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BushCo: Change of State? or Escalate?

There's an expression in politics: "When about to be exposed, escalate your atrocities!"

Rove (PhD, Magnum Cum Laude, Machiavelli Community College), arguably one of the most brilliant political tacticians in history, understands this, and wields it like a surgeon with his scalpel. But, like any zealot who believes in his invincibility, he got carried away by the hubris that inheres in wielding great power, and he has shot himself in his achilles heel. So now we're going to get to see just how great Rove is, whether his particular brand of evil brilliance is up for its greatest challenge. Sadly, I believe we will be unlucky enough to witness the masterpiece of a political artist at his peak.

As I've hinted elsewhere recently there are certainly plans afoot to bomb somewhere soon, whether Syria, Iran, or Lichtenstein; or perhaps unleash Project BioShield — it doesn't matter. Rove (qua BushCo) needs another distraction, and they need it soon. The next few weeks are going to be very interesting as various steaming piles all hit the fan together — Plamegate indictments; 2000 soldier deaths milestone reached; <40% popularity; Bush drinking again; avian flu; Syria in the sights; the Miers nomination, etc. It feels to me like a tremendous crescendo in a complex symphony's coda, all the themes finally coming together into one enormous, drawn-out cadence. The tension is palpable. The world's at the edge of its seat.

Operative Nobody and I have had a series of discussions recently about what's happening right now with BushCo. He has a different take on things than I do. For him, Bush, as the obvious pawn of the cabal of financial and business interests running the country, was the vehicle through which they would finally achieve their dream of transforming Murka into a corporatists's paradise — protecting them from onerous lawsuits, reverse robin-hoodism as official economic policy, privatization of all things public, etc.

Legally committing such crimes against the public requires the removal of legislative safeguards against despotism — great inequities in wealth necessitate great increases in social control: with increased economic disparities come increased police powers. The goal, as the great pedagogist Henry Giroux puts it, is "the elimination of democracy and the concentration of power and control in the hands of a single party and the ruling corporate elite." Thus this corporate cabal emboldens and supports BushCo to enact their regressive legislations as far as they're able to...until the inevitable uproar when people figure out what's going on. When the tide turns the public will blame BushCo for their plight, at which time the legislation's already passed; thus Bush, et al, become the fall guys.

He believes (and hopes, — as do we (ie, sentient beings) all) that the pressure of all these mounting scandals will continue to take such a toll on Bush that eventually he'll snap in some spectacular way in some public venue ("drunken press conferences, public apoplexy with expletives, incoherent rambling with or without drool, maybe even physical violence"), and thus be thoroughly humiliated and disgraced before the world. The more spectacular the snappage, the better for the cabal since it will serve as a lightning rod to focus attention on him rather than the institutional changes promulgated under his "leadership".

The world has a collective sigh of relief at his downfall. But now the way is paved for the cabal's next puppet. Newt Puppett will rescind some of the more heinous doctrines, like pre-emptive war and outsourced "rendering", so as to look progressive; but the economic and political structures of corporate and police control will remain in place. After a few quiet years, once the public is complacent again, Newt Puppett will gradually and quietly enact the last few steps required to complete their despotic agenda, the finalization of a uniquely American "friendly fascism".

To this I say, no matter how much we may relish the universal schadenfreude of seeing the adage proved that bigger falls harder — and it is delightful, I must admit, to envision Bush snapping so publicly! — I think this is wishful thinking.

I don't think the puppet masters are unleashing Bush for a glorious downfall, for the puppet masters are BushCo. Yes, Bush is their puppet and fallguy. But he's the frontman to the "cabal" itself, the very people who have been at the heart of the financial/military/energy/intelligence network that's been running the country since WWII. They are the so-called "Shadow Government", having moved from their subterranean boardrooms into the White House. BushCo is beholden to no one but themselves — they are, essentially, their own cronies.

And they're not the sort to go down without a fight. In fact, now that they're cornered, I believe we're in for some really spectacular political shenanigans that will make Watergate and Iran/Contra look like shoplifting candy from Wallmart.

I think Operative Nobody is partially right. I think so long as BushCo benefitted their benefactors everything was copacetic. But when an unstable force is unleashed there comes a time when the realization hits that perhaps it's more dangerous than you counted on: it's not as malleable or humorous as you thought, especially when it starts thrashing near your home.

But by then it's too late: The container is broken; the force is unleashed.

I've discussed elsewhere Kissinger's notion that once a "revolutionary power" seizes power they do not willingly cede it. BushCo ain't leaving. These are people who have no respect for democracy, and certainly no respect for the law. (The law, after all, is for citizens. BushCo has already made it clear that they are above the law.) They are, indeed, cornered. And now we're going to see what they're made of. I don't know what they have up their sleeve, but I expect it will entail a sizable body count. Something's got to give, and it's not going to be BushCo.

The scholarly name for what I expect to happen — whether involving Syria or some other convenient victim du jour — is "diversionary theory" (more here). Simply put:

The general argument is that presidents have incentive to treat an external use of force as a "scapegoat" during times of domestic distress such as high unemployment, inflation, scandal or other domestic turmoil...

As obvious as such a principle seems, there's a growing body of scholarly literature about it, most of it confirming the theory. (But then professors are expected to create high-falutin' sounding theories to explain the obvious, which they then publish in journals no one reads except more professors seeking to fill up their cvs and bibliographies. But that's a whole 'nuther story.)

How could Rove (and BushCo) possibly get away with such a transparent stunt? Because Murkans are as mentally incurious and psychologically reactive as their educational system is designed to make 'em. What can one expect given a historical memory no longer than an infomercial for Chromatrim Diet Gum; or given the curiosity and inquisitiveness of a nation exemplified by a "president" who hasn't a read a book since Go, Dog. Go!; how else to account for this pathetic example provided by Russ Baker:

Last year, on a flight to Texas, I chatted with my seatmate, a seemingly well-informed software salesman, reasonably affluent, college-educated, moderate, who volunteered that he increasingly didn't trust Bush. He saw me clutching a copy of the book, "Bush's Brain," about Rove. "Who," he asked, "is that?"

If he and most Americans barely knew who Rove was then, imagine their interest in his fate, and those of even lesser visibility, as the drums of war sound again.

Mr. Baker, who obviously pays attention, reaches the same conclusion I do about Syria providing a great distraction.

You know, as much as us BushCo-haters hate to admit it, BushCo couldn't possibly hoodwink Murkans as easily as they do if they didn't understand them so well. Any good salesman knows how to read their customer, and they are specialists in bilking the credulous of their safety and future. And BushCo is nothing if not a giant PR phenomenon, selling their noxious snakeoil with such transparent obviousness that those of us in the "reality-based community" are continually baffled and disgusted by the great numbers who buy it. When not slashing social services or torturing heathens, BushCo prefers the excuse and the hardsell to actually doing anything, thinking that image trumps substance — which it usually does, hence their success. Thus, for example, with Katrina, they put far more effort and heart into their public relations damage control afterwards than in rescuing people during; or they start up pathetic propaganda mills like the OSI, or send Karen Hughes to Oprah the towelheads. The problem, for them, is always one of image and salesmanship: If someone's not buying the product it's got to be because it's not being sold properly. The actual product has no bearing on the matter.

But now the fourth estate — after having criminally forsaken their duty since BushCo's appointment — has finally taken some tenuous pokes at BushCo, and the public mood has shifted as a result. BushCo isn't having their customary free pass, and it's irking them.

And now that they're cornered we're going to see just how preternaturally vicious they can be. Delay provides us with a few hints of what's to come.

It's all coming to a head now — all the years of lies and secrecy. The countless criminal scandal-seeds they have sown since their assumption of power are now blossoming. Something's got to give. And I strongly doubt it's going to be BushCo.

Boy, I sure do hope I'm wrong in all this! I would dearly love to see Rove, Libby — and Cheney himself! — in orange jumpsuits cleaning highway garbage (in Iraq!). (No — I would far prefer to see them in a dock at the ICC!) I would love to see Bush tear some reporter (or, better yet, a slain soldier's forlorn mom!) a new asshole in a drunken rage on CNN and disgrace himself so thoroughly that, for one brief moment, he sees himself clearly for what he is — for perhaps the first time in his life.

Instead, all I can think about is an increasingly neurotic, rage-filled Bush, his besotted finger poised above a red button...


Hey, Look Over There! Bad Guys! Let's Get 'Em!

In another of BushCo's painfully obvious Friday Night News Dumps — the time when they just happen to drop their most heinous bombs on a public running off for the weekend while journalists rush to meet weekend deadlines — it seems they have found a way to kill several birds with a dearly wished for rock. This particular BushCo noctural emission is headlined "Bush Calls for U.N. Action Against Syria".

This is something that's been in the planning stages for a long time now, and it seems the fruit has finally ripened just in time for the Amazing BushCo prestidigitators to work their distracto-magic to get us all to look away from the jillion scandals blossoming in the fields they've sown since being annointed our Dear Leader. Yep, it seems only a year ago that I posted this quote from an msnbc article about inventing an excuse to go after Syria:

Even hard-liners acknowledge that given the U.S. military commitment in Iraq, a U.S. attack on either country [Syria and Iran] would be an unlikely last resort; covert action of some kind is the favored route for Washington hard-liners who want regime change in Damascus and Tehran.


Well, hard as it is to imagine BushCo carefully plotting the overthrow of sovereign nations, lying through their teeth, implementing political assassination (aka "lethal covert operations" aka "extrajudicial killings") as official policy, then doctoring reports and fabricating evidence to conveniently blame their intended victim they've been yearning to attack — I think I'll just rush past everybody and jump to such a conclusion before the evidence comes in to confirm it a few years later.

What's that expression? "There's an old saying in Tennessee - I know it's in Texas, it's probably in Tennessee - that says, fool me once, shame on ... shame on you. It fool me. We can't get fooled again."

If you're in the mood for some good dark humor check out some of the quotes in the original AP story — they're a hoot!
  • "Accountability is going to be very important for the international community." — Condi Rice

  • Syria must "fully understand" that it must not intervene in Lebanon and must respect its sovereignty, Rice said at a joint news conference.

  • The council "will have no real credibility if it does not take seriously the implications of this report," Rice said.

  • In a similar vein, Straw said the council must show the international community that "it is standing up for justice."

  • "We would like to see those responsible for this crime and others in Lebanon brought to justice," Assistant Secretary of State C. David Welch said in Washington.

  • Although Rice has refused to rule out military action against Syria, the Bush administration stressed that it has no plans for military intervention.

  • "We are seeking a diplomatic solution to this problem," State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said Friday.


Let the Culling Commence!

The danger signs are spread all around us yet scarcely register in the standard economic models. Nature is the greatest obstacle of all to the future of the free-market system and cannot be treated as an adversary. The message must be protect or perish.

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Giant corporations, wealthy communities and rich individuals, whatever their assets cannot escape the consequences of ecological degradation. Yet even they seem powerless to halt the process. They illustrate the paradox of beneficiaries unable to protect the system that benefits them, a paradox we shall encounter frequently in this Report.

At its heart lies the problem of the 'free-rider'. Whereas only some would pay the costs for turning these destructive trends around, all would benefit. If one company stopped trawling in order to allow fish stocks to recover, some less scrupulous rival would move in, take whatever fish remained and ruin the more ecologically responsible firm in the bargain. Short-term interests are paramount.

No one wants to go first, so all end up going last. Entrepreneurs do not want powerful states which can impose stringent rules on business, much less a global government, so no one regulates. No one can afford to stop and turn around, so destruction continues. Yet no one can live on a dead planet.

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The bedrock of free-market theory and practice, need we remind the Commissioning Parties, is not altruism or self-sacrifice but immediate self-interest and profit. It would thus be astonishing to find this market rife with statistically significant unselfish behaviour. This holds true even when it can be shown that some policies and individual actions are much more likely to protect the system than others; to allow it to pass on, as it were, its genes. Market players care only about themselves, today, not about transmitting their individual or collective inheritance.

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It should come as no surprise that unregulated (or 'self-regulated') markets are quite capable of creating tensions (mass unemployment, social upheaval, environmental degradation, financial crash) that undermine the market system itself. Global shock-absorbers are not being installed on our standard model. Given an inherently fragile system lacking legitimate, enforceable rules, we can only warn against a global accident some time in the early twenty-first century (if not before).

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A system based on individual freedom, self-regulation and 'Darwinian' competition and survival of the fittest will not suddenly turn around and, by and of itself, beg to be regulated. The system's chief beneficiaries cannot be expected or, under present circumstances, forced to act against their own immediate interests, against the very principles of profit and self-advantage upon which the free market and their own success are founded. To imagine that thse beneficiaries might, in large or even significant numbers, recognise in time the need for external regulation is to deny all known laws of human behaviour. This contradiction must be underscored and faced.

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Huge annual population increases are not merely disquieting for ecological reasons. Paradoxically, they call into question the very theoretical foundations of the liberal society that it is our mandate to defend. According to the doctrine of laissez-faire and the seminal works of Adam Smith, individual decisions in the marketplace will have benign outcomes for society as a whole; each person pursuing self-interest will unwittingly contribute to the general good or what Smith called the 'public interest'. This postulate is the bedrock of liberal theory.

Yet here is the paradox: poor people in poor societies who are most responsible for the population explosion are usually having children for sound individual economic reasons...

From the point of view of most poor Third World parents, a child brings in more than it costs. In rural settings, it helps with chores from an early age. In urban environments, some 250 million child labourers under the age of 14 help their families to survive...

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The philosophical contradictions of the free-market system appear here in a harsher light. One must ask who has a right to participate in this system by making individually rational economic decisions. Is this participation a universal right? Wiith regard to reproduction, is it normal and permissible or abnormal and illegitimate that each individual seeks to maximise his or her own advantage, given that children are usually an advantage?

We know for sure that hundreds of millions of individually justifiable decisions to have children will lead to the presence of a higher population than the planet can ultimately support. We also know with mathematical certainty that excessive populations in individual countries will result in increased pressure on land and other resources, the reduction of output per capita and therefore a drop in the standard of living.

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Today's rulers seem to have lost sight completely of the fundamental duty to maintain population stability, and, rather than lying to their citizens for their own good, they seem more often to be lying to themselves. Whether from cowardice or from ignorance, they pretend that the market can, by itself, bring happiness, riches and well-being to all, even in the face of staggering growth in the numbers of people pursuing these rewards.

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The system cannot function without an ongoing struggle between products, firms and individuals. The fewer people entitled to share in the wealth, the greater the rewards to be distributed among the winners. Each person must compete not merely against his neighbors but against strangers thousands of miles away whom he will never meet.

Since profit is the goal and the motor of the system, corporations must be free to pursue it. The corporation belongs to those who have invested in its stock, its shareholders. Whatever moralists may say, it does not belong to its employees, to its suppliers or to the town, city or country in which it happens to be located. This is doubtless as it should be, but one cannot have one's cake and eat it. The workforce, suppliers, local community and country will have to accept sacrifices.

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...thoughtful and responsible people, including Socrates and Plato, have known for millenia that uncontrolled numbers place unacceptable stress on the social order. Aristotle, too, points out that 'of all known well-ordered' states, not one has an 'excessive population'. For the citizens, good government implies 'excellence of order maintained among them' and 'excess in numbers does not lend itself to order'. If the polis is over populated, even the best laws will be to no avail and only 'divine providence' can then save it by providing order.

Divine providence is unlikely to provide order in our earthly cities. The greater the excess in mankind's numbers, the more good government — and the declared purposes of the United Nations — will be defeated, including the goal of a social and international order guaranteeing the very rights the UN champions. Swelling populations and human rights as conceived by the signatories of the Universal Declaration are mutual incompatible.

The Universal Declaration, while appearing to approve or condone the population explosion, is not accompanied by a corresponding authority or global institution which might legitimately intervene to curb it. Speeches at UN conferences are cheap. Binding contracts are never proposed nor are incentives offered. International bureaucracies exercise no moderating influence on population growth and nothing is to be expected at the intergovernmental level.

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Let us assume, however, that it were decided 'we' could support 8 to 12 billion people. What sort of people would they be? What would supporting them require? To begin with, since there would be far more Outs than Ins, it would dictate an unending transfer from wealth creators to wealth consumers. Those who did not (and doubtless could not) contribute anything to the system would still expect it to service their needs. Hundreds of millions could not be absorbed into the productive economy, yet would demand some version of a universal welfare state to take care of them.

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To sustain such numbers, we would also need a global environmental police force and a strict judicial system to make sure that drastic conservation measure were instituted and obeyed. Even so, with 8 to 12 billion people on earth, we could not prevent massive deforestation, species habitat destruction, mushrooming, unliveable and polluted cities, lakes and seas dead from industrial and human wastes; all constantly intensified by ever-growing multitudes, until the entire substance of the earth was devastated and consumed.

Income transfers from the relatively rich to the absolutely poor would necessarily be accompanied by transfers of power; the West would have to relinquish not just its wealth but its authority. It would thereby seal the fate of the liberal system and ensure its certain demise. The entire exercise would be revealed as self-defeating.

The Commissioning Parties have instructed us to be straightforward and explicit. They will have drawn for themselves the unmistakable conclusions of our analysis: we cannot both sustain the liberal, free-market system and simultaneously continue to tolerate the presence of superfluous billions.

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Those unfit to participate in the system because they are unable or unwilling to embrace its culture now place far too high a burden on the system and weigh upon it far too heavily. They can only constitute a drain on the mass of productive individuals. The latter will eventually refuse to support the huge and growing numbers of the unproductive, even at present inadequate (as seen from the point of view of the unproductive) levels. Clash is inevitable, not just between civilisations, but within all our present social spaces.

The only way to guarantee the happiness and well-being of the vast majority is for the total population of the earth to be proportionally smaller. This choice may appear stark but it is dictated at once by reason and by compassion. If we wish to preserve the liberal system — the very premise of our assignment — there is no alternative. All else is illusion and wishful thinking.

We believe this course to be not only economically, socially and ecologically imperative but ethically defensible. Fewer people living in a less stressed environment would mean that all were better off. Instead of continually depressed living standards and the reign of anarchy, the rule of law would prevail, the pursuit of happiness could become a reality, the planet would survive. Such is the true meaning of the slogan 'sustainable development'...

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Our intent is not to shock or blaspheme: the fact remains that in earthly affairs, the market, at its broadest and most inclusive, is the closest we are likely to come to the wisdom of the Almighty. Yes, the market creates suffering for some; its decisions may appear harsh and cruel, but let us not forget the theological parallel to the market according to which 'God, supremely good, would never allow that there be evil in His works unless He were so powerful and so good that even from evil He could do good.'

If capitalism can be said to possess an ontology, an essence, it is surely that the market, in its full sweep and scope, is harmonious and wise. Like God, it too can create good from apparent evil. From destruction it draws the betterment of humankind and the highest possible equilibrium of the whole.

The moment has come to put this ontology to the test. It is time to ask if the beneficiaries of the free-market and the liberal system, including the Commissioning Parties, are prepared to accept the seemingly harsh consequences of their beliefs.

Can the environment and civilised society sustain present and future numbers? Should Western culture be represented by 15, then 10, then 5 per cent of humanity? Should the most productive individuals and nations sacrifice their well-being in the name of problematic gains for the least productive ones? Should now-powerful countries willingly relinquish their authority? Such are the questions our analysis obliges us to put to ourselves and to the Commissioning Parties; for our part, we answer 'no' to all of them.

We have dwelt at length on the likelihood of environmental collapse and social anarchy. We have spoken of the mirage of the universal welfare state and the illusion of universal human inclusion. We have warned against the folly of renouncing one's own power and culture in the bargain. As Machiavelli pointed out to the Medici long ago, the choice is to remain Prince and to do whatever is necessary to that end, or to cease to be Prince. We have no doubt that the Commissioning Parties will choose to remain, as it were, Prince. The great question thus becomes, 'What is necessary to that end?'

If twenty-first century capitalism cannot continue to function optimally — if at all — under foreseeable future demographic conditions, then those conditions must be altered.

Such a statement, should it be seized upon by self-appointed moralists, would doubtless be denounced as a declaration of intended 'genocide'. Not only would this betray a careless use of language; it is not what we intend.

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The liberal, market-based system does not now provide happiness, comfort and a measure of security for the majority of humanity; not will it do so for projected populations in future: these are givens and must be recognised. We doubt that any other system could do so either, but in the context of this Report that is irrelevant. Even in the best-off countries, not everyone can possess and accumulate capital or succeed as a risk-taking entrepreneur; whereas the labour market is just that, a market, obeying market rules.

According to the founding principle of competition, the global market takes the best and leaves the rest. Today, although no one knows for sure, the 'rest' are almost certainly more numerous than those whose talents, skills, education, moral qualities, birth, luck and so on have placed them inside the system. Even the International Labour Organisation puts the number of those 'unincorporated' in the labour force at over a billion: add their dependants and the enormous size of this category become apparent.

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From the time of the Greeks and the Romans to that of the nineteenth-century colonists, sophisticated conquerors always sought to incorporate the land, resources, wealth and people of the conquered territory because they represented significant assets. The labour of the conquered population, often under the watchful eye and the heavy rod of a collaborating local oligarchy, was another source of riches and power. Today, the idea of holding colonies is faintly ludicrous: their assets can be better extracted through other methods, their populations are, for the most part, not merely useless but burdensome as well.

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Just as physical rubbish and waste litter the landscape and theaten to overwhelm many cities and their services, so social rubbish and waste endanger liberal ideals and the market, though few dare to say so in public. Proper management and social control are impossible when all efforts to ameliorate the situation are immediately neutralised, indeed swamped by proliferating, poorly integrated populations.

The question for us is not whether but how to achieve the goal of drastic population reduction.

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The twenty-first century must choose between discipline and control or tumult and chaos. The only way to ensure the greatest welfare while still preserving capitalism is to make that number smaller.

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...We begin with 6 billion human units in the year 2000 with the goal of attaining 4 billion within 20 years. Although the curve [referring to a population graph the author cites] would initially continue to increase, in the final stage there would be an annual decline of up to 280 million net units. In terms of timelines, around the year 2005, world population would attain its maximum value of 6.4 billion. Five years later, in 2010, it would have settled back to today's level of about 6 billion. For the next ten years, until 2020, absolute and quite rapid decline would ensue.

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To reach the target of 4 billion in 2020, world population must be reduced on average by 100 million people a year for two decades. Nine-tenths or more of the reduction should take place in the less developed countries. Effort must be brought to bear both on mortality increase and fertility decrease in proportions which will vary according to time and chance.

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Why be concerned with ideas and beliefs rather than proceeding immediately to practical matters? Simply because ideas and beliefs govern the world — but they are not immutable. They emerge and are shaped according to the needs of the times; Marx should have said that they evolve to suit the needs of the dominant class. Ideology is water for the fish of which the fish are unaware. Our concern here is to mould ideology consciously so that the dominant ideas and beliefs of our time serve to justify the grand design.

For example, our era looks on epidemics or famines anywhere on the planet with horror, yet the early Christian theologian Tertullian wrote of 'the scourges of pestilence, famine, wars and earthquakes [which] have come to be regarded as a blessing to overcrowded nations, since they serve to prune away the luxuriant growth of the human race. He lamented as well the 'vast population of the earth to which we are a burden', to the point that 'she scarcely can provide for our needs.'

For this Church father, natural or man-made scourges are positive 'blessings' because they save 'overcrowded nations' from the dire consequences of their own reproduction. War, famine and pestilence safeguard the community and the future. Thanks to these so-called calamities, in reality beneficial to humanity, the survivors and their descendants will once more enjoy earth's bounty. Without them, the earth could never 'provide for our needs', all the more because these needs are growing all the time.

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If the ground rules are to be changed and the strategy we recommend is to succeed, it is imperative that we first transform the current ideological climate and put our conceptual and ethical houses in order. Dominant ethical systems have evolved throughout history and there is no reason why they cannot change again. If ethics can be seen as a given society's collective survival strategy, ours is in need of serious overhaul. Our present ethics will reject effective population management unless and until the contradictions between market individualism, 'human rights' and the need for collective harmony are resolved.

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In Revelation, the Fourth Horseman is called simply Death but his 'pale horse'...is the colour of decomposing corpses and 'Hell follows him' to swallow up the victims of plague. He is the most redoubtable and for our purposes, the most useful of the Horsemen. Historically, pandemics have had a far greater impact on population dynamics than war or even famine.

Pestilence unavoidably prunes live as well as dead wood; some who should be spared perish; disease does not always distinguish between rich and poor, competent and inept, useful and superfluous. Statistically speaking, however, it stikes the more vulnerable and dispensable first.

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Even during the Black Death, the rich found it easier to escape to the countryside than the indigent. When an epidemic of meningitis broke out in Brazil in 1974, wealthy Brazilians packed up and went abroad until it had run its course. As an Indian physician says, 'People who wear ties don't get cholera.'

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The antibiotic market is likely to be worth $40 billion in the year 2000. The more the phenomenon of resistance to tried-and-true antibiotics spreads, the more differentiated rich-poor health care will become, since a day's treatment of the latest superbug with the latest superdrug can easily cost $500. Such costs reflect the companies' right to amortise their research and hedge their risks, particularly since many drugs are similar and competition to market them is fierce...

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As the disease moves inexorably down the social scale, the 'biopolitician' will learn that few votes are garnered by funding programmes for the dregs of humanity. Compassion for scum may be a virtue, illustrated by Mother Teresa, but it remains a heroic one. Happily, few politicians are heroes.

excerpted from

Susan George. The Lugano Report: On Preserving Capitalism in the Twenty-First Century

Toronto Star: Bird flu a 'global threat' -- EU ministers [Oct 18 2005]
European Union foreign ministers Tuesday declared the spread of avian flu from Asia to Europe a global threat, as the Swiss manufacturer of the only available anti-flu drug announced it was building a new U.S. plant to increase production amid fears of a major flu outbreak.
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The flu's spread westward by migrating wild fowl has intensified fears the virus may mutate into one that can be easily transmitted among humans, a development experts fear could provoke a global epidemic putting millions of lives at risk.

From The Wilderness: A Career In Microbiology Can Be Harmful To Your Health [Feb 14 2002]
In the four-month period from Nov. 12 through Feb. 11, seven world-class microbiologists in different parts of the world were reported dead. Six died of "unnatural" causes, while the cause of the seventh's death is questionable. Also on Nov. 12, DynCorp, a major government contractor for data processing, military operations and intelligence work, was awarded a $322 million contract to develop, produce and store vaccines for the Department of Defense. DynCorp and Hadron, both defense contractors connected to classified research programs on communicable diseases, have also been linked to a software program known as PROMIS, which may have helped identify and target the victims.

In the six weeks prior to Nov. 12, two additional foreign microbiologists were reported dead. Some believe there were as many as five more microbiologists killed during the period, bringing the total as high as 14. These two to seven additional deaths, however, are not the focus of this story. This same period also saw the deaths of three persons involved in medical research or public health.

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[O]n Nov. 23 CLPH [Center for Law and the Public Health] released a 40-page document called the Model Emergency Health Powers Act (MEHPA). This was a "model" law that HHS [US Department of Health and Human Services] is suggesting be enacted by the 50 states to handle future public health emergencies such as bioterrorism. A revised version was released on Dec. 21 containing more specific definitions of "public health emergency" as it pertains to bioterrorism and biologic agents, and includes language for those states that want to use the act for chemical, nuclear or natural disasters.

According to the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), after declaring a "public health emergency", and without consulting with public health authorities, law enforcement, the legislature or courts, a state governor using MEHPA, or anyone he/she decides to empower, can among many things:
  • Require any individual to be vaccinated. Refusal constitutes a crime and will result in quarantine. [em. mine]

  • Require any individual to undergo specific medical treatment. Refusal constitutes a crime and will result in quarantine. [em. mine]

  • Seize any property, including real estate, food, medicine, fuel or clothing, an official thinks necessary to handle the emergency.

  • Seize and destroy any property alleged to be hazardous. There will be no compensation or recourse.

  • Draft you or your business into state service.

  • Impose rationing, price controls, quotas and transportation controls.

  • Suspend any state law, regulation or rule that is thought to interfere with handling the declared emergency.

When the federal government wanted the states to enact the 55 mph speed limit, they coerced the states using the threat of withholding federal monies. The same tactic will likely be used with MEHPA. As of this writing the law has been passed in Kentucky. According to AAPS, it has been introduced in the legislatures of Arizona, California, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. It is expected to be introduced shortly in Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, and Wisconsin. MEHPA is being evaluated by the executive branches in North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington, DC.

The research the microbiologists were doing could have developed methods of treating diseases like anthrax and smallpox without conventional antibiotics or vaccines. Pharmaceutical contracts to deal with these diseases will total hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars. If epidemics could be treated in non-traditional ways, MEHPA might not be necessary. Considering the government's actions nullifying many civil liberties since last September, MEHPA seems to be a law looking for an excuse to be enacted. Maybe the microbiologists were in the way of some peoples' or business' agendas.

We also know that DNA sequencing research can be used to develop pathogens that target specific genetically related groups. One company, DynCorp, handles data processing for many federal agencies, including the CDC, the Department of Agriculture, several branches of the Department of Justice, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the NIH. On Nov. 12 DynCorp announced that its subsidiary, DynPort Vaccine, had been awarded a $322 million contract to develop, produce, test, and store FDA licensed vaccines for use by the Defense Department. It would be incredibly easy for DynCorp to hide information pertaining to the exact make-up, safety, efficacy and purpose of the drugs and vaccines the US government has contracted for.

Gulf War Vets: Armed Services opt to discharge those who refuse vaccine [March 11 1999]
After threatening him with court-martial, the Air Force discharged Airman 1st Class Bettendorf under "other than honorable conditions" because he refused to take a vaccine that the Pentagon says could save his life one day.

The vaccine is meant to protect against an attack with anthrax, one of the deadliest biological agents turned into a weapon. But Bettendorf, once a senior airman with an untarnished record, came to believe that the Pentagon had never proved the vaccine's safety and effectiveness.
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To refuse the vaccination is to disobey an order. [em. mine] Each of the services is responsible for its own discipline, but because commanders cannot force the shots on subordinates, most cases have ended with discharges -- some general, some bad conduct.

Scientific American: If Smallpox Strikes Portland... [March 2005]
After we began developing EpiSims in 2000, smallpox was among the first diseases we chose to model because government officials charged with bioterrorism planning and response were faced with several questions and sometimes conflicting recommendations. In the event that smallpox was released into a U.S. population, would mass vaccination be necessary to prevent an epidemic? Or would targeting only exposed individuals and their contacts for vaccination be enough? How effective is mass quarantine? How feasible are any of these options with the existing numbers of health workers, police and other responders?
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In the case of a smallpox outbreak, these simulations indicate that mass vaccination of the population, which carries its own risks, would be unnecessary. Targeted vaccination would be just as effective so long as it was combined with rapid detection of the outbreak and rapid response. Our results also support the importance of measures such as quarantine and making sure that health officials give enforcement adequate priority during highly infectious disease outbreaks.

Of course, appropriate public health responses will always depend on the disease, the types of interventions available and the setting. For example, we have simulated the intentional release of an inhalable form of plague in the city of Chicago to evaluate the costs and effects of different responses. In those simulations we found that contact tracing, school closures and city closures each incurred economic losses of billions of dollars but did not afford many health benefits over voluntary mass use of rapidly available antibiotics at a much lower economic cost.

Most recently, as part of a research network organized by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences called the Models of Infectious Disease Agent Study (MIDAS), we have been adapting EpiSims to model a naturally occurring disease that may threaten the entire planet: pandemic influenza.

Flu and the Future

Over the past year, a highly virulent strain of influenza has raged through bird populations in Asia and has infected more than 40 human beings in Japan, Thailand and Vietnam, killing more than 30 of those people. The World Health Organization has warned that it is only a matter of time before this lethal flu strain, designated H5N1, more easily infects people and spreads between them. That development could spark a global flu pandemic with a death toll reaching tens of millions.

The White House: President Holds Press Conference [Oct 5 2005]
Q Mr. President, you've been thinking a lot about pandemic flu and the risks in the United States if that should occur. I was wondering, Secretary Leavitt has said that first responders in the states and local governments are not prepared for something like that. To what extent are you concerned about that after Katrina and Rita? And is that one of the reasons you're interested in the idea of using defense assets to respond to something as broad and long-lasting as a flu might be?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Thank you for the question. I am concerned about avian flu. I am concerned about what an avian flu outbreak could mean for the United States and the world. I am -- I have thought through the scenarios of what an avian flu outbreak could mean. I tried to get a better handle on what the decision-making process would be by reading Mr. Barry's book on the influenza outbreak in 1918. I would recommend it.

The policy decisions for a President in dealing with an avian flu outbreak are difficult. One example: If we had an outbreak somewhere in the United States, do we not then quarantine that part of the country, and how do you then enforce a quarantine? When -- it's one thing to shut down airplanes; it's another thing to prevent people from coming in to get exposed to the avian flu. And who best to be able to effect a quarantine? One option is the use of a military that's able to plan and move. [em mine; cf: Avian Flu: Bush's Excuse for Martial Law]

And so that's why I put it on the table. I think it's an important debate for Congress to have. I noticed the other day, evidently, some governors didn't like it. I understand that. I was the commander-in-chief of the National Guard, and proudly so, and, frankly, I didn't want the President telling me how to be the commander-in-chief of the Texas Guard. But Congress needs to take a look at circumstances that may need to vest the capacity of the President to move beyond that debate. And one such catastrophe, or one such challenge could be an avian flu outbreak.

Secondly -- wait a minute, this is an important subject. Secondly, during my meetings at the United Nations, not only did I speak about it publicly, I spoke about it privately to as many leaders as I could find, about the need for there to be awareness, one, of the issue; and, two, reporting, rapid reporting to WHO, so that we can deal with a potential pandemic. The reporting needs to be not only on the birds that have fallen ill, but also on tracing the capacity of the virus to go from bird to person, to person. That's when it gets dangerous, when it goes bird-person-person. And we need to know on a real-time basis as quickly as possible, the facts, so that the scientific community, the world scientific community can analyze the facts and begin to deal with it.

Obviously, the best way to deal with a pandemic is to isolate it and keep it isolated in the region in which it begins. As you know, there's been a lot of reporting of different flocks that have fallen ill with the H5N1 virus. And we've also got some cases of the virus being transmitted to person, and we're watching very carefully.

Thirdly, the development of a vaccine -- I've spent time with Tony Fauci on the subject. Obviously, it would be helpful if we had a breakthrough in the capacity to develop a vaccine that would enable us to feel comfortable here at home that not only would first responders be able to be vaccinated, but as many Americans as possible, and people around the world. But, unfortunately, there is a -- we're just not that far down the manufacturing process. And there's a spray, as you know, that can maybe help arrest the spread of the disease, which is in relatively limited supply.

So one of the issues is how do we encourage the manufacturing capacity of the country, and maybe the world, to be prepared to deal with the outbreak of a pandemic. In other words, can we surge enough production to be able to help deal with the issue?

I take this issue very seriously, and I appreciate you bringing it to our attention. The people of the country ought to rest assured that we're doing everything we can: We're watching it, we're careful, we're in communications with the world. I'm not predicting an outbreak; I'm just suggesting to you that we better be thinking about it. And we are. And we're more than thinking about it; we're trying to put plans in place, and one of the plans -- back to where your original question came -- was, if we need to take some significant action, how best to do so. And I think the President ought to have all options on the table to understand what the consequences are, but -- all assets on the table -- not options -- assets on the table to be able to deal with something this significant.

House Committe on Veterans' Affairs: Testimony...Regarding Lessons Learned from the Gulf War [Jan 24 2002]

Seeking a preemptive medical response to the Iraqi chemical warfare threat, in the fall of 1990 the Defense Department obtained an investigational new drug (IND) exemption from the Food and Drug Administration to use a drug, pyrodostigmine bromide (PB), as a chemical warfare prophylactic. Ostensibly, PB was intended to protect the troops from the effects of nerve gas exposure. During Desert Storm, at least 250,000 Army troops swallowed one or more of the little white pills. Taking PB was not optional; troops who refused faced punishment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

After years of denying there was a problem with PB, Bernard Rostker (the Pentagon's point man on Gulf War illnesses) told the Senate Veterans Affairs committee in 1998 that PB should never have been given to U.S. soldiers. Rostker admitted that DoD's 'threat assessment' had been wrong, that Iraq had probably not in fact weaponzied the nerve agent soman, the effects of which PB was thought to be capable of countering. Given its potential effects on the brain's neurotransmission process, PB has long been suspected as a cause of the neurological problems reported by so many Gulf War veterans. Amazingly, PB is still in the Pentagon's NBC medical formulary, and Department officials have said they may still use PB in future conflicts, if the 'threat assessment' so warrants.

In a similar vein, the Pentagon's infatuation with vaccine-based biological defense has already proved to be a costly military and public health failure.

Prior to Desert Storm the Pentagon sought to employ a 20-year old anthrax vaccine as a biological warfare prophylactic. Even though this vaccine had never been approved by the FDA for such a use, the Pentagon managed to secure FDA acquiescence and proceeded to inoculate an estimated 150,000 troops with one or more doses of the vaccine. Because use of the vaccine was classified at the time, medical record keeping in this area was compromised, and the true effects of the vaccine on the wartime recipients remains unknown.

Seven years after the end of the war, the Pentagon resumed the inoculations under the rubric of the force-wide Anthrax Vaccine Inoculation Program (AVIP). Shortly after the AVIP began, reports of severe system adverse reactions to the vaccine began to emerge in the press. Over the next three years, a number of key facts about the vaccine would emerge, data that would once again highlight the Pentagon's wanton disregard for both the truth and the health of servicemembers. Consider these facts:
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Given the AVIP's abysmal track record, all of us should be deeply concerned about the Joint Vaccine Acquisition Program (JVAP), the $322 million cost-plus biowarfare vaccine program initiated in 1998 by the Pentagon's Joint Program Office for Biological Defense.

The JVAP calls for the Dynport Corporation to develop at least three, and possibly as many 12, additional biological warfare vaccines over the next decade. What happens when you give a human being a dozen or more BW vaccines? Nobody knows. Not DoD, NIH, CDC, the World Health Organization or any other medical or scientific body.

Will these vaccines actually work against a real threat? Again, nobody knows; no challenge or efficacy studies have been conducted in animals, so far as VVA is aware. This means that the JVAP is a giant biowarfare defense gamble; it assumes that our enemies will field weapons that our vaccines will defeat. As with so many other things, the Gulf War experience is instructive here.

Dr Leonard Horowitz: Avian Flu Fright - Politically-Timed For Global 'Iatrogenocide' [Oct 11 2005]
To make the human vaccine specific for the H5N1 mutant virus, you must start with the human virus which does not yet exist, except in perhaps military-biomedical-pharmaceutical laboratories. In fact, this is precisely what is being prepared based on news reports. To produce the human pathogen, the avian virus must be cultured for lengthy periods of time in human cell cultures, then injected into monkey and ultimately humans to see if these experimental subjects get the same feared flu. Thus, the flu virus the world currently fears most is either: 1) now being prepared in labs paid by industrialists with massive wealth-building incentives to "accidentally release the virus; or 2) has already been prepared in such labs to take advantage of this current fright and future sales following the virus's release.

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Most people fail to realize all vaccines carry a list of ingredients that typically increase human disease and death (i.e., morbidity and mortality). These include toxic elements and chemicals such as mercury, aluminum, formaldehyde and formalin (used to preserve corpses), MSG, foreign genetic material, and risky proteins from various species of bacteria, viruses, and animals that have been scientifically associated with triggering autoimmune disorders and certain cancers. A growing body of scientific evidence strongly suggests vaccines are largely responsible for increasing cases of autism and other learning disabilities, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, Lupus, MS, ALS, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, hay fever, allergies, chronic draining ear infections, type 1 autoimmune diabetes, and many, many more pandemics. These chronic ailments are said to require long-term medical care for the patients, management causing toxic side effects resulting in America's leading killer--iatrogenic disease. That is, vaccines and other pharmaceutical industry inventions are literally killing or disabling millions with little effort on the part of government officials and their drug industry cohorts to arrest this scourge.

For all we know, governments are ordering an avian flu vaccine that will precisely deliver this pandemic to the world to affect population control.

The White House: President Details Project BioShield
3. New FDA Emergency Use Authorization for Promising Medical Countermeasures Under Development. Some of the most promising treatments for a terrorist agent may still be under formal FDA review when an attack occurs. The President proposed an emergency use authorization to permit the effective use of such treatments in an emergency, if alternative treatments are not available. This will improve access to a potentially beneficial treatment in an emergency situation, when it is most likely to save lives, even if it has not yet been proven to be suitable for routine general use or has not completed the formal process for full FDA licensure. [em.mine]

The White House: Project Bioshield
  • President Bush on July 21, 2004 signed into law Project BioShield, which provides new tools to improve medical countermeasures protecting Americans against a chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear (CBRN) attack.

  • President first proposed Project BioShield in his 2003 State of the Union address and Congress approved it last week. Project BioShield is a comprehensive effort overseen jointly by Secretary Thompson and Secretary Ridge, and involving other Federal agencies as appropriate, to develop and make available modern, effective drugs and vaccines to protect against attack by CBRN weapons. Project BioShield will:

    • Expedite the conduct of NIH research and developmenton medical countermeasures based on the most promising recent scientific discoveries.

    • Give FDA the ability to make promising treatments quickly available in emergency situations - this tightly controlled new authority will enable access to the best available treatments in the event of a crisis.

    • Ensure that resources are available to pay for "next-generation" medical countermeasures. Project BioShield will allow the government to buy improved vaccines or drugs. The fiscal year 2004 appropriation for the Department of Homeland Security included $5.6 billion over 10 years for the purchase of next generation countermeasures against anthrax and smallpox as well as other CBRN agents.

  • As the result of the Project BioShield legislation, the Administration has already begun the process of acquiring several new medical countermeasures:

    • 75 million doses of a second generation anthrax vaccine to become available for stockpiling beginning next year.

    • New medical treatments for anthrax directed at neutralizing the effects of anthrax toxin.

    • Polyvalent botulinum antitoxin.

    • A safer second generation smallpox vaccine.

    • Initial evaluation of treatments for radiation and chemical weapons exposure.

  • Today, based on the new BioShield authorities, Secretary Thompson will launch multi-year initiatives to develop advanced treatments and therapeutics for exposure to biological agents and radiation poisoning.

  • Today's action is just the latest step the President has taken to win the War on Terror and protect our homeland. America is safer and stronger than it was three years ago as a result of President Bush's leadership.

US Department of Health & Human Services: From National Vaccine Program Office: Preparing for the Next Pandemic
In the event of a pandemic, good surveillance, timely vaccine development and production, and the ability to administer vaccine to large numbers of people in a short amount of time will be very important.

The vaccination program during a pandemic will probably be different from current annual flu shot programs in several respects
  • More people will want and need to be vaccinated, so we will need a larger supply of vaccine.

  • The warning period before a pandemic is likely to be short. Because the current vaccine manufacturing process takes a minimum of 6 months, it is likely that there will not be enough vaccine at the beginning of a pandemic to vaccinate everyone who wants it.

  • It may be necessary for an individual to receive two doses of vaccine to be fully protected against the virus.

In addition, communication and emergency response systems will have to be in place to assist in managing a pandemic.

National Vaccine Information Center: Briefing Paper- Homeland Security and Vaccine Compensation
On November 13, 2002, the Homeland Security Bill was passed by the House of Representatives and sent to the Senate. Originally intended to set up a new Department of Homeland Security, the 484-page bill also provided for the biggest reorganization in government since 1947. The last four sections of the bill, (1714-1717) shielded the pharmaceutical industry from lawsuits for injuries caused by FDA-approved vaccines, [em. mine] such as mercury containing pediatric vaccines associated with the development of autism.

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Section 304 of the bill [ie: Homeland Security Act] removed from the states their historic control over public health laws, including vaccination laws, and handed it over to federal health officials. This section allows the Secretary of DHHS to issue a "declaration" after concluding that "an actual or potential bioterrorist incident" or "other potential public health emergency" warrants the administration of "a substance or substances" to "individuals during the effective period of the declaration." The law provides for no exemptions to vaccination or medication and is expected to override state public health and vaccine laws which currently provide medical and/or religious exemptions to vaccination for school entry. This federal law also does not preclude the use of the U.S. military to enforce the administration of vaccines or other "substances" to individuals as ordered by the Secretary of DHHS. [em. mine; cf: Smallpox in America, esp 'The National Vaccination Information Center (NVIC) maintains that Section 304 of the Homeland Security Act is the "fulfillment of a federal plan in development for several years to allow public health officials to force vaccination and medical treatment on Americans without their informed consent while removing all accountability from drug companies and those who participate in enforcement of the policy."']

Tommy Thompson, Former Secretary of HSS, on Verichips
These chips are extremely small, I don't know if you can see how small they are -- they can be implanted in your arm within seconds and it's completely voluntary so anyone who wants to can. And all it does is identifies you with a database that has your medical records.

And you know, Ed, that you can be traveling from one city to another city and if you have a stroke or an accident and you go into a hospital it takes too long of a period of time to get your medical records to that hospital where you're at and you can die in the meantime or you can suffer some degree of an allergic reaction to medicines that you can't take and all of this is because you don't have your records at the disposal of the doctor that's treating you.

And this will take care of that because it will give an identification number and all you have to do is run a wand over it and will then bring up your medical records. So it's very beneficial and it's going to be extremely helpful and it's a giant step forward to getting what we call an electronic medical record for all Americans.

Wikipedia on current Secretary of HSS Michael Leavitt
Michael Okerlund Leavitt (born February 11, 1951) is an American, Latter-day Saint politician,
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...Leavitt also serves on the Homeland Security Advisory Council.

Mr. Leavitt has described the most serious threat to American security as the avian flu virus. Mr. Leavitt's cited the work of the WHO's (World Health Organization) Dr. Michael McCoy as the most probative scientific work into the ominous threat of the Avian Flu virus predicting Armageddon like circumstances following a inevitable pandemic of the avian flu virus. Dr. McCoy is a world renown and well respected leader in region of viral pathogens including but not limited to the Avian Flu Virus.

Michael Leavitt: A Wilderness Crossing - Welcoming Ceremony, Mormon Trail Wagon Train [July 22 1997]
I have learned the benefit of obedience in her description of an honorable wagon master's promise on the first day of their journey - that those who kept his rules would receive protection in passage, but also a warning - those who did not, would have no promise.

Michael Leavitt: Chairman's Closing Remarks, National Governors' Association Summer Meeting [July 10 2000]
When the forces of change in the marketplace being [sic] to operate, our reactions may determine survival. The forces can be cruel in their certainty.

The White House: President Meets with Vaccine Industry Representatives to Discuss Avian Flu
[HSS] SECRETARY MICHAEL LEAVITT: We have just concluded the meeting with a group of representatives from the vaccine industry with the President. We discussed the potential of a pandemic flu, and the preparations that are necessary. We talked -- we received expressions of vigorous support from the vaccine industry, their willingness to aggressively help us prepare. We talked about the need for short-term and long-term preparations; talked about the importance of a vigorous domestic vaccine market, and the need for us to be planning not just for the H5N1, but for the long-term prospect of a pandemic.

The Evening Standard: Roche sees £1bn Tamiflu sales [Oct 18 2005]
Sales of pharmaceutical giant Roche's Tamiflu bird flu treatment could reach £1bn in the next two years as governments frantically stockpile it as a precaution against the disease.

The Swiss-based company's own Tamiflu sales forecast earlier this year - long before avian flu threatened Europe - was £385m.

Analysts now believe the frantic international stockpiling of recent weeks could send Roche profits off the dial. Its shares are already trading close to an all-time high at 188 Swiss francs.

'The profit potential is enormous,' one analyst said. 'A billion pounds is not unlikely over a prolonged period. They don't disclose production capacity or profit margin, but one assumes something in the order of 27%...'


The American Non-Dream

America is not so much a nightmare as a non-dream. The American non-dream is precisely a move to wipe the dream out of existence. The dream is a spontaneous happening and therefore dangerous to a control system set up by the non-dreamers...

Any progress or system of thought must have ground to grow on and especially such a vegetable program as this dead hand stretching the vegetable people. The ground for the non-dream program was well laid by the turn of the century, ready for seeds which would yield in course of time hideous fruit. World Wars I, II, and III were already inevitable, given the basic formula of nationalism. The concomitant rise of communism would serve as a pretext for more control measures while the communists would be driven to apply similar measures and thus serve the master plan.

     —William S. Burroughs, The Job


Judith Miller Bites Dog

Judith Miller is a loathsome human being, seemingly bereft of common sense, humility, and decency. (And seemingly incapable of introspection, too.)

Ben, the charming serial killer in the important pitch-black comedy Man Bites Dog, is accompanied by a documentary film crew on his murderous rounds. At first the crew is objective; but they gradually become complicit, and eventually become his (not so) unwitting accomplices.

And so Judith Miller serves the same function for BushCo, helping serial war criminals commit their crimes against humanity, all for a good story that will shine the lights brighter on her bloodsplattered, sparkling face. And now she seems to be helping them drive the getaway car.

I doubt that she's aware of just what a tool she's been for BushCo: like Leni Riefenstahl, her goals are selfish and not ideological. (Though Riefenstahl's selfishness was a selflessness for her art; Miller just wants the klieg lights. Perhaps Hendrik Hoefgen is closer to the mark.) BushCo has been playing her like a fiddle for their nefarious ends, and she seems completely uncognizant of it. Even now, with her astonishing inability to remember her source, she seems once again to be handing the administration exactly what they want. ("I'm Spartacus! No, I'm Spartacus!") She reminds me of Rummy at his news conference announcing that Murka "won" the war, shamelessly beaming while being sanctimoniously humble and gushing at the same time. It was a disgusting and embarrassing performance by a pathological egomaniac.

And so is she.

And a fatuous tool as well. (As is the NYT in general.) She's a great poster-child for modern-day journalism.

"Ms. Running Amok" indeed.

Note: This article illustrates the extent to which Miller was a BushCo tool. This article illustrates the world she inhabits. [added 10/17/05]


Der Inspektor kommt

Hier. Bald (ich hoffe).


Solnit Riposte

Rebecca Solnit is a writer that I greatly admire. Her erudition is vast, and she makes insightful and fascinating connections. Her books on walking and Muybridge are treasure troves of philosophical and historical ruminations from a keen multidisciplinary mind.

But I must take issue with something she said in a recent article about hope in our time.

Imagine if political pundits were half so happy to admit error, how interesting political discourse might get; but no Naderites came back to admit that there were actually a few key differences between Bush and Gore...

Now as one of those unrepentant Naderites I feel I just can't let such an assertion pass without comment.

Of course her comment is rhetorical, since there are undoubtedly some Naderites somewhere who have admitted their grievous error; they must feel simply awful for their supposed role in bringing the scourge that is BushCo upon the world. I expect such tergiversators, in fact, wear their hairshirts of political sin on their sleeve (as it were) as a warning to others of the dangers of straying from the path of one-party/two-faction rule "received opinion."

But her assertion is sophistic. (By way of example I will employ a homology.) You see, to a christian there are serious differences between the various flavors of christianity. History is littered with the bodies of protestants and catholics who killed each other in the name of the same god and his son over doctrinal differences passionately felt. (Just ask Emo Philips.)

But to a non-christian, christians killing each other for their different takes on an absurd premise doesn't make any sense — it's downright stupid, in fact. But then factionalized belief systems have their zealous adherents who will kill and die for their beliefs. And then there are those of us outside the belief system who are generally condemned en masse by such believers, and are all too often caught in the crossfire between doctrinal combatants.

And if (to extend the example much further) us non-christians find ourselves unwillingly beholden to a christian for whatever reason — say, for example, our livelihoods depend on the whims of an overseer of some sort — it doesn't matter to us if the slaveowning christian is a protestant or a catholic; it's all the same to us, no matter how key the differences between them may be. I mean, if one master beats me and the other doesn't, I would most definitely have a strong preference for the nicer one. But since I don't want to be a slave, and since I don't want a master, and since I repudiate chattelhood in general, I'll vote for "that guy over there who sees how awful the system is and will try to free me from it even if others think it means risking getting the horribly abusive master instead." I find it somewhat funny that a writer who wrote an excellent and important book on hope in dark times doesn't get that people like me who voted for Nader did so out of hope instead of fear, and that we reject what is essentially a rigged election between one party with two-factions, no matter how great the apparent differences between the two factions. We are voting for a completely different party out of hope for a better future.

So I can't help but take a little umbrage at Solnit's snide and sanctimonious assertion. Yes, there may be key differences between Bush and Gore. I will even declare that there are definitely key differences between them. I, as an unapologetic Naderite, will easily admit it; in fact, I always have. (And thus do I handily refute Solnit.) I will even admit that the world most likely wouldn't have slid as precipitously down the hellchute had Gore gone to the trouble to claim his legitimate right to occupy the White House.

But hinting that because I refused to embrace one faction of a debased system instead of another merely because one sucked less (even a lot less), and that I'm somehow at fault for the way things turned out — I don't think so. I will choose the path of (what I perceive as) truth and hope rather than the path of lies and false hope, no matter whether the lies are white or black. But then, being a non-christian, I'm going to hell anyways whatever happens.

If it helps Ms. Solnit feel better by blaming those of us who voted our conscience then good for her — I'm glad she's found a coping mechanism that works and explains things to her satisfaction. Others find solace in blaming anti-war protestors for the sorry state of the Iraq war, or blaming hurricanes on lesbians. Hey — whatever works.



Bush Drinking Again

National Enquirer, Sep 21 2005

A Washington source said: "The sad fact is that he has been sneaking drinks for weeks now. Laura may have only just caught him -- but the word is his drinking has been going on for a while in the capital. He's been in a pressure cooker for months."

Dangers of a Drunk Dubya

Capitol Hill Blue, Sep 23 2005

This web site reported last year that the White House physician had placed the President on anti-depressants. If Bush is mixing alcohol and anti-depressant drugs his judgment - which is already suspect - is impaired even more.

"The President all too often is out of control," a White House source tells me. "People are afraid to risk his anger by telling him things he does not want to hear. Newsweek magazine reported the same thing last week in their story: "How Bush Blew It."

The Enquirer interviewed Dr. Justin Frank, a Washington D.C. psychiatrist and author of Bush On The Couch: Inside The Mind Of The President.

"I do think that Bush is drinking again," Frank said. "Alcoholics who are not in any program, like the President, have a hard time when stress gets to be great. I think it's a concern that Bush disappears during times of stress. He spends so much time on his ranch. It's very frightening."

Cheney Seeks Plan for Nuke Attack on Iran

American Conservative, Aug 1 2005

In Washington it is hardly a secret that the same people in and around the administration who brought you Iraq are preparing to do the same for Iran. The Pentagon, acting under instructions from Vice President Dick Cheney's office, has tasked the United States Strategic Command (STRATCOM) with drawing up a contingency plan to be employed in response to another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United States. The plan includes a large-scale air assault on Iran employing both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons. Within Iran there are more than 450 major strategic targets, including numerous suspected nuclear-weapons-program development sites. Many of the targets are hardened or are deep underground and could not be taken out by conventional weapons, hence the nuclear option. As in the case of Iraq, the response is not conditional on Iran actually being involved in the act of terrorism directed against the United States. Several senior Air Force officers involved in the planning are reportedly appalled at the implications of what they are doing--that Iran is being set up for an unprovoked nuclear attack--but no one is prepared to damage his career by posing any objections.

Neo-Con Plan Continues Apace

Pepe Escobar, Oct 7 2005

Whatever the mood in public opinion, the National Defense Strategy of the United States - which explicitly endorses unilateral pre-emptive strikes - remains very much in place. The Bush administration self-declares that it retains a unique "right" to engage in a "pre-emptive/preventive" war against anyone, anywhere, any time, even at a mere suspicion of being subjectively threatened by the theoretical possibility that it might be "attacked" at some undefined place in an indefinite future.

But even more crucial: any diplomatic or legal disagreement with the US under international law is regarded as such an "attack", or as a form of "asymmetric warfare". So to diplomatically attack the US may also be regarded as an act of terrorism. Then there's the new Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)"license to kill" any time, anywhere, all over the world, without any supervision - with missile-armed drones having already conducted selected assassinations in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen.
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An iron link is being slowly and carefully constructed by Washington hawks, by the use of the same techniques, between Syria, Iran (under its new "hardline" president), the Sunni Iraqi resistance and Palestinian nationalism, all depicted as "terrorist". In the case of Iran, there is the inevitable link with weapons of mass destruction, as it was constructed in the case of Iraq.

Blair Links Iran to Iraq Blasts

Guardian, Oct 6 2005

Prime Minister Tony Blair warned Iran on Thursday not to meddle in Iraq after declaring that explosive devices that have killed U.S.-led troops were similar to those used by the Iranian-linked militant group Hezbollah.

"There is no justification for Iran or any other country interfering in Iraq," Blair said [I love this quote!], vowing that Britain would not be intimidated into dropping demands that Tehran cooperate with the U.N. nuclear agency.

Speaking at a press conference with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, Blair said new explosive devices used "not just against British troops but elsewhere in Iraq ... lead us either to Iranian elements or to Hezbollah," the Lebanese group backed by both Syria and Iran.
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"We know that the devices are of a similar nature to those used by Hezbollah, and there are certain pieces of information that lead us back to Iran," Blair said. "But I'm not saying any more than that - we cannot be sure of this."

Bush as Churchill

Guardian, Oct 6 2005

President Bush sought Thursday to revive waning public support for the war in Iraq, accusing militants of seeking to establish a "radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia" with Iraq serving as the main front. [cf: "political projection"]

Islamic radicals are being sheltered by "allies of convenience like Syria and Iran," [em mine; also, he means "enemies of convenience", not "allies"] Bush declared in a speech before the National Endowment for Democracy.
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Asked about the president's singling out of Iran and Syria as "allies of convenience," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said, "They continue to move in the wrong direction." [for whom?]
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"The murderous ideology of the Islamic radicals is the great challenge of our new century," he said. "Like the ideology of communism, our new enemy teaches that innocent individuals can be sacrificed to serve a political vision." [cf: "political projection" of zealous neoliberalism/neoconservatism; it's also another great quote]

"The militants believe that controlling one country will rally the Muslim masses, enabling them to overthrow all moderate governments in the region, and establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia," Bush asserted. [as opposed to a puppet dictatorship]

"Against such an enemy, there's only one effective response: We never back down, never give in and never accept anything less than complete victory," Bush declared.

God Told Bush to Invade Iraq

BBC Press Release, Oct 10 2005

President George W. Bush told Palestinian ministers that God had told him to invade Afghanistan and Iraq - and create a Palestinian State, a new BBC series reveals.
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Nabil Shaath [Palestinian Foreign Minister] says: "President Bush said to all of us: 'I'm driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, "George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan." And I did, and then God would tell me, "George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq ..." And I did. And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me, "Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East." And by God I'm gonna do it.'"

Why are so many Republicans staying out of next year's Senate races?

American Prospect, Oct 10 2005

There's one obvious reason why Republican candidates aren't listening to the White House and the national party: For the first time, George W. Bush is an unpopular president. In Virginia, which is holding state elections next month, Republican candidate Jerry Kilgore has notably failed to call in the president to stump for him. One reason might be a Washington Post poll released in September that put Bush's popularity at 47 percent in this state he'd easily won 10 months ago. Startlingly, 45 percent of the polled said that Bush's endorsement would make them "less likely" to vote for the Republican candidate, compared with 28 percent who'd be more likely.

This makes a stark change from 2002, when Bush may have been the most popular president ever facing a midterm election. The national exit poll put his popularity at 66 percent, with 71 percent of voters approving of his handling of terrorism and 58 percent supporting him on the then-foundering economy. But now, according to the national polling outfit Survey USA, Bush's approval ratings outweigh his disapproval ratings in only 12 states, all in the Deep South and Mountain States. In Florida, Michigan, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Vermont -- all states with potentially hot Senate races -- his approval is mired in the 30s.
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The White House's objectives for this term -- spending projects, private accounts, and the war in Iraq -- are weighing down Republican candidates and making the 2006 climate look increasingly ominous...

Polls show public confidence in Bush plummeting

Jim Lobe, Oct 2 2005

A series of polls shows public confidence in President George Bush's leadership has fallen to unprecedented lows, while the national mood has become distinctly negative.

Even more worrisome for President Bush's hopes of retaining his political potency, the surveys show that moderate Republicans are deserting his camp and that self-described independents say they intend to vote Democratic in next year's congressional elections by a two-to-one margin.

According to one poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, nearly half of all respondents want to see most members of the Republican-controlled Congress voted out next year--the highest level of dissatisfaction with the country's lawmakers in the past decade.
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Perhaps the most striking finding of both polls, as well as a third survey by the New York Times and CBS News, was the public's pessimistic mood and its growing lack of confidence in Pres. Bush's leadership.

The Times/CBS poll fond that more than six in 10 respondents say that Pres. Bush does not share their priorities for the country, and a similar percentage said the country was "pretty seriously" on the wrong track. Forty-five percent said Pres. Bush lacked "strong leadership qualities"--the highest percentage since the survey's sponsors first asked the question in 1999 when he was preparing his run for the presidency.

The same poll found that the public has become particularly pessimistic about the economy, with 49 percent expecting that it will worsen over the next year, as opposed to 16 percent who said it would improve. In January, according to the survey, those figures were reversed.
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If Democrats regain control of either or both houses next year, Pres. Bush's more radical social and economic agenda of partially privatizing Social Security and cutting taxes, particularly on the wealthy, would almost certainly not survive, according to most observers. Some believe the anticipated costs to the federal treasury associated with Katrina--at well over $100 billion--may already have dealt those initiatives a mortal blow.

Bush is Cooking Up Two New Wars

Paul Craig Roberts, Sep 30 2005

...The Bush administration is leveling false charges against Iran, just as it did against Iraq, of conspiring to make nuclear weapons. These charges are known to be false by the Bush administration and by the entire world.

For the past two years the International Atomic Energy Agency has had unfettered access to inspect Iran for any sign of a nuclear weapons program. The head of the IAEA has announced that there is no sign of a weapons program. The Bush administration nevertheless insists that Iran is making weapons, but can produce no evidence. As in the case of Iraq, the Bush administration substitutes allegations for facts.
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By bullying the 35 members of the IAEA, the Bush administration last week managed to get 22 votes that could lead to the referral of Iran to the UN Security Council. The Bush administration will now lobby for the referral. Once it has the referral, even if the Security Council does not act on it, the Bush administration can use it as an excuse to attack Iran. The Bush administration knows that few Americans have any knowledge of international law and procedures and will simply believe whatever President Bush says. The highly concentrated US media is a proven walkover for the war-mongering Bush administration.

The Bush administration's plan is to create Iranian intransigence in place of cooperation by forcing the Iranian government to stand up to the bullying by reducing its cooperation. The goal of the Bush administration is to attack Iran, not to create cooperative relationships.

...Iran has also threatened to cut off oil deliveries to some of the countries that caved in to US pressure, thereby permitting the US to increase tensions and escalate the conflict.

The Bush administration is betting that it can demonize Iran the way it did Iraq. As both Congress and the American public have failed to hold Bush accountable for deceiving them about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, the administration assumes that its tactics will work a second time.

However, a nuclear attack on Iran would leave the Bush administration isolated. The US would instantly become a pariah nation, loathed and hated everywhere else.

Diversionary Use of Force and Presidential Agenda Setting

Karl DeRouen Jr., Department of Political Science, University of Canterbury; Jeffrey Peake, Department of Political Science, Bowling Green State University

Recent efforts at accounting for presidential use of force short of war have centered on diversionary theory (DeRouen 2000; Fordham 1998a; Levy 1989a, 1989b). The general argument is that presidents have incentive to treat an external use of force as a "scapegoat" during times of domestic distress such as high unemployment, inflation, scandal or other domestic turmoil (see Brace and Hinckley 1992; Levy 1989a; 1989b). For instance many questioned whether President Reagan ordered the invasion of Grenada in 1983 while the nation mourned the loss of 200 Marines killed in Lebanon. More recently, pundits questioned the motives of President Clinton in ordering military strikes at Serbia, Sudan, and Afghanistan in 1998 and 1999 because the President was in the midst of being impeached. The scapegoat explanation has become linked to presidential approval because a sizable percentage of all rallies in presidential approval in the post-war era have been related to the use of force short of war. Presidential foreign policy decision making is conceivably affected by the intense media coverage of uses of force. This media attention ostensibly helps focus public attention away from troublesome domestic issues providing a domestic political incentive for presidents to use force.

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Our shift in focus notes scholarship that has addressed presidential agenda setting, particularly presidential attempts to shift focus or change the subject. Recent analyses are critical of the president's agenda setting capacity in foreign policy (Edwards and Wood 1999; Peake 2001; Wood and Peake 1998). These studies suggest that American presidents are primarily responsive to the media and uncontrollable international events when deciding which issues to discuss publicly. However, these studies have not taken explicitly into account presidential decisions to use force beyond the president speaking publicly on the issue. In so doing, their focus on presidential speech instead of action may have underestimated the impact of presidential attempts to influence the agenda. The present study clarifies the plausible agenda setting influence of presidents within the "economy of attention" framework that governs agenda setting.

Agenda setting theory tells us that presidential force (the most dramatic of presidential events) is likely to impact public attention to issues, which may in turn indirectly influence presidential approval by priming the public's evaluation. The agenda setting model appears to do a good job accounting for the effects of force on diversion. Our results suggest that presidents have plausible incentives for forceful actions that may include indirect effects on public approval and direct effects on the public's agenda. Of course, these benefits are often outweighed by the inherent risks associated with using force and are mitigated by opportunities dependent on the international environment (DeRouen 1995; Fordham 2000).