2.28.2005

Check Your Cabinets

Thank you to OneWorld for the pointer . . .

U.S. Firms Urged to Stop Importing Indonesian Timber
J.R. Pegg
Environment News Service (ENS)
Mon., Feb. 28, 2005

WASHINGTON, DC, February 25, 2005 (ENS) - BlueLinx, the largest wood distributor in the United States, is importing undocumented timber from Indonesia's critically endangered rainforests, environmentalists said Thursday.

Greenpeace and Rainforest Action Network (RAN) say their investigations prove BlueLinx is knowingly purchasing wood from eight Indonesian mills that have well-documented histories of trafficking in illegal timber.

The Atlanta-based company's Indonesian purchasing policies and practices "constitute crimes against nature and humanity," said Brant Olson, director of RAN's Old Growth Campaign..

"We are calling on the company to stop such activity until there are basic safeguards in place...to ensure the legality of this wood," Olson told reporters via teleconference.

The environmental groups note that other companies--including Centex Corporation, International Paper and Lanoga Corporation--have voluntary agreed to stop buying Indonesian pulp and timber products.

BlueLinx did not return a request for comment . . .

RAN and Greenpeace said they have been unable to track the final destination of the Indonesian timber imported by BlueLinx.

The environment groups are also using the findings of their investigations to criticize financial giant JP Morgan Chase, which has lent BlueLinx some $165 million.

"It is critical to follow the money," said Ilyse Hogue, director of RAN's Global Finance Campaign. "This shows that there is a shocking lack of responsibility and due diligence from JP Morgan Chase." . . .

Illegal logging is rampant in Indonesia, fueled by high demand in consumer nations for cheap timber and carried out by criminal cartels that rely on corrupt government officials.

Indonesian authorities estimate 70 to 90 percent of logging in Indonesia is probably illegal and acknowledge they lack the resources to verify legal exports.

Some 2.6 million hectares of Indonesian land is deforested each year, threatening the remaining 40 million hectares of natural forest--home to millions of indigenous people and a long list of endangered species.

Environmentalists fear Indonesian old growth forests could be wiped out with 15 years if illegal logging is not greatly curtailed.

"Buyers and consumers must recognize and assume responsibility for how their actions contribute to this illegal logging crisis in Indonesia," said Dr. Lisa Curran, director of the Tropical Resources Institute at the Yale School of Forestry. "We must lead by example by implementing independently verified chain-of-custody programs that document the sources of wood products and materials."

The United States is the world's largest importer and consumer of timber and wood products.
[read the whole piece . . .]

Who wooda guessed?

At least Kofi gets some things right

From Reuters today:
Annan Says Women's Equality Hurt; U.S. Raises Abortion
Mon Feb 28, 2005 12:07 PM ET

By Evelyn Leopold

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned Monday that sex trafficking and the growth of AIDS were imperiling the quest for female equality as the United States raised the divisive issue of abortion rights.

Annan told the opening of a two-week conference on women's rights that many governments since the 1995 Beijing women's conference had recognized that women's equality was critical to a nation's development and growth.

The U.N. meeting, with at least 100 government delegations, 80 ministers from Afghanistan to Peru, as well as 6,000 activists, is analyzing progress and setbacks since the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995.

Rather than producing a lengthy document, the organizers decided to keep controversies in check by writing a short declaration that reaffirms and pledges implementation of the 150-page platform of action agreed to in Beijing.

But, to the dismay of key delegates, the United States submitted amendments at a negotiating session Friday, declaring that the Beijing conference did not create "any new international human rights" and did not include the right to abortion . . .
[more . . .]

As far as I'm concerned, Kofi Annan every day appears more and more to be a jerk. But he is right on this one.


 

.:: Metacine.net - A Magazine for the New Edge ::.

This sounds really exciting. It premieres this Summer, but they are looking for contributors now.

2.27.2005

Radical democracy reading list

Thivai Abhor at Dialogic has posted a terrific catalog of material on radical democracy. It is there for his students, who are evidently writing papers on the topic. But it is a wonderful resource for anyone thinking about progressive populism.

2.26.2005

Peggy Noonan: The Blogs Must Be Crazy Or maybe the MSM is just suffering from freedom envy.

OpinionJournal

When I find myself agreeing with Peggy Noonan, my children, we are truly through the Looking Glass....

2.25.2005

Progressing

From Undernews, "Third Party Gains Power in Madison, Wisconsin". Clips:
DEAN MOSIMAN, WISCONSIN STATE JOURNAL - Brenda Konkel, Austin King and their political buddies used to pour their souls out -- mostly in vain -- for the poor and voiceless. Now their leftist political party, Progressive Dane, is changing Madison, recently helping pass controversial, landmark laws to raise the city's minimum wage, force developers to build lower-cost housing, and ban smoking in bars and restaurants . . .

Progressive Dane emerged from the local chapter of the Wisconsin Labor-Farm party, which was patterned after Germany's progressive Green Party. PD has thrived in liberal Madison partly because local Democrats concentrate on state and national electoral politics. Democrats don't do grass-roots work on leftist social justice causes or issues like low-cost housing, tenant rights and good land use, members said . . .

Pressing

From Jay Rosen's PressThink:
Individual journalists have the chance... Peggy Noonan made the same point yesterday in her Wall Street Journal love letter to bloggers, which was also a shrewd piece of writing. "Some brilliant rising young reporter with a growing reputation at the Times or Newsweek or Post is going to quit, go into the blogging business, start The Daily Joe, get someone to give him a guaranteed ad for two years, and become a journalistic force," she speculated. "His motive will be influence." His method will be excellence.

Yes, but influence and excellence for what? Glocal journalism isn't really a technique. It's the beginning of an answer to that question. McGill sums it up.

Glocalized journalism is a way of writing the news that describes and explains a community in the widest possible useful context, which is very often--I am tempted to say most often--a global context.

Glocal journalism exposes the local effects of global causes, the local reactions to global actions, the local opportunities of global trends, the local threats of global dangers, and the local love of global neighbors.

Glocalized journalism is not a policy. It’s a point of view.

And if you have share it, I'm sure Doug McGill would love to hear from you, so as to make a few more connections.
[read the whole article]

Doug McGill's blog is called Glocal Man.

2.24.2005

And Bush Sayeth to the Poor, the Sick, the Crippled, "Tough Titty."

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
{topic via Cookie Jill at Skippy the Bush Kangaroo:}

NYT: "With little fanfare, the Bush administration is proposing to stop financing the construction of new housing for the mentally ill and physically handicapped as part of a 50 percent cut in its housing budget for people with disabilities."
[...]
"Until now, Section 811 has provided equal amounts each year, roughly, for financing for new construction, and rent subsidies for disabled tenants. But under the 2006 budget proposal, the capital allocation would be eliminated and the overall budget would shrink by half, to $120 million from $238 million."
[...]
"This time, the federal government would discontinue financing housing for people with spinal cord injuries or psychiatric illnesses who are not necessarily homeless but may live in nursing homes or psychiatric hospitals.

By relying exclusively on vouchers, the federal government would essentially be lumping these people with able-bodied Section 8 recipients in competing for some of the same apartments."

Yes they will. They'll be lumping them in. But they'll be lumping them into fewer and fewer homes because Bush is proposing cutting funding for the entire section eight program while consistently holding off on the federal allocation to cities responsible for local housing issues.

The Republican: "Hundreds of portable subsidies - known as Section 8 vouchers - were cut from the region's allotment during the current fiscal year because President Bush "so low-balled the request" for funding the program"

The Tidings: "On Feb. 17, for the first time in history, the Housing Authority of Los Angeles suspended 1,500 housing vouchers, citing lack of funds. The move affects people who had received vouchers through the program but who have not yet signed rental contracts. Although this cut does not affect participants already in Section 8 housing, continuing funding problems could leave another 3,600 of these tenants in jeopardy of losing their homes or coming up with the full rental fee.

As a result, within the last few weeks the number of people coming to St. Brigid's food program for boxes of groceries has doubled, noted Father Ume."

Mother Jones: "The Bush administration aims in its 2005 budget to cut by $1 billion the $18 billion fund that helps about 2 million Americans--generally the poor, elderly, and disabled--pay their rent. Specifically, it wants to rein in the growing costs of Section 8, the housing voucher program that chips in around two-thirds of the rent of low-income people, and which conservatives have traditionally favored on the grounds that it steers people toward private landlords instead of forcing them into public housing."

Builder Online: "Recent cuts in the federal budget have local officials predicting that fewer families will be served under the Section 8 subsidized housing program.

A representative of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which oversees housing authorities, told local authorities recently that the federal government had changed the formula it uses to reimburse local agencies for the program.

Instead of reimbursing them for actual amounts paid for Section 8 leases, the new formula relies on reimbursements based on the average monthly rent over a three-month period last spring.

Housing officials criticize the formula, which fails to account for the fact that rents have continued to rise."

To sum it all up - Bush is slashing funding for public assistance for housing. This is one compassionate guy. He's going to compassion poor and disabled people right out onto the streets where they can then be compassionately starving to death or getting arrested. The HUD site proclaims that funding is up for Section 8, but then area programs are not receiving the money. Like No Child Left Behind, the Bush administration is proclaiming a commitment to the neediest among us while systematically eliminating real assistance.

2.23.2005

Action Needed: The Genocide in Darfur Continues, WRITE YOUR CONGRESS PEOPLE!

Nicholas Kristoff wrote an Op Ed in the NYT complete with horrifying pictures of the genocide in Darfur, Sudan. He received the photos from a source in the African Union - they are part of a large, classified cache of documentation of the genocide in Sudan.

I urge you to write to your Congressperson and Senator to demand US action on this horrifying, preventable massacre. It's estimated that every month, 10,000 more innocent people die.

Here's what I just wrote to Congressman Davis, Senator Durbin, and Senator Obama:
I am writing to urge you to work with your Congressional colleagues to immediately begin an American response to the genocide in Darfur, Sudan.

I am sure you are aware of the situation and how horrific it is that the United States continues to do nothing to stop the murder of 10,000 innocent people every month.

Today, Nicholas Kristof published photographs and an op-ed in the New York Times clarifying the depth of the atrocities. Please take a look at the photographs to see the horrors caused by the Sudanese government and their janjaweed militias.

As a resident of Forest Park and a national board member of Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, I beg you to help stop the torture, starvation, and killings of thousands of innocent people in Sudan.

Thank you for your help in this humanitarian crisis.

Sincerely,
my name

cross-posted from Chicken Foot Stew

"Stuck in the Middle . . ."

Well I don't know why I came here tonight,
I got the feeling that something ain't right,
I'm so scared in case I fall off my chair,
And I'm wondering how I'll get down the stairs,
Clowns to the left of me,
Jokers to the right, here I am,
Stuck in the middle with you.

- from Stuck in the middle with you by Stealers Wheels


I was just reading Screwy's "Peace in Iran" post and letting links lead to other links and I came across this recent Scott McConnell article, "Hunger for Dictatorship", in The American Conservative. Snips:
Students of history inevitably think in terms of periods: the New Deal, McCarthyism, “the Sixties” (1964-1973), the NEP, the purge trials—all have their dates. Weimar, whose cultural excesses made effective propaganda for the Nazis, now seems like the antechamber to Nazism, though surely no Weimar figures perceived their time that way as they were living it. We may pretend to know what lies ahead, feigning certainty to score polemical points, but we never do.

Nonetheless, there are foreshadowings well worth noting. The last weeks of 2004 saw several explicit warnings from the antiwar Right about the coming of an American fascism. Paul Craig Roberts in these pages wrote of the “brownshirting” of American conservatism—a word that might not have surprised had it come from Michael Moore or Michael Lerner. But from a Hoover Institution senior fellow, former assistant secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration, and one-time Wall Street Journal editor, it was striking . . .

[Retired conservative professor Fritz] Stern points to the religious (and more explicitly Protestant) component in the rise of Nazism—but I don’t think the proto-fascist mood is strongest among the so-called Christian Right. The critical letters this magazine receives from self-identified evangelical Christians are almost always civil in tone; those from Christian Zionists may quote Scripture about the Israeli-Palestinian dispute in ways that are maddeningly nonrational and indisputably pre-Enlightenment—but these are not the letters foaming with a hatred for those with the presumption to oppose George W. Bush’s wars for freedom and democracy. The genuinely devout are perhaps less inclined to see the United States as “God marching on earth.”

Secondly, it is necessary to distinguish between a sudden proliferation of fascist tendencies and an imminent danger. There may be, among some neocons and some more populist right-wingers, unmistakable antidemocratic tendencies. But America hasn’t yet experienced organized street violence against dissenters or a state that is willing—in an unambiguous fashion—to jail its critics. The administration certainly has its far Right ideologues—the Washington Post’s recent profile of Alberto Gonzales, whose memos are literally written for him by Cheney aide David Addington, provides striking evidence. But the Bush administration still seems more embarrassed than proud of its most authoritarian aspects. Gonzales takes some pains to present himself as an opponent of torture; hypocrisy in this realm is perhaps preferable to open contempt for international law and the Bill of Rights.

And yet the very fact that the f-word can be seriously raised in an American context is evidence enough that we have moved into a new period. The invasion of Iraq has put the possibility of the end to American democracy on the table and has empowered groups on the Right that would acquiesce to and in some cases welcome the suppression of core American freedoms . . .
OK, OK, OK!! So now what?? Bill Buckley for DNC Chair?!?

How did I miss this one? (Episode 2,055,261)

"Credit where credit is due" department: I just want to thank Shar of Tinfoil Tales, a recent commenter on one of Morgaine's posts, for the pointer to Signs of the Times, one a a growing list of lefty alternative news sites. These is the guys responsible for the Flash flick about the 9/11 Pentagon strike. Their "About Us" page should be required reading.

So there, Shar (sounds like Cher??), not only do we now have a link to Signs on the sidebar, but we also have a link to Tinfoil Tales. Nice profile flick . . . and Happy Birthday!!

Peace In Iran

{our condolences to the victims of today's earthquake}

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usIf ever there was a man for whom a new phrase to descibe a pandering, gladhanding trip to Europe was needed, it's George W. Bush. To call his trip a charm offensive is akin to calling The Challenger disaster a funny firework.

George W. told us all to stop with the "ridiculous" ideas about a U.S. attack on Iran. "This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous.

Having said that, all options are on the table,"


George...let me make sure I understand you...the recon operations, unmanned drones, and construction of permanent military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan are incidental. Because any talk of getting ready to attack Iran is ridiculous. But...all options, including the imminent attack one, are on the table. So the broker peace option is on the same table as the attack Iran option. The attack Iran option is "ridiculous" while lying on the same table as the peace options...

Let's hope the whole table isn't ridiculous! Then where would we be? Why, we'd be in a world where war is as good as peace, where bombs are as good as words, where violence is as good as cooperation.

-----------------

In an alternate universe, there are some pro-peace Iranian bloggers trying to get your attention:

From Iranians For Peace: "Seymour Hersh has told us that some GI’s are creeping around the deserts south of the Zahedan preparing for W’s next war. I do not subscribe to the New Yorker but I tend to listen when Mr. Hersh speaks; he seems to know what’s cooking way ahead of time. So I would like to make some suggestions to the GI’s in case they actually do make it to Tehran and decide (God forbid) to ‘obliterate’… oops. sorry. I mean, “liberate” us… Falluja style.

Tehran Traffic – if your Central Intelligence Agency has been telling you that Tehran has a functioning traffic system, well they have been somewhat mendacious again. Over there, not even a Daisy Cutter is going to help you. Just sit down in your Humvee, plug in that iPod 40G and pop in a Prozac… extra strength.

Café Naderi – please….please… please, pay a bit of attention when carpet bombing the city with your “precision’ bombs. We are already shocked and awed by your reelection of ‘W’ last November, so there is no further need to stun us. The only place that truly will be missed if leveled will be our beloved Café Naderi. The waiters are primordial, the food is so-so, and the Turkish coffee is dreadful, but it has a slightly dowdy fin-de-siecle feel to it and is much loved."

From No War On Iran!: "Many people have argued that in the current talks about U.S. policy towards Iran, Europe and the U.S. have been playing the “good cop/bad cop” game (you guess who the bad cop is!) This makes some sense, but the “game” is actually more complex than involving two big action heroes (the good old Europe and the rebellious cowboy) who police the evil villain (Iranian Mullahs). Of course, one can argue that not all decision-makers in Iran are “Mullahs,” and not all Iranian Islamic clergies think the same. A detailed attention to different factions and their political power in different levels of authority reveals that the state in Iran is not a coherent body of authority spatialized “vertically” above the “society,” even as it is often imagined as such. Despite what one thinks about the role of religion in the state, as Alireza has pointed out in his last post, flattening the Iranian state and the government as “theocracy” and opposing it to American “democracy” is too simplistic."

In case you haven't heard... Iranians aren't evil after all! Spread the Word.

2.22.2005

With Victories Like This, Who Needs Defeat?

Y'all know I have a propensity for repeating myself. I have even more of a propensity for quoting others who echo my ideas. In that amiable spirit, I commend to you, "Farewell Hope: The Hogtying of the Deaniacs" by Joshua Frank at Dissident Voice. Excerpts:
The Democrats have finally accomplished something. Yes, I’m talking about Howard Dean’s latest victory, but it’s not what you think. Dean’s scoring of the DNC chair isn’t a win for progressives. Nope, it’s a triumph for the establishment. The Beltway savants have successfully muted the only vibrant contingent within their frail party. The Deaniacs have been corralled.

Howard Dean’s new post has been hailed by many as a huge feat for the progressive wing of the Democratic Party (yeah, what “progressive” wing?). But it is no feat. Not only is Howard Dean a centrist in the most disgusting Clintonesque sense of the term, but his victory this past weekend to head the DNC is also a shot in the head of his passionate supporters. He has sold them out, while taking on the roll of insider, where his new symbolic post within the party will do little more to challenge Democratic policy than, say, MoveOn’s irritating phone calls to Congress . . .

No, this whole DNC thing smells of rot. Let’s hope that the Deaniacs (the few not having multiple orgasms over this “success”) break ranks and hang Howard Dean and the Democrats out to dry like a pair of stanky old socks. That’s the only way victory could ever come out of this calamity . . .
Neenerneenerneeeeeeeener.

No explanation needed



Image courtesy of Eyeball Series.

If you haven't seen this website, you're really missing something. Wanna see where Negroponte lives?

The Computer Literacy Gap

I've been following the whole GannonGate situation, and thinking about all of the things that haven't been done to protect our country from terrorists. There isn't even a central no-fly list. Think about that for a minute - there is no universal database for our intelligence agencies to keep track on who is boarding our airplanes. Now think of what you know about the technical skill it would take to do that - not much, really. A database and some high-level encryption. A teenager with the raw info could do it in a weekend. So why hasn't it been done?

I submit that it hasn't been done because TPTB doesn't know that it can be done, and if they do, they don't know HOW to do it.

I worked for the government for quite a few years. I know exactly how difficult it is to change their processes, because I won several awards for doing so. In order to get that done, I had to go around my bosses, who fought me at every turn. I had two advantages - I was a Chief Steward with the Union, so they couldn't control me as strictly as the average drone, and there was a big trend toward Total Quality Management.

TQM was a style of management that was exported to Japan, where they promptly turned around and kicked our ass with it. It was all the rage in the government in the early 90's when Dick Cheney was running the place. I was damned good at it, and my bosses hated that. They weren't fond of me "and my white horse" as one boss used to say, to begin with. That I once made a suggestion on a Friday evening and had the tools to implement it on everyone's desk when they came in Saturday morning to work on a special Desert Storm project had them reeling. I had a grasp of new technologies - computers were brand new, fax machines just becoming available - that they didn't. Most of my ideas were simply seeing what needed to be done, and knowing how to do it.

That was when I learned that the Peter Principle, which says that in a hierarchy each individual rises to hes* level of incompetence and stays there, runs amok in government bureaucracy. People get promoted because of connections and insider information, not for their skill or excellence. Most people were working way beyond their level of incompetence. These were dinosaurs unable to adapt to the changing environment. The change accelerated and continues to leave them behind.

In Gannon's case, I don't think they understood that all of his online activities were public information that would take only a day or so to track down. They have no understanding of the speed at which we are able to retrieve and publish information and get feedback from our readers. They didn't realize that the articles they were scrubbing from GOPUSA were archived in Google. They haven't even caught on to the fact that when they lie, we can pull up the video and have evidence of it online in minutes.

We don't have the kind of money or resources they have, but we have numbers, and we have access to information. There's even a movement to take the steep fees off of Freedom of Information Act requests so bloggers can afford to avail themselves of the service without needing the funding of a media conglomerate to function. As soon as somebody makes Lexis Nexis available to the masses, we're golden.

We need to jump on this advantage. I repeat myself : WE ARE THE FREE PRESS right now. If we are going to stop the advancing wave of fascism, it's going to mean we have to get organized and focused, before the generation of little Hitlers raised with computers come to power. Fortunately, that will take a while. Elephants take a long time to age.

2.21.2005

Here's the proof, Mr. President

From South Africa's Independent Online yesterday (clip) . . .
Scientists have found the first unequivocal link between man-made greenhouse gases and a dramatic heating of the Earth's oceans.

The researchers - many funded by the US government - have seen what they describe as a "stunning" correlation between a rise in ocean temperature over the past 40 years and pollution of the atmosphere.

The study destroys a central argument of global warming sceptics within the Bush administration - that climate change could be a natural phenomenon. It should convince US president George Bush to drop his objections to the Kyoto treaty on climate change, the scientists say . . .[read it]
Kyah! Fat chance! "Science? We don' need no stinkin science."

Sad As Sad Can Be

Gonzo Thompson shot himself to death yesterday. Finally, Hunter, please be at peace.

Today is the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X. Everything you taught us is true Malcolm. Especially now, I miss you.

2.20.2005

New Revolution? You Betcha!!

If we had a "Blog of the Week" or a "New Blog to Watch" thingy here, right now it'd point to New Revolution, Eric Carlson's recent start-up.

This cat is a community college student in Oregon. And he's about (*gasp*) doing something, rather than just pointing fingers and wailing about what ain't gettin' done. He talks about taking personal responsibility and describes his values and hopes and actions he's already taken alone and with others. Dig this . . .
A group of 65 people can clean up anything. The transient camp was saturated with filth. There were literal mountains of garbage gathered, enough to easily fill two large dumpsters (not the kind outside of businesses, the kind used for construction) , unfortunately we only had one, but that will be for another day. We restored the beauty of the riparian zone with ease, and completed our project in only two hours, which was two hours faster than we thought it would take. This was a great example for me, in a way that a clean-up should be staged, or pretty much any sort of community help program.

With this clean-up I brought away some good knowledge for future community action works. First, it is important to publicize your cleanup/tree planting/what have you, in order to get allot of people to show up. Many hands really does make light work, I hardly felt like I did anything, as did many others, yet so many things were accomplished! A good idea for recruiting is to target fraternities and sororities, they will help with anything! Secondly, it is important to have a focused goal and stick to it. This is important, because when you start to veer away from your goal, your group loses focus and motivation. Thirdly, It is important to keep it short, the faster it can get done, the better. This will result in people willing to help again, and again. Lastly, it is a good idea to get some sort of snacks, and water. Even apple or orange slices, or some cookies, anything is appreciated.
This man, and others like him, embodies and exemplifies what I think are the necessary components of a populist, progressive, truly revolutionary movement. He deserves our support. Thanks for being here, Eric.

2.18.2005

Iraqi Democracy American Style

I'm having another one of my "do I laugh, cry, or just become a smack addict" moments - an all too frequent occurance in the NeoEmpire.

According to Yahoo! News this morning, embezzler, thief, counter-spook, and international fugitive Ahmad Chalabi is one of only two candidates in the running for the Prime Minister post in Iraq. This is, of course, akin to The Doubleduh-Cheney Gang's attempt to recycle Dex Poindexter back into the Pentagramgon. I find it interesting that this comes just a day after Negroponte gets tagged as our spymaster.

Not to worry, of course . . . it'll be a secret vote (unless Joe Gannon can get into the room).

The House of What?

Although 145 Democratic Party members in the House of Delay voted against the "Class Action Fairness Act" (rhymes with "Peacekeeper Missile System"), along with one Republican and an Indy, 50 idiots voted for the damned thing. 4 Dems didn't vote. Rangel should be ashamed of himself.

The vote tally is here. If your lobby horse is on the list, send her/him a Donald Trump.

2.17.2005

Crossing the Black Bridge

Statement by Sen. Christopher Dodd on the nomination of John Negroponte as UN Ambassador, September, 2001. Includes a catalogue of Honduran death squad activities on his watch as US Ambassador in the 1980's. Posted by the Federation of American Scientists' Intelligence Resources Project.

Derechos HR/Equipo Nizcor on Negroponte.
During his ambassadorship, human rights violations in Honduras became systematic. The infamous Battalion 316, trained by the CIA and Argentine military, kidnaped, tortured and killed hundreds of people. Negroponte knew about these human rights violations and yet continued to collaborate with them, while lying to Congress.
SourceWatch citation, updated today.
Negroponte in Baghdad

Shortly after taking up the position, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that two eyewitnesses had stated that in late June Iraq's interim prime minister, Ayad Allawi had personally executed up to six suspected 'insurgents' in front of four of his U.S. military bodyguards. Allawi's office denied the witness accounts stating that Allawi had never visited the centre and he did not carry a gun.

In an email to the Sydney Morning Herald, Negroponte did not attempt to deny the story. "If we attempted to refute each [rumour], we would have no time for other business. As far as this embassy's press office is concerned, this case is closed," he wrote. (http://www.smh.com.au/text/articles/2004/07/16/1089694568757.html)

Sydney Morning Herald columnist, Alan Ramsey, wrote of Negroponte's side-stepping. "Of course. One only has to consider Negroponte's record as US ambassador in Honduras to know he is a loyal servant of Republican Washington who sees and knows nothing ... This same man, with an embassy regime of more than 1000 American 'foreign service officers', plus American advisers 'salted throughout Iraqi ministries' as well as 140,000 US military personnel, now has absolute covert power in Iraq. Of course 'the case is closed', he wrote.

Another Nail in the Coffin of Democracy: Negroponte Named Intelligence Czar Designate

Perhaps you don't remember that in addition to being UN Ambassador during the lead-up to the current Iraq war and the current Ambassador to Iraq, Negroponte was a key player in the Iran-Contra Affair. If you're reading this, you probably agree that he's the last person we need in charge of intelligence. I am disturbed beyond words. The man should be in jail, not Chief Spy of the USA. From the Associated Press via the LAT:
Negroponte's confirmation to the United Nations post was delayed a half-year mostly because of criticism of his record as the U.S. ambassador to Honduras from 1981 to 1985. In Honduras, he played a prominent role in assisting the Contras in Nicaragua in their war with the left-wing Sandinista government.

Human rights groups alleged that Negroponte acquiesced in human rights abuses by Honduran death squads funded and partly trained by the CIA. Negroponte testified during the hearings for the U.N. post that he did not believe death squads were operating in Honduras.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., reacting to the news, said, "The number one problem that has plagued our domestic war on terror is that the individual agencies responsible for intelligence gathering still don't share. It is my hope that the president will give the resources and authority to Ambassador Negroponte to turn things around in our disconnected intelligence community."
Good to see the Dems stickin up for human rights. How the hell can anyone like the guy?!? How do you vote for a candidate who puts his trust in scum like Negroponte? I am deeply saddened by the state of the nation. Saddened, but unfortunately, not surprised.

Cross posted from Chicken Foot Stew.

Mission Accomplished - NEXT??!!

Yes, children, it's time for the next episode of "The Doubleduh-Cheney Gang Eats Your Young." Having accomplished its mission in Iraq (producing total chaos), The Gang ramps up for its next superheroic foray, morph-disguised as shining Crusaders and used Edsel salesmen, against the evil Moorish horde in Syranistan . . .

Highlights . . .

  • Condi shows off her new stretch-fitted kevlar bustier

  • Rummy produces Powerpoint joint with nine satellite pix of bin Laden sunbathing nude on the roof of the Beirut Marriott

  • Mo Qaddafi plays air guitar behind Porter Goss as he screams, "We're all gonna fuckin die!!"

  • Wowie Howie rewrites Iowa pep speech: "And then we're going to Damascus!! And on to Tehran!! Then Baku!!! T'blisi!!!! Then on to Amsterdam . . . Chula Vista . . . Banff, for crissakes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! EEEEEEEEEYYYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!"

  • Al Gonzales spends five days trying to add several new colors to the Security Threat Level scheme

  • congressional Democrats quit DC and create new professional hockey league based in Romania and Slovenia

Open Letter to Howard Dean

Dear Howard:

Congratulations. You've just become the leader of the most spineless, ineffective party in American History. Before I answer any of your numerous requests for donations, you're going to have to do something for me. You're going to have to prove to me that you can pull the party's collective head out of its considerable ass.

Chertoff passed the Senate 98-0. Apparently, there are no Democrats in the Senate. Silly me, I thought two of them just ran for President and VP. WTF?

Now, in their infinite lack of integrity, they are thinking of waffling on abortion rights. Do you think you'd have half the operating funds you have without the help of the numerous groups that work strictly on abortion rights? Have you yet pointed out that the Right Wing's ridiculous positions are creating a Culture of Death rather than life? That they want to enslave women with enforced pregnancy and prosecute them for their activities while pregnant? That millions of people will die needlessly because not-my-President won't release funds to any agency that says the word "condom"?

You've got work to do, Howard. If your party doesn't keep these hateful, horrible Christo-fascists from sending women back to the 18th century, women in this country will fucking bury the Democratic party. Is that clear enough?

Stop sending emails and start knocking heads on the hill.


Morgaine Swann

Stopped Clock Tells Time

Proving that nobody, no matter how stupid, can be wrong all the time, Jonah Goldberg hits the nail on the head with his characterization of Howard Dean:
[H]e is essentially a country club Republican who simply believes in taxing the rich, affirmative action and state-run healthcare.

2.16.2005

New American Priorities: Make War Not Peace

Shrub unveiled his "emergency" spending request for his imperialist wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on Monday. As WaPo points out, a signficant amount of annual DoD spending needs were rolled up into this request. It appears Shrub and his cronies want to hide the cost of their Make War, Not Peace Plan for the USA. They also want to stop pesky Congressional oversight.
A large part of the request, $36.3 billion, would go to the combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Another $5 billion would be used to help the Army break down its huge divisions into smaller, more mobile "modular" brigades as part of a major reorganization.

Loren B. Thompson, a defense analyst at the Lexington Institute think tank, which has research contracts with the Pentagon, said such "modularity" costs -- while necessary -- hardly constitute an emergency and should have been included in the president's base budget unveiled last week. Much of the costs of replacing equipment will probably turn out to be regular weapons-procurement costs not related to Iraq emergencies, Thompson suggested.

"Why this funding is in an emergency supplemental [request] is hard to explain. It looks as though they want a bigger defense budget without admitting it," he said.

On Capitol Hill, some Republicans and Democrats have criticized the Pentagon's reliance on the supplemental request, saying it curtails congressional oversight and distorts understanding of defense spending. "It removes from our oversight responsibilities the scrutiny that these programs deserve," Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) told military service chiefs at a hearing Thursday.
From "President Requests More War Funding: Money for Iraqi Forces Rises Sharply," by Jonathan Weisman with contributions from Ann Scott Tyson.

Cross-posted from Chicken Foot Stew.

Senate Cherts Off

98 - zip. And we elected these folks to do what?

With Solutions Like This, Who Needs Problems?

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usWhen President Bush was in Omaha last week pimping his failed Social Security privatization scheme / national deficit godzilla, he exhibited that famed compassion that makes him such a favorite of the soft-hearted republican party:

"While talking with audience participants, the president met Mary Mornin, a woman in her late fifties who told the president she was a divorced mother of three, including a 'mentally challenged' son.

The President comforted Mornin on the security of social security stating that 'the promises made will be kept by the government.'

But without prompting Mornin began to elaborate on her life circumstances.

Begin transcript:

MS. MORNIN: That's good, because I work three jobs and I feel like I contribute.

THE PRESIDENT: You work three jobs?

MS. MORNIN: Three jobs, yes.

THE PRESIDENT: Uniquely American, isn't it? I mean, that is fantastic that you're doing that. (Applause.) Get any sleep? (Laughter.)"

LOL! ROFLMAO! Woman in her late fifties [Cut future benefits] with three children [Cut Medicaid], one of whom is 'mentally challenged' [Cut Special Education], is working three jobs [Encourage outsourcing of high-paying manufacturing jobs] to make ends meet. Isn't that a stitch!

President Bush sees Ms. Mornin as an example of what's right with America. Bush's picture of success is what most of us see as a picture of what ails America.

Bush's solution to the future Social Security shortfall: Cut Benefits, Privatize a portion of the program, Put the federal deficit on steroids.

Bush's solution to terrorism: Create training grounds for future terrorists, Perpetrate wars tangential to the problem, Step up Nationalist Rhetoric, Allow torture, Extend troop deployments, Overextend the military, Ignore terrorist states like Saudi Arabia.

Bush's solution to the Health Care crisis: Prohibit the government from negotiating with drug companies, Cut Medicare and Medicaid, Focus like a laser beam on the smallest problem (tort reform).

Bush's solution to the Federal Budget Deficit: Spend more, Make Tax Cuts Permanent, Keep big expenditures off the books, Starve important social programs.

Bush's solution to the problems in Public Education: Cut funding, Increase Accountability, Demonize Unions.

Bush's solution to Global Warming: Deny it, empower polluters to pollute more, Increase dependence on coal, oil, and nuclear.

With solutions like these, who needs problems? Ms. Mornin ought to thank her lucky stars that those vile progressives aren't in power. They might actually create a national health care system that works, side with labor, work towards a greener society, and balance the budget.

2.15.2005

Jonah, Get Thee to Nineveh

Chickenhawk and all around nincompoop Jonah Goldberg is upset because folks have been filling up his e-mail box with virtual white feathers. In a testy post at National Review Online, Goldberg tries his darndest to put his uppity critics in their place. Alas, like his namesake, poor Jonah is simply lost at sea. Being rather fond of banging my head against walls, I've written to Goldberg trying to point out the flaw in his reasoning:
Mr. Goldberg,

I've just finished reading your attempted retort to the torrent of white feathers that have evidently been filling up your in-box. Your argument is, to put it as politely as possible, rubbish.

Resorting to the "I am rubber, you are glue" strategy, you sneer:
"Recently many on the left took great umbrage at Peter Beinart’s suggestion that much of the left opposed the Afghanistan war. No we didn’t! They declared. Well, okay. But if they didn’t oppose it, why didn’t they sign up? What about for the first Gulf War? Or Bosnia?"

Do you really not recognize the difference between your position regarding the Iraq war and the position of anonymous persons "on the left" regarding those other interventions? Speaking strictly for myself, I emphatically supported U.S. military intervention to stop the slaughter in Bosnia (and, more recently, ardently hoped for U.S. military intervention in Liberia, Darfur, and elsewhere in war-torn Africa); yet, I freely confess, I did not enlist (though, in retrospect, I wish I had, at least in the case of Bosnia when I was still young and fit enough to have qualified). But--in stark contrast to you--neither did I use my position as a nationally prominant commentator (which, sad to say, I am not) to sound the drumbeat; nor did I accuse those who opposed military intervention of being apologists for genocide. Had you merely voiced your support for the Iraq war, and backed it up with reasoned argument, your failure to place yourself in the line of fire would not have been morally objectionable. But, when you point an accusatory finger at anyone and everyone who disagrees with you, accusing them of being anti-American and pro-terrorist, you open yourself up to the charge of hypocrisy for remaining safely at home while other, less privileged, souls die for your cause.

I would suggest that you ought to be ashamed; but I sense that you lack the capacity.
(Thanks to Progressive Gold for the pointer. Cross-posted from Red Harvest.)

The more things change . . .

Hey, you! Yeah, you . . . with your Moosehead in one hand and a joint in the other. If you could pause in celebrating Doctor Dino's "victory" over the forces of inertia, boredom, and post-Kerry catatonia, there's a little something I'd like you to read.

Apparently Paul Krugman wrote a piece for NYT in which he reminded folks about an August, 2003 CounterPunch article about Wowie Howie. Here are some clips from that original piece, "Howard Dean: the Progressive Anti-War Candidate?":
Although he would likely be more sparing in its application, Dean has endorsed the Bush doctrine of preventive war, saying that he would not rule out using military force to disarm either North Korea or Iran. Dean has never voiced an objection to the notion that it is Washington's prerogative to decide which countries may have nuclear weapons, or its right to forcefully disarm those who do not do so voluntarily . . .

Dean's notion about the causes of anti-US belligerence echoes that of the current administration. He has gone on record saying as much: "I think our freedom is what they find so threatening, our freedom and the power that I think results from that freedom." This analysis can not honestly address the real issues behind the antagonism the United States currently incurs, and will consequently require ever greater military funding to handle the global consequences . . .

For environmentalists, EP, under Dean's leadership, came to mean "Expedite Permits", rather than Environmental Protection. Business leaders were especially impressed with the way Dean went to bat for them against Vermont's stringent environmental regulations . . .
So, uh, maybe Dean just ain't so lefty after all, eh?

Y'know, we're so busy yelling the "truth" at the Right that we've missed the truth about ourselves: we're so damned marginalized and disenfranchised we need binoculars to see our noses. And this is only the beginning. Let me remind you that there weren't any "good old days"; that at its peak-best, the US government and American society have been deluded, manipulative, and cruel; and now, what spare good there was in the system is about to bleed out, soon, probably for ever.

We neither want nor need the Howard Deans out there. We need each other, and we better get crackin'

Action


Be there, please! Posted by Hello

Chertoff Watch

From what I can see, looks like the Senate floor debate and vote on the Chertoff DHS nomination is scheduled for this afternoon. You can watch/listen to the circus proceedings on C-SPAN. Once again, you can watch 'em talk left - vote right.

2.14.2005

North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Oh My!

In his latest "Commentary" from the Fernand Braudel Center, Immanuel Wallerstein offers his thoughts on recent developments in North Korea, Iran and Iraq.

Regarding the spectre of nuclear weapons in North Korea and Iran, Wallerstein foresees two possible scenarios:
The fact is that, thanks to George W. Bush, the genie is long since out of the bottle. And thanks again to George W. Bush, the United States doesn't have the military or political strength to do anything about it. So what happens now? There are really only two scenarios possible for the next three years or so. One is that nothing significant happens in either Korea or Iran, as the U.S. finds itself too preoccupied with the continuing difficulties of getting out of the Iraq quagmire, too absorbed in its increasingly harsh internal political battles, and too isolated diplomatically to do more than alternately bluster and keep quiet. And the other scenario is that the superhawks overwhelm all resistance within the Bush administration, including that of the armed forces, and precipitate a military confrontation, either directly or through a third party (such as Israel for Iran).
As to the Iraqi elections, Wallerstein has this to say:
The U.S. is crowing these days over the Jan. 30 elections in Iraq, which President Bush called a "resounding success" reflecting "the voice of freedom." While the provisional figures are no doubt a bit inflated, it is clear that most Shiites and most Kurds voted, and that the Iraqi resistance could manage to kill only their usual quota that day. Is this so surprising? That more were not killed is a tribute to the intensive U.S. military mobilization (including the banning of cars moving on the streets). But was it surprising that Shiites voted? We have to remember that nine months ago, both the U.S. and Iyad Allawi were strongly opposed to holding these elections for an interim national assembly (primarily serving as a constitutional convention) at all, expecting that they would put the Shiites in a commanding political position, and Iyad Allawi out of a job. If the U.S. yielded, it was precisely because Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani made it clear that holding the elections were his bottom line, or else he would denounce publicly the U.S. occupation. Al-Sistani got his way, so of course the Shiites voted. As for the Kurds, a big Kurd turnout was their best guarantee to maintain at a minimum the degree of autonomy they now have de facto in their zones. The Sunni, as expected, effectively boycotted the vote. Also, amidst this "voice of freedom," the Kurds managed largely to keep the minority Christians and Turkomens in their areas from voting, since that would have diminished the percentages for the Kurdish list.

White Supremacist Groups Are Using Mainstream Ads to Garner New Members

Stephanie Simon writes in the LAT about the growth of mainstream advertising by white supremacist groups. A billboard in Vegas said "Stop Immigration." In Salt Lake City a billboard said "Securing The Future for European Americans." The National Alliance paid for both of those ads.
Civil rights monitors consider the National Alliance one of the most virulent neo-Nazi organizations in the country. It was founded in the 1970s by the late William Pierce, who called for herding Jews, homosexuals and "racemixers" into cattle cars and sending them to abandoned coal mines.

Although the group's website says it "does not advocate any illegal activity," National Alliance members have been convicted of violent acts over the last two decades, including armed robberies, bombings and murders. The FBI's senior counterterrorism expert told Congress in 2002 that the National Alliance represented a "terrorist threat."
Articles like this remind me why many people don't consider Jews "white." I also wonder about public agencies that take ad money from this trash - they had signs in St. Louis commuter trains for a week before they were pulled because of complaints. Shouldn't someone who works for the city of St. Louis have checked out the group before accepting their money and plastering all of the commuter trains with their ads?

cross-posted from Chicken Foot Stew.

Collaborators, revisited

Almost forgot . . .

The 26 Senators who voted against Senate 5 last week (a bill which absolutely trashes class action suits) were Democrats.

Of the 72 Senators who voted in favor of the bill, 17 were Democrats in name only.

You can read the roll call here.

A little light

Yeah, so, the bunch of us have been a little light on our posts the past few days. Yuh wanna make sumpin' outta dat? Dis here "vision statement" stuff takes, like, alotta energy, so give us a break ova heah, aw-ite?

Anyway... so much "news", so little truth:

So Wowie Howie Dean is new DNC Chair. Guess all that DFA organizing paid off, eh? Or did it? Remains to be seen, but we don't really get to find out until the next election cycle, and meanwhile our government and society continue to crumble. Remember that I recently reminded you that systems change people, people don't change systems. Dean is already showing his amenability to being pulled to the right, deferring to Congress when asked about his anti-war dance stance. Please recall that Dean is a moderate who ran as a progressive, just as Kerry was an old-line neoliberal who ran as a . . . oh, never mind. All in all, I just wish all the DFAs and Deaniacs had put their energy into real change, because I think what we have here is what LBJ would call "pulling the camel into the tent."

So there was an election in Iraq (or in some of it, anyway). The Shi'ites won. The Sunnis, who boycotted the polls in record numbers, are now complaining that the vote was not representative. Great. Sounds just like us between 1970 and 1990. Two questions . . . does anyone in Iraq have reliable electricity yet? and will The Doubleduh-Cheney Gang tolerate a Shi'ite state with ties to Iran? I think the answer to both is the same.

With all the damned uproar about "style" and "diplomacy", how come nobody dwells on the fundamental truth: Ward Churchill is right! All he said was "you reap what you sow."

Will you please stop calling extremists "fundamentalists". One way to get at the truth is to be precise in your language. So don't listen to me . . . go read some Chomsky.

Go change something for the better. You heard me! Do it now.

2.10.2005

Vindications on the Rights of Bloggers

I'm not going to rehash the whole GannonGate saga here, because no one could touch the documentation at AmericaBlog.com and the Daily Kos. What I do want to say is that it is history in the making and "I told you so!". This was a spectacular bit of investigative reporting by a loosely organized group of Lefty bloggers and their readers. Populism meets the Press and we are it. The shift has begun. The MSM is having fits at the success of this investigation, which involves male prostitution, access to the President, the defeat of Minority Leader Tom Daschle, and the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame.

I haven't heard any of the Fourth Estate admit that they should have caught on to this long ago. I have heard them complain that the liberal bloggers "crossed the line". How consulting public records for domain registration information crosses any lines is a mystery to me. Anyone can do it. The information was right there, people. It just took people taking the time to connect the dots. In this case, the dots lead right back to Texas. Imagine my surprise.

The MSM is claiming that people are attacking Gannon/Guckert's personal life. On the contrary! They are attacking his hypocrisy. Gay-baiting might have earned Bush the love of the bigoted and uneducated in this country, but it also pissed of some really smart people. Smart enough to do a "Whois" search. Smart enough to "google" a name. Smart enough to know a shill when we see one. Smart enough to figure out that a guy using a fake name, with possible ties to illegal activities, shouldn't have direct access to the President or to classified CIA documents.

Rove and his buddies don't understand how this stuff works yet, so they're clumsy about covering their tracks. That won't last, of course. We saw how much more sophisticated the theft of the 2004 election was than the 2000 debacle. They learn from their mistakes. They're just starting to realize how much the game has changed.

I say now is the time to make the most of the technical advantage we have. Now is the time to "out" the family values crowd for who they truly are. It won't be pretty. It will probably get ugly. It has to be done, and only the blogosphere is in a position to do it.

We have a moral imperative to educate the American people in ways our schools have failed to do. Did you know the White House history pages now refer to Jefferson, Madison, et al as Republicans?! We have to stand up for the Ward Churchill's, who may be hard to deal with (genocide will do that), but must be free to speak and to teach their truths. We have to make the Right see who they really are. The days of "Do as I say, not as I do" are officially over for the Republican party. As Eason recently pointed out, there are a million little cameras and tape recorders out here, watching everything they do.

If this be Freedom of the Press, then let us make the most of it.

ACTION ALERT: Chertoff Watch

Soon, maybe in the next few days, Senate Democrats will have yet another opportunity to talk left and vote right. We'll keep an eye out if you will, too.

Michael Chertoff is The Doubleduh-Cheney Gang's latest nominee to head the Homeland Security Department. Except for Carl Levin's "present" vote (a Michigan Democrat) in protest (why the hell didn't he vote "no"?), the nomination has been reported out of committee with lots of love and kisses, and a floor vote is real soon.

Please contact your Senators and let them know you are displeased with this man and you'll be watching their vote.

Our Nation, Our Choices, Our Responsibility

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usI've just finished watching Ward Churchill speak to a packed auditorium. C-SPAN had their cameras there and did what they do best - recorded the reality sans spin.

Churchill is not the man I'd imagined him to be since the right wingers began their destruction campaign and the left wingers began their distancing (you know who you are). He's no Thomas Paine, but he's admirably focused on basic human rights and on the idea that violence begets violence. He's sharp, smart, passionate, and driven. We like that part. He's also angry, self-righteous, superior, and stentorian. That part... not so much liking involved. And it's hard to fault him for his pedantry since that's his gig and all.

The most important thing I heard this fiery intellectual whirlygig say was that the lives lost on 9/11 were no more important than the lives lost in Palestine, in Iraq, at Wounded Knee. Killing is killing, and killing is wrong. Maybe someone would care to nuance that statement?

Secondly, Churchill asks us each to hold ourselves responsible for the suffering we cause. Whether you're a Wall Street broker whose clients use slave labor or a schoolteacher who opts for the SUV, we are all responsible for our choices and their repercussions.

I wouldn't, as Churchill does, call corporate America 'little Goerhings'. But I would say we all have the potential to turn our eyes away from the damage that we do. While we're busy with our talk of freedom and liberty it will be important to recognize that many of our choices invoke the opposite.

Peace in America and in the world will never come through tools of war. It just can't happen. Supporting a military society, pre-emptive war, dead innocents as collateral damage, economic domination, and world supremacy is not going to bring peace. Please, more nuance if you're up for it.

As an American citizen, I feel it's my responsibility to represent the core values of our nation, and those are founded in equality, life, and liberty. War fuels none of these.

We are also responsible for the joy we bring to the world. For every person helped and sacrifice made we are responsible and accountable. We all keep our internal balance sheets, struggling to adhere closely to our principles. I, like Ward Churchill, am not blameless when we consider the death and suffering in the world. But I endeavor to be able to look my grandchildren in the eye and tell them that I did what I could to engender passion, peace, freedom, and equality.

Ward Churchill should not be fired, nor should he be invited to any dinner parties. But his ideas are provocative and worth your attention.

2.09.2005

Recommended Read: "Hurting the World's Poor in Morality's Name"

I wrote about this article on Chicken Foot Stew.

Barbara Cossette's "Hurting the World's Poor in Morality's Name" in the Winter 04/05 issue of World Policy Journal is an extremely important commentary on Bush's foreign policy. I urge you to read it in its entirety.

I found the article via UN Wire, a free weekday email from the UN Foundation.

Stolen chuckle

The following is a total rip from Messenger Puppet, in its entirety . . .
How many Bush administration officials does it take to change a lightbulb?

None.
There is nothing wrong with the light bulb; its' conditions are improving every day.
Any reports of its' lack of incandescence are a delusional spin from the liberal media.
There is no shortage of filament.
That light bulb has served honorably, and anything you say undermines the lighting effect.
Why do you hate freedom?

Still have doubts?

For me, it's becoming less and less difficult to find pieces of the puzzle and fit them together. You just have to learn what box they're in (or, maybe, what rock they're under). Tom Barry, Policy Director of the International Relations Center, just recently wrote an excellent piece for IRC's Right Web project, entitled "Neocons and Liberals Together, Again". Here are some excerpts:
The neoconservative Project for the New American Century (PNAC) has signaled its intention to continue shaping the government’s national security strategy with a new public letter stating that the “U.S. military is too small for the responsibilities we are asking it to assume.” Rather than reining in the imperial scope of U.S. national security strategy as set forth by the first Bush administration, PNAC and the letter’s signatories call for increasing the size of America’s global fighting machine.

The January 28th PNAC letter advocates that House and Senate leaders take the necessary steps “to increase substantially the size of the active duty Army and Marine Corps.”

Joining the neocons in the letter to congressional leaders were a group of prominent liberals—giving some credence to PNAC’s claim that the “call to act” to increase the total number of U.S. ground forces counts on bipartisan support . . .

In late 2002 PNAC’s Bruce Jackson formed the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq that brought together such Democrats as Senator Joseph Lieberman; former Senator Robert Kerrey, the president of the New School University who now serves on the 9/11 Commission; PPI’s Will Marshall; and former U.S. Representative Steve Solarz. The neocons also reached out to Democrats through a sign-on letter to the president organized by the Social Democrats/USA, a neocon institute that has played a critical role in shaping the National Endowment for Democracy in the early 1980s and in mobilizing labor support for an interventionist foreign policy.

The liberal hawks not only joined with the neocons to support the war and the post-war restructuring but have published their own statements in favor of what is now widely regarded as a morally bankrupt policy agenda. Perhaps the clearest articulation of the liberal hawk position on foreign and military policy is found in an October 2003 report by the Progressive Policy Institute, which is a think tank closely associated with the Democratic Leadership Council. The report, entitled Progressive Internationalism: A Democratic National Security Strategy, endorsed the invasion of Iraq, “because the previous policy of containment was failing,” and Saddam Hussein’s government was “undermining both collective security and international law.” . . .

The repeated willingness of influential liberal leaders and foreign policy analysts, such as Marshall, O’Hanlon, and Daalder, to join forces with the neoconservative camp has bolstered PNAC’s claim that its foreign policy agenda is neither militarist nor imperialist but one that is based on a deep respect for human rights, democracy, and universal moral values. Other liberal hawks signing the recent PNAC letter include New Republic editor Peter Beinart; Steven Nider, director of security studies at the Progressive Policy Institute; James Steinberg, director of Brooking’s foreign policy studies program and former director of the State Department’s Policy Planning office during the Clinton administration; Craig Kennedy, president of the German Marshall Fund and former program officer at the Joyce Foundation; and Michelle Flournoy, a self-described “pro-defense Democrat” who is a member of the Aspen Strategy Group and served in the Clinton administration in the DOD’s strategy secretariat. Having Yale historian Paul Kennedy, the author of The Rise and Fall of Great Powers, sign the new letter was a major coup for PNAC.
Please read the whole piece. Please realize that this whole damn mess is just not George Bush's fault. There is an immense pseudo-shadow-"government" that's been hard at work since WWII - sixty years. To think John Kerry would have made some sort of difference if elected is not very different than believing in the impending Rapture.

2.08.2005

Further thoughts on the Churchill controversy

As an academic, I've been closely following the Ward Churchill saga for professional, as well as political, reasons. In my own classes, I'm very open about my own political and social views, while at the same time making every effort to foster a respectful climate for all students. So far, I've never had any complaints. But, I am acutely aware of the well-orchestrated right-wing campaign to silence radical voices on campus, in which the Churchill incident is but one skirmish.

The Society of American Law Teachers (SALT) has issued a Statement Supporting Professor Ward Churchill and Academic Freedom. The statement pretty well sums up my thoughts on the matter, as concerns both the substance of Churchill's analysis of the September 11th attacks and the implications of this controversy for the principle of academic freedom:
The central point expressed by Professor Churchill has been inaccurately portrayed in much of the mainstream media covering this controversy. Professor Churchill indicts the role of our military, intelligence, and financial infrastructure in making U.S. foreign policy possible, and suggests that these “technocrats of empire” are complicit in the harms that our foreign policy has perpetrated around the world. While most people are offended by the particular analogy Professor Churchill used to convey this point, the substance of his critique warrants greater attention.

Most important, distaste or offense at Professor Churchill’s expression of his views does not give anyone the right to challenge his right to say them. Some critics of Professor Churchill have expressed the view that free speech might nevertheless have “consequences,” such as firing. But the central meaning behind the Constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech is that the government cannot fire or discipline individuals for speech it finds unappealing or unpopular. Indeed, the most controversial views are the ones that most need to be protected, for they are the easiest to chill. The whole point of a system of free speech is that those who find speech offensive have an equal right to challenge and respond to it – with more speech.

2.07.2005

Recommended Read: Hobsbawm on Democracy

Thanks to Histologianfor the pointer to a provocative CounterPunch piece by Eric "The Red" Hobsbawm, "Delusions About Democracy". Coupla slices:
While threatening the integrity of universal values, the campaign to spread democracy will not succeed. The 20th century demonstrated that states could not simply remake the world or abbreviate historical transformations. Nor can they easily effect social change by transferring institutions across borders. The conditions for effective democratic government are rare: an existing state enjoying legitimacy, consent and the ability to mediate conflicts between domestic groups . . .

The effort to spread standardised western democracy also suffers a fundamental paradox. A growing part of human life now occurs beyond the influence of voters--in transnational public and private entities that have no electorates. And electoral democracy cannot function effectively outside political units such as nation-states. The powerful states are therefore trying to spread a system that even they find inadequate to meet today's challenges . . .

The effort to spread democracy is also dangerous in a more indirect way: it conveys to those who do not enjoy this form of government the illusion that it actually governs those who do. But does it? We now know something about how the actual decisions to go to war in Iraq were taken in at least two states of unquestionable democratic bona fides: the US and the UK. Other than creating complex problems of deceit and concealment, electoral democracy and representative assemblies had little to do with that process. Decisions were taken among small groups of people in private, not very different from the way they would have been taken in non-democratic countries.
If nothing else, it's great to see Eric in print again.

One More Reason to Abandon the Liberals

As a follow-up to Morgaine's post on Ward Churchill . . . Dissident Voice offers two clips and links to Joshua Frank's take on this ("The Distortions of Acumen: Liberals Trash Ward Churchill" and "The Distortions of Acumen Continued: More Liberal Trashing of Ward Churchill"), as well as a clip and link to a piece by Carolyn Baker ("Ward Churchill And The Imminent Destruction of American Higher Education").

Doncha just LUV them lib'ruls? Call emseffs pergressives cuz "lib'rul" got tuh smellin' bad, then trashin' folks who're REALLY on the left when they get kinda, well, you know, UPPITY-like.

How 'bout if instead a exportin' "democracy" we just export lib'ruls.

2.05.2005

Action Alert!

Should Churchill resign his professorship?

From Indy Media :

Professor Ward Churchill, a Native American, is under attack by a couple of Right Wing DJ's and Bill O'Reilly for daring to protest Columbus Day celebrations. He's been an active voice against American Imperialism, and he needs help! Please follow that link to the live poll about whether he should be forced to resign for criticizing American policies, and let them know that real Americans cherish Free Speech in universities and everywhere else.

(Cross-posted)

2.04.2005

Dumbocracy

In "Students have appallingly weak grasp of free speech" in this morning's Sun-Times, Thomas Lipscomb reports that, "If an informed electorate is one of the keys to a healthy democracy, America's schools are clearly failing their students and the nation." Clips:
Almost three out of four students said they took the First Amendment for granted or didn't have any particular opinion about it . . . Once the First Amendment was read to them, one third of the students felt it went "too far" in granting free speech and one half thought that the government should have the right to approve news stories . . .

According to [Student Press Law Center director Mark] Goodman one of the problems is that "today's administrators are more corporate CEOs managing huge budgets than educators." What is particularly troubling is that school administrators in the last five years are not only interfering with student publications more and more frequently, they are increasingly asking for prior approval of their content . . .

The news gets worse at the collegiate level. Greg Lukianoff of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education says, "At colleges, free speech is increasingly regarded as a nuisance to be granted only grudgingly, and college administrations use legal excuses to suppress opinions." While teachers bear the worst consequences at the high school level, students are heavily penalized at college. They are stigmatized, expelled, subjected to mandatory psychological counseling or forced to take "re-education" courses, with very little legal recourse.
Wait a minute, here. "When it [the First Amendment] was read to them"???!! I can't remember one school year since the 6th grade in which I didn't study Civics or Social Studies or something like that. My school teacher/professor father would be enraged, as am I.

The fact is that the systematic retooling and disassembly of our "liberal education" system has been going on for four decades, and we're starting to see the results big time. Next, and it won't be long, we'll start seeing kids reporting their parents to the FBI for reading Harpers magazine.

We're all complicit. The dirty little secret on the Left is that lefties benefitted from the Reagan tax revolts as much as did conservatives. The citizens of this country just don't want to pay taxes to have their kids well-educated. As implied in Lipscomb's piece, the result (even in "public" education) is the privatization of education. And privatization is a bedrock conservative avatar.

You know all those millions of dollars spent on Democratic Party candidates in the last election cycle. People could have spent it better by giving it to their local school systems. But no - I guess we'd rather try to buy a politician than buy a good education for our children and young adults.

Perfidious voting

Well, the walk was a little closer to the talk yesterday in the Senate - but really not that much.

The roll call vote to confirm Al "Buvdalaw" Gonzales as Head Executioner Attorney General fell out like this:

Of the 60 votes to confirm, there were five Democrats: Landrieu - LA, Nelson - FLA, Nelson - NE, Prior - AR, and Salazar - CO.

Four idiots among the Dems didn't vote: Baucus - MT*, Conrad - ND, and Inouye - HI. (*Note that the Republican Senator from Montana didn't vote either . . . I wonder if it's 'cuz the 'Mericun version of Abu Ghraib is bein' planned for a suburb of Missoula)

**sigh**

2.03.2005

OK, Kids, repeat after me....

Here's a concise response to Bush's SOTU:

Morgaine-ism© #34:
"It's just another Republican trick to get ahold of your money."

Something to get behind . . .

. . . and push! I don't like Senator Diane Feinstein very much; I think she's sort of a Liberal's liberal. But if the following is true, at least she has the right idea. It's a start, anyway.

From Dissident Voice today, Feinstein Gathering Co-Sponsors for Bill to Abolish Electoral College by Matthew Cardinale. Excerpts:
U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) is currently gathering original co-sponsors for her proposed bill to abolish the Electoral College system for the U.S. Presidential Election, and to replace it with a direct vote for the Presidency, according to Feinstein press secretary, Adam Vogt.

The Electoral College has been described by critics as confusing, complicated, alienating, diversionary, unnecessary, undemocratic, and moreover, as hypocritical to the fundamental principles of American governance, which has otherwise been a global leader in democracy.

“A President can be elected without receiving the most popular votes -- this is the fundamental flaw of our electoral system,” Senator Feinstein said during a press statement on January 6, 2005, the day of the Electoral College certification of George W. Bush.

“It has happened four times in our history and there have been close calls in 22 other presidential elections. It will happen again and again unless we change the system,” the Senator continued . . .

Proponents of the Electoral College system generally argue that the system will safeguard the wishes of the states, rather than the wishes of the people.

This is as if the geographical boundaries themselves act, with personal discernable “state wishes.” As if “Georgia” itself has wishes that are more important than, and independent of, the wishes of the citizens of Georgia.

According to Article 1 of the Constitution, smaller states already get overrepresentation in the U.S. Senate, the appropriate place for states to have unique individual representation, wherein each state gets two representatives regardless of the size of the population of the state.

But there is something more fundamental at stake here. The real basis underlying the Electoral College is not a states’ rights argument, or one of protecting the rural states against those with urban centers, but an argument that voters are not smart enough to make choices for themselves regarding something as important as who is their President . . .
Well, Matthew, I think the last coupla 'lexions mighta jest proved that there last point, doncha think??

Why I didn't watch the State of the Union Address

My dad called a little while ago, hoping to swap critiques of the State of the Union Address. He seemed surprised and disappointed when I told him I hadn't watched it live, and had no intention of watching any West Coast rebroadcast or excerpts.

The fact is, I no longer give a rat's ass about what George W. Bush says. I don't mean that I'm unconcerned about the consequences. It's just that I don't see any value at all in paying any attention to his words. We all know perfectly well what he's going to say, right down to the faux Texas drawl and studied mispronunciations. We can all picture, in our minds' eyes, the alternating sneers and deer-in-headlights poses. At this point, watching George W. Bush speak is like watching a Gilligan's Island rerun for the 15th time. It was stupid the first time, and it doesn't get any better with age.1

From a simple cost-benefit perspective (I was, after all, trained at the University of Chicago, where, despite my best efforts to inoculate myself, I couldn't avoid being exposed to the Epstein-Becker virus), the marginal utility of hearing George W. Bush mouth the same platitudes, lies and nonsense yet again doesn't come close to compensating for the opportunity cost of not devoting my time and attention to anything else at all--writing for P! or Red Harvest, grading student papers, working on my research, reading a fly fishing magazine, playing with Alfie, or just drinking a beer and scratching my buttocks (hey, everyone needs a hobby). Sure, if Bush defies expectation and actually takes responsibility for the disasters his administration has created at home and abroad, I'll be a little disappointed not to have watched him squirm as he said it. Just like I'll be a bit chagrined if the Rapture comes and I'm left behind. But I'm not about to spend time reading those Tim LaHaye novels.



1Reader Competition: Match the Bush administration figure to the Gilligan's Island character. Here' s my entry to get things started:

Gilligan=W
The Skipper=Karl Rove
Thurston Howell III=Dick Cheney
Lovey Howell=Lynn Cheney
MaryAnne=Laura Bush
Ginger=Condi Rice
The Professor=Donald Rumsfeld (he'd be the Evil Professor, like maybe after having a coconut fall on his head)

2.02.2005

obnoxious liberal snobs

My friend and fellow P! blogger CJ just got back from a conference over the weekend and blogged about it in this post on her own blog. One of the things she writes about was how oppressive some of the implicit assumptions about educational level and choice of livelihood were. I've certainly encountered that sort of attitude among liberals myself. Isn't it strange that so many of them say they are pro-poor and claim to be aghast that workers are not being treated fairly but look down on those whom they consider to be their inferiors? I used to just find that mildly annoying until I found myself working in a blue collar job several years ago. What an education viewing liberal attitudes through that experience was.

I'm not wanting this to be just another liberal-bashing post though. The thing is that I have lived my whole life in what is now something of a kingpin of red states. I don't agree with the politics of most of my fellow Texans, but there are many of them to whom I would entrust my very life. Probably my greatest source of anger about what happened this past November was how clearly the Democrats had completely lost the ability to connect with many of the "bubbas" whom I believe represent a natural constituency within a true people's party. There is no need at all to pander to gun rights and gay bashing to connect with a lot of these guys. Just don't underestimate them.

ACTION ALERT!: "REAL ID" Act Threatens Refugee Safety

Under the guise of counter-terrorism, the right-wing is trying to restrict the ability of refugees to receive asylum from the human rights abuses that led them to flee their own homelands. Already, under current law, U.S. immigration authorities--now under the auspices of the Department of Homeland Security--are extremely hostile to asylum seekers, often twisting facts and resorting to strained interpretations of the law to deny claims--so much so that even conservative federal judges have offered sharp criticism. New legislation just introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chair James Sensenbrenner (a man who ought not to have the word "sense" in his name), would curtail refugee protections even further. Human Rights First is trying to rally opposition to nip these anti-asylum provisions in the bud:

The REAL ID Act, introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) on January 26, 2005, includes provisions that place refugees at an increased risk of persecution and erode this country's historic commitment to protect those seeking safe haven.

The bill resurrects several controversial anti-immigrant and anti-refugee provisions dropped from the final version of the "Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004" in December 2004 due to widespread opposition. If enacted, the bill's anti-refugee provisions would fundamentally change U.S. asylum law. Many refugees who have fled brutal human rights abuses -- including torture, rape, and other horrific violence -- will be barred from receiving asylum under these provisions.

Please contact House Members and urge them to preserve our nation's commitment to protecting refugees by opposing the anti-refugee provisions of the REAL ID Act.

2.01.2005

beyond groupthink

A couple of my favoirite bloggers, Harry of "Scratchings" and et alia, have begun collaborating with each other in a newly remodeled version of the former's blog.

Here's an excerpt from a great post there by et alia (Check it out):

'As I recall, the space shuttle Challenger exploded because the decision to launch was made based on “management judgment,” rather than “engineering judgment,” which is equivalent to saying that a consensus of the ignorant and powerful trumped the physical and engineering facts of the matter. I suspect the same dynamic is at work here; those with immediate power within Dem organizations are dictating an objectively incoherent agenda—or perhaps trying to actively alienate activist, reformist elements. Which one may be the case doesn't matter, because they are in effect the same. Part and parcel with this is the after-the-fact glorification of Bill Clinton as the Democrat's Reagan, a charismatic pol who presided over golden years for our country. Mentioning that he likely owed both his victories to Ross Perot would be ill-mannered.'

And this link that I found by way of one of Harry's posts (and from which the following excerpt is lifted) is worth checking out.

". . . despite the propaganda to the contrary loyally dispensed by a gullible media, the politics of the Democratic Leadership Council, the Third Wave, and the Clintons has been a bust.

Meanwhile, the two essential qualities of successful Democratic campaigns - a populist platform aimed at doing the mostest for the mostest while helping the weakest become part of the mostest - combined with a fervent vision of a future worth fighting for - simply disappeared."