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

Monday, March 06, 2006



As we predicted in OVER THERE, ---"I fear that Sunni disenfranchisement will lead to a civil war. As the Shiites take control, they are likely to react in savage fashion to the Sunni terrorism, especially when they go after the Shiite Mullahs and mosques." After the destruction of the Golden Dome, about 600 people were killed and 200 Sunni mosques burned. They recovered from this attack, but the next one or the one after that will probably start the long-delayed conflagration.- the Civil War that so many have been forecasting as the almost inevitable result of their “freedom”. On March 3rd, there again was a total daytime curfew in response to rumors of a mass attack. The latest spate of kidnap murders by strangulation seems to be from Shiite police/military on suspected insurgents (or just Sunnis). March 14: "Iraqi authorities discovered at least 87 corpses - men shot to death execution-style - as Iraq edged closer to open civil warfare." The Shiite Ashura pilgramages now will provide more opportunities for terrorist spectaculars- over 60 a day are dying now. Things were almost much worse. "A senior Defense Ministry official said the 421 al-Qaida fighters were recruited to storm the U.S. and British embassies and take hostages. Several ranking Defense Ministry officials have been jailed in the plot." March 27- US/Iraqi forces attacked a Moqtada kidnapping squad and killed 17 in a Shiite neo-mosque, so now we are fighting a 2 front war- Sunni insurgents on one side and Shiite terrorists on the other. Iran's sudden desire for "talks" with America is probably to explain just how they will make Shiite Iraq erupt if we attack their nuclear plants (which I believe we must do). Another Sunni mosque was also reported bombed.

America can’t stop the civil war or control it, and when it erupts in the full throated madness fueled by 83 years of atrocities, we can’t stay. No matter what Bush says, it’s likely much or most troops will be out of Iraq by the end of the year. We can try to guard the oil lines, but when the first significant US unit gets annihilated trying to separate warring factions, the public will force a quick withdrawal. This civil war will dwarf anything seen in Yugoslavia or Beirut, with ethnic cleansing and mass murders perhaps approaching a million over the next 10 years.

Neocon thinker Francis Fukuyama made a near complete break with the corrupt, exhausted neocon movement, calling them Leninist, extremist, and undemocratic in a NYT piece- "By invading Iraq, the Bush administration created a self fulfilling prophecy: Iraq has now replaced Afghanistan as a magnet, a training ground and an operational base for jihadist terrorists, with plenty of American targets to shoot at." Wm Buckley weighed in “It Didn’t Work.” Oh yeah?

With almost spectacular tone deafness, GB2 decided to make a stand on the on one thing that finally should immolate his inexplicable reputation for being "good on security"- turning US ports over to an Arab country. UAE is a loose collection of city states- modern gleaming skyscrapers arising out of the ocean and humongous water parks inside malls mixed with ancient blood feuds and Bedouin ways. A friend recently tried to drag me there on business opportunities (he knows princes and presidents), but as a PR disaster, little could exceed it. Every bit that Bush digs in his feet is more certainty that the Repubs will be swept out to sea like a foul tide that had putrified in their harbor of fiendish corruption and payoffs. Congress and the people are over 70% against this- after 5 years of mindless tawdry fear mongering, the Smirk in Chief just can't turn around and say that this isn't a threat and a problem. Repubs like Hastert and Jerry Lewis (hey, laaaady) have pledged to stop it, while well-greased polls like Billy C. and others warn that would damage our standing in the Muslijm world. Huh- our standing? There is no doubt there are vast personal enrichment aspects of this to John Snow and perhaps Carlyle Group, the defense hustlers that are half of GB1's cabinet including the paterfamilias.

Blithe to the commotion, Bush is now nominated a Hong Kong firm: Hutchison-Whampoa, to manage container radiation screening at port cargo facilities in the Bahamas.

But there is no way to spin this- containers are probably our greatest vulnerability- 19 million of them a year come in a year and only 3-5% are inspected. See exc. 5 minute radio report compilation of 100 minute Brown speech by reigning US security expert Commander Stephen Flynn at http://tomhammers.tripod.com/audio.htm#pressconf , who just testified before Congress. He was the author of the Hart-Rudman report that led to the creation of the Homeland Security Agency. Flynn said Bahamas would accept US customs agents, but the U.S. is short of trained customs agents to send overseas- 4 1/2 years after 911.

The Senate permanently rendered the Bill of Rights obsolete in their craven 89-10 renewal of the Patriot Act- with only a fig leaf of cosmetic changes that protect the rights of those receiving demands for information about a target by National Security Letters, not the targets themselves, maybe hundreds of thousands whose privacy and security are forever compromised at the whims of FBI and other bureaucrats, without any judicial review. Now people who get demands for information may consult a lawyer without committing a crime, and they have the right to challenge demands… after a year , and libraries are largely excluded from demands (gee, that’s more important than bugging peoples phones or Internet?). Incredibly, despite thousands of stories on the NSA spying, the total abrogation of all citizens’ rights under these NSL’s wasn’t mentioned by anyone. Wisconsin’s Feingold fought a noble but futile effort to filibuster the Act, shut down by 70 Senators. Only he, Jeffords, Byrd, Akaka, Bingaman, Harkin, Leahy, Levin, Murray, and Wyden stood up for American principles in resisting this sick and evil Act. The House approved it Tuesday by 280-138; Dems there at least showed some courage, voting 124 against, 66 for, wheras only 13 non-neo Repubs voted against, making it law... incredibly without ever finding out even a sample of how many journalists, liberals, and politicians are on the snooping List only because they are critics of this corrupt Administration. Or how big the number of NSL’s is-at 30,000 a year from the FBI alone, with CIA, Pentagon, and NSA NSL’s- it could easily be 200-400,000.

CHERKOFF COMEUPPANCE: Like I was saying after Katrina, HSA skull Chertoff was at least equally responsible for the criminal negligence that abandoned a hundred thousand to the elements, which the Senate explored as it grilled Chertoff. All during the crisis, Chertoff was saying the same things Brownie was- that there was no problem and people were being taken care of (like the Mafia), but he was defiant about it- and unwilling to be persuaded. There was always the great danger that reorganizing all these departments into one huge agency would create a blind uncontrollable behemoth, and of course, the way to ensure that was to appoint a partisan hack to head it. Chertoff's qualification- he was council to Repubs in Whitewater investigation- an 8 year witchhunt into a money losing Clinton investment in which he was cleared 5 times. A rumor in Human Events says Chertoff is soon to be canned. Bush just re-nominated once rejected Brent Kavanaugh to the U.S. Court of Appeals- trial experience- zero, but he was an assistant to Ken Starr.

It's kind of refreshing to see Michael Brown fight back- to try to reclaim some honor successfully from the designated goat position he was assigned by the press- apparently he didn't have authority to order action- that lay with Chertoff, and Chertoff is a bean counter, reassuring when the evil ones make their next run. Now video has come out showing Brown forcefully warning Bush of disaster 2 days before the hurricane, and Bush understanding or doing his facsimile of understanding. Lately Bush's speeches and statements have been so convoluted that the alcohol damage is obvious- an article deconstructed a speech and decided it was entirely gibberish- internally contradicted even in the same sentences, and semantically meaningless.

DEATH of a CITY: The worst fears of people that Katrina would be used as an excuse to totally destroy the black character of this lush semi-tropical city seems be happening. 6 months later, New Orleans is a half wasteland of ruined homes and piles of rubble, and all Bush's promises have been hollow lies. Only 14% of he schools are open, so families can't return if they want their kids to get an education, and they talk about how NO is broke with $170 million deficit. Are you kidding??? $170 mil is under one day’s spending in Iraq- what happened to the $50-80 billion pledged to rebuild the city? Isn't any of that being given to the city??? They didn't spend the $2 billion alloted to strengthen levies- all they have to do to double the strength is install 2 steel cross braces with concrete foundations per section. Mayor Nagin was pilloried for the "Chocolate City" remarks, but he is right on- the huge influx of (below) minimum wage Mexicans threaten to turn NO into just another SW city, instead of the historical and demographic gumbo that it was, and developers are eagerly awaiting the razing of ruined neighborhoods (HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson admits it)- some of the last cheapest places in America to live. This could be the difference between living like a human being and living like an animal; maybe becoming homeless, to tens of thousands of former residents. Repubs are clapping their hands with glee, because without NOLA, Louisiana votes Republican every time. I predicted this semi-tongue in cheek, but there's no limit to Karl Rove's venality and viciousness. On the other hand Bush's criminal inaction has crashed his popularity even in the reddest state, says Plamer Novak. And where are the libertarians protesting about the illegitimate government taking of people's land and homes. Since when can people not return to their own land or house to fix it up, or set up a trailer.

All this was predictable by the radical and stupid decision to force a complete evacuation at gunpoint. Any devastated place needs the core of stickers who never leave, to provide the seeds of hope, community, and services to return to. Without them, places become abandoned wastelands, like the 9th Ward. Just the decision to not restore the electricity and water ensured it would remain that. Granted it may be slightly crazy to rebuild below sea level- maybe houses should be required to be elevated on concrete stilt foundations to sea level.

CARTOON VIOLENCE: I have mixed feelings about the relatively crummy cartoons that have aroused the Muslim world- that they were disrespectful and arrogant, but designed to prove just what many think they did, that Muslims are uncivilized people easily aroused to mindless violence even over the most distant or minor matter. The glee and open defiance that newspapers printed them around the world (and a few in US- Philly Inquirer) was on one hand reassuring in that they believe in editorial freedom (but buried the Downing St. Memo for 5 weeks- maybe they would rediscover their cajones re. Bush), but also had a high-school vandal's contemptuous and contemptible swagger. Some Danish cartoons don't seem possible to cause 15 embassy burnings and hundreds of deaths, but these people are excitable, you know. Course, lets see how the evangelicals react when a movie shows Jesus as a long haired anti-war activist. Oh, that's right .... he was.
IMPEACHMENT TALK: Although as unlikely as 2 weeks of temperature in the 50's and 60's in January New England, never say never. A clarion call for impeachment was run by Harper's editor Lewis Lapham, and a March 2 NYC rally featured him, John Dean, John Conyers (who introduced such resolution with a 183 page report) and Liz Holtzman. It is almost unconceivable that these rubber-stamp Repubs would actually rise up against their boy-king, but some are beginning to realize the vast threat to the Republic this neo-fascist presents and that, if he keeps on going, the threat to their own power. Day by day, the Congress is rendered irrelevant, just as the slash and burn Repubs made the Dems irrelevant. Wall St. Journal! has an article saying 51% of people support impeachment (3-6) of Bush (if he lied about Iraq) as opposed to only 26% for Clinton. The huge body of scandals and investigation are corroding all parts of the brutal piggish Repub ship of state though, and gigantic losses seem inevitable in elections this year. Which means this will be the dirtiest most fraudulent election in history, because the Repubs know that if one house falls into Dem hands, many many "brothers in arms" will go to jail from the 5 years of investigations that must happen to document the vast roster of crimes of the last 6 years.

Blubbering con and pol Randy Cunningham got 8 years in prison for his $2 million graft and bribery- let’s see that puts Cool Hand Dick in line for about 80,000 years for the $20 billion or so of no bid inflated Halliburton personally enriching contracts. Speak of which, anyone hear of ol' Harry lately.

A piggish and revolutionary proposal by AOL and Yahoo to start charging for corporate e-mail has the likelihood to destroy the Internet- to turn it into a pay for play field of massive peddlers and ghetto of second and third class citizens whose mailings and websites are consigned to the slow lane or shunted into junk-mail. The two e-mail providers have partnered with Goodmail Systems to "charge companies about 1/4 cent to send a message that will bypass spam filters." E-mails from paying companies will go straight to a user's inbox, but e-mails from non-paying companies will go through the "gauntlet of spam filters that could divert them to a junk-mail folder or strip them of images and Web links," even if they're not spam. Other big players: Microsoft, Verizon, ATT, SBC are reveling with lust at being to tap the vast potential income streams of the Internet, but the consequences will be catastrophic unless Congress passes laws to prevent it. And the idea that paying fees to corps to deliver commercial email will prevent spam is crazy- it will open the floodgates to every big company for unrestricted and uncontrolled spam. Strange bedfellows, the Gun Owners of America, RightMarch.com, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Center for American Progress Action Fund are opposing the policy, set to start in 30 days.

The screwing up of SAT scores brings back some nasty memories. They subtracted 300-400 points off my first SAT test somehow, to my shock and horror. Back then, ETS was like Mt. Olympus and we never challenged it- all I could think of was that millions of parents must be saying the same thing about their little Johnny or Suzie. There was no way it was my fault- I confirmed the check box number every 10 questions so I wasn't out of allignment- the big risk for ruining a test; and I felt good- I had aced it. Projected PSAT were 1500. In the second try (Jan of senior year?), when I felt like crap-tired and stressed, I got 300 points higher, good enough to get in Bruno, but too late to get financial aid or apply to Yale (had a Bush situation, though didn't want to go there) or other schools. This would have painful conseqences.