1. “A career Army officer who survived the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, claims that no evacuation was ordered inside the Pentagon, despite flight controllers calling in warnings of approaching hijacked aircraft nearly 20 minutes before the building was struck.
On behalf of retired Army officer April Gallop, California attorney William Veale has filed a civil suit against former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney and former US Air Force General Richard Myers, who was acting chairman of the joint chiefs on 9/11. It alleges they engaged in conspiracy to facilitate the terrorist attacks by not warning those inside the Pentagon, contributing to injuries she and her two-month-old son incurred.
“The ex-G.I. plaintiff alleges she has been denied government support since then, because she raised ‘painful questions’ about the inexplicable failure of military defenses at the Pentagon that day, and especially the failure of officials to warn and evacuate the occupants of the building when they knew the attack was imminent” said Veale in a media advisory.
Gallop also says she heard two loud explosions, and does not believe that a Boeing 757 hit the building. Her son sustained a serious brain injury, and Gallop herself was knocked unconscious after the roof collapsed onto her office.
The suit also named additional, unknown persons who had foreknowledge of the attacks.
“What they don’t want is for this to go into discovery,” said Gallop’s attorney, Mr. Veale, speaking to RAW STORY. “If we can make it past their initial motion to dismiss these claims, and we get the power of subpoena, then we’ve got a real shot at getting to the bottom of this. We’ve got the law on our side.
The Pentagon now admits that Flight 77 flew to the north of the Citgo gas station, meaning whatever flew into the Pentagon south of the Citgo gas station wasn’t Flight 77. The airliner that flew north of the Citgo gas station, therefore, was not the aircraft that hit the Pentagon; it obviously flew over the Pentagon.
We now have Pentagon police (who were at the Citgo station when Flight 77 flew by) calling into question many of the so-called eyewitnesses who say they actually saw Flight 77 hit the Pentagon. Only one problem with their testimony of Flight 77 hitting the Pentagon according to the Pentagon police, however: The Pentagon police direct us to a line of trees blocking the eyewitnesses’ view of the impact area!
Also, an explosion inside the Pentagon took place at 09:32 as accounted by eyewitnesses. The official 9/11 account says that Flight 77 flew into the Pentagon at 09:37.“
2. “Non-governmental advocates of torture, such as the Harvard legal scholar Alan Dershowitz, have emphasized the “ticking bomb” scenario: the hypothetical circumstance when only torture will make the captured terrorist reveal where he—or his colleagues—has planted the timed nuclear device. Inside the C.I.A., says a retired senior officer who was privy to the agency’s internal debate, there was hardly any argument about the value of coercive methods: “Nobody in intelligence believes in the ticking bomb. It’s just a way of framing the debate for public consumption. That is not an intelligence reality.”
3. Ridiculous. Posse Comitatus prohibits this:
“In a session with defense writers, Renuart said about 7,500 active duty military and roughly 4,000 National Guard troops will participate in the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama.”
4. “Liberals credit John Maynard Keynes with ending the Great Depression with his stimulus programs.
Conservatives and “modern” economists credit Milton Friedman with figuring out the real cause of the Depression – too small a monetary base – and creating modern monetary policy.
But a team of UCLA economists have determined that some of FDR’s policies actually prolonged the depression by 7 years. And some very smart economists credit the manufacture of armaments in World War II (especially those sold to England before America even entered the war) as the thing which really got us out of the Depression. Indeed, as discussed below, proponents of the Austrian school of economics have been saying for decades that you can’t stimulate your way out of a Depression with government programs.
And nobel economist Paul Krugman points out that the data show that Bernanke’s application of Friedman’s monetary theory in the present crisis shows that Friedman was wrong
So if neither Keynes nor Friedman was right, who was?
The Austrian economists and others who said that depressions are caused by speculative bubbles and too-easy credit, and that the only way to get through them is to let businesses which made stupid decisions fail. It is painful in the short-run, in the same way that surgery to remove a small tumor is not fun but is life-saving. But we get through the slump years earlier than if the government fiddles with the economy, which almost always makes it worse.
As prominent economist Marc Faber says, the “best medicine” is to let some companies fail and to let the crisis “burn itself out” (he also says that Bernanke and Paulson’s actions will prolong the economic crisis by years).“
5. “Bernanke’s strategy may provide some temporary relief, but it won’t fix the underlying problems. The debts will have to be brought forward and written off, insolvent institutions will have to be shut down, indictments will have to be served to those who defrauded investors, and transparency will have to be reestablished. Bernanke and his colleagues at the US Treasury believe they can bypass these confidence-building measures by simply opening the liquidity-valves and waiting for the economy to come charging back to life, but it won’t work. Liquidity is not credibility and it’s the lack of credibility that has investors racing for the exits.
Securitization increased velocity which added significantly to GDP, but that part of the market is now frozen–the investment banks are gone and the hedge funds are in distress–and the commercial banks are not capable of making up the difference. That means credit will continue to contract no matter what the Fed does. The recession will be long and deep.
How can one maintain a free market system when financial institutions are not allowed to fail?
And how can such a system function properly without stop signs, guard rails, speed limits or rules that determine what side of the road one can drive?
And how can confidence be strengthened when no one pays for predatory lending, ratings manipulation, malfeasance, fraud, or any other white collar crime? So far, not one indictment has been served in the biggest financial swindle of all time. That’s not how a “rules-based” system is supposed to operate.”
6. “On December 16 (2008), the Bernanke Fed took the most unusual step of lowering the overnight inter-bank lending rate, the federal funds rate, to a level never reached before, i.e. zero percent with an upside limit of 0.25 percent. It also announced that it will buy “large quantities of” mortgage-backed securities and is considering doing the same thing with Treasury bonds of longer maturities, in order to lower the entire yield curve. What it did not say explicitly is that the Fed is ready to debase the U.S. dollar to artificially low levels in order to reflate the U.S. economy. What the Fed wants is to trigger monetary inflation and change deflation expectations at all costs through large-scale debt monetisation and thus floating excess debts in a sea of newly created money.
Overall, what the Fed has done, in effect, is to announce that it is suspending the normal functioning of private credit and capital markets, according to supply and demand, and has decided to micro-manage such failing markets for the foreseeable future, that is to say as long as deflationary pressures, in its own view, persist in the U.S. economy. The Fed is also taking big chunks of ownership in large private U.S. banks in order to recapitalize them and to let them deleverage themselves in an orderly way.”
7. “To those grasping at straws, the election of a African American as president signals the recession of anti-black racism in the United States. For the gullible, it signals the dawn of a new age of hope.
Despite its recession, anti-black racism has only receded to the point where a privileged black man with rare forensic talents, the massive backing of the corporate community, and the help of the best marketing talent money can buy, can get elected; it has by no means disappeared, nor receded enough to make a substantial difference in the lives of most black people.
But for African Americans there’s inspiration to be found in one of their own ascending to the highest office in the land. The joy is misplaced.
The only thing Obama shares in common with 99 percent of blacks in the United States is the color of his skin, and skin color, when you get right down to it, is only of consequence to bigots who continue to embrace the echo of a racist ideology once used by slave-owners (who happened to be white) to justify exploitation of slaves (who happened to be black.) If you’re going to screw people over, it’s useful to have a body of legitimizing ideas; after all, who wants to come face to face with the reality that he’s an unconscionable prick living off the toil of others? That’s where racism comes in handy. And if we’re talking about people exploiting others of the same skin color, there’s a whole other body of ideas to justify that, which, in these days of thin class consciousness, most of us mistake for common sense. To be sure, skin color does matter to the victims of racism because they can’t escape the fact that the bigots who continue to embrace the echo of a racist ideology keep making a fuss about it. But that makes Obama as much like them as George Bush is like me.
The very best comment I’ve heard on the Obama victory comes from Mickey Z. Obama’s ascendancy, he said in a Dec 1 interview published in the British newspaper, The Morning Star, “is an excellent illustration of how the system handles dissent. A black face, a soothing voice and a vague message of change – all designed to keep the rabble pacified without changing anything at all.”
While a debate whirled around me during the days leading up to the election over the question of whether leftists ought to vote for Obama or opt for someone who wasn’t going to put more boots on Afghan soil and rattle the Pentagon’s sabre at Iran, I kept my counsel. For one thing, I’m not a US citizen. The job of everyone else in the world is to bear the brunt of the stupid decisions Americans make. As much as the rest of us wish the consequences of their choices were limited to the US, sadly, what happens in the United States often has dire consequences for those living everywhere else. For another, all the reasons for not voting for a Democrat or Republican had been made cogently and repeatedly before, apparently, to no avail, and having exceeded my limit in flogging dead horses, I was tapped out. What’s more, it was clear that the Obama-supporters had formed an impermeable seal around their brains that admitted no appeal to reason. This was to be a purely emotional choice; hence, the tears of joy on election night.
The programs pursued by governments are shaped by the circumstances they encounter, surrounding events, and for those with reformist aims, by the constraints of the constitutional system and the logic of the capitalist system they’ve chosen to work within. Left-leaning governments bow to the demands of the capitalist economy to survive; conservative governments introduce reforms and concessions to head off labor militancy. Often these constraints are ignored by critics, who assume implicitly that the right person, once elevated to a position of power, is free to make history as he pleases. “Once our man is in power, just wait to see what happens.” The answer is often, more of the same, or policies the government’s backers revile.
Across from me sits a book on whose spine is written “Giving Away a Miracle.” It’s the story of the unlikely election in the 90s of a social democratic government in Ontario (the miracle.) The giving away began the very same night the party was elected, as its leader began beating a hasty retreat from the party’s campaign promises. It ended with the party, the supposed voice of organized labor, tearing up collective agreements it had negotiated with public sector unions.
The same can be said about Obama. Even if he were pro-labor and anti-war — which even a superficial look at his voting record, campaign statements, and cabinet choices will reveal he is not –- the course he pursued would have infinitely more to do with the socio-economic forces that press upon him than the color of his skin, his political leanings, or the fact that he belongs to one party of business rather than another. The same goes for Nader. If by some miracle he had won, his good intentions would prove no match for the system he chose to work within.
Obama’s election is no miracle, just what was needed to create the illusion of change. Any chance of meaningful change will require more than the election of another exhibitionist lawyer whose charm, forensic skills and ambition allowed him to catch the eye of people with the connections and resources to get him elected – the people who really rule America. The United States’ first black president is just another instrument of moneyed interests whose decisions will be structured by his obligations to the people who put him power and the logic of the capitalist system in which he must work — a charming Bush, with darker skin and a liberal pedigree. A better alternative than McCain? If you prefer the used car salesman who sells you a piece of crap while making you feel good about yourself, to the one who’s less talented in hiding his guile, yes. But shit is shit, whether you mask the odor with perfume or not. “
8. On Rick Warren:
“She’s my guest on Salon Radio today to talk about the implications of the repellent selection of Pastor Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at Barack Obama’s inauguration.
Of all the preachers Obama could have selected to elevate and validate (and, in every sense, it was Obama’s choice), Warren is one of the most destructive — not only having been one of the most vocal supporters for Proposition 8, but also using the most inflammatory rhetoric on gay issues generally, expressing anti-abortion views in the most fanatical terms possible, and even sitting with Sean Hannity recently and urging the murder of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (making his prominent inclusion in Obama’s inauguration — as Atrios notes — a rather odd step for a President who claims devotion to a diplomatic resolution with that country).
There is a respectful and civil (even if clearly wrong) case to make against gay marriage, or against abortion, or in favor of a hard-line towards Iran. But in each case, Warren opts for the most hateful, not respectful, rhetoric to defend his position. Embracing someone like Warren is no more “inclusive” than inviting a White Supremacist or, for that matter, a Christian-hater to deliver the invocation. People like that espouse views that are shared by many Americans; why not include them, too, or have Pat Robertson deliver a nice prayer? Obama’s “inclusiveness” mantra always seems to head only in one direction — an excuse to scorn progressives and embrace the Right. Not even Bill Clinton’s most extreme Dick-Morris-led “triangulation” tactics involved an attempt to court Jerry Falwell.
That this selection is principally symbolic makes it, for reasons I discuss with Pam, worse, not better. In many ways, this is vintage Obama — at least the worst side of him — and it also illustrates the truly disturbing willingness of so many of his most blindly loyal “progressive” followers to reflexively defend, or at least justify, whatever he does — because he does it (that mentality is quite redolent of the age-old theological question: does God do what he does because it is the right thing, or is it the right thing because God does it?). Though there is some debate about the motivations behind Obama’s choice here, I think Digby’s analysis of what Obama is up to is almost entirely accurate.
It is already the case, as the Times Editorial today notes, that “all but President Bush’s most unquestioning supporters [i.e., this] recognized the chain of unprincipled decisions that led to the abuse, torture and death in prisons run by the American military and intelligence services.” That leaves only two choices: (1) treat these crimes as the serious war crimes they are by having a Prosecutor investigate and, if warranted, prosecute them, or (2) openly acknowledge — to ourselves and the world — that we believe that our leaders are literally entitled to commit war crimes at will, and that we — but not the rest of the world — should be exempt from the consequences. The clearer it becomes that those are the only two choices, the more difficult it will be to choose option (2), and either way, there is great benefit just from having that level of clarity and candor about what we are really doing.“
9. “The multiple failures that beset the country, from our mismanaged economy to our shredded constitutional rights to our lack of universal health care to our imperial debacles in the Middle East, can be laid at the feet of our elite universities. Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Stanford, along with most other elite schools, do a poor job educating students to think. They focus instead, through the filter of standardized tests, enrichment activities, advanced placement classes, high-priced tutors, swanky private schools and blind deference to all authority, on creating hordes of competent systems managers. The collapse of the country runs in a direct line from the manicured quadrangles and halls in places like Cambridge, Princeton and New Haven to the financial and political centers of power.
The nation’s elite universities disdain honest intellectual inquiry, which is by its nature distrustful of authority, fiercely independent and often subversive. They organize learning around minutely specialized disciplines, narrow answers and rigid structures that are designed to produce certain answers. The established corporate hierarchies these institutions service—economic, political and social—come with clear parameters, such as the primacy of an unfettered free market, and with a highly specialized vocabulary. This vocabulary, a sign of the “specialist” and of course the elitist, thwarts universal understanding. It keeps the uninitiated from asking unpleasant questions. It destroys the search for the common good. It dices disciplines, faculty, students and finally experts into tiny, specialized fragments. It allows students and faculty to retreat into these self-imposed fiefdoms and neglect the most pressing moral, political and cultural questions. Those who defy the system—people like Ralph Nader—are branded as irrational and irrelevant. These elite universities have banished self-criticism. They refuse to question a self-justifying system. Organization, technology, self-advancement and information systems are the only things that matter.
These universities, because of their incessant reliance on standardized tests and the demand for perfect grades, fill their classrooms with large numbers of drones. I have taught gifted and engaged students who used these institutions to expand the life of the mind, who asked the big questions and who cherished what these schools had to offer. But they were always a marginalized and dispirited minority. The bulk of their classmates, most of whom headed off to Wall Street or corporate firms when they graduated, starting at $120,000 a year, did prodigious amounts of work and faithfully regurgitated information. They received perfect grades in both tedious, boring classes and stimulating ones, not that they could tell the difference. They may have known the plot and salient details of Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness,” but they were unable to tell you why the story was important. Their professors, fearful of being branded political and not wanting to upset the legions of wealthy donors and administrative overlords who rule such institutions, did not draw the obvious parallels with Iraq and American empire. They did not use Conrad’s story, as it was meant to be used, to examine our own imperial darkness. And so, even in the anemic world of liberal arts, what is taught exists in a moral void.
“The existence of multiple forms of intelligence has become a commonplace, but however much elite universities like to sprinkle their incoming classes with a few actors or violinists, they select for and develop one form of intelligence: the analytic,” William Deresiewicz, who taught English at Yale, wrote in “The American Scholar.” “While this is broadly true of all universities, elite schools, precisely because their students (and faculty, and administrators) possess this one form of intelligence to such a high degree, are more apt to ignore the value of others. One naturally prizes what one most possesses and what most makes for one’s advantages. But social intelligence and emotional intelligence and creative ability, to name just three other forms, are not distributed preferentially among the educational elite.”
Intelligence is morally neutral. It is no more virtuous than athletic prowess. It can be used to further the rape of the working class by corporations and the mechanisms of repression and war, or it can be used to fight these forces. But if you determine worth by wealth, as these institutions invariably do, then fighting the system is inherently devalued. The unstated ethic of these elite institutions is to make as much money as you can to sustain the elitist system. College presidents are not voices for the common good and the protection of intellectual integrity, but obsequious fundraisers. They shower honorary degrees and trusteeships on hedge fund managers and Wall Street titans whose lives are usually examples of moral squalor and unchecked greed. The message to the students is clear. But grabbing what you can, as John Ruskin said, isn’t any less wicked when you grab it with the power of your brains than with the power of your fists.
Most of these students are afraid to take risks. They cower before authority. They have been taught from a young age by zealous parents, schools and institutional authorities what constitutes failure and success. They are socialized to obey. They obsess over grades and seek to please professors, even if what their professors teach is fatuous. The point is to get ahead. Challenging authority is not a career advancer. Freshmen arrive on elite campuses and begin to network their way into the elite eating clubs, test into the elite academic programs and lobby for elite summer internships. By the time they graduate they are superbly conditioned to work 10 or 12 hours a day electronically moving large sums of money around.
“The system forgot to teach them, along the way to the prestige admissions and the lucrative jobs, that the most important achievements can’t be measured by a letter or a number or a name,” Deresiewicz wrote. “It forgot that the true purpose of education is to make minds, not careers.”