Monday, July 31, 2006

Sounds familiar: The Israeli press spins "Preemptive strike" and "Support our troops"

Sounds familiar: The Israeli press spins "Preemptive strike" and "Support our troops"
By Jane Stillwater

Perhaps you are asking yourself, "Why is the average Israeli supporting the massacre in Lebanon?" Or "Why don't the Israelis fire Olmert? He obviously doesn't know what he is doing and totally miscalculated the success of his attack." Or "When a leader fouls up this badly and leads his country into an unwinnable quagmire, why do the Israelis put up with it?" I have the answer to that question in only one word.


Why did America attack Iraq? Hell, why did America even attack Afghanistan when the CIA knew that Osama bin Ladin was not supported by the Afghan people but only by the Pakistan-generated Taliban? You and I both know the answer to that one.


The Israeli public has already bought the "Preemptive strikes are necessary" fable. "Hezbollah has WMDs!" And now they are willingly swallowing the obvious next thing. Now that Olmert's Shock and Awe is a failure and the Golani army is bogged down in southern Lebanon, Olmert pulls out Bush's favorite next chestnut, "We have to support our troops."

Guess what? Americans fell for Bush's spin-doctoring hook, line and sinker and now we are bogged down in a war in Iraq that is far worse than the war in Vietnam. So. How do we expect the average Israeli to be any smarter than the average American? Bush is still parading around the White House in his flight suit. He's not in jail for war crimes. If GWB can get away with butchering over 100,000 Iraqi civilians and still have his game on, then how can we hold Israelis to a higher standard and expect THEM to be invulnerable to the Tel Aviv equivalent of Fox News? We can't.


Sunday, July 30, 2006

Islam: The real reason why George Bush will never win in the Middle East

Yeah, I know you are thinking that I'm gonna try to tell you that Islam will defeat George Bush because it is a great religion and all that. Wrong. I'm not even going to say that it's because, even with his head shaved, Kaysar, the Iraqi-American on Big Brother All-Stars, is totally CUTE.

No, the real reason why Bush is deluding himself about ever being able to conquer the Middle East is because, even though Bush has better weapons, Muslims are BETTER THINKERS.

Here's proof. Try doing the Muslim prayer. Touch your head to the floor. Notice how the blood rushes to your brain and you get better ideas and THINK BETTER?

Bush should try it at home. Who knows? He might even realize how incredibly STUPID he's been to kill all those women and children in Lebanon. Hey, it could happen.

PS: The leopard does not change his spots. Did you SEE all that terrible blood-chilling destruction in Lebanon last month? Well guess what? Zionist extremists have been doing that exact same thing to Palestinians for the last 60 years -- and they are STILL doing it. It just hasn't been showing up on the 6 o'clock news. Palestinians need to get better publicists!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

How I judge people: Are they doing good deeds?

Back when I was in high school, they taught us to judge people. You judged them on what kind of car they drove, how thin their waist was or who they were going out with.

In my 1950s all-Republican town, there was a rigorous caste system. You fawned on the rich people who lived on the hill. And you tormented the poor. You shamed them. You snubbed them. And of course you gossiped about everybody. And it was mean gossip too.

Everyone got judged.

Growing up in my secure middle-class all-American town, I learned to be spiteful. And nasty. And to never trust anyone. "Do they have money? Do they own their own home?" Are they good at stabbing their friends and neighbors in the back? And beating their kids in private? And living beyond their means? And going to church on Sundays while sleeping around without getting caught?

I still judge people. Hey, I'm a product of my times. But now I use a different criteria. "Are they doing good deeds?"

And I judge myself on that criteria too. And my children. And my friends. And my government. And other countries. And corporations. It's a good criteria. It works for God. And it works for me too.

PS: Someone once told me, "Love stands for 'Looking for good'". If you love someone, you look for the good in them. That's un-American! That's Communistic! That goes against everything I was ever taught! Eeuuww!

PPS: My favorite prayer is from Anne Lamott -- short and to the point: "Help for the sick and hungry. Home for the homeless folk. Peace in the world forever. This is my prayer, oh Lord."

Friday, July 28, 2006

The world's new peacekeepers: China -- and OPEC?

I just got the news that China is offering humanitarian aid to Lebanon. Apparently, the Chinese government is really pissed off at Israel because of their prime minister's highly imprudent decision to bomb a UN outpost in southern Lebanon -- even after the occupants of said outpost had frantically called for help at least ten times before they became toast.

One of the UN observers killed by Olmert's causal disregard for international law was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Chinese People's Liberation Army -- and now China is expressing its obvious displeasure at all this totally-unnecessary brutality so Prime Minister Olmert had better beware. What if China decides to play by HIS rules? If a small country like Israel thinks it has the right to destroy Lebanon for the loss of two soldiers, wouldn't China have the right to destroy Israel too?

Fortunately for all of us, China is acting more like an adult than Israel and using more peaceful means. Now if only OPEC would do the same thing.

What if OPEC suddenly decided to sell oil only for peaceful uses? No more jet fuel sales to George Bush to give to Olmert for his death machines? War would instantly be a thing of the past.

What if OPEC told Olmert and Bush that it would sacrifice its humongous war-generated oil profits in order to cut off Olmert's and Bush's oil supply if they didn't cease their systematic blitzkriegs in Gaza, Lebanon and Iraq IMMEDIATELY? But Greg Palast is probably right. That's a pretty big "what if".

What if all the members of OPEC suddenly decided that they wanted to go to Heaven for doing good deeds on earth before they died and would thus sacrifice an extra one hundred billion dollars in profit -- give or take a few billion here and there -- gouged from Europe and America in order to make God happy? Think about it for a minute. When gas prices in Los Angeles and Tel Aviv hit $20 a gallon, all the freaking taxpayer-supported wars in the Middle East would be over instantly. And God would be happy. And both Bush and Olmert would be in jail where they belonged within the week.

OPEC? The ball is in your court. Now is your chance to step up to the plate and make the world meaningful again. It could happen. "God willing."

"You're safe": Iraq's new unofficial draft board

Guess what? I just got this cool new part-time-temporary job at a "" this week. I love it! I actually have my own cubicle! Me and Dilbert.

The only bad part about this job -- aside from the fact that I haven't a clue what I'm doing -- is that I have to work from 5 pm to 9 pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays so I miss the TV show "Rock Star Supernova". I miss watching Tommy Lee. I miss hearing the rock-star-wannabees play old songs by the Rolling Stones. And I love it when Brooke Burke tells one of the contestants, "You're safe from elimination".

"You're safe."

They are not saying "You're safe" in Lebanon right now. And they are not saying "You're safe" in Iraq.

Everyone knows that no man, woman or child in Lebanon is safe from "elimination" by Israeli and American "hard-liners" Olmert, Cheney and Bush. The entire country of Lebanon is a target. Anything goes. And we Americans are shocked to see news-service images of three-year-old children being melted alive by white phosphorus or whole town being buried by "bunker busters".

But the American public has grown used to seeing the same grizzly scenes played out in Iraq night after night on our TV screens. Nobody even bats an eye any more when Iraqi three-year-olds are melted alive by white phosphorus or bunker busters take out whole towns.

But there IS good news in Iraq. In the competition to see who Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld can send to their graves first, women and children are now comparatively "safe".

"You're safe."

According to sworn statements obtained by the Associated Press, "Four U.S. soldiers accused of murdering suspected insurgents during a raid in Iraq said they were under orders to 'kill all military-age males.'"

There is a new game afoot in Iraq. It's called "Just kill the draft-age men". Under the influence of the U.S. occupation, every single man in Iraq between the ages of 16 and 45 now has a target on his back. U.S. troops and "insurgents" shoot them down. U.S. troops and "Insurgents" blow them up. U.S. troops and "insurgents" bury their bodies out in the desert and in the municipal dumps.

Can you imagine if we had a draft board like that in America?

This is not a game. This is not a reality show on the TV news every night. This is a war crime. If Bush and Cheney can commit these atrocities on the Iraqis and the Lebanese now, what is to stop them from doing the same thing to us later? "You're safe" does not apply any of us as long as these men are allowed to be in charge of anything with sharp edges. Bush and Cheney should be in jail. Or in the psych ward.

PS: Even though I now work for a, it is only temporary. I am still available to embed in Iraq. Reuters? Associated Press? Call me! 510-843-0581. Hell, I'd even work for CNN. But I draw the line at Fox News.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Mean Girls: To stop a dictator, take away his resources

I was sitting around the waiting room of my doctor's office, waiting to be examined to see if I was healthy enough to spend two years in sub-Saharan Africa with the Peace Corps in November and there was a video tape playing in the waiting room so that us patients wouldn't get bored. It was Lindsay Lohan, starring in "Mean Girls".

Here's the plot: Lindsay's sidekick was trying to keep some bitchy preppy cheerleader type and her evil gang of high school popular-girl-wannabees from ruining Lindsay's life. "To stop a dictator," said the sidekick, "you gotta take away his resources." Hollywood does it again! Pearls of wisdom have once again dropped from the silver screen -- right into my lap!

Americans also have a bitchy spoiled preppy cheerleader type and an evil gang of popular-girl-wannabees trying to ruin OUR lives. That description fits the Bush bureaucracy perfectly! So. Let's take away George Bush's resources too.

Hell, let's follow Grover Norquist's advice and "drown it in the bathtub."

Where would Bush be if we took away his Air Force One? "No more Air Force One for you, buddy. You gotta be ELECTED to fly around on Air Force One." Ever seen a grown man cry?

Let's take away Camp David. "No more summer camp for you, kid. You've been an evil dictator long enough." And let's stop giving Bush 400 billion dollars a year in pocket money to spend at the dictator mall. Of course he'll throw a tantrum but so what.

I'd like to see his face when we take away the CIA. And no more war toys either. No more blowing up people -- not even frogs.

Let's boycott George's corporate donors and strip him of Diebold and take away his limos, his head chef and his key to the Lincoln Bedroom. Let's make him live like the rest of us. Make him get a real job. Make him abide by the rules. If anyone else had murdered over 200,000 people in cold blood, they would have had to go to jail. Why make an exception for him? Let's throw him in jail for war crimes and let him live on prison food. And make that a TEXAS jail.

How can we stop this dictator? Take away his resources -- any way we can. Let's start by taking back Congress.

But why wait until November?

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Dear Glen Beck: Yes, America DOES need a strong defense -- against GWB!

My friend Bernie lives out in the middle of nowhere so I went off to visit him and stayed in a motel and watched cable TV for the first time in years.

Glen Beck was on. "The most important thing in America right now," he told us, "is defense." Defense against who? Who the freak does the world's largest super-power need to defend itself against? Lebanon? The WMDs in Iraq? China's unholy alliance with Wal-Mart? Or maybe Grenada has us in their cross-hairs again? Yeah right.

But in a way, Glen Beck has hit the nail on the head. There IS a terrible danger threatening us and America DOES need to defend itself. But it's very important that we turn our weapons on the right enemy if we are ever to be truly safe.

I know who America needs to defend itself against, Glen. We need to defend ourselves, our families and our country against the thieves, liars, sadists, crooks and scalawags in the White House. That's who.

The Bush bureaucracy, for God only knows what reason, has followed a consistent policy of destabilizing America from that very first day in November 1999 when Fox News suddenly announced that GWB had been elected President. Little did we know that even back then, our George and his friends were already hard at work destabilizing our elections, our states' rights, our emergency preparedness, our military, our air travel safety, our environment, our electrical grid, our infant mortality rate, our trust in our fellow Americans, our Constitution, our health care system, our literacy rate, our monetary system, our job security, our morals, our religion, our economy, our Supreme Court and our right to tour the White House on weekdays between 9 am and 5 pm!

It is the greatest tribute imaginable to America's DEFENSES that they have withstood six long dark years of constant attacks from George W. Bush. Hey, Glen, if you are truly serious about strengthening America's defenses, let's hear you talk about this!

PS: My greatest fear is that GWB will decide that America is not destabilizing fast enough. "Maybe if I tried that 9-11 trick again...." Why not? It worked the first time.

Glen Beck is right. America DOES need strong defense. And let's start by making our nation's capital safer. My recommendation? Let's protect our Congress, our Supreme Court and our White House ASAP with America's strongest and deadliest weapon -- a ring of orange jumpsuits.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Clean Break: Why the dilemma of choosing between Israel and Lebanon isn't a dilemma at all

Those of us who have visited Israel and think that Israel is a beautiful country inhabited by wonderful people are having a really hard time condemning the congenial citizens of, say, Jerusalem or Tel Aviv for the atrocious war crimes committed in Lebanon in their name.

Those of us who are Jewish and donated our allowances and Bar Mitzvah money as children to help buy trees for Israel and yearn for it to be a safe homeland where Jews are finally respected and free are totally resisting any hint that the Chosen People might be doing to Lebanon what Hitler did to Poland.

But I think this is not a dilemma after all. We don't HAVE to chose between condemning the slaughter in Lebanon on the one hand or being anti-Semitic on the other.

The people of Israel are still brave and wonderful.

The Jews are still idealistic and devout.

We are missing the boat here if we think that the terrible atrocities in Lebanon can be blamed on either Israelis or Jews.

The technologically deadly bombing of Lebanon has someone else's greasy fingerprints all over it. Who designed the operation? Who contributed the war machines? Who paid for the jet fuel? It wasn't Israelis. It wasn't Jews.

Check out the Bush bureaucracy's "Clean Break" document. It is a blueprint for the invasion of Lebanon, written by Richard Perle, Douglas Feith et al. and handed down to the Prime Minister of Israel way back in 1996!

Check out the bombing of Afghanistan by Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld. The exact same M.O. Check out GWB's "Shock and Awe" over Baghdad in 2003. A perfect match. Read Hassan El-Najjar's book "The Gulf War: Overreaction and Excessiveness". George H.W. Bush was up to these same tricks even back in 1991!

The Israelis and the Jews are being used as cats-paws. Don't hate Israelis and Jews -- or Americans either for that matter -- for the horrors done in their names. Of course you can be rather annoyed with them for being so stupid as to be lead by the nose. Go ahead. They deserve it. But it's time we started pointing our fingers at the the real culprits here.

It's time we stopped savaging the already-highly-tarnished reputation of Israelis and Jews -- and Americans too -- and started putting the Bush gang in jail.

Link to the text of "A Clean Break":

Friday, July 21, 2006

"No Americans allowed": The sign on George Bush's new bunker?

So. Where is all this Bush bureaucracy saber-rattling insanity in the Middle East leading us? Armageddon, of course. But does this mean that Mr. "Born Again" Bush is actually ready to die? Hell, no. When the Apocalypse arrives for the rest of us, the architect of the end of the world as we know it is gonna have Other Plans

Have you SEEN Bush's new fancy-ass bunker? With its plush leather La-Z-Boys and endless supply of Cuban cigars? This is not the property of a man who is fixing to die. This is the property of a man expects to survive through all FOUR of the Horsemen and still have time for a quick game of Texas-Hold-'Em before dinner time!

But what about you and me? Are the neo-cons building bunkers for the rest of us too? Is Halliburton out there toiling away on massive underground fortresses to make sure that when the well-planned Bush-ignited Holocaust does arrive, all us patriotic American flag-wavers will be nice and safe and cozy too? Yeah right.

Bush does NOT want to die. But he's definitely not afraid to stir up the pot until everyone else does. "What? Jane? You're a coward? Afraid that if Bush stands up to those Arab bullies that things might get a little hot?" No. I am NOT a whoos. I am not afraid to die. But George Bush is. He'll blow up the world, blame it all on Osama...or Hezbollah...or the next media-created fad-terrorist most popular this month...and then he will pour more champagne.

And it will be GOOD champagne too. Vintage. And us taxpayers will have paid for it. And outside his fabulous new bunker home, our George will have posted a sign. "No Americans allowed."

Sure, the joke's on us. But listen guys. I've got an idea. Let's all come back from the grave and haunt GWB! I got dibs on haunting the kitchen. We could call it "Hell's Kitchen"....

PS: Hitler had his lightning war on Poland (and his bunker). Bush has his lightning war on Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon (and his bunker). Hitler didn't allow Germans into HIS bunker either. But Hitler and Bush aren't alike at all. George's bunker is nicer.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Wanna bring peace to the Middle East? Get the Burning Man crew on the job!

Let's dump the Bush bureaucracy. Whether by accident or on purpose, everything they touch falls apart. In the last six years, they haven't done one single thing to make America freer, more prosperous, more moral or even more safe. That's inefficiency!

Let's impeach the Bush losers and bring in a team of guys who know what they are doing -- the folks who bring us "Burning Man" every year.

Every year in September, these guys turn the Nevada desert into paradise. They can turn the deserts of the Middle East into paradise too. What's their secret? They CREATE instead of DESTROY. Is this such a difficult concept to grasp that it is totally beyond the Bush bureaucracy's mentality to even imagine? Duh, yeah.


See the Burning Man himself:

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Isolate & brainwash: It works on women & Americans BUT NOT ON JANELLE!

Isolate & brainwash: It works on women and Americans BUT NOT ON JANELLE!
By Jane Stillwater

Yep. I admit it. I'm a fan of Big Brother All Stars. What's with Howie and Dr. Will? And isn't Kesar -- er -- hot? And what about Janelle? Chill Town keeps scheming to get her out of the house because she's a major competitor. But I digress.

I know a young woman named Jennifer who has this boyfriend named Jordan who spent a lot of his teen years locked into "behavior modification" camps. But now Jordan is out in the real world and finally has all the freedom he wants. And what does he do with it? Ha. Now he spends all of his time plotting up ways to use those same horrible behavior modification techniques on JENNIFER!

And what is the core technique at the heart of all those Brat Camp behavior modification programs? "Isolate and brainwash!" Isolate and brainwash.

Well, Jordan has isolated young Jennifer alright -- and done a good job of it too. He's got her living with him at his PARENTS house for crying out loud. Shades of "Failure to Launch"! Plus he's cut her off from all of her friends, TAKEN AWAY HER CELL PHONE, convinced her to drop out of school and to quit her job too. Can't get more isolated than that -- not even in the Big Brother house!

Now comes the brainwashing part: "I know what is good for you," Jordan repeats over and over to poor sweet Jennifer. "Without me, you are nothing. You're ugly. You're fat. You would NEVER get another boyfriend like me. I'm smart. I'm wonderful. I'm cute." Then he starts in on trying to scare Jennifer. "Don't go out that door! It's dangerous outside. If you go out by yourself, terrible things could happen to you. It's a scary world out there. Stay home here where I can protect you."

I'd love to see him try to use that line on Janelle!

The last time I saw Jennifer, she was just a shell of her former self. All her confidence was gone. I ran into her and Jordan on the street the other day and she gave me this pathetic little finger-wave behind Jordan's back -- afraid to actually come out and actually say "Hello". What if Jordan were to hear her? Yikes!

"Isolate and brainwash". That is how men who need to control women manage to do it. Ladies, beware! And, ladies, especially watch out if any Christian, Jewish or Muslim man starts to give you some holier-than-thou crap about, "Our religion teaches us that women must stay home and not go out on the street by themselves." Yeah sure. Let's all isolate and brainwash in the name of the Bible and the Qur'an.

Whenever you hear crap like that, ladies, don't just go off to the diary room and have a nice chat with Julie Chan. Run like hell!

And who else is getting isolated and brainwashed these days? America. America is getting this treatment too. First we get isolated from the rest of the world. And then the neo-cons start in with the brainwashing.

"Isolate and brainwash". It worked on Jennifer. It works on "religious" women. It works on America too. Isolating people and then brainwashing them is really an effective technique if you are a control freak.

So why stop now?

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The obese generation: Why my 33-year-old friend lays dying in some forlorn ICU

My best friend in the world is lying in the Summit Medical Center ICU, hooked up to a massive wall of ventilators, defibrillators, blood transfusions, vital-sign monitors and IV drips. "She is in critical condition," said her doctor. "She may not live through the night."

My best friend in the world is unconscious and only THAT close to death.

I hold her hand and pray for her with all my might as if I was the chief Imam in Mecca, the Dalai Lama, the Ba'al Shem Tov and the Pope all rolled into one.

My best friend in the world has three young children who, if prayer doesn't work, will be orphans within the next few days.

My best friend in the world is dying.

My best friend in the world's birthday was a week ago. She is 33 years old. Yet she is dying of old people's diseases -- diabetes, hardened arteries, heart trouble and failure to heal. And, because of the diabetes, she is also fighting gangrene.

My best friend in the world is just the tip of the iceberg for a whole generation -- the obese, overweight twenty-somethings, teenagers and kids you see everywhere in the malls, streets, buses and schoolyards of America. How many years do THEY have left to live before you see them in the ICU dying of old people's diseases too? Ten years? Maybe 20? If they're lucky?

Partially-hydrogenated vegetable oil, corn syrup and commercials glorifying sugar-coated breakfast cereals are the cause of this deadly epidemic. Our bodies simply are not built to handle all this synthetic crap. This stuff is slow poison and it needs to be either controlled or outlawed -- or else a lot more of us will be praying at the bedsides of our best friends too.

If that's not a good enough reason to ban these lethal killers, then try this: My best friend in the world WILL recover -- I believe in the power of prayer -- but her two-month stay in the hospital will probably cost at least million dollars. Can we afford this? And can we afford to have a whole generation clogging up America's ICUs?

And can we afford to lose a WHOLE GENERATION that young?

PS: There is a reason this person is my best friend in the world. She is smart, funny, good-hearted and kind. She loves little children. And is generous to a fault. She is hard-working and reliable -- and she knows all the hot gossip! It would be a tragedy to lose her. Please pray for her with all of your might.

And while you are down on your knees, please pray for Roger Ebert too. I can't afford to lose him either. I NEED his movie reviews!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Superman Returns: Has GWB just become America's Lex Luther?

I decided to take Chunky and Grace to the movies tonight because their mother was sick. "What do you want to go see?" I asked them. I myself had "Pirates of the Caribbean" in mind.

"Superman Returns," answered Chunky.

"Little Man," answered Grace. So we split up. "Pirates" was boring so I joined Grace at "Little Man" but it was boring too so I went off to join Chunky and watch "Superman Returns" -- and to eat some of his popcorn (Chunky had convinced the man at the concession stand to give him a jumbo-sized tub of popcorn for free. Chunky can be VERY charming when free popcorn is at stake.)

But I digress. Back to "Superman Returns."

I am currently reading a book called "The Oath". It was written by Khassan Beieu, a doctor who helped save lives on both sides during Russia's various wars on Chechnya. "Imagining war when you have never experienced it is impossible," said the doctor. Well, for me, imagining war was pretty easy after watching Metropolis get blown up and torn apart by Lex Luther.


And with all this insane idiocy of bombing civilians in Gaza and Lebanon, George Bush and Ehud Olmert are doing everything they possibly can to unleash the demon-eyed dogs of war. And once the Dog of War are free, there's going to be no stopping them. "Hey, nice doggy! Stay in the Middle East! Don't run off to Europe and America." Sorry, George, that's not how things work.


Only an idiot or a sociopath or Lex Luther -- or George W. Bush -- messes around with war. "Great Caesar's ghost!" If we don't want to have the unimaginable experience of total war arriving in our back yards in the very near future, we need to have Superman Return. Immediately. And if Superman himself is too busy hanging out with Lois Lane or Captain Jack Sparrow to help us, then we need to become like the Man of Steel ourselves -- and put George Bush in jail before he tries (again) to blow up Metropolis in his mad quest for power.

PS: Grace really liked "Little Man". Chunky really liked the popcorn. I really liked Johnny Depp.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Bad news from Baghdad: CentCom Iraq will NOT embed Progressive reporters -- not even me!

After watching "The War Tapes" at the local cinema, I decided to become an embedded reporter in Iraq. I wrote to the U.S. military's CentCom (Central Command) in Baghdad, saying that I was a reporter for OpEd News, had realized how unpopular the "War on Iraq" was in America -- two out of three Americans are now against it -- and was offering to embed so that I could bring the American people positive stories about the war so that we taxpayers might be reassured that our tax dollars were being spent wisely over there.

CentCom e-mailed me back. "We'd be happy to have you, Jane. All you need to embed is to fill out the enclosed application, get some Kevlar body armor and buy a plane ticket to Iraq." I was in! I was going to Iraq! I was embedding!

Or not.

CentCom apparently checked OpEd News out and discovered it was a PROGRESSIVE news service. "You can't come over here after all," they wrote me. "We do NOT embed bloggers." Oh. So if you are against the "war" then you are not considered to be an official news service? You are only a blogger? "You need to represent a newspaper, news service or legitimate media outlet."

No problem.

First, the editor of OpEd News explained carefully to CentCom that yes, OpEd News was a genuine news service. Second, Becky O'Malley, the editor of the heroic Berkeley Daily Planet, wrote a letter saying that I would be representing the Berkeley Daily Planet, a genuine NEWSPAPER. So. What more did I need (besides air fare and Kevlar)? Baghdad here I come!

Not so fast. CentCom e-mailed me back. "You are NOT going to be embedded." End of discussion.

Okay. Here are the facts. I applied. I was judged a liberal. I was turned down. No positive stories from Iraq coming from me. No freedom of speech for me. No democracy in Iraq for me. And no "Operation Iraqi Freedom" for me either. "Operation Iraqi Freedom" is only for the American journalists who support the "war". "Operation Iraqi Freedom" is only for "good" Americans.

Helen Thomas need not apply.

So much for freedom of speech for the two-thirds of America that does not support the "war". So much for finding out what is really going on over there. Is there NOTHING in Iraq left that is positive enough for me to report about? Over there, has everything become like the days just before they evacuated Saigon? Are the helicopters standing at ready on the rooftop of the American embassy? I want to know. America wants to know. America has the RIGHT to know.

Help me out here.

If you are a news service, please let CentCom Iraq -- -- know that you want me to embed on your behalf as well as for OpEd News and the Berkeley Daily Planet. And PLEASE send me a plane ticket and some Kevlar!

And if you are a blogger, guess what? What you say doesn't count.

PS: I wrote CentCom that they may know what is going on over there but I know what is going on over here. "Ignore bloggers at your own peril," I said. "If you don't make major concerted efforts ASAP to win over the hearts and minds of American bloggers, you aren't going to have much time left to play your war games over there." You don't believe me? Just ask Joe Lieberman!

Friday, July 07, 2006

We're paying for it: Getting our money's worth out of the War on Iraq

I was absolutely shocked to discover that Dick Cheney has been shopping around -- trying to decide where to stash his money so that in the future it will be safe. Has our Vice President [sic] invested his profits in stocks, diamonds, gold or even U.S. Treasury bonds? Hell, no. According to Mike Whitney's recent article in OpEd News, Cheney is no fool. He knows that investing in America isn't worth the paper it's written on and has invested in "Old Europe" instead.

Shouldn't the rest of us Americans be shopping around too?

Okay. We shopped. We bought. And what did we buy? The War on Iraq. "Look what I picked up at the mall today, dear. 2,500 dead soldiers. Oh, and I also got this cute little torture kit too. It's called Abu Ghraib!"

We spent our life savings buying a torture kit? Won't that look nice on the shelf next to the Bible.

America's biggest purchase this century has been the War on Iraq. Like some low-income family that has spent every cent it owns to pay for a Cadillac that it can't afford, buying this war has totally drained America, leaving us with no money to spend on anything else.

That war had better be worth it! That war had better be a good buy. We'd better be getting our money's worth out of that war!

Are we? Face it, guys. We've just spent our life savings on a lemon. We've been had.

PS: I've just applied to become an embedded reporter in Iraq. If American taxpayers (and our children and our grandchildren) have purchased this war, I want to go over there and see exactly what we have bought. I want to look for something POSITIVE happening over there. I want to find even the smallest proof that we have purchased a bargain -- not just some shoddy unsafe merchandise with no return policy attached.

PPS: To become an embedded reporter, I need an airplane ticket to Baghdad, a helmet and a Kelvar bullet-proof vest. If anyone has any of the above, please e-mail me at or call me at 510-843-0581. Thanks. And, in exchange, I'll bring you back a "Consumers Report" on Iraq.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Ship of Fools: Like the Jews in 1930s Germany, Palestinians are scrambling to get out.

I was chatting with a friend whose parents had immigrated to Berkeley from East Jerusalem many years ago. "The Zionists are making things so miserable for Palestinians in Israel these days that it's beginning to be a matter of immigrate or die," he said. "But where are they to go? Jordan won't take them." Then he laughed. "Maybe George Bush will take them at his ranch in Texas!" Yeah right.

Then an Israeli friend of mine told me, "This Gaza invasion is nothing new. They've been planning different ways to get rid of Palestinians for the last 50 years. Go to Israel yourself. Check it out. There are now thousands -- if not hundreds of thousands -- of upscale rent-free Israeli condos built on land that used to be owned by Palestinians." And all these free deluxe condos are paid for by U.S. taxpayers.

I wish they'd buy ME a condo!

"Currently, in the section of East Jerusalem mostly inhabited by Arab-Israelis, there are TEN THOUSAND home demolition orders that have already been issued for Arab-Israeli homes," continued my friend. "And the only thing that keeps the Israelis from destroying these 10,000 homes is their lack of trained bulldozer drivers." But they are training them as fast as they can.

Then I read Mike Whitney's recent article in OpEd News. "In the minds of Ehud Olmert and the Israeli leadership, the invasion of Gaza is a 'positive policy' which will 'induce' vast numbers of Palestinians to leave," wrote Whitney. "The humanitarian crisis they are precipitating is not seen as a disaster, but an opportunity. Every Palestinian who is driven from his homeland by grinding poverty, racism or violence, provides another inch or two of ground for Israel to claim as its own."

Olmert has a plan here. "And," states Whitney, "when the unilateral borders are set and Israel owns everything from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River, Olmert will finally realize his dream of 'Greater Israel'. The rivers of blood that have fed that vision will mean nothing,"

Okay. So we got grinding poverty, seized homes and rivers of blood. That should induce Palestinians to leave -- just as Hitler's policy toward the Jews in 1930s Germany induced them to try to leave too. And, like the Jews in Hitler's 1930s Germany, Palestinians are asking themselves the same question. "Where can we go?"

For Palestinians, finding a new homeland is like a scene from that old movie about Jewish German refugees. "Ship of Fools".

The United States refused to take many of the Jews fleeing Germany in the 1930s. And the United States refuses to open its doors to Palestinians fleeing Israel today. Egypt doesn't want the Palestinians either. Who will take them? Iceland? Botswana? Haiti?

I'll take them. I have a spare bedroom! Twenty years from now, I don't want people accusing me of being a Nazi. "What did YOU do to help the Palestinians during the Holocaust, Grandma?"

"Well, you know your Uncle Moussa? He's not really your uncle...." He's someone I rescued from off the Ship of Fools.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Truly scary: A Republican campaign ad with a "Leave it to Beaver" theme song!

What are Republican candidates -- actually, let's call them neo-con candidates because there are still a few Republicans left out there who are actually God-fearing decent human beings (it could happen) -- saying to the American electorate this year? I think it is important for us to know this stuff if Progressives are ever going to win any elections in 2006.

To quote a recent ad from a neo-con favorite of Rush Limbaugh who is running for Congress in North Carolina, "Americans are under attack from Islamic extremists in every corner of the world. Homosexuals are mocking holy matrimony, and the lesbians and feminists are attacking everything sacred. Liberal judges have completely rewritten the Constitution. You can burn the American flag and kill a million babies a year, but you can't post the Ten Commandments or say 'God' in public." Then the ad ends with the theme song from "Leave it to Beaver!"

You know and I know that this nonsense is just typical neo-con smoke-blowing hypocrisy and not anywhere NEAR telling the real truth. But to a voter who only watches Fox News, this sleazy appeal-to-their-baser-instincts hokum may sound true enough to win over their vote.

Progressives cannot afford to ignore the neo-cons' appeal to the more primitive soap-opera-level feelings and fears of American voters. And maybe we need to sink down to the neo-con-men's level and appeal to America's more basic instincts too.

If we were to use the neo-con's talk-down-to-the-voters claptrap style, our ads would probably go something like this:

"George Bush thinks that he has the right to lie to Americans by claiming that he is guided by God!" our candidate will claim. "This loathsome blasphemy by someone our children look up to mocks the very name of all we hold holy. Are we going to stand by while this evil man tries to lure unwary American believers into his diabolical web of hate, greed and lust? No! As long as there is even one American left in our country who can still read the Bible, we will NOT tolerate nor endure the Jesus-bashing going on in the mind and heart of George W. Bush."

And the ad's background music? How about "The Old Rugged Cross." Or perhaps the theme from "Dark Shadows" would be more appropriate. Or maybe even the theme from "The Devil Wears Prada".

Hey, this style works for the neo-cons -- and they lie. Maybe it will work for us too -- when we're telling the truth.

Watch the Ad Rush is Talking About Now
How to save the captured Israeli soldier: Ship him off to the Hague for trial

Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has been jumping up and down so vigorously lately about that "kidnapped" soldier that I'm afraid he's gonna follow Ariel Sharon's example and have a stroke too. "If they don't release Cpl. Shalit, I am going to assassinate the Palestinian Prime Minister!" he cried.

Yeah, then what? The Palestinians are gonna retaliate and assassinate you? Sounds childish to me. I got a better idea.

Let's send Cpl. Gilad Shalit to the Hague and try him there. It's a neutral place. He'll get a fair trial. He's a soldier. Was he "only following orders" or not? I want to know. The Palestinians want to know. Maybe Olmert doesn't want to know but, hey, perhaps this will keep him from having a stroke.

And justice will be served.
Is Gitmo closing or just moving to Afghanistan?

A friend just e-mailed me an article that Gitmo was closing. Is it? Or just moving to another place?

While in Afghanistan with Global Exchange, I visited a lot of NGOs. At one human rights NGO, someone mentioned that the U.S. was building a prison outside of Kabul that would hold Afghan Guantanamo prisoners. According to them it's being administered by the Justice Sector Support Program of the State Department.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Don't bomb Iran yet, George: I'm still lost in Tehran!

My daughter always used to say, "Mom, please stop getting lost! You are always getting lost!" And she's right. My capacity for getting lost is legendary in my family but this time I out-did even myself.

In the Kabul (Afghanistan) airport, while trying to get to the San Francisco airport via Dubai, London and Cincinnati, I somehow managed to end up on the plane to Tehran!

How? Don't even ask.

I have two things to say about Tehran. It's big. And they got a nice airport.

I have just two things to say to George Bush. "Please wait until I get back to California before you bomb Iran," and, "Are you nuts! These people have lives. They have families. They have AIRPORTS. Just like you and me. Enough with the bombs. If you gotta bomb something, go back to blowing up frogs!"

GWB should be the one to get lost.

PS: All the flights and all the airports in the Middle East are CRAWLING with macho white guy "contractors". It's as if the White House, in a surge of backlash against feminism, is personally financing a renaissance of the Marlboro Man. Don't get me wrong. I don't MIND seeing all these Rambo wannabees running around the Middle East in buzz cuts and tight jeans. But at $250,000 apiece for all this testosterone, that's a LITTLE bit out of balance, don't you think?

For every macho cowboy "contractor" let loose in the Middle East, shouldn't we be giving matching funds to a fleet of school marms and lady doctors too? One of us for every one of them? I want to give $250,000 a year to teachers and nurses and warm fuzzy cozy feminine types too. And I think they deserve it more. Anyone can blow up a building or destabilize a third-world country. It takes SKILL to nurture and heal.

PS: They finally got me on the right plane to Dubai. And on the flight from London to Cincinnati, I sat next to a "contractor" just returning from Baghdad. I grilled him mercilessly. "How much do they pay you?"

"About $150,00 a year but you have to stay there at least one year in order to get the tax break."

"How long do you stay there each time?"

"I go over there for four months at a time then I get 14 days' leave to visit my family. I have a wife and a 10-year-old daughter in Kentucky." 14 days? That's not very long.

"Is it dangerous over there?"

"Not really -- if you work inside the base perimeter. I'm a mechanic and I work inside a 15-square-mile area out by the Baghdad airport. It's pretty safe there but we hear the rockets and mortars whizzing by all the time."

"Do you ever have any contact with Iraqis?"

"Actually, yes. They come in and work at the base. But we don't go outside the perimeter. But who would want to. Baghdad is a dump."

"A dump?"

"Yeah. There's no water, no electricity, no sewer. It's like one huge gigantic junk yard out there."

"How does someone go about getting one of those contracting jobs?"

"Look on the internet. Try ITT. KBR is a good site to try."

PPS: At Gatwick Airport in London, they asked me where my flight had originated. "Kabul." Wrong answer.

The Gatwick security team actually pulled my luggage off the plane! I was impressed. They sorted though hundreds of suitcases just to search through mine. The bad news was that they broke one of my souvenirs. But the good news is that at least I knew that my luggage had made it this far and hadn't gotten lost back in Tehran....

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Opium in Afghanistan: Nobody wants to talk about it...except me!

Note: I am spending a week in Afghanistan with a study group from Global Exchange. I have been doing research on the poppy/opium/heroin trade here. It's fascinating -- as is everything else about this country....

In Afghanistan there are some things you talk about and some things you don't. For instance, the government just issued a press release stating that the newspapers must stop calling warlords "warlords". Very clever. The "warlord" problem can now be safely talked about because it has just been eliminated with a stroke of the pen.

Theses guys must have either been taking spin lessons from the White House or George Orwell.

In Afghanistan everyone talks about the next major earthquake. The Kabul valley is surrounded by mountains that seem to shoot straight up from the valley floor. And each of these mountains is covered with adobe-brick huts, clinging on to the mountainsides for dear life because this is the only area where the ultra-poor (Afghanistan is something like the fourth poorest nation in the world) can afford to build. "The precariousness of this housing is very much like last year's pre-earthquake situation in Pakistan," one Afghan explained to me. If the Big One ever hits here, 100,000 people could be killed.

Everyone in Afghanistan talks about corruption. It's becoming a way of life. "Government employees are paid rock-bottom wages, only a few dollars a day. Common laborers sometimes get paid more than we do," an Afghan friend in the Interior Ministry told me. As a result, corruption is rife.

"They have 'ghost workers' here. And in some departments, as many as 20,000 to 30,000 imaginary employees are on the payroll."

Apparently, poor Afghans are as honest as the day is long and seem to have the same approach to morality as Americans back in 1910 did. "I dropped my cell phone on the street," said one American, "and someone ran after me for a whole block in order to give it back."

It's only among the rich and powerful here that theft and corruption are rampant. Hey. That sounds like America in 2006.

Everybody talks about Condoleeza Rice's new policy for Afghanistan. The US-AID program here has been totally successful in winning the hearts and minds of Afghans by funding local schools and health clinics. But Condi has other ideas. "We need stop all that and put our money into roads and hydroelectric construction." Looks like she's been reading "Confessions of an Economic Hitman" again. Money that goes to the betterment of Afghans doesn't go to Halliburton, Bechtel and KBR. Forget about hearts and minds! Taxpayers' money that's not going to Bush's friends is money wasted. Period.

Corruption in Afghanistan? "Imagine Enron times ten."

Everyone here in Afghanistan talks about Pakistan. Everyone here LOVES to talk about Pakistan. "Pakistan is falling apart. Its four regions are in conflict and it's always fighting with India! It's just a matter of time before Pakistan fails as a state. But it thinks that if it can seize Afghanistan, it will gain 'strategic depth' in case of a war with India," said one diplomat I talked with. "Pakistan has been working to destabilize Afghanistan for decades for this reason. Everyone in Afghanistan hates Pakistan."

People here LIKE a lot of the things that US AID and various American NGOs are doing here. But universally and to a man Afghans hate Pakistan as far as I can tell.

And while there is not hardly any of the hatred of America that I thought I would find here, Afghans HATE all the money the Bush bureaucracy pours into Pakistan.

In addition, Pakistan's policy toward Afghanistan is the same as Israel's policy toward Palestine -- subtly undermine it, destabilize it and then, when things fall apart, go for the land grab. Also Pakistan's policy toward the various Afghan tribes is the same as America's policy toward the Shi'a and Sunnis and Israel's policy toward Hamas and Fatah: Get them fighting among themselves and then just stand back.

Everyone in Afghanistan talks about all this other stuff going on but NOBODY likes to talk about opium, the country's major source of revenue. Even George Bush doesn't talk about it. Why should he? Opium production has sky-rocketed here on his watch.

American drug companies don't talk about it. Why should they? If all the opiates in Afghanistan were sold as a legal medical cash crop, the drug companies wouldn't make all that money by selling morphine.

The "Warlords" who make more money from the drug trade than you or I will ever see in a lifetime even if we won the lottery once a week for a month -- they DEFINITELY don't talk about opium. They are too busy growing, packaging and shipping the stuff.

In the Northern Alliance region, opium poppies grow EVERYWHERE -- on the farms, in the schoolyards, in the park. And 25% of the North is strung out.

The Russians and Iranians don't talk about heroin -- which needs to be processed from the raw opiates grown here. Why should they talk about it? The Russians and Iranians own most of the labs.

The people of Kabul don't talk about opium either. At least not to me. "What about opium?" I keep asking officials. Dead silence.

"Can I buy some here in Kabul? How many people use opium here? Is it illegal? What does it look like? Is it a problem with the young people? Where is it processed? How much does it cost?"

Shut up, Jane. No one wants to talk about opium. No one. Yet it is Afghanistan's largest source of income. It's the elephant in the living room that MUST be talked about if you want to understand anything going on here.
Bicycle built for two: Solving gas shortages & obesity problems at the same time!

There are not one but two kinds of oil driving the American economy: Gasoline and partially-hydrogenated vegetable oil. We all know about gasoline. We purchase gas at $3.50 a gallon. We send our sons off to fight in Bush's wars so that he can make more money off of it. We breath gas-polluted air. We schlep down the freeways at 90 miles an hour. We are experts on gasoline.

But I only found out about America's second "oil war" recently -- when doctors began telling us that partially-hydrogenated vegetable oil was killing off Americans too.

I am also an expert on partially-hydrogenated vegetable oil. How did this happen? Easy. I went to the partially-hydrogenated school of hard knocks! Every year since they were Brownies, me and my daughter's Girl Scout troop have spent the first three weeks in March standing in front of the Berkeley Bowl Market selling Thin Mints, Tagalongs and Samoas -- rain or shine. And we did a booming business too. PEOPLE REALLY LOVE THAT STUFF. In just ten years, our troop -- composed of only eleven girls -- sold 60,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies! And what was our strong selling point? Partially-hydrogenated vegetable oil! Gotta have it. It's addictive. I KNOW.

More than wars, poverty or cancer, obesity is killing Americans off at a tremendous rate. Just yesterday, I saw a teenager at the Pittsburg-Bay Point BART train station -- she couldn't have been older than 19 -- who weighed 500 pounds. FIVE HUNDRED POUNDS! "Jane, you gotta have been mistaken!" Yeah, it might have been closer to 600.

So. Addiction to gasoline is killing us. Obesity caused by the rampant use of partially-hydrogenated vegetable oils is killing us too. So. Let's solve both problems at once. Let's all start riding bicycles.

Will somebody out there PLEASE invent a bunch of bicycles that we can all dude up in and ride to work, shopping, across country and to take the cat to the vet? Then we can get healthy and get exercise and get less pollution all at the same time. Let's become less dependent on oil!

And will somebody please invent an 18-wheeler bike-truck so that truckers will get exercise too? I can see it all now -- this huge monster Peter-Built powered by 25 truckers pedaling their hearts out in sync with Johnny Cash singing "Walk the Line," stopping at truck stops to fuel up on Gatorade!

PS: Our Girl Scout troop took its profits and went off on a Caribbean cruise. Boy, did we have fun. Somebody needs to invent a bicycle cruise ship too!

PPS: It's my 64th birthday today and it is really going well. Only one more year and I'll be eligible for Medi-Care! Plus I just got a call from President [sic] Bush, promising me that he was finally going to stop dissing Jesus, give up his weird pyramid schemes to destroy the world and spend the rest of his life modeling orange jump suits. This was the best birthday present of all!