Tuesday, January 31, 2006
A Post-Party Politics
So, despite the continuing failure, the same shameless pandering, the utter ineffectual politics that has played out yet again from the DC Vichy Democrats, the usual suspects are exhorting us all to work for the party:
We should look for inspiration from our heroes. But tonight, we should also look beyond the examples of our heroes, and the difficulties they had to face to prevail. Tonight, also look at the example of our adversaries.
And we should remember, the conservatives NEVER give up.
Most of you will know this answer, but it’s still important to ask the question:
What is generally considered the most important galvanizing event for the modern conservative movement?
The crushing defeat, in 1964, of Barry Goldwater.
Yup, that bullying ward heeler on the Home of the Fighing RepublicratsTM, DHinMI, is going to give us all a history lesson, a lesson that is supposed to keep us tethered to this dead political party, and of course tied to the same Trojan Republican “Democrats” that are continuously flogged at the Big Orange “Progressive” blog:
Did the conservatives give up after what should have been a humiliating defeat in 1964? Of course not. They never gave up, not once. They organized in just about every precinct in America. They put out legions of volunteers. They created organizations, and think tanks, and press operations, and trained and developed and nurtured young political operatives. They raised money. And throughout it all, they pursued a two-pronged approach:
They did whatever they could to create Republican majorities.
They did whatever they could to take control of the Republican party, and where possible nominate and elect conservative fellow travelers to office.
Note that never have they divorced one from the other. They almost all always fight to do what they can to install and maintain majorities. Then, over time, they became a majority of the majority party. In the overall body politic, the movement conservatives are a minority, and certainly not even a plurality when you divide up the electorate into regional and ideological segments. But they control the Republican party, and in the persons of George W. Bush and Karl Rove, they have tools and fellow conspirators.
Of course, he leaves out an important part of the story, glossing over HOW the theo-conservatives took over the Republican Party. Before they, and the Libertarian Conservatives that are the heirs of Goldwater took control, they worked OUTSIDE THE PARTY.
That vaunted Right Wing Noise Machine that the kossacks claim they want to replicate? It was built by veterans of the John Birch Society and College Republicans, paid for by the vast fortunes of Richard Mellon Scaife and the Olin Foundation, among others, and it did so over and above the establishment Republican Party, a pathetic bunch who were as ineffectual as the DC Democrats are now. They supported primary challenges and challenges through third parties. They launched unrelenting attacks in the media and in the conservative journals against the moderate and liberal members of the Republican Party. In short, they chipped away at and to a large extent destroyed the existing Republican Party, weakening it until Reagan came roaring in and charged into the Oval Office.
THIS is the lesson to learn from our enemies: PRINCIPLES BEFORE PARTY AFFILIATION, and support a CANDIDATE, not the institutions. Reagan used to speak of the 11th Commandment:
The personal attacks against me during the primary finally became so heavy that the state Republican chairman, Gaylord Parkinson, postulated what he called the Eleventh Commandment: Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican. It’s a rule I followed during that campaign and have ever since.
This is, of course, a fucking lie, and the beginning of the playbook used by the Bushes. Get surrogates to speak ill of fellow Republicans, then scream bloody murder if anybody speaks ill of YOU. It was exactly by attacking fellow Republicans that Atwater and the other movement conservatives helped Reagan take over the party, and they’ve only gotten better at it over the years.
So yes, indeed, lets learn from the success of the current owners of the Republican Party. Do not support the national party. Do not support the DCCC. Do not support the DSCC. Not a dime. Not a shred of shoe leather. Not a line of ink printed on paper. Support candidates who support what you believe in. Support outside groups, especially local groups, who will fight for working people, fight for women, fight for GBLT rights, fight for the poor. Follow your conscience. DO NOT hold your nose any more. If faced in the fall with a choice between a Republican and a Republicrat, vote for a third party, or write in someone you believe in. We’re told over and over again that we can’t expect Dems in “red” states to stand up for our values, yet somehow the party never supports viable candidates to run against “moderate” Republicans in “blue” states. Most important to the leaders of the national party is the status quo, a status quo which is destroying this party and destroying this country. It may be necessary to allow more losses in the short run to take over the Democratic Party, or to replace it with a third party.
There will be months, years, maybe decades of heart-breaking losses ahead of us, but DO NOT vote for the lesser of two lessers any more. If you do, you will get more of the same, more assholes trading votes and selling out your civil rights, your children’s civil rights, THEIR children’s civil rights, all in the name of that same shrinking demographic of selfish blinkered voters that the Republicans already have wrapped up. Do you really want the national voice of your political party to sound like THIS when responding to the most incompetent, corrupt and evil President this country has ever had? Warmed over platitudes about working together, only a week after this faux-Democrat pledged to sign legislation that will institutionalize second class status for GBLT Virginians.
For years, the national party has compromised and sold us out, over jobs and health care and workplace protections and trade and funding the military-industrial complex and protecting the votes of ALL Americans, all the time promising that they would fight to preserve a balanced Supreme Court. Tom Curry has an excellent overview of how that’s played out over the last few years, as the Democrats ceded ground and made tactical errors and let the Republicans out-maneuver them over and over again. When the heat really came down, the Democrats surrendered over and over again. This week, we were treated to Senator Byrd lecturing us:
“When it comes to judges, I hale from a conservative state,” Byrd told the Senate. “Similar to a majority of my constituents, I prefer conservative judges…. Judge Alito told me he respected the separation of powers and would not rule in support of a power-hungry President. I liked that answer. I liked Judge Alito. He struck me as a man of his word, and I intend to vote for him.”
After all the rhetoric and maneuvering, the battle over the court is finally decided by whether or not the president and his allies have the votes in the Senate.
Again and again, the Democrats have learned the wrong lesson and undermined the needs of their constituents, of the very Constitution they pledge to preserve:
Meanwhile, Democrats in states that Bush carried in the 2004 election, such as North Dakota, Nebraska and Tennessee, learned from what had happened to former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, who lost his seat to Republican John Thune, partly on the filibuster issue.
Daschle-led filibusters worked in 2003 and 2004 — they did keep nominees such as Estrada off the federal bench.
But they also gave Republican strategists a weapon to use against Democratic Senate candidates, and Democrats responded.
Daschle’s fellow South Dakota Democrat, Sen. Tim Johnson, supported filibusters in 2003 and 2004, but announced last week he’d vote for Alito.
Rep. Harold Ford, the likely Democratic Senate candidate in Tennessee, joined the anti-filibuster chorus last week. “Absent extraordinary circumstances, nominees to the Supreme Court deserve an up-or-down vote,” Ford said.
Using phraseology that Republicans have used, Sen. Kent Conrad, D- N.D., explained Friday why he wouldn’t support a last-ditch effort to filibuster Alito. “Elections have consequences,” Conrad told reporters. “President Bush was re-elected and he made very clear what he would do in terms of court appointees.”
They vote like Republicans, talk like Republicans and take corporate money like Republicans. Yes, there are principled politicians who actually stand for Progressive values, but they are undermined at every turn by the rest of the party. It is the so-called centrists in the party who attack those to their left, both office holders and the base of the party. Do you REALLY want to continue this abusive relationship?
Walk away from the Democratic Party. It’s dead anyway, a shambling zombie, and the stench is increasingly unbearable. Walk away, and find ways to work locally, and for individual candidates that will fight for your values. Work outside the party, talk to others, and hopefully the left will find a way to form an independent bloc that can either take over or replace the national party. THAT is the lesson to learn from the right’s successes.
The True State of This Union 2006
This is truly a bad Tuesday. First the DOA Democrats show they are as bankrupt as their fellow on-the-take Republicans by voting with them for Alito. We are now stuck with 4 EXTREMIST Supreme Court judges, Scalia, Thomas, Roberts and now Alito, the Fucked Up Four. These walking nightmares will officially steer us toward Neo-Conservatism for the next 30 years.
We also wake up to find we’ve lost Coretta Scott King, a great woman who passed away during the night. She was beloved by millions and will be sorely missed by us all.
America is a lost country and she is marching in the wrong direction. Today’s EVIDENCE is that not only didn’t we kill al-Zawahiri when we bombed our ally Pakistan, we don’t even know who was there.
The airstrike hit a building in Damadola, where U.S. intelligence believed al-Zawahiri had been attending an Islamic holiday dinner. CBS News correspondent James Stewart reports Pakistani officials say the strike killed four al Qaeda leaders — including a man believed to be al-Zawahiri’s son-in-law — but intelligence officials said later they believe al-Zawahiri sent his aides to the dinner in his place. Now, Stewart reports, U.S. officials say they just aren’t sure who they killed that day.
This is who we are now, we don’t know who we killed that day and obviously, we don’t particularly care because you won’t see people lamenting those (mostly) women and children that we blew apart that day, but neighbors say it was a family gathered for a religious holiday. Just pile them on top of the 100,000 plus that we’ve killed in Iraq already and the many thousands in Afghanistan.
America hasn’t even fully come to terms with the fact that these people had nothing to do with September 11th, that’s how in the dark and in denial our populace is. The fact that Bush still has 39% of this nations support as he fucks up everything he touches for 5 long years says something too painful for me about my own country.
Pigs (44 Donkey Ones)
So, you didn’t really buy the charade, did you? Yes, yes, I know there are some principled few that have tried to fight the good fight, but as a party, as representatives of working people, of women and gays and the poor and people who get harrassed by cops with big hardons brought on by guns and badges, those Democrats are precious few. The party is a charade, a circus act, a collection of 44 balloon animals:
Big man, pig man, ha ha charade you are.
You well heeled big wheel, ha ha charade you are.
And when your hand is on your heart,
You’re nearly a good laugh,
Almost a joker,
With your head down in the pig bin,
Saying “Keep on digging.”
Pig stain on your fat chin.
What do you hope to find.
When you’re down in the pig mine.
You’re nearly a laugh,
You’re nearly a laugh
But you’re really a cry. - lyrics by Roger Waters
I mean, come on. There was no real resistance going back ... fuck, seemingly forever. This movement “conservative”, Alito, this caveman all too comfortable pulling up a rock next to that Neanderthal Bork, would have been, SHOULD have been, an easy target for a real political party. A party that gave a damn about its constituency. It doesn’t though. This party wants the REPUBLICANS’ constituency. Us sluts, workers, unemployed, underemployed, darker complected, non-fundie, artistic, iconoclastic, individualistic, children, single parents, gay, bi, lesbian, transgendered, uncatorgorizable-in-any-useful-way-to-make-a-corporation-predictable-returns ... who wants a motley constituency like THAT?!?! Ugh ... you can’t predict accurate (and large) campaign contributions from THAT lot. Better to run away.
Oh, and run they have, right behind that cornbread Lothario Bill, right into the arms of the big corporations and increasingly into the bony arms of the Church Lady. You can hear the clicking tongues when someone says something about abortion being ANYTHING but bad, can’t you? Well, don’t worry, because the Church Lady’s favorite judge will be putting an end to that! All with the help of this pathetic “opposition”.
At Consortiumnews.com, we often criticize the Bush administration for its Orwellian language—"torture” and “democracy” being just two abused words—so we must note how Senate Democratic leaders slid into their own dissembling while trying to defuse rank-and-file demands for a filibuster of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito.
The Democratic leaders tried to sound tough and principled when they were really acting soft and manipulative. For instance, they urged Democrats to cast a “strategic vote” on Alito’s nomination as well as calling on senators to “vote their conscience”—but neither phrase meant what it purported to mean.
The so-called “strategic vote” on Alito amounted to Democrats conceding defeat on his nomination but then having most Democrats vote against him. That supposedly would permit Democrats to say “I told you so” when the negative consequences of Alito’s confirmation become apparent to the American people.
But that sort of ineffectual opposition is less “strategic” than it is “symbolic.” It amounts to surrendering to George W. Bush and the Republicans, even when important constitutional issues are at stake, and then briefly showing the flag to appease an angry Democratic base. It’s as “strategic” as Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox.
The other phrase—“vote their conscience”—was actually a signal to Democratic senators facing reelection campaigns in pro-Bush “red states” to cross over to the Republican side on the Alito nomination in order to gain some political protection.
So instead of challenging Alito on principle—because he’s a legal theorist for the Imperial Presidency and believes that a “unitary executive” should rule the nation almost by fiat—the “Red State” Democrats would “vote their conscience” by making a crass calculation and succumbing to political pressure.
In other words, “conscience” was used as a euphemism for “expediency.”
So, how does it feel, having your constitutional rights tossed into the pig’s trough of “expediency”? Your beliefs, your needs ... they aren’t important questions of constitutional rights and societal values, they are chits to traded and banked on and collected.
There is no Democratic Party. It died long ago. Today, the last couple of weeks, they were just another demonstration that the Democrats are just pigs on the Republican farm, with the President’s dogs herding them where they like, all for the promise of some more slop and a cozy pen:
Hey you, Whitehouse,
Ha ha charade you are.
You house proud town mouse,
Ha ha charade you are
You’re trying to keep our feelings off the street.
You’re nearly a real treat,
All tight lips and cold feet
And do you feel abused?
.....! .....! .....! .....!
You gotta stem the evil tide,
And keep it all on the inside.
Mary you’re nearly a treat,
Mary you’re nearly a treat
But you’re really a cry. - lyrics by Roger Waters
They’ll keep their place in the barnyard until the dogs get hungry, then they’ll be picked off, one by one.
You? You’re not even on the farm.
Monday, January 30, 2006
Don't Give Me No Reason
It’s not new, this assault on reason, this tearing down of the whole idea of “experts” and “professionals”, but the barbarians inside the gate running the country now seem to have pulled out all the stops, as highlighted in two stories over the past couple of days:
The flurry of political activity is being welcomed by conservative groups that consider it crucial to prevent health workers from being coerced into participating in care they find morally repugnant—protecting their “right of conscience” or “right of refusal.”
“This goes to the core of what it means to be an American,” said David Stevens, executive director of the Christian Medical & Dental Associations. “Conscience is the most sacred of all property. Doctors, dentists, nurses and other health care workers should not be forced to violate their consciences."”
Well, Theodoric of York is back amongst us ... it’s his right to assert superstion over science based on whatever he insists his beliefs demand. It doesn’t matter if what a patient wants or needs is legal or medically necessary, any Dr Tom, Nurse Dick or Pharmicist Harry should be protected if they impede the care of that patient based on their “conscience”. THEIR needs and value judgements should trump the license they received from the state to ply their trade, or the course bidden by the scientifically accepted course of action. Even if their beliefs serve as a tawdry mask to cover their hatred of the patient for their lifestyle or very being, it is their right to have the world their way that is “the core of what it means to be an American”.
If that wasn’t enough to make you run away to a civilized country that isn’t run by nutjobs who live in a past time that never really existed ... well, forget about that, because these self-same haters of modernity don’t want to to hear about how bad global warming is going to be:
The top climate scientist at NASA says the Bush administration has tried to stop him from speaking out since he gave a lecture last month calling for prompt reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases linked to global warming.
The scientist, James E. Hansen, longtime director of the agency’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said in an interview that officials at NASA headquarters had ordered the public affairs staff to review his coming lectures, papers, postings on the Goddard Web site and requests for interviews from journalists.
Dean Acosta, deputy assistant administrator for public affairs at the space agency, said there was no effort to silence Dr. Hansen. “That’s not the way we operate here at NASA,” Mr. Acosta said. “We promote openness and we speak with the facts.”
He said the restrictions on Dr. Hansen applied to all National Aeronautics and Space Administration personnel. He added that government scientists were free to discuss scientific findings, but that policy statements should be left to policy makers and appointed spokesmen.
So, if a scientist, one who is respected and has a long published history draws conclusions based on his training, experience and observations, he’s not to share them, as that is “stating policy”. Got that?
Like so many things the rightwing does in this country, there is no need for them start a bonfire in the Opernplatz. They just funnel dissent into little intellectual ghettos and then belittle those ghettos, so that most Americans, turned increasingly blind and scared by superstition and fear-mongering, will ignore anybody outside of the approved narrative.
These new dark ages are being built from two flanks. On the one hand, erode the idea that there is any such thing as an expert or professional. Seed their ranks with people who put belief and conformity before debate and training, then insist that you need to protect their “freedoms”. From the other side, restrict the actual freedoms of true professionals and experts, shunting them aside and keeping them out of public view and unsupported by public funds.
Meanwhile, screeds like mine here are described as lacking in tolerance, as though tolerance requires anyone to enable someone to be intolerant to others, even if they are acting in a public role.
So, welcome to the (imagined) past, folks, where fetuses are fully sentient and queers no longer walk the daytime world. Where your carefully chosen doctor’s medical advice can be trumped by a pharmacist or the clerk at an insurance company. It’s a bright white, wealthy shiny world, where no is sick who doesn’t deserve it and faith in your leaders will leave you safe and free from Nature’s indignant push-back from all of the abuse we’ve heaped upon it.
All of this, and not even a good government sanctioned book burning to keep your hands warm.
Pigs at the Trough
No, this isn’t a post about truffle season, although we are in the midst of it. This is about a different kind of bonanza, “the highest quarterly profits reported by a publicly-traded US company”. From the Guardian:
Exxon Mobil today reported record profits of $10.7bn for the fourth quarter as the world’s largest oil company cashed in on high energy prices.
The result surpassed Exxon’s previous record of $9.9bn (£5.6bn) in the 2005 third quarter. Oil companies made big profits last year as prices surged to record highs, driven by a combination of factors.
Exxon is the last of the major US oil producers to report fourth quarter earnings. Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Marathon Oil and Amerada Hess all delivered profit increases last week. Hess’s earnings almost doubled, and Marathon’s almost tripled. Oil companies also made big profits from their refining activities. The average US profit on refining crude oil into petrol and other fuels widened to a record of almost $11 a barrel.
Exxon Mobil’s annual sales are worth more than the gross domestic products of countries such as Sweden, Taiwan and Indonesia and its cash reserve is more than enough to cover the entire foreign debt of the Philippines.
What are the chances anything will be done about the bleeeding of the consumer with a bunch of oil and gas men at the helm of our government? Anyone remember exactly who was spinning out of the revolving door of Cheney’s office when the Energy policy was being made? The same office Dianne Feinstein couldn’t gain access to when California was being raped daily by Enron. These are the same people who are now laughing all the way to the bank and they know there isn’t an honest Congress or an honest Administration to do a damned thing about it.
Is Red the New Black?
Although it has received scant coverage so far in the US, this week Bono unveilved a new scheme to get money where it is needed in Africa. From the BBC website:
The rock star Bono has launched a new global brand, Product Red, with a share of profits to go to the fight against Aids in Africa. Launch partners American Express, Gap, Converse and Giorgio Armani announced a range of “red” branded products. These will include T-shirts, footwear, sunglasses and a credit card. The hope is that profits from the venture will generate a “sustainable” flow of money to support the Global Fund to Fight Aids, TB and Malaria. Bono warned the world was losing the fight against HIV/Aids, with 6,500 Africans dying of the disease every day.
He stressed that this was a commercial venture and not philanthropy. “Philanthropy is like hippy music, holding hands. Red is more like punk rock, hip hop, this should feel like hard commerce,” Bono said. Product Red wants to draw on the branding expertise and commercial might of its corporate partners, with plans that hundreds of companies could offer “red” branded products. Red partners, in turn, hope to broaden their customer base while doing something good at the same time.
Product Red was launched on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in the Swiss mountain village of Davos. “Here we are, fat cats in the snow,” said Bono at the start of the launch, only to correct himself: “I should say winners in the snow.” “I feel a bit of a fraud, a bit of a loser,” he said, “because we are not winning in the war against Aids.” Every day, about 6,500 Africans are dying of HIV/Aids and 9,000 more are infected. “I really, really hate losing,” Bono said, adding that he had turned to corporate winners so that the Global Fund could make money “in the slipstream, in the wake of these companies”.
I wanted to write about this earlier but I was privy to some of the players in all of this and couldn’t say anything sooner. There will be a US rollout of all of this later this year with other celebrities and more companies joining for the launch here.
Those familiar with my writing know that I am vary wary of corporate anything and especially want to wretch at any promotion of the term “branding” unless we are speaking of putting the word “Liars” on the rear ends of all those presently carrying water for the Bush Administration.
There was an editorial today in the LA Times that had some interesting observations:
Last week in Davos, Switzerland, the U2 frontman and anti-poverty activist used the occasion of the World Economic Forum, an annual gathering of the global business and political elite, to announce a remarkable new product line. The Gap, Converse, Giorgio Armani and American Express have agreed to offer products under the Red brand, with a share of the proceeds going to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
Red products will include shoes, T-shirts, sunglasses and credit cards — and yes, most will be red (although apparently some of the gear will be available in other colors). American Express promises to donate to the Global Fund an amount equal to the value of 1% of the purchases made on its Red cards, which initially will be available only in Britain. The apparel will be entirely or partially made in Africa, thus boosting the continent’s economy and fighting its most pernicious diseases at the same time.
Bono is noted for taking unusual and savvy approaches to tackling Africa’s vast poverty and disease problems, and the Red line is no exception. The project simultaneously offers big corporations a valuable “social marketing” opportunity — generating goodwill for their brands by positioning themselves as do-gooders — while raising money for one of the most worthwhile organizations on the planet.
The Global Fund supplies money for smart, badly needed projects to fight its three eponymous diseases, which together kill millions annually in the Third World. Most of its money comes from governments rather than philanthropists, but international donors are falling short of their commitments. Red products could help keep the fund in the black.
The Global Fund needs billions every year, and the Red project initially will generate only a tiny fraction of its budget. If it takes off, and more corporations get involved, that could change. As Bono asked last week: If you’re trying to decide between two pairs of jeans, and buying one could help save somebody’s life, while buying the other wouldn’t, which would you choose?
That last line said alot of what I’ve been thinking about since I first got wind of this project. I do worry in the long term about charity being made a fad or trendy, but people are dying today.
Saturday, January 28, 2006
Blue Monday on a Good Friday
Can you imagine the uproar if PBS tried to do something like this?
The BBC plans to mark the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ this Easter with an hour-long live procession through the streets of Manchester featuring pop stars from The Stone Roses and Happy Mondays and featuring songs by The Smiths and New Order.
In the programme, called Manchester Passion, a character representing Jesus will sing the legendary Joy Division anthem Love Will Tear Us Apart before dueting his arch-betrayer Judas on the New Order hit Blue Monday, according to senior church sources involved in the production.
Mary Magdelene, the penitent whore of the New Testament, is also getting in on the act: she is being lined up to sing the Buzzcocks hit Ever Fallen in Love (with Someone You Shouldn’t have) accompanied by a string band.
My favorite song choice?
The climax of the event sees Jesus sing the Smiths classic song Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now as he is being flayed by Roman soldiers. He will then come face-to-face with his Roman prosecutor Pontius Pilate with the two of them singing a duet of the Oasis hit Wonderwall and its chorus:
Oh, and where will this event be staged?
The “contemporary retelling” of Jesus’ last hours will begin with the messiah - who is yet to be cast - singing the Robbie Williams hit Angels, which will mark his procession into Jerusalem.
In this case, Jerusalem will be represented by Manchester’s gay and red light area near Canal Street and the Passion scene will pass via Chinatown and St Peter’s Square to culminate in Albert Square.
The march will be followed by members of the public who will be encouraged to join in the singing of relevant anthems, which include the M People hit Search for a Hero Inside Yourself.
The crowd will carry a large white cross and the public will also be asked to bring a symbol of their own burden - “something they are personally concerned about” - according to senior church sources involved in the programme.
That loud POP sound you heard was the collective blast of the American Taliban’s empty heads exploding, a loud collective sound of millions of vacuum sealed containers bursting like so many television tubes.
Friday, January 27, 2006
A Woman's Lot?
To forget one’s purpose is the commonest form of stupidity. - Nietzsche
We were told, along with many other things, that the US went into Iraq and Afghanistan to improve the lot of women. Never mind that in Iraq, at least, the government was a secular one, where women were freer than in most other Middle Eastern and SW Asian countries. We heard much talk of rape rooms, of women held hostage and killed by repressive governments. All of this, of course, was true, especially in Afghanistan. What does it say about US, though, when our troops do things like THIS:
The U.S. Army in Iraq has at least twice seized and jailed the wives of suspected insurgents in hopes of “leveraging” their husbands into surrender, U.S. military documents show.
In one case, a secretive task force locked up the young mother of a nursing baby, a U.S. intelligence officer reported. In the case of a second detainee, one American colonel suggested to another that they catch her husband by tacking a note to the family’s door telling him “to come get his wife."
Not that this is anything new for the US Military, which has a long history of abusing civilians when pursuing its Imperial wars, from the early days of the Colonies to the bloody banks of Sand Creek to the ashen corpses of Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki (and on and on, in this time of white phosophorus and the decimation of Falujah). Yet we forever insist that we are the champions of civilization while our enemies are savage monsters.
The U.S. military on Thursday freed five of what it said were 11 women among the 14,000 detainees currently held in the 2 1/2-year-old insurgency. All were accused of “aiding terrorists or planting explosives,” but an Iraqi government commission found that evidence was lacking.
Iraqi human rights activist Hind al-Salehi contends that U.S. anti-insurgent units, coming up empty-handed in raids on suspects’ houses, have at times detained wives to pressure men into turning themselves in.
Of course, the Pentagon would say that this is just enemy propaganda. Highlighting such reports is described by many on the right as akin to treason, yet:
But documents describing two 2004 episodes tell a different story as far as short-term detentions by local U.S. units. The documents are among hundreds the Pentagon has released periodically under U.S. court order to meet an American Civil Liberties Union request for information on detention practices.
In one memo, a civilian Pentagon intelligence officer described what happened when he took part in a raid on an Iraqi suspect’s house in Tarmiya, northwest of Baghdad, on May 9, 2004. The raid involved Task Force (TF) 6-26, a secretive military unit formed to handle high-profile targets.
“During the pre-operation brief it was recommended by TF personnel that if the wife were present, she be detained and held in order to leverage the primary target’s surrender,” wrote the 14-year veteran officer.
He said he objected, but when they raided the house the team leader, a senior sergeant, seized her anyway.
"The 28-year-old woman had three young children at the house, one being as young as six months and still nursing," the intelligence officer wrote. She was held for two days and was released after he complained, he said.
Like most names in the released documents, the officer’s signature is blacked out on this for-the-record memorandum about his complaint.
Makes your chest swell with pride, doesn’t it?
The second episode, in June 2004, is found in sketchy detail in e-mail exchanges among six U.S. Army colonels, discussing an undisclosed number of female detainees held in northern Iraq by the Stryker Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division.
The first message, from a military police colonel, advised staff officers of the U.S. northern command that the Iraqi police would not take control of the jailed women without charges being brought against them.
In a second e-mail, a command staff officer asked an officer of the unit holding the women, “What are you guys doing to try to get the husband - have you tacked a note on the door and challenged him to come get his wife?”
Two days later, the brigade’s deputy commander advised the higher command, “As each day goes by, I get more input that these gals have some info and/or will result in getting the husband.”
He went on, “These ladies fought back extremely hard during the original detention. They have shown indications of deceit and misinformation.”
The command staff colonel wrote in reply, referring to a commanding general, “CG wants the husband.”
The released e-mails stop there, and the women’s eventual status could not be immediately determined.
The United States, champion of the rule of law, democracy and civilization. Maybe if Bush repeats that often enough he can undo the damage and crimes being done in our names, but I doubt it.
He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you. - Nietzsche
Democracy is cool, as long as you vote our puppets in
The White House stance on ‘democracy’ (the cheapened version of the word, of course): “Well sir, you Ayrabs have the American gift of democracy, but don’t you go voting for no Ayrab group we don’t like, ya hear?”
And this is the philosophy of the White House towards nations with democratic processes: Vote for our guys or we will punish you and your people. Sounds verrry democratic to me. This is the same tact the chimp and cronies have taken with democratically-elected Chavez in Venezuela, and its the same tact they are taking with Hamas in Palestine:
The US might now seem hypocritical to many Arabs - encouraging democracy in the Middle East, while rejecting the choices that result from its exercise. At the same time, questions mount over whether Mr. Bush’s campaign for democracy is encouraging the empowerment of Islamist militants across the region.
“This [election result] is really going to scare ... other governments in the region, and the Egyptians in particular are going to tell the US, ‘We told you so,’ “ says Arthur Hughes, a former deputy assistant secretary of State for Near East affairs. “They’ll see this as more evidence of what comes from our pressure to open up their societies, but they won’t acknowledge that their hard-line tactics are what are leading to the growth” of Islamic extremism.
“The victory of Hamas cannot be seen in isolation from the major accomplishments of Islamists across Muslim lands,” says Fawaz Gerges, a Middle East expert at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, N.Y. “There’s a pattern here of Arab and Muslim electorates fed up with the secular governments that have failed to deliver the goods, both in economic terms and protecting the security of the homeland.”
The “irony,” Mr. Gerges adds, is that the Bush administration’s championing of the Middle East’s democratization has allowed the radical Islamists to “flex their political muscle” - from Egypt and Saudi Arabia to Lebanon and Iraq.
It should have come as no surprise that in a land where most of the people hate Americans and their Israeli puppets, that a militant political group won the election. Now we have to stick to our phoney rhetoric and say: The people have spoken in democratic elections and we must accept the results and figure out why they voted the way they did.
But that would take too much thinking and cause-and-effect philosophy.
Thursday, January 26, 2006
"How smooth must be the language of the whites, when they can make right look like wrong, and wrong like right.” Black Hawk - Sauk
How fragile are the faiths that hold us together?
Do you ever think about how much of your life depends on faith? No, not the Hairy-Thunderer-in-the-Sky kind of faith. The faith that your green light means it’s safe to proceed, and that the man in the car ahead waiting at the intersection knows that his red light means wait. The paycheck that lands on your desk, or appears in your bank account ... how much do you COUNT on it happening, and for the printing on that check to actually MEAN something? For that matter, pull a dollar bill out of your wallet. There is no gold, no silver, no firm asset or physical collateral behind that dollar. It has worth because an entire global economy made up of people have DECIDED and AGREE it has worth. This is a fundamental kind of faith.
You go through life believing that the people around you will follow a web of laws based upon other laws and court cases and a Constitution that were established by people long dead after arguments that might mean nothing to us now. A gossamer web we walk upon, every day, with little thought but abundant faith. Well, more and more, that faith is based upon a chimera. It is a phantom who’s ectoplasm is being shredded by the winds of war and greed and lies. Soon, in the chamber of the institution that is sometimes described as the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body (you have to say it capitalized and bolded ... it’s a rule) a man who doesn’t believe in that web of laws and court cases and Constitution will be confirmed to sit upon the Supreme Court. There has been precious little deliberation, just mostly empty postering.
Senator Robert C. Byrd, the old coot who proudly waves his little pocket Constitution around, said today:
“I make up my own mind," He said he had become convinced that Judge Alito was “an honorable man who loves his country and loves his Constitution. Can we really ask for more?”
Wow, he does? This man who worships at the feet of the Executive and law enforcement “loves the Constitution”? Strip Search Sammy “loves the Constitution”? Well, maybe if we forget about that pesky Fourth Amendment he does.
This past ... hell, why narrow it down to a week or month or year or decade? This past generation of political “leaders”, feckless office holders borne aloft on the campaign contributions of corporations and the wealthy, have steadily and I believe deliberately let us down. Hell, even that’s not right. Let those few of us down who think we can do better. Most Americans are just fine with cops kicking people’s teeth in. Some of us love when our military slaughters the savage du jour. We can be a cold, nasty and brutish people, and the most brutish among us, afraid that the howling demons in their own angry heads are in everybody else’s heads too, want so very badly for the hammer to come down, for the locks to shut and the stocks to come back to the village square. A punitive people, locking people away forever for victimless crime, locking children away in grinding poverty, locking women into unwanted pregancies because we want to punish them for being “sluts”. A very nice man said to me that he didn’t oppose abortion for RELIGIOUS reasons. No, no, he opposed it because people should have to LIVE WITH THEIR MISTAKES. Punishment must be meted out for life’s misjudgements. Cold, hard, angry, judgemental people, we Americans.
Perhaps those of us who believe in civil government will be able to win back what is being so blithely given away, but I fear that the slender faith that held this country together is in as much or more danger than it was in the years leading up to the Civil War. Maybe there ain’t no comin’ back.
As that faith, under assault from the right for so many years, does come apart, what else goes with it? Will you be so confident at that next red light? Feel quite as secure walking down the street, or unconcerned when you walk past a police officer in full martial kit? Oh, and that dollar ... it’s value rests on a web of financial transactions, of interest owed and the full faith and credit of the government that prints it. When faith in that government goes, what else goes with it?
First Bank of Wal Mart?
So now Wal-Mart wants all of your money, just what we need. Via USA Today:
Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan is urging Congress to close a regulatory loophole that lets companies own a certain breed of banks, which includes a bank Wal-Mart Stores wants to operate in Utah.
Greenspan’s comments didn’t make a specific attack on Wal-Mart’s efforts but rather were a broader shot at the exemption itself.The Fed chief’s remarks take direct aim at an exemption in federal law that allows any type of company — commercial firm, foreign bank or other — to own so-called industrial loan companies in a handful of states, principally Utah, California and Nevada.
When the exemption was adopted in 1987, industrial loan companies, or ILCs, were mostly small, locally owned institutions that had only limited deposit-taking and lending powers, Greenspan said. Since then, however, these loan companies have grown considerably, the Fed chief pointed out in a letter to Rep Jim Leach, R-Iowa, a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee, which oversees banking matters.
Even scarier we are reminded that Republicans are running banking matters, the thought of them with my country’s wallet always gives me hives. What are the chances Greenspan will get his wish?
Spying on fellow Democracies
So why is a country like the US, run by an Administration that touts democracy ad nauseum (as if it were a cure-all for our own rising poverty) and so proud of a Christian majority doing spying on a fellow Democracy? What do we think of a society that doesn’t ask these questions and instead usually offers knee-jerk platitudes? From the BEEB:
The Venezuelan government says several military officers have been caught passing state secrets to the US. Vice-President Jose Vicente Rangel said some “low-ranking officers” had passed information to the Pentagon. Some of the individuals concerned had been detained and some had left the country, he said.
Ties between the US and Venezuela were already under strain. Washington is deeply opposed to the government of left-wing President Hugo Chavez. Mr Chavez accuses the US of supporting attempts to overthrow him, which the US denies. Washington has expressed concerns about Venezuelan democracy under Mr Chavez and about the effect of his government’s military purchases on regional stability.
So we only love other right-wing democracies? The ‘left’ ones are a threat? The eagle is getting more frightening by the minute.
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
GOP Newspaper: Chimp bracing for impeachment
Let’s all collectively take a deep breath… Insight Magazine, a publication of the conservative Washington Times, says that the White House is preparing for impeachment and that a coalition in Congress is forming to carry out the proceedings.
“A coalition in Congress is being formed to support impeachment,” an administration source said.
Sources said a prelude to the impeachment process could begin with hearings by the Senate Judiciary Committee in February. They said the hearings would focus on the secret electronic surveillance program and whether Mr. Bush violated the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
On second thought, release that breath. Nothing will come of this save for some lingering stigma that may resonate in November. Republican bootlicks like Hannity and O’Reilly will come out and say that this is partisanship led by Dems, even though this impeachment movement is a coalition. The chimp will smirk, Dick will still get his buddies richer, and we will all still have our phone conversations tapped.
UCLA Alum Changes Tactics
The UCLA grad who initiated the ‘cash for info on Professors’ plan has withdrawn the offer to pay because it may violate school policy. According to the Times:
A 24-year-old conservative alumnus who announced earlier this month that he planned to pay students at the University of California, Los Angeles, to tape-record the lectures of left-leaning professors backed down after U.C.L.A. officials informed him on Monday that he would be violating school policy.
The alumnus, Andrew Jones, said he abandoned the plan to save his student supporters from possible legal action by the university, even though he believed they would be engaged in a “newsgathering” effort protected by the First Amendment. Mr. Jones says he is confident that students will volunteer to tape lectures or take detailed notes in an effort to expose their professors as liberal partisans who do not tolerate dissent in their classrooms.
Now Mr. Jones just wants his dirty info for free, what a chump. My guess is the media treats this like it’s over when indeed it is just the beginning of his filthy witch hunt on American academia.
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Okay, Can We Dump the Faux-Democrat Now?
Okay, NOW can we tell Chuck Schumer and the DSCC to go screw themselves and have a REAL primary battle?
Sen. Rick Santorum’s leading Democratic challenger, Pennsylvania Treasurer Bob Casey, announced Tuesday that he endorses Judge Samuel Alito’s confirmation to the Supreme Court.
For weeks, Republicans have called Casey “Silent Bob” and pressed him to say whether he supports Alito’s confirmation. Casey and Alito have a family connection because Alito, who serves on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals based in Philadelphia, sided with Casey’s father, the late Gov. Bob Casey, in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The case challenged a state law requiring women seeking abortions to notify their spouses.
The Santorum camp sees how ridiculous this is:
Santorum’s campaign manager responded with a statement accusing Casey of ducking the issue and then following the lead of Santorum, the No. 3 Senate Republican. Both candidates are generally against abortion. Santorum came out strong in support of Alito at a conservative rally Jan. 8.
Oh, and Governor Rendell, the traitorous motherfucker who championed Casey’s candidacy?
Casey’s endorsement came shortly after Gov. Ed Rendell said Tuesday during a news conference in Washington that he reluctantly supports Alito’s confirmation. Smar said the timing was a coincidence.
THERE IS ANOTHER CHOICE!
Oh, and how does a REAL progressive Democrat respond the nomination of a radically out-of-the-mainstream christofascist lover of overweening authority?
Today’s 10-8 party line vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee in favor of the Alito nomination sets the stage for a test of the U.S. Senate’s willingness to protect our constitutional rights. Judge Alito’s record clearly demonstrates that as a Supreme Court Justice he would increase the power of big corporations and the executive branch as he would weaken privacy rights, employee rights, minority rights, and our system of checks and balances. I challenge Bob Casey Jr. to join me in opposing Judge Alito’s nomination and supporting all legal means available to prevent his confirmation. This includes the use of a filibuster if necessary. Here are some of the reasons that I strongly oppose the Alito nomination:
• His refusal to recognize specific limits on the President’s power to “authorize others to ignore the law” with regard to warrantless wiretaps, torture, and other issues (see Hearing transcripts 86-88 and 193-194, Jan. 10, 2006).
• His dissent in Doe v. Groody that further demonstrated Judge Alito’s disregard for Fourth Amendment rights in that he would have allowed strip searching a ten year old girl and her mother without a warrant.
• His dissent in United States v. Rybar would have overturned the federal ban on the transfer or possession of machine guns. This decision reveals Judge Alito as a judicial activist who would overturn democratically enacted laws and limit Congress’s power to protect citizens from threats to their safety.
• His memos as a Justice Department lawyer advocating a strategy to overturn Roe v. Wade. They show him to be a willing participant in efforts to weaken privacy rights and take away abortion rights.
Judge Alito’s radical views have been often rejected by his colleagues but his confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court could ultimately impose them on our legal system.
His is not the record of a man who should be confirmed to replace Sandra Day O’Connor as the decisive vote determining the scope of our constitutional rights. My review of Judge Alito’s record prior to his confirmation hearings convinced me it would be a mistake to support his nomination. His evasive performance during the hearings did nothing to make his confirmation more palatable.
I emphatically disagree with Rick Santorum’s support for a Supreme Court nominee who would diminish our constitutional rights but at least he is willing to let voters know where he stands. Bob Casey has been on the sidelines of this debate for too long. My position is clear. I continue to oppose the Alito nomination and stand with the millions of Pennsylvanians who believe the Supreme Court must retain its place as the protector of our constitutional rights.
Enough is enough. Time to tell these bastards in DC that we want, we NEED a REAL political party that will stand for our values. Support the primary challenge to the “chosen” sellout for PA Senator, Bob Casey. No more Republicans in Democrats’ clothing.
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