If you thought it was “Blood for Oil”–you’re wrong. It was far, far worse.
Because it was marked “confidential” on each page, the oil industry stooge couldn’t believe the US State Department had given me a complete copy of their secret plans for the oil fields of Iraq. Actually, the State Department had done no such thing. But my line of bullshit had been so well-practiced and the set-up on my mark had so thoroughly established my fake identity, that I almost began to believe my own lies.I closed in. I said I wanted to make sure she and I were working from the same State Department draft. Could she tell me the official name, date and number of pages? She did. …more
So, Osama walks into this bar, see? And Bush says, “Whad’l’ya have, pardner?” and Osama says…
…But wait a minute. I’d better shut my mouth. The sign here in the airport says, “Security is no joking matter.” But if security’s no joking matter, why does this guy dressed in a high-school marching band outfit tell me to take off my shoes? All I can say is, Thank God the “shoe bomber” didn’t carry Semtex in his underpants.
I’m a bit nervous. It’s a “YELLOW ALERT” day. That’s a “lowered threat” notice. According to the press office of the Department of Homeland Security, lowered threat Yellow means that there will be no special inspections of passengers or cargo today. Isn’t it nice of Mr. Bush to alert Osama when half our security forces are given the day off?
I searched all over the newspapers and TV transcripts and no one asked the President what is probably the most important question of what passes for debate on the issue of health care reform: $80 billion of WHAT?
On June 22, President Obama said he’d reached agreement with big drug companies to cut the price of medicine by $80 billion. He extended his gratitude to Big Pharma for the deal that would, “reduce the punishing inflation in health care costs.”
Hey, in my neighborhood, people think $80 billion is a lot of money. But is it?
I checked out the government’s health stats (at HHS.gov), put fresh batteries in my calculator and totted up US spending on prescription drugs projected by the government for the next ten years. It added up to $3.6 trillion.
In other words, Obama’s big deal with Big Pharma saves $80 billion out of a total $3.6 trillion. That’s 2%.
Hey thanks, Barack! You really stuck it to the big boys. You saved America from these drug lords robbing us blind. Two percent. Cool! …more
Has Barack Obama forgotten, “Way-to-go, Brownie“? Michael Brown was that guy from the Arabian Horse Association appointed by George Bush to run the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Brownie, not knowing the south shore of Lake Pontchartrain from the south end of a horse, let New Orleans drown. Bush’s response was to give his buddy Brownie a “way to go!” thumbs up.
We thought Obama would go a very different way. You’d think the studious Senator from Illinois would avoid repeating the Bush regime’s horror show of unqualified appointments, of picking politicos over professionals.
But here we go again. Trial balloons lofted in the Washington Post suggest President-elect Obama is about to select Joel Klein as Secretary of Education. If not Klein, then draft-choice number two is Arne Duncan, Obama’s backyard basketball buddy in Chicago.
Say it ain’t so, President O.
Let’s begin with Joel Klein. Klein is a top notch anti-trust lawyer. What he isn’t is an educator.
Klein is as qualified to run the Department of Education as Dick Cheney is to dance in Swan Lake. While I’ve never seen Cheney in a tutu, I have seen Klein fumble about the stage as Chancellor of the New York City school system.
Klein, who lacks even six minutes experience in the field, was handed management of New York’s schools by that political Jack-in-the-Box, Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The billionaire mayor is one of those businessmen-turned-politicians who think lawyers and speculators can make school districts operate like businesses.
Klein has indeed run city schools like a business – if the business is General Motors. Klein has flopped. Half the city’s kids don’t graduate.
Klein is out of control. Not knowing a damn thing about education, rather than rely on those who actually work in the field (only two of his two dozen deputies have degrees in education), Klein pays high-priced consultants to tell him what to do. He’s blown a third of a billion dollars on consultant “accountability” projects plus $80 million for an IBM computer data storage system that doesn’t work.
What the heck was the $80 million junk computer software for? Testing. Klein is test crazy. He has swallowed hook, line and sinker George Bush’s idea that testing students can replace teaching them. The madly expensive testing program and consultant-fee spree are paid for by yanking teachers from the classroom.
Ironically, though not surprisingly, test scores under Klein have flat-lined. Scores would have fallen lower, notes Jane Hirschmann, head of watchdog group Time Out From Testing, but Klein “moved the cut score,” that is, lowered the level required to pass. In other words, Klein cheats on the tests.
Nevertheless, media poobahs have fallen in love with Klein, especially Republican pundits.The New York Times‘ David Brooks is championing Klein, hoping that media hype for Klein will push Obama to keep Bush schools policies in place, trumping the electorate’s choice for change.
Brooks and other Republicans (hey, didn’t those guys lose?) are pushing Klein as a way for Obama to prove he can reach across the aisle to Republicans like Bloomberg. (Oh yes, Bloomberg’s no longer in the GOP, having jumped from the party this year when the brand name went sour.)
Choosing Klein, says Brooks, would display Obama’s independence from the teacher’s union. But after years of Bush kicking teachers in the teeth, appointing a Bush acolyte like Klein would not indicate independence from teachers but their betrayal.
Hoops versus Hope
The anti-union establishment has a second stringer on the bench waiting in case Klein is nixed: Arne Duncan. Duncan, another lawyer playing at education, was appointed by Chicago’s Boss Daley to head that city’s train-wreck of a school system. Think of Duncan as “Klein Lite.”
What’s Duncan’s connection to the President-elect? Duncan was once captain of Harvard’s basketball team and still plays backyard round-ball with his Hyde Park neighbor Obama.
But Michelle has put a limit on their friendship: Obama was one of the only state senators from Chicago to refuse to send his children into Duncan’s public schools. My information is that the Obamas sent their daughters to the elite Laboratory School where Klein-Duncan teach-to-the-test pedagogy is dismissed as damaging and nutty.
Mr. Obama, if you can’t trust your kids to Arne Duncan, why hand him ours?
Lawyer Duncan is proud to have raised test scores by firing every teacher in low-scoring schools. Which schools? There’s Collins High in the Lawndale ghetto with children from homeless shelters and drug-poisoned ‘hoods. They don’t do well on tests. So Chicago fired all the teachers. They brought in new ones – then fired all of them too: the teachers’ reward for volunteering to work in a poor neighborhood.
It’s no coincidence that the nation’s worst school systems are run by non-experts like Klein and Duncan.
Obama certainly knows this. I know he knows because he’s chosen, as head of his Education Department transition team, one of the most highly respected educators in the United States: Professor Linda Darling-Hammond of Stanford University.
So here we have the ludicrous scene of the President-elect asking this recognized authority, Dr. Darling-Hammond, to vet the qualifications of amateurs Klein and Duncan. It’s as if Obama were to ask Michael Jordan, “Say, you wouldn’t happen to know anyone who can play basketball, would you?”
Classroom Class War
It’s not just Klein’s and Duncan’s empty credentials which scare me: it’s the ill philosophy behind the Bush-brand education theories they promote. “Teach-to-the-test” (which goes under such pre-packaged teaching brands as “Success for All”) forces teachers to limit classroom time to pounding in rote low-end skills, easily measured on standardized tests. The transparent purpose is to create the future class of worker-drones. Add in some computer training and – voila! – millions trained on the cheap to function, not think. Analytical thinking skills, creative skills, questioning skills will be left to the privileged at the Laboratory School and Phillips Andover Academy.
We hope for better from the daddy of Sasha and Malia.
Educationally, the world is swamping us. The economic and social levees are bursting. We cannot afford another Way-to-go Brownie in charge of rescuing our children.
Greg Palast is the father of school-aged twins and the author of, “No Child’s Behind Left,” included in his New York Times bestseller, Armed Madhouse. Palast is a Nation Institute Puffin Foundation Fellow for investigative reporting.
There was that tongue again. When the President lies he’s got this weird nervous tick: He sticks the tip of his tongue out between his lips. Like a little boy who knows he’s fibbing. Like a snake licking a rat.
In his State of the Union tonight the President did his tongue thing 124 times — my kids kept count. …more
James Baker III and the seven dwarfs of the “Iraq Study Group” have come up with some simply brilliant recommendations. Not.
Baker’s Two Big Ideas are:
1. Stay half the course. Keeping 140,000 troops in Iraq is a disaster getting more disastrous. The Baker Boys’ idea: cut the disaster in half — leave 70,000 troops there.
But here’s where dumb gets dumber: the Bakerites want to “embed” US forces in Iraqi Army units. Question one, Mr. Baker: What Iraqi Army? This so-called “army” is a rough confederation of Shia death squads. We can tell our troops to get “embedded” with them, but the Americans won’t get much sleep. …more
Don’t kid yourself. If you think the sentencing of Jeff Skilling, former Enron CFO (criminal financial officer), to twenty-four years in the slammer means that justice has been done, think again.
First, Skilling got away with murder – or at least grand larceny. Like Al Capone convicted of failing to file his taxes, Skilling, though found guilty of stock fraud, is totally off the hook for his BIG crime: taking down California and Texas consumers for billions through fraud on the power markets. …more
In what has become a annual event Greg Palast wins two Project Censored awards. Project Censored compiles an annual list of 25 news stories of social significance that have been overlooked, under-reported or self-censored by the country’s major national news media.Both winning stories, Bush Didn’t Bungle Iraq, You Fools and Opec and the Economic Conquest of Iraq can be read below.
The US Congress will open hearings this week on the War in Iraq — a wee bit late one might think. But one question at the forefront of the minds of many on both the Left and the Right is sure not to be asked: Did the Jews do it? I mean, after killing Jesus, did the Elders of Zion manipulate the government of the United States into invading Babylon as part of a scheme to abet the expansion of Greater Israel? …more
So what is his mission? What does Osama want? Why kick the U.S. out of Saudi Arabia? When, in March 2003, George Bush told the people of Iraq, “Do not destroy oil wells,” his words were heartfelt but hardly original. In bin Laden’s 1996 Declaration of War, he warned all good Muslims against: Destruction of the oil industries… I would like here to alert my brothers, to protect this oil wealth and not to include it in the battle.
Bin Laden listed other beefs in his Declaration of War. There are some who have the notion that bin Laden, though inexcusably violent, is somehow giving voice to the oppressed. Those who fancy bin Laden as the defender of the wretched of the earth have neither read his writings nor followed his actions. The poor get no column inches in his “Declaration.” Creating a Palestinian state? It’s not mentioned in his fabulously long screed. Rather, the billionaire scion and former heir to the bin Laden Construction fortune launches into an angry diatribe about, of all things, Saudi Arabia’s failure to pay past due invoices owed to: great merchants and contractors [waiting for] hundreds and thousands of millions of riyals owed to them by the government.
The House of Saud, it seems, was late in paying bin Laden Construction (which had a huge contract to rebuild Mecca).
Bin Laden is no fool; he knew why the Saudi government became a deadbeat bill payer. He was writing in 1996 when the price of oil was flat on the floor, near $10 a barrel, an all-time low; and Osama cried: People wonder, are we the largest oil exporting country? So much oil, so little cash to show for it.
What drove Osama’s declaration of war? The poverty in Islamic nations? Not a mention. Lack of freedom? Forget it. Bin Laden’s causus bellum for war on America: The presence of the U.S.A. Crusader military forces on land, sea and air in the states of the Islamic Gulf is the greatest danger threatening the largest oil reserve in the world. Threatening Islamic oil reserves. Osama even launches a sophisticated tirade against the suppression of oil production by U.S. operators in the Gulf. This wealthy engineer knows the petroleum biz, that’s for sure.
If you want to know what motivates Osama, follow his path. Long before Al-Qaeda destroyed the World Trade Center, Osama, after removing, with U.S. help, the Soviets from Afghanistan, set up operations in Sudan, where oil men expected to find the next big gusher.
Osama’s next target was not The Great Satan America but The Little Satan: Iran. In Osama’s view, Iranians are Shia “dogs and lackeys” who hold, infuriatingly, OPEC’s third largest oil reserves. Osama was especially affronted by Iran’s rising influence in Afghanistan at the time, thereby blocking his ability to link up with fundamentalist militants in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan who were fundamentally coveting control of the Caspian nations’ oil wealth. Osama expressed his displeasure with Iran’s incursion on his turf by ordering the slaughter of the entire Iranian diplomatic mission to Afghanistan. After eliminating his Shia Iranian competitors in Afghanistan, Osama financed the Wahabi-influenced Taliban. Notably, Osama had no objection to the Taliban signing pipeline deals with U.S. oil firms.
In other words, if you follow Osama’s movements and read what the man says, you realize he has been less coy than Bush about his true program: Get the oil. The steps are: First, remove the Soviets from the Caspian oil fields and pipeline routes; second, remove the man he called an evil “socialist,” Saddam Hussein, from the second largest OPEC reserve; third, keep the Shia “dogs” who control the third largest reserve from expanding their influence outside Persia; fourth, remove U.S. troops from the Land of the Holy Places (and largest oil reserve), Saudi Arabia; then fifth and last, overthrow the House of Saud and re-create a new Caliphate stretching from Sudan to Kazakhstan, every province an oil state, a Petroleum Kingdom of God, presumably under His blessed servant and contractor Osama.
And so, to protect those reserves””if his foolish “brothers” don’t burn the oil wells””he’s declared his own Operation Islamic Liberation. O.I.L.
What motivates Osama? Same thing as George and Dick. It’s all about the oil.
I know you’re shocked — SHOCKED! — that George Bush is listening in on all your phone calls. Without a warrant. That’s nothing. And it’s not news. This is: the snooping into your phone bill is just the snout of the pig of a strange, lucrative link-up between the Administration’s Homeland Security spy network and private companies operating beyond the reach of the laws meant to protect us from our government. You can call it the privatization of the FBI — though it is better described as the creation of a private KGB. …more
Get off it. All the carping, belly-aching and complaining about George Bush's incompetence in Iraq, from both the Left and now the Right, is just dead wrong. On the third anniversary of the tanks rolling over Iraq's border, most of the 59 million Homer Simpsons who voted for Bush are beginning to doubt if his mission was accomplished. But don't kid yourself ...more
Did Wyly Coyotes’ Ill-Gotten Loot Buy White House?
by Greg Palast
When the feds swoop down and cuff racketeers, they also load the vans with all the perp’s ill-gotten gains: stacks of cash, BMWs, hideaway houses, whatever. Their associates have to cough up the goodies too — lady friends must give up their diamond rocks. …more