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“How do you swim in a chador?” 30 May 2006

Posted by marisacat in Divertissements, Europe, Italy.

 The above comes from a question put to Khomeini by the journalist, Oriana Fallaci.  When he told her not to meddle in their business, she stood and stripped it off, having dressed as stipulated for the interview, barefoot and wrapped in the chador… 

 He left in a huff, but made sure to finish the interview two days later… Tho one of his sons warned her not to mention "chador", that is exactly what she did for the conclusion of the interview, bring it up again.

 e brava! 

 The New Yorker is up with a profile on Oriana Fallaci, from Margaret Talbot.  I dropped in at breakneck speed to catch up on OF.  Reading her as a teenager was, bracing.  Wonderful wonderful interviews across three decades… 

 And she does not disappoint.  Hardly anyone will like or agree with all of her points.

 But with some, I surely do agree…  And I want the politically incorrect, but still thinking, the iconoclastic, but cogent, to be heard.  And certainly not hauled into court for blasphemy.

“Yesterday, I was hysterical,” the Italian journalist and novelist Oriana Fallaci said. She was telling me a story about a local dog owner and the liberties he’d allowed his animal to take in front of Fallaci’s town house, on the Upper East Side. Big mistake.

“I no longer have the energy to get really angry, like I used to,” she added. It called to mind what the journalist Robert Scheer said about Fallaci after interviewing her for Playboy, in 1981: “For the first time in my life, I found myself feeling sorry for the likes of Khomeini, Qaddafi, the Shah of Iran, and Kissinger—all of whom had been the objects of her wrath—the people she described as interviewing ‘with a thousand feelings of rage.’ ”

For two decades, from the mid-nineteen-sixties to the mid-nineteen-eighties, Fallaci was one of the sharpest political interviewers in the world. Her subjects were among the world’s most powerful figures: Yasir Arafat, Golda Meir, Indira Gandhi, Haile Selassie, Deng Xiaoping.

Henry Kissinger, who later wrote that his 1972 interview with her was “the single most disastrous conversation I have ever had with any member of the press,” said that he had been flattered into granting it by the company he’d be keeping as part of Fallaci’s “journalistic pantheon.”

It was more like a collection of pelts: Fallaci never left her subjects unskinned.

Fallaci’s journalism, at first conducted for the Italian magazine L’Europeo and later published in translation throughout the world, was infused with a “mythic sense of political evil,” as the writer Vivian Gornick once put it—an almost adolescent aversion to power, which suited the temperament of the times. 

As Fallaci explained in her preface to “Interview with History,” a 1976 collection of Q. & A.s,

“Whether it comes from a despotic sovereign or an elected president, from a murderous general or a beloved leader, I see power as an inhuman and hateful phenomenon. . . . I have always looked on disobedience toward the oppressive as the only way to use the miracle of having been born.”

Reading again of her interview with Kissinger, I recall squealing with delight as she skewered the flatulent. 

In Fallaci’s interview with Kissinger, she told him that he had become known as “Nixon’s mental wet nurse,” and lured him into boasting that Americans admired him because he “always acted alone”—like “the cowboy who leads the wagon train by riding ahead alone on his horse, the cowboy who rides all alone into the town.”

Political cartoonists mercilessly lampooned this remark, and, according to Kissinger’s memoirs, the quote soured his relations with Nixon. (Kissinger claimed that she had taken his words out of context.)

But the most remarkable moment in the interview came when Fallaci bluntly asked him, about Vietnam, “Don’t you find, Dr. Kissinger, that it’s been a useless war?,” and Kissinger began his reply with the words “On this, I can agree.”

And this:

No!” “No” was something Fallaci was happy to say. But Berlusconi and Prodi were “two fucking idiots,” she said. “Why do the people humiliate themselves by voting? I didn’t vote. No! Because I have dignity. . . . If, at a certain moment, I had closed my nose and voted for one of them, I would spit on my own face.”

 I know that feeling.

 I miss the sense of guerilla action from that type of journalist.  It is absolutely gone from America.   We have always had a largely pliant press, but it has become monolithic with corporate ownership.  The crushing, and menial, mediocrity that is cover for our sins. 

 And Talbot includes a bit of vintage Oriana:

After I had interviewed Fallaci, I discovered two great examples of her journalism that I had not read before.

In a witty 1963 article about Federico Fellini, Fallaci describes with wary, nervy thoroughness the many times and places that the great director kept her waiting. When she finally corners him, she begins by saying,

“So then let us brace ourselves, Signor Fellini, and let us discuss Federico Fellini, just for a change. I know you find it hard: you are so withdrawing, so secretive, so modest. But it is our duty to discuss him, for the sake of the nation.” She goes on in this vein until Fellini cuts her off, saying, “Nasty liar. Rude little bitch.” In her introduction to the interview, she writes, “I used to be truly fond of Federico Fellini. Since our tragic encounter, I’m a lot less fond. To be exact, I’m no longer fond of him. That is, I don’t like him at all. Glory is a heavy burden, a murdering poison, and to bear it is an art. And to have that art is rare.”

Sometimes they really do toss the cookie cutter.

George gives a speech (Hadithah) 29 May 2006

Posted by marisacat in Culture of Death, Iraq War, WAR!.
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 Basrah - 2003

 to the graduating class at West Point. The transcript indicates these soon-to-be full fledged warriors applauded their leader.   


 Gen Pace, a Marine and head of the Joint Chiefs, seems able to disbelieve the truth – and the photos – from last November 19 in Hadithah, a river town on the Euphrates.  The BBC has said we are "winding up" our investigations, so, really, we know. 

 Perhaps Pace waits for the voice of God.


  In the Los Angeles Times, from a pro-war reporter, Tony Perry, comes what the New York Times is too pro-government to write. 

 John Murtha presents the truth, and it is simple,

"They killed innocent civilians in cold blood. And that's what the report is going to tell."

huddled, a night sweep 2003

 In truth, we never planned for a "peacetime", no matter what Washington says.  No matter how the Democrats crouch and hide their complicity.

  America should learn the ululation of mourning, for our sins the war will come home and our grief shall be long.

child on a swing made from barbed wire Southern Iraq, 2004

Afghanistan, the other war. 29 May 2006

Posted by marisacat in Afghanistan War, WAR!.
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 [al Jazeera]

From TimesOnline today:

BLOODY riots flared across the Afghan capital yesterday as thousands marched in protest at the deaths of several passengers in a car involved in a collision with a US military convoy.

Security forces then reportedly shot dead demonstrators who had gathered at the accident site, sparking violent protest across the city. At least 14 people died and the Government introduced a night-time curfew.

Up to 2,000 people gathered in central Kabul, with groups marching on parliament, the presidential palace and Western missions, including the US and British embassies. Shops were looted and the offices of an aid agency ransacked. Protesters chanted “Death to America” and burnt US flags as they fought running battles with police.

While chaos reigned in the capital, US bombers struck against Taleban positions in southern Helmand province, killing up to 50 people.

Five Canadian soldiers were wounded during a clash in the neighbouring province of Kandahar.

The day of unprecedented violence capped a fortnight of killing in which 500 people, mainly Taleban militants, are reported to have died.

President Karzai went on television last night and blamed agitators and opportunists for yesterday’s trouble in Kabul. It began when a US army lorry or tank hit a civilian car during rush hour. According to Tolo TV, a local television station, eight people died in the accident. […]

TimesOnline 5/30/06

As The Times tried to visit the scene the car was surrounded by an angry mob chanting: “We will skin you alive.”

The exact number of deaths was unknown, but some reports suggested that up to 30 people had been killed and more than 100 injured.

A policeman on the scene, who would only give his name as Hanif, said: “There are 30 or 40 bodies lying in the streets. They are still there.”

As he spoke, gunfire continued to crackle near by. Throughout the city the police and Afghan soldiers fired into the air as protesters went on the rampage, trying to storm embassies and offices belonging to aid agencies. The office of Care International was ransacked, with documents strewn across the road and a fire started in the compound. It is believed all the occupants escaped safely.

With this short timeline at the end:


May 26 Ten suspected Taleban militants killed in Ghazni province

May 24 Sixty suspected insurgents killed by US forces in southern Uruzgan

May 22
Twenty Taleban killed in US airstrike on Azizi in Kandahar; sixty civilians killed

May 21 Thirteen Afghan soldiers and nine Taliban killed in Sangin district

May 20 Sixteen civilians killed in coalition strikes in Helmand and Kandahar

Oh Yes yes yes:   Kill the ''insurgents''. 

As if from the Western press we have the slightest idea.  What we do know is that Bush's counterpart, Osama, roams free, as does his number two, and idealogical mentor, Zawahiri.  Media has successfully replaced those names with al Zarqawi, ever elusive, ever handy.

Who really knows.  We are meant to be patsies.  That long ago word, spoken in a hallway in Dallas 43 years ago.

This from the Jurist:

Over 60 Guantanamo detainees were juveniles when captured: UK rights group

JURIST] The British prisoners rights group Reprieve [advocacy website] has claimed that over 60 of the foreign detainees imprisoned by the US at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] were juveniles under 18 years of age when captured, and that some were as young as 14. Reprieve told the Independent newspaper that 17 detainees on the latest US list [JURIST report] were under eighteen when seized, and that another seven were probably juveniles. Reprieve founder Clive Stafford Smith [Wikipedia profile], a British lawyer acting for several Guantanamo detainees who has previously pressed the US on the status of children at the camp [2005 article], added that according to information from inmates and the Red Cross, another 37 inmates were under 18 when they were taken into custody.

The US says that there are currently no juveniles held at the prison. Three Afghan youths who were at one point held there in a separate facility called Camp Iguana [Wikipedia backgrounder] were released in 2004 [JURIST report]. The Independent has more.

Botero Abu Ghraib 43, 2005 [TimeInc]

[thanks to Madman for the Jurist link]

Warlordism… and arms dealers the world over raise a cheer! 28 May 2006

Posted by marisacat in DC Politics, WAR!.
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Mirror Mirror:  Blood splattered mirror on the wall, who is the greatest warlord of them all?

In Somalia:  No idea who is fighting who 


The fighting pits Mogadishu's notorious warlords against Islamist leaders attempting to turn the country into a religious state. But for many of the people running for their lives, the fighting is as incomprehensible as so many past wars, a shootout between rival militias in which civilians are the ones bleeding the most.

"I have no idea who is fighting who," said Hadiyo Mohamed, 25, who fled Mogadishu three days ago with three young children. "I was just going about my daily activities as a housewife when shelling began.

"The complicated fight began in January, only to escalate as the months have passed. Fueled by arms provided by foreign governments, the battle for power has cost hundreds of lives, even as the leaders on both sides portray themselves as defenders of the people. […]

The warlords have ruled Mogadishu for 15 chaotic years, using young gunmen to extract as much revenue as they can from checkpoints, ports and airstrips within their turf.

They have struck alliances with business leaders, who pay protection money to enable them to trade with Gulf states.

But Islamic leaders have quietly emerged as a third force, one with huge political, economic and military clout. They have slowly filled a void in anarchic Somalia, creating Islamic schools and courts and providing social services unavailable anywhere else.

Mogadishu 2004 Typhus innoculation

Amid the moderate sheiks, however, are hard-liners whom American officials say have formed a small Al Qaeda cell in Mogadishu.

To combat the extremists, American intelligence officials struck an alliance with the warlords, who fashioned themselves into a counterterrorism alliance.

"Clandestine third-country involvement" is what an expert panel convened by the United Nations calls the behind the scenes activity by the American government, without explicitly naming the United States.

A report released this month in New York by the panel suggested that Washington was providing financial support "to help organize and structure a militia force created to counter the threat posed by the growing militant fundamentalist movement in central and southern Somalia." […]

The UN panel found that Ethiopians have been arming the fledgling government that has convened outside Mogadishu, in the inland town of Baidoa.

To counter Ethiopian influence, the Eritrean government has provided arms of its own, the UN panel said, detailing precise shipments of anti-aircraft, anti- tank and heavy machine gun ammunition as well as machine guns, remote- control bombs and anti-personnel mines provided by each side.

Somali truck overladen with corn

Also accused of violating a UN arms embargo in Somalia are the Italians, accused of shipping trucks and "a number of large, long, sealed boxes" to the transitional government.

In addition, Yemen has shipped pickup trucks, military uniforms, military boots to the transitional government, the experts found. As battling rages on the streets of Mogadishu, the transitional government that was formed after two years of peace negotiations in neighboring Kenya sits on the sidelines.

The government has issued declarations calling for an end to the violence, but to little effect. In fact, four of the chief warlords involved in the fighting hold top-level cabinet posts in the government and have openly flouted calls for them to lay down their arms. […]

But no matter which side eventually wins the fight for Mogadishu, residents fear that peace will not be the result. "Even if one side wins, they will then fight among themselves," said Issa Mohamed Ga'al, who fled fighting in Mogadishu in March.

Medicins sans frontieres photo, Modadishu

Cannot be new… 27 May 2006

Posted by marisacat in Iraq War.
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 Sadr City, 5/22/06

this piece in the SF Chronicle on streets barricaded off in Baghdad, done by the residents to try to keep themselves safe… and of small localised militias.

 Did we expect people would not try to protect themselves, organise to protect themselves, from all the warriors, on all sides?

Baghdad — On a moonless, hazy night, a willowy shadow of a man holding an AK-47 lurked in an empty east Baghdad alley behind a row of rusted, empty market stalls. As an American convoy approached, the man disappeared into the dark. The U.S. armored humvees rattled past the alley.

Who was he, and what was he doing out in the street after the midnight curfew?

The soldiers of the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division who saw him said he was probably a member of one of the many vigilante teams that have sprung up in this heavily Shiite region of Baghdad and all across Iraq's capital. Not trusting U.S. or Iraqi forces to defend them, neighborhoods are setting up their own militias and checkpoints.  […]

Sunset in Baghdad, the Martyr's Memorial or Al-Shaheed Monument in Baghdad

Not every Baghdad street has vigilante teams. A high school English teacher, whose two-story house sits kitty-corner across a square from the Sunni al-Hasanien Mosque in Amariya, said no one patrols his neighborhood at night. "We have a machine gun," he said, referring to his Kalashnikov. "And we have God. That's it."

Down the alley from the teacher's house, a sign spray-painted in black on a concrete barricade read, in English:

"Give us a chance to protect our selfs."

We have completely forgotten, if indeed we ever consciously agreed that it was true, the Iraqi people are inside their own country – and we are the invader.

Wagons-Lits II … 27 May 2006

Posted by marisacat in Divertissements, Egypt, Political Blogs.
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with Billmon,  Cairo – Luxor 

 I cannot put my finger on what has been so fascinating about Billmon's peripatetic version of a several day World Economic Forum at Sharm el-Sheikh, but it has been fascinating…  Perhaps simply timely diversion…

 Every since I was a small boy, and used to spend hours pouring over maps of faraway places and dreaming about the treasures hidden there, one of my dreams has been to take a train down the Nile, into the heart of Africa. Riding first-class to Luxor on the Egyptian national railway isn’t quite the same thing, but it’s close enough, and that’s what I was set to do after I left Sharm el-Sheikh and the World Economic Forum behind. Last Tuesday, however, my dream was almost shattered, probably beyond repair, because of a large red spot on the corner of a $10 bill.

cairo, the nile

All's Well That Ends Well

             He who has not seen Cairo has not seen the world.

                                          The Thousand and One Nights

[W]e finally arrived in the automotive mob scene in front of Ramses Station (if Cairo is chaos, then Midan Ramses, the traffic circle beside the station, is chaos cubed. I’d made it, with an hour and 15 minutes to spare. I paid the cabbie (another 60 pounds gone) and climbed out into the swirling humanity of downtown Cairo. No worries. I had plenty of time to buy my return ticket on the overnight sleeper train, grab some cash out of an ATM, and then make my way over to the regular ticket counter and reserve a first-class seat on the 11:00 train.

I had no problems booking and buying my return ticket – they even took VISA. Of course, like everything in Egypt, it took about three times longer than my worst-case estimate when I stepped in the door. But no worries, I still had 50 minutes. So I picked up my bags and struggled over to one of the white uniformed tourist police (in my experience, the most useful, and underpaid, members of the Egyptian security apparatus) and asked him to direct me to the ticket counter.

“And where are you going, sir?”

“Luxor, on the 11 o’clock train.”

“Ah, next tourist train at 11:30, sir.”

“Is it running late?”

“Oh no sir. Eleven tonight sir.”


I should stop and explain that following the terrorist attacks of the late 1990s (one hill over from the Valley of the Kings, a tour group was systematically hunted down and slaughtered in 1997) the Egyptian government decreed that tourists could only ride first class and only on certain guarded trains. I’d thought that my train was one of them.

He must have seen from the look on my face that I was feeling rather deflated.

“You have hotel in Cairo? Go wait, come back tonight.”

Or, the cop told me, I could catch a tourist train at seven the next morning. But that meant I wouldn’t get to Luxor until late Wednesday night – cutting my time there from three days (one of which I planned to spend recuperating) to two. I’d also have to find a hotel in Cairo and, for the second day in a row, haul my ass our of bed at the crack of dawn to make a run for the train station. In theory it was feasible, but I had an intuitive feeling that if I went down that path, my chances of actually catching a train would start to slip away.

“But I have to be on the 11 o’clock train.” I told the cop. “I have to meet friends in Luxor! Very, very important I be there on time.” (I’ve always been proud of my ability to think – and lie – on my feet.)

He looked at me gravely, and then decided to take pity on me. Maybe it was because he could see I was a hick from the sticks and didn’t know the ropes. (Like New Yorkers, Caireans believe their city is the center of the universe, with somewhat greater cause.) He gestured to a man standing nearby, who glided over. The man, whom I’ll call Ahmed, since I never did learn his real name, nodded to me. He was obviously one of the quasi-employed guys who hang out at the station and try to make a few piasters totting luggage or running errands. I didn’t know it yet, but this was the guy my dream ride now depended upon.

“OK Mister,” the tourist policeman said. “You give money this man and he buy ticket for you.” (The counter agents have firm instructions not to sell tickets on the forbidden trains to foreigners.)


But must of all, there were masses of human bodies, jostling and dodging each other on the sidewalk, mobbing on the street corners waiting for the lights to change (since I was there last, the city has installed metal fences and gates along the really important streets downtown. When the light changes, a cop on the corner opens the gate so people can cross. This appears to have cut down on the chorus line dancing through the traffic, at least little bit.

Out into this urban ocean we swam, Ahmed and I, steering an unsteady course towards a corner a couple of blocks away that reportedly hand a bank on it. People steered with us – fore and aft, starboard and port. Many of the women, far more than I remembered from my first visit 15 years ago – were dressed in abayas (the Arabian version of the chador) a long black garment that looks like a cross between a nun’s habit and a sack, and is meant to.) Most of the men wore Western dress, although some wore blue or gray galabias – the all-purpose, all-in-one traditional Egyptian garment that is a loose shirt above the waist and an ankle length sack below it. Most of the men were also clean shaven, I absent mindedly noted as we pushed and were pushed along with the crowd. A scraggly beard and gabalaya is the uniform of the pious and, in some cases, the radical fundamentalist. After what I’ve been reading and hearing about Egypt lately, I half expected to find the streets of Cairo filled with Osama bin Laden lookalikes, and was relieved to find it not so.

More immediate questions, however, were uppermost in my mind – questions like: If I stumble, will Ahmed be able to pull me back to my feet before I’m trampled to death? The aging streets of downtown Cairo (sometimes called “European” Cairo to distinguish it from the walled medieval city immediately to its east) are in a perpetual state of disintegration, and I was stumbling over plate-sized potholes in the sidewalks and curbs that were either six inches higher or six inches lower than they’re supposed to be.

Hey Hey, Gonzales and Mueller: Fine, thanks for offering. Go. 27 May 2006

Posted by marisacat in DC Politics, Democrats, U.S. House.

 eurodisney teacup ride

 Honestly.   NYT this am.

WASHINGTON, May 26 — Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, the F.B.I. director, Robert S. Mueller III, and senior officials and career prosecutors at the Justice Department told associates this week that they were prepared to quit if the White House directed them to relinquish evidence seized in a bitterly disputed search of a House member's office, government officials said Friday.

Washington Post

 None of the parties in this doozy of a contretemps gives shit one about our rights.  Not Pelosi (not really), surely not Hastert, and yet there they are, bi-partisanly taking up air and space… expounding at podiums.

 But they do care about power.

 William Jefferson (D-LA), who, as Jonathan Turley (who clearly explained the issues at hand on Lehrer on Friday) says, can now wrap himself in the 4th Amendment and separation of powers, when he is just a criminal and caught on tape, with audio… Gonzales, good lord! spare us.  Cares nothing about anything but his miserable mediocre self.  Mueller… a cipher.

  Go.  Alla youse.

  And take the guy who hides ill gotten gains in the freezer with you.

  One thing, this is NOT an Archibald Cox, Elliot Richardson in the Nixon administration Saturday massacre (or, in this case, offering).

 This is untidy in-fighting between governmental entities.  Squaring off with corner men to attend each party.

 The Senate can scarcely be bothered to oppose Hayden, but the House will go to the mat over Jefferson – and separation of powers. 

 Which in their hands is not an issue, it is mere spiteful pique, and over god knows what petty and unrelated infraction, that then clings to this showy set of circumstances.  Or, fear of future searches due to BEING GOD DAMNED FUCKING GUILTY.  As in, Hastert most likely.

 Somebody cue Brazil.  How hilarious is it, right in the middle of all of this, that Saxton loses his mind (what little there was), fantasizes and freaks out, with media and Blogsnap following along?   And of course the so professional Hill and Capitol police and whatever other DHS copper types running amok.

 Fire them all.  Let God sort them out.

Thank Jesus for small favors… Enron trial. :: Updated 26 May 2006

Posted by marisacat in DC Politics, Divertissements.
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 Dallas News

 Living in San Francisco, where we were state-wide abused by the Republican corporatists, Reliant, Enron, Arnold (as part of a long strategy to pivot him to office) and the Bush/Cheney/Rove Administration with rolling black-outs for months during 2000, 2001 (it was an instructive run up to September 11 in a sense, for anyone who did not understand what is ushered in, with a modern Republican administration) I have followed the Enron debaucle: 

A posting to Dealbook in the NYT brings good news… 

Minutes after his client was found guilty of fraud and conspiracy on Thursday, the lawyer for former Enron chief executive Jeffrey Skilling promised a “full and vigorous appeal.” The general consensus on Friday, however, was that lawyer Daniel Petrocelli and Mr. Skilling will find it extremely difficult to get the verdict overturned. The same applied to former Enron chief Kenneth Lay, who was found guilty of all six of the fraud and conspiracy charges against him.

“The appellate process is never predictable with certainty, but I don’t see any issues that would seriously jeopardize a conviction here,” Samuel Buell, a University of Texas professor and former Enron Task Force prosecutor, told The Houston Chronicle.

Harvey Pitt, the former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, said in an interview with Forbes.com that the jury’s verdict would be “very, very hard to overturn.”

Elsewhere, an appeal of the Enron verdict was described as a “long shot” or having “low” odds of success.

Why do so many lawyers think an appeal is doomed to fail? For one thing, the next stop in the judicial hierarchy — the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals — is widely considered to favor government prosecutors. Houston attorney Brian Wice tells The Wall Street Journal that “your typical white-collar defendant has a better chance of winning a Golden Globe award than getting his conviction reversed in the Fifth Circuit.”


UPDATED:  11:46 am, PT:

 Robert Parry is just up, via TruthOut, with this on Enron, Ken Lay, Bush, Bush assists for Enron and the California strategy, a snip … or two ;):

Gathering Storm

    The Houston-based energy trader's financial crisis can be traced back to 2000 when the long-running stock market boom ended. During the boom, Enron had risen through the ranks of Fortune 500 companies to a perch at No. 7.  […]

  To protect its image as a darling of Wall Street – and to prop up its stock value – Enron began shifting more of its losing operations into off-the-books partnerships given names like Raptor and Chewco. Hedges were set up to limit Enron's potential losses from equity investments, but some hedges were themselves backed by Enron stock, creating the possibility of a spiraling decline if investors lost faith in Enron.

    Still, Enron saw a silver lining in the darkening economic clouds of 2000. A prospective George W. Bush victory could speed up Enron's deregulatory plans for the energy markets. Through energy trading in California alone, Enron stood to earn tens of billions of dollars.

    Meanwhile, in summer 2000, the first signs of suspicions arose that Enron was trying to manipulate the California energy market.

    An employee with Southern California Edison sent the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) a memo expressing concerns that Enron and other electricity providers to California's deregulated energy market were gaming the system by cutting off supply and creating phony congestion in the electricity grid to run up energy prices. [See Energy Daily, May 16, 2002]

    By December 2000, Enron was implementing plans dubbed "Fat Boy," "Death Star" and "Get Shorty" to siphon electricity away from areas that needed it most and getting paid for phantom transfers of energy supposedly to relieve transmission-line congestion. [Washington Post, May 7, 2002]

    That same month, after a 35-day battle over Florida's vote count, Bush nailed down his presidential victory by getting five Republicans on the U.S. Supreme Court to stop a statewide recount.

And this:

Energy Crisis

    The California energy crisis also was spinning out of control. Rolling blackouts crisscrossed the state, where the partially deregulated energy market, served by Enron and other traders, had seen electricity prices soar 800 percent in one year.

    After taking power, Bush turned a deaf ear to appeals from public officials in California to give the state relief from the soaring costs of energy. He also reined in federal efforts to monitor market manipulations.

    As California's electricity prices continued to soar, Democratic Gov. Gray Davis and Sen. Dianne Feinstein voiced suspicions that the "free market" was not at work. Rather they saw corporate price-fixing, gouging consumers and endangering California's economy. 

 But California's suspicions mostly were mocked in official Washington as examples of finger-pointing and conspiracy theories. The administration blamed the problem on excessive environmental regulation that discouraged the building of new power plants.  […]

And it continues:

 In May 2001, Bush traveled to California on a trip choreographed like a President visiting a disaster area. Only this time, Bush wasn't promising federal help to a state in need. He was carrying the same message that Lay had sent to Cheney. In effect, Bush was saying: Read my lips. No price caps.

    "Price caps do nothing to reduce demand, and they do nothing to increase supply," Bush said. [L.A. Times, May 30, 2001]

    After weeks of standoff, as electricity prices stayed high and began spreading to other Western states, the political showdown ended on June 18, 2001. FERC approved limited price caps, a reversal prompted by Republican fears of a political backlash that could cost them seats in Congress. [L.A. Times, June 19, 2001]

    Still, the administration's rear-guard defense of deregulation had bought Enron and other energy traders precious months to reap hundreds of millions of dollars in trading profits in California.

    The imposition of FERC's limited price caps – and the state's aggressive conservation efforts – brought the energy crisis under control. That may have been good news for California, but not for Enron. By losing control over its ability to keep electricity prices artificially high, Enron faced new economic pressures.

    "There are some hints of a connection [between the price caps and Enron's collapse], including the billions of dollars in cash that flowed in and out of Enron as the crisis waxed and waned," the New York Times reported later. [NYT, May 9, 2002]

    With the easing of the California energy crisis, Enron's stock price began to decline, slipping from around $80 early in the year to the high-$40's. That began to put pressure on the stock hedges tucked inside the off-the-books partnerships.

Parry goes on to touch on privotal Enron investments in India and "how everything changed" on 9/11 as India and Pakistan became critical to Global War on Terror. 

 I love how the biggest, the single biggest, public push back from the Democrats is always about how Dumb Bush Is.  Same formula they used with Reagan.


 Rather, he is a dismissive, not well socialised sort, often irritable at being asked questions, not well read nor well traveled – and, while not a first rate, nor second rate intellect (who in this country ever said that was needed?) he is a graduate, legacy style, from two of our foremost schools,  Harvard and Yale.

 He is a "type".    Calling him plain old ''dumb'' was always a bad strategy.

Pigs run free. Waas is up. 25 May 2006

Posted by marisacat in DC Politics, Inconvenient Voice of the Voter.
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 And this would be the salient part from the National Journal piece:

Fitzgerald is still investigating Rove for possible perjury and obstruction of justice for Rove's failure to disclose in his initial FBI interview and his initial grand jury testimony that he had provided information about Plame to Cooper. Rove has said that his failure to disclose his conversation with Cooper was because of a faulty memory.

As Fitzgerald considers whether to bring charges against Rove, central to any final determination will be whether Rove's omissions were purposeful.

Dan Richman, a law school professor at Fordham University and a former federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York, says that perjury and obstruction cases are difficult to bring.

"In many instances, you almost have to literally take the jury inside a defendant's head to demonstrate their intent," he said.

As of now, it appears unlikely that Fitzgerald will bring charges related to the September 29 conversation, according to Richman and other legal experts. Even if the prosecutor and his investigative team conclude that Rove and Novak did indeed devise a cover story to protect Rove, it is simply too difficult to prove what happened in a private conversation between two people.

A longtime friend of Rove, who doesn't have firsthand knowledge of the CIA leak case but who knows both Rove and Novak well, doubts that Fitzgerald could get a conviction —

"as long as neither [Novak nor Rove] breaks, and there is no reason for them to, no matter how much evidence there is. These are two people who go way back, and they are going to look out for each other."

Richman says that a grand jury could consider circumstantial evidence in weighing whether to bring charges, so long as there is also other substantial evidence, and that the prosecutor can present that evidence at trial.

"It's possible that prosecutors would view their [September 29] conversation as the beginning of a conspiracy to obstruct justice, given that they had reason to believe that an investigation would soon be under way," says Richman. "It's even more likely that this conversation would help prosecutors shed light on Rove's motivations and intent when he later spoke to investigators."

Previous coverage of pre-war intelligence and the CIA leak investigation from Murray Waas.

I have not bothered to write much about the investigation, tho I have followed it.  I consider "Fitzmas" hype to be a rather frenzied side show from the Democrats.  Anything to try to fire up a base – any base, when they themselves are in supine decline. 

 I am sure Fitzgerald is as principled as it gets and very very hard working.  But the natural impulse for government, that everlasting eternal one party thing called "government" is to protect itself.

 And, there is no political will, none whatsoever, in the so-called opposition party to rein in the people slaying the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. 

Nominally “Democratic” but certainly not liberal / left / progressive… 25 May 2006

Posted by marisacat in 2006 Mid Terms, 2008 Election, DC Politics, Democrats, Inconvenient Voice of the Voter, Lie Down Fall Down Dems.

 oh nooo.  Forever wedded to the yella lines in the middle of the road and sucking down the dead armadilla dust.  They appear as mesmerised – beached in fact.

           The Beached Whale, 1978

 Not a pretty picture.  Nor is the picture drawn by Ruth Coniff in The Progressive

 And I note that a moderate, and loyal but principled, Democratic blogger, Steve Soto at TLC, is facing a few things.

 However I, unlike Soto, can see no "long game" plans on the part of the Big Dems.  I see same old same old, sold as "taking the party back" (what a laugh, from DLCers) or "we are for electability!" (what did they not learn from 04?).

 By the way, Howard, who does struggle and who has believed in, talked of and worked toward a 50 state strategy for a long time, is not a Big Dem.  IMO they keep him around – for now – as cover.  I had supported his staying independent – as opposed to going "inside".   I find his work to wave the buzzards off the carcass… unseemly. 

Some snippets, first from Ruth Coniff:

If stalling is a viable strategy, why be surprised that some Dems are even promoting losing as a winning prospect? Really. Last week Tony Coelho told Adam Nagourney that NOT gaining majorities in the House and Senate might be better for Democrats, since then they won't be blamed for the mess the country is in.

"The most politically advantageous thing for the Democrats is to pick up 11, 12 seats in the House and three or four seats in the Senate but let the Republicans continue to be responsible for government," Coelho, a former House Democratic whip, told the Times. "We are heading into this period of tremendous deficit, plus all the scandals, plus all the programs that have been cut. This way, they get blamed for everything."

So when, exactly, can we expect a change of direction? When the Republicans start governing responsibly, ending the deficit, reforming government, restoring domestic services, and rolling back the Bush tax cuts?

It will be a cold day in Hell before the Democrats judge it a safe time to step up to the plate and take over.

And if they manage to stumble into power, what are the chances that the Democrats will take bold steps to rescue the country from all the bad policies this Administration has brought on us? Not much, judging by the nervous attitude of the current leadership.

The other thing about the DC Dems is that they have spun losing as winning for so long, they are in terminal confusion. 

 Let me add, they don't know how to use a majority, and that goes back long before Bush 43:  Clarence Thomas. 

 He advanced to the SCOTUS while Democrats held the Senate.  He made it out of committee and 11 Democratic senators on the floor voted to put hm on the court. 

11 Democrats crossed the aisle.  Final vote:  52/48.  He is on the court due to Democrats.

And a bit from Steve Soto at The Left Coaster:

Several bloggers took issue with me, and let me have it for allegedly “quivering with caution”, and suggesting retreat, rather than browbeat our representatives to fight on principle. What got lost in the back and forth was that although I have wanted our representatives and senators to be more aggressive on many fronts for years, as evidenced by many posts here, I realized a while ago what others are now seeing, that such battles on principle are not in the DNA of almost all Senate Democrats (except Russ Feingold and Barbara Boxer).

Wishing for it and banging the table for it won’t make it so. It just isn’t there with Dianne Feinstein, Carl Levin, Chuck Schumer, Jay Rockefeller, Joe Biden, Pat Leahy, and for that matter Barack Obama. Dick Durbin is capable of it, and would make a great Majority Leader, but for every Durbin there is a Harry Reid, who is more conservative than many of us realize and who in truth is really a transitional figure from the Tom Daschle days until the Democrats can retake the Senate in 2008. And let’s not talk about Hillary, whom I think stands only for what gets her votes in 2008.

Our senators are as a group risk-averse. They are a fearful group and not willing to do a frontal assault on Bush unless the issue has broad public support and has GOP support inside the chamber.

Well.  As I read around the Democratic party blogs, and small 'd' democratic blogs – those would be the blogs that are not tied into the party, not tied to the aides of certain of the leadership, it does seem that the 4 Democratic committee votes (Feinstein, Rockefeller, Levin and Mikulski) for Hayden have gone down hard.

 The DC Democrats have shown nothing that would lead to other than what we've got.  And surely the tied-in Democratic party bloggers got that from the faxes and emails, the life blood they receive from the party… 

 Maybe some of the tied-in would care to become independent.  Other wise, the tied-in bloggers are supporting the supporters of the Republicans.

 Now that is a crowd I won't be a part of…

 You know, that "sharing" of rather dull information (and duller "blogger" conf calls), always with a sugary dose of subtle or unsubtle exhortation to play it 'our way', that all started during the Kerry run.  I mean, as organised party buy-in for the bloggers. 

 Oh sure, there was conversation – and more –  between insiders and so called outsiders before… and more than one or two of the bloggers had some relationship with a primary campaign … nothing too surprising there… but the real co-option began during the Kerry run.

 And it was very clearly, nothing hidden about it, done on the part of the party and the campaign to staunch criticism.  Manufacturing consent.  I really have to laugh.  The wanna-wanna-bes – bloggers.

 They wanna be out, but they wanna be in. Too.

 One can chart much of this foolishness from the cheerleading for Harry Reid.  A dullard of a hack and a Republican handmaiden, if ever there was one.  He surely needed the crass and craven games carried out for a year and half at Daily Kos, and elsewhere, on his behalf.

Yes, how a new medium was co-opted by a fundraising shell of a so-called national political party. 

 Crashing gates? 

No no…. polishing doorknobs.  Polishing something.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

UPDATE,  5:04 am, PT:

I see that MyDD is on topic with a long clip from Glenn Greenwald.  Enjoy!