Wednesday, July 30, 2008

House Committee Holds Rove in Contempt!

The campaign to Send Karl Rove to Jail just won a major victory this morning The House Judiciary Committee voted to hold Rove in contempt by a 20-14 vote, and it was your efforts that made this a reality!

Just 12 days ago, we were pointing out Rove's arrogance and blatant disregard for the law when we launched our video and petition drive. But in the last week-and-a-half, you raised over 127,000 signatures, 40,000 of which came within the first 24 hours.

This fervor attracted other progressive groups to our cause, including CREDO Mobile, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, The Nation, Campaign for America's Future, Progress Now, and People for the American Way. And each organization helped gather more signatures for our list—CREDO Mobile and PFAW added tens of thousands of names alone.

The petition drive culminated yesterday, when I headed down to DC in the blistering heat to hand-deliver three boxes worth of signatures to Capitol Hill. Together with Drew Courtney of PFAW and Isaiah Poole of CAF, we took our message to HJC member Linda Sanchez (D-CA), crowding into Sanchez's Longworth House office surrounded by press and congressional staffers.

Sanchez, who has been a true leader in the fight to hold Rove in contempt, was visibly impressed by the sheer number of signatures. "I think it's ridiculous that Karl Rove thinks that he doesn't have to follow the law," Sanchez told me. "And nobody in this country should be above the law." Judging from today's HJC ruling, Sanchez was as good as her word.

Just think of what today's decision today will mean. Until now, Rove's been lying and avoiding questions about his involvement in leaking Valerie Plame's identity, the politicization of the Justice Department, and the prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman. Just look at his written denials to ranking HJC member Lamar Smith (R-TX), when he refrained from denying that he spoke to longtime confidant Bill Canary, who links Rove to the Siegelman prosecution. Rove has also claimed immunity and touted executive privilege, which doesn't apply in this case.

Now that the decision to hold Rove in contempt will move from the HJC to the full House, however, Rove could be forced to testify under oath or face jail time. That's where you come in. Keep pressuring your elected officials to hold lawbreakers like Rove accountable. Keep contributing to Brave New Films so we can remain ever vigilant in this battle. And keep signing and passing along those petitions, because they obviously can make an impact.

ZP Heller is the editorial director of Brave New Films. He has written for The American Prospect, AlterNet, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and The Huffington Post, covering everything from politics to pop culture.

© 2008 Brave New Films All rights reserved.
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I met the Walrus

This is an amazing video and interview for so many reasons, the first being that a 14-year-old young man had the balls to talk his way into John Lennon's hotel room and ask for an interview, the second being that John agreed. What transpires puts to rest all the blather about Lennon's opportunism regarding the peace movement, since it's obvious that he's done quite a bit of soul-searching and had put a lot of thought into the subject.

John Lennon is dead...long live John Lennon.

Peace be with you.--Pete

Monday, July 28, 2008

Obits For Opposites

By Saul Landau

In 1977, James Abourezk (D-SD) had just returned from Cuba. He and his fellow South Dakota Solon, George McGovern, had sought to use basketball diplomacy. The University of South Dakota's team played Cuba's national team. President Carter had supported the effort since it coincided with his own initiative to gradually restore relations with Cuba. Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC) tried to stop this process.

On the Senate floor, beside the presiding officer's desk, Abourezk beseeched Helms to lighten up. "You ought go and see for yourself what's going on down there," Abourezk said.

"You oughta go to Chile and see what's going on down there," Helms replied. His reference reminded Abourezk of a conversation he'd had recently with Helms' soul mate, Senator James Eastland (R-MS).

"I told Pinochet he oughta hang all the Communists and put the socialists in jail," Eastland smirked. "And Pinochet told me 'that's exactly what I'm doing.'"

"Helms was a mean son of a bitch," Abourezk offered as his obituary comment. "The Senate was a lot more collegial before he arrived."

Helms was the quintessential Cold War, bible-thumping Senator and his conversation with Abourezk was so Twentieth Century. In case anyone failed to grasp his sentiment on Cuba, in the mid 1990s Helms sponsored the Helms-Burton Bill tightening and codifying the embargo. "Let me be clear," Helms pronounced. "Whether Castro leaves Cuba in a vertical or horizontal position is up to him and the Cuban people. But he must -- and will -- leave Cuba."

Helms assumed horizontal posture before Castro, who remains in Cuba. But Helms' decades of public and private utterances did demonstrate George Carlin's insight: "Bullshit is the glue that binds this nation."

Carlin (71) and Helms (86) -- polar opposites of U.S. culture -- died within weeks of each other. Carlin taught critical thinking through stand-up comedy. Helms represented unquestioned authority -- of the past. Lest anyone think Helms was always dour and serious about his love for all things reactionary, those who knew him told stories of his inventive sense of humor. This included the "good old boys" sense of humor.

In 1993, shortly after he made an impassioned speech about the virtues of flying the Confederate flag, Helms shared the Senate elevator with then Senator Carol Moseley Braun (D-IL) and his buddy and still Senator, Orrin Hatch (R.-Utah).

"Watch me make her cry. I'm going to make her cry," he chortled to the ever agreeable -- to reaction -- Hatch. "I'm going to sing Dixie until she cries." He then sang it. Moseley Braun retorted, "Just the sound of you singing is enough to make me cry." (Time, 8/16/93)

Helms built his right wing reputation on combining hatred for communism with contempt for integration. In 1983, Helms attacked the bill establishing Martin Luther King Day. King, he charged, had close communist advisers (he actually named two of them) and he was well known for his promiscuity.

The die hard Dixiecrats understood Helms' illusions and had not forgotten that twenty years before during the early civil rights protests, Helms, then a radio and TV commentator, had declared that "The Negro cannot count forever on the kind of restraint that's thus far left him free to clog the streets, disrupt traffic, and interfere with other men's rights." (WRAL-TV commentary, 1963)

Helms' combined his pet hates into another "joke," by referring to the reputedly liberal University of North Carolina (UNC) as the "University of Negroes and Communists." (Charleston Gazette, 9/15/95)

He included the Hispanic population in his colored-based aesthetics. "All Latins are volatile people," Helms declared on a less than totally friendly visit to Mexico in 1986. "Hence, I was not surprised at the volatile reaction."

Helms combined acidity for people of less than white hue and those of the liberal persuasion with a sense of nostalgia for the banalities of his youth. In a 1956 newspaper column he wrote: "I shall always remember the shady streets, the quiet Sundays, the cotton wagons, the Fourth of July parades, the New Year's Eve firecrackers. I shall never forget the stream of school kids marching uptown to place flowers on the Courthouse Square monument on Confederate Memorial Day."

Helms, a close ally of right wing Christian preachers, accused gays and lesbians for causing "the proliferation of AIDS." He sneered that "there's nothing gay about them." In 1993, Clinton appointed Roberta Achtenberg Assistant Secretary for Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Helms called her unqualified and tried to block her confirmation "because she's a damn lesbian."

Why did he get so vitriolic? Was Helms, like so many of his political ilk, really a closet queen? In 1974, a Helms staffer ushered me past some blue haired ladies into a room full of aides, a couple of them straight and others down-right flamers. Imagine my surprise when Helms claimed that the "New York Times and The Washington Post are both infested with homosexuals. Just about every person down there is a homosexual or lesbian."

As part of his anti-gay, anti-black and all other colors, anti-liberal and pro gun credo, Helms also belonged to the "Proud to be an American" club, the association of people whose bumpers bear the sticker: "Proud To Be an American."

I never shared that sentiment; nor pride in being Jewish or coming from New York. George Carlin analyzed such statements of pride as bullshit. "Pride should be reserved for your achievements, not accidents of birth like being American or Irish or Italian."

God Bless America, repeated Helms and thousands of other politicians. "Is that a request, a demand or a suggestion," asked Carlin? "Imagine, God singles out one country for his blessings because -- well you go figure."

Carlin mocked the religious pap that Helms and the vast Christian fundamentalist right wing accept as God given. "Religion even requires people to swear on the Bible when they testify in court," explained Carlin. "Why should swearing to God on the Bible mean you're telling the truth? As kids, every time we wanted to disguise a whopping lie, we'd say 'I swear on the Bible' or I swear on my mother's tits.' Swearing on the Bible never induced a cop to tell the truth on the witness stand. They lie routinely when they take the stand just to insure a conviction. The Bible is America's favorite theatrical prop."

Indeed, Carlin questioned everything, analyzed words, and splintered customs with knife-like logic. "You go to a baseball, football or basketball game and they begin with the Star Spangled banner. And all the men -- not the women -- have to remove their hats. What's the relationship between a hat and patriotism? Why not take off your pants to show you love this country?"

Helms would have thrown Carlin in jail for using "dirty words." How can a word be dirty, asked the late Lenny Bruce? "You take a word and rub dirt on it?" Carlin enjoyed playing with words and phrases that you can't say on television. "You can prick your finger, but you can't finger your..."

For Helms, such language insulted God. For Carlin, "using God is the last refuge of a man who has no argument. If God was looking out for us he would make sure all of us had food and houses. As a kid I was taught that disobeying God would mean I'd burn in the hottest of Hell, endure the most horrible pain. God routinely punished us by causing tornadoes, hurricanes and such. He gave the disobedient cancer and other hideous ailments. But don't worry. God loves you."

And for the gun and God loving, Carlin's question had particular significance. "If God was looking out for you would He have given you a gun to kill your girl friend?"

I know Carlin isn't in Heaven looking down and smiling at those who remember him fondly. If there was such a place "up there," he would have better things to do. Unfortunately, Jesse probably isn't "down there" either.

But imagine the Devil giving the important Jesse three choices. One option he offers would be to join Reagan swimming in boiling water, but not able to reach the shore. Helms refuses. Next, he sees Nixon breaking an interminable pile of rocks. Nope!

For his third option, the Devil opens a door and Helms sees Clinton seated, facing him with Monica on her knees in front of the former President and -- well, doing her thing. The pious Helms grimaces, but finally chooses this as the least horrible option. The Devil then says: "Okay, Monica, you can go now."

Saul Landau once wrote plays for the San Francisco Mime Troupe.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Progressive Puzzle

Sam Smith, The Progressive Review

Let's imagine that you're a progressive and you are asked to support a candidate who:
- Favors expanding the war in Afghanistan

- Leaving a sizable force in and near Iraq following what he calls a "withdrawal." A large mercenary force would probably also be left.

- Aggressively opposed the impeachment of Bush. This same advisor says he would "be stunned" if his candidate appointed a strong critic of corporations to the Supreme Court.

- Has offered no major new ideas for dealing with the nation's economic crisis.

- Supports Bill Clinton's assault on social welfare.

- Supported making it harder to file class action suits in state courts

- Voted for a business-friendly tort bill

- Voted against a 30% interest rate cap on credit cards

- Had the most number of foreign lobbyist contributors in the primaries

- Is even more popular with Pentagon contractors than McCain

- Was most popular of the primary candidates with K Street lobbyists

- Has a top economic aide who has written enthusiastically about Milton Friedman and denounced the idea of a moratorium on mortgage foreclosures.

- Has no meaningful urban policy

- Supports the war on drugs

- Supports the crack-cocaine sentence disparity

- Supports Real ID

- Supports the PATRIOT Act

- Supports the death penalty

- Has lent his support to the neo-liberal Hamilton Project, which was formed, as one journalist put it, "to counter populist rebellion against corporatist tendencies within the Democratic Party."

- Has considered naming as vice president or cabinet members rightwing Republicans rated 0% by SANE, AFL-CIO, NARAL, Alliance for Retired Americans, Human Rights Coalition and the League of Conservation Voters, and who oppose abortion and favor privatizing Social Security

- Voted for a nuclear energy bill that included money for bunker buster bombs and full funding for Yucca Mountain.

- Supports federally funded ethanol and is unusually close to the ethanol industry.

- Supports the No Child Left Behind Act.

- Opposes reintroduction of the fairness doctrine for radio and television.

- Is using hawkish foreign policy advisors involved in past US misdeeds and failures.

- Strongly supports Israeli aggression and apartheid.

- Favors turning over Jerusalem to Israel

- Favored cluster bomb ban in civilian areas

- Opposes single payer healthcare

- Wouldn't have photo taken with San Francisco mayor because he was afraid it would seem that he supported gay marriage

- Favors a national service plan that appears to be in sync with one being promoted by a new coalition that would make national service mandatory by 2020, and which is in line with a bill for such mandatory national service introduced by Rep. Charles Rangel.

- Has dissed both Ralph Nader and Paul Wellstone

- Supports immunity from prosecution for both telecoms engaged in illegal wiretapping and the government officials that had them do it.

You don't have to imagine. It's Barack Obama, whose nomination was assured thanks to a con game that even outdid the one that worked so well for Bill Clinton and which left America essentially without a liberal voice for eight years.

Admittedly, Obama is a far more honest and decent person that Clinton but that doesn't take away from the fact that progressive America has been hit hard once again and much of it doesn't even realize it.

One standard liberal response is denial. You just join the cult and forget about the facts. And to shore up this shoddy state, you excoriate any who remain skeptical, fearful, angry or uncertain.

Read the entire essay

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Three reasons for Bush's shift on Iran

As far as I'm concerned, the third option is the only realistic one. It immediately came to mind when I heard that we were sending a high-ranking state department official to Geneva for talks with Iran's nuclear envoy. The other options don't add up with this administration, which has demonstrated complete indifference to diplomacy and an utter lack of forethought where it's agenda is concerned.--Pete

Alan Bock, Antiwar
There seem to be two possibilities, according to several experts and sources I talked to last week, to explain the fact that the United States decided to have Undersecretary of State William Burns, the third-ranking person in the State Department, sit in the same room with Iranian nuclear envoy Saeed Jalili and high-ranking diplomats from five other countries in Geneva on Saturday. Well, maybe there's a third possibility.

The first, of course, is that the Bush administration is in the beginning stages of a relatively dramatic turnaround in its approach to Iran. As Ted Carpenter, vice president for foreign policy and defense studies at the libertarian Cato Institute, told me, "Perhaps they understand that a military option is simply not realistic, or too unpredictable, and as with North Korea, have been dragged into diplomacy.". . .

Marina Ottaway, who heads Middle East studies at the generally realist/liberal Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told me the Bush administration has to be aware that it is increasingly isolated in foreign policy, especially in the Gulf region. At the UN, Russia and China effectively prevent the most severe of sanctions being imposed multilaterally. And the Gulf countries, which fear they would be among the first victims of Iranian retaliation in the event of military action, are not following where the U.S. in its more hard-line mood wants to lead, so the U.S. is not leading anything or anyone. . .

There's another way to interpret the administration's move, however. It could be that a decision has been made to take some kind of military action against Iran – or to facilitate an Israeli action to ensure that it does enough damage to matter – before the administration leaves office. Under this possibility, even the Cheney-neocon cabal understands that it would be better, before a military strike is undertaken, to be able to say that we tried the diplomatic option, we talked, we met, we discussed, but the other side was just too intransigent, too unyielding, too unreasonable, and ultimately too potentially dangerous to leave us any choice but to strike them militarily.

As Ted Carpenter put it to me, "the hawks might want to be able to say they gave Iran one last chance, and made it clear to Iran during the talks that it was their last chance to stop doing provocative nuclear stuff," (however much the Iranians claim it's for electricity, not bombs). He suggested to me that one signal that option two was the real plan might be if Defense Secretary Robert Gates or Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Michael Mullen resigns, as their public statements have suggested that they are both quite opposed to military action against Iran, at least in the near future.

The wild card in all this, of course, is Israel. . . It would be difficult for Israel to carry out a minimally effective strike (one that does enough damage to Iran's bomb-making capacity to at least delay its ability to build deliverable nuclear weapons) without close cooperation from the United State – refueling over Iraqi airspace, needing rescue helicopters based in Iraq, etc. There's a possibility that this slight diplomatic opening to Iran has been accompanied by a stern word to the Israelis to keep their warplanes sheathed. But there's also the possibility that Israel could find ways to deliver damaging-to-devastating strikes without open U.S. cooperation.

The third possibility is that the administration hasn't decided yet what to do, but has decided that this gambit gives it the most options. If negotiations suggest that the Iranians are not eager to see military action and are willing to make some concessions on nuclear enrichment (maybe getting some supplies suitable for civilian use from a third party under strictly monitored conditions?), then the diplomatic option would go forward. If the Iranians in private negotiations – the kind that don't have to be followed up by a press conference where both sides mouth milky platitudes – sound more like the provocative Ahmadinejad than the more practical mullahs, the military option could still be exercised, perhaps after the November U.S. elections. Early reports from the Saturday meetings suggest that the Iranians were not inclined to yield much at this stage. An apparent two-week deadline for the Iranians to show some flexibility leaves this option quite open; things could go either way.

That third option might well turn out to be the most likely, which would be reason to keep the champagne on ice for a while and not pop the corks just yet.

Friday, July 18, 2008

American Voices (

McCain addresses NAACP

Presumptive Republican presidential candidate John McCain spoke before the NAACP on Wednesday. What do you think?

Young Woman

Charlotte Adams,
Systems Analyst
"I've never heard the phrase 'you people' uttered with such conviction."

Young Man

Pete Stoyanoff,
"Who called whose bluff here?"

Black Man

Oren Sobotka,
Police Officer
"That's a good start. Now he should address all of the black people who aren't in the NAACP. Which is most black people."

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

President Bush Is A Murderer?

Good God, I love me some Bugliosi! He wrote "None Dare Call It Treason". Check it, campers!

Emerging from the Drug War Dark Age: LSD and Other Psychedelic Medicines Make a Comeback

By Charles Shaw, AlterNet

The return flight from Switzerland was a mix of hope and solemnity for Rick Doblin, the only American to attend the funeral of Dr. Albert Hofmann, the inventor of LSD who had just died at the age of 102. Doblin, a Harvard-educated Ph.D and founder of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, an organization that conducts legal research into the healing and spiritual potentials of psychedelics and marijuana, had spent his entire career trying to break through the virtually impenetrable wall of obstinacy that surrounds psychedelic compounds and their potential benefits to society.

More than anyone else in his field, Doblin is all too familiar with what he refers to as the "40-year-long bad trip" that researchers like him have faced in dealing with the fallout from the introduction of LSD and other psychedelic compounds to the Western psyche in the mid 1960s. This 40-year intellectual Dark Age, Doblin says, has been characterized by "enormous fear and misinformation and a vested interest in exaggerated stories about drugs to keep prohibition alive."

We've all heard the tales of kids jumping off rooftops because they think they can fly, of otherwise normal people taking a single hit of LSD and "going insane," and of course the all-pervasive myth of the "acid flashback." Although there were acid casualties, most were rare or aberrant tragedies, most often occurring in individuals with pre-existing mental health conditions who never should have taken LSD in the first place. Most of the tales are apocryphal at best, intentional propaganda meant to discourage use.

An Era of Censorship

Why would our government embark on this 40-year Inquisition to burn the psychedelic prophets at the stake and wipe clean from the Earth the true history of psychedelic culture, as if it were the secret of the Holy Grail and the Merovingian dynasty? Why has the psychedelic revolution of the 1960s -- one of the most powerful revolutions in human consciousness in all of history -- been reduced to pejorative tales of tie-dyed morons skipping through Golden Gate Park in an orgy of self-indulgence? Why would something that the government claims does not deserve respectable attention be the recipient of such Draconian repressive measures? Could it be because, like the secret of Mary Magdalene, the truth could bring the whole order crashing down?

The answer, my friend, blew away in the wind. The extent to which LSD fomented the cultural revolution of the 1960s has all but disappeared in a miasma of drug war propaganda. But do not be fooled. This was no hippie-dippy bullshit. In its time, LSD was more dangerous to the ruling order than Mao, Che or the Founding Fathers themselves. As the New York Times obituary for Hofmann read, "[LSD] was no hustler from a shotgun lab in Tijuana, after all, but a bourgeois revolutionary, born into establishment medicine and able to travel the world and enter societies from the top down, through their most hallowed institutions."

The U.S. government threw everything but the kitchen sink at getting (certain) Americans to stop "turning on," launching the drug war that eventually locked up millions of drug users. They handed down ridiculously disproportionate federal sentences to LSD makers that would have made Pablo Escobar commit suicide. But it wasn't the "turning on" part that they feared, for there are many benefits to having a population otherwise occupied in a false reality. No, it was the "tuning in" and "dropping out" part that kept them awake at night.

Although it may be difficult for the uninitiated to understand at face value, LSD and other psychedelic compounds can have a profound life-altering affect on the user that, more often than not, serves to connect them (or reconnect, as the case may be) to the universal compassion and love for life that is inherent in our species. It invariably causes them to question the validity of the status quo, to examine their life and what surrounds them in terms of beliefs and values.

And in this epoch of industrial civilization, the last thing a corporate culture that survives on war, aggression and consumer spending needs is a consciously awakened population of people who inexorably choose to leave said culture in droves because they see it is killing the planet, themselves, and each other. This is precisely, to the letter, the meaning of "Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out."

But even for those who would call this hyperbole, what was lost in all the derision and urban myths about LSD and other psychedelic compounds like ayahuasca, peyote, psilocybin and iboga -- plant medicines thousands of years old -- was the fact that they are miraculously powerful medicines, with the ability to effectively treat, and in some cases, cure some of the most debilitating illnesses and disorders plaguing humanity: addiction, obsessive-compulsive disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and migraine and cluster headaches. They are also effective palliatives for the sick and dying.

Something with such legitimate potential to heal can only be kept in the bottle for so long. In fact, these transcendent therapies are now ebbing back into mainstream respectability. Doblin will be the first to tell you that times are changing, driven by too much government repression, too much scientific orthodoxy, and, perhaps more than any other factor, our culture's desperate need to learn how to handle what he calls our "collective emotional state."

"We talk about the veterans suffering PTSD, but it's really a culture-wide phenomenon," he said. "We're at a place where technology and the structure of contemporary life have taken us so far away from our emotions as to create pathological conditions. The systemic violence and selfishness and greed that are in our society need treatment."

Doblin was one of the first to break through that wall of obstinacy and challenge the Inquisition. He got the U.S. government to approve clinical trials of MDMA-assisted therapy for returning veterans and victims of violent crime or abuse who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. In many ways it was this Newtonian breakthrough that finally challenged the orthodoxy that reigned over the 40-year Dark Age. Western governments had to ask themselves what was more important to them: their irrational and erroneous drug propaganda, or the possibility that the millions of lives they had devastated by war, violence and iniquitous economic policies might actually be repaired. In this, the seeds of a psychedelic renaissance were planted.

A Return to Respectability

Much greater than usual media attention accompanied the most recent World Psychedelic Forum held in March in Basel, Switzerland, the home of Albert Hofmann. A headline in the May issue of the staid British medical journal The Lancet -- known for challenging the Pentagon's Iraq casualty numbers -- read, "Research on Psychedelics Moves into the Mainstream."

The Lancet article identified a number of early-stage clinical trials being conducted on various "anxiety and neurotic disorders" using psychedelic compounds. As previously mentioned, Doblin and MAPS are conducting three parallel studies in Israel, Switzerland and the United States on the use of Ecstasy for treating PTSD. MAPS has also funded the work of controversial Harvard researcher John Halpern and Yale researcher Andrew Sewell, who are studying LSD and psilocybin as treatments for cluster headaches. (Information about their research is available on and Erowid, an online clearinghouse for reliable data on virtually every psychoactive plant and chemical known to humans.)

Harvard University, which conducted the last legal research on LSD in the mid-1960s and was the site for one of Halpern's studies on the effects of MDMA on dying cancer patients, is once again considering clinical trials to support Halpern's research.

And in a major milestone, on May 13 of this year, Swiss doctor Peter Gasser administered the first legal dose of LSD in more than 36 years. It was for a study of anxiety in palliative care, which helps terminally ill patients transition more peacefully -- and with as little pain as possible -- into death.

Other complexes like addiction and obsessive-compulsive disorder are being treated with what are called the "shamanic plant medicines": ayahuasca, the Amazonian vine preparation whose psychoactive component is dimethyltryptamine (DMT); peyote, the North American cactus whose psychoactive component is mescaline; and iboga, an African rainforest shrub.

Addiction is one of the most important new fields of study, not only because of the sheer numbers of afflicted, which the National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates at 23.6 million persons a year at a cost of $181 billion. According to a newly released report from the World Health Organization, the United States is the world's most addicted society. Of those who are lucky enough to get treatment, half eventually go back to heavy use, and 90 percent suffer brief or episodic relapses for the rest of their lives. This makes the search for an effective and long-lasting new treatment more attractive -- and more pressing -- than ever.

The Healing Potential of Psychedelics

Unlike other treatments, which have shown pitifully low success rates, psychedelic-assisted therapy focuses on the emotional context under which a patient suffers addiction, not the use of the drugs themselves. "This," says Tom Roberts, a professor of psychology at Northern Illinois University and the co-editor of a new two-volume compilation, Psychedelic Medicine, "is what makes them uniquely effective. They allow negative ideas and feelings -- where most addictions have their origins -- to surface into consciousness. With the guidance of a mental health professional, the person can let them go." Once these negative feelings are gone, Roberts says, the person no longer feels the need to deaden them with drugs or alcohol.

Psychedelic-assisted therapy for addiction pokes a hole in conventional wisdom about drug use, which goes something like this: If, under American law, all illegal drugs are bad for you, how can you then treat an addiction to one drug with another purportedly dangerous drug? This shortsighted line of thinking has been keeping psychedelic compounds illegal in spite of evidence pointing to their benefits.

Indigenous peoples have been using psychedelics as traditional medicine for thousands of years. Ayahuasca and peyote have been used to treat toothaches, pain in childbirth, fever, breast pain, skin diseases, rheumatism, diabetes, colds, blindness, parasites and more. They have also been used as spiritual medicines to cure emotional disorders. Native Americans use peyote to treat the astronomical rates of alcoholism found on the reservations, reportedly with great success, although hard figures are difficult to obtain due to the legal protections given to the Native American Church.

And Western scientists have known of the healing capabilities of psychedelics for decades.

In 1954 two chemists, D.W. Woolley and E. Shaw, published an article in Science magazine that argued that the neurochemical serotonin was the likely culprit behind most major mental disorders, writes Dirk Hanson in Addiction: A Search for a Cure. The worst of the bunch were depression, drug addiction and alcoholism. Woolley and Shaw also confirmed in their study that the most powerful known manipulator of serotonin was LSD because it had an "eerily" similar chemical structure.

Later in the '50s, a well-known LSD "apostle" named Alfred Matthew "Captain Al" Hubbard started peddling the idea that LSD might hold considerable psychotherapeutic potential. With the assistance of Aldous Huxley and other prominent acid-taking intellectuals, Hubbard gave LSD to Canadian researchers Abram Hoffer, Ross Mclean, and Humphrey Osmond, who studied it as a treatment for alcoholism, while a similar study was conducted at the Stanford Research Institute.

Later, Stan Grof worked with street-level addicts while Timothy Leary conducted psilocybin therapy on prisoners. Even Bill Wilson, the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, was an acid enthusiast, promoting LSD as a "gateway to an accelerated spiritual awakening." Wilson noticed that the turnaround in alcoholics did not happen until they hit bottom, and LSD, because it surfaced difficult emotions, hastened an alcoholic's bottom and helped them avoid more catastrophic bottoms.

The therapy is reinforced through the "afterglow" effect of a "transcendent psychedelic event" (a trip), which Psychedelic Medicine says is "characterized by an elevated and energetic mood and a relative freedom from concerns of the past and from guilt and anxiety." There emerges an "enhanced disposition and capacity to enter into close relationships." The "afterglow" usually lasts anywhere from two weeks to a month and then gradually fades into a series of memories that are thought to continue affecting attitude and behavior.

All of these researchers stress that psychological professionals must guide psychedelic sessions, and that full recovery is only possible through continued therapy.

"After 40 years of review," Doblin takes great care to mention, "we can accurately say it's not a miracle cure." Psychedelic-assisted therapy has powerful healing potential, he says, but "does not work for people who don't really want to look at their inner conflicts."

Charles Shaw, a Chicago-based writer, is a regular contributor to AlterNet. He is the former editorial director of the Conscious Choice publications and a contributor to Reality Sandwich and the Huffington Post. He is currently writing Exile Nation, a drug war memoir.
© 2008 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at:


From the Progress Report

HOUSING FORECLOSURES INCREASING: As a result of the subprime lending crisis, "housing foreclosures nationwide were up 50% in June compared with the same month in 2007." In California alone, foreclosures have reached an average of 500 per day.

HOMELESSNESS INCREASING: The number of homeless people in America over the age of 50 is "steadily increasing."

HEALTHCARE COSTS RISING: According to a report by the Government Accountability Office, "health-care costs are growing much faster than the economy." Costs are rising so significantly, some Americans are delaying retirement.

GAS PRICES RISING: The national average gas price is $4.09, up 33 percent from this time last year. Gas prices are now expected to hit "$4.25 by the fall and then stay at more than $4 a gallon until the end of 2009."

JOB LOSSES INCREASING: In the first six months of this year, a total of 438,000 jobs have been lost, bringing unemployment to 5.5 percent. The CEO of Bank of America commented, if unemployment continues to rise, "all bets are off."

FOOD COSTS RISING: "U.S. food prices rose 4 percent in 2007" -- the fastest rise in 17 years -- and as a result, food stamps have considerably less buying power.

HEATING AND ELECTRICITY COSTS RISING: Heating oil costs across the North are expected to be "up 60 percent from last year," and utilities across the country are "raising power prices up to 29%."

REAL WAGES DECLINING: "Slower wage growth and faster inflation has led to falling real hourly and weekly earnings for most workers."

LEISURE SPENDING DECLINING: As a result of the rising cost of living, Americans are "tightening their belts and thinking twice about spending extra bucks on entertainment and leisure products."

VALUE OF DOLLAR DECLINING: The dollar "has been declining steadily for six years against other major currencies, undercutting its role as the leading international banking currency."

Monday, July 14, 2008

Treasury Acts to Shore Up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

In this piece from today's NYT, we can see further proof of the truism, "banks are bailed out, people are thrown out". Also on display is corporate socialism, since losses are always socialized - only profits are privatized. How far must it go before it is stopped? We are not powerless.--Pete

July 14, 2008

WASHINGTON — Alarmed by the sharply eroding confidence in the nation’s two largest mortgage finance companies, the Bush administration on Sunday asked Congress to approve a sweeping rescue package that would give officials the power to inject billions of federal dollars into the beleaguered companies through investments and loans.

In a separate announcement, the Federal Reserve said it would make one of its short-term lending programs available to the two companies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The Fed said that it had made its decision “to promote the availability of home mortgage credit during a period of stress in financial markets.”

An official said that the Fed’s decision to permit the companies to borrow from its so-called discount window was approved at the request of the Treasury but that it was temporary and would probably end once Congress approved Treasury’s plan. Some officials briefed on the plan said Congress could be asked to extend the total line of credit to the institutions to $300 billion.

The actions, which taken together could provide an overwhelming surge of capital to the companies, were the second time in four months that the housing crisis had prompted the government to scramble over a weekend to rescue a major financial institution. Last March, the Treasury Department engineered the sale of Bear Stearns to prevent it from going into bankruptcy and cause a shock to the financial system.

The plan was disclosed on Sunday evening to calm jittery markets overseas and on Wall Street in advance of a debt sale by Freddie Mac on Monday morning. Officials said that after talking to senior lawmakers through the weekend, they expected that Congress would attach the proposals to a housing bill that could be completed and sent to the White House for approval as early as this week.

“The president has asked me to work with Congress to act on this plan immediately,” the Treasury secretary, Henry M. Paulson Jr., said Sunday on the steps of the Treasury building. “Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac play a central role in our housing finance system and must continue to do so in their current form as shareholder-owned companies. Their support for the housing market is particularly important as we work through the current housing correction.”

While senior Democratic and Republican officials in successive administrations have for many years repeatedly denied that the trillions of dollars of debt Fannie and Freddie issued is guaranteed, the package, if adopted, would bring the Treasury closer than ever to exposing taxpayers to potentially huge new liabilities. The two companies could face significant new losses this year as the wave of housing foreclosures continues. Officials seemed to suggest, however, that they had little choice but to intervene.

Over the weekend, Treasury officials sought assurances from Wall Street firms that the $3 billion auction by Freddie Mac of short-term debt would go off without a hitch. While $3 billion is a relatively small sum for an institution of Freddie’s size officials said they did not want to risk even a small misstep that could set off a new round of problems.

The government officials said that the more drastic alternative that has been considered — placing one or both companies under the control of a government-appointed conservator — would be done only as a last-ditch measure if the intermediate steps failed to restore confidence. The failure of just one of the companies could be catastrophic for economies around the world.

The officials said they were prompted to act because, despite repeated assurances by top officials that the companies had adequate cash to weather the current financial storm, Fannie and Freddie suffered a withering blow of confidence last week when their stocks plummeted on the New York Stock Exchange. As a result, Freddie faced an uncertain debt offering on Monday.

The companies, known as government-sponsored enterprises, or G.S.E.’s, touch nearly half of the nation’s mortgages by either owning or guaranteeing them, and the debt securities they issue to finance their operations are widely owned by foreign governments, pension funds, mutual funds, big companies and other large institutional investors.

“G.S.E. debt is held by financial institutions around the world,” Mr. Paulson said in his statement. “Its continued strength is important to maintaining confidence and stability in our financial system and our financial markets. Therefore we must take steps to address the current situation as we move to a stronger regulatory structure.”

The proposal would give the Treasury secretary authority to determine when to invest in the companies or extend loans to them. Those purchases would be made with the agreement of the companies.

Officials said the proposed investment and lending elements of the plan were to last two years.

While the Treasury did not specify the size of the packages, officials briefed on the plan said they were told by administration officials that, to be meaningful, Congress should consider extending the line of credit to the two institutions to $300 billion.

Each company now has a $2.25 billion credit line, set nearly 40 years ago by Congress. At the time, Fannie had only about $15 billion in outstanding debt. It now has total debt of about $800 billion, while Freddie has about $740 billion. Today the two companies also hold or guarantee loans valued at more than $5 trillion, about half the nation’s mortgages.

Lawmakers said that as part of the plan, the administration called on Congress to raise the national debt limit. And it asked Congress to give the Federal Reserve a role in setting the rules for how big a capital cushion each company must hold. Giving the Fed a consulting role in the companies’ oversight is seen as another way to reassure markets.

Initial reaction to the plan by some Congressional Democrats was positive.

An early endorsement came from Senator Charles E. Schumer, the New York Democrat who is also a senior member of the banking committee.

“The Treasury’s plan is surgical and carefully thought out and will maximize confidence in Fannie and Freddie while minimizing potential costs to U.S. taxpayers,” Mr. Schumer said. “While Fannie and Freddie still have solid fundamentals, it will be reassuring to investors, bondholders and mortgage-holders that the federal government will be behind these agencies should it be needed.”

Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts, and one of the authors of the housing legislation, said he supported the Treasury proposal. He said he expected the plan would be included in the housing bill, which he said would be approved, sent back to the Senate and likely land on the president’s desk by the end of the week.

“The general thrust of what they’re doing is right,” said Mr. Frank, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.

Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, told reporters in San Diego on Sunday that any government action to rescue the two mortgage companies should be done from the perspective of homeowners, “not just shareholders and investors and C.E.O.’s of companies.”

His presumed Republican opponent, Senator John McCain of Arizona, said last week that he expected the government would do all it could to prevent the failure of either company.

The administration’s announcement was made after senior officials from the Treasury and the Federal Reserve spent Saturday and Sunday closely monitoring preparations by Freddie Mac to raise money to help meet its short-term financing needs. Officials said they were watching to see if the steep declines last week of Freddie and Fannie stock would spill into the debt market and undermine the confidence of lenders.

A senior official said that the administration had been receiving mixed signals from Wall Street about the Monday auction. But other officials denied that the prospect of a weak debt offering had motivated the Treasury to rush out its rescue plan.

“There is nothing that motivated us to act tonight that changed from Friday night,” said a Treasury official. “There has been no further deterioration in the markets.”

Daniel H. Mudd, the president and chief executive of Fannie Mae, said the company “appreciates today’s announcements and the expressions of support.”

“We continue to hold more than adequate capital reserves and maintain access to liquidity from the capital markets,” Mr. Mudd said. “Given the market turmoil, having options to access provisional sources of liquidity if needed will help to strengthen overall confidence in the market.”

Richard F. Syron, chief executive of Freddie Mac, said, “This affirmation of the important role of the G.S.E.’s, and that we should continue to operate as shareholder-owned companies, should go a long way toward reassuring world markets that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae will continue to support America’s homebuyers and renters.”

On the prospect that the government could buy shares, Sharon J. McHale, a spokeswoman for Freddie Mac, said, “It’s important to note that our understanding with Treasury is that any agreement to purchase equity can only occur with the mutual agreement of both parties.”

Reporting was contributed by Jenny Anderson and Gretchen Morgenson from New York; Charles Duhigg from Macatawa, Mich.; and David Herszhenhorn and Carl Hulse from Washington.

Today's reason to smile

Click pic for larger image

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Big Pharma Is in a Frenzy to Bring Cannabis-Based Medicines to Market

A post on Alternet tells the truth about the medical properties of cannabis and the rush to patent the various compounds related to its many and varied medicinal properties. One of the points rarely discussed in these arguments is the fact that the human brain has receptors specific to cannabis, meaning that it has been an important part of the human diet/pharmacopoeia for a very long time. Read on.--Pete

By Paul Armentano, AlterNet

The US government's longstanding denial of medical marijuana research and use is an irrational and morally bankrupt public policy. On this point, few Americans disagree. As for the question of "why" federal officials maintain this inflexible and inhumane policy, well that's another story

One of the more popular theories seeking to explain the Feds' seemingly inexplicable ban on medical pot goes like this: Neither the US government nor the pharmaceutical industry will allow for the use of medical marijuana because they can't patent it or profit from it.

It's an appealing theory, yet I've found it to be neither accurate nor persuasive. Here's why.

First, let me state the obvious. Big Pharma is busily applying for -- and has already received -- multiple patents for the medical properties of pot. These include patents for synthetic pot derivatives (such as the oral THC pill Marinol), cannabinoid agonists (synthetic agents that bind to the brain's endocannabinoid receptors) like HU-210 and cannabis antagonists such as Rimonabant. This trend was most recently summarized in the NIH paper (pdf), "The endocannabinoid system as an emerging target of pharmacotherapy," which concluded, "The growing interest in the underlying science has been matched by a growth in the number of cannabinoid drugs in pharmaceutical development from two in 1995 to 27 in 2004." In other words, at the same time the American Medical Association is proclaiming that pot has no medical value, Big Pharma is in a frenzy to bring dozens of new, cannabis-based medicines to market.

Not all of these medicines will be synthetic pills either. Most notably, GW Pharmaceutical's oral marijuana spray, Sativex, is a patented standardized dose of natural cannabis extracts. (The extracts, primarily THC and the non-psychoactive, anxiolytic compound CBD, are taken directly from marijuana plants grown at an undisclosed, company warehouse.)

Does Big Pharma's sudden and growing interest in the research and development of pot-based medicines mean that the industry is proactively supporting marijuana prohibition? Not if they know what's good for them. Let me explain.

First, any and all cannabis-based medicines must be granted approval from federal regulatory bodies such as the US Food and Drug Administration -- a process that remains as much based on politics as it is on scientific merit. Chances are that a government that is unreasonably hostile toward the marijuana plant will also be unreasonably hostile toward sanctioning cannabis-based pharmaceuticals.

A recent example of this may be found in the Medicine and Health Products Regulatory Agency's recent denial of Sativex as a prescription drug in the United Kingdom. (Sativex's parent company, GW Pharmaceuticals, is based in London.) In recent years, British politicians have taken an atypically hard-line against the recreational use of marijuana -- culminating in Prime Minister Gordon Brown's declaration that today's pot is now of "lethal quality." (Shortly thereafter, Parliament elected to stiffen criminal penalties on the possession of the drug from a verbal warning to up to five years in jail.) In such an environment is it any wonder that British regulators have steadfastly refused to legalize a pot-based medicine, even one with an impeccable safety record like Sativex? Conversely, Canadian health regulators -- who take a much more liberal view toward the use of natural cannabis and oversee its distribution to authorized patients -- recently approved Sativex as a prescription drug.

Of course, gaining regulatory approval is only half the battle. The real hurdle for Big Pharma is finding customers for its product. Here again, a culture that is familiar with and educated to the use therapeutic cannabis is likely going to be far more open to the use of pot-based medicines than a population still stuck in the grip of "Reefer Madness."

Will those patients who already have first-hand experience with the use of medical pot switch to a cannabis-based pharmaceutical if one becomes legally available? Maybe not, but these individuals comprise only a fraction of the US population. Certainly many others will -- including many older patients who would never the desire to try or the access to obtain natural cannabis. Bottom line: regardless of whether pot is legal or not, cannabis-based pharmaceuticals will no doubt have a broad appeal.

But wouldn't the legal availability of pot encourage patients to use fewer pharmaceuticals overall? Perhaps, though likely not to any degree that adversely impacts Big Pharma's bottom line. Certainly most individuals in the Netherlands, Canada, and in California -- three regions where medical pot is both legal and easily accessible on the open market -- use prescription drugs, not cannabis for their ailments. Further, despite the availability of numerous legal healing herbs and traditional medicines such as Echinacea, Witch Hazel, and Eastern hemlock most Americans continue to turn to pharmaceutical preparations as their remedies of choice.

Should the advent of legal, alternative pot-based medicines ever warrant or justify the criminalization of patients who find superior relief from natural cannabis? Certainly not. But, as the private sector continues to move forward with research into the safety and efficacy of marijuana-based pharmaceuticals, it will become harder and harder for the government and law enforcement to maintain their absurd and illogical policy of total pot prohibition.

Of course, were it not for advocates having worked for four decades to legalize medical cannabis, it's unlikely that anyone -- most especially the pharmaceutical industry -- would be turning their attention toward the development and marketing of cannabis-based therapeutics. That said, I won't be holding my breath waiting for any royalty checks.

Oh yeah, and as for those who claim that the US government can't patent medical pot, check out the assignee for US Patent #6630507.

Paul Armentano is the senior policy analyst for the NORML Foundation in Washington, DC.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

So Much For The Fourth Amendment...

Well campers, the fourth amendment to the Constitution of the United States has been trashed. The passage of the FISA bill - complete with retroactive telecom immunity for their illegally handing over our private information to the NSA on a request from the illegitimate Bush administration - has set a legal precedent of monstrous proportion. Your privacy - one of those natural rights retained by the people and protected by the ninth amendment - has been canceled in our representative government's rush to totalitarianism. Mourn the death of the republic and fly the black flags of anarchy as a firm statement of intent. There are those of us who need to start by turning off their consensus-manufacturing devices.

All of us who held out hope that the elections of November '06 would turn the tide of tyranny, corruption, lies and mass-murderous foreign policy in what remains of the republic have had their hopes dashed repeatedly, and some have had their intuitions confirmed that the U.S. political system is a complete sham. Those elected serve their biggest campaign contributors - period. Even constant pressure from constituents doesn't work, if those constituents aren't "pioneer-level" donors. Congress is nothing but a brothel and all of our elected legislative officials are whores. Am I being too hyperbolic? I think not, considering all the empirical evidence.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

It’s Not the Man, It’s the Movement

Good God, I love's me some Amy Goodman! That girl rocks like a house on fire, don't she? Here's the latest from the spitfire, which goes a long way toward healing my soul after reading E. J. Dionne's latest (whom I normally love):

By Amy Goodman

I was on a panel at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado this week when Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter asked me, “Is Obama a sellout?” The question isn’t whether he is a sellout or not—it’s about what demands are made by grass-roots social movements of those who would represent them. The question is, who are these candidates responding to, answering to?

Richard Nixon’s campaign strategy was to run in the primaries to the right, then move to the center in the general election. Bill Clinton’s strategy was called “triangulation,” navigating to a political “Third Way” to please moderates and undecided voters. This past week, Barack Obama has made some signal policy changes that suggest he might be doing something similar. Will it work for him?

Take the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, for example. A Dec. 17, 2007, press release from Obama’s Senate office read: “Senator Obama unequivocally opposes giving retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies and has cosponsored Senator Dodd’s efforts to remove that provision from the FISA bill. Granting such immunity undermines the constitutional protections Americans trust the Congress to protect. Senator Obama supports a filibuster of this bill, and strongly urges others to do the same.” Six months later, he supports immunity for the companies that spied on Americans.

I asked Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., about Obama’s position on the FISA bill. He told me: “Wrong vote. Regrettable. Many Democrats will do this. We should be standing up for the Constitution. When Sen. Obama is president, he will, I’m sure, work to fix some of this, but it’s going to be a lot easier to prevent it now than to try to fix it later.”

Feingold and Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., are planning on filibustering the bill. It will take 60 senators to overcome their filibuster. It looks like Obama will be one of them. Disappointment with Obama’s FISA position is not limited to his senatorial colleagues. On Obama’s own campaign Web site, bloggers are voicing strident opposition to his FISA position. At the time of this writing, an online group on Obama’s site had more than 10,000 members and was growing fast. The group’s profile reads: “Senator Obama—we are a proud group of your supporters who believe in your call for hope and a new kind of politics. Please reject the politics of fear on national security, vote against this bill and lead other Democrats to do the same!”

Then there were the recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions on gun control and the death penalty. Obama supported the court in overturning the 32-year-old ban on handguns in the nation’s violence-ridden capital. It’s the court’s most significant ruling on the Second Amendment in nearly 70 years. And in a blow to death-penalty opponents, Obama disagreed with the high court’s prohibiting execution of those who were found guilty of raping children.

In a Jan. 21, 2008, primary debate, Obama called the North American Free Trade Agreement “a mistake” and “an enormous problem.” He recently told Fortune magazine, “Sometimes during campaigns the rhetoric gets overheated and amplified ... my core position has never changed ... I’ve always been a proponent of free trade.” This, after the primary-campaign scandal of the alleged meeting between Obama economic adviser Austan Goolsbee and a member of the Canadian consulate. A Canadian memo describing the meeting suggested Obama was generally satisfied with NAFTA. Goolsbee described the accounts as inaccurate. Now people are beginning to question Obama’s genuine opposition to NAFTA and “free trade.”

Then there is the floating of potential vice presidential candidates. Jonathan Capehart of The Washington Post was on the Aspen panel and noted that he has been receiving e-mails from gay men who angrily oppose former Sen. Sam Nunn as an Obama running mate. They can’t forget Nunn’s key role in shaping “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which prohibited gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the military. The e-mails trickled up, prompting the writing of an influential Capehart column, “Don’t Ask Nunn.”

It may be the strategy of the Obama campaign to run to the middle, to attract the independents, the undecided. But he should look carefully at the lessons of the 2004 Kerry campaign. John Kerry made similar calculations, not wanting to appear weak on the war in Iraq. Uninspired, people stayed home. There are millions who care about the issues from which Obama is distancing himself, from FISA to gun control to gay rights to free trade to the death penalty. Rather than staying home, they should recall the words of Frederick Douglass: “Power concedes nothing without a demand.”

Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 700 stations in North America.

© 2008 Amy Goodman

True Patriots infiltrate BushCo's desecration of Monticello

Free-thinking Americans, sick to death of the media saturation tactics decrying and denying their numbers, took to action at Thomas Jefferson's historic home yesterday to shout down the face of fascism in America, George W. Bush, CEO of BushCo., as well as the illegitimate Chief Executive of these Not Quite United States. Seems the Resident of the United States was there to speak at a mass citizenship swearing in. It was absolutely beautiful. This blogger wishes he could have been there to see Unca George proclaim to hold near and dear to his heart America's "freedom of speech", while protesters were literally dragged out and most likely jailed.

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If links don't work, go here. The videos are wonderfully life-enhancing!

Karl doesn't wanna play nice with the neighbor boys

The big news yesterday was that Karl Rove has "declined to appear" before a House judiciary subcommittee despite a subpoena directing him to do so.

Surprise! Why, who could have seen his coming?

Daily Kos is reporting the toothless judiciary committee angle, saying that the Dems have announced that they might consider a compromise allowing Mr. Rove to testify in private, unsworn testimony, calling this "an important step forward" and that they were "encouraged by the suggestion".

It wasn't and they shouldn't have been. Karl's lawyer put the kibosh on the whole shebang right quick. Apparently, since Mr. Rove hired a private attorney - instead of White House representation - this game can be played out indefinitely.

Doesn't Karl Rove's status as private citizen strip away the magical powers of immunity provided by the cloak of "executive privilege"? And what about the rule of law - does it not apply to all, especially those who have gone on record saying that this administration "creates its own reality"?

So much for demonstrating respect for the law...

Friday, July 04, 2008

Okay, so I really don't mean "Fuck The Fourth"...

...the Fourth of July being the end result of free-thinking patriots flipping off their colonial occupation governent - always a good thing. Some folks believe that it is only a good thing in regards to America's revolution, though, without applying the paradigm to other occupied nations (hmmm...what could he possibly be talking about?).

What I meant in the last post was that as a people, we have been robbed of the meaning of this day by a tyrannical administration bent on effecting fascist dictatorial powers for the executive branch in defiance of the Constituution. This process has been going on slowly for 30 years, but in the last eight years the gloves have truly come off. It is apparent that both parties care little about restoration of the Republic, knowing as they do which side their bread is buttered on. They can no longer be seen as public servants, and must be viewed as the enemy, with the hopelessly broken electoral process as their ally.

"Fuck the fourth" was also meant as a hyperlink to purchase inexpensive black flags to fly as a statement of intent. Oh that we were as courageous as the people of Oaxaca, Georgia, Chiapas, Cuba, Colombia, Venezuela et all. To rally together with a singular purpose - reversal of the socio/political/economic tide and the indictment and possible incarceration of those criminals responsible. Damn, my hairs are standing on end!

Maybe after American Idol, huh? I'll get the chips...

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Oh Hell, Here We Go, Campers!

For all you Obama lovers, looks like you are going to get exactly what you deserve for your continued support of the duopoly electoral system here in these Not Quite United States. Since becoming the de facto Democratic nominee (this, in lieu of an actual labor/social party nominee), Mr. Obama has been backpedaling furiously regarding key issues in this campaign. His support of retroactive immunity for corporate telecoms who illegally gave over our information to the NSA under a presidential request sounds more like "Old Johnny Mac", the candidate the Grand OLD Party is sending up for consideration by either 51 or 49 per cent of us. He is also transmitting signals that he is "continuing to refine" his position regarding troop withdrawals (I'm getting a headache already).

Look, it's not gonna end here, and I'm damn tired of those who've accepted this charade and just love to spout the "lesser evil" line. Seems that's all we're left with, isn't it? Might as well just learn to live with it. The fuck I will!

Okay, watch this latest Obama-nation for yourself.

Fuck the Fourth, kiddies.

Kisses, Pete

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

What's So Special About Veterans?

The military is not democratic

By Dave Lindorff, Counterpunch

The teacup tempest over retired Gen. Wesley Clark’s self-evident remark about John McCain—to whit that flying a fighter aircraft and getting shot down and captured is not particularly relevant to the skill set needed to be a president—raises a larger question: Why do veterans, and particularly the veterans of the criminal and pointless war in Iraq, or the earlier one in Vietnam, automatically get hero status, and why are they seen as naturals to run for higher national office?

I’m sure there are plenty of heroes in the military—people who put their lives on the line, and even give their lives, for their comrades, people who give up safe jobs and leave their families for what they see as a patriotic duty. But let’s face it: the whole recruiting project is about convincing young men and women that joining the military is in their self-interest—a way to get ahead, a way to see the world, a way to get financial aid for college, a way to have some excitement, a way to get a fat signing bonus so you can buy that new car you wanted. And people who sign up for these self-interested reasons are no more heroic than people who go to work for Merrill Lynch.

Furthermore, while there are dangerous posts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the nature of the military is that the vast majority of people who wear a uniform just work in offices or motor pools, and face dangers no greater than workers who do the same thing in civilian life at home. In fact, in the case of more hazardous work, like heavy equipment repair, it’s probably safe to say that after years of gutting worker safety rules and inspections, it may be safer working for the Pentagon than working for a civilian employer.

Beyond that, there are people who easily as heroic as many of our uniformed citizens who don’t get any credit for their courage and dedication to humanity and their country. How about young doctors who eschew lucrative careers in plastic surgery to work in low-income communities or on Indian reservations? How about Peace Corps or Vista volunteers who go to dangerous places at home and abroad to help people improve their lives? Even in uniform there are heroes who don’t get credit for their courage. How about people like Lt. Ehren Watada or Sgt. Camilo Mejia, or other members of the military who risked jail, or even did hard time rather than continue to fight in an illegal war?

There are heroes in our schools, heroes on the job, heroes who work in jobs like police officer or firefighter, even heroes in politics (though few and far between!). Most of them aren’t ever recognized by society for what they do. Not everyone who serves in the military is a hero, and plenty of people who don’t, or won’t, wear a uniform are heroes.

Furthermore, as Gen. Clark noted, wearing a uniform, and going to war, do not make a person better suited for government or politics. But I’d go him one further. Even having significant administration experience in the military does not make an officer any better suited for an executive or a legislative position in government. In fact, arguably, it makes a person less well suited for government in a democratic society.

The military is not a place that values open expression of opinions. It is a top-down organization in which obedience to “superiors” is valued more highly than initiative and self-direction. The military isn’t even as democratic as the old Bolshevik Party. At least in theory, the Bolshevik model was supposed to encourage democratic discussion until a decision was reached by the leadership, after which there would be discipline and unquestioned obedience. In the military, the democratic discussion part is eliminated from the model. What that has to do with democratic governance I don’t know.

Don’t get me wrong. I have a endless sympathy for the hundreds of thousands of military personnel, active duty, reservist and National Guard members, who got dragged off under false pretenses to have to serve in an illegal war of aggression, even to get seriously wounded or to die there, and I’m a strong supporter of generous veterans’ benefits for all of them and for their long-suffering families.

But let’s not cheapen the term “hero” by assigning it to all of them—especially while ignoring the heroism of those who have refused to fight, or of those who engage in heroic efforts to better the lives of their fellow human beings instead of just helping to kill them.

And let’s stop pretending that having worn a uniform somehow automatically makes someone a better person, and a more competent leader, than someone who never wore one.

The returned soldiers I’ve known from Vietnam, and the soldiers I’ve spoken to who have served in Iraq, have for the most part been the first to say that they don’t feel like heroes. It is, in fact, the charlatans and political cowards in government who are busy promoting endless war who are tossing that label around with such abandon. They are in both parties, and we should recognize their abuse of the term, “hero” and their fake stances of “respect” and “support” for the troops, for what it is: cheap political posturing, designed to intimidate critics of a criminal war.

DAVE LINDORFF is a Philadelphia-based journalist and columnist. His latest book is “The Case for Impeachment” (St. Martin’s Press, 2006 and now in paperback edition). His work is available at