Wednesday, December 30, 2009

UNDER THE RUG: What Project Censored Missed and MSM Didn't Want You to Know in 2009

Every year for the last 34 years, Project Censored has done a wonderful job highlighting stories that seems to have skipped the attention of our mainstream media (MSM) outlets. Recently they named their list for the Top 25 Censored Stories for 2009. While each of these stories is a valuable example of what Project Censored illuminates best, (not reporting literally censored stories, but stories that were "the most important underreported stories" of the year) there were a couple stories they missed that I consider too important to ignore. Both stories are related and revolve around a Deep Politics scandal for the ages.

STORY #1: Sibel Edmonds Testifies Under Oath - Grossman & Armitage Leaked Identity of Valerie Plame's Cover Company to the Target of an FBI Investigation in Summer of 2001

This is what should have been the headlines shouted across the globe on August 8, 2009. Not that 2009 was the first year Sibel Edmonds should have been front page news. She has been telling her story about the secrets she discovered while working at the FBI to anyone willing to listen since she was fired in 2002. I covered the history of what has happened to her in the 2nd edition of American Judas, Time for change at Democratic Underground also has a wonderful summary of her life experience. If I were working for Project Censored, I would nominate Sibel Edmonds for the Top Censored Story of the Decade.

Her story took a new turn in July of 2009. First came the revelation on the Mike Malloy radio show guest hosted by Brad Friedman, where Edmonds said that the US maintained 'intimate relations' with Bin Laden, and the Taliban, "all the way until that day of September 11." While this story made some waves in the left-wing blogosphere before fading away, things heated up again in August when Sibel Edmonds was subpoenaed for a case before the Ohio Elections Commission; Schmidt v. Krikorian. That she received a request to provide sworn deposition and affidavit testimony in court in and of itself should have been headline news; this was the first time during the Obama administration that an opportunity arose where her attorneys requested that Attorney General Holder review the state secrets privilege invoked in her case and reverse the decision made under former President Bush. While the FBI attempted to block her testimony with a two page letter of objection to her attorneys and the Department of Justice pressured the Ohio Commission to drop the subpoenae, ultimately no one showed up in court to stop her deposition and on August 8, 2009, she provided what any rational person would describe as explosive testimony.

While this testimony did receive attention from liberal media outlets like Huffington Post and a subsequent cover article in conservative media outlet American Conservative, MSM gave the news a complete blackout. Too bad, they missed out on informing the world about how Valerie Plame's CIA cover company, Brewster Jennings & Associates, initially had their cover blown:

"Basically," she said, "I told them how [third-ranking State Dept. official in the Bush Admin and former Ambassador to Turkey] Marc Grossman disclosed" that Brewster Jennings was a CIA front company to the target of an FBI investigation. "And it was under oath and that some lives may have been lost."
"Novak has nothing to do with it. Wilson has nothing to do with it. Valerie Plame has nothing to do with it. The whole operation has to do with something totally different and it had to do with the American Turkish Council and the Turkish clients who were about to hire Brewster Jennings as an analyst ... and Grossman found out about it, and tipped off his diplomatic contact who was a target of the FBI counter-intelligence, and that person notified the ISI [Pakistani intelligence agency], etc."
She says that Brewster Jenning was then "dismantled as soon as the FBI notified the CIA," after which "FBI requested CIA to do a damage assessment, to see if lives would be lost."
All of this, she re-iterated, was "long before, three years before," Novak outed Valerie Plame as a CIA operative in his newspaper column.
Brewster Jennings was "absolutely" dismantled in August of 2001.
"Grossman and [Richard] Armitage, they are the only two people involved. Later on Cheney and his people may have used it, but it had nothing to do with those other things, [Brewster Jennings] was completely destroyed and gone by the summer of 2001."
For those not fully up on Edmonds' story, her job at the FBI was to listen to wiretaps in the counter-intel department, to translate foreign targets caught on those taps. Presumably, that's where her details on the destruction of Brewster Jennings comes from. She was hired by the agency shortly after 9/11.
Bombshell enough for ya? Let's see if anyone in the corporate media bothers to agree, and/or pick up on this --- now that it's officially "on the record" and, as Edmonds took pains to point out: under oath!

Remember when Dick Armitage attributed his leak regarding Valerie Plame's covert status to being a gossip? Something tells me if a real reporter like Brad Friedman had MSM exposure, that story wouldn't hold water.
Before I get to STORY #2, I want to post a quote from the 2nd Edition of American Judas that shows how these UNDER THE RUG stories dovetail:
Essentially, there is only one investigation – a very big one, an all-inclusive one. Completely by chance, I, a lowly translator, stumbled over one piece of it. But I can tell you there are a lot of people involved, a lot of ranking officials, and a lot of illegal activities that include multi-billion-dollar drug-smuggling operations, black-market nuclear sales to terrorists and unsavory regimes, you name it. And of course a lot of people from abroad are involved. It's massive. So to do this investigation, to really do it, they will have to look into everything… That's the beauty of it. You can start from the AIPAC angle. You can start from the Plame case. You can start from my case. They all end up going to the same place, and they revolve around the same nucleus of people. There may be a lot of them, but it is one group. And they are very dangerous for all of us.

-Sibel Edmonds
What Sibel Edmonds is talking about is what Peter Dale Scott defines as Deep Politics. As it exists today in the United States of America, it might more appropriately be termed a Deep State, as opposed to a public state, such as what was exposed in a 1996 scandal known as Susurluk. One aspect of how the Deep State exists in America has been revealed through the AIPAC spy scandal, which was brought to it's ignominious conclusion this year:

STORY #2: Larry Franklin's 12 Year Sentence Reduced to Probation - Never Served One Day in Prison After Pleading Guilty to Passing Classified Info to Israel
As I gave credit above to the excellent reporting skills of Brad Friedman where the story of Sibel Edmonds is concerned, so shall I give credit to Luke Ryland for covering what most people missed regarding Larry Franklin. He also has done wonderful work reporting on Sibel Edmonds too, but he seemed to be the only reporter highlighting the end of the Larry Franklin story:

Friday, June 19, 2009

Larry Franklin, Free at Last

"For those who missed it (because it is not being reported in the MSM) Larry Franklin, the Pentagon AIPAC spy who pleaded guilty and was sentenced to twelve years in prison, has had his sentence reduced to probation and ten months of community confinement, which is presumed to be some kind of halfway house or possibly freedom to stay at home with some kind of monitoring bracelet. The adjustment was made last night by the same judge who let Rosen and Weissman go free in the AIPAC trial that was recently terminated without a conviction. Franklin did zero prison time as he was allowed to stay out of jail because of his willingness to testify in the trial. According to Franklin’s lawyer, Plato Cacheris the poor man has been having a rough time lately as no one wants to hire him… Cacheris ain’t cheap. Wonder who paid the bill?"
"(Larry Franklin) didn't know at the time that Rosen and Weissman worked for the pro-Israel lobbying group (AIPAC)."
Too funny for words.
More from Politico:
"(Franklin's lawyer) Cacheris's description of Franklin's cooperation also produced some intriguing news.

"He's given them other cases involving people who cannot come into this country," the defense lawyer said cryptically.

Cacheris also suggested that Franklin was the target of witness tampering in the Aipac case. "Someone came to approach Franklin to have him, in effect, disappear," the defense attorney said. He said Franklin immediately reported the incident to authorities.

Cacheris did not elaborate on the episode, but it could help explain why the FBI sought to interview Jewish leaders several years ago about attempts to provide financial assistance or employment to Rosen and Weissman.

In response to a question from Ellis Thursday, Franklin confirmed speculation that his rendezvous with Rosen and Weissman was arranged by Michael Makovsky, a former energy analyst for the Pentagon. Makovsky, who has left the government, was not charged in the case and was expected to be a witness at the trial of Rosen and Weissman."
Makovsky's brother and father are both in Sibel Edmonds' State Secrets Privilege Gallery.

This is the pathetic end of a story I covered on this blog as far as I could stomach. For anyone who missed it (which is most of the free world) I shall reprint it in full:

Friday, May 8, 2009

Where in the World is Larry Franklin?

During the period of November 2008 to January 2009, when Barack Obama was still a President-Elect and George W. Bush was the lamest of lame ducks, speculation was rampant that Scooter Libby would top the list of last minute pardons. I didn't put much stock in such predictions because it seemed so pointless: the sentence had already been commuted, Libby would never serve a day for his crimes. The one felon I was certain would get a pardon was Larry Franklin. It seemed to me Bush had the most to lose from not pardoning him. To review:

Lawrence Anthony Franklin is a former U.S. Air Force Reserve colonel who has pleaded guilty to passing information about U.S. policy towards Iran to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the foremost pro-Israel lobbying organization in the U.S, while he was working for the Defense Department. He claims this was an attempt to get the information to the United States National Security Council, which he was not able to do through regular Pentagon channels. Two former employees of AIPAC (Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman) also faced charges (that would later be dropped) that they assisted him in the AIPAC espionage scandal and passing classified national defense information to an Israeli diplomat Naor Gilon. On January 20, 2006, Judge T.S. Ellis, III sentenced Franklin to 151 months (almost 13 years) in prison and fined him $10,000.

I assumed Bush had everything to gain from pardoning a loyal neo-con who had been rotting in prison since January 20, 2006. There was one problem with this assumption that I discovered recently while investigating the revelations that Sibel Edmonds has provided on this scandal reported by Luke Ryland: LARRY FRANKLIN IS NOT IN JAIL!

One other interesting part of the interview, highlighted by Mizgin, is that indicted spy Larry Franklin was working with Richard Perle and Douglas Feith at the ATC way back in 1994. According to Sibel, Franklin was "one of the top people providing information and packages during 2000 and 2001." Despite many media reports to the contrary, Larry Franklin is not currently in jail,(emphasis added) and it is not clear what will happen to him if the trial of Rosen & Weissman from AIPAC doesn't proceed as planned in June.

I clicked on the link where I boldprinted and this came up:

Inmate Locator - Locate Federal inmates from 1982 to present
Name Register # Age-Race-Sex Release Date

Where the hell could he have disappeared to?! I kept investigating and today I came across this revelation: LARRY FRANKLIN IS STILL A FREE MAN!

In this interview at, CQ's Jeff Stein - who broke the new allegations about U.S. Rep. Jane Harman's alleged involvement in seeking leniency for Rosen and Weissman - says that the Pentagon leaker at the heart of the affair, Larry Franklin, is in jail, doing 12.5 years and moreover, the sentence is relatively lenient, only because Franklin is expected to cooperate at trial.

That might have come as a surprise to Franklin, who was seen last week hanging around the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, sporting camouflage pants and boots (the weather has been very weird in DC of late. And he is a former Air Force colonel.) I mean, the Ronald Reagan Building is less than inspiring, it's true, but a prison it's not.

(Jeff's not the only one who's made this mistake - just the latest. I keep hearing references to Franklin being in jail.)

Franklin was sentenced to just over 12.5 years, it is true - and that was by all accounts not a lenient sentence - but his time was deferred until after he testifies at the Rosen and Weissman trial. I heard from sources at the time that prosecutors would recommend a reduction to three years should he cooperate, and that Judge T.S. Ellis was likely to take the deal.

But that was over three years ago. And now the case might not even go to trial. And if it does, I've heard that prosecutors are reluctant to use him.

This, I've heard, is remarkable; prosecutors pull key witnesses only if they've done serious damage to their credibility while awaiting trial (for instance, a repentant mob hitman who just can't break the habit.) Franklin's abided by the conditions of his sentencing, including avoiding reporters like the plague.

So why not use him? His outbursts during his allocution when he pleaded guilty might be illustrative: The promise of the crux of the government case shouting out "it wasn't classified and isn't classified" when he's on the stand must be giving prosecutors the willies.

So what does this mean for Franklin? His crimes are not unserious: He swore to keep the secrets he leaked not only to Rosen and Weissman, but to Naor Gilon (the Israeli diplomat coming soon to an international incident near you.) (all emphasis mine)Franklin's unhappy profile as a prosecution witness might not necessarily mean he isn't "helpful" - just truthful.

But 12.5 years, especially after being held in limbo for more than three years?

And a deal's a deal, right?

We'll soon find out.

Unfortunately, though it almost slipped under the radar, we soon found out that the charges against Rosen and Weissman were dropped:

WASHINGTON — A case that began four years ago with the tantalizing and volatile premise that officials of a major pro-Israel lobbying organization were illegally trafficking in sensitive national security information collapsed on Friday as prosecutors asked that all charges be withdrawn.


While Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman trafficked in facts, ideas and rumor, they had done so with the full awareness of officials in the United States and Israel, who found they often helped lubricate the wheels of decision-making between two close, but sometimes quarrelsome, friends.


The investigation of Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman also surfaced recently in news reports that Representative Jane Harman, a California Democrat long involved in intelligence matters, was overheard on a government wiretap discussing the case. As reported by Congressional Quarterly, which covers Capitol Hill, and The New York Times, Ms. Harman was overheard agreeing with an Israeli intelligence operative to try to intercede with Bush administration officials to obtain leniency for Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman in exchange for help in persuading Democratic leaders to make her chairwoman of the House Intelligence Committee.


Over government objections, Judge Ellis had also ruled that the defense could call as witnesses several senior Bush administration foreign policy officials to demonstrate that what occurred was part of the continuing process of information trading and did not involve anything nefarious. The defense lawyers were planning to call as witnesses former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; Stephen J. Hadley, the former national security adviser; and several others. Government policy makers indicated they were clearly uncomfortable with senior officials’ testifying in open court over policy deliberations.


So chalk up another rug-sweeping victory for the Deep State. They got to Judge Ellis, who if you read the text of the sentence against Franklin completely reversed the logic he used to sentence Franklin by setting the standard that Rosen and Weissman had to be proven to try to harm the security of the United States to be convicted, whereas Ellis admonished Franklin for providing the defense that he meant no harm! So Rosen and Weissman, along with their probable co-conspirators Hadley and Rice go free.

But what about Franklin? His freedom was contingent upon his testimony at the Rosen and Weissman trials. Now that there will be no trials, does anyone know where Franklin is now? While I have to give credit to Counterpunch and for exposing the bullshit behind the excuses for the dismissal, neither have reported correctly the current status of Larry Franklin. Only Luke Ryland has been staying on top of this:

One other point: None of the coverage today mentions the fact that Larry Franklin is currently a free man, and that his eventual sentence was supposed to be dependent on him co-operating. What happens to Franklin now? And what happens to all of the other evidence he has given FBI counter-intelligence in the meantime? Will that ever be acted upon?
Posted by lukery at 5/02/2009 10:33:00 AM
Labels: AIPAC, Larry Franklin, Rosen, Weissman

Robert Paulsen said...

Thank you so much for staying on top of this. It boggles my mind that nobody, not in MSM, not on any other alternative media internet site, NOBODY EXCEPT YOU, seems to be aware of this oversight. I've tried posting about this on DU and everyone there seems to be unaware as well.

Three years after being sentenced to 12.5 years in jail, LARRY FRANKLIN IS STILL A FREE MAN!

I'll keep shouting out about this injustice if you keep researching. Any updates as to Larry Franklin's current whereabouts? I'd like to see at least one person pay for this scandal.
May 8, 2009 5:50 AM
lukery said...

RP - Franklin was last seen in DC. I suspect he still lives there.
May 8, 2009 8:54 AM

UPDATE: From Josh Gerstein -

Judge formally drops case against pro-Israel lobbyists


The dismissal aspect of Ellis' order, which was posted on the court's docket today, is essentially a formality. What was more interesting is that he said he is expecting some kind of action from the government regarding Larry Franklin, a Pentagon analyst who pled guilty early on in the case.

Ellis sentenced Franklin in 2006 to more than 12 years in prison for disclosing classified information to Rosen, Weissman and others. However, Franklin agreed to cooperate with the government and never reported to jail.

"It is further ordered that the government is directed to advise the Court, by 5:00 p.m., Thursday May 14, 2009, regarding when it contemplates filing an appropriate motion with respect to defendant Franklin," Ellis's new order says.
(emphasis added)

Lawyers involved in the case expected Franklin to seek a reduction in his sentence once the trial against Rosen and Weissman was complete. Now that the trial will never happen, it's an open question of how much of a sentence reduction Franklin will get. Presumably, it's not his fault the case was abandoned. In any event, Ellis will have to rule on any sentence reduction. The judge may have to make a hypothetical judgment about how much Franklin's testimony may have helped in a trial that will never take place.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Krampus of the Year: Joe Lieberman

In what I hope will be an annual award, it's time to anoint the Krampus of the Year. Thanks to my co-worker Richard, I have learned quite a bit about this unique European mythical creature. Krampus basically plays bad cop to Saint Nicholas' good cop. To quote Wikipedia:

In various regions of the world – especially Austria– it is believed that Krampus accompanies St. Nicholas during the Christmas season, warning and punishing bad children, in contrast to St. Nicholas, who gives gifts to good children.
The word Krampus originates from the Old High German word for claw (Krampen). In the Alpine regions, Krampus is represented by an incubus-like creature. Traditionally, young men dress up as the Krampus in the first two weeks of December, particularly on the evening of December 5, and roam the streets frightening children and women with rusty chains and bells.[1] In some rural areas the tradition also includes birchingcorporal punishment with a birch rod – by Krampus, especially of young girls. Images of Krampus usually show him with a basket on his back used to carry away bad children and dump them into the pits of Hell.

What a charmer. Who was the human equivalent this year? By a landslide, it's Holy Joe Lieberman! Probably the best illustration of why he deserves this can be found in an article written by Nate Silver from FiveThirtyEight:


Somebody Buy Joe Lieberman a Puppy

The reason this is a little scary for Democrats is because the usual things that serve to motivate a Congressman don't seem to motivate Joe Lieberman.

Would voting to filibuster the Democrats' health care bill (if it contains a decent public option) endear Lieberman to his constituents? No; Connecticutians favor the public option 64-31.

Would it make his path to re-election easier? No, because it would virtually assure that Lieberman faces a vigorous and well-funded challenge from a credible, capital-D Democrat, and polls show him losing such a match-up badly.

Would it buy him more power in the Senate? No, because Democrats would have every reason to strip him of his chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee.

Is Lieberman's stance intended to placate the special interests in his state? Perhaps this is part of it -- there are a lot of insurance companies in Connecticut -- but Lieberman is generally not one of the more sold-out Senators, ranking 75th out of the 100-member chamber in the percentage of his fundraising that comes from corporate PACs.

Are there any particular compromises or concessions he wants in the bill? He hasn't stipulated any, at least not publicly.

Might he have a legitimate policy objection to the public option? Certainly there are some legitimate objections -- whether or not you agree with them. But Lieberman's objections don't make any sense. He says he's worried about blunting "the economic recovery we’re in" even though the public option provisions wouldn't kick in until 2013. He says he's worried about debt-reduction when the public option would make the bill more deficit-neutral. And he campaigned on a public-option type alternative called "MediChoice" in 2006.

What Joe Lieberman wants, in all probability, is attention. He wants Harry Reid to have to stand up and say things like : "I don't have anyone that I've worked harder with, have more respect for, in the Senate than Joe Lieberman." He wants face time on Meet the Press. He wants to make liberals feel some pain -- especially those who tried to get Ned Lamont elected in his place. He wants everyone to know how maverick-y he is.

But even if Lieberman will probably cave, this creates real problems for Democrats. For one thing, Lieberman has said he won't oppose the motion to proceed with the health care bill. Instead, he'll filibuster the end result, if he doesn't like the outcome. This is actually very devious. If Harry Reid determines that he doesn't have 60 votes on the motion to proceed on a bill with a public option, then he doesn't have to bring it to the floor. Progressives will be apoplectic, Reid will lose some face, pundits will talk about Democrats having lost momentum -- but the prospects for health care reform will probably not have seriously been damaged. The opt-out will get replaced by an opt-in or maybe a trigger or co-ops or whatever and Olympia Snowe will be very happy and the debate will proceed.

But if, on the other hand, Lieberman filibusters the vote for final passage, that will have come after weeks of floor debate, amendments, and compromising on all sorts of issues. This would be a very, very serious blow to health care reform. And it makes this a much more expensive bluff to call.

The other way that this is damaging to Democrats, of course, is that it may embolden an Evan Bayh or a Blanche Lincoln or a Ben Nelson to adopt Lieberman's stance. None of these guys want to be the lone Democratic member to filibuster -- but it's much easier to defray individual responsibility on a procedural vote against your party when you have someone else joining you.

But while a Nelson or a Lincoln is liable to have a fairly rational set of concerns -- basically, they want to ensure they get re-elected -- it's tough to bargain with people like Lieberman who are a little crazy. In certain ways, he resembles nothing so much as one of those rogue, third-bit Middle Eastern dictators that he's so often carping about, capable of creating great anxiety with relatively little expenditure of resources, and taking equal pleasure in watching his friends and enemies sweat.

Keep in mind this was written before Joementum threw a tantrum over the prospect of Medicare availability starting at age 55 as a compromise over the public option, which was a blatantly hypocritical 360 degree reversal from his stance toward Medicare in 2000, back when he was campaigning to be Vice President, back when he was a Democrat.
Happy holidays, Krampus! What will you take away from the American public next?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Devolution: The Reality of Post-Peak Upheaval

There has been a lot of bantering in the blogosphere using the word "revolution" recently. The frequency and intensity with which I've seen the word "revolution" goes beyond the hysterical insanity from which it originated this year. It's no longer in the domain of Dominionist "Birthers" and "Deathers" prattling on at their "Tea Parties" as though waving a pack of tea bags that they bought on sale at Wal-Mart bears any relation to the wholesale destruction of the tea shipment at the original Boston Tea Party in 1773.

Not that the Christian Taliban were the only ones at those rallies. There was also a large contingent of Libertarians who hitched their wagons to that Silly Symphoney. I'm not talking about the gun nuts packing heat and cherrypicking "liberty" quotes from the Founding Fathers. Hell, even the Official Tea Party Pied Piper Glenn Beck calls himself a Libertarian. He also believes he's in complete agreement with Thomas Paine, which shows how little he actually reads from the books he promotes. I'm talking about those who are in ideological agreement with Ron Paul, who long before Beck twirled his teabags wrote a book called Revolution: A Manifesto. His followers think that abolishing the Federal Reserve without first changing the way money works is some sort of panacea to our problems. While I am not in ideological agreement, I can at least respect it as an ideology: "One Nation Under God" only qualifies as ideology if the goal is theocracy, which I can't respect.

But now in the wake of Health Care Reform watered down to the soggiest of waffles, revolution is no longer a right-wing rallying call. Within the last week, I've seen it trumpeted at dailykos and democraticunderground. These calls for revolution differ from the dispensationalist drooling at the town hall meetings this summer by focusing on the dynamic disparity of wealth exacerbated by a Corporatist State where both parties are bought and sold. While I am closer in ideological identification with this problem in the wake of the 2008 Meltdown, it still doesn't quite get to the source of what's ailing us. This quote is the closest it gets to really encapsulating the crossroads we stand at and the tools it will take to deal with it:

"You know, there's been a lot of talk about Abraham Lincoln. But the President we need today is not Abraham Lincoln. The President we need today is Thomas Jefferson. He said that we needed a revolution every generation. Thomas Jefferson said you have to be ready in order to preserve the vitality of your liberty and your freedom to defend it, not by overthrowing anything else except for what you've been holding in your head that may not be applicable anymore. We've gotten very lazy, we're many generations overdue for a revolution in our thinking. I'm not talking about blood and violence although I'm afraid that's already happening. I'm talking about a revolution that's probably the hardest kind, the kind that takes place inside the human soul and the human mind. To be able to tear everything down, throw everything out and start with a completely fresh piece of paper and say, 'OK, how do we solve this problem?'"
-Michael Ruppert, March 2009

This is the quote that starts the movie Collapse, which I reviewed previously. The problem he refers to is Peak Oil. That problem is not a question of if, but when. It is a problem because by and large, the civilized world has done nothing to prepare for that problem. Without preparing, future economic growth is not possible if there is increasing demand for a permanently declining supply of a product that is irreplaceable to the foundation of our economic infrastructure. As Ruppert , Catherine Austin Fitts and originally M. King Hubbert said, "Until you change the way money works, you change nothing". Something's got to give. Most people assume that "something" means revolution. But I believe we face devolution. There's two ways of understanding devolution: politically and metaphorically. I'll address the political definition first:

Devolution is the statutory granting of powers from the central government of a Sovereign state to government at a subnational level, such as a regional, local, or state level. It differs from federalism in that the powers devolved may be temporary and ultimately reside in central government, thus the state remains, de jure, unitary.
Any devolved parliaments or assemblies can be repealed by central government in the same way an ordinary statute can be. Federal systems, or federacies, differ in that state or provincial government is guaranteed in the constitution. Australia, Canada and the United States have federal systems, and have constitutions (as do some of their constituent states or provinces). They also have Territories, with less power and authority than a state or province.
The devolution can be mainly financial, e.g. giving areas a budget which was formerly administered by central government. However, the power to make legislation relevant to the area may also be granted.

While wikipedia provides a nice overview of how devolution has occurred throughout history, including American history with the District of Columbia, I anticipate that there will be a much deeper devolution in post-peak society. Many researchers in the Peak Oil community have noted that relocalization is a necessary component of adapting. With increased local responsibilities will bring increased local power to whatever tenable form of government exists. What shape that takes remains to be seen. It could occur through a second Constitutional Convention. It could occur through violent force. But the bottom line is that relocalization necessitates restructuring our political and economic infrastructure in a devolutionary manner. Whether we will be successful in doing this or not depends upon whether we can reverse the devolution that has already been taking place metaphorically. Now for that definition:

In common parlance, "devolution", "de-evolution", or backward evolution is the notion that a species can generally evolve into more "primitive" forms by losing adaptations no longer necessary in a new environment. According to this view, changes from one biome to another may usher in pressures to weed out an obsolete function which is no longer useful for survival after the transition, and that the probability of losing a organic function in a new biome, via the conventional evolutionary pressures to "evolve", is more frequent and explainable than the synthesis of a new organic function. The scientific evidence for modern evolutionary synthesis has disproved the idea of "devolution".[1]
The popularized connotation of the word "evolution" leads many to misunderstand Darwin's theory of evolution in thinking that "evolution" requires some sort of "increasing complexity".[2] Yet the Darwinian theory of evolution does not reject the possibility of decreasing complexity (c.f. vestigiality) as the basis for some evolutionary change. Early scientific theories of the history of life on earth tried to account for species diversity as a result of acquisitions of various adaptations to the environment, and these included Lamarckism and orthogenesis. However, modern genetically-based biological evolution theory asserts that evolution occurs by non-teleological mechanisms such as natural selection, genetic drift, and mutation; hence "devolution", Larmarckism, and orthogenesis are rejected by modern evolutionary synthesis.

Again, I am being metaphorical, I am not propagating a biological fallacy. You see, whereas many people who read, listen to or watch Michael Ruppert and find an alarmist proclaiming doom and gloom, I read his above quote and I see an optimist. That he can go through life, experiencing all the drama he has and come out the other side of the rabbit hole believing it possible that there can be a revolution in our thinking "inside the human soul and the human mind" fills me with hope. But when I think about the devolution taking place metaphorically, well, I think I'll let George Carlin provide a more eloquent description to my wariness:

"Not too bright, folks. Not too fucking bright. But if you talk to one of them about this, if you isolate one of them, you sit 'em down rationally, you talk to 'em about the low IQ's and the dumb behavior and the bad decisions; right away they start talking about education. That's the big answer to everything: Education. They say, 'We need more money for education. We need more books, more teachers, more classrooms, more schools. We need more testing for the kids!' You say to 'em, 'Well, you know, we've tried all that and the kids still can't pass the tests'. They say, 'Aw, don't you worry about that, we're gonna lower the passing grades!' And that's what they do in a lot of these schools now, they lower the passing grades so more kids can pass. More kids pass, the school looks good, everybody's happy; the IQ of the country slips another two or three points and pretty soon, all you'll need to get into college is a fucking pencil! 'Gotta pencil? Get the fuck in there, it's physics!' Then everyone wonders why 17 other countries graduate more scientists than we do. Education!

Politicians know that word; they use it on you. Politicians have traditionally hidden behind three things: the flag, the Bible and children. 'No Child Left Behind! No Child Left Behind!' 'Oh really, well it wasn't long ago you were talking about giving kids a Head Start! Head Start, Left Behind, someone's losing fucking ground here!' But there's a reason. There's a reason. There's a reason for this. There's a reason education sucks and it's the same reason it will never, ever, ever be fixed. It's never going to get any better, don't look for it, be happy with what you got. Because the owners of this country don't want that.

I'm talking about the real owners now. The big, wealthy...The real owners, the big wealthy business interests that control things and make all the important decisions. Forget the politicians, they're an irrelevancy. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don't. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations. They've long since bought and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the statehouses, the city halls. They've got the judges in their back pockets, and they own all the big media companies, so they control just about all of the news and information you get to hear. They've got you by the balls! They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying – lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want; they want more for themselves and less for everybody else.

But I'll tell you what they don't want. They don't want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don't want well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking.
They're not interested in that! That doesn't help them. That's against their interests. That's right! You know something? They don't want people who are smart enough to sit around the kitchen table and figure out how badly they're getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard 30 fucking years ago. They don't want that! You know what they want? They want Obedient Workers – Obedient Workers. People who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork but just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, the reduced benefits, the end of overtime and the vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it. And, now, they're coming for your Social Security money. They want your fucking retirement money. They want it back, so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street. And you know something? They'll get it. They'll get it all from you, sooner or later, because they own this fucking place. It's a big club - and you ain't in it! You and I are not in the big club.

By the way, it's the same big club they use to beat you over the head with all day long and they tell you what to believe...All day long, beating you over the head in the media, what to believe, what to think and what to buy...The table is tilted, folks! The game is rigged! And nobody seems to notice, and nobody seems to care! Good honest, hard-working people! White collar, blue collar... Doesn't matter what color shirt you have on! Good honest, hard-working people continue...These are people of modest means!...continue to elect these rich cocksuckers who don't give a fuck about them! They don't give a fuck about you! They don't give a fuck about you!They don't care about you! At all! At all! At all! Yeah! You know? And nobody seems to notice, nobody seems to care. That's what the owners count on. The fact that Americans probably will remain willfully ignorant of the big red white and blue dick that's being jammed up their assholes every day! Because the owners of this country know the truth - it's called the American Dream: because you have to be asleep to believe it."

Yes, devolution might be a solution politically for the future, but right now it is most definitely the metaphorical problem with our American culture.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Death By Denial

Every week there is some level of human activity that makes me think, "We're not going to make it".

Often these activities occur within the government, but it doesn't have to. We're all human beings, politicians too, so the only reason I'm harder on them than I am on the general populace is because they stand front and center in the mainstream media limelight. The late great comic legend George Carlin put my sentiment to words best, "Everybody complains about politicians. Everybody says they suck. Well, where do people think these politicians come from? They don't fall out of the sky. They don't pass through a membrane from another reality. They come from American parents and American families, American homes, American schools, American churches, American businesses and American universities, and they are elected by American citizens. This is the best we can do folks. This is what we have to offer. It's what our system produces: Garbage in, garbage out."

This week, the human activity that's making me plant my face firmly in the palm of my hand in bewilderment is taking place in Copenhagen. Once again, we have the mainstream media to thank for putting the proper focus on events taking place, which they have dubbed Climate-Gate. I am being completely sarcastic, of course. There is something scandalous that has been uncovered in Copenhagen, but it has absolutely nothing to do with the focus of the media circus on the East Anglia e-mail hacking, where the purported "scandal" has been debunked. The real scandal is "The Copenhagen Diagnosis". Sharon Astyk explains:

"The Copenhagen Diagnosis, overshadowed in many place by the East Anglia Climate Scandals, was a review of all the major climate papers published since the latest IPCC report, and the picture it paints is deeply disturbing. The window for radical action is getting much, much smaller very rapidly. For example, we've seen rapidly increasing greenhouse emissions - and increases not just in the Global South, but in the developed world as well. That is, despite all this good citizenship, in the net, we're still doing way too much harm.
The window for action is very small - the Copenhagen Diagnosis suggests that if we don't make rapid changes by 2015, it won't matter even if we drop emissions to 0 by 2030. Does anyone think that corporate good citizenship is going to make a critical difference in emissions drops on that scale? The truth is that small refinements in energy usage don't address the more basic issue - the need for deeply curtailed fossil fuel emissions. And that curtailment is something that corporations just can't do - they have an obligation to make more and earn more for their shareholders. Even the best willed, kindest CEO on the planet can't do what is most needed."
2015. That's 5 years and one month from now. Not much time for politicians to act.

But hey, don't worry, things haven't really been hot since 1998!

Plus, we might not make it past December 21, 2012 anyway.

So what's the Tiger Woods Mistress Tally up to?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Michael Moore, Don't You Know What We're Fighting For?

Really, I'm surprised at the level of naivete on display in Michael Moore's recent anti-war plea to President Obama. Let's start with the first paragraph:

Dear President Obama,
Do you really want to be the new "war president"? If you go to West Point tomorrow night (Tuesday, 8pm) and announce that you are increasing, rather than withdrawing, the troops in Afghanistan, you are the new war president. Pure and simple. And with that you will do the worst possible thing you could do -- destroy the hopes and dreams so many millions have placed in you. With just one speech tomorrow night you will turn a multitude of young people who were the backbone of your campaign into disillusioned cynics. You will teach them what they've always heard is true -- that all politicians are alike. I simply can't believe you're about to do what they say you are going to do. Please say it isn't so.

Of course it's so! Where were you during the campaign? Who exactly are these "multitude of young people who were the backbone of your campaign" that share your attention deficit?
Moore continues with this delusion throughout his open letter. Many times he projects his own desires onto Obama's psyche. ("You still have a few hours to listen to your heart, and your own clear thinking.") Desperately he searches for the reason why the President might want to take such a course of action ("One more throwing a bone from you to the Republicans") even as the real reason is staring him right in the face: it's the economy, stupid! He posted the link right in the fourth paragraph! Check it out:

There's a reason they don't call Afghanistan the "Garden State" (though they probably should, seeing how the corrupt President Karzai, whom we back, has his brother in the heroin trade raising poppies). Afghanistan's nickname is the "Graveyard of Empires." If you don't believe it, give the British a call. I'd have you call Genghis Khan but I lost his number. I do have Gorbachev's number though. It's + 41 22 789 1662. I'm sure he could give you an earful about the historic blunder you're about to commit.
Click where it says his brother in the heroin trade and read the title. Do you see what I see?

Brother of Afghan Leader Said to Be Paid by C.I.A.

Gee, what a coincidence! The President of the country on whose behalf we are escalating a war with an additional 30,000 troops has a brother who is in the heroin trade and is paid by the CIA! Not that the New York Times would ever suggest that the CIA is profiting from the global drug trade or anything like that! Besides, that was then. This is now:

Americans Are Deeply Involved In Afghan Drug Trade

By Glen Ford
The U.S. set the stage for the Afghan (and Pakistan) war eight years ago, when it handed out drug dealing franchises to warlords on Washington's payroll. Now the Americans, acting as Boss of All Bosses, have drawn up hit lists of rival, “Taliban” drug lords. “It is a gangster occupation, in which U.S.-allied drug dealers are put in charge of the police and border patrol.”

U.S.-allied drug dealers are put in charge of the police and border patrol, while their rivals are placed on American hit lists.”

If you're looking for the chief kingpin in the Afghanistan heroin trade, it's the United States. The American mission has devolved to a Mafiosi-style arrangement that poisons every military and political alliance entered into by the U.S. and its puppet government in Kabul. It is a gangster occupation, in which U.S.-allied drug dealers are put in charge of the police and border patrol, while their rivals are placed on American hit lists, marked for death or capture. As a result, Afghanistan has been transformed into an opium plantation that supplies 90 percent of the world's heroin.
An article in the current issue of Harper's magazine explores the inner workings of the drug-infested U.S. occupation, it's near-total dependence on alliances forged with players in the heroin trade. The story centers on the town of Spin Boldak, on the southeastern border with Pakistan, gateway to the opium fields of Kandahar and Helmand provinces. The chief Afghan drug lord is also the head of the border patrol and the local militia. The author is an undercover U.S.-based journalist who was befriended by the drug lord's top operatives and met with the U.S. and Canadian officers that collaborate with the drug dealer on a daily basis.
The alliance was forged by American forces during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, and has endured and grown ever since. The drug lord, and others like him throughout the country, is not only immune to serious American interference, he has been empowered through U.S. money and arms to consolidate his drug business at the expense of drug-dealing rivals in other tribes, forcing some of them into alliance with the Taliban. On the ground in Pashtun-speaking Afghanistan, the war is largely between armies run by heroin merchants, some aligned with the Americans, others with the Taliban. The Taliban appear to be gaining the upper hand in this Mafiosa gang war, the origins of which are directly rooted in U.S. policy.
It is a war whose order of battle is largely defined by the drug trade.”
Is it any wonder, then, that the United States so often launches air strikes against civilian wedding parties, wiping out the greater part of bride and groom's extended families? America's drug-dealing allies have been dropping dimes on rival clans and tribes, using the Americans as high-tech muscle in their deadly feuds. Now the Americans and their European occupation partners have institutionalized the rules of gangster warfare with official hit lists of drug dealers to be killed or captured on sight – lists drawn up by other drug lords affiliated with the occupation forces.
This is the “war of necessity” that President Barack Obama has embraced as his own. It is a war whose order of battle is largely defined by the drug trade. Obama's generals call for tens of thousands of new U.S. troops in hopes of lessening their dependency on the militias and police forces currently controlled by American-allied drug dealers. But of course, that will only push America's Afghan partners in the drug trade into the arms of the Taliban, who will cut a better deal. Then the generals were argue that they need even more U.S. troops.
The Americans created this drug-saturated hell, and their occupation is now doomed by it. Unfortunately, they have also doomed millions of Afghans in the process.

I wonder if Michael Moore really understands that with the economy in the crapper, pulling the security detail off a $500 billion windfall profit is the last thing any President maintaining an empire would want to do. Because that's the dirty little secret: as of 2006, 90 percent of the world's heroin comes from Afghanistan. That's how you maintain an empire; well, that and oil. So if Afghanistan is truly the "Graveyard of Empires", that's where we get our final fix.
Sorry, am I coming off like a pack of "disillusioned cynics", Mr. Moore?