3.31.2006

Takes One to Know One

A clip from John Dean's testimony, in support of Russ Feingold's presidential censure motion, before the Senate Judiciary Committee today (hat tip to Raw Story):
No presidency that I can find in history has adopted a policy of expanding presidential powers merely for the sake of expanding presidential powers. Presidents in the past who have expanded their powers have done so when pursuing policy objectives. It has been the announced policy of the Bush/Cheney presidency, however, from its outset, to expand presidential power for its own sake, and it continually searched for avenues to do just that, while constantly testing to see how far it can push the limits. I must add that never before have I felt the slightest reason to fear our government. Nor do I frighten easily. But I do fear the Bush/Cheney government (and the precedents they are creating) because this administration is caught up in the rectitude of its own self- righteousness, and for all practical purposes this presidency has remained largely unchecked by its constitutional coequals.
Mr Dean, you'll remember, was Dick Nixon's White House Counsel for awhile during Watergate.
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A New and Effective IED

Now here's an IED that might come in handy.

A hat tip to Michael Miller at Informed Dissent for pointing the way to the International Endowment for Democracy, among whose board of directors are Howard Zinn, Michael Parenti, Gore Vidal, Mumia Abu-Jamal, and Ramsey Clark. A clip from their Preamble:
APPEAL

HELP! HELP! The house is on fire and we are all living in it. The United States government and its dependent organizations, such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), have responded to the fire... by pouring more oil on it. They call it "democratic nation building"—a fancy name for the perpetual wars, theft of the commons, exploding economic inequalities, weakening civil liberties (including the introduction of torture), and the intensifying degradation and outright destruction of our natural environment that lie hidden behind "free" trade and the promise (seldom fulfilled) of a "free" election. Billions of people outside America want this madness to stop, but what can they do? Our new and independent organization, the International Endowment for Democracy (I.E.D.), believes it will only stop if democratic nation building (the real thing, not the oil) is applied to the U.S., which is the country most responsible for these frightening global developments, and that people everywhere can play a role in bringing it about.

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3.28.2006

Are All of Our Mirrors Broken?


We are nearly become a nation against which we would have readily made war 60 years ago, or even 20 years ago. We are become mid-20th century Argentinians, Chileans, Germans, Japanese.

Some of us revere the leaders of the recent (2000) coup as gods. Some of us cower before their power, terrified by them more than by those they call terrorists. Some of us ignore/deny/minimize the miasmic reality, hanging our hopes for better days on a non-existent opposition party. Some of us run to other countries, thinking there may be neutral ground, hallucinating the Elysian fields perhaps. Some of us stand and resist and scream, but we only hear each other and, like true Americans, are unable to organize individual resistance into powerful movement - mostly because we can't find a TV show that models it.

Why? Are all of our mirrors broken? Are we truly incapable of seeing what a terrible monster of a nation we are? What is there left that gives us the right to think that the United States of America is "the greatest nation on earth"? We've been fed and have swallowed billions of tons of pure bullshit by our own propaganda factories since they began telling us "we won World War II". And even in the areas where we've succeeded in being "the greatest", we have done so in great part by pillaging the earth and its biosphere, embracing brutal dictatorships while overthrowing populist governments, and squeezing the poor to desperation and death . . . and we're proud of it.

Let some others speak here, too . . . how about some clips from "Is the Constitution Dead?" by RINF's Edwin Vieira:
All too often when I propose returning America's monetary and banking systems to constitutional principles, or revitalizing the Militia of the several States, I find myself assailed with the retort that the Constitution is dead; that attempts to apply its true principles its original intent –as a means of limiting the powers of contemporary public officials are futile; and that my exhortations to the contrary are irrelevant, impotent, and even innately, if innocuously, screwball in character. Although no man is likely to be taken for a prophet in his own country, one's being spurned in that role does not, by itself, prove his pronouncements erroneous. Especially when the argument against his prophetic gift is as self-evidently nonsensical as that "“the Constitution is dead".

Plainly, the Constitution is anything but "dead"” with respect to certain individuals' access to and employment of political power that affects the lives of every American every day. To the contrary: It is very much alive and active in regard to elections to Congress and the Presidency, to the enactment of statutes, to decisions of the Supreme Court (and hundreds of other tribunals), to the President'’s command of the Armed Forces of the United States, and so on. Every transaction in these domains transpires under color of the Constitution, with at least tacit appeal to its authority, and at least in semblance according to its procedures.

True enough, many things done procedurally in the name of the Constitution are substantively unconstitutional. But no one in or seeking office in the General Government or the States dares to admit that he is acting outside, with disregard, or in contradiction of the Constitution, that he intends to violate it, or even that he may be justified in doing so in any particular future circumstances. Even those public officials who flout it in practice nonetheless acknowledge the Constitution to be just what it says it is: "the supreme Law of the Land"” (Article VI, Clause 2), which everyone, themselves included, must follow. They invoke the Constitution as the source of their authority, and assert that their actions are fully consistent with it. That this may constitute self-deception, hypocrisy, deceit, or even perjury cannot falsify the Constitution's character as "the supreme Law", or deny the efficacy of the transmission and exercise of power pursuant to it.

That criminals violate a law does not negate it. So how is it that the powers the Constitution grants - –and all too many that it does not grant - are fully alive; whereas the limitations on power that the Constitution also prescribes, in language no less intelligible and forceful, are supposedly "dead"? Simply because many individuals filling public offices under color of the Constitution choose to assert the powers but to forget the limitations? On what theory of constitutional government can such a pattern of misbehavior be legitimate? On what theory of law can officials enforce the parts of a law that grant them powers, while refusing to obey the parts of the very same law that impose disabilities on them?

Of most practical concern, if "“the Constitution is dead"” with respect to its limitations on governmental power, then how can anything that public officials do be legally wrong? If public officials refuse to obey the Constitution as to its limitations - –and supposedly need not do so because it is to that extent "“dead" - –then how can Americans criticize, challenge, and condemn what they are doing? On what grounds can Americans chastise them for their misdeeds? If "the Constitution is dead"” as to its limitations, then no public official violates his "Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution" (Article VI, Clause 3) when he disregards those supposedly ineffective restraints. Similarly, if "the Constitution is dead"” as to its limitations, then it is "dead", too, as to the individual rights it guarantees, because these rights establish fundamental constraints on governmental power. Thus, no public official violates even Congressional statutes ostensibly protecting civil rights (e.g., Title 18, United States Code, sections 241 and 242) when he disregards those rights as nonexistent.

Moreover, if, on the basis of the excuse that "“the Constitution is dead"”, Americans supinely obey public officials whenever the latter transgress the Constitution, then by their acquiescence they themselves admit that any statute Congress enacts, any judicial decision, and any order of the President to the Armed Forces is "law" and even "supreme law"”, because there is nothing superior by which to judge it; thus, "law"” is just another name for raw power; and, therefore, those who succeed in seizing control of the machinery of government can do whatever they like.

If "the Constitution is dead"” as to its limitations, then public officials in the exercise of unbridled power need consult only their own wills, appetites, and vices for direction. They are accountable to no one but themselves. In the truest sense of the term, they are utterly lawless. And common Americans are impotent, imbecile, and impertinent to say anything within the law against them.

It is useless to invoke the electorate as the ultimate, or even a potential, "”check and balance"” on rogue public officials. For who is to check the electorate, if not the Constitution? The Constitution imposes constraints on voters, as well as officials:

[t]he very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials * * * . One's right to life, liberty, and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly, and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.
West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624, 638 (1943).

If "“the Constitution is dead"” as to its limitations, though, then the voters, too, may do whatever they choose, and thus become a source of the problem, not its solution. As recent experience has repetitively proven, they may elect the worst possible miscreants to the highest public offices. And that such corrupt characters have been chosen "by the people"” will enable them to camouflage their crimes under the whitewash of "“democracy". (Which, no doubt, is why this buzzword has suddenly become so popular in political discourse.) Thus, voters unrestrained by the Constitution will simply provide further evidence for History's teaching that unbridled democracy leads straight to tyranny. When has it not?

On the other side, if "“the Constitution is dead", then to what authority can patriots appeal against the depredations of malign public officials and a corrupted electorate? Without the Constitution, patriots are mere dreamers or rebels whom the Establishment can condemn as crackpots or criminals.

In short, if common Americans concede that "the Constitution is dead"”, they will surrender the high ground, the initiative, and even their own best weapon, and put themselves at their enemies'’ mercy . . .

Without the Constitution, Americans must fall back on the "self-evident truths" of the Declaration of Independence, that

all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

But the Constitution is the product of, embodies, and depends upon these truths. If "the Constitution is dead", does not its cause of death extend to the Declaration as well? If the Constitution has proven unworkable perforce of its own internal incoherence, and its principles have thereby exposed themselves as fallacies, then are not the principles on which they rest, the "self-evident truths" of the Declaration, also tainted as no less erroneous?

If so, is the Declaration not also wrong in its assertion that "when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce the [people] under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security? So, must We the People allow themselves to be "“reduce[d] * * * under absolute Despotism", and that "absolute Despotism"” then be suffered to continue in perpetuity, until it spontaneously collapses of its own imbecility and corruption, taking down all of society with it?

Any patriot must reject this conclusion out of hand, along with the premise on which it rests. What is "dead"” is not the Constitution, or constitutionalism, or the Declaration of Independence, because they embody ideas and ideals that cannot die. But they can find themselves bereft of defenders. All too many Americans no longer entertain these ideas or cling to these ideals, not because they believe them wrong and unattainable, but simply because they lack the gumption to stand up for the way of life the Founding Fathers bequeathed to them.

This, however, is not an unalterably fatal condition. Common Americans once possessed gumption, and they can again. After all, it does not require heroic self-sacrifice, for one does not sacrifice himself by fighting for what is his. It does not require extraordinary courage, for even a cornered rat will resist an attacker. It requires only enough energy and determination to overcome the political sloth that throws in the sponge because that is the least tiresome thing to do.

If Americans cannot muster that energy, then for all practical purposes their country is dead. And the fault for that fatality cannot be attributed to the Constitution.
In case your eyes glazed over, I'll summarize: the Constitution is not "dead", but it is the inaction of citizens that deprives the document of oxygen.

Blogger Steve Lendman writes in "War-Making 101 - A User's Manual", in part:
I've lived through seven decades and can remember the late 1930s before WW II began. In fact, I began my formal education in kindergarten within days of when Hitler sent his Wehrmacht across the Polish border in an act of illegal aggression and began that near six year horror. I was too young to understand it then, and I can barely remember that fateful "first Pearl Harbor" on December 7, 1941. Franklin Roosevelt wanted in on that fight and did all he could to goad the Japanese to attack us. He knew with enough prodding they would, and when it came, we knew about when and where it would happen. We were ready to mobilize and join the battle, we did it, and nothing's been the same since.

FDR at least took the country to war as the Constitution says we must. On December 11,1941 he asked the Congress to make that declaration against Japan and also Nazi Germany in response to Hitler's declaring it against us. It was the last time a US Congress would ever use the constitutional authority it alone is allowed in Article I, Section 8 of that sacred document. The Founding Fathers thought that authority so important they codified it. They believed that on what is the single most important issue a nation ever faces, that awesome power should never placed in the hands of a single person. They wanted only the Legislative Branch to have it and only exercise it after careful, deliberative debate. That Branch still has it if it so wishes, but for the last 65 years it decided in its infinite indifference to abrogate it's authority and allow the President to usurp it and use it at his pleasure and choice. We've seen the result - a mess without end. We've had war after war after endless war (including the ones fought by others we encouraged and financed plus all the CIA covert mischief and abuse) with no end in sight and in every instance since WW II against designated "enemies" that never threatened or attacked us or had any intention to. Doing that by direct intervention based on no provocation, as we have, is called illegal aggression, which is exactly the crime the Nazis were tried for at Nuremburg. In the words of the Tribunal: "To initiate a war of aggression....is not only an international crime, it is the supreme crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole." The worst of those found guilty in that Tribunal were hanged. Think any of our leaders will ever meet the same fate as they should, of course? Fat chance, even though the worst of ours are as guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity as were the worst Nazis . . .

The point from my brief history lesson is to connect it to our own present situation. For the first time ever, we now have a president, at least the first one admitting it publicly, who also believes the Almighty speaks to him, tells him what to, and he's just following orders from that higher authority. I don't think he's kidding when he says God told him to invade Afghanistan and Iraq. I wonder if that same God told him to steal from the poor and give to the rich. I also wonder what God he's referring to. It's not the one I was brought up to believe in and the principles I was taught to think are pretty sacred in the Ten Commandments, especially the core "golden rule" one.

NOW LET'S GO THROUGH THE STEPS/RULES

Rule No. 1- Develop a tradition of militarism over time. It takes many years of practice to hone skills and perfect them. The US has followed this practice and incredibly has been at war (real war with mass slaughter) internally and/or abroad every year without exception with one or more adversaries since its inception.

No other nation today is more addicted to war than the US. It seems like it's always been that way, and it has. Of course, you'd never know it from the sanitized history we're taught up to the highest levels in all our schools - even the best of them like the two esteemed universities I was lucky enough to attend. I later understood their mission was to program my mind, teach me acceptable doctrine to "make me a good citizen." It's part of the package called "The American Way." Fill their heads with mush and make 'em believe the sun is out when it's really dark and pouring rain. They did teach me how to learn though, and I've tried to use that skill ever since to discover and understand what they should have taught me but never did . . .

Rule No. 6 - First the rule and then the message from it. The rule is: when you've got 'em, use 'em. Of course, that means using whatever most destructive or high tech weapons you have, especially if the target country only has lesser ones. It also means: what's the point of having 'em if you can't or don't use 'em. The message then is: toxic radiation is good for you. That must be what they're selling because the US has now stated its intent to use industrial strength nuclear bombs in any future wars if it chooses to. Can they really sell this line of sheer madness? They're trying, and I don't hear anyone screaming about it yet.

Waging war by illegal aggression is bad enough, but doing it recklessly in another so-called "shock and awe" attack with so-called "bunker-buster mini-nukes" that aren't mini is reckless and insane. The rhetoric about them is false and deliberately deceptive. These bombs are industrial strength and can be made to any potency and likely would be from one third to two thirds as powerful as a Hiroshima bomb. They're designed to penetrate a designated target and explode underground for supposed protection. The DOD falsely claims this fantasy. They deceptively state that these weapons are safe to use because only the protected target is destroyed while the toxic radiation from the detonation is contained underground. Baloney. This is just another shameless lie. Some of it will be contained, but any bomb this powerful will release most of its toxic and lethal radiation into the atmosphere contaminating a vast area depending only on how many targets are struck, where they are, and by how many nuclear bombs. Let's be clear what will happen if this attack goes ahead as planned or any other like it they may have in mind. It will likely be Hiroshima and Nagasaki x you pick the multiple - anywhere from double to infinity. And the result will be many thousands of innocent people murdered, many more thousands poisoned by toxic, lethal radiation and a vast area irremediably contaminated for the next 4.5 billion years. Think it's worth it, never mind unjustified, egregious and a gross breach of international law.

Should this administration be insane enough to do this (and after the announcement of March 16 it looks more likely than ever), the entire Middle East may boil over, and the US will have descended even deeper into its hellish sinkhole of endless (and now full-scale) nuclear war, massive destruction and killing, and nation bankrupting levels of endless spending with no end in sight. Doesn't this crowd understand this? They must, but that doesn't deter the damn fools. They're often wrong but never in doubt. Haven't they ever heard the great lyrics to folk singer Pete Seeger's Vietnam era ode to the damn fool of that period - "Waste deep in the Big Muddy and the big fool says push on." And don't they remember the memorable Stanley Kubrick 1964 film, Dr. Strangelove, that even I saw back then, and I dislike movies. Kubrick portrayed a nuclear Doomsday Machine. The film's subtitle was "how to stop worrying and love the bomb." Anyone believing that then or now can only love great suffering and large-scale death and destruction instead of life. But you can bet these guys will convince a lot of people it's worth it - for what and whom. Them maybe, but not us . . .

Rule (or reality) No. 8 - The script is written and the plans are ready to go. Here's how it's likely to play out.

I've discussed this scenario before in another essay, but it deserves repeating here with some added embellishment to scare you even more. I began by suggesting we're being set up (as well as being given fair warning if we can read the tea leaves) for a planned major strike against us. I then went on to say.......You know the drill by now. A major attack happens on US soil, the Bush administration and complicit corporate media hype what happened, scare the public and get them mad enough to demand retribution. If they haven't yet attacked Iran, they blame this on them so they now have public and outside support to do it claiming secret intelligence they can't reveal and it's (nuclear) bombs away - and George Bush's approval rating skyrockets just like after 9/11, and the Republicans keep control of both houses of Congress in November. Karl Rove couldn't plan it any better.

And there's one more thing I didn't write before but will add here. Tommy Franks' assessment and vision will become reality, the Constitution will be suspended, martial law will be declared and we'll have crossed the Rubicon and passed from a republic (what's left of it) to tyranny just as it happened in ancient Rome and more recently in Weimar Germany. We're no different or safer than they were. It works the same in every country, and we should understand nothing is more fragile than our sacred freedom and liberty. It can easily be taken from us without our knowledge or with our compliance when we think it guarantees us security. The reputed old Chinese proverb and curse (likely derived from another source) said "May he (or you) live in interesting times." It didn't mean "let the good times roll and all is well in the world." Whether of Chinese origin or not, I'll settle for the curse and say it surely applies to today in this country like never before in our history . . .
Former Republican conservative Paul Craig Roberts asks, in "What's Become of Americans?" at Antiwar.com:
Imagine knocking on America's door and being told, "Americans don't live here any longer. They have gone away."

But isn't that what we are hearing, that Americans have gone away? . . .

Readers tell me that Americans don't live here any more. They ask what responsible American citizenry would put up with the trashing of the Bill of Rights and the separation of powers, with wars based on deception, and with pathological liars in control of their government? One reader recently wrote that he believes that "no element of the U.S. government has been left untainted" by the lies and manipulations that have driven away accountability. So-called leaders, he wrote, "talk a great story of American pride and patriotism," but in their hands patriotism is merely a device for "cynical manipulation and fraud." . . .

The Marines turned in a false report that the civilians were killed by an insurgent bomb. But the evidence of wanton carnage was too powerful. Pressed by Time's collection of evidence, U.S. military officials in Baghdad opened an investigation. Time reports that "according to military officials, the inquiry acknowledged that, contrary to the military's initial report, the 15 civilians killed on Nov. 19 died at the hands of the Marines, not the insurgents. The military announced last week that the matter has been handed over to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which will conduct a criminal investigation."

If this story is true, under Donald Rumsfeld and George Bush's leadership, proud and honorable U.S. Marines have degenerated into the Waffen SS. Those of us raised on John Wayne war movies find this very hard to take . . .

The neocons have yet to tell us the real reason for their assault on Iraq, which has so far produced 20,000 dead, maimed, and wounded U.S. soldiers, between 30,000 and 180,000 (and rising) Iraqi civilians, and demoralized U.S. Marines to the point that they commit atrocities on women and children.

Would real Americans accept these blows for the sake of an undeclared agenda? Perhaps it is true that Americans don't live here any longer.
My questions are "who are these Americans we're talking about" and "when did they live here?" Are we talking about the Americans who spent a couple of hundred years or more decimating the nations who were here long before Europeans arrived? Or maybe those who made millions in rum and slave-trading and built no small empire on the backs of slaves? Or those who fought each other in the war to decide whether wage-slavery or chain and whip-slavery would be our economic base? Or those who allowed our government to annex Central and South America for United Fruit, steal the Philippines from Spain and Hawaii from itself?

The grand and ugly dichotomy is that this nation "of, by, and for the people" refuses to take responsibility for itself. The people elect their own government, but when their government does what governments do, the people disown it. I still see "Don't blame me, I voted for McGovern" bumper stickers around.

People run for office now knowing with a certainty that if they win, most folks won't care much about what they're doing for at least two years. Let me repeat my favorite Emma Goldman paraphrase . . . "elections are the opium of the people." Even worse, given the 2000 and 2004 election scandals, it looks like that opium has been mashed into smack and cut with strychnine and ground glass.

As I write this, it seems that the only good news I can find is that Jill Carroll was finally freed by her loathsome kidnappers today.

It all seems so diminished by the notion that our country has also freed the Evil Demon "A-Bomb" and is semi-secretly leading other nations occupying this poor, embattled planet into nuclear proliferation (India, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan) and conflict (China).

What, us worry? The mirrors are broken. Go shopping.

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3.27.2006

Dictatorship by Default


The main reason that I have, here and elsewhere, strongly advocated that "progressives" and "the hard Left" abandon the Democratic Party and/or form a unified, national Third Party united by clearly stated principles is pretty simple: the corporatist backers of both the Republican and Democratic Parties espouse globalism. Globalism is a political and economic movement which seeks to dissolve national boundaries which serve as barriers against international financiers controlling resources.

Nominally, in the United States, the Republican Party is seen as "business-friendly", while the Democratic Party is still viewed as "more humanistic". While there may still be some modicum of truth to this vision, it is largely hallucinatory.

The Democratic National Committee, The Democratic Leadership Council, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee are already working tirelessly to defeat or discourage candidates for national office who are truly progressive, anti-war (not just anti-War in Iraq), anti-corporatist/fascist, and pro-internationalist (rather than globalist).

Refer for example to this post ("Send in the Clowns") at Stop Me Before I Vote Again (excerpts):
Throw in the terrible towel, progs -- 2006 is already over. Rahm and company have swatted down the beautiful souls' primary challenges, and they may very well fulfill their dream of recovering the House -- after all, they're running against the gang that literally can't shoot straight. Once more the prog left has taken the gaspipe, caved in, shut up, made the florid but futile primary run, and with a bittersweet smile, packed the hard bloody truths away till -- the next time; and the next slapdown.

And the necessary left spoiler move in enough "right" CD's this November is not gonna happen either .... not this time. Nope, for what, the twelfth electoral cycle in a row, the Democrats have once more rope-a-doped their all-too-loyal internal opposition . . .
The "Rahm" referred to is Rahm Emmanuel, head honcho at the DCCC.

Only if they have no other choice will the Democratic Party controllers put money into the campaigns of candidates who support the goals of, for example, the Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) or the Congressional Progressive Caucus. The latter, by the way, can't even get is damn web site together, while Wowie Howie claims to still own all his techies and is gonna use'em in pushing the '06 campaigns.

The fact is that there is no viable organized resistance or opposition to the meta-agenda of globalist financiers. If there were, and it was centered in the Democratic Party, The Doubleduh-Cheney Gang would be in jail by now. Instead, we have an immune dictatorship by default.

A dictatorship makes its own laws. The Doubleduh-Cheney Gang manufactured a war to justify abdicating its constitutional responsibilities. It spies on its own citizens; funds private armies using corporations as pass-throughs; the installed Generalissimo signs legislation passed by congress, then in his "signing statements" makes it clear that he will ignore the law if he deems it necessary. And from the Democratic Party . . . nada. If this does not constitute (pun unintended) dictatorship, I'm missing something.

Think about it . . . this administration took a solemn oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States and have already dismantled half of it, eyeing the rest for dessert. They will, I think, find a way to just destroy the thing; short of that, we'll get Hillary or McCain. And the best we can do is the probably non-starter "Censure the President" thingy by Russ Feingold?

To progressives and hard-lefties, I can only say, "If you don't know where you're going, any road'll getcha there."
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3.24.2006

On Agonizing and Organizing


At Brick Burner, Joshua Frank, in "Political Lemmings: The Democrats and the Precipice", writes:
Can you really oppose the occupation of Iraq and still call yourself a Democrat? I’m not so sure. The majority of Washington Dems continue to applaud Bush’s invasion of Iraq as well as his debauched crusade against terror. A few antiwar voices have echoed though Democratic corridors, but none have produced any genuine shifts in ideology, let alone direction. Nor will they.

It wasn’t long ago when a handful of activists hailed Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s bid for the White House as worth fighting for. He seemed to oppose the war in Iraq and even offered a plan to get troops out quicker than any of the Democratic frontrunners. People were hopeful their support for Dennis would make an impact on the presidential race -- and maybe even pull the Democratic Party in their direction. It never happened. Two years have now passed and those who handed out fliers and buttons for Kucinich have nothing to show for their efforts.

So, why are Dennis Kucinich and his most loyal supporters still Democrats?

That’s a question I wish someone would answer. As far as I can tell, the reason the Dems can’t stand up to Bush is that they actually believe in this foolish war. They aren’t afraid or spineless, as so many claim -- they just support the president and his imperialist ventures. If Kucinich opposes the occupation, as he and his supporters have said over and again, then why is he still a member of a party that overwhelming backs it? Where the hell has he been, anyway?

Sorry Big D, whatever you are doing out there it’s not working all that well. Your party doesn’t need you. A new one does . . .

And there’s your biggest problem. Feingold’s fight to restore integrity in Washington (if there ever was such a thing) is hindered by his party allegiance and reluctance to break rank. The same can be said for every other DC Democrat who is willing to criticize Bush, including Rep. John Conyers. At the end of the day Conyers, like Feingold, McKinney and Kucinich -- is still a member of a party that supports the occupation of Iraq and Bush’s war on civil liberties.

Whatever they say won’t change that. Worst of all, when push comes to shove, and the Democrats nominate another pro-war candidate, all their causes will be sidelined. Party loyalty will matter more than the mounting death toll in Iraq.

I hate to say it, but that kind of bullshit will never end a war.
Of course I agree with what Joshua says. But I also think that the post is an excellent example of what I ventured here. The Left is trapped by the issue of "The War in Iraq". It might be possible to generate a "third party" presidential candidacy based on that single issue, but then what? First of all, there's the issue of who the candidate is . . . Cindy Sheehan and Pat Buchanan both condemn the war. Cindy got stuffed by the DNC/DLC. Wanna vote for Buchanan just to get us out of Iraq?

Joshua is right in accusing the Dems of supporting Bush's imperialist agenda. But it goes much deeper than that. Scratch the surface rhetoric off, look at the voting records and campaign contributions, and what you find is across-the-board support by Democrats for 99% of the The Doubleduh-Cheney Gang's agenda, both foreign and domestic.

Yes, a new party must be formed. But it will only be viable if it is principle-based, rather than issue-based. It also must reject the notion of forming itself around a single personality (such as Sheehan or Nader).

As I have said so many times before, I don't see an effective truly leftist movement in the US anymore. The great majority of US citizens are right-centrists. It will take an enormous amount of organized work to move from being whining finger-pointers to being leaders on the path of peace, justice, and real freedom.

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3.21.2006

The Truth About Lies


From Howard Zinn in The Progressive, "Lessons of Iraq War start with U.S. history":
On the third anniversary of President Bush's Iraq debacle, it's important to consider why the administration so easily fooled so many people into supporting the war.

I believe there are two reasons, which go deep into our national culture.

One is an absence of historical perspective. The other is an inability to think outside the boundaries of nationalism.

If we don't know history, then we are ready meat for carnivorous politicians and the intellectuals and journalists who supply the carving knives. But if we know some history, if we know how many times presidents have lied to us, we will not be fooled again . . .

President McKinley lied in 1898 about the reason for invading Cuba, saying we wanted to liberate the Cubans from Spanish control, but the truth is that he really wanted Spain out of Cuba so that the island could be open to United Fruit and other American corporations. He also lied about the reasons for our war in the Philippines, claiming we only wanted to "civilize" the Filipinos, while the real reason was to own a valuable piece of real estate in the far Pacific, even if we had to kill hundreds of thousands of Filipinos to accomplish that.

President Wilson lied about the reasons for entering the First World War, saying it was a war to "make the world safe for democracy," when it was really a war to make the world safe for the rising American power.

President Truman lied when he said the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima because it was "a military target."

And everyone lied about Vietnam -- President Kennedy about the extent of our involvement, President Johnson about the Gulf of Tonkin and President Nixon about the secret bombing of Cambodia. They all claimed the war was to keep South Vietnam free of communism, but really wanted to keep South Vietnam as an American outpost at the edge of the Asian continent . . .

There is an even bigger lie: the arrogant idea that this country is the center of the universe, exceptionally virtuous, admirable, superior.

If our starting point for evaluating the world around us is the firm belief that this nation is somehow endowed by Providence with unique qualities that make it morally superior to every other nation on Earth, then we are not likely to question the president when he says we are sending our troops here or there, or bombing this or that, in order to spread our values -- democracy, liberty, and let's not forget free enterprise -- to some God-forsaken (literally) place in the world.

But we must face some facts that disturb the idea of a uniquely virtuous nation.

We must face our long history of ethnic cleansing, in which the U.S. government drove millions of Indians off their land by means of massacres and forced evacuations.

We must face our long history, still not behind us, of slavery, segregation and racism.

And we must face the lingering memory of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

It is not a history of which we can be proud . . .

A more honest estimate of ourselves as a nation would prepare us all for the next barrage of lies that will accompany the next proposal to inflict our power on some other part of the world.

It might also inspire us to create a different history for ourselves, by taking our country away from the liars who govern it, and by rejecting nationalist arrogance, so that we can join people around the world in the common cause of peace and justice.
Also from The Progressive, Molly Ivins (finally coming to her senses) with "Enough of the D.C. Dems":
Mah fellow progressives, now is the time for all good men and women to come to the aid of the party. I don’t know about you, but I have had it with the D.C. Democrats, had it with the DLC Democrats, had it with every calculating, equivocating, triangulating, straddling, hair-splitting son of a bitch up there, and that includes Hillary Rodham Clinton.

I will not be supporting Senator Clinton because: a) she has no clear stand on the war and b) Terri Schiavo and flag-burning are not issues where you reach out to the other side and try to split the difference. You want to talk about lowering abortion rates through cooperation on sex education and contraception, fine, but don’t jack with stuff that is pure rightwing firewater.

I can’t see a damn soul in D.C. except Russ Feingold who is even worth considering for President. The rest of them seem to me so poisonously in hock to this system of legalized bribery they can’t even see straight.

Look at their reaction to this Abramoff scandal. They’re talking about “a lobby reform package.” We don’t need a lobby reform package, you dimwits, we need full public financing of campaigns, and every single one of you who spends half your time whoring after special interest contributions knows it. The Abramoff scandal is a once in a lifetime gift—a perfect lesson on what’s wrong with the system being laid out for people to see. Run with it, don’t mess around with little patches, and fix the system . . .

As usual, the Democrats have forty good issues on their side and want to run on thirty-nine of them. Here are three they should stick to:

1) Iraq is making terrorism worse; it’s a breeding ground. We need to extricate ourselves as soon as possible. We are not helping the Iraqis by staying.

2) Full public financing of campaigns so as to drive the moneylenders from the halls of Washington.

3) Single-payer health insurance.

Every Democrat I talk to is appalled at the sheer gutlessness and spinelessness of the Democratic performance. The party is still cringing at the thought of being called, ooh-ooh, “unpatriotic” by a bunch of rightwingers.

Take “unpatriotic” and shove it. How dare they do this to our country? “Unpatriotic”? These people have ruined the American military! Not to mention the economy, the middle class, and our reputation in the world. Everything they touch turns to dirt, including Medicare prescription drugs and hurricane relief.

This is not a time for a candidate who will offend no one; it is time for a candidate who takes clear stands and kicks ass . . .

\What happens now is not up to the has-beens in Washington who run this party. It is up to us. So let’s get off our butts and start building a progressive movement that can block the nomination of Hillary Clinton or any other candidate who supposedly has “all the money sewed up.”

I am tired of having the party nomination decided before the first primary vote is cast, tired of having the party beholden to the same old Establishment money.

We can raise our own money on the Internet, and we know it. Howard Dean raised $42 million, largely on the web, with a late start when he was running for President, and that ain’t chicken feed. If we double it, it gives us the lock on the nomination. So let’s go find a good candidate early and organize the shit out of our side.
OK, Good Golly . . . yer gettin close. Hope yer next column expounds on why expectin this to happen within the Dumbofuckincrappin Party is sheer folly.

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3.11.2006

"White Man Come, Kill Our Women, Rape Our Buffalo"

This is one of those "minor" things that folks really can't think about until it's upon us. As a reference, remember the cat about 15-20 years ago that was a biggie in the prediction business? Toffler, that's it.

Alvin, with whatever insight or analysis engine he had, twisted by whatever ideology drove him, was actually pretty accurate on a lot of issues. For example, he was right on target about the rise of religion and the resource wars in central Africa.

There were some pretty influential people who liked what Alvin had to say, 'tho the strategies they devised based on his predictions haven't been real successful. And Alvin's dead, so he can't help out much these days. I got a notion, however, that he'd ne talkin' 'bout this puppy, from Foreign Policy, "The Geopolitics of Sexual Frustration" by Martin Walker. Some excerpts:
Asia has too many boys. They can’t find wives, but they just might find extreme nationalism instead. It’s a dangerous imbalance for a region already on edge . . .

Back in 1990, Nobel Prize-winning Indian economist Amartya Sen was one of the first to call attention to the phenomenon of an estimated 100 million “missing women” in Asia. Nearly everywhere else, women outnumber men, in Europe by 7 percent, and in North America by 3.4 percent. Concern now is shifting to the boys for whom these missing females might have provided mates as they reach the age that Shakespeare described as nothing but stealing and fighting and “getting of wenches with child.”

Now there are too few wenches. Thanks in large part to the introduction of the ultrasound machine, Mother Nature’s usual preference for about 105 males to 100 females has grown to around 120 male births for every 100 female births in China. The imbalance is even higher in some locales—136 males to 100 females on the island of Hainan, an increasingly prosperous tourist resort, and 135 males to 100 females in central China’s Hubei Province. Similar patterns can be found in Taiwan, with 119 boys to 100 girls; Singapore, 118 boys to 100 girls; South Korea, 112 boys to 100 girls; and parts of India, 120 boys to 100 girls . . .

It would be reassuring to assume that China’s economic growth will itself solve the problem, as prosperity removes the traditional economic incentives for poor peasants to have sons who can work the land rather than daughters who might require costly dowries. But the numbers don’t support that theory. Indeed, the steepest imbalance between male and female infants is found in more prosperous regions, such as Hainan Island. And census data from India suggest that slum-dwellers and the very poor tend to raise a higher proportion of female children than more prosperous families.

The long-term implications of the gender imbalance are largely guesswork because there is no real precedent for imbalances on such a scale. Some Chinese experts speculate, off the record, that there might be a connection between the shortage of women and the spread of open gay life since 2001, when homosexuality was deleted from the official Classification of Mental Disorders. It is possible to dream up all kinds of scenarios: Mumbai and Shanghai may soon rival San Francisco as gay capitals. A Beijing power struggle between cautious old technocrats and aggressive young nationalists may be decided by mobs of rootless young men, demanding uniforms, rifles, and a chance to liberate Taiwan. More likely, the organized crime networks that traffic in women will shift their deliveries toward Asia and build a brothel culture large enough to satisfy millions of sexually frustrated young men . . .


You listenin' there, Bubba??? Didn't think so.
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Now is the Time to Stuff the Democrats


Although it is far from united or viable, there is a growing bunch of folks who realize how far to the right establishment politics has moved in the last two decades. Not only that, but we propose that it is the Democratic Party, not the Republican one, which has, in effect, led the march.

The simple reality is that the notion of "get elected/relected at all costs" is the driving force for all post-capitalist politicians in the USA. Power is the principle. Just exactly that.

It is one thing for Republican conservatives, steamrolled by the eastern establisment liberals for so long, to be as lock-step and blood-thirsty and corrupt as they are. I feel only sorry for folks like Delay and his clones. They really do think it's OK to reap the spoils of victory. Indeed, they won their offices by preaching disdain of liberal America. Once in power, they, in their own minds, have gone about pillaging and looting. Is it unreasonable to expect, given the 11th century ethics they find so attractive?

The Democratic Party, on the other hand, increasingly seems to me to be the more cynical and dangerous of the two. Where the Republican Party seems to have some integrity (they do what they say the believe in), the Democratic Party has none. None. None. You know where Santorum stands. Do you know where Schumer or Pelosi or Jesse Jackson, Jr. or even Henry Waxman stand? Have you studied the furtive behavior and rhetoric of Howard Dean since he betrayed us all (finally) and went to work for the DLC? Yes, I said "DLC", not "DNC".

I gotta ask yuh, kind readers . . . what is it that keeps you believing that the Democratic Party wants anything different than the Republican Party does - P O W E R;? What??? Already, the Party has smashed the potential candidacies of two people (Sheehan and the cat from PA) who would have run as leftist Dems). The party is beyond "reform".

At the risk of allowing more reprobates to sit in Washington's excrement-stained seats, I advocate a boycott of the polls in '06. Vote not for any candidate who does not conform to the criteria I outlined here.

No more "lesser of two evils." It has not served us well. It is time to see voting for Democrats as the "lesser of ONE evil." Time to organize a truly leftist movement. Because we cannot, in Washington, have two enemies - we must see the sitting Senators and Congressmen as one ruling class. And we must defeat the weakest of them - the Democrats - in '06.

There are those who advocate giving the Left some sort of foothold by regaining a Democratic majority in DC. I must reject that. For the Democrats do not support the agenda set forth by Roosevelt. There are no good old days. The leftists who advocate a program of justice and fairness and equal opportunity for all within our borders, and who reject the exploitation and eradication of societies different from ours, are disenfranchized by the Democratic Party. How can we continue to support them?

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3.10.2006

D'oh-bai


I'm not going to spend much effort on this, 'cuz over the long run it just ain't worth it. But I do have to weigh in . . .

I find it absolutely hilarious that the Rebooblicans were ready to crush Shrub on this one, playing the "risk to national security" card, while many on the Left have been grumbling about "rascism" in not doing business with Islamic states. I mean, did we just go through an unreported planetary polar magnetic field shift?

On the one hand, the damn Reboobs are the ones who are exporting this country to any foreign investor who'll bite - they are the party-of-record on the "corporate profits trump national security" gambit.

And the Dumbocraps, at least the couple who've opened their mouths about anything these past couple of years, are the ones who've been whining about lack of security, but who now think we need to let "good" Muslims have a piece of the profit pie.

They're all bloody idjits, don't y'know.

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3.09.2006

PLEASE . . . GET . . . IT!! (Part 2)

Lately, it seems that the rewards I get for blogging along the far left precipice (reminds me of hiking along "The Knife's Edge" just south of Maine's Mt Katahdin) are few and far between. I recently took some radical stands on issues dear to the "progressive" heart, then I took some heavy shit. *sigh*

In that context, it is with, well, gloat and glee that I discover that one of my favorite (and featured) blogs agrees with me (mostly) on a key issue that I frequently hammer away on. Against the War on Terror in "Bush's Crisis of 'Competence'" writes, in part:
. . . the emerging conventional wisdom that the Administration's incompetence is the real problem is question begging for two reasons. First, it suggests that somehow if policies were carried out with rigorous efficiency they would therefore be just. Fareed Zakaria, who has been engaged in an intellectual dance regarding the Iraq War ever since his own initial support, writes in Newsweek that Bush needs to learn from his mistakes in Iraq -- with mistake number one being that he tried to occupy a country with only 140,000 troops. You would think that rather than post-war planning, mistake number one was the occupation itself and the notion of imposing democracy from above. What this focus on competence ignores is that one can do many very bad things with a high degree of efficiency, and unless we have a sense of whether those policies are right or wrong performance will never be an adequate measure of political legitimacy . . .
Before the clip, I did indeed say "agrees with me (mostly)". In the interest of integrity, I do have to wonder out loud whether AWOT's editors do understand how much of The Doubleduh-Cheney Gang's "failures" are just the opposite, because creating chaos is a fundamental goal, and they're real good at that.

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

At some point today, we will reach/will have reached the 8,000 hit mark. Considering what I and this blog have been through during the past year, that's simply amazing. Thanks, folks!

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3.08.2006

Bad Strangefellows, etc.


You can tell it's March, the month of Madness, Ides, and Winds both Ill and Otherwise . . .

At American Leftist, Richard quotes Pat Buchanan at length(!?!?) on the issue of the nukelar India folly. Damn, y'know?, Buchanan the troll is such a waste of Buchanan the Populist. Oh, well, as brain surgery becomes more sophisticated . . .

Poor JS at Stop Me Before I Vote Again is starting to crack already, as he thinks of starting an ABTL (Anybody But Tom Lantos) movement. Go there, please, and either comfort the poor soul or threaten him . . . before he votes again . . .

One Woman Wrecking Crew is moving on, depriving the left netroots of still another shining star and fellow blogScreamer. Will miss you, Mary . . . but I'm glad you're concentrating again on the spiritual stuff . . .

As Cernig at Newshog intimates, some folks will hose (a la Kinky Friedman) anybody . . . I guess the only thing that differentiates is (a) identification of orifice and (b) depth of penetration. The post is "Pakistan Gets U.S. Arms Windfall, Not Democracy". A clipette:
George Bush had precious little to say about the military dictatorship he is helping to sustain in Pakistan, proving the utter hollowness and fraud of his long-time rhetoric about liberty, democracy and freedom. Nations only need those things when they aren't George's pals, it seems.

No, instead, Pakistan is to be treated to $1.5 billion of U.S. taxpayers money as a free gift to buy weaponry from U.S. firms and is also to be offered a whole bunch of deadly goodies. This to a country where the leader has said openly, within the last couple of days, that his military is aimed at neighbour India; a country that became a nuclear power in secret and then tried to export that secret for financial gain; a country that has played both ends against the middle in the War on Terror and in the U.S.'s dealings with China.
When I think about the blowback coming out of the Doubleduh-Rice Asia Road Show, I start fantasizing about those cute little personal backyard underground fallout shelters from the 1950s . . . and all that Campbells Soup on the shelves. I also start thinking about where I'm gonna get all the fookin duct tape I'm gonna need.

Joshua Frank, the Brick Burner, reminds us that the Green Party has proven once again a central thesis of mine: people don't change systems, systems change people. In other words, if you've bought the premise that the Democratic Party ain't the scene, and you're looking for another port in the Mother of All Storms, harbors with green flags ain't gonna help. The post is "How the Green Party Slays Their Own". I'm too tired to clip it for you; read it y'own damn se'f.

May I suggest that if you fuck with your eyes closed . . . well, fill in the blank.

(the graphic is ripped from muslimwakeup)

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Impeachy Keen?

New P!oll . . . "Will Bush Be Impeached?" Vote here, discuss/comment here.

Also too - got some new stuff featured in the Amazon Store.

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3.07.2006

Burning the Oscars


River has jes' plumb outdone herself!! I always enjoy reading her, but I usually end up crying. Not this time Bubba! This might not be her best post from these past years, but it's the gol'durn funniest. A couple slices from "And the Oscar Goes to . . .":
Best Actor:
George W. Bush in “OIF: The War on Terror” The third sequel to the original “Operation Iraqi Freedom: Weapons of Mass Destruction” and “Operation Iraqi Freedom: Liberating Iraqis”. Bush’s nomination comes for his convincing portrayal as the worlds first mentally challenged president . . .

Abdul Aziz Al Hakeem in “Men in Black [Turbans]” as the deeply devout Mullah pretending to be independent of his masters in Iran . . .

Supporting Actor:
Scott McClellan in “OIF: The War on Terror” and "Denial" best known for his ability to keep a straight face while reading through White House press briefings . . .

Special Effects:
Ahmed Al Chalabi in “Disappearing Act” for his magnificent evaporation from the Iraqi political scene this year. Mr. Chalabi is quite the master of illusion and received a previous nomination for his disappearance from Jordan in “The Petra Bank Scandal” . . .

An honorable mention to the Saudis for their support of Sunni extremists and Wahabis, the Iranians for their support of Shia extremist, and Americans for their support of chaos . . .


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3.06.2006

On Principles v. Issues: Why the Right May Stay in Power in Spite of It All


Since I waded into the blogoswamp about four years ago, I've "stopped blogging" three times (vowing each time not to return); bailed out of ddjangoWIrE, started P!, left P! to my original partners/editors, then reclaimed it in a stealthy coup that would have made Machiavelli blush (and which got me dropped from the blogrolls and blocked from the comments sections of at least two blogs ('though they're still on the blogroll here)). In addition, and I've said this before, I've had 1,627 episodes of "this ain't doing any good/why bother?" Ooooops, make that 1,628.

Those of you who read me regularly (what the fuck is wrong with you, anyway?) certainly recognize my recurring main theme - in spite of the transparency of the lies of the Right, in spite of the hits they take on now a near-daily basis (a majority of them self-inflicted), in spite of what surely will become a stampede of defections by politicians and bureaucrats desparate to find post-Doubleduh solid ground ("Honest, folks! I really did think they were telling the truth"), the Right has a pretty good chance of retaining power for a good long time.

For those who don't come here that often, let me include in "the Right" 99% of Republicans and 95% of Democrats in and about the current political structure. That said, the question comes . . . "Why can't the true Left turn this around?"

Most of you aren't gonna like this . . . I'm about to ruffle some feathers big time: the Right is Principles-based; the Left is Issues-based.

I'm not saying that the Right's principles are correct - for the most part their principles are empoverished, mean-spirited, immature, fear-based, destructive, and easily manipulated and exploited by the likes of the Rovians. But they are principles nonetheless . . . strongly articulated, tightly held and defended, broadly shared, not easily shaken by attacks from the truth.

The most salient point, however, is that these principles are born of and nurtured by community; and the integration of that community with its principles is nearly total. Again, put aside the fact that an immoral, cynical political faction with a whole passel of money has wooed and won that community. Put aside the fact that, in grim reality, that political faction stands no more for the values, principles, and well-being of that community than does, say, the Colombian Crack Cartel. For better or worse, it is a match made truly "in heaven". Yeah, there are some cracks in the clouds and some bending of the gates, but the likes of McCain and others have their spackle and welding torches out and the fix is on already.

So what of the Left? I will not beat the dead horse of "the circular firing squad", except to note it. The Left's tendency to beat the crap out of itself (note Dean's current feud with Pelosi) is only symptomatic, as I believe was my experience with P! a year ago. Trying to promote principles and community, we fell victim to issues and narcissistic individualism. We couldn't drain the swamp but we started picking up the alligators as weapons.

For example, by consensus we made rules of conduct for ourselves, then promptly broke them. In our hearts, I think we were kindred spirits with common ground. But it struck me early on that "my issue is the most important one and if you guys don't see that, screw yuh." We indeed had common ground, but immediately reinforced each our own piece of it. Make no mistake, selfish individualism is corrosive - except when the same grander goal, encompassing issues born of and subservient to it, is shared by a cohesive community.

Here's what I face as a Lefty with a couple of these issues. First, abortion. I feel really uncomfortable with abortion. First, I believe that some unseemly high percentage of abortions follow decisions to be totally irresponsible sexually. The convenience of abortions makes responsible sexual behavior inconvenient. (By the way, my readership by radical feminists is nil anyway, so fuck it. I'm tired of being afraid of what y'all think about me these days.) Second, although the Left is quick to attack the Right for its insistence on getting unborn fetuses born, then finding myriad ways to end their lives or make them miserable when they are, the Left's anti-war and anti-death penalty fervor is dimmed by its narrow support of the right to abortion without working tirelessly to promote sexual responsibility and alternatives to abortion. I ain't a woman and I prolly don't have clue, so I'll defend to my death a woman's right to autonomy. But y'all better clean up yer act on this one - 'cuz Scalito ain't the worst yer gonna get on this one.

Second, gay marriage. Let's get real. (And I'm bisexual, folks) Timing is everything. I know it's an equity issue, and an economic issue, and a moral issue, and a prejudice issue. But why now? As a bisexual, by the way, I will tell you that there is more mindless narcissism in the gay community these days than in any other segment of our society. I myself have fallen victim to it in my own behavior to the extent that it has hurt my very life. I've had to grow up a bit. Maybe you should, too.

Third, here's another one we're gonna get kicked in the croakers on - good ole Freedom of Speech. The Right rightly thinks that the Left espouses the right to say or do pretty much anything it wants to regardless of who's listening and/or watching. We accuse the Right of unabashed arrogance, but is there not a sufeit of arrogance in this stance? The Right's kept media does lately give us a run for our money in the arena of verbal excrement, but to my mind the Left has embraced the doctrine of "Total Rights, No Responsibility" to a point of little return. The espousal of the right to be inartistically vulgar and profane with no thought of the consequences doesn't even approach disingenuous.

All of this saddens me greatly. Like many of you, I see the Right as deadly ignorant. But I see the Left as morbidly immature and ineffective. As you regulars (all two of you - er, or maybe one of you after this post) know, several months ago I rejected the label "progressive". I am a radical. These, unfortunately, have become radical ideas.

You've got a lot of staying power if you're still here. Here's the bit . . . in order to gain power, the Left must needs find a common ground, a unified field, if you will, to which our issues are subservient and integraL. We must discover a community in which the greater good (of not only the Left but of All) guides our pushing of our issues (not the other way around). We must examine our principles and identify the warts on their skins. It is the warts that uglify the shining light of the principles I know we stand for.

The rights of free speech, sexual autonomy, choice, and peace are currently all but lost to us on the Left because we have abdicated responsibility to a disastrous degree. One result of this is that "progressives" in name only, like Rodham-Clinton, Kerry, Edwards, and Obama have become our nearest best hope. That, goodly fellows, is nothing less than fookin tragic, doncha know.

Do we have community? Do we have unshakeable principles that guide our issue battles? Can we take it from here?

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3.04.2006

PLEASE . . . GET . . . IT!!

Molly Ivins!!!! Are you listening???

THIS . . . "GOVERNMENT" . . . IS . . . NOT . . . INCOMPETENT.

Look at the Katrina stuff at Tom Tomorrow and so many other places. The actions of The Doubleduh-Cheney Gang are purposeful and criminal. What happened in N'Orleans (and what will happen again and again here and in Baghdad and Islamabad and Bora Bora and elsewhere) is a planned, systematic undermining and destruction of anything and everything that supports the well-being of ordinary people (you, my beloved humans, and me). And that will not change until y'all let go completely of any notion that electing Democrats to office instead of Republicans will make things better. Washington is controlled by political gangsters employed by corporate overlords to whom this country and its people mean . . . absolutely . . . nothing.

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These "Devils" Won't Dance


One of my favorite recent discoveries is Watching America. Well, OK, maybe "discovery" isn't quite the right word, since they point-blank marketed themselves to me, but I was only to eager to promote the site. At any rate, the site is invaluable since it publishes translations of key stories and editorials from the often non-English-language press. The content is an excellent source of information about how the US is seen by folks around the world. There's a graphic link to the site on the sidebar.

Yesterday, they posted "Condi: Firefighter or Pyromaniac?", by Tahar Selmi/translated by Mike Goeden, from Tunis Hebdo ("Je cherche la vérité"), which is excerpted here:
Visits by U.S. secretaries of state to the Arab region generally portend political or military upheaval, and Condoleezza Rice's recent tour of the Middle East was no exception. The "iron lady" espoused an aggressive, six-point program that is sufficiently dangerous to throw an already unstable region into utter chaos: overthrow the Lebanese president, disarm Hezbollah, freeze all aid to the Palestinians, isolate Syria and Iran, and undermine these same regimes by strengthening logistical support for their respective oppositions. All in all, a plan that, if ever enacted, would plunge the entire Middle East into a state of civil war and devastating, pan-regional conflict.

Arab leaders have refused to comply, at least for the time being. The plan is deemed rather absurd, let alone suicidal. Both Cairo and Riyadh, Washington's principal allies in the region, answered "nyet" to Rice's proposal - a rather rare response, it should be pointed out, and which underlines the seriousness of the stakes for Arab leaders. But for Condi Rice, whose "directness" in dealing with her Arab counterparts is well known, the answer is not definitive. She has often bragged about having worn down her opponents.

During her voyage, the State Department's head honcho did her utmost to present the plan as nothing more than a plea in favor of establishing democracy in the Middle East. But that's only a front, of course . . .

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Arab-Muslim world has even more reason to be nervous, since the region has become the principal theatre of armed conflict, at the instigation of the West and for dubious objectives. It is a sort of ninth Crusade, which goes a long way in explaining the recent Danish cartoons and their propagation throughout the Old World.

Arabs and Muslims are worried by the incredible increase in U.S. military spending, even while catastrophic scenarios targeting their region would seem to be materializing. A la Hemingway, they ask themselves the nagging question, "For whom the bell tolls?" This year alone, almost $500 billion will be invested in the American war machine, more than one and a half times the entire European military budget. Without a doubt, dire plans - heavy and mournful as tombstones - lie behind this remarkable decision.

Plagued by a series of scandals at home, mired in Iraq and Afghanistan where the rebellion is gathering strength, some say George Walker Bush is hatching a scheme to utterly destroy the alliance developing between Syria, Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah. To succeed, he will need the support of his Near East allies in the pursuit of his three-tier plan, incorporating financial, military and media maneuvering. His primary objective: replace American forces in Iraq with an Arab army, thus allowing the GIs to withdraw without causing too great a tumult. Political analysts argue that this largely explains the "iron lady's" latest trip across the Atlantic.
Dire plans, indeed, Tahar. And re: the question posed in your title? Pyromane, plus certainment.

An aside: did you know that many Pakistanis call their president "Mush"? Heeheehee.

Speaking of mush, the buzz is that Homeland Insecurity Liar-in-Chief Michael "It was Brownie's Fault" Chertoff is gonegonegone. (Pretty kewl segue, eh?)

Headline of the week: "Rumsfeld: Reports of Torture an al-Qaeda Trick" (at Antiwar.com). The story itself is here. This, by the way, is the one-in-the-same-Rummy whose Department of Perpetual War is developing the technology of "using remote-controlled sharks as stealth spies." A fond prop and "thank you" to Shakes for the pointer and the graphic (shiver).

'Cuz I been postin alotta bummer stuff lately, let me leave you with the words of a rare current American hero, a congressman who still knows the meaning of "integrity" and "public service", Rep. John Conyers:
There are few roles in our constitutional government that are more frustrating than being a member of the minority party during a period of one party control of the government. However, at a time when the majority party in general - and the president in particular - appears to be acting in open violation of the laws and the constitution, there are few jobs which are more important to the future of our democratic form of government.

People think of Watergate, or Iran Contra as constituting crises. They were in the sense that an executive branch was acting in violation of the law, and in tension with the majority party in the congress. But in the end, the system worked, the abuses were investigated, and actions were taken - even if presidential pardons ultimately prevented a full measure of justice.

Today, the crisis is substantively and systemically far worse. The alleged acts of wrongdoing - lying about the decision to go to war; manipulation of intelligence; facilitating and countenancing torture; using confidential information to out a CIA agent; open and flagrant violations of federal wiretap laws - are far more egregious than any I have witnessed in my 41 years in Congress. The majority party has shown no ability to engage in simple oversight, let alone challenge the Administration directly. The courts, while operating as an occasional and partial check, are institutionally incapable of delving into most of the controversies we are presented with as a result of limitations on standing, ripeness, and other doctrines. The media, which is increasingly concentrated, was shell-shocked and in some respects cowered by 9/11, and for the most part unwilling to alienate the party in charge.

Faced with that dilemma, we had a choice. We could simply ignore the myriad of transgressions being committed, and continue to reacting to the legislative agenda put before us by the Republican Party on a day-to-day basis, or we could do everything in our power to call attention to and document these very grave abuses of power. I opted for the latter course.

I could not live with myself or my children, if when faced with an Administration that went to war under false pretenses, used classified information to smear political opponents; and wiretapped innocent Americans without warrants, I did not formally respond to it. If the Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over the constitution, is silent on these matters, who else can we expect to speak out?
Shit . . . I just can't help it . . . so later, the contrast, from Guerilla News Network:
U.S. Opposes U.N.'s Planned Rights Panel
Fri, 03 Mar 2006 09:47:40 -0800 Summary:

Is anyone surprised that the U.S. is opposing the U.N. looking into human rights violations? I’ll give you three guesses who the biggest violators of human rights are… either allies of the U.S., or the U.S. themselves. [Posted By phoenix_rising]

by Colum Lynch

Republished from The Washington Post (Katharine Graham, Berkshire Hathaway)

Exclusion of Abusive Nations Sought

UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 27—The Bush administration will oppose a U.N.-backed resolution calling for the creation of a council to expose the world’s worst human rights abusers, John R. Bolton, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said Monday.

Bolton said that a draft charter presented Thursday by the U.N. General Assembly president, Jan Eliasson, was not tough enough to ensure that nations that abuse human rights would be barred from joining the council. He said he was under instructions from Washington to reopen negotiations on the text or postpone deliberations on a new rights body for several months.

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan and other supporters of the compromise warned that there is no better deal to be struck and that the U.S. strategy could undermine their efforts to create an improved, though imperfect, human rights body. “I think we should not let the better be the enemy of the good,” Annan told reporters Monday in Geneva.

The United States and the United Nations have been pressing for nearly a year to create a strengthened human rights council to replace the 53-member Human Rights Commission. The reputation of the Geneva-based panel, which helped draft the landmark Universal Declaration of Human Rights, has recently been tainted by the frequent election of members with dismal human rights records, such as Sudan and Zimbabwe.

Senior U.S. and U.N. officials had sought to prevent countries with poor rights records from joining the new organization by raising the membership standards and requiring a two-thirds vote of the 191-member General Assembly for any nation’s admittance. But the proposal met stiff resistance, and the current draft resolution would require members to be elected by an absolute majority—at least 96 countries . . .

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3.03.2006

MUST READ: Is the Bush Administration Planning a Nuclear Holocaust?

Now this is scary. Go there. Read it. Or. Else.

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How Many Katrinas?


It appears that the US Gulf Coast ain't the only place where God taketh away, then the fascists taketh away whatever's left.

Clips from "Strange City. Thankless Job. Heartless Russian Winter." by C. J. Chivers in today's WaPo (you need a subscription)(the emphasis added is mine):
The men and women who stack fruit and fish in the chill each day at the Dorogomilovsky Market can be grateful, at least, for the roof above their heads. It looks sturdy and strong.

This is not a small thing. A snow-covered roof gave way late last month in another cavernous food market in Russia's capital, crushing to death 66 workers and injuring dozens more.

The collapse exposed anew the perils inherent in the persistently decayed infrastructure in the former Soviet Union, even here in what was once its model city. It also brought into fresh focus the changed nature of the work in Russia's capital, where much of the most difficult, dangerous and least appealing jobs are no longer performed by Slavs, but whose leaders have shown scant sign of gratitude for a form of labor that keeps the place running . . .

Even before all the dead had been identified, Yuri M. Luzhkov, Moscow's mayor, announced plans for a modern shopping center to replace the market's ruins, showing more interest in the possibilities provided by a sizzling real estate boom than in the largest loss of life to strike the capital since suicide terrorists downed two passenger jets simultaneously in 2004. And the dead were not even eulogized before they were smeared, labeled as illegal immigrants or as members of a grocery mafia whose immediate families were unworthy of aid.

Mr. Luzhkov noted that there would be compensation paid to families of the deceased, except those whose kin were in the city illegally . . .
So much for WWII . . . the communist Russians/Soviets and the capitalist Americans/Europeans sacrificed millions of lives to defeat Hitler's and Mussolini's fascists. Now Russia and the US are, well, uh . . .

(the pic is an AP photo)

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Why Our Govt Really Needs The PATRIOT Act


I hope (but surely do not expect) that the true reason for the strong bi-partisan Congressional support for solidifying The USA PATRIOT Act are becoming clear to the citizenry . . . try to follow along:

In three of my previous four posts, I've tried to point out that the United States Government is now fully a self-contained entity, beholden only to those corporatist interests who have bought it. There have always been built-in, systemic walls and moats separating the government and the people of, by, and for whom it was supposed to exist. But those walls and moats are now fortified mega-fortresses. Since the forces that control the government now have the power to (1) steal/falsify elections and (2) successfully and with impunity buy politicians and bureaucrats, the one remaining thread linking the Goverment to the People - the vote - has been cut.

Individual near-term events and longer-term trends reveal with crystal clarity: the concept of "National Security" is a chimera; we the people, our lives and livelihoods, our safety, our very future, have never been so insecure. And every day, we find that the Goverment dispenses with another safeguard and/or support mechanism, while further reinforcing its own insular raison d'etre. Witness, for example, that the Government has just effectively weakened mine safety standards in the wake of recent, tragic abominations; with the same perfidious scythe, it has slashed apart the notion of an extra-Congressional ethics watchdog mechanism. On the latter, in fact, it appears that the only change in lobbying rules so far is that former congressmembers-turned-lobbyists won't be able to walk around the House and Senate floors or swim in the congressional pools or use the congressional gym facilities. Poor babies!

By "Government", I mean all three branches, of course. With the exception of a few (make that a very few) women and men of integrity, the Government has devolved into a pack of gangsters. The Doubleduh-Cheney Gang is only one manifestation. But as its power wanes with time and through many self-inflicted wounds, other gangs are even now forming and positioning themselves as the next benefactors and lackeys of the facsist horn o'plenty.

Note well "the Senate 10" . . . the ten Senators, led by Russ Feingold, who voted yesterday against PATRIOT Act re-up. I believe their days are numbered, because they ain't playin' the game. Do not be surprised if the DLC does to them in their next election cycle what it has already done to Cindy Sheehan and that other what-was-his-name who abandoned a promising progressive candidacy.

We're no longer talking about "National Security". We're talking about "Government Security". That's real diff'rent, Bubba.

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3.01.2006

US Govt to Americans: "We Don't Need You!"


First, a couple of excerpted items from Confined Space:
"OSHA Issues Weak Hexavalent Chromium Standard: 'Workers Will Die'"

Facing a court-ordered deadline, OSHA has issued its long-awaited standard to reduce workers' exposure to cancer-causing hexavalent chromium. Unfortunately, the standard represents a major victory for industry as OSHA lowered the standard from 52 micrograms of chromium per cubic meter of air to 5 micrograms, after originally proposing to a 1 microgram limit in 2004.

The new standard comes less than a week after an article revealed that scientists working for the chromium industry withheld data showing that even very low level exposures cause cancer . . .

"'Just letting people die like dogs' 9/11 Dust Fatalities Continue to Climb"

The toll of 9/11 is still climbing. Last month, James Zadroga, a 34-year-old New York City police detective, became one of at least a dozen Ground Zero workers who have died of a respiratory disease they contracted during rescue and recovery operations at the World Trade Centers.

More than four years after hijackers rammed passenger jets into the twin towers, at least a dozen people who worked at Ground Zero have died of diseases attributed to the witch's brew of deadly chemicals and toxic substances that filled the air at the disaster site.

Thousands of other Ground Zero workers are suffering from serious respiratory ailments. The victims include police officers, firefighters, construction workers and even immigrant laborers. Some call these forgotten men and women the "walking dead."

James Zadroga became the first NYPD officer to die as a direct result of exposure to Ground Zero's cocktail of chemicals, said Michael Palladino, president of the Detectives' Endowment Association.

"I do not think he will be the last, unfortunately," Palladino said.


Zadroga, whose wife had died of heart disease a year earlier, was a strong 6 feet 2 man, weighing more than 260 pounds before getting sick:

But the last four years offered a picture of a different man. Shortly after finishing his rescue and recovery work at the World Trade Center, Zadroga developed a chronic cough, shortness of breath and acid reflux. He was plagued by nightmares and headaches. Within months, he needed oxygen tanks, antibiotics and steroid injections on a regular basis.


Zadroga wasn't just killed by his more than 450 hours working in the witches brew of toxic dusts resulting from the collapse of the World Trade Centers, he was also screwed by the NYPD:

While Zadroga was losing the battle with his lungs, he was also losing a fight with the city. In March 2002, James filed a line of injury report with the NYPD, documenting his labored breathing and persistent cough. The report proved worthless, his parents say.
Then cometh David Sirota at Working for Change with "The dirty little secret behind the UAE port security flap". Clips:
Politicians and the media are loudly decrying the Bush administration's proposal to turn over port security to a firm owned by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) - a country with ties to terrorists. They are talking tough about national security - but almost no one is talking about what may have fueled the administration's decision to push forward with this deal: the desire to move forward Big Money's "free" trade agenda . . .

The Inter Press Service highlights exactly what's at stake, quoting a conservative activists who admits that this is all about trade:

"The United States' trade relationship with the UAE is the third largest in the Middle East, after Israel and Saudi Arabia. The two nations are engaged in bilateral free talks that would liberalise trade between the two countries and would, in theory at least, allow companies to own and operate businesses in both nations. 'There are legitimate security questions to be asked but it would be a mistake and really an insult to one of our leading trading partners in that region to reject this commercial transaction out of hand,' said Daniel T. Griswold, who directs the Center for Trade Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, a Washington-based libertarian think tank."


Look, we've seen this before. Just last year, Congress approved a U.S. taxpayer-funded loan by the Bush administration to a British company to help build nuclear technology in Communist China. Despite major security concerns raised - and a legislative effort to block the loan - Congress's "free traders" (many of whom talk so tough on security) made sure the loan went through so as to preserve the U.S.-China free trade relationship that is allowing lawmakers' corporate campaign contributors export so many U.S. jobs.

There is no better proof that our government takes its orders from corporate interests than these kinds of moves. That's what this UAE deal is all about - the mixture of the right-wing's goal of privatizing all government services (even post 9/11 port security!) with the political Establishment's desire to make sure Tom-Friedman-style "free" trade orthodoxy supersedes everything. This is where the culture of corruption meets national security policy - and, more specifically, where the unbridled corruption of on-the-take politicians are weakening America's security.
In other words, boys and girrlzz, it goes like this: Security? Corporate profits? Security? Corporate profits? Guess which one wins. Guess who loses.

Here's the one that's the purest of evil, though. Diane Feinstein. Democrat? Democrat. Liberal? Liberal!!! Read on, mouseketeers. We got some slices from "The Democrats' Daddy Warbucks":
Senator Dianne Feinstein's husband, Richard Blum, could well be called the Democrats' Daddy Warbucks. He's scored bundles from war contracts. He has recently purchased a $16.5 million crib in San Francisco and along with his wife has handed hundreds of thousands of dollars over to fellow Democrats. Since the 2000 election cycle, Blum has contributed over $75,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Committee, and thousands more to individual Democrats, including John Kerry, Robert Byrd, Joe Lieberman, Ted Kennedy, and Barbara Boxer . . .

Blum sees himself as an altruistic capitalist, claims one of his ex-employees: "He likes to go after companies that are down and out, and bring their stock back to life. He thinks he's doing good." Blum shares a large stake in Perini, a civil construction company that is happily employed in Iraq and Afghanistan. But not all of Blum's war profits come from Perini. In 1975, his venture capital firm went after fledging construction and design company URS when the business was about to be bought out by another corporation.

Since then, Blum has increased his stock in URS, capitalizing on its recent military contracts. Unlike Blum's dabbling with Barnum & Bailey, his current profits aren't so safe for child consumption.

Here are the basics to date: Blum currently holds over 111,000 shares of stock in URS Corporation, which is now one of the top defense contractors in the United States. Blum is an acting director of URS, which bought EG&G, a leading provider of technical services and management to the U.S. military, from The Carlyle Group in 2002. Carlyle's trusty advisers, past and present, include former President George H.W. Bush, James Baker, and ex-SEC Commissioner Arthur Levitt, among other prominent neoconservatives and Washington power brokers.

URS and Blum have since banked on the Iraq war, scoring a phat $600 million contract through EG&G. As a result, URS has seen its stock price more than triple since the war began in March 2003. Blum has cashed in over $2 million on this venture alone and another $100 million for his investment firm.

"As part of EG&G's sale price," reports the San Francisco Chronicle, "Carlyle acquired a 21.74 percent stake in URS – second only to the 23.7 percent of shares controlled by Blum Capital." . . .

If this were a Republican senator's spouse gleaning off the spoils of war and passing it along to fellow Republicans, the liberals would be up in arms. But since Dianne Feinstein is a leading Democrat, mum's the word.

Partisanship trumps ethics.


OK. I'll leave yuh alone fer a while. Go throw up.

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