Practice to Deceive

This article was written by Joshua Micah Marshall and published in the Washington Monthly in April 2003 — just a month after we invaded Iraq. I didn’t read it until tonight — nearly 20 months later. What Marshall had to say about the “neocon hawks” behind the war in Iraq following 9/11 is very disturbing. And it seems to be inexorably playing itself out. Check out this little prediction:

To begin with, this whole endeavor is supposed to be about reducing the long-term threat of terrorism, particularly terrorism that employs weapons of mass destruction. But, to date, every time a Western or non-Muslim country has put troops into Arab lands to stamp out violence and terror, it has awakened entire new terrorist organizations and a generation of recruits. Placing U.S. troops in Riyadh after the Gulf War (to protect Saudi Arabia and its oilfields from Saddam) gave Osama bin Laden a cause around which he built al Qaeda. Israel took the West Bank in a war of self-defense, but once there its occupation helped give rise to Hamas. Israel’s incursion into southern Lebanon (justified at the time, but transformed into a permanent occupation) led to the rise of Hezbollah. Why do we imagine that our invasion and occupation of Iraq, or whatever countries come next, will turn out any differently?

Seen any news from Fallujah lately?

The article is a fascinating, disturbing and very astute observation of the neocons’ modus operandi, which basically consists of pursuing an extreme, radical agenda while misleading the public about what their agenda is.

How do they mislead?

Taxes? Bush says: “tax relief.” Reality: Tax cuts for the very rich; national sales or “value added” tax shifts tax burden to poor and middle class.

Social Security? Bush says: “reform and allow private investment.” Reality: Change will benefit employers and corporations in the short term, but ultimately bankrupt the system, leaving millions of non-rich Americans in poverty. The neocon goal is to destroy social security, as they see it as a socialist and anti-capitalist crutch, and a drag on the economy. But they won’t tell you that, because if they did, you’d vote them the hell out.

Education and social programs? Bankrupt. If you’re worthy, you can afford to pay for your own education. If not, fuck off.

Universal health care? Die, unproductive scum.

Civil rights? Meet John Ashcroft.

Religious freedom? We’ll brand the Ten Commandments into your flesh (and display them in your courthouse).

Corporate power and greed? Woo hoo!!!

Drilling in Alaska for my Enron/Halliburton pals? Fuck yes! Will your family be poisoned? Who cares?

The Neocon (and Bush Administration) Bottom Line: You have no money or power, either for yourself or to give to us. What do we care what happens to you? We’ll sell your jobs to China and get rich selling them! Then we’ll start insane wars in the Middle East and use you as cannon fodder. We’ll get even richer from the oil and “reconstruction” contracts we give our pals. Then we’ll tax the fuck out of you and eliminate any social benefits you might have had. Plus, we’ll take away your civil rights! Got a problem with that? Then why did you vote for us, beloved Red States? Why??!!

To paraphrase Dick Cheney’s campaign schtick: Be afraid. Be very afraid.


The Republican Party: Degenerate Gamblers?

The Republicans f***ed up the last California Gubernatorial election by running an unelectable candidate.

So they lost. Arguably, they lost to a bad Democratic candidate, Grey Davis. But, be that as it may, they had their fair shot, they f***ed it up, and they lost. Fair and square. Now they have to wait four years to play again. Those are the rules of the game, and they know it.

But instead, they are trying to cheat. They can’t wait four years to win legitimately. Instead, they need to steal power now.

This whole recall is a slimy, loser’s cheat. It’s like a gambler desperately trying to win back what he knows he lost fairly by changing the rules after the game has ended.

The Republicans played fair during the last election in California, and they lost. Now, in desperation, they’re trying to win by cheating. Don’t let them get away with it.

UPDATE: Looks like they got away with it . . . .


“Judge Dismisses ‘Political Prisoner’ Suit” By Manson Associate

A federal judge dismissed portions of a lawsuit that claimed former Manson family member Susan Atkins is a political prisoner because of Gov. Gray Davis’ policy opposing parole for most murderers.

U.S. District Judge Robert J. Timlin ruled Wednesday that Atkins cannot sue the state, its Department of Corrections, the Board of Prison Terms and three board commissioners. The judge said the commissioners are immune from prosecution for their official actions, and the U.S. Constitution bars her from taking action against the state and its agencies unless they consent to be sued.

The article continues: “Atkins, 55, is serving a life sentence along with Charles Manson and three others for their roles in a series of 1969 murders. Atkins confessed at trial that she stabbed pregnant actress Sharon Tate to death but has recanted, saying she was only present at the killing.” Read the whole thing here from the AP.

I agree that Gov. Davis’ apparent blanket prohibition against granting parole is troublesome. And I feel sorry for Ms. Atkins, whose role in a crime 35 years ago — when all agree she was on drugs and basically a child — is somewhat murky.

But, on the other hand, it is hard to imagine any governor who would like to see members of “the Manson family” paroled on his (or her) political watch. My unfortunate advice to Ms. Atkins is: Get used to it. You’ll likely die in there.




Low-Key Office Launches High-Profile Inquiry

Karl Rove

WASHINGTON — Most of the time, an obscure federal investigative unit known as the Office of Special Counsel confines itself to monitoring the activities of relatively low-level government employees, stepping in with reprimands and other routine administrative actions for such offenses as discriminating against military personnel or engaging in prohibited political activities.

But the Office of Special Counsel is preparing to jump into one of the most sensitive and potentially explosive issues in Washington, launching a broad investigation into key elements of the White House political operations that for more than six years have been headed by chief strategist Karl Rove.

The new investigation, which will examine the firing of at least one U.S. attorney, missing White House e-mails, and White House efforts to keep presidential appointees attuned to Republican political priorities, could create a substantial new problem for the Bush White House.

First, the inquiry comes from inside the administration, not from Democrats in Congress. Second, unlike the splintered inquiries being pressed on Capitol Hill, it is expected to be a unified investigation covering many facets of the political operation in which Rove played a leading part.

“We will take the evidence where it leads us,” Scott J. Bloch, head of the Office of Special Counsel and a presidential appointee, said in an interview Monday. “We will not leave any stone unturned.”

Details here from Tom Hamburger of the Los Angeles Times.


Lawyer Seeks Justice for Hated Client

It’s not for the pay that he’s defending the alleged mastermind of the Madrid train blasts.

By Tracy Wilkinson, Times Staff Writer
April 11, 2007

MADRID — It is Friday night, the end of another week defending the most hated man in Spain, and attorney Endika Zulueta is slumped behind his desk.

Friends visit. Music floats from a stereo. A bottle of honeyed rum from the Canary Islands slowly empties.

The decision to defend a man accused of mass murder did not come easily. It weighs on Zulueta, in his rare still moments, when he agonizes over whether he can mount a convincing defense in Europe’s largest terrorism trial, and whether anyone will listen.

Two other attorneys appointed by the court to represent Egyptian national Rabei Osman Sayed Ahmed quit. In a flood of reluctance and exhilaration, Zulueta agreed to take on the case, without pay, even though it may send him to the poorhouse and has earned him bad press and insults.

His client is accused of orchestrating the March 11, 2004, bombings of commuter trains in Madrid that killed nearly 200 people and wounded about 2,000 others, a tragedy that was to Spain what Sept. 11 is to the United States.

Details here from the Los Angeles Times.


He Shows Renters the Door

Dennis Block

Dennis Block seemed glued to his black leather chair, his coffee untouched, apparently impervious to physical needs such as the bathroom or food, taking one landlord’s phone call after another.

Almost all the callers wanted the same thing: to evict their tenants.

In a DVD he gives to landlords, Block describes himself this way: “A man who has evicted more tenants than any other human being on the planet Earth.”

He has never been busier.

Zooming property values have sent rents skyrocketing more than 25% in four years citywide and even higher in rapidly gentrifying areas. But hundreds of thousands of tenants are protected by rent-stabilization laws, which limit rent increases to 4% a year. When the tenant moves, market rates can take effect — but tenants can be evicted only with good cause.

That’s where Block comes in. He has dedicated his considerable creativity and intelligence to helping landlords evict tenants from rent-stabilized buildings. He boasts that his firm has filed more than 130,000 cases since 1980, a year after rent stabilization went into effect. He helps landlords identify minor violations — a pet fish in an aquarium, a brightly painted bathroom, an extra occupant — to toss out long-term tenants who are paying below market for their homes.

Details here from the Los Angeles Times.


Fake NYC Doctor Pleads Guilty to Assault

NEW YORK (AP) — A cocaine addict who pretended to be a doctor pleaded guilty Monday in connection with the death of a woman who died during a medical procedure he was performing on her in his Manhattan apartment two years ago.

Dean Faiello, 47, pleaded guilty to first-degree assault in the death of Maria Cruz, 35, in exchange for a sentence of 20 years in prison. Faiello said Cruz, a financial analyst, began having seizures after he gave her the anesthetic Lidocaine on April 13, 2003, while she was being treated with laser treatment for hair growth on her tongue.

He told state Supreme Court Justice Gregory Carro he called a real doctor for advice but ignored it, and failed to call 911 because he was worried about being arrested. Faiello said he was a cocaine addict at the time.

He stashed Cruz’s body under a concrete slab at his former home in Newark, N.J., where she was found 10 months later.

Faiello, who was also indicted in October 2002 for practicing medicine without a license, fled to Central America after pleading guilty to that charge in June 2003. He was extradited from Costa Rica in May 2005, where he had been working as a go-go dancer.

Faiello’s attorney left court without commenting.

I don’t think I would have commented either . . . . Details here from the AP via the New York Times.