A change in the weather...

Is Hillary correct? Has the tide turned? Eleanor Clift, Beltway gadfly, says she sees what this would mean for Washington's culture going forward - there would be a "settling of scores", reminiscent of the fictional Corleone family of Godfather fame. That's an interesting comment, because Laura Bush once compared the Bush family to the Corleones. Hmmm... Wouldn't it be nice not to have a mafia-type family in the White House? Yet another reason to stop the dynastic progression in American politics before it gets out of hand...

Speculation on why the US and Israel released info this week on that Syrian site bombed last September.

What the Pentagon obscures from view - the funerals of soldiers (Thanks to DD).

Kevin Phillips takes the plunge...

Hundreds of thousands of servers hacked. I hope yours wasn't one of them...

It's sunny and reasonably warm in Portland... for a change.

Time to groove...

Rory Gallagher sings Too Much Alcohol above, and John Scofield plays the blues at Sam Ash below.

Not only has BushCo. begun an intensified sabre-rattling campaign against Iran in recent days, but this weeks' revelations about US gov't thinking on Syria and the Israeli air strikes of last September should give us all something to think about. At base, is the Bush administration worthy of our trust? If BushCo.'s past record is any indication, then the answer is a resounding "no". Scott Ritter opines on the Syria issue, raising some good questions.

Here's a curious tale of issues and loyalities along the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan in the neighborhood of the Khyber Pass.

A report from the RAND corporation states that 300,000 vets have mental health problems and 320,000 have brain injuries. Meanwhile, back in Iraq, America proceeds with it's project to spread democracy and... entertainment? Could things be any more twisted?

Now, would someone at the table please pass the peace?

First installment of a series at The Guardian by Murat Kurnaz, a Turkish citizen born and raised in Germany, wrongly imprisoned for five years at Gitmo and released without apology or compensation. It's a harrowing tale, and should give every American pause when thinking about what our country has been up to in the name of securing the homeland. At the other end of the spectrum is Douglas Feith, one of those responsible for the disaster that is the war in Iraq. He claims that it was other people's fault - well, it is always is, isn't it? What is it about Neoconservatives and their inability to admit errors? More on this later...

Iraq the Vote


A note to our readers... we'll be going through an upgrade today to fiber-optic service. Posts will resume this evening. That is all.

Tom Hayden attempts to explain why Hillary makes his wife scream at the TV.

Scott Horton talks to Phillipe Sands, the author of 'The Torture Team' about how the US government developed a policy of torture. This is how it's done.
A bitter pill to swallow. Billary won Pennsylvania, but it was no landslide. She's taken The Low Road to Victory. With her scorched-earth campaign she's doing the Democratic Party no favors. I'm starting to understand the negative feelings that some have about the Clintons and their narcissistic ways. Look at how her campaign is run. Do you want a White House like that... again? Strange Maps has an interesting map of where news breaks in our lovely republic. You knew this already, but it doesn't hurt to have a map, ever. I wish someone would map this: Inmate Count in US Dwarfs Other Nations'. Why does our country, the "beacon of democracy", have such a large prison population? What does that say about us? What about this: Aryan Outfitters. Makes you think, doesn't it? How many other enclaves of hate do we have around us? Are there still any hopes for net neutrality? A triple-A failure.

The China-Tibet issues won't go away anytime soon. Here's a look at the Tibetans.

Hillary, we've got to talk...

Senator Clinton,

I doubt you would remember me, but I had the honor of meeting you, briefly, at the 1996 Inaugural Ball held in honor of your husband's reelection. I was the date for your exhausted personal assistant from the DNC. I was grateful for the few moments we spent chatting, so I feel as if I owe you something. I'd like to repay your kindness with a little unsolicited advice.

I know your time is valuable, so I'll cut to the chase: I don't want you to be president of the United States, and after today’s primary in Pennsylvania I hope you will withdraw from the Democratic race. I believe your candidacy is doomed, and that it has divided a party desperately in need of unity and cohesion. I don't have anything against you personally, nor do I have a problem with the concept of a female president. I just don't like the idea of dynasties in American politics. They usually don't work out too well (see Kennedy, Bush, et al), and the idea that someone who's in their mid-twenties will have known only two names - Bush and Clinton - as presidents of our fair republic bothers me a great deal. The other issue that concerns me is how you've run - or not run - your campaign, which doesn't bode well for you being able to run the Executive Branch. Watching your campaign increasingly reminds me of that old BBC production of “I, Claudius”, only not as well written.

I do have a problem with the "Clinton Machine", the vast, left-wing monster that grew during your husband's years as POTUS, and which you have expanded after carpet-bagging your way into a Senate seat from New York. It's a massive beast that you and Bill have created, this cult-of-personality tag-team thing. There are a lot of people depending on you, some of whom have been donating to the Clinton coffers for more than 16 years. Of course, by continuing your moribund campaign you're only doing what the backers of the Clinton Machine expect of you; pushing the agenda that you have been paid to push forward. That's how politics in the US is done. Except that there is a feeling abroad that doing the same things the same old ways won’t cut it anymore. The world has changed, and you haven’t. In fact, you’ve regressed, and your voting record in the Senate is proof of that. You may have been a person of the Left for a while, but you have clearly moved back to the political position you started in as a teenager - you're a Goldwater Girl. Oh, and did I mention that I think you were a calculating coward not to oppose the War in Iraq? You knew as a woman and as a hopeful presidential candidate that to oppose war in America is to seem weak in the face of threats. You let political calculus trump reality, and that is something we can ill afford.

At the time you first started to campaign for the presidency - which coincides exactly with your initial run for the Senate - redeploying the Clinton Machine made some sense. You hoped to run for the White House after Al Gore had done his stint as president. But then things went terribly, horribly wrong. Bush was brought to power by an interventionist Supreme Court, Al Gore was sent home to grow a beard, and then your candidacy seemed all the more crucial for the sake of the Party. After 9/11 the country quailed in abject fear, and the Bush gang exploited that fear to start wars of choice, and to solidify a police state, throwing the Constitution out the window. Things in Afghanistan and Iraq went much worse than almost anyone expected. The economy tanked - and is still tanking, with no real end in sight. The Bush presidency became not only a failure, but a corrupt, incompetent and criminal enterprise that sucked the life out of this country, and did enormous damage worldwide, including a loss of life and treasure that is almost incalculable.

Going into this election cycle after seven disastrous years of BushCo., you were the presumptive Democratic nominee and likely President Elect, and little seemed to stand in your way besides the formality of actually going through the tedious primary process, which would give you a good look at the other, lesser candidates, some of whom you might pick for cabinet positions, if they played nice. Pretty straightforward. Easy-peasy. But then something happened, threw a wrench in the works; history intervened.

More importantly for your campaign, an unlikely junior Senator from Illinois emerged as a contender for the Democratic ticket, and his ideas and gift of oratory stunned many. Barack Obama quickly emerged as the front runner, and you and the massive Clinton Machine were caught on the back foot. You have never recovered, and even despite a possibly decisive victory today in Pennsylvania, your campaign’s prospects look grim indeed. The presidency of the United States of America is of global importance. Many sense that much more hangs in the balance this election cycle than what budgetary earmarks for how much will go where. This isn't politics as usual, despite all of your efforts to contain this election within those knowable, easily scripted bounds.

I, for one, did not expect the candidacy of Barack Obama to be at all interesting, which was cynical of me. Until rather recently, I knew little of the man, and presumed that America was no more likely to elect him than Mike Bloomberg. But then I saw some of his speeches on TV, and I watched some debates, I read some of Obama's policy statements, and I began to wonder... "what if?" Then I looked at my young daughter, who is of mixed race (half Japanese, and half my mongrel European self), and I began to realize that Obama represents a type of change I hadn't imagined being possible. But it is. Many people feel the same way. What Obama offers is generational change. For the last 40 years American politics has been mostly about the concerns of 1968 - and the battles have done enormous harm to our country and not much good. While you and other baby-boomers were fighting the old battles, new threats and new issues have emerged and been given short shrift in Washington and in the media. The time has come to drop those old battles which have framed political debate in this country and to pass the torch to a new generation.

The Democratic Party has had the 28 years since Ronald Reagan was first elected to come up with an opposing doctrine to that of the Conservatives, and the Democratic Party has done damn near nothing in response. In this sense, and quite a few others as well, the Democratic Party has been an abject failure, relying instead on the pragmatic but slimy practice of money politics. The Clinton Machine didn't start Big Money politics, it just extended it beyond most people’s wildest imaginings. While in office, your husband offered no true change, but a middle way, a “Third Way”, which sounded conciliatory and realist, but in the end it did little to change the course of the country in terms of foreign affairs or to alleviate the problems faced by average Americans. In fact, the rich got richer and fed the Machine, while the poor got poorer and were increasingly forgotten and ultimately disenfranchised.

People want change. They really do. Many Americans are in a “throw the bums out” mode. You offer nothing more than a slightly more moderate and humane set of options than the sclerotic conservatism of John McCain. That isn't good enough, not if our republic is to survive. Bush 43 gave us an inkling of what an American Emperor would be like, and I fear that should you be elected, you'll show us the visage of an Empress.

If you become president, would you hand back to Congress and the people the powers Bush accrued to himself as Commander in Chief? Whatever you say on the campaign trail, I doubt that you would. For someone that finds power so intoxicating, I think you will face that choice and decide - wrongly - that you could do great good with those expanded and unconstitutional powers. Besides, the people who pay you to run, your deep-pocketed supporters, will like the idea of someone with powers beyond what is legitimate to force their will upon the country.

The policies that have shaped America's role in the world since WW2 need to be changed. Containment had its successes and its failures. The Neocon's "preemptive" strategy failed upon launch, although they’re still trying to put a happy face on it (good luck with that). The old faces that shaped these policies need to be replaced by younger ones that see different opportunities and dangers. We need a new Tom Paine or Thomas Jefferson to counteract all the Hamiltonian excesses of the last 3 decades.

What you don't seem to recognize is that people have moved on - what worked in the go-go 90s won't work today. Things are far more broken in Washington, and both you and your husband had something to do with that, I'm sorry to say. You've mastered the Beltway, but that is a far cry from being prepared to be a good president. You represent everything that is wrong with Washington, and everything that needs to be changed.

I’m not so naive as to believe that Barack Obama can change Washington all by himself, or that whatever changes he does make cannot be easily swept away by the old power brokers that run things, but I think it is time to give a chance to a younger generation not obsessed with the issues of 1968. Most important of all, Obama offers something else that you cannot - a grassroots, from-the-bottom-up campaign that can reverse the apathetic trends of the last 40 years. With that, there is hope of change because it demands that we citizens get involved. In contrast, your campaign - like Bush’s hubristic and foolish vision of democratizing the Middle East by force - is a top-down affair, wherein corporations are of primary importance and the will of the people matters little, if at all.

If we as people don’t accept a soft revolution now, I believe we will face a hard revolution in the not-so-distant future - or worse. I see this country at a historical crossroads. The signs are everywhere of our sliding decline. We will either change now or fall like all the empires before us... dust into dust.

When I think back to that night of the Inaugural Ball and the DNC party afterwards, I can see James Carville, beer bottle in one hand, dancing upon one foot, hooting with joy as he expressed his inner hillbilly. It was all so excessive, so wasteful. Inside the world of Washington politics the drinks were free and unending, while outside in the streets of Washington D.C., homeless people begged for money at the darkened windows of passing limousines filled with celebrants being whisked from one gala event to the next. That reality wasn’t covered by ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC or any major papers, but it has stayed with me, and I recognize in it a vision of decline that must be reversed for all of our sakes.


Laurence Turner

PS - please send my thanks to Bill again for the gift of the pen that he signed something with.

via Fake Steve Jobs.

Happy Earth Day, everyone! Reinventing Energy, for fun and profit.

Not much hope for the woman married to the man from Hope, is there? But she's willing to "obliterate Iran", if it keeps Israel happy... but aren't all of them? Spinning to win. Winning without victory. Please note the last paragraph here - couldn't have said better meself. A bit of clarity from across the pond. Sketching the next president. Bernanke is taking it from all sides. Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am - stuck in the middle with you.

See the future: We've reached the Fourth Discontinuity - Bionic Eyes. US military will use stem-cell research to re-grow body parts.

Last, but not least, a review of a new opera house in Oslo.

Bill is Always Right...

... and besides, Hillary hears voices.
I know we're all caught up in "bitter" thoughts and such, but lets remember that what is going to happen tomorrow in Pennsylvania is still an important part of representative democracy... or maybe not. According to Jon Stokes at Ars Technica, the Pennsylvania vote will be not be audit-able because the GOP blocked e-voting reform. Gee, thanks, fellas! The republic is forever in your debt!
With friends like these... David Edgar writes about the defection of liberals to the right, and the methods and tactics they use to attack their former comrades.
When one thinks of the great chroniclers of the 20c and all of it's dystopian horrors, Camus, Orwell, Huxley and Kafka come easily to mind. So should J.G. Ballard - one of the most influential writers of our time, and one of the most profound explorers of the darker side of the human condition. Here are three links [01, 02, 03] to an interview with Ballard on the South Bank Show from 2006. Below is a video about his novel Crash, a cautionary tale about the intersection of sex and violence.

Chris Hedges bemoans the Left and the role of corporations.
Scott Horton writes about torture and memos in today's LA Times. Don Young's connections to Jack Abramoff are explored in the Anchorage Daily News.

Things don't smell so good...

Why have flowers have lost their scent? Blame pollution. Our Favorite Planet requires more than the current set of dangerous assumptions.

Joel Pett, Lexington Herald-Leader
Don Siegelman thinks Karl Rove should testify before Congress to explain just how political influence at the DOJ was used for partisan prosecutions. Not a bad idea, that. "Laws are like sausages; it is better not to see them being made" - Otto von Bismark

Some things need to be looked at in a different light. Other things need to be looked at in context.

Spreading Peace & Democracy Update: The US wants to do more raids in Pakistan. Afghan and Iranian forces clash. Things are getting better all the time, don'tcha think? Tough questions plague our allies. Trouble at the Roof of the World: Nepalese authorities authorize the use of force to stop Olympic protests.

They create a desolation and call it peace. Euphemism & Violence.