Friday, April 07, 2006

gone to houston

Going to Houston, me buckos. So don't look for anything new here. However, I have to bitch - for some reason, last week, my readership numbers collapsed just as I was putting together some assez cool posts, especially the little one about Marx, Elizabeth Kolbert, and global warming. Or at least I thought that LI was hot, there. (It is an alarming sign for a writer when his hottest stuff falls stillborn from the press, as Davy Hume said about his first book. But vanity forbids me to think that I stink as much as the numbers suggest -- so I press onwards for the good of humanity!)(or at least to appease the chokehold of my evident graphomania!)(and I am using the ! because I like the quivering, tail wagging quality of that punctuation mark. An exclamation mark is the equivalent of a writer jumping up on your pants leg and peeing on your shoe, he's so happy to see you. Take it as a compliment!)

After making the round of Houston's finest stripjoints with my friend David, deconstructing the male gaze, of course, I'll be back. Hey, that was a joke about the stripjoints ... Houston's finest is a little too expensive for either Dave or me. Cheap bars, however, (and Houston is abundantly blessed with them) are another story.

Thursday, April 06, 2006


LI needs to do some advertising today – we’ve not had a lot of client activity lately. And we’ve set up a new, streamlined site for our writing service. It is at this site: RWG Communications. So if you know someone who is looking for editing, translating, or general writing help, direct them to that site. Please!

And now, for today’s bombshell. LI has made it clear in the past that we don’t approve of impeachment except in extraordinary cases. To us, impeachment shortcircuits one of the Pavlovian advantages of democracy. Voters who elect incompetent, immoral people to public office should suffer from that choice. Not because of some Calvinistic doctrine, but simply from the old chestnut that a burnt child learns not to plunge into fires, lie on hot coals, or put his face over a gas fired burner and turn the thing to on. Democracy is not only about benefiting from good choices, but suffering from bad ones. The reason that suffering is good is that it fully explores those bad choices, which usually extend beyond particular persons to whole domains of policy and character.

For this reason, we have never joined in the chorus of impeach Bush – we hope. Maybe a hasty, angry post here and there. But today’s news, if true – that Bush approved of the campaign of leaks against Wilson – is close to a limit. That limit is best expressed in censure. If the Democrats can’t get around a measure of censure for this president, they … we were going to say something like, they will never get it together. But what is the use? Slamming the crash test dummies one more time affords us no satisfaction. So we simply hope, without putting too much energy into it, that one of the crash test dummies will blink, the Hans Christian Anderson magic will cause a focusing of those painted eyes, and convey a message to the other dummies – something like, isn’t it good to be alive? If this happens, they will censure our criminal president.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

what the coup was for

From David Kay Johnston’s excellent article in today’s NYT, an analysis of the last round of Bush tax cuts found:

Among taxpayers with incomes greater than $10 million, the amount by which their investment tax bill was reduced averaged about $500,000 in 2003, and total tax savings, which included the two Bush tax cuts on compensation, nearly doubled, to slightly more than $1 million.

These taxpayers, whose average income was $26 million, paid about the same share of their income in income taxes as those making $200,000 to $500,000 because of the lowered rates on investment income.

Americans with annual incomes of $1 million or more, about one-tenth of 1 percent all taxpayers, reaped 43 percent of all the savings on investment taxes in 2003. The savings for these taxpayers averaged about $41,400 each. By comparison, these same Americans received less than 10 percent of the savings from the other Bush tax cuts, which applied primarily to wages, though that share is expected to grow in coming years. “

The conservative reaction to this is hilarious:

“The Times showed the new numbers to people on various sides of the debate over tax cuts. Stephen J. Entin, president of the Institute for Research on the Economics of Taxation, a Washington organization, and other supporters of the cuts said they did not go far enough because the more money the wealthiest had to invest, the more would go to investments that produce jobs. For investment income, Mr. Entin said, "the proper tax rate would be zero."

As the beast slouches towards Bethlehem, it is nice to know that it has handlers like Mr. Entin, who claim that the beast is hungry, and needs more of the planet to process through its delicate bowels. Or, in Maria Antoinette speak: let them eat shit.

Of course, the proper response is not just to close down the Bush giveaway, but to take that money back – raising tax rates on the wealthy by twenty to thirty percent to start with. Tax rates aren’t only about revenue, but they counter the Matthew effect - that is, the mechanism of cumulative advantage, defined by Robert K. Merton in a famous paper like this:

“…cumulative advantage, applied to the domain of science, refers to the social processes through which various kinds of opportunities for scientific inquiry as well as the subsequent symbolic and material rewards for the results of that inquiry tend to accumulate for individual practitioners of science, as they do also for organizations engaged in scientific work. The concept of cumulative advantage directs our attention to the ways in which initial comparative advantages of trained capacity, structural location, and available resources make for successive increments of advantage such that the gaps between the haves and the have-nots in science (as in other domains of social life) widen until dampened by countervailing processes.” Merton named this the Matthew effect after the passage in the Gospel in which our Lord said: “For unto everyone that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance; but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.”

In a footnote, Merton quotes a Bible scholar who says that Jesus was showing his usual Tolstoy peasant shrewdness here:

“Most recently, I am indebted to M. de Jonge, professor of theology at the University of Leyden, … He notes further that “it is highly likely that [Jesus] took over a general saying, current in Jewish (and/or Hellenistic) Wisdom circles - see, e.g., Proverbs 9:9, Daniel 2:21, or Martialis, Epigr. V 81: ‘Semper pauper ens, si pauper es, Aemiliane. Dantur opes nullis [nunc] nisi divitibus.’ “And de Jonge concludes: “The use made of this sentence [in Matthew] by modern authors neglects the eschatological thrust inherent in the saying in all versions, and (in all probability) in Jesus’s own version of it. It links up, however, with the Wisdom-saying taken over by Jesus: ‘Look around you and see what happens: If you have something, you get more; if you have not a penny, they will take from you the little you have.’” M. de Jonge, summary of lecture, “The Matthew Effect,” 24 July 1987.”

As the rich get richer, opportunities to get rich, or to advance socially in general, get filled in; in a democracy, countervailing processes must be cyclically reactivated in order to break up entrenched momentary structures of advantage, lest these structures harden into chronic anti-democratic tendencies. In the U.S., the countervailing process has generally been growth – yet we have seen years, now, of productivity gains that have gone almost wholly to the top income level. This is definitely a flashing red light. And as we have seen with Katerina, the bankruptcy bill, the looting of Iraq, and the string of criminal capers for which the Bush gang will live in infamy, if you have not a penny, they will indeed take from you what little you have. Greed, in the Bush system, is not a vice but a systematic necessity – for the concentration of wealth in a period in which the Matthew effect is fed by a corrupt and compliant government means that you have to pick the pockets of the very poorest to keep up. The government is the best instrument to do that. Thus, the alliance of big business and big government produces round after round of oppressive, expropriative laws aimed at the working class.

ps Also see David Leonhart on the end of “fordism” – the NYT Biz section today is kicking. Here are the nut grafs.

"One's own employees ought to be one's own best customers," Mr. Ford said years later. "Paying high wages," he concluded, "is behind the prosperity of this country."
This turned into a pillar of 20th-century economic wisdom. It's time to ask, though, whether Mr. Ford's big idea is as ill suited to this century as his car company seems to be.

By any reasonable standard, the last few years have been bad ones for most people's paychecks. The average hourly wage of rank-and-file workers — a group that makes up 80 percent of the work force — is slightly lower than it was four years ago, once inflation is taken into account. That's right: Most Americans have taken a pay cut since 2002.

But you would never know it by looking at the headline numbers on economic growth. From the standpoint of the broad national economy — the value of the goods and services the country produces — the last few years have been stellar. Despite two wars, soaring oil prices and business scandals, the economy has been growing more than 3 percent a year.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

planetary alienation

Though I have used a shovel more than once, I am neither a shovelist nor a ditchdigger. I have the same relationship to Marx – the man himself would recognize me, right away, as a liberal humanist (I’m amused by how that word, bandied about on Marxist leaning sites, always calls out the Raid. As if Liberal humanists were looming on the horizon like so many godzillas, trampling through the bidonvilles!). However, I find Marx infinitely useable, even when, as in The German Ideology, I also find him infinitely boring. (I sometimes fear that much of Derrida’s work, a hundred years hence, will read like the German Ideology – heavy irony in pursuit of long forgotten targets, and all that rich wordplay turned as incomprehensible as the dog latin Rabelais puts in the mouth of the students he mocks in Gargantua). The section on Feuerbach there, as we all know, is extremely pretty and eloquent and just. From it, these two grafs jump out at me this morning:

“Men can be distinguished from animals by consciousness, by religion or anything else you like. They themselves begin to distinguish themselves from animals as soon as they begin to produce their means of subsistence, a step which is conditioned by their physical organisation. By producing their means of subsistence men are indirectly producing their actual material life.

The way in which men produce their means of subsistence depends first of all on the nature of the actual means of subsistence they find in existence and have to reproduce. This mode of production must not be considered simply as being the production of the physical existence of the individuals. Rather it is a definite form of activity of these individuals, a definite form of expressing their life, a definite mode of life on their part. As individuals express their life, so they are. What they are, therefore, coincides with their production, both with what they produce and with how they produce.”

How individuals “express” – aussern – their lives is, at the moment, melting the permafrost. That is one of the many dire facts that strewed Elizabeth Kolbert’s three part series (first part here) (second part here) in the New Yorker last year. Now that series has grown a book, which I noticed, with a bit of a sinking heart, is being reviewed in tandem with Timothy Flannery’s book. The sinking heart comes from the fact that no author likes to be lassoed all over the place with another author’s work. But apparently, if we are going to have book reviews touching on the topic of the ecological crisis we are diligently preparing for ourselves, we are going to have to have them do two for the price of one. Humankind cannot bear very much reality, or very many books about global warming, especially when humankind has to get out there and buy those SUVs.
Back to the permafrost. In one of those scary passages that gives us facts that we have to immediately forget, Kolbert – in the first article of her New Yorker series – writes:

“When you walk around in the Arctic, you are stepping not on permafrost but on something called the "active layer." The active layer, which can be anywhere from a few inches to a few feet deep, freezes in the winter but thaws over the summer, and it is what supports the growth of plants - large spruce trees in places where conditions are favorable enough and, where they aren't, shrubs and, finally, just lichen. Life in the active layer proceeds much as it does in more temperate regions, with one critical difference. Temperatures are so low that when trees and grasses die they do not fully decompose. New plants grow out of the half-rotted old ones, and when these plants die the same thing happens all over again. Eventually, through a process known as cryoturbation, organic matter is pushed down beneath the active layer into the permafrost, where it can sit for thousands of years in a botanical version of suspended animation. (In Fairbanks, grass that is still green has been found in permafrost dating back to the middle of the last ice age.) In this way, much like a peat bog or, for that matter, a coal deposit, permafrost acts as a storage unit for accumulated carbon.

One of the risks of rising temperatures is that this storage process can start to run in reverse. Under the right conditions, organic material that has been frozen for millennia will break down, giving off carbon dioxide or methane, which is an even more powerful greenhouse gas. In parts of the Arctic, this is already happening. Researchers in Sweden, for example, have been measuring the methane output of a bog known as the Stordalen mire, near the town of Abisko, for almost thirty-five years. As the permafrost in the area has warmed, methane releases have increased, in some spots by up to sixty per cent. Thawing permafrost could make the active layer more hospitable to plants, which are a sink for carbon. Even this, though, probably wouldn't offset the release of greenhouse gases. No one knows exactly how much carbon is stored in the world's permafrost, but estimates run as high as four hundred and fifty billion metric tons.

"It's like ready-use mix - just a little heat, and it will start cooking," Romanovsky told me. It was the day after we had arrived in Deadhorse, and we were driving through a steady drizzle out to another monitoring site. "I think it's just a time bomb, just waiting for a little warmer conditions." Romanovsky was wearing a rain suit over his canvas work clothes. I put on a rain suit that he had brought along for me. He pulled a tarp out of the back of the truck.”

The refusal to take that kind of planetary wide damage seriously is going to be the real legacy of the Bush administration. The key to this time is the rush to create major policy out of minor opportunities, while major crises are waived away or postponed on the premise that the future takes care of itself. This is a misreading of Bush’s fave book, the New Testament, where we are told that it is the dead who take care of themselves. Treating the future as if we were all dead there is, in fact, the mark of the morally dead, the living dead, or –as we like to call them on this site – the zombies. For a nice review of Kolbert’s book (surprisingly), go to Slate this week. Instead of having their usual infinitely smarmy rightwing economic hacks do a bunch of coughing about that obvious fraud, Global warming, they chose a scholar on Rachel Carson, our hero here, to do the review. Rob Nixon, the scholar, does both books (sigh). Here is how he begins:

“The political climate has shifted, too. Kolbert, a suddenly ubiquitous American science reporter, and Flannery, a prolific Australian evolutionary biologist, are emissaries of sanity from the only two sizable industrialized nations that refused to sign the Kyoto protocol capping carbon emissions. The United States, responsible for 25 percent of the planet's greenhouse gases, and Australia, the world's largest coal exporter, are both ruled by conservative governments with a strong fossil-fuel bias. Indeed, the Bush administration has turned foot-dragging over climate change into a veritable performance art—a bamboozling ballet of dissimulation and denial.”

That the U.S. has appropriated the atmosphere for depositing a hugely disproportionate amount of waste isn’t surprising – one of the keys to understanding pollution in capitalism is that capitalism is not, despite the first grade propaganda, based on private property. It is based, rather, on larger property owners seizing the private property of smaller owners. It is all about social costs, and renting your body for zero cents and zero dollars to lodge their corporate chemicals in. Marx had a shrewd idea that the progress of capitalism was the inverse of what the proponents of capitalism claimed - that captilism progressively abolished private property by concentrating it in fewer and fewer hands. At the end of this process, Marx thought, the bargaining power of the working class would have to be expressed politically, in a revolution that would establish a new order founded on that capitalist accomplishment. As a liberal, I look at that prospect with horror, and would much rather fight to establish a better equilibrium between the concentration of wealth of the owners and the average householder, and the key front is the environment.

Beyond the playground of ideology, the important point here is that the melting of the permafrost is a collective crime against the planet. And that crime shouldn’t be happening. This is planetary alienation of a species extinguishing sort.

“Kolbert and Flannery write with a shared urgency, but they approach their vexing subject in radically different ways. The brilliance of Field Notes From a Catastrophe flows from Kolbert's gift for making the violence of climate change feel vast yet intimate. She clearly intuits that "global," as in "global warming," is a bland, unpeopled, world-weary word. So she shapes her argument around a series of excursions to talk with scientists in the field (often in the Arctic), many of whom become memorable characters. These aren't braying talk-show "experts" but men and women who have spent patient years, decades sometimes, calibrating shrinking sea ice, dwindling glaciers, and permafrost that has started to thaw. Kolbert works alongside them, getting snowmelt in her boots.
Her field-journal format adroitly bridges the gulf between professionals and amateurs, giving the writing a conversational tone without compromising the science. Kolbert grounds her quiet anecdotal advocacy in the sensory world of local inhabitants. She speaks to Inuits, who have many words for ice and must now find one for the robin, a previously unimagined bird driven north by warming. She speaks to a Dutchman who is developing amphibious homes to cope with the anticipated flooding of one-quarter of the Netherlands. She speaks to an Icelandic glaciologist whose models predict an Iceland stripped of ice by the end the next century. ("Glacial" as a metaphor should be retired from the language: When almost every glacier on the planet is beating a hasty retreat, "glacial progress" now means something else entirely.) In parts of Alaska, the average temperatures have risen 6 degrees since the early 1980s.”

Monday, April 03, 2006


LI recommends going to Tiny Revolution this morning – the brief comment on the Padilla case goes right to the heart of the madness.

And there is a discussion in the April Harpers about the culture of the military we also recommend, for more extensive reading. The discussion includes Edward Luttwak, Andrew J. Bacevich, Charles J. Dunlap Jr, and Richard H. Kohn, with moderation by Bill Wasik, and it begins with the dismissal of a military coup scenario and ends with a consideration of the rightleaning political culture in the military. Since I have been going to a lot of military blogs, lately, trying to decode them, in a way, so I can use their language and attitudes to create the perfect anti-recruitment message, I’ve been struck by something the panel talks about:

“WASIK: I want to address the question of partisanship in the military. Insofar as there is a "culture war" in America, everyone seems to agree that the armed forces fight on the Republican side. And this is borne out in polls: self-described Republicans outnumber Democrats in the military by more than four to one, and only 7 percent of soldiers describe themselves as "liberal."
KOHN: It has become part of the informal culture of the military to be Republican. You see this at the military academies. They pick it up in the culture, in the training establishments.
DUNLAP: The military is an inherently conservative organization, and this is true of all militaries around the world. Also the demographics have changed: people in the South who were Democratic twenty years ago have become Republican today.
BACEVICH: Yes, all militaries are conservative. But since 1980 our military has become conservative in a more explicitly ideological sense. And that allegiance has been returned in spades by the conservative side in the culture war, which sees soldiers as virtuous representatives of how the country ought to be.
KOHN: And meanwhile there is a streak of anti-militarism on the left.
BACEVICH: It's not that people on the left disdain the military but rather that they are just agnostic about it. They don't identify with soldiers or soldiering.
LUTTWAK: And their children have less of a propensity to serve in the military. Parents who describe themselves as liberal are less likely to make positive noises to their children about the armed forces.
DUNLAP: Which brings up a crucial point. Let's accept as a fact that the U.S. military has become more overtly ideological since 1980. What has happened since 1980? Roughly, that was the beginning of the all-volunteer force. What we are seeing right now is the result of twenty-five years of an all-volunteer force, in which people have self-selected into the organization.
BACEVICH: But the military is also recruited. And it doesn't seem to me that the military has much interest in whether or not the force is representative of American society.”

This rightward shift has been very speeded up by the Iraq war. In effect, the war has caused a near collapse of black enlistment. In fact, urban enlistment in general has sunk, and has been made up by enlistment from the country. This is a bad thing, over the long term. And, as we know, the officer corps in the Air Force has gotten awfully tainted with the worst, most bug eyed evangelical views. This doesn’t get the frightened attention it should:

KOHN: And partisanship in the military overall, i.e., the percentage of the military that identifies with a party as opposed to being "independent" or nonaffiliated, is much greater overall. Not only are military officers more partisan than the general population; they're more partisan than, say, business leaders and other elite groups. I've tracked the numbers of retired four-star generals and admirals endorsing a candidate in presidential campaigns, and it's vastly up in the last two elections.
BACEVICH: Remember at the Democratic National Convention, where General Claudia Kennedy introduced General John Shalikashvili to address the delegates? Why were they up there? There was only one reason: to try to match the parade of retired senior officers that the Republicans have long been trotting out on political occasions.
KOHN: But is that to get military votes? Or just to connect with the American people on national security and patriotism?
BACEVICH: It's both. In 2000, the Republican National Committee put ads in the Army Times and other service magazines attacking the Clinton/Gore record. To me that was, quite frankly, contemptible.
WASIK: It seems as if the two are related: if it's reported that you have the support of the military-as was the case before the 2004 election, when newspapers noted that Kerry had less than 20 percent support within the military-then you get a halo effect among the rest of the voters. Does the partisanship of our military present a danger to the nation?
KOHN: One of the great pillars in our history that has prevented military intervention in politics has been the military's nonpartisan attitude. That's why General George Marshall's generation of officers essentially declined to vote at all, as did generations before them. In fact, for the first time in over a century we now have an officer corps that does identify overwhelmingly with one political party. And that is corrosive.:
Which leads into the most interesting discussion about an issue that hardly ever sticks its head out of the hole. After spending a trillion or so dollars every four years on the military in the States, would the military allow itself to be cut back? To be demobilized? At the end of the Cold war, basically – nothing happened. If this country can’t demobilize at the end of a war, then the structure of aggression has become simply part of what the U.S. is. If we could cut military spending (bracketing veteran’s entitlements) to about one hundred billion a year, which I think is something any even halfway liberal politician ought to shoot for – what happens when the military doesn’t allow it?
KOHN: Consider this glaring example of political manipulation by the military: After every other American war before the Cold War, the country demobilized its wartime military establishment. Even during the Cold War, when we kept a large standing military, we expanded and contracted it for shooting wars. But in 1990 and 1991, the military-through General Colin Powell, who was head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time-intervened and effectively prevented a demobilization.
BACEVICH: More accurately, I'd say that he prevented any discussion of a demobilization.
KOHN: That's right.
DUNLAP: We did have a reduction in the size of the military. There were cuts of around 9 percent, in both dollars and manpower.
KOHN: But it was nothing compared to the end of great American wars prior to that.
BACEVICH: Powell is explicit on this in his memoirs. "I was determined to have the Joint Chiefs drive the military strategy train," he wrote. He was not going to have "military reorganization schemes shoved down our throat."
KOHN: This was not a coup, but it was very clearly a circumvention of civilian political authority.”

All of which is on LI's mind. One of the side effects of anti-recruiting which I do not want to see is the strengthening of the rightwing peckerhead cohort in the military -- but I don't see any alternative -- surely the only way to withdraw American troops from Iraq is the strangle the army strategy, but this is why I want to design an anti-recruitment mechanism that doesn't discourage enrollment in the military after the Iraq war.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

things for our national short term memory to forget

My comrades, the libertarians (to do a little Hitchensspeak) have rather loony ideas about the market -- but LI stands shoulder to shoulder with them about civil liberties. So it was heartening to read Reason’s Jeff Taylor take the axe to the massive lying about 9/11 – no, not the massive lying that 9/11 was really contrived by U.F.O. Zionists, but the massive lying that 9/11 couldn’t have been prevented, and that everything – every fucking thing – done since, the insane Patriot act, the Homeland Security department (an Escher nightmare inside a Piranesi torture chamber), of course the war on Iraq, has all been useless, unnecessary, a power play by the sleaziest and greediest, made possible by the dopiest and most gullible – the zombie legions still lifting the binoculars to spot all that good news from Iraq -- while the people and structures that bungled 9/11 have been allowed to grow fat and flourish in their little posts.

The national secret police and intelligence agencies are, as one would expect from bureaucracies encased in self-defined secrecy, among the incompetent wonders of the world. Even when the CIA succeeds, as they did in Iraq in 54, they fuck up. But mostly they skip the short term success phase and go right to the fuckup.

But the FBI, always jealous of the CIA, can proudly assert that, in the race for worst, most ill governed and misbegotten American bureaucracy ever, they are far ahead of all contenders, a unique agency in the annals of bumbling, supported by a long history of reaching out to racists, McCarthyites and the hardcore right in order to garner, year after year, the oh so precious and squanderable billions . This is an agency that expressly herded through a law, in the 30s, to make auto theft that crosses a state line a federal crime. Why? Because it happens that autos are well marked things, easy to track down. So whenever the FBI wants to inflate its quota of solved crimes, it just goes after a stolen auto. It did this for decades under Hoover.

Now, the FBI isn’t incompetent about all things. Spying on vegetarian restaurants in which some animal rights speaker is wolfing down the broccoli is something they are expert at. As long as the animal rights speaker doesn’t give em the slip – staying in the bathroom too long, for instance.

So, to pass from general disasters to particular ones: what we knew about 9/11 before Moussaoui’s trial was that the warning that a terrorist act was coming did not even provoke an incurious George into asking his Department of Transportation secretary about airport safety. There was, after all, brush to be cut in Crawford. We also know – via Douglas Farah’s reporting – that the knowledge that 9/11 was coming up had circulated among al Qaeda’s contacts in Liberia and Sierra Leone – since the A.Q. and Hizbollah have long had desultory dealings in blood diamonds. In other words, chatter was loud and widespread about the coming attack. What, according to Taylor, was revealed by Moussaoui’s trial, like an x ray showing a tumor, was just how the FBI manages crime prevention. Crime prevention is a bummer – either you respond too hard to some false alarm, or you respond too indifferently to some real crisis. The best thing for a bureaucrat to do, then, is bury any evidence. And so, like a child’s whispering game, the guys in D.C. heard something very different from the things heard by field agents.

One field agent, Harry Samit, who interviewed Moussaoui, was persistent:

“When defense lawyer Edward MacMahon cross-examined Rolince [Samit’s superior, a D.C. based FBI honcho] possibly the first and only time a government security official has been so challenged on 9/11, the disconnect between the official story and reality was plain. Rolince knew nothing of the August 18, 2001 memo Samit had sent to his office warning of terror links. In that memo, Samit warned that Moussaoui wanted to hijack a plane and had the weapons to do it. Samit also warned that Moussaoui "believes it is acceptable to kill civilians" and that he approved of martyrdom. Rolince testified he never read the memo.
On August 17 Samit sent an e-mail to his direct superiors at FBI headquarters recounting Moussaoui's training on 747 simulators. "His excuse is weak, he just wants to learn how to do it... That's pretty ominous and obviously suggests some sort of hijacking plan," Samit wrote.
Rebuffed by his superiors and ignored by Rolince, Samit still sought out more info worldwide and from sources as diverse as the FBI's London, Paris, and Oklahoma City offices, FBI headquarters files, the CIA's counterterrorism center, the Secret Service, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Federal Aviation Administration, probably the National Security Agency, and the FBI's Iran and OBL offices.”

Ah, and then there is this nugget:
“Defense attorney MacMahon then displayed an August 30, 2001 communication addressed to Samit and FBI headquarters agent Mike Maltbie from a Bureau agent in Paris. It passed along that French intelligence thought Moussaoui was "very dangerous" and had soaked up radical views at London's infamous Finnsbury Park mosque. The French also said Moussaoui was "completely devoted" to bin Laden-style jihadism and, significantly, had traveled to Afghanistan.

Yet on August 31 Maltbie stopped Samit from sending a letter to FAA headquarters in Washington advising them of "a potential threat to security of commercial aircraft" based on the Moussaoui case. Maltbie said he would handle that, but it is not clear if he ever did.”

Yes, we wouldn’t want to wake up, would we. But America the somnambulist has responded by stripping out as many civil rights as we could, allowing an autistic president to proceed with an unnecessary, vanity project war, and putting in place a candy store for earmarking Repub pols called Homeland security. Bozo über alles, dudes.

The ethics of integrity or the Baker at Dachau

    Throughout the 19th and 20th century, one stumbles upon the lefthand heirs of Burke – Red Tories, as Orwell called them. Orwell’s inst...