Friday, October 26, 2007

Who is responsible for the California Fires?

Are the fires in Southern California a result of terrorism as some on Fox News have suggested? Fox News quoted a 2003 FBI memo that alerted law enforcement agencies that an al-Qaeda terrorist being held in detention had talked of masterminding a plot to set a series of devastating forest fires around the western United States. Of course, "al Qaeda" is always the operative word when Fox refers to terrorism, but what if there is someone else behind these fires, someone who could clearly benefit from getting rid of problematic neighbors and getting big government contracts from disaster relief operations?

I recently got two emails that are pretty disturbing. The first one links to the National Terror Alert Response Center and is sourced from ChicoER (although ChicoER's link is now down). It describes suspicious activity by men with cameras visiting various Northern California Fire Stations and running off when detected. see

The second one is about the town of Potrero where the citizens were planning a major fight against Blackwater, the mercenary company that is planning to build a 824-acre facility in in their community. This article describes how the citizens of Potrero saw no firetrucks until long after their houses burned down, found all roads blocked, and heard no reverse 911 calls warning them to evacuate.

Obviously, we don't have enough information to come to any conclusions as to what this might mean, maybe we never will, but these are very suspicious stories that need some examination.

Here's the first story:

Posted on September 20th, 2007

During the last week of July, fire officials in the Bay Area city of Campbell reported that two men had been seen videotaping routine activities at a fire station.

The men were reportedly in their 20s or early 30s, and one was using a sophisticated news media-style camera.

When firefighters attempted to talk with the men, they reportedly jumped into a waiting car and sped off.

The incident prompted the Sacramento Regional Terrorism Threat Assessment Center to send out a request for Northern California fire stations to watch for similar incidents, and report them immediately.

The day the request went out, Sept. 6, a second, similar incident was reported at a fire station in Yuba City.

According to officials, a fire captain encountered two men parked outside the city’s main fire station. One of the men got out and allegedly began taking pictures of the fire station’s administration building. When the captain approached the men, to tell them they were in a no-parking zone, the photographer jumped in the vehicle and the men left.

The man who took the photos was described as being between 30 and 40 years of age.

On Sept. 12, Fresno Fire Department officials spotted two men in a vehicle allegedly observing activities at a fire training center. When questioned, the driver reportedly said they were just checking things out, then left immediately.

Two days later, on Sept. 14, personnel from the Sacramento Metro Fire Department noticed two men taking photos of a fire station. A third man sat in the back of a car, and appeared to be drawing or taking notes. When fire officials walked toward them, the two taking pictures jumped in the vehicle and sped away.

The men allegedly took pictures in front of the station, and in the rear. They ranged in age from late teens to about 60, officials recalled.

Tim Johnstone, a commander with the threat assessment center in Sacramento, said all of the incidents are being investigated, but there is no indication they might be related.

“We aren’t considering this a specific threat at this time; we’re just asking our public safety partners to be on the watch for suspicious activity,” he said.

He said the threat assessment center was formed to act as a collection point for homeland security intelligence, and disseminate it appropriately.

Jay Alan, deputy director of communication for the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security, said Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is concerned about security agencies sharing information, and has made it a top priority.

Local officials said no suspicious incidents involving videotaping or photos have been reported at fire stations.

Fire department personnel are being asked to take note of vehicle descriptions, descriptions of suspicious subjects, and complete license plate numbers. Citizens who witness suspicious activity, near fire stations or elsewhere, should do the same, and report it to their local law enforcement agency.

Citizens should not attempt to contact suspicious individuals."

The second story is from award-winning journalist Miriam Raftery:
Potrero, California, the town that has gained national attention for standing up against Blackwater Worldwide's plan to build a private military-style training camp in their pristine backcountry community east of San Diego, now faces an even more formidable force. The Harris wildfire which began outside Potrero early Sunday morning has ravaged the small rural community, where many residents remain trapped without supplies four days after the fire began.

"It's like the Kalahari Desert as you drive down Potrero Valley Road. There are sand dunes everywhere-dirt and ash," Jan Hedlun reported via cell phone on Tuesday. "We can't get in or out, and we are running out of supplies." This morning, however, Hedlun said food will be provided to beleaguered residents at the old Volunteer Fire Department Building. The County recently began initiating its fire consolidation plan, closing some rural volunteer firefighting departments. But here in Potrero, some residents complained that they never saw a single fire engine until long after their homes burned down.

Stretches where homes once stood along Highway 94 have been reduced to wasteland. Many homes have burned, although the town's store, library, and Post Office are still standing. "There is looting going on up here," said Hedlun. Another source described Potrero as a "moonscape with houses here and there."

Many Potrero residents never received reverse 911 calls warning them to evacuate. Some rely on cell phones, which were not included in the evacuation system.

"It's like Armageddon," said Jill Michaels, who had just four minutes to pack belongings before fleeing flames that singed her husband. She and her family tried to evacuate but found all roads blocked. She returned to witness her Potrero home burn to the ground.

Here you can read the rest of the story:

So, as the people of Potrero were preparing for an intense recall election on December 11 to kick out the planning group who approved Blackwater's base this fire breaks loose and devastates their community. And, then we have an alert regarding the men filming fire stations in Northern California?

Do these two events connect in anyway?

Time and investigation may tell.

(And this just in: FEMA says sorry for faked briefing:
Three days after staging a televised news briefing defending its response to the California wildfires, FEMA apologized and said it wouldn't happen again.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Zio-Fascism Awareness Week

From October 22 to 28th, David Horowitz and his right-wing fascist cohorts -- misogynist Ann Coulter, Neocon Godfather Michael Ledeen, Fetalphobe ex-Senator Rick Santorum, and an assortment of other ghouls and goblins, will be coming to a university near you. They bring visions of evil-doers with bombs strapped around their waist, ready to blow up you and your loved ones in an attempt to scare you into giving up your treats (freedoms) for tricks (boggiemen) during Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week.

Examine your candy closely...who knows what you'll find...Osama bin Laden...It is just a matter of time.

According to Horowitz's Terrorism Awareness Project website, which is promoting the Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week:
"The purpose of this protest is as simple as it is crucial: to confront the two Big Lies of the political left: that George Bush created the war on terror and that Global Warming is a greater danger to Americans than the terrorist threat. Nothing could be more politically incorrect than to point this out. But nothing could be more important for American students to hear. In the face of the greatest danger Americans have ever confronted, the academic left has mobilized to create sympathy for the enemy and to fight anyone who rallies Americans to defend themselves. According to the academic left, anyone who links Islamic radicalism to the war on terror is an "Islamophobe." According to the academic left, the Islamo-fascists hate us not because we are tolerant and free, but because we are "oppressors."

Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week is a national effort to oppose these lies and to rally American students to defend their country."
Oh, my, they hate us because we are "tolerant and free," not because we are blowing up their children and contaminating their land with radioactive depleted uranium. How silly of us.

But of course what is really going on is the attempt to mould our minds to support a rabid right-wing agenda through the process of mythmaking.

Horowitz and the Power of Myths

So, who is David Horowitz and what is his gig? This “ex-Marxist” is now a right-wing ideologue/deceiver who is a key promoter of grand myths in support of the Neocon agenda. As most of you know, the Neocons hold key positions in the Bush Administration and are the crafters of today’s boogieman -- the “Islamofascist” as well as the phony “War on Terror” -- two phantoms to be used as tools for furtherance of their goals of dividing and dismantling the Middle East by war and deception.

One of Horowitz's fellow mythmakers is Neocon Philip Zelikow, the ex-executive director of the 9/11 Commission who helped create one of the grandest public myths of all -- that 19 hijackers fooled the entire military and intelligence community and carried out the crimes of 9/11. Zelikow was a student of mythmaking and while at Harvard Zelikow worked with Ernest May and Richard Neustadt on the use, and misuse, of history in policymaking. They observed, as Zelikow noted in his own words, that "contemporary" history is "defined functionally by those critical people and events that go into forming the public's presumptions about its immediate past."

Presciently, Zelikow speculated in an 1998 article he co-authored entitled "Catastrophic Terrorism" that if the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Towers had succeeded,
"such an act of catastrophic terrorism would be a watershed event in American history. It could involve loss of life and property unprecedented in peacetime and undermine America’s fundamental sense of security, as did the Soviet atomic bomb test in 1949. Like Pearl Harbor, the event would divide our past and future into a before and after. The United States might respond with draconian measures scaling back civil liberties, allowing wider surveillance of citizens, detention of suspects and use of deadly force. More violence could follow, either future terrorist attacks or U.S. counterattacks. Belatedly, Americans would judge their leaders negligent for not addressing terrorism more urgently."

Do these people hold magic powers to foretell the future? Yes, and no. They can tell the future because they know the game plan ahead of time, but they have no magical powers except for the power they hold over American minds through deceit, deception and evil.

Are we being NeoConned?

You Bet. The Neocons have written in their policy papers called “Rebuilding America’s Defenses; Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century” and “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm” of the need for a wider war in the Middle East to create a beneficial geopolitical landscape for Israel. Both papers are widely criticised for advocating for an aggressive foreign policy and advancing right-wing Zionism. In the Rebuilding America’s Defences document they write of the need for a “catastrophic and catalyzing event—like a new Pearl Harbor” to further this goal.

Today, there is plenty of evidence to prove that we have been lied to about 9/11 and the real reasons for the war. Millions of Americans are now calling for a truly independent investigation of 9/11 because of the many discrepencies and inconsistancies in the official story. For more information, see and

Today the grand myth is that “islamo-fascisism” is the greatest threat to democracy and our “way of life”. This fabrication is being promoted by the corporate media and a few right-wing ideologues. However, Horowitz is concerned that you have not sufficently bought this lie which is why he is on his campus crusade.

Don’t fall for the lies. Don’t buy the grand con of the neocons.

For a feminist perspective on Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week see Barbara Ehrenreich's latest

Film below: "The Neocon Agenda" An interview with Dr. Stephen Sniegoski by Karen Kwiatkowski

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Who's Your Daddy Nation

(Editor's note: Phil Rockstroh, a contributing writer to Redpill8, is not only an eloquent writer but he is a keen observer of those forces that are wreaking havoc on the soul of America. In this essay, Phil gives us insights as to how rampant corporatism has taken over the American psyche and is acting like an alien plague that is stripping the state and its people of any vestiges of freedom, compassion, and individuality.)

By Phil Rockstroh
October 2, 2007

"We must become the change we want to see."
-- Mahatma Gandhi

"In any case, I hate all Iranians."
--Debra Cagan, Deputy Assistant Secretary to Defense Secretary, Robert Gates

How many times do we, the people of the U.S., have to go around on this queasy-making merry-go-round of propaganda and militarism before we shout -- enough! -- then shutdown the whole cut-rate carnival and run the scheming carnies who operate it out of town?

It is imperative the nation's citizens begin to apprehend the patterns present in this ceaseless cycle of official deceit and collective pathology. This republic, or any other, cannot survive, inhabited by a populace with such a slow learning curve.

Over the last three decades, the authoritarian right has risen to create the nation they have been longing for since their humbling by the Watergate scandal.

After being subdued and humiliated by the mechanisms of a free republic, the Right has turned the tables -- and subdued and humiliated the republic. If the trend continues, all but unchallenged and unabated, we might as well replace the torch held aloft by Lady Liberty with a taser.

How could it come to this? How did so many U.S. citizens grow so apathetic, oblivious, if not flat-out hostile to the tenets of a free republic?

The authoritarianism inherent to the structure of multi-conglomerate corporatism is antithetical to the concept of the rights and liberties of the individual. Most individuals -- bound by a corporation's secrecy-prone, hierarchical values -- will, over time, lose the ability to display free thinking, engage in civic discourse, and even be able to envisage the notion of freedom.

This is true, from the florescent light-flooded aisles of Wal*Mart to the insular executive offices of Halliburton to the sound stages of CNN and Fox News.

Under the prevailing order, reality, for the laboring class of the corporate state, has become debt slavery; in contrast, the simulacrum of reality, in which, the striver class exists, is a milieu defined by obsessive careerism.

Under the hegemony of corporatism, freedom might as well be fairy dust. It only exists in an imaginary land, not the places one arrives by way of one's morning and evening commute.

In addition, economically, by way of decades of financial chicanery, perpetrated by the nation's business and political elite, we are eating our seed crop, and the consequences of this harvest of deceit have left the people of the U.S., intellectually and spiritually malnourished.

As a result, many attempt to sate the keening emptiness and mitigate the chronic unease by gorging themselves on the Junk Food Jesus of End Time mythology, which is a belief system wherein corporeal events and actions (personal and collective) have no lasting consequence because even the human body is to be cast aside, like a junk food wrapper, when the cosmic CEO decides to make the earth a part of his heavenly franchise.

Accordingly, the corporate state requires modes of being that evince obliviousness and obedience (the defining traits of the US consumer) on the part of the majority of the populace. Ergo, the rise of both Christian consumerists and the vast apparatus of the right-wing propaganda matrix that dominates news cycles via the electronic mass media.

History’s Pantheon

All coming to pass, as George W. Bush -- the reigning mascot of this fantasyland of infantile omnipotence and instant gratification -- is rocked to sleep by his handlers cooing preposterous tales of how history will place him in the pantheon of those men whose greatness was unrecognized by the shallow and petty minds of their own era.

When, in fact, Bush, whose ruinous wars of aggression, deficit-ballooning tax breaks for the wealthy, and policies of crony capitalism (that enabled the economy-decimating, easy credit banking scams of the present) displays the character traits of a man ridden with severe psychological trauma; his attempts to tamp down immense inner turmoil, by means of his grandiose bearing, his absolute certitude regarding his own infallibility, and his bullying behavior, have resulted in an exteriorizing of his pathologies on a global scale, and this is playing out ugly, for all concerned.

Why do the people of the nation (for the most part) slouch, slack-jawed and passive, before this assault upon their collective integrity and personal dignity?

For generations, the ephemeral dazzle of pop culture paternalism and tabloid Manichaeism, as confabulated by advertising and public relations hacks and corporate news courtesans, has overwhelmed gravitas, history, even self-awareness.

As all the while, shallow opportunists have been elevated to the status of pundits, experts and sages. Withal, the present system generously rewards those individuals who have mastered the art of impersonating human traits and responses in utterly contrived environments.

As a whole, the majority of the populi have come to garner information about the world at large, and, worse, their own self-image, from a medium where phoniness is a treasured commodity, while authentic human traits and responses are banished to a beggar's road.

Is it any wonder that the media types who thrive in these artificial settings have come to define authenticity as being only those attributes that appear authentic on television?

Apropos, if you ask these "media personalities" about the shortcomings and corruption of the present system, they will plead the careerist's Nuremberg Defense ... of only being a storm trooper obeisant to the "bottom line."

Fantasy alert: One would hope that if one were to descend down a ladder constructed of these layers upon layers of bottom lines, one would arrive in a Hell reserved for those possessed with such shameless cupidity.

Reality redux: Yet as much as the human heart might yearn for such outcomes, there will never arrive the terrible majesty and bitter reckoning of anything resembling Judgment Day, heralded by celestial trumpets and legions of naked and cowering sinners; instead, in human affairs, there arises dire exigencies that can no longer be ignored nor explained away.

The arrival of such a moment for the U.S. is nearly at hand.

When a nation manifests a mixture of mass ignorance and official mendacity, in combination with unchecked power emanating from an insular and arrogant elite, a golden age of peace and plenty is as possible as holding a tea dance in a tsunami.

As sure as a village of desperate fools who devour their seed crop, a nation that refuses universal health care to its children -- yet rushes to the aid of its parasitic class of wealthy "speculators" and "investors" from the consequences of their own greed-besotted, fiscal debacles -- is doomed.

Collective Immolation

This is the classic pattern of collective immolation experienced by a nation when power and privilege is increasingly consolidated in fewer and fewer hands.

In essence, this is the key to the conundrum paralyzing the leadership of the Democratic Party: In a culture in which an individual's worth is determined by the degree one can be exploited by the corrupt interests that control both the private and public sector, the public at large has little value to the political establishment ... That is: other than, every few years, being bamboozled for their votes in the sham spectacles known as the U.S. electoral process, a scam mostly financed, hence controlled, by the aforementioned big money interests.

In sum, this is the reason the Democratic Party feels little allegiance to its base. In turn, the political classes themselves are only of value to the big money corporate elite, because, by their delivery of staggering amounts of pork, massive tax cuts, and the passage of desired anti-regulatory legislation, they serve as their errand boys.

Moreover, the corporate control of Congress is a microcosm of U.S. society as a whole. Accordingly, the increasingly corporatized, ever more submissive people of the U.S. should be termed, the Whose-Your-Daddy Nation.

Yet, since life does not exist in stasis, within this hierarchy of deceivers and dupes, we will gnaw at one another's ankles until the whole pathetic pyramid collapses.

All around us, we can feel the shoddy structure starting to sway and buckle. Axiomatically, the value of the dollar is collapsing like the smooth facade of a con man called-out by a group of wised-up marks.

At present, in the wake of the bust in the housing market, repo men are retracing the tracks of real estate grifters who fleeced legions of wishful thinkers who bought the American dream and now only possess the misery of debt slavery.

One would think the time for insurrection has arrived -- that, at long last, an awakened and enraged public would rise up and foreclose on these reprobates and ne'er-do-wells squatting in the White House and skulking through Congress.

The power and privilege of the corporately controlled elite of Washington should be repossessed like the Lexuses of Atlanta real estate agents and the oversized pickup trucks of Tucson contractors, confiscated in the wake of the collapse of the housing market.

Foreclosure signs and repossession notices should festoon the whole of official Washington. Turn about would be fair play.

Since, the rise of Reaganism, the financial sector has been engaged in selling off the assets of the nation's public sector to the highest bidders. It is amazing that, at this point, this klavern of kleptocrats haven't yet torn from the walls and absconded with all the copper plumbing fixtures and fittings on Capitol Hill.


Is a turnaround possible?

If we wake-up and smell the jackboot.

From the miasma of right-wing media propaganda, to the proliferation of predatory capitalism, to the corruption and cupidity of the prison industrial complex, to the pandemic of police brutality and the trampling of the rights of the accused, to perennial civilian shooting sprees, to the muzzling of dissent, to the rise of the national surveillance state, to the use and acceptance of torture as state policy, to the adoption of an unlawful, immoral foreign policy doctrine that promotes policies of perpetual war, one is forced to conclude that bullying, and deferring to bullies, has become the dominate mode of being in the U.S.

Remedy: In order to turn this trend around, the people of the U.S. must begin to acquire the anti-authoritarian traits of empathy and engagement. The gaining of empathy alleviates the pathological need to be a bully, while social and political engagement mitigates feelings of powerlessness that authoritarian bully-boys, such as Bush, Cheney, Giuliani, et al., exploit.

In short, remedial human lessons for the U.S. population, in general, and for the corporate and political classes, in particular.

Let us start the process by having a period of grief and repentance for the death and suffering that our government, in our name, has inflicted on the people of Iraq.

This should be done as the U.S. begins the process of a complete military withdrawal from their decimated nation, and the bestowing of economic reparations upon the millions of Iraqis who have suffered under the brutal machinations and murderous mayhem unloosed by our country's contemptible invasion and occupation.

To do so, might save the people of our next target, Iran (as well as ourselves) a world of grief.

(Phil Rockstroh, a self-described, auto-didactic, gasbag monologist, is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City. He may be contacted at Visit Phil's website,

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Why Torture?

Recently a Washington Post associate editor proposed that President Bush and others in his administration who support torture (or as the administration likes to phrase it "harsh interrogation techniques") should go through the sanctioned techniques themselves.

Eugene Robinson wrote on a discussion board on Sunday:
"My proposal on torture is serious. Let me know if you agree: Bush administration officials who claim the 'harsh' interrogation techniques being used on terrorism suspects are not torture should have to undergo those same techniques. Personally. Repeatedly."
Robinson has a point. After all, this would be a good experiment to conclude whether or not the administration's policies mesh with their rhetoric, and would bring a lot of peace of mind for those of us who are worried that the U.S. is breaking international and domestic laws that prohibit torture.

After all, If being waterboarded and/or having to sit naked for 3 days in a cold cell is fine with them, maybe we would need to reevaluate our revulsion to such practices.

But, of course, we know that President Bush, Alberto Gonzales and John Yoo, co-author of the "torture memos," would never take up such a bold proposition. They know exactly what these "harsh" treatment are: torture by another name. They would never submit to what the goat herder who got swept up in Afghanistan for the ransom money would submit too. They would be terrified and wet their pants.

But, we should be asking ourselves: Why does the administration want to torture people anyway? Isn't torture justly condemned all around the world? Why would the U.S. want to commit such abhorrent practices when it could damage the nation's reputation?

The administration's excuse for torture is that it is the only way to get actionable intelligence from those who are resistant to talk. They basically use the "ticking-time" hypothesis that law professor Alan M. Dershowitz has raised in his arguments in support of torture.

However, there is a big problem with this argument as people will confess to just about anything just to make the torture stop. As Michael Ratner from the Center for Constitutional Rights puts it, "The 'intelligence' coming out of the Guantanamo interrogations is... basically garbage." Most pychologists and interrogators would agree.

So, maybe we should be looking for a more likely rationale for torture.

Naomi Wolf has been studying the rise of fascism in America. Her latest book, "The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot" spells out why torture is so appealing to fascists regimes, especially when the state's excuse for repression is primarily a ruse:

She writes on page 71:
"Consider: If you have a much-hyped threat that you've used to lead the nation to war—and if case after case against the "dangerous terrorists" falls apart—don't you need false confessions? If you torture prisoners, you will certainly obtain an endless stream of false confessions...

The answer I believe is political stage management: Because how can we demonstrate we are at war without military commissions and detainees?

If there were a fair legal system that sorted out the guilty from the innocent, it would be impossible to maintain the main goals—not to mention the profits, though this pressure is doubtless unconscious—of the War on Terror. Too many innocent people would be sent home."
Naomi hits the nail on the head here.

Of course, you need people to confess to being combatants in a fictional war, and torture is a great weapon in the administration's arsenal to support their thesis: the innocent goat herder can be transformed by electric shocks into a menacing islamofascist bent on importing a dirty bomb into America; and, the American patriot who believes that the Constitution is the law of the land can become a member of "al Queda in America" with enough water being pour down his throat. Their confessions validate the war-makers' myth.

Confessions through torture was also a favorite tactic of the Roman Catholic church during the Inquisition. Like today, false accusations and "confessions" of so-called witches were used to decimate the church's enemies and confiscate people's land and wealth.

Nothing much changes in how repressive states work: back then it was witches that did the "devil's work"; today, it is "evildoers," bent on taking away our freedoms.

And, there's also another side benefit for the state to announce that it tortures: it has a chilling effect on dissent here at home. Today, if you are declared an "enemy combatant," and Bush now has that authority to call you one by his say-so alone, you can be tortured too. I believe he, and the state, want you to know that.

Of course, they are hoping that we will shrink in fear and be compliant with this knowledge. If we lose our courage to speak out, they win. We all need to condemn the perpetrators and supporters of torture as well as expose the lies that help them get away with these crimes.

above art by

Friday, October 5, 2007

The coup d'tat has been televised

Please, somebody help me! I can't stop watching Glenn Beck, Joe Scarborough and Bill O'Reilly! I am drawn to them like a fly on a hot, steaming pile. But, unlike the fly, I am not enjoying the experience. When I watch these vipers I feel dirty, my skin crawls, my blood pressure rises, the feeling of dread frequently overwhelms me. Perhaps I should take some Prozac like the commercial says.

I know I should banish my TV. Take it out to pasture. Scream at it. Shoot it. Give it a befitting undignified burial. I should have complete and utter contempt of the de-illuminating box; after all, one can only tolerate so many missing blondes, microwaved babies, and mushroom clouds over Beck's head. But, sadly, and maybe insanely, I am compelled to watch the nightly macabre stage shows; after all, how else will we get clues as to what the madmen have planned for us.

Prozac please!

Question: why won't the REVOLUTION BE TELEVISED? THE COUP WAS in vivid detail. Two majestic towers hit by lightening from the sky; people falling; the crown topples -- 9/11 is the trump card of change. We will be forever changed. The master magician has played his hand. It is up to us to interpret the card properly.

Will we?

Maybe Better Bad News has some answers for us in modern-day news vernacular, i.e., random verbal chaos with occasional truth smattered in. Their motto -- "half true more or less 100% of the time." Enjoy.


Ahh, it's all beginning to make sense now.