HAMMERNEWS- Michael Hammerschlag

Current Political Commentary by journalist Michael Hammerschlag; Thoughts on foreign policy, Republican outrages, liberal strategies, science by 8 year correspondent in Russia/Ukraine over 22 years and longtime commentator; Website: http://HAMMERNEWS.com

Saturday, July 09, 2005


HAMMERNEWS (previous posts at end)

The amazing thing about the London subway attacks is that they took so incredibly long, especially considering the large Muslim population of London (11%, 5.5% Paki-Bangi) and overt radicals who preached there for years. Likewise it's almost impossible that we've been untouched for 4 years after 9-11 (how hard is it to have 3 guys go into a crowded mall and open up with machine guns?) unless the central claim that Al Qaida was this vast network of tens of thousands was false. I frankly think that they were vastly exaggerated- never more than a few hundred to 2000 individuals, and they were vastly depleted by the war in Afghanistan. This is the partial thesis of a fascinating and audacious 3 part Nov '04 documentary series by BBC: THE POWER OF NIGHTMARES which I happened to see at an obscure Brown meeting. Marc Perkel has the 2:40 length doc in 70 meg Windows Media. It charts the rise of the Muslim extremists and US neocons from the 70's, drawing many parallels between them (Mannichean visions, revolutionary fervor, use of propaganda; inc. the jihad against Clinton), and has incredible video and important essential historic facts that are needed to understand the fundamentalist/Democracy conflict- from the central battleground of Afghanistan to Algeria to Egypt. One must wonder if, without the enormous terrorist instigation and generation from the misbegotten Iraq invasion, and that energy converted into the Afghani OBL hunt, Al Qaida would have almost disappeared by now.

One has to be impressed by the swift professional way the Brits dealt with these bombings, compared to our hysterical "run in the streets" reaction to errant Cessnas, blanket immigrant hassling, and institutionalized prisoner abuse. Stiff upper lip beats incompetent crass political fear-mongering every time. Course they have much experience with IRA bombings, which I dealt with in an NPR radio commentary (go up a line) before Iraq invasion about an experience I had in Westminster Abbey a decade ago (where I said terror of backpacks would come here). WE ARE NOT AFRAID! Boo-ya. Uh oh- Hussain was a bomber- another retrospective reason to invade Iraq. Home grown horrors- sad if this destroys civillity of most multicultural city in world- a place where one can deal with anyone without trepidation.


Sandra Day, the OC, she of the "can't let this Gore become President", is only the first; Rehnquist is tottering on the edge of eternity; and the old moderates may see resistance to the extremist onslaught as fruitless. I think Bush may appoint 3 Supreme Court justices this year, and our civil liberties and rights will become quaint memories (like the idea of "innocent till proved guilty"). The filibuster will be killed; and we will descend into a period of extremism- the so called gang of 14 will vote for the President's hack choices like robots- when Lincoln Chafee votes for Bolton for UN rep, a choice worse than my dog (and I don't have a dog); there is no spine among moderates to resist the fascist fanatics. I think Bush wants to appoint his infinite protege Gonzales- the disgraceful Torture Boy who eagerly formulated our official prisoner abuse policies- right wing whining about his abortion liberality could be skillful sham- Harry Reid just incredibly said Alberto the adoring is "qualified", getting rolled into nominating a extremist sycophant to prevent an anti-abortionite. Course that would be difficult after foisting him as AG.

Well, CBS newscaster John Roberts is a "compromise" candidate, as good as the left can hope for (I thought)- that is- an antiabortionite so obsessive that Supreme Justices once ridiculed whether wanted to argue against Roe vs Wade in an unrelated case. His wife headed an anti-abortion agency and he defended Operation Rescue in another SC case, but the "really really white" (- Daily Show) Indianan is so blue chip, connected, and smart that he's untouchable. But one could see the suppressed rage of Chucky Schumer as he spoke on the candidate who had ducked his questions as Appeals Court nominee. Argueing so many cases before the Supreme Court sounds great, but that was only because it was his job as government lawyer- Dep. Solicitor General under Ken Starr.

In one of the worst crimes of the 2000 presidential election, Judge Roberts played a key, if quiet, role in the Florida recount. Although his name did not appear on the briefs, three sources who were personally aware of Judge Roberts' role said he gave Republican Gov. Jeb Bush critical advice on how the Florida Legislature could constitutionally name George W. Bush the winner at a time when Republicans feared that if the recount were to continue the courts might force a different choice. - Dallas MN
After the White House denied it, it turns out JR was also on the steering committee of the creepy Federalist Society, the extremist third column that has deeply infested the entire judiciary. Incredibly, the Bushmen are trying to withhold 16 year old public records of Roberts's tenure as Dep. SG for Bush I, s0 there must be much extremist dirt there.

Of course Bush couldn't trust a woman in a lifetime position- no matter how conservative, most still would have a reluctance to criminalize so many of their gender. Liberal Dems making a goal line stand against Roberts would provoke the untimely death of the filibuster, when maybe all ammunition should be saved for the extremist he nominates for Rehnquist in a few months... when the steady erosion in Iraq could make Bush even weaker.

The entire media world is in a tizzy about all the moral ramifications of this Miller/Cooper/Rove/Fitzgerald thing, with some thinking Miller is a scoundrel and others thinking Time are wimps for cooperating. As a media critic, I lean towards the first, but understand the queasiness all feel: If reporters can be directed to answer anything- the vast scandals of this administration will never be unearthed, since the many smoking guns needed will only come from the inside... and there are so many hack prosecutors and judges that can be counted on to protect Bush & Co. Possible the prosecutor may be Repub hack, spinning wheels, torturing reporters as object lesson, only to let whole thing evaporate- mostly because this simple crime doesn't take 2+ years to investigate (though Robt. Kuttner just apologized for saying this), but lure of glory and ambition in hunting big game may win out. Yet the massive Repub smear machine will definately bring spectacular pressure on the dangerous prosecutor. 7-19 Fitzgerald apparently has a personal beef with Judy, whom he blames for warning some terrorism suspects when he was NYC federal prosecutor several years ago (Newsweek).

Barring some monstrous further revelation, thought creepy Karl will probably never pay any consequences, but the guy is such a pathological liar, it's hard to believe he didn't lie to prosecutors. Also, if ignorance of Plame's "covert" status (what's next Val- a Playboy spread?) is a defense- someone must definitively contradict that. We thought this was a huge story in 2003 (and was one of first to write about it)- Bush's third betrayal of the CIA; the scandal is that the press ignored it then, not that they're finally roasting mealy mouthed McLellan now. Rove deputy and RNC chair- the vapid Ken (Larry Bud) Mehlman has been spewing such pure horsesh-- (reporters told Rove, Rove was exonerated) that networks just shouldn't let him on.

Rove is a cheap character assassin (heroically called that by Robert Siegel on ATC)- his entire career from college consisted of smearing the opponent in a preprogrammed step by step way... with LIES. Yet poor Kerry had no response to the Swift Boat Bushies (due to advisor cowardice), though Rove always slanders an opponent's strength. See BUSH'S BRAIN for a bio of this plump venal stain on humanity, who was personally responsible for electing most of Repub Senators and virtually the entire Texas government.

GUNS, GERMS + STEEL (PBS doc series 9-10+10-11pm Tues EST)

Check out the 3 pt documentary version of the most fascinating book (Pulitzer winning) I've read in years, which explains why Europeans crushed the Indians, rather than vice versa- or say why the Chinese don't dominate the world. Jared Diamond's essential thesis is that the New World was very poor in native cereal foods (only corn) and domesticated animals (only llamas); those things allowed farming and created a far more luxurious lifestyles compared to hunter-gatherers, with excess food that allowed specialists: bureaucrats, artists, soldiers, scientists, and ARMIES. He considers Middle East and Europe one place, which had 12 grain species and 8 farm animals. The development of farming there led to cities and nations that concentrated people so much that the deadly plagues developed that would exterminate 90-95% of the American Indians without a shot fired. Only 22 years after Coronado landed only on Alabama coast, the entire wealthy powerful Mississippian Indian culture 400 miles inland had died out from smallpox, typhoid, cholera, diphtheria, plague, ....and all fled. PBS uses the magnificent music from the great movie Last of the Mohecans .

Farm animals allowed humans to multiply power many fold, and have fast transportation- but only 10 species were ever domesticated, and they almost all came from Middle East, and, with 12 grain plants, they easily spread East-West across the immense Eurasian plain. Spread of knowledge and plants North-South in the Americas was much much harder- the Incans and Aztecs/Mayans had no knowledge of each other. Widespread writing also allowed transmission of knowledge in Europe. The Chinese originated farming, domestication, gunpowder, maps, sailing, scientific study; and were most advanced in the world in 1000; then by edict of the emperor, they turned away from further advances and the outside world. This book and series explains questions you’ve asked yourself all your life- why is the world like it is? Me, I always wanted to go back and give the Incans, Aztecs, and Indians M-16's and vaccinations. Maybe they would own half the country now rather than a few desolate alcohol soaked patches. The Foxwoods Casino in CT is owned by Meshanticutt-Pequods, a supposed tribe annihilated in 1632, only 12 years after the landing at Plymouth Rock. Bad white man.

Reading THE GREAT INFLUENZA by Robert Barry, about the unbelievable savage flu that killed 50-100 million (by their estimate) in 1918-19, up to 5% of the world then (1.8 bil). A direct result of the American entry into WW1, it jumped from the farm fields of Western Kansas (Haskell Co.) during the coldest winter on record directly into the monstrous new Army camps Ft. Funston + Riley. Initially a relatively harmless 3-7 days flu, it went around the world.. and then in the summer mutated into an incredible killer- causing explosive bleeding from nose, eyes, ears; causing some people to drop dead 6 hours from symptoms, or without any symptoms (one Philly streetcar ride where 6 had died before the trip ended). Most horrifyingly, it killed healthy young adults: 4 1/2 times more 20-40 year olds than 40-60 year olds.

At it's height (Oct), over 750 a day were dying in Philadelphia alone, but it circled the globe on the wings on birds (influenza is a pig/bird flu), and killed most the inhabitants of Nome Alaska, a thrid of inhabitants of Labrador- anyplace that had less exposure and immunity was devastated worse than the Black Death. The lungs were so destroyed that people turned blue and black with cyanosis (lack of oxygen), like they did in the great plagues of the Middle Ages. A third wave went around the world in 1919, so badly infecting Woodrow Wilson- in Paris for WW1 peace talks- that he abandonned all demands for balanced settlement and acceded to onerous reparations that helped crush Germany and provoke rise of Hitler.

Book details birth and golden age of American medical science- from ignorant butchers who didn't know what germs were and didn't wash hands or clean instruments in 1880 to the most advanced research establishments in world by time of start of WW1- all because of genius William Welch and Johns Hopkins MS that he created, the ethics and personnel of which essentially propagated to every other school (4/5 were shut down by AMA). Even Harvard medical school didn't require a high school diploma in 1875, and a MD degree was two 4 month seminars without clinical treatment, autopsies, etc.

Now, this could all come again, if this hideously deadly bird flu (50% fatal CDC) from China-Vietnam successfully jumps species. There is some evidence of that 5000 waterfowl (saved last night from Chinese website) are reported dead in Western China and perhaps suppressed reports are that 121 peasants have died there. CNN Seriously; this thing has potential to kill hundreds of millions if it jumps to humans: it takes 3 months to make large quantities of vaccines (for 1st worlders only), which may be ineffective anyway, since influenza (like HIV) mutates at spectacular rate: in only one infected cell 99% of 100,000 to 1,000,000 new viruses are so changed that they can't infect another cell - they call it the mutant swarm. Also vaccines are made inside chicken eggs, which this virus completely kills.


  • At 11:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oh, no. Not another world wide horror to be afraid of. Epidemics of black death. There's a real WMD. Maybe Bush will declare war on influenza, or birds.


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