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, April 30, 2007


MAY 10 After 13 years away, I’ve returned to Russia with the new year, and the changes are staggering.
FADING FREEDOMS- Capital Times - from Moscow (must view in IE) Step by step democracy has become a fading photograph of the nineties, as Putin restricts, harasses and crushes political independence, the free press, and concentrates all power in the Kremlin; Giant state industries reconstituting as the state forces out foreign oilcos- March 24 LONG with Pics

The grilling of Gonzales by the Senate Committee was deeply gratifying, but the truth was, this was one of the worst appointments in history- a total unqualified toady to Bush becoming head cop of America, where every outrageous illegal request from the White House would be dutifully carried out. The Republicans were going to confirm him no matter what in 2005, as he smugly arrogantly deflected all questions with a contemptuous half smile during his confirmation. Now what is so striking, is those same craven Republicans slow roasted him like a shish kabob, having heard the message of the elections and disgusted at their decimation and irrelevance. The head of US law enforcement lied like a rug, saying 71 or so times “I can’t recall”, connected with his Dec. massacre of US attorneys who were prosecuting Republican criminals, or who failed to go after Dems on specious grounds (voter fraud to intimidate Dems). Gonzales lasting claim to be one of the most despicable characters in any government is his authorship of the torture memo justifying the unprecedented violation of International Law, where he argued that to be considered torture, there must be "major organ failure or death". They have given his White House liaison Monica Goodling immunity to get her to testify, but Condi and other leading Bushmen have vowed to ignore subpoenas. Time Contempt of Congress findings start be used. Bush must stick with Alberto no matter what, because if he is driven out, they won’t be able to keep the bodies buried in the wide ranging Constitutional crimes of this administration- in particular the illegal spying controversy, which I know included journalists and Democrats. That finally should send many people to prison. FULL COVERAGE

Al Sadr sniper
It’s kind of stunning, the wide ranging support for withdrawing the Iraq troops, esp. hearing respected ex-West Point instructor Sen. Jack Reed lead the charge (though still don’t understand how he could brag to me that he coined the phrase The Long War, which I feared would create a self-fulfilling mentality). But make no mistake about it- for our arrogance, recklessness, and incompetence in devastating the heart of the Arab world and Vatican of the Shiite faith, America should be sentenced to police-keeping duties in Iraq for the next 20 years. The only reason America has had enough of this war is because Americans keep dying, not because we reduced a modern society back to the stone age, not because 100 or 400 or 700,000 Iraqis have been killed, not because we allowed the bombs that are shattering their world to all be looted (losing the war in the first 4 months), not because we made US soldiers torturers, not because 2 billion people around the world hate us. No, it just wasn’t fast enough for US sensibilities. Americans are bored and tired with this war, but imagine how tired the Iraqis are, living in that hell on earth. Who in America cares about them?- the threats that “Iraqis get their act together, or else” are laughable if they weren’t so contemptible. Even for US security, we should stay in Iraq, the costs may be less than the horrendous effect of the coming Iraq Civil War, 1000-2000 a day dead instead of 100.

From 9-11 Narcissism: “But escaping Iraq is a no win situation. We can stay forever and maintain the eroding status quo against ever increasing terror, or we can get out- leading to a 10 year civil war that will kill maybe a million (Odom aud) Iraqis, create the unlimited training ground for terrorists that Bush claimed to be stopping, stop the 1.6 million barrels of oil a day coming from Iraq, and destabilize the entire Mideast. Or the swelling civil war will drive us out. Iraq is a jackpot that the ignorant arrogant fools of this Administration bullied, blustered, and badgered us into- without the slightest understanding of the consequences.” We have, in effect, turned the country over to Iran, our most dedicated enemy; and the promulgation of this war will be seen as an act of treason.

Bush can veto this bill, but in 6 months, Congress will have a veto proof majority, and Bush will be utterly neutralized, 7 years too late. If only the Dems had rustled up this fortitude when it mattered in Oct 2002, when I was sure the Senate would toss Bush's Wanton War back in his legacy face. Maybe sooner- 11 Congressman just read Bush the riot act in a WH meeting, "There is no credibility!"

WOLFOWITZ WAVERING: The monstrous PC controversy over Paul Wolfowitz’s corruption because he gave his girlfriend a job is almost laughable- one has a different view of corruption being in Russia. Being the guiding light and motivating force behind the illegal, strategically insane, and (neo-con) religiously inspired invasion of Iraq weren’t enough to prevent the hack’s appointment to the World Bank. For some inexplicable reason, Bush’s reelection and notable vindictiveness perhaps, the Europeans didn’t revolt over that appalling unqualified appointment- now however, the situation is different and everyone wants the neo-nut gone, and his penny ante neo-nepotism is grounds. Maybe next Bush can give him an appointment as head of Federal Prison… Inmates. Wolfy-wish is, incredibly, fighting like a banshee for his job, and has hired Wash. superlawyer Bob Bennett. Not a speck of acknowledgement of guilt in these people, no matter what they’ve done.

THE BEST + THE BRIGHTEST: First it was Boris Yeltsin, the Urals bear, who passed away on April 23, a day that begin with a little blizzard (video) in Moscow. Read my eulogy to a historical giant, who was the only one of his administration I never questioned. Then later, the classy comprehensive journalistic artisan David Halberstam, died in a SF traffic accident after a Berkeley lecture and a dream career. I spent some time with him at an intimate speech at Brown Alumni Club 2-3 years ago, and he was a elegant decent guy, whom I wish I had kept in touch with. I haven’t read much of his vastly diverse voluminous writings, but may remedy that. “Halberstam wrote 15 bestsellers, including "The Best and the Brightest" on the Vietnam War, "Summer of `49" on the 1949 pennant race between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Box and his latest book, "The Education of a Coach" on New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick.”

On Friday cello legend, Wash Symphony Dir., and famous dissendent Rostropovich, who returned to Russia in Aug 1991 to play to Yeltsin supporters at the White House and in front of the KGB, died. He was laid to rest Sunday next to his friend Boris in Novodevichy Cemetary.

GIULIANI’s SLANDERS + REPUB ALTS: In a NH speech, Rudy Giuliani, who somehow has become the front runner due to McCain’s “surge” beliefs, took a page from Rove’s book, saying electing Dems would lead to more terrorism:

Insisting that the election of any Democrat would mean the country was "back... on defense," Mr. Giuliani continued: "But the question is how long will it take and how many casualties will we have. If we are on defense, we will have more losses and it will go on longer."

The great Keith Olbermann (will Columbia give this guy a Pulitzer already) delivered a long scathing dissection and diatribe against the rank hypocrisy of Giuliani, who mishandled so many things before 9-11 (emergency center in the buildings that were attacked), and after (asbestosis of 70% of ground zero workers).. in what has become a regular event. There is no one to compare Olbermann to but Edward R Murrow- he started these eloquent truth soliloquies when the Bushistas were crushing dissenting voices right and left and US journalism has never seen anything like it: as devastating, powerful, crisp, relentless, and overdue 5-10 minute video commentaries pour tank fire into the crumbling edifice of the House of Bush and the corrupt Republican cabal. America has suffered through a reign of lies and propaganda unparalleled in its history- KO is ripping off the veil and forcing us to see the truth, at long last, with a sense of decency. “How dare you, sir!! This is the language of Bin Laden!!”, KO inveighed against Giuliani.

If you’ve never heard KO’s killer commentaries, you must click on that link. Giuliani is given the inside track on the Repub nomination, but the nation doesn't know how rash, beligerant, and ignorant many of his actions were as mayor- I think there' a good chance he'll self-destruct. Mitt Romney is a scary possibily- as a Mormon, he is crisp, clean, polite, smart, sharp, more than a little facist, and deeply wierd. See the Frontline PBS doc they just did on the Mormons. The most interesting idea yet is a pairing of Chuck Hagel + Mike Bloomberg- unlimited money, limited Iraq guilt, clear talking, Vietnam vet, moderates- they seem to have much going for them. There is that little matter of Hagel's touch screen paperless voting machines (he was president of co.) giving him the biggest margins in Nebraska history from a neck in neck Senate race.

But I am sick with worry that both Hillary and Obama are too radical and discomforting to too many Americans to be elected- the 7 year jihad against the Clintons allienated tens of millions forever and Newsweek's Howard Fineman self-servingly speculated whether Obama would be assasinated. Bill Clinton has finally weighed in with a TV commercial for Hillary. Can you say 2 for 1? If Hillary were elected President for 8 years that would be 36 straight years with a Bush or Clinton in the White House as Prez or Veep, which means we've returned to the ancient idea of a hereditary leader.

MARCH 30 Hot as hell and I'm going to keep taking it + so will you
It’s a brisk 63 degrees today and you didn’t need a coat, jacket, or sweatshirt- warmest winter in Russia in 126 years. Was happy at the sun streaming through the windows when got place, thank god have some defense against cold, I thought. Ha ha. It's already hot with the windows open and heat off. What it will be in June-July don’t know, but the only summer (but this is 4th winter) I spent here in ‘93, the only hot period was 3-4 days in beginning of May, and they were 80-85 degrees. Anyone who lives to 2050 will probably see the deaths of millions by catastrophic tidal waves and sea level jump from the Antarctic ice cap sliding into the ocean. Don’t believe it? Check out this incredible map. (not one pictured) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:AntarcticaRockSurface.jpg

Antarctica is about 70% below sea level, which means 1-2 miles of ice is sitting on the OCEAN FLOOR. Inertia tends to keep it there, but salt water penetrating under the liquid shield of melted bottom and top water (several huge lakes under Antarctica, inc the South Pole) will melt it enough, I’m convinced, to break huge chunks of it loose, esp the bulge of West Antarctica (which is 85% below sea level). The Larsen B shelf collapsed in 40 days in 2002, the massive Ross Ice Shelf is 2000 ft thick and the size of Cal.. Imagine the effect of 1½ mile thick 1x100 mile chunk of ice cracking off the continental shelf into the deep ocean- it will make Indonesia tidal wave look like child’s play.. and it would happen over and over for centuries. Over 600 million people live under 33 ft altitude, about half within 100ft altitude. Or maybe the Northern hemisphere should be more worried about Greenland, where warning will be far shorter (1-3 hours)- on the southeast tip, the continental shelf is only 100 miles wide.

Thursday 29 March 2007 Amundsen Sea ice shelves thinning, raising fears of sea level rise.
Houston - A Texas-sized area of Antarctica is thinning and could cause the world’s oceans to rise significantly in the long-term, polar ice experts said in wrapping up a three-day conference. “Surprisingly rapid changes” are occurring in Antarctica’s Amundsen Sea Embayment, an ice drainage system that faces the southern Pacific Ocean, the experts said in a statement, adding that more study was needed to determine how fast it was melting and how much it could cause sea levels to rise. The warning came Wednesday at the end of a conference of U.S. and European polar ice experts at the University of Texas in Austin. (Amundsen faces Baja Cal.)

The scientists blamed the melting ice on changing winds around Antarctica that are causing warmer waters to flow beneath the ice shelves in the Amundsen Sea. The shelves hold back ice that is grounded on the continent and known as the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Should the shelves collapse, grounded ice would start flowing into the sea much more rapidly, raising sea levels. The wind change, they said, appeared to be the result of several factors, including global warming,ozone depletion in the atmosphere and natural variability. The thinning in the two-mile-thick West Antarctic Ice Sheet is being observed mostly from satellites, but it is not known how much ice has been lost because data is difficult to obtain in the remote region, they said.

In an important ratification of my immense global warming article, China is scheduled to bypass USA as the world's greatest greenhouse gas producer by the end of 2007 because of their explosive increase in coal-burning, previously not thought to happen till 2010. If anyone is serious about limiting carbon emmisions they must immediately give China technology to improve the efficiency of their wasteful primitive plants. Thats only possible up to point, each ton of coal burnt creates over 3 tons of CO2!

Famous so called "dirty bomber" Jose Padilla finally goes on trial, 5 years after Ashcroft's hysterical press conference from Moscow announcing his capture. After years of torture (sleep deprivation, stress positions, sensory deprivation) Jose's lawyer claim he is so vegetative that he can't help in his defence. Whatever he's done, US "justice" that could allow such abuses- the destruction of a person without recourse to lawyers, defense, or even formal charges- is on trial with him. Even now, they aren't allowing reporters to ask any questions of anyone, even when the court isn't in session in an unprecedented restriction on the press.

The pizza terrorists planning to attack Ft. Dix seem to be the real deal, judging by their brilliant strategy of mugging and high-fiving their way in court. My father trained there for the Bolshoi Vainya (WW2), but the amazing thing is that this hasn't happened before. George Tenet, under relentless fire for his self-serving but still important book, asked just what I have for several years: "how come some AQ or homegrown cell doesn't walk into the central food court of a big shopping mall, and open fire with machine guns"? They could easily kill hundreds before being taken down.

The only answer, is that Al Qaida, as it was sold, as this immense international hydra.... doesn't exist.

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