Tuesday, May 17, 2005

High School student confounds the Army

This is the best stuff to come out in a long time! A 17-year-old journalist has exposed the recruiting practices we've been hearing about...

"David McSwane, a 17 year old editor of a high school newspaper in Golden, Colorado... posed as a high school dropout, with a drug problem that he was "unable to kick". Then he recorded, on audio tape, conversations allegedly showing that the recruiters told him how to obtain a phony diploma on the Internet and what medication to buy to cover up the drug problem. A friend of McSwane's also video-taped a recruiter taking McSwain to a store to buy a "detox" medication to help him pass the army physical. David said he was told by the recruiter to buy the product."

The report is from WikiNews, which further reports that a Senator is calling for an investigation of the whole incident. The Army is shitting bricks! They're just into damage control at the moment, it seems, as they've closed their recruiting offices and are holding seminars for all the recruiters.

The NY Times report says: "Responding to reports about widespread abuses of the rules for recruitment, Army officials said yesterday that they would suspend all recruiting on May 20 and use the day to retrain its personnel in military ethics and the laws that govern what can and cannot be done to enlist an applicant.
"David McSwane, a 17-year-old who lives outside Denver, also recently caught one recruiter on tape, advising him on how to create a fake diploma, and another helping him buy a product that purportedly cleansed his system of illegal-drug residue. This week, a CBS affiliate in Houston, KHOU-TV, played a voice mail message from a local recruiter that threatened a young man with arrest if he did not appear at a nearby recruiting station."

Now, besides the fact that the Times story focuses on the Army's retraining rather than on the improprieties themselves, there are all kinds of interesting things in this report. Army statistics show the problems are up 60% in the past six years. It also acknowleges the problems of meeting recruitment quotas but nowhere even mentions the Iraq war as the reason for this.

It ends up mostly talking about how the military is being so straightforward in dealing with this problem, and manages to avoid even hinting at outrage that such things are happening, except in a final quote from a Long Island Democrat who's upset because such practices "weakens the entire military."

The CNN link from WikiNews is good - has some pretty damaging comments from apparently anonymous recruiters - it's hard to tell from the transcript who's speaking - and some from a former Marine who says 98% of the men he recruited were "frauded into the military."

Even the CBS report lays it all out. This is gonna blow things right out of the water! I am printing all of these pieces out to add to a packet I'm building up to take to the guidance office to make a pitch about counter-recruiting.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

No Child Left...

There are a few nodal points in society that bring together all or most of the current trends toward fascist empire.

No Child Left Behind is one of those nodes. Most everything said publicly about NCLB is likely either wrong or lies. It's one of the subjects the administration has been paying people to write fake news about, so discount all that.

What NCLB is all about is undermining confidence in the public education system so that people will accept gradual privatization of education. This is part of the fascist agenda to privatize everything in our society. It meshes well with the theocratic stealth movement, so they're behind it too. The Walmart Foundation is funding most of the growing voucher movement to attack public education from underneath, offering inner city communities (especially black churchmen) large amounts of money and big promises to get them on the bandwagon.

Since the Empire-building going on is really being done for and directed by the corporations, they want control of the schools so they can teach what they want to create a more compliant population.

In addition, the bill mandates military recruiter access to schools and student records. It's the whole package neatly wrapped up in a school-size box.

NCLB sets up totally unrealistic, unrealizable goals so that more and more schools can be portrayed as failing. It's a short leap from that designation to being replaced by some "alternate" version... provided conveniently by the private sector.


And this just in...

The NY Times this morning, reporting on the 33 base closures proposed by the Pentagon, dropped this little gem:

Closing bases, though, does not mean shrinking the military, just rearranging it.

"Our current arrangements, designed for the cold war, must give way to the new demands of the war against extremism and other evolving 21st-century challenges," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said. The plan is proposed to save $48.8 billion over 20 years.

We'll believe the $48.8 billion saved when we see it. Meanwhile, do we need a clearer admission of the intent to expand the empire?

Amplifying that perception is this observation: Christopher Hellman, a military analyst with the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, a research group in Washington, said roughly three-quarters of these smaller installations belonged to the National Guard and Reserve. "This would indicate a desire on the part of the Pentagon to better integrate these units into the active force," Mr. Hellman said in a statement.

And there's this - tongue-in-cheek or just naivte'? - but rich either way:

Pentagon officials said that politics played no role in a process that made military value the top priority. President Bush's home state, Texas, for instance, would gain a net total of 6,150 military and civilian jobs if the military's recommendations stand. But inside the state, there are winners and losers.

The Media snooze

The US media have snoozed through what may turn out to be the single most signigficant leak in recent history. But the "smoking gun" memo is finally getting some play - here's a rundown (from Media Matters) of how they've slowly begun to wake up:

"The Washington Post ran an article about the memo on page A18 of its May 13 edition, five days after Post ombudsman Michael Getler noted that readers had complained about the lack of coverage. Oddly, Getler didn't take a position on the paper's decision not to cover the memo to that point.

CNN.com ran a May 12 article that detailed the memo's contents and noted that 89 members of Congress have sent President Bush a letter about it. There is nothing -- absolutely nothing -- in the CNN.com article that couldn't have been written nearly a week earlier. The Sunday Times ran its article on May 1; the members of Congress released their letter on May 6; Media Matters told readers about it the same day. But people who get their news from CNN.com didn't find out about it until May 11.

Still, CNN.com readers are better off than CNN viewers. Since last week, when we noted the network's failure to give the matter more than a passing mention, and wrote that "it's a dark day when CNN's 'witheringly bad' and 'excruciatingly empty' blog segment actually does a better job of covering the news than the rest of the network," CNN has mentioned the memo only twice more -- one of them coming in another "Inside the Blogs" segment on May 12..."

FAIR makes the same point in this article, noting that the Washington Post commented on the lack of reporting on the issue, but failed to explain why they hadn't reported it. Not hard to figure out why they don't, and why they don't want to explain it. CNN mentioned it as a hot topic on many blogs, without actually covering its content, and even when they mentioned it as an impact on the British elections, conveniently left out the fact that it also implicates Bush in this deceit.

This is all such blatant evidence of the media's complicity in the whole affair that it's not even worth arguing over. The American public is so steeped in dogma, apathy, and fear that such things just don't even penetrate. Those of us who care, who have eyes to see, must make more noise somehow. What will it take to wake up our Rip van Winkle Republic?

Friday, May 06, 2005

It's in the news now...

This is the link to the original SGM article in the Sunday Times of London, and it's reprint of the memo.
And here's the Knight-Ridder article on Common Dreams.

Google didn't turn it up anywhere else yet. I'm sure Fox will have it on soon....

Juan Cole reports on the SGM

Juan Cole has the whole Smoking Gun Memo, and his right-on analysis, in his post today. I have spammed practically my whole e-mail list, with apologies, with the link to his post. And it appears from Common Dreams that Knight-Ridder is now carrying the story. I haven't heard if it's out on the cable shows or major outlets yet. Doesn't pop up in NY or LA Times headlines - may be buried in the Labor victory story, but that's not gonna blast America out of it's LazyBoys.

We must spread the word at the grassroots level and hope for some kind of gradual awaking of the electorate. If things don't turn around by the mid-term elections, we better start packing our bags and looking to get off the grid, folks.

The vigilantes will be out in force, offically and otherwise. Check out this chilling little scenario: (a word in advance - it's partially fictionalized account of a pattern of harassment)
--but the warning is real. If you don't think they know who we are and how to find us, get real. If crooks can steal your identity, the NSC can mess with you any way they want. I'm not into paranoia, but we all need to be very aware that the people pushing this right-wing agenda don't play by the same rules we do - they don't share our humane values or feel any compunction about dirty tricks, etc. because they feel themselves to be above all that in some weird way. So we just need to be vigilant. And prepared for the worst.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Blair's woes/Bush's end?

The news in Britain about Tony's troubles should be filling the pages and airwaves of US media, because what's out now is the "smoking gun" according to investigative reporter Greg Palast. All over the news in Britain is the memo that has Blair, Bush & Co. planning the whole Iraq thing months in advance. Plain language reporting that in the meeting, "Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam through military action justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WDM. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

Palast says the news in Britain is that the PM is finished, even if his Party, as seems likely, wins the election. Palast says within months, Blair will be voted out by Labour. It's not so simple to get rid of George of course. It will take impeachment. Of course, lying to the public is not that bad unless it involves some tintillating sexual scandal. So what if he has sent hundreds of American soldiers to die for his questionable policy aims, not to mention murdering thousands of Iraqis, he's a "moral man," (if a bit boring to hear Laura tell it) at least in the bedroom.

(Speaking of the Iraqi dead, I'm set to represent Iraqi war death number 99,559 on May 15 as part of the Counting the Cost effort to raise awareness of the extent of the deaths in Iraq.)

Other quotes from the memo verify beyond a doubt the picture of the war plan that has been alleged since it began:
"Bush had made up his mind to take military action. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbors, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran."

What followed was the selective reading of intelligence to cover the "thin case" that was then twisted by the administration into Saddam as possessing "the most lethal weapons ever devised," and presenting an "imminent threat." Clearly a deliberate falsification of what they knew to be the truth.

So now, all we do is wait for the impeachment procedings to begin. Right. As I am still reality-based, I know that's not very likely. It is however, a possibility. Few people thought Nixon would ever be brought down in those first few months of Watergate. In fact, there is good news that shows the country may be waking up to the reality of the Bush/PNAC agenda.

Recent polls show that George Bush and the “Republican revolution” he has symbolized if not spearheaded are failing. In a poll released Tuesday, 57% of Americans said the war wasn't worth it - that's a big change from the 76% who thought it was back when Saddam fell.

The Bushites are failing to win the “hearts and minds” game in the US just as they are failing in Iraq.

Consider these poll results, mostly from last week: (I'm stealing these numbers from Jay Bookman! Thanks Jay, for your consistently great columns!)

>In the ABC poll last week, Americans disapproved of Bush's policy in Iraq by 56%, and 54% said the war was not worthwhile. Half of us now feel deliberately deceived by the administration into going to war (that's up from 31% a couple of years ago).

>Only 26 % think federal judges are too liberal; 18% think they're too conservative; 52% think they're about right; 66% oppose the “nuclear option” - Repub. efforts to ram extreme judges thru the nomination process.

>Only 31% think the economy is good or excellent; 68% called it fair or poor; 61% said the see it as getting worse (that's down from 50% in early March)

>On energy: 31% see Bush as effective.

>Social Security: Opposition to Bush's handling of the issue is up to 64% now (up 9% from last month – so much for the Great Communicator's efforts!) Only 25% expressed confidence in his handling of Social Security.

Reality-based politics is slowly having an impact. The astounding thing is that all this change in American opinion is happening despite the continuing mainstream media efforts to shore up the administration's failures. The American people are not stupid, blind or ignorant of their own interests, they're just for the most part incredibly poorly informed. But the truth is leaking out. We of the reality-based community are a major part of that leak.

We are also greatly indebted to mainstream people like Jay Bookman, from whose column I stole all this data. Jay is deputy editorial page editor of the Atlanta Journal/Constitution and he writes a column that appears in AJC Mondays and Thursdays. He is a solid voice for good governance, clear thinking, sensible policies, and most of the progressive values that reality-based politics champions. Tom Baxter, AJC political editor, is another great columnist with a reality-based perspective. (See his recent column on Ralph Reed's plans to run for Lt. Gov. of our great state.) So there are mainstream voices out there telling it like it is, they're just far too few.

(The links are to AJC online, which is a free registration and a good source for area and national/world news.)

Maybe this "smoking" memo will hit the American press eventually, especially if Blair does a Humpty Dumpty, and maybe the American people will be awake enough by then to actually consider its true impact. Maybe reality will prevail and we will yet see these two criminals booted out of office in disgrace.

But my back door is still open.