to trumpet the deal, much as the pundit class provided a cheerleading section for NAFTA and the China free trade pact.

Here's some more important details. According to my Capitol Hill sources, most Democratic lawmakers still have not seen the language of the deal. These sources also tell me that while Rangel originally promised organized labor that he would not agree to a deal without a process for labor to review the language, at the moment of Pelosi's press release, labor leaders were in the midst of a conference call to discuss the deal and had not yet provided final input. Furthermore, sources tell me that a group of Democrats in vulnerable seats who had campaigned for office opposing further NAFTA-style free trade expansion informed Pelosi's office early in the day of their concerns and were assured that the Speaker did not have an official position on a deal.

I want to reiterate, we have not yet seen the details of this deal. While the secrecy and this information aggregated in this dispatch certainly raises very serious concerns about what the White House and this handful of Democrats are trying to hide, we have to reserve final judgment on what the deal ultimately means until these players decide to disclose their deliberations to the American public.

Nonetheless, there are very real reasons to be concerned. During NAFTA and China PNTR, this same kind of secretive process unfolded, with the same politicians declaring that the deals were all about helping American workers and the same media outlets behaving as stenographers for such declarations - all while the details were concealed. The bottom line is clear: If this deal sells out the American middle class - as many longtime fair trade Democrats in Congress seem to fear - it will require a massive grassroots pressure campaign to demand Democrats respect the 2006 election's fair trade mandate and back off.

Continue checking back to this blog for more. During live coverage of the press conference today, CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight specifically referenced the reporting on trade being done here on the Working Assets blog, and I will do my best to keep updating the situation as more information becomes available.

Haven't we had quite enough of this charade, the kool-aid fiction of "representative democracy"? To hell with this fucking hogsnot ...

10 May 2007


A brief eyeblink, and another week (or so) of our collective lives disappears into empty ambiguity, here at the festering ass-end of Bush World. Hardly a minute passes these days that I don’t ask myself: how did we get here? And that’s usually followed up with: how long is this crap supposed to last?

More useless, unanswerable questions. I have a million of them.

Like most people with at least as much sense as a bag of rusty doorknobs, I have an overabundance of questions -- about every conceivable topic -- but no real answers. None. I wonder why that should be, since it implies a lack of understanding or imagination, or a deficit in basic intellectual capacity, or some such woebegone mental failing. I’m no Ph.D. with a closet full of Nobels, perhaps, but I’m reasonably convinced that I’ve escaped the more debilitating effects of the all-pervasive consumerist programming for which American “culture” is so rightly infamous. Still and all, the cognitive squirrel in my psychological “cage” seems to fly off its wheel more often than not anymore. It’s a bit of a problem, you see.

Yes, the squirrel appears to be at the point of expiration, particularly when I force its attention on, say, the Katrina-esque aftermath of that squashed town in Kansas. What paralyzes the mangy rodent in my skull isn’t that the Bushniks completely botched the government’s response to a catastrophic disaster, both prepatory to and afterwards (while characteristically blaming the victims) -- which is only what one would expect; but, rather, it’s the indignant surprise that this most recent example of callous disregard and incompetence has generated. What the happy monkey fuck is
that? Pardon me, but I seem to remember something about a huge hurricane, in tandem with a federal emergency management apparatus thoroughly corrupted by Neo-Con/corporatist malfeasance, that largely destroyed a major American city a couple of years ago. Is it possible -- actually possible -- that the people of Kansas are completely unaware of the nightmarish horror in New Orleans, brought about by an un-elected “administration” of jugheaded thugs, that continues even today? Jesus H. Christ ... my squirrel just had a coronary.

No disrespect for the citizens of Kansas is intended, even towards the nitwits and chuckleheads who’ve done more than their share to sustain in power the totalitarian ideologues who, now, are shitting all over their hail- and wind-blown heads. I actually like Kansas, I really do -- in fact, I regretfully passed on an opportunity to attend Kansas State University back in the early 1990’s, in order to pursue other endeavors. But
that, as they say, is another story. Now is now, as they also say, and now is the era of every sad sack, tornado-eater, and collapsing levee-loser for him- or herself. We’re on our own out here, utterly alone; just cannon fodder and rat bait is what we are. Expectorating righteous invective over the outrageous larcenies and abject failures of political tools, big-money shills, and corporate whores seems, well, oddly superfluous and somehow just plain weird ... But then, come to think of it, applying that particular brand of logic would mean that there’s no reason to continue with this bullshit blogging business ...

Damn that cognitive squirrel! I think I’ll put that little fucker out of its misery.

02 May 2007


So, the fake monkey-puppet “president” vetoed the latest Congressional blank check for his illegal, no-end-in-sight, disastrously misfired misadventure in the failed state of Iraq. Burdened as it was with watery, rather weak-kneed provisions that kinda sorta -- maybe -- politely asked for the possibility of perhaps considering going through the motions of appearing to get the fuck out of that sadly despoiled country, this most recent debt-busting giveaway to the war-profiteer industry was ignominiously smacked by Mensa Man, wielding his big throbbing veto stick as only a true blue-blood Connecticut cowboy can.

It’s all so utterly shocking.

Well, not really. Nothing that occurs anymore in this pathetic era is particularly surprising. As far as
this little stage-managed melodrama is concerned, the only source of suspense lies in wondering how long it will take before the Democrats in Congress cave in yet again, like the craven cowards they are, to the single-minded and implacably evil neo-con will. They’ve come to be so accomplished in the role of drooling lapdogs, especially over the past six-plus years, that anything short of abject surrender is practically inconceivable.

You just know -- you just
do -- that the betrayal is being cobbled together even now, behind any number of closed doors in the offices of Reid and Pelosi. Of course, it will be characterized as a “compromise” in the spirit of “bipartisanship,” or some such poisonous bat squeeze. In real terms though, what it’ll mean is that the Neo-Nazi meathead in the White House gets precisely what his string-pullers want, the Democratic “leadership” pontificates and blusters in an unsuccessful attempt to convince the majority who placed them in charge of Congress that they really aren’t a sleazy gang of Vichyite collaborators, and the crucible of larceny and murder in Iraq (and, perhaps, elsewhere) gets to keep boiling over for the foreseeable future.

Brace yourselves -- the newest betrayal is coming soon.

01 May 2007


It's not even an officially sanctioned holiday in the United States, even though it was founded as a show of solidarity with American workers on the part of their European working-class bretheren. How low has it sunk even today? Instead of commemorating the victims of the extraordinarily violent labor history of the United States of America, we get Mission Accomplished Day, Veto Day, Melting Freeways in the Bay Area Day, "Law" Day, The Great Unwashed Masses Get Their Boxers in a Wad Over "American Idol" Day, Surge Till You're Dead Day ...

And on and on. You get the picture ...