October 11, 2008 archive

She Blew the Whistle on Bush and Blair, Now Former Spy Katherine Gun Assesses Obama and McCain

Crossposted under my real name at Huffington Post’s Off the Bus.

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It’s likely that most Americans have never heard of Katherine Gun. She is the former British secret service officer who leaked an email describing a plot orchestrated by the Bush and Blair administrations to force the hand of the United Nations in authorizing the invasion of Iraq. Gun was put on trial for leaking the email and the story garnered wide coverage in Europe. Unsurprisingly, in the hype that characterized the runup to the war here in the States, the story received little media play.

The larger story is being told for the first time in long form. PoliPoint Press has just released “The Spy Who Tried to Stop A War,” Gun’s story as written by Marcia and Thomas Mitchell, the former a senior executive for the Corporation of Public Broadcasting, the latter a former FBI special agent.

I caught up with Gun on her recent trip to the U.S.

Pony Fiesta

Friday Night at 8: Random

Old family story.  My mother would never admit she was wrong about anything while we kids were growing up … with six children and little money, I guess she felt she had to be stronger than human or everything would fall apart.

Anyway, one day we were getting out our cereal for breakfast and my sister says, “Ma, this milk is spoiled!”

For some reason my mother didn’t want to hear that.

So she walked over to the table, drank some of the milk right out of the carton and proclaimed immediately “Sweet as sugar!”

A split second later the milk registered on her taste buds and she exclaimed “Sour as hell!”

It became a family joke, of course, used on many different occasions.


I once heard a woman say that having her purse stolen felt like being violated … not rape, but in the same vein.  Now with the giant handbags women wear in New York City, I’d say it’s more like having your car stolen.


I haven’t checked my 401(k) statement yet – I was going to, but I forgot my password.  It’s probably a lot less than it was.


A Hundred %$#@#&!!%$# Days

The spy novelist John Le Carre invented a word perfectly suited for Richard Bruce Cheney and George W. Bush — “politopath,” a merger of “politician” and you-know-what.

In a few hours, we’ll reach the beginning of the end of the Cheney-Bush regime, the final hundred days. It ought to be a milestone marked by glee, yes? But knowing how soon we won’t have this pair of politopaths to kick around anymore places me somewhere between an aneurysm and a sigh. Because the puppet master and his perpetually adolescent companion will get to abandon their posts, unpunished for hundreds of lies told, hundreds of people tortured, hundreds of thousands of soldiers and civilians killed, hundreds of billions of dollars squandered, trillions of dollars of debt incurred.

Unimpeached, much less tried, they will get to emerge from their eight years of assault on the Constitution and display of royal prerogative with their pensions intact and most of their rap sheets classified. No orange jumpsuits for them, no isolation units where guards videotape their every trip to the shitter, no hard labor, no electronic shackles. Two aging war criminals will soon clean out their desks, torch their hard drives, say farewell to the pleasures of the unitary executive and pal around forever with the feral plutocrats whose vaults they so prodigiously filled during two terms of plunder and rapine.

Like the reckless CEOs who’ve walked away from the wreckage of their companies with tens of millions in salaries, options and bonuses, the ruthless Mister Bush and Bunker Dick seem destined to roam free. Starting on that January afternoon of a hundred days from now, even the suggestion that they – and others on their team – should pay for their misdeeds will be shouted down in wwwLand and elsewhere. Old news, the megamedia will declare. Vendettas erect obstacles to bipartisanship, Democratic Party leaders will proclaim. Too many crucial matters other than justice to worry about, the so-called pragmatists will say. Just as they have said since I wrote A Thousand %$#@#&!!%$# Days 900 days ago.

Sex and The City

This past April, newspapers were a twitter with the discovery made by two Cambridge University researchers: John Coates, a former trading floor manager on Wall Street, and Joe Herbert, a neuroscientist. In their abstract, they wrote:

We found that a trader’s morning testosterone level predicts his day’s profitability. We also found that a trader’s cortisol rises with both the variance of his trading results and the volatility of the market. Our results suggest that higher testosterone may contribute to economic return, whereas cortisol is increased by risk.

Their research findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Endogenous steroids and financial risk taking on a London trading floor.

So, as The Guardian observed Testosterone is the secret ingredient for making (and losing) lots of money. “Money doesn’t make the world go round: it’s testosterone. The more that traders have, the richer they’ll become – up to a point.”

Debut Today: New Website Streams Torture Documentary

From the press release from the people who are bringing us the new documentary, Torturing Democracy:

Award-winning producer Sherry Jones presents a comprehensive documentary – more than 18 months in the making – that examines America’s detention and interrogation practices in the “war on terror” in Torturing Democracy, premiering Thursday, October 16 at 9 p.m. on Thirteen/WNET.

World in Free Fall: Thanks George!

A number of economists predicted that the Iraq War would cause a financial crisis for the United States, even before it began.

In November of 2002, Yale University professor William Nordhaus was quoted in the Independent as warning that:

“A war in Iraq could cost the United States hundreds of billions of dollars, play havoc with an already depressed economy and tip the world into recession because of the adverse effect on oil prices, inflation and interest rates.”

On the day that Bush began his bombing of Baghdad, a.k.a “Shock and Awe,” March 20, 2003, CBS Market Watch predicted that,

“If war with Iraq drags on longer than a few weeks or months most are predicting, corporate revenues will be flat for the coming year and will put the U.S. economy at risk of recession, according to a poll of chief financial officers.”

GWB & deregulation: a lethal cocktail. It has brought us to this point as only he can spend over $12,000,000,000 every month on democratizing Iraq. The rest of us will have to pay for the rest of our lives before our kids take over the debts, as will the next generation.

Cross-posted on the Big Orange & La Vida Locavore.

Friday Philosophy: if not now, when?

Last Tuesday Bloomfield College held its yearly convocation, a salute to the beginning of a new school year…which happens around Midterm Week each year for some indiscernible reason.  Or speaker was Dr. William Librera, Presidential Research Professor of Education at Rutgers University, and the title of his presentation was Inside the Horizon.

As these things go, it was a pretty good lecture, both fairly entertaining and containing some nuggets.  There was the obligatory PowerPoint, of course, which we were told was available online, but I can’t find it.  If I could have, I would know the last part of the woman with the hyphenated last name which began with Roth-.  That would have proved helpful, since one of the major things I can recollect from the event is her thought about people being divided into two kinds:  people who segment knowledge, and people who integrate it.

Do I know what the collective intelligence is thinking right now?

There are two kinds of people in the world, those who believe there are two kinds of people in the world and those who don’t.

–Robert Benchley

If the discussion is elevated to the level of the Algonquin Round Table, then I’m all for it.

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