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sofa king's Journal - Archives
Posted by sofa king in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Thu Jun 04th 2009, 12:15 PM
When the authorities supplying the evidence can be suspected of tampering with the record, one cannot use the normal legal standards of evidence. Probative evidence is rare, because if the party is not doing something the record isn't there, and if it is doing something the record may still not be there, or may be moved, redacted, edited, or otherwise poisoned.

The culprit has to screw up badly to incriminate itself, something the Bush Administration, with its absurd combination of sociopathic evil and Marx Brothers incompetence, managed to do all the time.

The scandals which surround Karl Rove are usually pretty obvious. But Dick Cheney was rarely incompetent. Like the poor dead soldiers at Verdun, the facts which surround Cheney's scandals are rotten, dismembered, and repeatedly buried and disinterred by the investigative efforts to expose them.

In such cases, one must adjust the standards of evidence. I'm familiar with the standards used by the Bureau of Indian Affairs when they question whether to recognize an Indian tribe. The shorthand term is "reasonable likelihood." It's not a 100% standard, or even 51%. Instead, it relies on circumstantial evidence, absence of evidence, evidence of cover-up, evidence of concealment, observing who benefited from the crime (if one can even guess what the crime was), and so on.

The standard is necessarily shakier than most others, because it takes into account the ability and sometimes intent of one or more of the parties to alter the evidence and disrupt its recovery and flow.

Using that relaxed standard, I think it's pretty obvious that the Bush Administration sanctioned and encouraged the use of torture, or something very, very close to it. I won't write the "proof" (which it is not) here, as many others have been writing at length about it for years. Let's just assume it for the moment and call it fact 1:

1) The Bush Administration sanctioned and encouraged the use of torture.

But beyond that, we're still making guesses about the scope of the program, and its relationship to other programs.

Here are some further facts which appear to have survived scrutiny well enough to be considered viable:

2) In the past--the living past--the United States has engaged in "liquidation" programs which entailed kidnapping and mass murder. Most notable is the Phoenix Program in Vietnam. Similar efforts appear to have taken place in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Colombia, and other places going back all the way to the Philippine Insurrection.

3) From at least 2005 to January, 2007, dead bodies were dumped by the truckload in Baghdad at a rate of 500 to 1000 bodies a month. This can be circumstantially shown by a review of Juan Cole's news archives, where he regularly passes on news stories of such incidents with alarming frequency. One attempt at forming aggregate figures can be found here. Pay particular note to this observation at that link:

Bodies found in Baghdad (usually executed after torture) have shown the steepest decline, from nearly 1,000 reported in January to around 120 in December 2007 .

3a) It's not possible to prove a negative, but it must be noted that there is a surprising dearth of stories about truckloads full of bodies being intercepted in Baghdad. No nervous "terrorist" ever took a wrong turn into a checkpoint? None ever broke down and had to be abandoned? Well, using a relaxed standard we can make some guesses from the absence of evidence, and my guess is that the trucks weren't caught because the United States and its Iraqi puppet didn't want them to be caught.

4) Dick Cheney's former company and notoriously corrupt Defense contractor Kellogg, Brown and Root, is currently defending itself for its usual hijinks, but in this case it involves transporting dead bodies using KBR trucks. And right there is an example of how bodies could be distributed throughout the city without being caught.

There is no "proof" to be derived from these facts, because Dick Cheney has busted his can to ensure that it can't be proved. But I "believe" I can see where it's going.

I believe (and I choose that word carefully) that the Bush Administration operated a massive program of kidnapping, torture, and eventual execution of thousands of Iraqi citizens. I believe that Cheney's public efforts are designed to stabilize a base of public support for himself now, before the exposure of that program. The torture is part of a ball of yarn that unravels to something far darker and larger than most Americans dare to imagine.

I further believe that President Obama is now aware of this program, at least in the same foggy way that I am and possibly armed with something more than the tools of speculation, and I think that he is weighing whether or not to allow its disclosure, through either investigation or through release of documentation he may already have.

One reason to avoid releasing torture photographs right now may be that the victims themselves might be identified, and that identification may somehow offer further clues to the scope and extent of the overall operation. The President may be trying to simply control the pace and release of the information so that he has any sort of control at all.

There is a lot to be weighed, for if such a thing is disclosed, there is almost certain to be an explosion of further violence against Americans around the world, against the current Iraqi government which must have been aware of it, and no doubt other governments from the Israelis to the Pakistanis and who knows who else. The United States will have to seriously consider how far to lower the sovereignty shields, because the Hague is going to want Cheney's ass if it can be pinned on him.

Such a decision would be a personal one for President Obama, because if he cuts Cheney loose he also opens himself up to similar efforts in the future--on this very issue, even, because like it or not he's now involved. I will avoid the temptation to offer an off-color observation about hanging and who's usually holding the rope, but some of you will guess what it is.

But if it is not disclosed, plenty of us will still be able to guess what happened and some of us will never stop attempting to expose it, and if this President stands in the way of that it is possible he will be carried along with it. Seymour Hersch seems to be on top of it, and reasonably unafraid to pursue the story.

Nondisclosure also appears to be at odds with this President's fairly strong code of ethics, so there is some hope that he will find a way to expose the criminals and make amends, without getting many more thousands of people killed in the process.

But hell if I know how he's going to do that.
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Posted by sofa king in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Mon Jan 19th 2009, 08:23 PM
Every year on this day, I try to learn something new and interesting about Dr. King to share with my niece. Recently, the bebop has taken hold of my heart again, and so I decided to see what Dr. King thought about jazz and the blues.

Well, it turns out he liked 'em, probably not as much as his beloved gospel, but enough to speak about it. Dr. King helped kick off the 1964 Berlin Jazz Festival with some brief remarks which as usual clarify, edify, and uplift:

God has wrought many things out of oppression. He has endowed his creatures with the capacity to create—and from this capacity has flowed the sweet songs of sorrow and joy that have allowed man to cope with his environment and many different situations.

Jazz speaks for life. The Blues tell the story of life's difficulties, and if you think for a moment, you will realize that they take the hardest realities of life and put them into music, only to come out with some new hope or sense of triumph.

This is triumphant music.

Modern jazz has continued in this tradition, singing the songs of a more complicated urban existence. When life itself offers no order and meaning, the musician creates an order and meaning from the sounds of the earth which flow through his instrument.

Full text of remarks.

It is perhaps appropriate that one of the more notable events to arise in the wake Dr. King's passing in the music world was in the blues. Reputedly, Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Guy, and B.B. King had found one another with a little free time and were playing the blues together when word of Dr. King's assassination reached them.

They kept playing.

A few days later, the three took the stage together for the so-called "King's Jam," a fundraiser for Dr. King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference. It was, as far as I know, the only time those three particular musical giants appeared on stage together.

Anyway, I thought some of you might like to see this. How I wish Dr. King could be here with us, on this evening and for tomorrow's triumphant day, the culmination of his dreams and aspirations for our nation.

(Incidentally, I have President Obama pegged as a Miles Davis guy--kind of blue, pre-Bitches Brew. Anyone know?)

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Posted by sofa king in Latest Breaking News
Thu Sep 06th 2007, 11:00 AM
Last year, the Israelis responded to Hezbollah provocation by destroying road communications between Lebanon and Syria, hardly the best way to confront terrorists on their border.

The obvious strategic reason for doing such a thing has little to do with Lebanon or Hezbollah. Instead, it does a really good job of forestalling the possibility of Syria invoking a Schlieffen Plan against Israel, bypassing the heavily defended Golan Heights and invading through Lebanon instead.

With three or more American divisions parked at its back, the only opportunity Syria would have to even contemplate such a thing would occur when America sends those forces in the other direction, into Iran. At that point, Israel will be temporarily left to defend itself, and if Syria and Iran were working together, they could make things annoying for both Israel and the United States by widening the war.

If and when America does invade Iran, sometime before the end of the month, Israel may be inclined to preemptively attack Syria. Or, they may be wishing to send Syria a warning that Israel can do such a thing at their convenience.

In either case, probing the Syrian radar defenses is a necessary first step, to better evaluate the Syrians' state of readiness and competence.
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Posted by sofa king in Latest Breaking News
Sat Sep 01st 2007, 12:06 AM
Over a year ago I predicted here on DU that the invasion of Iran would begin as soon as the Brits got out of the way in Basra. It's an easy prediction to make. Just like Admiral Fischer predicted that the First World War would begin when Germany completed the widening of the Kiel Canal (and it did), America can't invade Iran until the British get out of the way in Basra.

Combined with the corporate media's scheduled banging of the war drums against Iran, Americans taking Iranian hostages as they did early this year, the Bushehr nuclear plant scheduled to go online within weeks, and someone banking that the world economy is going to tank within a month, I think it's time to start getting proactive.

There are some other things you ought to know. The Iranian plant at Bushehr won't be able to produce weapons-grade nuclear materials for years, if ever, and that's if they get the uranium from Russia, which is currently doubtful. It's bullshit, just like the last time.

There won't be any airstrikes, except to prepare the way for a ground invasion. What's really going on is the Bushehr nuclear plant is sitting on top of 38 billion barrels of oil, just about the only major oil discovery that's actually panning out this century. China has major deals with Iran to develop that oil, so if we go in, China might decide to put up 1.3 trillion U.S. dollars for sale, which will kill the dollar and send our economy into the toilet. Maybe it's China placing all those put options as a hedge, but my money is on insider trading from Dick Cheney's pals.

The hostage-taking by the United States is a provocation, but the important thing to remember is that it doesn't matter what Iran does so long as the knuckle-draggers in Idaho think that Iran has been provoked. Then it's just a matter of setting up a false flag operation, and in we're gonna go.

There are only two provinces in Iran that Dick Cheney wants or cares about, and those are Bushehr and Khuzestan, because that's where most of Iran's 100 billion-plus barrels of oil and natural gas reserves are. Militarily it will also be necessary to neutralize and possibly occupy Iranian territory in the Straight of Hormuz. Bushehr and Khuzestan also happen to be relatively flat and conducive to the rolling armored warfare in which America excels.

But within a couple of weeks of stealing Iran's oil, a million crazy-ass rednecks with AK-47s are going to start pouring out of the mountains looking for any American they can human-wave attack, and I'll bet you anything Uncle Dick hasn't thought nearly as much about that. This war is going to be a bloodbath, maybe not for our side, but certainly for the Iranians, and Russia and China may be forced to back them against us.

We must stop this, or America is fuckin' doomed. Call your Congresscritters. Plan civil disobedience. Be prepared. Keep an eye on Jerome Hauer. And pray.

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Posted by sofa king in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Tue Aug 28th 2007, 07:25 AM
The Bush Administration's next-least-worst option now that AGAG is leaving is to do what they have done better than any corrupt American Presidency in the history of our country: leave the position unfilled and run it through a Bush-selected loyalist from within the ranks.

In the case of the Justice Department that's easy, since it's been thoroughly rotted from the inside out. The media is reporting that Solicitor General Paul Clement, a political lawyer through and through with a grand total of about six years of actual law and clerking practice (including his current job as the nation's most prominent practicing lawyer) and about ten years working for John Ashcroft and stealing elections, will be named Gonzo's acting successor.

Solicitor General seems to be an important post within the Bush Administration, being traditionally staffed by insiders who seem to know where the bodies are buried.

Edit: For those of you wondering how Clement got his job in the first place, just think it through for a minute: the job of Solicitor General is to argue cases before the Supreme Court on behalf of the United States. Why wouldn't the Dems want a barely-qualified hack in that position? He's been doing our job for us by incompetently representing the hyperconservative legal position, and making Scalia, Thomas, and Scalito work overtime trying to drag their warped opinions out of his inexpertly crafted arguments.
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Posted by sofa king in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Wed Aug 22nd 2007, 06:23 AM
Regrettably, the changes the Democrats have already wrought aren't totally obvious to many of us, though they are quite visible:

* The political climate, if measured purely in terms of monetary donations to political parties and candidates, is now heavily in favor of the Democrats.

* Even though this is an off-election year, the oil companies apparently don't feel welcome to secure their usual Bush-era windfall summer profits.

* Harry Reid kept his promise to keep the Senate in pro forma session through this recess, so Alberto Gonzales and others can't be replaced with other criminals.

* The propaganda wing of the GOP has lost all credibility and its voice is virtually ignored instead of making daily headline news.

* There have been markedly fewer bullshit terrorism warnings designed to distract from the crimes of the Bush Administration.

Those last two points are particularly important, because I think that's why our patience is running thin. Using the slow-grinding machinery of Congressional inquiry, the Bush Administration has been forced to abandon its usual, dishonest and probably illegal methods of deceiving the public and controlling the debate, to the point where the Joseph Goebbels of this administration has abandoned his post to catcalls.

We're getting pissed because all the filters and bypasses created by the Republican slime machine have broken down. Instead, the American public is now mainlining Bush Administration crime, corruption, and prevarication, and we are quickly losing all tolerance for it.

Good. Be pissed. Stay pissed. Make sure everyone you know is pissed. But don't say that the Democrats haven't done anything, because they've provided us with the opportunity to pay attention for once.

(This is a general statement and obviously cannot be directly applied to you, kpete. I and everyone else here knows and appreciates your tireless diligence and willingness to document the actions of this most malicious political era, and I for one thank you for it.)
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Posted by sofa king in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Thu May 10th 2007, 01:25 PM
By virtue of my status as the luckiest brother in the world, yesterday I had the privilege of doing something I didn't think I'd ever have the chance to do.

I got to do a little volunteer work for Virginia Tech.

Specifically, I got to spend a couple hours helping to process the enormous volume of mail that VPI has been getting in the wake of the shootings there. I worked in a room which was literally full of letters and packages, in an office which was still more full of letters and packages.

The staff there has obviously become expert at guessing what each package is without opening it. My job was to open, record and sort a corner of the room which had already been pre-sorted by shape and weight as banners and stacks of sympathy cards.

There was mail from every corner of the nation, from places I was only dimly aware of or had never heard of before: Three Rivers, Michigan; Immaculata, Pennsylvania; Carbondale, Illinois. There were banners signed by university students from universities I didn't even know existed. Television stations sent signatures and photographs of candlelight vigils. Churches sent hymns and poems crafted for the occasion. Entire classrooms of children sent the most beautiful drawings and fingerpaintings, often on maroon and orange paper. Each package, so thoughtfully and carefully put together, was a unique expression of anguish and sympathy, but each was also sadly similar.

I'm not the most emotionally stable guy in the world. This was pretty hard for me. As a researcher I automatically began to carefully document what I was finding, but with the very first banner I checked in (from Baylor University in Waco, Texas) I also realized that due to the huge volume I might be the only person who actually had a chance to read some of what was sent. So I made sure to read at least one message from each submission.

And that's when America began to speak to me.

A student from Irvine, California told me to keep my chin up. The improbably named Holly Goforth from South Carolina told me from her fifth-grade desk that all would be well. Alabama cares. So does Oklahoma. One package seemed to be sent directly to me. Paraphrased, the cover letter said, "We know you're probably going through a rough time right now, so here are some amusing pictures from our first graders to help cheer you up." I choked back a tear, as I am right now, and chuckled, and looked at every one of them.

I'm just one person, and I haven't been a student at Virginia Tech in over fifteen years, but I'm sure I speak for all of them--for all of us--when I say, "thank you America." Thank you for your kindness. Thank you for your thoughtfulness.

Thank you for reminding us of the goodness that dwells in our hearts.
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Posted by sofa king in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Wed May 02nd 2007, 01:19 PM
Yellow is the color of the day--decade?--at Tony Snow's cancer coming-out conference. But his chances of dying peacefully at home are excellent.
Thank you very much; I'll be here all week. And if you liked that, try this:
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Posted by sofa king in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Fri Apr 13th 2007, 01:04 PM
If they had obeyed the law by following the Presidential Records Act, then they might have had a shot at throwing the blanket of executive privilege over the emails. But probably not, since Republican lawyers shot that defense full of holes while rooting through Vice President Al Gore's emails back in the era of peace and prosperity.

Then again, if they hadn't been using those illegal private email accounts to pursue other illegal activity they wouldn't have to pull the executive privilege shenanigans at all. That is why they are both losing them and refusing to turn them over at the same time.

As I have said elsewhere, this one's going to bite them in the ass, hard. They're not lost, and they can't get rid of all of them. There are thousands of pissed-off IT professionals who know just where to look, not to mention the greedy, amoral criminals who comprise the GOP's operational staff who will soon realize that the path to power in the GOP will be through the incrimination of those in power now.

If they refuse to come clean, any reasonably clever blackmailer will be in a position to hold those emails over the GOP for decades, because at this point I'm sure many of the crimes they've committed will have no statute of limitations.

If they do come clean, well, there's still no statute of limitations. I may yet live to see the day when every last one of these bastards is finishing out their lives in prison.

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Posted by sofa king in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Fri Apr 06th 2007, 06:22 PM
The first thing that springs to mind is the billions of dollars being filtered through the Iraqi government and then into the pockets of our corrupt contractors, which for all these years has been blithely watched by former Bush staffer Stuart Bowen. Bowen is Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction and I'm assuming (perhaps erroneously) that he ultimately reports to the overall DoD IG office. Occasionally he slaps hands, but a Presidential signing statement makes his job pretty easy: he's not allowed to investigate or report on anything that might be a matter of national security... like, say, the war in Iraq?

But of course, the Republican Congress of 2006 sought to confront that corruption head on by abolishing the office of the IG-Iraq. Sort of like burning down the observatory to avoid being hit by a comet. Oh and the punchline? Nobody knows how the termination clause found its way into the bill.

Another thing going on is when the Bush Administration is up to something really shady, they force out the head of the executive branch office that's up to no good and replace that person with an "acting" head from within the ranks of employees already there. The replacement is always a Republican who has "demonstrated support for the President." Then the President shuffles his feet on finding an actual replacement for Senate confirmation, as required by law.

Thus, for example, there has been a Senate-approved Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs for only thirteen months in the entire six years of the Bush Administration... and as I have written previously, the scandals there run thick as shad.

At a cursory glance, the bad acting seems to run even more true for the all important positions of Inspectors General of the various agencies and departments--after all, they're the ones who are supposed to stop federal corruption. Not exactly a Bush Administration priority, as most of us know by now. I see that the Inspector General for Veterans Affairs appears to have been "acting" since June, 2005.

The overall website for federal Inspectors General is of course defunct, so the excel spreadsheet which would clearly show how many of the 57 IGs are currently "acting" cannot be downloaded.

Therefore it comes as no surprise at all to me to find that the Department of Defense's Office of the Inspector General has had an acting head since September of last year. It would be interesting to untangle that bag of worms, but probably ultimately futile. It will take decades to categorize and properly record the criminal scope of these gangsters.

No, I can't see the rat yet, but I sure as hell smell it.
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Posted by sofa king in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Tue Mar 27th 2007, 11:03 PM
The other day I was speaking with someone about this latest raft of Bush Administration scandals, specifically the attorney firings, when I had an unusual realization. I mentioned in passing something about the "day-to-day pattern of criminal behavior" those brigands in the White House are exercising.

"What do you mean?" said my friend.

And that's when I realized that even at this advanced date, few people have seen what I saw. Though many of us have been reading about the crimes of the White House in the murky (but better and more honestly reported) depths of the alternative media, few people have actually seen what I mean by a day-to-day pattern of criminal behavior.

Those attorney firings? They're not concealing a single crime, or a few crimes. Those firings are designed to cover up a criminal assault upon our nation the likes of which I have never seen before nor ever studied about, though I spent the better part of a decade researching government-sanctioned crimes in the field of Indian Affairs. I'm talking about crimes committed every single day, some large, some small, all of them affronts to our national dignity and a disgrace to our country's name.

About this time of year on the Potomac River, the shad run through Washington, DC to spawn--millions of 'em, so many that you can simply dip a net in the water and pull out a handful of six-inch long appetizers. Similarly, the transgressions of the Bush Administration run so thick and so deep that future historians will be able to look at no single act of this Presidency without considering that act part of an enormous school of criminal deeds, all swimming in dark formation in the muddy water they intentionally left churned.

So remember this when I tell you this little story: it's but one story among a myriad, only a few dozen of which I have seen myself. It's a crime which will never be prosecuted, probably never even acknowledged, first because there are so many bigger fish to fry, second dipping your net in the waters of the Bush Administration will always yield a criminal fish--but probably not a single one of the fish I watched swim by.

You've allowed my my flowery introduction, so I'll skip most of the actual story's exposition and start with this. In 2002, Senator Tim Johnson was re-elected in South Dakota by the slimmest of margins over the GOP's best boy, John Thune. By all accounts, the winning votes came from a larger-than-normal turnout in the state's Indian reservations, particularly among the Oglala Sioux Tribe on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

The Oglalas have a long and troubled history with the federal government, from well before Wounded Knee and the more recent FBI-condoned murders of AIM activists in the 1970s. But Johnson's reelection--and the inability of the Republicans to steal that election anyway, though they certainly tried--drew the attention of the White House itself.

The following spring, when the President's budget proposal came out, the displeasure of the White House was readily apparent. It was my job to track the funding proposed by the White House for the Oglala Sioux, and the result was nothing short of disaster: COPS funding was proposed to be cut to the bone, which would severely affect the tribe's law enforcement (and in fact the tribe ran out of law enforcement money that year, and anarchy nearly reigned officially); the Indian Health Service killed several programs upon which the Oglalas relied; educational funding for tribes was cut as were school construction funds, which ensured that Oglala children could continue to go to school in one-half of their dilapidated building, the other half having been shut down due to asbestos and water damage.

Most of these swipes were broad and (I happen to think) aimed at punishing American Indians in general for daring to vote, but one in particular was aimed square at the heart of the Oglalas: the Bush Administration proposed to cut funding for the Mni Wiconi project from the previous year's amount of roughly $30 million to about $13 million, of which only $6 million was to be for actual development. The Mni Wiconi project is a pipeline designed to pipe drinking water from the Missouri River to the various reservations which used to comprise the Great Sioux Nation along South Dakota's southern border.

Did I mention that today, in the Twenty-first Century, most of the Oglalas don't have access to clean running water?

I'll spare you the sob story about how this project was supposed to be completed a decade ago, or how the project was expanded to include non-Indian grazing interests further up the line (and how that part of it is now complete).

Here's the important part: six million dollars wouldn't be enough to keep the blueprints for future work dry, because it still rains in parts of South Dakota where the Indians don't live.

My role in getting that funding back was small but somewhat significant. My job was to track down the justification for cutting the funding. The official justification can be found here (.pdf file), page GP-46 of the FY 04 Bureau of Reclamation Budget Justification:

Explanation of Significant Decrease: The requested funding is a decrease of $16.575 million from the FY03 rural water request. Local cost sharing, performance measures, and goals have been determined to be inadequate. Please refer to the discussion in the Great Plains Regional Overview concerning rural water projects, including the Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART) results for rural water.

Which is further not explained on page GP-7:

During formulation of the FY 2004 budget, the Administration began using the Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART) to identify strengths and weaknesses of programs and to inform budget, management, and policy recommendations. The PART process for rural water generated extensive information on program effectiveness and accountability including the need for additional performance measures.

The principal PART findings for Rural Water Supply Projects (PART Rating: Results Not Demonstrated) indicate that although Reclamation does a competent job of managing its rural water projects, the program lacks adequate controls and guidelines, and also requires better performance measures. The FY 2004 funding requests for Reclamation’s rural water projects have been scaled back due to systemic program weaknesses, such as nonexistent guidelines for eligibility, local cost share and program planning, and overlap with programs at other Federal agencies. Reclamation is developing performance measures for these projects.

There is yet another page here, with all kinds of nice graphs, which also explains nothing, but which also refers to another document which also explains nothing specific about why the Mni Wiconi funding was cut.

So how, exactly, does this PART thing work?, I asked. Well, that's where the fun began. You see, nobody could tell me, exactly. When I asked to see the paperwork behind the assessment, nobody had it, or knew where it could be had. At one point, an exasperated Department of the Interior official (no, I can't remember whom now) suggested I talk to J. Steven Griles, who pled guilty the other day to obstruction of justice over his relationship with Jack Abramoff.

It turns out that PART was bullshit, the whole time, and it's one of the many avenues of corruption that Rep. Waxman is trying to seal off. According to Waxman, pencil-pushers at the OMB had far too much power--subjective power--to give negative assessments without any real justification, just like in the case of Mni Wiconi.

One of those pencil-pushers at OMB was David Safavian, later convicted on four felony counts for his relationship with Jack Abramoff.

See, the thing here is that Jack Abramoff wouldn't lift a dirty fingernail to screw over the Oglala Sioux--they don't have enough money to steal. This hit job was personal, and political. And yet the same names keep popping up... almost like the job went through the same people, but from a different source....

But I'm getting ahead of myself. When I found myself being blocked by bureaucratic red tape and vacuous explanations at every turn, I did what every mediocre researcher is supposed to do when he smells a rat in the Bush Administration: I told my bosses what I found, and I moved on to the next day's crimes. And I kept moving on for another year or two before I couldn't stand it anymore and cracked up.

One of the last things I remember about the incident, besides Tim Johnson's heroic work to restore funding for the project that year (which he successfully did--one more reason why he's a great guy), was one attorney saying to another, "we should report this to the Department of Justice."

I'll bet they did. And I'll bet nothing happened. I just looked and find that the new US Attorney for the District of South Dakota is a fellow named Marty Jackley, who replaced Kent Mullins in 2006, who replaced Michelle Tapken in 2005, who replaced James McMahon in 2005. The last three appointees had the approval of now-Senator John Thune, who rebounded from his defeat in 2002 to defeat Tom Daschle in 2004. McMahon resigned shortly after Thune won.

I don't know if James McMahon is on the firings list.

Is it a crime? It should be. Ethically, it certainly is a rotten thing--to those of us who saw it it was an obvious hit job, followed up by an obvious snow job. If it's not a crime yet I'll bet it would be if someone had the balls to start asking questions, whereupon these vultures would lie about it under oath. But I saw things like that every single fucking day from the first day these gangsters stole the office.

All I saw was what they were doing to the Indians. I only heard stories about how they were raping the environment, robbing the treasury, getting contractors fat at the DOD, selling off the airwaves, holding back the IRS, and on, and on, and on....

Like I said, one small fish in the net. Look quick, because I'm sick of fish, and I'm throwing it back.

But there are millions more where that one came from.
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Posted by sofa king in General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009)
Tue Mar 13th 2007, 08:28 PM
One needs only look back to the exact equivalent of this scandal (except in scale) in the Nixon Administration.

Nixon tried to fire Archibald Cox, which in turn drew the indignant resignations of the AG and the Deputy AG. Nixon had to make a young Robert Bork Acting Attorney General in order to send Cox away.

In that event, the firings only served to focus public attention on the Watergate scandal and eventually led to Nixon's own resignation.

The criminal elite inside of the Republican Party has learned well from that mistake. Now we're looking at, what, nine? US attorney firings--nearly ten percent of the entire US attorney corps--orchestrated from the leadership positions which were vacated on matter of principle under Nixon.

I suspect each one of those firings conceals a Watergate-sized violation of American laws and ethics. But we'll never know for sure.

The lesson is clear: put criminals in charge to protect the other criminals. Threaten, coerce and distract the press. And operate on a scale so grand that the crimes are beyond the comprehension of most of the public.

I don't think there are any new lessons to be learned from this. We already learned them once, and forgot them. The only lesson is for the criminals: the American people are facile and ignorant enough to be fooled over and over again.

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Posted by sofa king in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Sun Feb 18th 2007, 12:53 PM
In recent months I've been pretty hard on the prosecution in this case because it looks to me like Fitzgerald very intentionally let all the big fish swim--particularly Karl Rove, who was free to steal the 2004 election as a result.

However, recently I've been thinking about the major press conference Patrick Fitzgerald gave when he indicted Scooter Libby. Specifically, he said:

When you do a criminal case, if you find a violation, it doesn't really, in the end, matter what statute you use if you vindicate the interest.

If Mr. Libby is proven to have done what we've alleged -- convicting him of obstruction of justice, perjury and false statements -- very serious felonies -- will vindicate the interest of the public in making sure he's held accountable.

It's not as if you say, "Well, this person was convicted but under the wrong statute."

So far, the Bush Administration has achieved everything it has desired in this case. Interminable extension and delay, a single defendant charged with a mere "technicality" (as the Republican talking point goes), and the freedom of the other perpetrators to go on to commit far more damaging crimes which also will never be prosecuted.

But as I think more of it, I realize that Fitzgerald was merely tilting at windmills the whole time. Consider the recent Kentucky case in which the guilty-as-hell Republican executive branch was pardoned en masse by its corrupt governor. Consider that little provision in the Patriot Act which allows the Justice Department to fire its attorneys in the middle of embarrassing cases and replace them with party hacks, as happened recently in the Dusty Foggo case.

You think Bush wouldn't do that? I think the only reason he hasn't already is because he can't be bothered to pardon his people twice--because the day after they're pardoned they'll continue right on breaking the law.

Which brings us back to Fitzgerald's cryptic statement about "vindicat(ing) the interest" of the public.

By going easy on the Bush Administration, Patrick Fitzgerald has aided the short-term interests of the Bush Administration, no question about that. But by making it easy for them, Fitzgerald has also managed to soothe the Bush Administration into keeping its more powerful tools in the box--pardoning the accused, firing the prosecutor himself, and the far darker and more sinister tools many of us suspect this Administration of using.

In the meantime, the political climate has (finally) changed to the point where revelations in this case might have some actual ramifications. Prior to this year, there was no chance that the most corrupt Congress in our nation's history would impeach the most corrupt President in our nation's history. Similarly, early conviction would have simply led to early pardons, early firings, or perhaps an untimely plane crash or two before such a thing could happen.

But now we have an ongoing case which is being publicly discussed, which is revealing the inner workings of this secretive old-boys club. It's going to piss people off, and at the same time it's amassing a case in the court of public opinion against all of the criminals in this specific case, and more.

The "vindication" of which Fitzgerald spoke might be the opportunity for America to learn the details of this case and become outraged, and then hopefully demand the political expedient of impeachment, which has a far better chance of succeeding than the legal path of indicting members of this most criminal regime and expecting them to resign in shame they don't have.

Even if that doesn't work, the 2006 election showed that if the people are outraged enough, the exit polls can still diverge from the results enough to declare the election invalid in a third world country and still produce a reasonably honest result. This case is going to be an issue in the '08 elections now, no matter what happens, and that's going to make stealing that election all the more difficult for the Republicans.

It's an ugly, winding, sometimes barely visible path to justice, but if it works I suppose it may beat impaling oneself on the palisade of the Republican keep. And it can just as easily be just another deception on the path to Hell, which is where we're currently skipping in Little Red Riding Hood's handbasket.

I suppose we'll see if it works.
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Posted by sofa king in General Discussion (01/01/06 through 01/22/2007)
Sat Dec 30th 2006, 02:35 PM
He's got the militant expansionism of James K. Polk, the incompetent oversight of Ulysses S. Grant, and the old-boy criminal corruption of Warren G. Harding, all wrapped into one embarrassing package.

The worst part of it is that when you go back and look at those other three Presidents, each of whom probably qualified as "worst ever" at their own point in time, it's easy to see that their stain on the Presidency didn't just last the length of their own terms.

Oh no.

In each case those terrible Presidents were succeeded by multiple Presidents who were almost as bad. Polk was followed by Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, and *'s own drunken manslaughtering great-great-great-uncle, Franklin Pierce. Grant was followed by machine politician figureheads Rutherford Hayes, James Garfield, and Chester Arthur (and the GOP had to steal an election to get Hayes in the door). Harding spawned Coolidge and Hoover, a mini-depression of his own and the big one by the end of the decade.

But maybe, just maybe, the government-wide veil of corruption that has again descended on Washington with the coming of George W. Bush, the unchecked militancy, the willingness to deceive and frighten the voters, the Ribbentrop-esque diplomacy, the disenfranchisement and the methodical vacuuming up of middle America's savings will be recognized as what it is: criminal enterprise on the grandest scale ever attempted, anywhere.

Maybe this time, we'll change things so permanently that people like George W. Bush are imprisoned as the criminal minds that they are before they have a chance to further gnaw at the pillars of our once-great society. Maybe the next President will realize that our nation teeters on the brink of financial and moral collapse, not because we haven't saved and don't prostrate ourselves before a particular name-brand magical sky pixie, but because we've been robbed, robbed of our electoral power, our financial independence, our future, our reputation and perhaps even our optimism and hope.

Maybe. But Clio, the Goddess you can usually count on to make her point if you weren't paying attention the first time, ain't holding her breath.
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Posted by sofa king in General Discussion (01/01/06 through 01/22/2007)
Sat Dec 30th 2006, 03:54 AM
Probably not. Tiso was the President of the Slovak Republic while it was a puppet state of the Third Reich during World War II. He presided over countless crimes, including the deportation of Slovakian Jews.

When the war ended in Europe, Tiso was sentenced to death by the Czechoslovakian National Court and executed in 1947.

Today, we don't remember Josef Tiso very well because Czechoslovakia fell under the influence of yet another more powerful country led by a far more notorious criminal: Josef Stalin.

So now I ask you: Do you applaud Josef Stalin for having Josef Tiso executed? Or was it the Czechoslovakian people who had Tiso executed? Does Tiso's death do anything to burnish the reputation of Stalin, or of the Soviet Union?

The answer to all three of those questions is, fuck, no!
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