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Monday, October 29, 2007

Poem: D.C. , T.S. Eliot and Politex

D.C.

I.

Unreal City,
Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,
A crowd flowed over Arlington Bridge, so many,
I had not thought death had undone so many.
Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled,
And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.
Flowed past Lincoln and down Constitution Avenue,
To where the Capitol guards kept the hours
With a dead sound on the final stroke of nine.
There I saw one I knew, and stopped him, crying,

"Congressman!
You who weren't with us in the deserts of Iraq.
That corpse you planted last year in your Georgetown garden,
'Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year?
'Or has the sudden frost disturbed its bed?"

II.

'My nerves are bad to-night. Yes, bad. Stay with me,' he spoke.

'Answer me, Congressman. Why do you never answer? Answer.
What are you thinking of? What thinking? What?
'I never know what you are thinking. Think.'

"I think this Mall is rats' alley,' he answered,
'Where the dead men lost their bones.'

'What is that noise?' I asked.

'The wind under the White House door.'

'What is that noise now? What is the wind doing?' I asked.

'Nothing again, nothing,' the Congressman answered.

'Do You know nothing? Do you see nothing? Do you remember
Nothing?' I asked.

"I remember those are pearls that were the soldier's eyes.

'Are you alive, or not, Congressman? Is there nothing in your head?
Do something.'

'What shall I do? What shall we all do?
Shall I rush out as I am, and walk down
Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House?'

'Yes, Congressman, Yes.
Do not ask, what is it,
Let us go and make our visit.'

III.

THE Chair Bush sat in, like a burnished throne,
Glowed on the marble, where the glass
Held up by standards wrought with fruited vines
From which a golden American Eagle peeped out
(Another hid his eyes behind his wing)
Doubled the flames of sevenbranched candelabra
Reflecting light upon the memorabilia cabinets,
Filled with worn balls, pennants, photos, uniforms,
In satin cases poured in rich profusion;
While vials of ivory and coloured glass
Unstoppered, lurked his strange synthetic industrial perfumes,
And drowned the sense in foul odours; stirred by the air
That freshened from the window high above, these ascended
In fattening the prolonged candle-flames,
Flung their smoke upward,
Stirring the pattern on the coffered ceiling.
Huge desert-wood fed with copper
Burned beige and burnt orange, framed by the coloured stone,
In which sad light a carved stallion reared.
Above the antique mantel was displayed
As though a window gave upon the desert scene
The change of cavalry, by a barbarous leader
And other withered stumps of violent U.S. history
Were told upon the walls; staring forms
Leaned out, leaning, hushing the room enclosed.

Our footsteps shuffled on the stair.
Under the firelight, Bush, his hair
Spread out in fiery points
Glowed into words, then would be savagely still.
Over and over, Bush pronounced
The emblem of his reign:

'get'em got'em get'em get 'em got 'em
get'em got'em get'em get 'em got 'em
get'em got'em get'em get 'em got 'em...'

We took our leave
In the face of
Such madness.

IV.

There was no water in that room, but only rock
Rock and no water and the sandy desert
The desert winding among the mountains of neglect
Which are mountains of rock without water
If there were water in that room we should stop and drink
Amongst the rock one cannot stop or think
Sweat is dry and our feet on the stair were in the sand
If there were only water amongst the rock
Dead desert mouth of carious teeth that cannot spit
In that room one can neither stand nor lie nor sit
There is not even silence in that desert
But dry sterile thunder without rain
There was not even solitude in that room
But red sullen faces sneered and snarled
From doors of mudcracked minds
If there were the sound of water only
Sound of water over a rock
Drip drop drip drop drop drop drop
But there was no water

V.

THE Potomic's tent is broken: the last fingers of leaf
Clutch and sink into the wet bank. The wind
Crosses the brown land, unheard. The Noble are departed.
The river bears empty bottles, sandwich papers,
Silk handkerchiefs, cardboard boxes, cigarette ends
And other testimony of summer nights. Truth-tellers are departed.
The long-gone heirs of city fathers,
Departed, have left no addresses.
By the waters of the Potomic I sat down and wept...
But at my back in a cold blast I hear
Times winged chariot hurrying near,
The rattle of the bones, and chuckle spread from ear to ear.

A rat crept softly through the vegetation
Dragging its slimy belly on the bank
While I was fishing in the dull canal
On a winter evening round behind the congressional gashouse
Musing upon our country's wreck
And on the kings, our fathers' deaths.
White bodies naked on the low damp ground
And bones cast in a little low dry garret,
Rattled by the rat's foot only, year to year.
But at my back from time to time I hear
The sounds of long, black limousines hurrying near.

Et, O ces voix d'enfants, chantant dans la dome!

VI.

The eyes are not here
There are no eyes here
In this land of dying stars
In this hollow valley of D.C.
This broken jaw of our lost kingdom.

In this last of meeting places
We grope together
And avoid speech
Gathered on this beach of the tumid river.

Sightless, unless
The eyes reappear
As the perpetual star
Of death's twilight kingdom
The hope only
Of empty men.

VII.

Here we go round the prickly Bush
Prickly bush prickly Bush
Here we go round the prickly Bush
At five o'clock in the morning.

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow of greedy, vain men

Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow of power-hungry, blind men

Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow of stupid, little men

This is the way our world ends
This is the way our world ends
This is the way our world ends
Not 'round a bang but a Bush.

--from selected poems by T.S. Eliot, with changes by Politex, 02.09.04


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Energy Bulletin: Peak Universe , James Howard Kunstler

The big Peak Oil conference of the year took place in Houston last week - but before we get to the substance of that, a few words about where we were. It is hard to imagine a more horrifying urban construct than this anti-city in the malarial swamps just off the Gulf of Mexico. And it is hard to conceive of a more desolate and depressing urban district, even of such an anti-city, than the utter wasteland around Houston's convention center.

Luckily, we didn't have to enter the convention center itself across the street - a baleful megastructure the size of three aircraft carriers, adorned with massive air-conditioning ducts to counter Houston's gym-sock-like climate. And when I say "street" you understand we are talking about four or six-laners, with no curbside parking, which is the norm for this town. The effect is that every street behaves like an extension of the freeway at the expense of pedestrians - but pedestrians have been eliminated anyway because in ninety percent of Houston's so-called downtown of glass towers there are no shops or restaurants at the ground-floor level, only blank walls, air-conditioning vents, parking ramps, and landscaping fantasias. We were informed that in parts of downtown there existed a network of air-conditioned underground corridors with shopping, but that everything in it closed at 7 p.m. when the last office workers straggled home. Anyway, none of it extended as far as the convention center. The rest of district was devoted to surface parking.

It has often been stated that Houston's ghastly development pattern comes from having no official zoning laws. But all it really proves is that you can achieve the same miserable results of typical American boneheaded zoning with no zoning - as long as your don't give a shit how people feel in their daily environments.

The convention center itself, though, demonstrated something beyond even that degree of thoughtlessness. Its pharaonic hugeness was a metaphor for the fatal grandiosity at the heart of contemporary life in American today, the utter disregard for a scale of human activity consistent with what the planet has to offer within its ecological limits - and of course the oil issue was at the center of that story.

Oh, one final thing about Houston life per se. Judging by the local items in the daily newspaper, the so-called city enjoys a level of mayhem that makes Baghdad look like a Sussex garden party. Sample headlines: "10 Charged in Burglary Spree," "Pit Bull Shot Dead After Pony Attack," "Jury Gives Man Life in Carjacking Death," "Two Killed in Home Invasion." One particularly insane story told of a man who shot and stabbed a visiting friend who "dissed" his dog. We didn't see any of that action around the convention center's Hilton Americas, where the ASPO conference actually took place, but the news didn't exactly make you want to venture out beyond the lobby. Anyway, you couldn't buy a stick of gum within a mile walk of the place, and the thought of traipsing past all those surface parking lots in 90- degree heat was like an invitation to reenact the Bataan Death March.

It was a sublime coincidence of fate and history that throughout the ASPO conference, the price of a barrel of oil surged up through the high eighty-dollars range and briefly touched $90-a-barrel on Friday (just as the stock market was tanking by 360-odd points). It was also interesting that as all this action was unfolding, MSNBC was running an interview with Senator Larry Craig (R. Idaho), lately accused of soliciting sex from a policeman in an airport toilet. Apparently what the nation really wants to know about is the Senator's self-described "wide stance" in bathroom technique. Perhaps when Craig is finally forced from his senate seat, he can get a job as a "personal toilet coach," and become the pioneer in a whole new realm of self-improvement science, teaching others how to assume the manly "wide stance" and become more effective leaders.

So, while the price of oil ratcheted up hour by hour, the ASPO conference members heard from an impressive range of experts who have been leading the public conversation on the Peak Oil story - with no help from the mainstream media or the political sector. Among them were Robert Hirsch, co-author of the now-famous 2005 Hirsch Report, commissioned by the US Department of Energy, which, much to the consternation of its sponsor, first told the nation in no uncertain terms that it was heading for a catastrophic set of disruptions in "normal" American life if we heedlessly continued energy business- as-usual. Hirsch went a little further now, two years on, than he had in his famous report, predicting a future of "oil export withholding," panicked markets, and allocation disturbances that would make the 1973 OPEC embargo look like a golden age.

Matt Simmons, the leading investment banker to the oil industry, who has worked tirelessly to lift public awareness of Peak Oil, also raised the specter of shortages, telling the audience that market allocation problems in the near future would almost certainly induce "hoarding behavior" among the public that would cripple the economy, lead to enforced rationing, and shock the nation. Simmons compared the current public mood over energy issues to a "fog of war." He also repeated his oft-stated opinion that the drilling rigs and other equipment used around the world to pump oil out of the ground are so uniformly old and decrepit that they pose a problem every bit as dire as peak oil itself. In the meantime, he said, to offset climbing prices, the developed nations have lately dipped so deeply into their accumulated stocks of crude and "refined product" that some countries may breach what is called their "minimum operating levels." Offstage, he told me, "We're too preoccupied trying to figure out the exact date of the peak. Meanwhile, we'll drain the gasoline pool and it will be gone forever."

The other most significant contribution came from Texas geologist Jeffrey Brown who presented a full-blown version of his theory that world export rates from the countries with oil to sell are liable to decline so much more sharply than their actual production decline rates that the world would be thrust into an oil export crisis within the next five years - and that this export crisis would turn out to be the defining condition of the Peak Oil story.

There were plenty of other fruitful contributions on subjects ranging from the future of the airline industry to reviving passenger rail service, to the question of nuclear power. And there was one real clunker presentation by a shill from the Toyota corporation, designed to blow green smoke up the audience's ass about the future of happy motoring (Toyota's products will save it from Peak Oil).

For coverage of the particulars, visit TheOilDrum.com, the nation's best energy discussion website.

If there were reporters from the mainstream media present at this event, I didn't run into of them. They are apparently uninterested in the fate of industrial economies, at least as long as Senator Larry Craig is out there on the frontiers of toilet coaching science, and Britney Spears is still sparring with K-Fed, and Diddy is beating people up in nightclubs, and people are murdering their friends for dissing their dogs.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Stark Truth: U.S. Rep. (CAL) Tells It Like It Is , Pete Stark

...First of all, I'm just amazed that the Republicans are worried that we can't pay for insuring an additional 10 million children. They sure don't care about finding $200 billion to fight the illegal war in Iraq. Where are you going to get that money? You are going to tell us lies like you're telling us today? Is that how you're going to fund the war?

You don't have money to fund the war or children. But you're going to spend it to blow up innocent people if we can get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the president's amusement....

"The truth is, Bush just likes to blow things up in Iraq, in the United States and in Congress....more

Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., cried as he apologized today for a controversial speech in which he said Americans were getting their heads blown off in Iraq for the president's amusement. “I want to apologize to my colleagues — many of whom I have offended — to the president and his family and to the troops,” Stark said on the House floor, according to The Hill. "I hope that with this apology, I return to being as insignificant as I should be," he said, according to MSNBC. --On Deadline

Comment: I wonder just what kind of pressure was used to get Stark back in line as we destroy our economy, fatten the war corporations, have our troops killed, and continue to weaken our country. Many believe we have gotten to the point of no return, that we will never recover the moral and financial strength that has made us the envy of the world. And for what? The majority of the people do not want this war, are willing to share the nation's dwindling riches more equitably, and know that the corporations are running this country through its selected representatives. While the Republicans do the most damage to the nation, the Democrats are nearly as bad and are not a viable alternative, and the third parties have been emasculated and will remain that way. --Politex, Oct. 24, 2007

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Campaign Trail: Our Man Goes Faulkner in Dearborn, Michigan , William Smith

Musings on today's “The Republicans, the Economy & You” airing: Having proclaimed this past week that he wasn’t familiar with the name Terry Schiavo or the controversy over drilling for oil in the Everglades, and never explaining why he thinks Russia is still the Soviet Union, and though still in The Race after once experiencing the unmitigated embarrassment of reduced circumstances when pleading for a smattering of applause at the end of one of his sluggish homespun speeches, the GOP’s fumbling late-comer, first-timer Fred Thompson, is due to get his hooves a bit muddy and be-shat today as he and the other Republican goat-boys assemble this afternoon, from 4 to 6, for another big bleating competition, this time in a Dearborn, Michigan shed in which two free-market wranglers —-breathless Maria "Money Slut" Bartiroma of CNBC and smarmy Chris Matthews, “The Cackling Catholic,” of MSNBC—- have stocked with enough fresh grass for the curried combatants to chew over and no doubt quickly regurgitate, each of them having turned those sweet green blades into a disgusting cud that reeks to high heaven of Reaganomics redux—stale, devalued corporate bonbons which within a few short years (once and for all when the next responsible, no-new-taxes-pledging, Great Obsolescence Party President has mucked out the farm’s long-neglected entitlement pigpens) will be reconstituted, zippily revitalized by Madison Avenue, and made entirely scrumptious again with multiple infusions of hedge-fund fructose and private-equity caffeine—to create of our tired commonwealth a vital, flag-flush “Godiva” nirvana again, once more venturing on to Mars and Venus and the Takei Belt and the ice-free, oil-rich poles as the god-chosen, pie-eyed envy we still suppose the rest of the “they don’t get it” world won’t ever in our lifetimes come to understand (not like deToqueville did), just as long as we keep on running in the garish glow of the rockets’ red glare…

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The presidential primary scam: Why the game is rigged, and why true democracy is only a secondary factor in the nation's rush to nominate the next president. , Michael Scherer

Oct. 8, 2007 | WASHINGTON -- It's far worse than you think -- worse than hanging chads, faulty Diebold machines, and billionaires who bankroll last-minute attack ads. The American system for nominating a presidential candidate has about as much in common with actual democracy as Donald Duck has with a lake mallard. It's not just that this year's primaries have been further front-loaded, or that the early primary states aren't representative of the nation at large. There is only passing fairness. There is only the semblance of order. There is nothing like equal representation under the law.

The whole stinking process was designed by dead men in smoky parlors and refined by faceless bureaucrats in hotel conference rooms. It is a nasty brew born of those caldrons of self-interest known as political parties. At every stage, advantage is parceled out like so much magic potion. "The national interest is not considered in any form," says University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato. "Everything is left up to an ad hoc decision. It's chaotic."

That is not an exaggeration. Consider this: If you are a Republican, your vote for the presidential nominee will be worth more in Tennessee than in New York. If you are a Democrat, your vote in the primary will not count in Florida and is unlikely to count in Michigan. If you are a Republican in Wyoming, you probably won't get to vote at all, since only party officials have a say.

And it gets worse. This election cycle, a top Democratic candidate shaking someone's hand in Miami before the end of January is breaking the rules, unless that someone is handing the candidate a check at the same time. To put it another way, Democrats' communicating with voters has been barred in Florida, but taking money from voters is OK. To put it a third way, the system is not only irrational but offensive to the nation's most basic values. "The only way that you can hear a candidate campaign is if you are willing to pay a campaign contribution," explains Steven Geller, Florida's exasperated state Senate Democratic leader. "It is astounding."

They don't teach all of this in school, because even a fourth-grader would get up from his desk and walk out of the classroom in protest. And where would that leave the nation, if all the 10-year-olds knew their political system was built on a lie, that empty hooey about all Americans being entitled to a single, equal vote? What would it mean if they knew every time President Bush and President Clinton and President Reagan had bragged about bringing democracy to the world, they were hiding the fact that pure representative democracy has never come to the United States?

At root, the problem is that primaries are considered by law and tradition to be the internal affairs of political parties. For the most part, the people who designed this calamity have never been elected to anything. They are operatives, organizers, functionaries, a smart set of soldiers who move like marionettes. They lead state parties and sit on committees with names like "Rules and Bylaws." You have never seen their names in the newspaper, because reporters rarely attend the meetings. And there are dozens of them, so you can't blame any single person.

The system they produce is justified in the press, partly because reporters enjoy its results. We like traveling to the early voting states, Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, where candidates have to shake a lot of hands. Voters in these states are unrepresentative of the nation as a whole, but they tend to take presidential politics more seriously. They go to candidate town halls in large numbers and ask smart questions, allowing poorly funded candidates to compete with wealthy candidates on a more level playing field.

By most estimates, about 190,000 people will participate in the Iowa caucuses, with another 1.2 million or so marking ballots in New Hampshire and South Carolina. That's about 1.4 million people in a nation of 301 million, or one-half of 1 percent.

When these early states start voting in January, the rest of the nation will begin to pay attention. If tradition holds, the candidates who win the early contests will have a huge advantage. With some luck, both parties will unite behind a single consensus nominee within a month, all but making the ballots in the later states irrelevant. Each party's leadership prays for this to happen, because if it does not, if for some reason the Democratic or Republican grass roots remains split on a preference after February, then the American people will be forced to see how ugly the whole game really is. more

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Bush Watch Feature: Cartoon Caption Contest , the editors

Each week, we provide a cartoon in need of a caption. You, the reader, submit your caption through our e-mail, we choose three finalists, and you vote for your favorite. Finalists for this week's cartoon will appear online sometime in the future. Any U.S. resident age eighteen or older can enter.

Cartoon #77564:

XXXXXoooooXXXXX

Friday, October 05, 2007

Bush Watch Exclusive: The Wacky World of William Smith , by William Smith

“I’m telling you—we don’t torture people!” Slap-slap… Glug… “We don’t torture people!” Gah-glug… Slap. “We don’t torture people!” 118˚… 126˚ Slap, glug, slap. “We don’t torture people!” 134˚… 141˚ Gah! “We don’t torture people!” Michael Bolton… 29˚ “We don’t torture people!” Slap, slap, slap… “We don’t torture people!” 20˚…Kenny G. Glug. “We don’t torture people!” Glug, gah, slug, slap, slap. Sorry Mohammed, are those straps too tight? “We don’t torture people!” 16˚…Slap. Biff! Pow! Where are your clothes? “We don’t torture people!” Glug, glug… Yanni.

***
Take this prediction to the vault, Jimmy! Some great terrorist incident on our soil within days, weeks, or even months of the Election, whether carried out or “foiled” in the planning stages, shall be more than enough to make the cowed, toe-picking populace between the Appalachians and the Rockies storm the polls and push another idiot, chickenhawk bomb jockey over the top. Repulsed, darkly I see it now: Rudy removes his nightgown and dons a Weimar helmet.

***
Ten vain warrior chimps took the stage in Reagan’s library last night. No, nine. The Libertarian doesn’t qualify. Frail, sunken-eyed Nancy sat rapt next to Arnold in the first row. Poor thing, after having Chris Matthews relay her question on embryonic stem-cell research, she couldn’t have heard much of anything to her liking in the crude base-catering responses. And though not one of the post-debate spinners I tuned to touched on this particularly outrageous moment, I wondered, mouth agape, if any of the other high-school graduates watching happened to notice how many of these candidates for the presidency raised their hands to dispel the thought of teaching Darwinism in our completely fucked-up school systems?

I counted four Creationists flapping their paws in the group when asked who among them didn’t believe in evolution. In that brief display, I heard the leaders of our supposed European allies sniggering. “How appropriate,” they all sighed derisively. “We may well have to deal with another giant U.S. Asshole too dense to contemplate the concept of natural selection because an avenging Angel named Jethro is always whispering that he’ll never have to.” Praise be, we’ll know in 20 months. Meanwhile the Crusades against “Islamo-Fascism” and humanism, and the poor, and the uninsured, and blacks, and women, and Mexicans, and gays, and breathable air will continue apace in each one of these fifty red-and-blue states.

***
Today’s shorter version of Persian insanity must have dithered this morning in a wardrobe mirror. At last, respectfully attired (he was assured), despite the distinct possibility this simple adjustment to circumstance might enflame the sensibilities of NYC’s fashion wags and thus cause all of the ensuing media coverage to ignore, or mask, his true purpose, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, having finally dispensed with the plain tan windbreaker, draped his open-collar white-shirt torso in a bargain-rack species of a light charcoal sports coat the burly eunuchs had handed him, left his room, took the stairs, scooted outside, and climbed inside, without even ducking, the plush dark interior of an armored black limousine in line with other dark escorts soon crawling past waving placards and shouting protesters to park and idle at the service entrance of an auditorium where he and his cordon of guards debarked for a little lunchtime Q and A with the courteous and worldly whiz kids already warming the seats at the Columbia University "Grill."

There, after starting out on high with a sampling of the rote invocations always resting in his tuning bowl of Koranic blather (Allah, angels, Adam, more angels, and Moses), he then floated planet-ward intent on disarming us all, though flashing his fuzzed irrational smile inopportunely while feebly thrusting at and parrying the vicious host of lies and revilements which the West has ere long leveled at his god-loving soul and home, throughout a rambling encomium that averred among other oddities that the holocaust, a theory, like physics, deserves more study; that no, be not alarmed, to the contrary, women are in fact revered beyond your poor powers to comprehend within his placid culture, and did you know, also, my friends, that his ultra-free society has the highest voter turnout—in all near 90 percent, over half of that indeed by women—among all nations; and yadda-yadda (only the way it sounds in Farsi) that Iran is merely dealing with their rabble rousers and so-called intellectuals—and for that matter, since you asked, our nonexistent homosexuals (creating another say-what caesura, which briefly poleaxed his audience before laughter galed, spun and shimmied, dividing as it died like clear untranslatable brooks diving deeply underground) are not a problem—as the pernicious influences they are in the same way, sort of, that our, er, your, noble country handles illicit drug smugglers and serial killers. Almost just the way things are done in your mighty US of America in point of fact: Better solutions through public executions. Peace be with you.

[Exeunt all, including me and my pooch for her trot about the communal dog lot and her one great joy in life, sniffing out each and every thrilling turd.]


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Comment: Our Take On The News , politex

1. Yes, There Will Be Chaos In Iraq If We Leave Today, But There Also Will Be Chaos In Iraq If We Leave In Five Years, Or Ten, Or... (more)

2. Jenna Bush Is Heartbroken Over Her Father's Killings In Iraq, So She Writes A Book About An HIV-Positive Teen Mother In Panama (more)

3. Bush Will Use Veto To Leave Sick Children Behind (more)

4. Amm Coulter Confirms T-Girl Status, Wants To Stop Women From Voting (more)

5. Father of Neoconservatism, a Graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary and Rudy Foreign Policy Adviser, Tells Bush in Secret Meeting to Bomb Iran. (more)


Monday, October 01, 2007

Bush Watch Blast: 25 Op-Eds , various

Tom Engelhardt | Tomgram: Nick Turse's "NYC, the NYPD, the RNC, and Me: Fortress Big Apple, 2007" Sometime during the demonstrations against the Republican National Convention, which renominated George W. Bush in August 2004, I went on a media protest march down the Valley of the Imperial Media, Sixth Avenue, in the Big Apple. I had certainly been on enough marches in my life, but I was amazed. Back in the Vietnam era, when...
more

Norman Solomon | Political "Science" and Truth of Consequences Contempt for the empirical that can't be readily jiggered or spun is evident at the top of the executive branch in Washington. The country is mired in a discourse that echoes the Scopes trial dramatized in "Inherit the Wind." Mere ...
more

Russ Wellen | Post, Times Condemn Peace Prize Winner for Making Peace Life as a Nobel Peace Prize laureate -- especially if you're not resting on your laurels -- is not as awash in dignity and respect as you might think. Myanmar democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi (1991) has spent 10 of the last 17 years under house arrest. Jimmy Carter's (2002) name has been dragged through the mud for expressing sympathy for the Palestinians...
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Stephen Lendman | Greenspan's Dark Legacy Unmasked After retiring as the Federal Reserve's second longest ever serving chairman, Alan Greenspan is now cashing in big late in life at age 81. He chaired the Fed's Board of Governors from the time he was appointed in August, 1987 to when he stepped down January 31, 2006 amidst a hail of ill-deserved praise for his stewardship during good and perilous times. USA ...
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Paul Rogat Loeb | Pre-Empting the Next War With the Senate embracing the reckless Kyl-Lieberman amendment, we've moved one step closer to attacking Iran. But there's still time for Congress to assert itself against yet another needless war with massive destructive potential. By defining Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps, a core branch of the Iranian military, as a foreign terrorist organization...
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Mary Shaw | The Red Mass vs. the U.S. Constitution Yesterday, the annual "Red Mass" was held in various Catholic churches and cathedrals across the country. This annual mass is held before the Supreme Court's fall session opens, and is intended to invoke the Holy Spirit's guidance in the administration of justice in the coming year. This is where Catholics come together to pray for holy rulings by the...
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Timothy Gatto | NY Times Reports Conservative Christians Want A Party of Their Own! It seems as if the “Christians Conservatives” are threatening a third party if Rudy Guiliani wins the primaries. That’s a hoot. Bush was good enough for them but Rudy Guiliani isn’t. The Conserva-Christians want to protect “the Sanctity of Life” as long as they are white Christian Americans. God forbid killing a fetus that’s six weeks old but...
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Jerome Doolittle | The Low-Tech Lynching of Clarence Thomas As Justice Clarence Thomas flogs his million-dollar memoir, sound bites from his 1991 nomination hearings have been surfacing in the news — fragrant bubbles from the swamps of George Herbert Walker Bush’s administration. The saddest of these golden oldies was the nominee’s anguished cry that the hearings were “a high-tech lynching for uppity...
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Michael Collins | The Money Party - The Essence of Our Political Troubles The Money Party is a small group of enterprises and individuals who have most of the money in this country. They use that money to make more money. Controlling who gets elected to public office is the key to more money for them and less for us. As 2008 approaches, The Money Party is working...
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RJ Eskow | Should Tom Friedman Be Forgiven? Vote Now and Decide Tom Friedman has written a mea culpa of sorts on his post-9/11 descent into extremism, and we'd like to encourage him to keep participating in the community of rational voices. Is it time to forget the past? A new online poll lets you, the reader, decide. In an editorial entitled "9/11 Is Over," Friedman writes: 9/11 has made us stupid. I honor, and...
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Steve Young | Your Compassionate Conservative Quote of the Day "Whenever I hear anything described as a heartless assault on our children I tend to think it's a good idea." -- William Kristol, Compassionate Conservative, Describing his reaction to the President Bush's intent to veto the new Childrens Health Insurance Program, Fox News Sunday, 9/30/07...
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Ed Kociela | They're all fucking the same Let's make this short and sweet. You want to put an end to the war in Iraq? You want to draw back the swords already pointing at Iran? You want health care that will benefit every American and not just the fat pigs who steal more money in one year than we all make in 10? You want to civilize the social and cultural damnation placed upon us by ...
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Mary Shaw | Bono speaks out against torture - and gets censored On September 27th, here in Philadelphia, the Liberty Medal for 2007 was awarded to Bono and his organization DATA (Debt AIDS Trade Africa), for their work in fighting AIDS and poverty in Africa. Each year, the National Constitution Center awards the Liberty Medal to a person or persons for outstanding work in advancing the cause of liberty around the world....
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Linda Milazzo | The Cafferty FOOL Wrongly Assails John Edwards Every afternoon in CNN's "Situation Room," anchored by milquetoast non-talent Wolf Blitzer, Blitzer shares a few short exchanges with self-styled curmudgeon, Jack Cafferty. Cafferty's 90-second segments, whored to viewers as "The Cafferty File," broadcast the purposely craggy Cafferty from CNN in New York to Blitzer's Situation Room in Washington...
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P.M. Carpenter | Attack of the Right-Winging Befuddled It's not often I hear directly from the Dark Side. Its agents, I gather, tend to glue their ears mostly to talk radio, and their eyes to Bill O'Reilly, the Wall Street Journal's editorial page and the occasional right-wing blog. So it was with no small amount of surprise and delight when, upon opening an email early yesterday morning, I found this missive...
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Nat Parry | Bush, Ahmadinejad and Authoritarianism Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad grabbed attention this past week for his “defiant” posture towards the United Nations over Iran’s nuclear program and his asinine comments at Columbia University on the absence of homosexuality in his home country. As usual, any legitimate points Ahmadinejad may have made were lost or drowned ...
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Ed Tant | Impeachment needed to empty presidential toolbox "No protracted war can fail to endanger the freedom of a democratic country," wrote French author Alexis de Tocqueville nearly 170 years ago. His words ring true today. While President Bush's war of choice, not necessity, rages on in Iraq, freedom is in danger right here in America. In the wake of the twin tragedies of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the ill...
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Danny Schechter | Media Coverage Helps Ahmadinejad, Harms US Public Mike Wallace was not in the best shape. He was wheezing and his eyes looked like saucers as he accepted his umpteenth Emmy award at the TV Academy dinner in New York on Monday night for his "60 Minutes" interview with the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, an almost unpronounceable name to most Americans. "Before that interview," he boasted, "none of ...
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Dave Zirin | Soldier In Winter: Dr. John Carlos Speaks Out On The Jena 6 When thousands -- many young, many poor, overwhelmingly African-American -- marched in Jena, La., last Thursday, the political impact was felt around the country. Marching on behalf of six young men known as the 'Jena 6,' who faced prison time for a schoolyard fight, the case held an echo of past civil rights movements. At the center of it all is Dr. John...
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Bill Moyers | For the Fallen
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Brent Budowsky | Jim Webb for Vice President Today, and President Tomorrow Every so often in Washington a figure rises who is exceptional, extraordinary and destined for great things. Many in the Congress and national politics have great acts but beneath the surface are more of the same, with better wrapping. Others are special. Jim Webb is very special. Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) is not only a military hero, but one of the truly...
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Mary Shaw | Good news: Verizon reverses its policy on pro-choice messages Yesterday I wrote about how Verizon Wireless blocked a text-messaging program that would allow subscribers to receive text messages from pro-choice group NARAL. I am pleased to announce that Verizon has now reversed that policy. According to The New York Times, Verizon spokesperson Jeffrey Nelson said that the previous decision to block NARAL's text...
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John W. Dean | The Impact of Authoritarian Conservatism On American Government: Part Three in a Three-Part Series The authoritarianism of the contemporary Republican Party has had a dire impact on all three branches of the federal government. This impact is the subject of my new book, Broken Government: How Republican Rule Destroyed the Legislative, Executive and Judicial Branches, and a matter I intend to write about periodically in this space as we approach the 2008 Election...
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David Michael Green | Buyer's Remorse: Their Purchase, Our Regret I don't know about you, but I for one am getting sick and tired of all these right-wing hacks righteously and publicly jumping ship on the Bush administration and the national nightmare they've been so kind as to bequeath to us this last awful decade. This has been going on for some time, of course, but the revelations of the last week or two have been ...
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Ira Chernus | The Theology of American Empire American foreign policy is built on a deep foundation of Christian theology. Some of the people who make our foreign policy may understand that foundation. Most probably aren’t even aware of it. But foundations are hidden underground. You can stand above them, and even take a strong stand upon them, without knowing they are there. When it comes to...
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Monday, September 24, 2007

Ed/News: Ex-Prez of Mexico Confirms Bush Watch Allegation Re "Cowboy" Bush , Politex

You just know that if Al Gore were to have claimed that he was a real down home rancher and all that it implies, the media would have been all over him like flies on fungus. Yet Bush did exactly that before the 2000 Prez election and the media went along with another Bush deception: the man can't even ride a horse. While Bush Watch was quick to point this out from the git go, the corporate press ignored it.

Now, in his new book, former president of Mexico Vicente Fox, calls Bush a "windshield cowboy" cowboy who is "afraid of horses." "Mr Fox, who left office in December, recalled Mr Bush 'backing away' from the animal. 'A horse lover can always tell when others don't share our passion,' he said, according to the Washington Post." Here's what we wrote a few years ago:

Down On The Farm With A Horse Named Trek, Jerry Politex

Prior to buying his farm near Waco around the time he decided to run for president, Bush's idea of a summer vacation was to hang out at his house in a gated club of summer homes deep in the piney woods of East Texas. To give you an idea of the culture of the area, the gated club next door called itself the KKK. Let's just say the racist past in Texas still was alive and well in certain enclaves in the state. This was hardly the place for a would-be president of all the citizens to live.

So his smoke and mirrors folks decided to turn Bush into a cowboy presidential candidate in the spirit of Teddy Rooselvelt, LBJ, and Reagan. The probem was these men could ride a horse, and Bush can only ride a bike. This became obvious when the candidate visited President Fox on his spread in Mexico, and turned down a ride on horseback offered by the Mexican rancher president. Bush wearing a belt buckle the size of a hub cap didn't make him a rancher, either.

So Bush created a fantasy world for the voters. He calls his 1,583 acre farm a ranch, but he only has 4 or 5 head of cattle on it. [And not one horse.] "'There are some guys that are all hat and no cattle. The president's not that way; he's hat and five cattle, joked Austin lawyer and former U.S. Rep. Kent R. Hance, who as a Democrat beat Bush in a 1978 congressional race by portraying him as an Ivy League interloper," reports Warren Veith in the LA Times. Veith continues: "Do four or five cows, plus two visiting Scottish terriers, constitute a true ranch? 'Well, I guess it's just up to the people,' said 74-year-old Ray Neuman, who runs 55 Hereford cattle on the property next to Bush's. 'We have trouble with just calling anything a ranch around here." We can sympathize, Mr. Neuman. Many have trouble with just calling anyone a president. --Politex, August 31, 2005


Monday, September 17, 2007

Ed/News: Greenspan Confirms Bush Watch Allegation Re Iraq Oil War , Politex

When it started, Bush Watch alleged that the Bush/Cheney Iraq war was instigated to gain control of a large portion of Middle East oil. This was a no-brainer, since many had documented U.S. foreign policy driven by oil interests since oil men Bush and Cheney came into office. Previously, Bush Watch exposed the bogus WMD runup to the war, and before that, during the week after it happened, in fact, Bush Watch reported the Saudi connections to 9/11. This was long before Michael Moore's film, not to mention the corporate mainstream media's timid reporting on the subject. How do we do it? Simple. We read the news and, given our knowledge of how this country is run, assume the worst, based on the facts. Our leaders seldom let us down.

As for the war to gain control over vast deposits of oil, here's a report on what Alan Greenspan, Bush's economic guru, says. Characteristically, Greenspan, loyal to the folks who run this country, can't even tell the truth about something without lieing about it at the same time:

"WASHINGTON (AFP) - Former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, for years an inscrutable seer on the economy, is causing a stir by alleging in his new memoir that "the Iraq war is largely about oil."

Greenspan, who as head of the US central bank was famous for his tight-lipped reserve, is uncharacteristically direct, also accusing President George W. Bush of abandoning Republican principles on the economy.

"I'm saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows -- the Iraq war is largely about oil," he wrote in reported excerpts of "The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World," which is set for release on Monday.

However in an interview with The Washington Post, Greenspan clarified that while securing global oil supplies was "not the administration's motive," it had presented the White House with an opportunity to make the case that removing Saddam Hussein was important for the global economy.

"I was not saying that that's the administration's motive," he said in the interview. "I'm just saying that if somebody asked me, 'Are we fortunate in taking out Saddam?' I would say it was essential."

Greenspan's memoir appears 18 months after he left the Fed, following a career that spanned 1987 to 2006, with the US economy at a crossroads and ahead of a critical central bank meeting under the chairmanship of his successor, Ben Bernanke.

The man dubbed "The Oracle" tells his own tale of nearly two decades at the helm of one of the world's most powerful financial institutions and includes surprising swipes at the Bush administration.

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, while explaining his "respect" for Greenspan, rejected the charge that a thirst for crude explained the decision to invade Iraq in March 2003.

"I know the same allegation was made about the Gulf War in 1991, and I just don't believe it's true," he said on ABC television Sunday.

Members of the US Congress, who by a broad majority also voted to authorize the use of military force against Iraq, also dismissed Greenspan's assertion.

"I don't believe that 77 United States senators on a broad, bipartisan basis would have authorized the use of force ... if it was only about oil," Republican senator John Cornyn told CNN."

Translation: The war for oil was about something else, too. Like, say, creating a war to win elections. Or like, say, starting up the war machine again, for ultimate profit. After all, the children of the wealthy seldom pay the ultimate price. And the slaughter of the American poor for the benefit of the American rich is still going on as this sentence is being read by you. --Jerry Politex


Friday, September 14, 2007

Op-Eds: Smirking Chimp Editors' Picks , various

Robert Parry | Petraeus & the 'Central Front' Myth As Gen. David Petraeus outlined plans for a long-term U.S. military occupation of Iraq, he relied heavily on two arguments favored by his civilian superiors in the Bush administration but not supported by the facts – that al-Qaeda views Iraq as the “central front” in the war on terror and is eager to drive American forces out... [Read more]

Steve Young | The Six Degrees Of Undermining The Troops™ Reaction to General Petreaus's congressional appearance couldn't be more on script. Democrats took heavy pains to preface their questioning of the general by praising his honorable and courageous service to the country. Faster than a Sean Hannity minute, the radio Lords of Loud went Frank Luntz all over the Dems blasting them for their egregious attack... [Read more]

Ted Rall | The War Party: Democrats Lie to Prolong Iraq; Reporters Go Along NEW YORK--Americans don't know how their government works. Democrats, in control of Congress, are taking advantage of our ignorance to continue the Iraq War. Which brings up two questions: Why won't the "antiwar" Democrats act to stop the carnage? And why aren't reporters calling them on it? "Democrats," writes Charles Babington in an Associated Press item... [Read more]

Brian Morton | A Lousy Gamble Ever since Ronald Reagan graced the national scene, Republicans across the country at both state and national levels have always run against Democrats using the same mantra: "They'll raise your taxes." Part of this is the legacy of Reagan's belief in "the Laffer Curve," an economic shell game of a theory that says the more you cut taxes, the more revenues go... [Read more]

Robert Jensen | It didn't start with Iraq: A review of the film WAR MADE EASY When George Bush began trying to justify the occupation of Iraq by invoking the "lessons" of Vietnam, I had the urge to send him a copy of the new documentary "War Made Easy" featuring Norman Solomon. That's hardly surprising -- no doubt we've all had the occasional desire to try to educate our president. Then as I read and listened to the responses from... [Read more]

Jaime O'Neill | Throwing the Fight These days, when I think of the Democrats, I'm always reminded of that classic scene in On the Waterfront in which Marlon Brando says to Rod Steiger, "You was my brother, Charley. You shoulda watched out for me." Over the past six years, the Democrats shoulda watched out for us, and they haven't. They should have stood for something, and they haven't... [Read more]

Brent Budowsky | 62 Democratic Senators The resounding Democratic victory in the 2006 Senate campaign creates a historic anomaly in which the Senate Democratic Caucus could increase to more than 60 senators, with historic implications for American politics and all three branches of government. The media are simply focusing on the 22 Senate Republican seats at stake in 2008. But the Republican ... [Read more]

Alan Bisbort | Future Shock: The 9/11 anniversary rolls by like a drowning polar bear For a century that began with such promise — with widespread talk of "bridges" and "a new millennium" — things sure deteriorated in a hurry, didn't they? In 1999, the U.S. was prosperous, not involved, at least not neck-deep, in foreign entanglements, and the media was free to print what it wanted. In the world at large, collective efforts were being... [Read more]

Mark W. Bradley | Why Can't They All Just Get Along? Four years ago (shortly after moving into the neighborhood where I currently live), it was brought to my attention that a thoroughly unpleasant individual resided in the house across the street and two doors down from mine. Not only was he known to be crude and obnoxious in his personal habits, it was widely rumored that he routinely and mercilessly beat... [Read more]

RJ Eskow | Is the 'Insurge' Working? Why aren't more people outraged over revelations that we're supporting Sunni insurgents against an elected government? Where are the headlines from all those news outlets that paraded purple-fingered Iraqis before us as demonstration of the war's success? Wasn't promoting democracy Explanation Number Four for why we're in Iraq? Or was that Number Five... [Read more]

Mary Shaw | When a hate crime can't be called a hate crime Earlier this week, I learned about the case of a young black woman in West Virginia who had been kidnapped and tortured for several days. According to CBS News, "Megan William, 20, was forced to eat rat and dog feces and drink from a toilet. She was sexually assaulted, doused with hot water, choked with a cable cord and stabbed in the leg, according to... [Read more]

Mike Whitney | Soup Kitchen U.S.A. "Credit booms do not end in inflation as most people believe. Credit booms ARE inflation that end in deflation. This credit boom is no different.” --Mike Shedlock, “Mish’s Global Economic Trend Analysis.” The days of the dollar as the world’s “reserve currency” may be drawing to a close. In August, foreign central banks and... [Read more]

Randolph T Holhut | Don't They Know There's A War On? DUMMERSTON, Vt. — Back during World War II, when people griped about rationing or some other inconvenience, someone was sure to pipe up and say, "Don't you know there's a war on?" When I look at the newspapers and magazines, with their lavish ads, or read the stories about what the well-to-do are wearing, driving, eating or vacationing this year... [Read more]

Margaret Kimberley | Democracy is Dead, It's Movement Time (Part I) The American people are utterly alone and completely defenseless from the power of an increasingly authoritarian state. The Bush administration "accidentally" flies nuclear warheads over our cities, seizes American citizens as enemy... [Read more]

Ken Carman | Inspection- Special Edition Adolf Hitler was tired of being in his bunker, though aides brought him plenty of food and other pleasures no one else was to know about. While the Allies were... [Read more]

Timothy Gatto | A War Casualty: The Truth You’re doing a heck of a job Davie, you too Crock. (“Whisper to the people; “’Ol Crock, he’s a good man, he just doesn’t understand that you have to tell the Iraqi’s what they want to hear, instead of scaring them with negative stuff”, wink, wink, nod, nod). That “report” was the whole ball of wax. The United States of America is making... [Read more]

Mark Drolette | Insults at twenty paces: and may neither man miss So this is what it’s come to, eh? The world’s number two terrorist, Osama bin Laden, being verbally bitch-slapped by the world’s number one terrorist. All together now: Ooooohhhhhh! No, the rhetorical dueling glove (the labeling of bin Laden as “virtually impotent”) wasn’t manfully snapped by George W. Bush himself (who, in a weird coincide... [Read more]

Jason Miller | Forget The Color Purple: Oprah’s all about the Green “The other kids were all into black power,” Oprah told the Tribune in the mid-1980s. But “I wasn’t a dashiki kind of woman … Excellence was the best deterrent to racism and that became my philosophy.” Excellence indeed. Few would deny that Oprah Winfrey has achieved an extraordinary degree of THAT, at least... [Read more]

Frank J Ranelli | Pelosi's Gavel Proves to Wield Little Power to End Conflict in Iraq Amid disingenuous half-truths, an obvious penchant to submit to Bush’s resolve to indefinitely stay in Iraq, and now cobbled together excuses instead of results, Nancy Pelosi has shown little true grit to exercise Congress’ ability to end the bloodbath in Iraq. Yesterday, Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, condemned Bush’s failed occupation... [Read more]

Bernard Weiner | Bush At His Shrink: The Nightmares Continue "I am delighted to see you again, Mr. President. I thought you might have wanted to talk after the Democratic sweep of Congress, but you never called. So, please, tell me why you are here today." "Well, I've been having nightmares again, one in particular that keeps coming back and making me anxious and irritable and... [Read more]

Cenk Uygur | Last Chance Saloon: Will the Democrats Stand Up to George Bush's Ridiculous Offer? Word has just come out that President Bush will offer to take out 30,000 troops from Iraq by next August -- maybe, if all of his conditions are met. So, that would leave us in the same exact place we were in November of 2006 when the American people sent the message that we should withdraw from Iraq. This is like a department store raising prices by a... [Read more]

Eric Boehlert | Lapdogs to the end? It's amazing that this deep into the Bush presidency, reporters and pundits still express genuine surprise and naïve disappointment when the White House slights them in purposeful ways. Just last week we saw fresh evidence of the Charlie Brown-Lucy-football routine, with wounded reporters complaining that the White House had, yet again, snubbed the ... [Read more]

Tom Engelhardt | Imperial Autism: The Petraeus Moment Blots Out the World The former Cockney flower-girl turned elegant-English-speaker Eliza Doolittle caught something of our moment in these lyrics from My Fair Lady: "Oh, words, words, words, I'm so sick of words.... Is that all you blighters can do?" Of course, all she had to do was be Galatea to a self-involved language teacher/Pygmalion. We've had... [Read more]

Thom Hartmann | The Problem With a "War" Strategy The eerie juxtaposition of General Betrayus testifying yesterday before Congress, and it being 9/11 (which helped Bush bring us disasters ranging from the PATRIOT Act to the Iraq War and Occupation) brings an opportunity to re-understand what's been happening here and in Iraq these past six years, and offers an insight into a way forward... [Read more]

Monica Benderman | A Viet Nam Veteran: His Name was Earl His name was Earl. He spent his days in a wheel chair, hand propelled, sitting along the sidewalks of the seawall in a Victorian city along the coast. He kept all of his possessions in a shopping cart, while his valuables hung from the handles of his chair. I met him one night while walking on the beach. I walked past a hollowed out part of the rocky seawall... [Read more]


Thursday, September 06, 2007

Op-Eds: Thomas Paine Editors' Picks , various

1. The Possessed by Adam Engel

The Possessed Man is not a bad man, nor a good one. He is terrified. Alone among friends and family, he “works” to support his family, but is not exactly sure of what he does. He “administrates creative product strategies,” according to the Job Description on file at Human Resources.

http://www.bestcyrano.org/THOMASPAINE/?p=242

2. A Feast of Bullshit and Spectacle: The Great American Media Mind Warp by Joe Bageant

Another standard media holograph favorite is the case of The Missing Pretty White Girl, in which a young white woman is either missing, murdered or maybe faking her own abduction. The hologram’s finest hour may have been when it blended nationalism with armed feminine sexuality fantasy via the brave blonde, Jessica Lynch, in a projection of her going down with automatic rifle blazing, then daringly rescued — oh, poor, wounded, little bird of our desire — by GI Joe action figures. If she had been an overweight lesbian, she’d still be in that hospital, and if she had been black, the media wouldn’t have bothered to take the lens covers off the cameras. If the syndrome’s appointed white girls turn out to be murdered, then we get the memorial websites, charity foundations and maybe some sort of law passed, based upon the circumstances of the case, and named for the victim. However, you’ll never see one called Tawanda Robinson’s Law. Hologram don’t sell no dark meat. Make a YouTube video, bitch!

http://www.bestcyrano.org/THOMASPAINE/?p=233

3. The War on Working Americans - Part I – by Steve Lendman

Another anti-labor tool is the repressive Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arm. It conducts paramilitary border and workplace assaults on undocumented Latino workers as part of a larger agenda to disenfranchise all working Americans and deny them the right to bargain collectively with management through unions. By targeting undocumented workers first, the eventual aim is to create a large exploitable disposable reserve army worker pool; strip all workers of their rights; empower employers to offer low wage, low or no benefit jobs; and pretty much be able to operate as they please.

http://www.bestcyrano.org/THOMASPAINE/?p=241

4. The War On Working Americans: Part II by Steve Lendman

It’s been devastating for the nation’s 130 million working people. No longer are unions strong and workers well-paid with assured good benefits like full health insurance coverage and pensions. Today, all types of financial services comprise the largest economic sector. Much of it is in trillions of dollars of high stakes speculation annually producing wads of cash for elite insiders (when things go as planned) and nothing for the welfare of most others and the good of the country.

http://www.bestcyrano.org/cyrano/?p=149

5. Summer Reading by Guy Zimmerman

...The Indians were entirely eliminated, end of story, and America strode on toward its bright, perfect future. It’s difficult, as a child, to fathom how the many crimes of that genocide could simply be ignored. Greed for land, hatred of the other and a bottomless ability to tune out and ignore facts that clash with idealized self-images – these were the main lessons those books bring home. I think of WG Sebald writing about post-war Germany – an anxious, dreamlike clarity that comes with knowing how few limits there are on how cruel and murderous humans can be.

http://www.bestcyrano.org/voxpop/?p=181

6. So-called Military Contractors Lean More Towards ‘Military’ than ‘Contractor’ by Rowan Wolf

Contractors in intelligence and military operations are not accountable in the same way as government entities. The oversight is lacking or missing entirely. It put highly sensitive material (purportedly the most protected information critical to U.S. security) in the hands of private corporations and operators. This seems criminally stupid to me. While such an “arrangement” also allows the executive branch and the military to effectively engage in activities that are illegal on both a national and international level, that very “benefit” undermines the rule of law and the U.S. Constitution.

http://www.bestcyrano.org/avenger212/?p=86

7. CUBA: The unforgivable revolution—1959 to 1980s by William Blum

....The confusion lay, it seems, in not seeing clearly who were the good guys and who were the bad guys, for “The purpose of the U.S. bases [in Turkey] was not to blackmail Russia but to strengthen the defense system of NATO, which had been created as a safeguard against Russian aggression. As a member of NATO, Turkey welcomed the bases as a contribution to her own defense.” Cuba, which had been invaded only the year before, could have, it seems, no such concern.

http://www.bestcyrano.org/cyrano/?p=140

8. Rethinking Revolution: Animal Liberation, Human Liberation, and the Future of the Left by Steven Best

For the last three decades, the animal liberation movement (ALM) has been one of the most dynamic and important political forces on the planet. Where “new social movements” such as Black Liberation, Native American, feminism, chicano/a, and various forms of Green and identity politics have laid dormant or become co-opted, the animal liberation movement has kept radical resistance alive and has steadily grown in numbers and strength.....Unlike animal welfare approaches that lobby for the amelioration of animal suffering, the ALM demands the total abolition of all forms of animal exploitation. Seeking empty cages not bigger cages, the ALM is the major anti-slavery and abolitionist movement of the present day, one with strong parallels to its 19th century predecessor struggling to end the slavery of African-Americans in the US.

http://www.bestcyrano.org/cyrano/?p=143

9. Socialism in America Equals Hope for the World by Paul Donovan

Do you tremble in fear when you approach a fireman? Or the local librarian? Would you like the emergency responders to ask about your insurance policy before rushing over to help you if stricken with a heart attack? These aforementioned socialist services and institutions are operated for the safety and betterment of all humankind, and therefore are not run for the primary purpose of maximizing individual or shareholder profit, which is incorrectly argued by our treasured schools of thought as “the rational way to respond to human need (demand), and create a society of socially conscious citizens.”

http://www.bestcyrano.org/THOMASPAINE/?p=230

10. Profit of Doom: Of Vampires, Parasites, and the Demise of Capitalism by Jason Miller

Despite their nearly endless glorification as the gold standard to which all humanity should aspire, our national heritage, government, society, and culture are rife with deep imperfections, meaning that the “frightening” reality is that the United States has no monopoly on virtue. In fact, intellectually tethered by manufactured ignorance, imbued with a pathological sense of hubris, exhibiting knee-jerk denial in the face of our flaws and wrong-doings, and, in exchange for our service the Empire, insulated from much of the misery our nation inflicts upon the world, we stand with both feet firmly planted on the bottom rung of humanity.

http://www.bestcyrano.org/THOMASPAINE/?p=239


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Dictatorship: Bush Restricting Travel Rights of Over 100,000 U.S. Citizens , Sherwood Ross

The freedom to travel of more than 100,000 Americans placed on “watch” and “no fly” lists is being restricted by the Bush-Cheney regime. Citizens who have done no more than criticize the president are being banned from airline flights, harassed at airports’, strip searched, roughed up and even imprisoned, feminist author and political activist Naomi Wolf reports in her new book, “The End of America.”(Chelsea Green Publishing)

“Making it more difficult for people out of favor with the state to travel back and forth across borders is a classic part of the fascist playbook,” Wolf says. She noticed starting in 2002 that “almost every time I sought to board a domestic airline flight, I was called aside by the Transportation Security Administration(TSA) and given a more thorough search.” During one preboarding search, a TSA agent told her “You’re on the list” and Wolf learned it is not a list of suspected terrorists but of journalists, academics, activists, and politicians “who have criticized the White House.”

Some of this hassling has made headlines, such as when Senator Edward Kennedy was detained five times in East Coast airports in March, 2004, suggesting no person, however prominent, is safe from Bush nastiness. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia has also been mistreated. And it can be nasty. Robert Johnson, an American citizen, described the “humiliation factor” he endured: “I had to take off my pants. I had to take off my sneakers, then I had to take off my socks. I was treated like a criminal,” Wolf quotes him as saying. And it gets worse than that. Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela’s foreign minister, said he was detained at Kennedy airport by officers who “threatened and shoved” him. And that was mild. Maher Arar, a Canadian software consultant was detained at Kennedy and “rendered” to Syria where he was imprisoned for more than a year by goons that beat him with a heavy metal cable.

After the Canadian furor over Arar’s illegal kidnapping and torture, he was eventually released as he had zero ties to terrorists. Yet the Bush gang refused to concede error; refused to provide documents or witnesses to Canadian investigators; and claimed last January it had “secret information” that justified keeping Arar on the watch list, Wolf noted. Again, Chaplain James Yee, an American citizen born in New Jersey who had converted to Islam and had the Christian compassion to call for better treatment of Guantanamo prisoners, was nabbed in Sept., 2003 on suspicion of “espionage and possibly treason” and flung into the Naval brig at Charleston, S.C., where he was manacled, put in solitary for 76 days, forbidden mail and family visits, demonized in the media and warned he could face execution. Wolf writes, “Within six months, the U.S. government had dropped all criminal charges against Yee,” claiming it did so to avoid making sensitive evidence public, not because the chaplain was innocent.

Over and again, the Bush gang claims it can prove terrible crimes about suspects but, like the men imprisoned at Guantanamo, it repeatedly turns out to have “conspiracy” zilch in its briefcase rather than hard proof of actual misdeeds. Yet it goes on punishing hundreds of suspects with solitary confinement and worse without ever bringing them to trial. Globally, the number of such detainees is in the tens of thousands. Stalin would have understood.

Apparently, favorite targets of the Bush tyranny are peace activists like Jan Adams and Rebecca Gordon, detained at the San Francisco airport; a political leader such as Nancy Oden, of the Green Party, prevented from flying from Maine to Chicago; King Downing and David Fathi, both of the American Civil Liberties Union and both detained (proves ACLU’s case about Bush, eh what?); and Constitutional scholar Walter F. Murphy, of Princeton University, who had attacked the illegalities of the Bush regime. He was put on notice his luggage would be ransacked. “When you are physically detained by armed agents because of something you said or wrote, it has an impact,” Wolf writes. “…you get it right away that the state is tracking your journeys, can redirect you physically, and can have armed men and women, who may or may not answer your questions, search and release you.”

Wolf traces the “watch list” back to a 2003 directive from Bush to his intelligence agencies to identify people “thought to have terrorist intentions or contacts.” After the list was given to the airlines, CBS-TV’s 60 Minutes got a copy. The list was 540 pages long and there were 75,000 names on it of people to be taken aside for extra screening. The more stringent “no fly” list has 45,000 names on it, Wolf reports. Prior to 9/11, the list had just 16 names, but 44,984 suspects were quickly manufactured to justify the creation of the vast airport security apparatus at God knows what cost to American taxpayers.

One ludicrous “no fly” story concerns John Graham, president of the nonprofit Giraffe Heroes Project, an organization that honors people who stick their necks out. A former government careerist who served in Viet Nam, Graham is an inspired speaker that receives standing ovations from groups such as West Point cadets, yet is kept from flying from his Langley, Wash., base by the National Security Agency. NSA won’t tell him why, either. Maybe they have “secret” information on him, too. Author Wolf notes that dictatorships from Hitler’s Germany to Pinochet’s Chile have employed arbitrary arrests to harass critics. And Bush’s airport detention policies are more of the same. As Wolf writes, “being free means that you can’t be detained arbitrarily.” Somebody ring the fire bell!

# (Sherwood Ross is a Miami, FL-based writer who has worked in the civil rights movement, and for major dailies and wire services. Reach him at sherwoodr1@yahoo.com)


Saturday, September 01, 2007

The New American Way: Greedy Not Needy Shape Shape Both Parties, Paul Krugman

Note: While Krugman tells it like it is, he has always held out hope that things could get a bit better under Democratic Party rule. No longer. When in print he begins to suspect the motives of both parties, our dream of a U.S. that actually lives by its ideals, aspirations, and assertions becomes that much more fragile. That's where we are today when Krugman writes, "The question is whether any of this will change when Mr. Bush leaves office," and is unable to hold out much hope that it will. --Politex

...Today, much of the Gulf Coast remains in ruins. Less than half the federal money set aside for rebuilding, as opposed to emergency relief, has actually been spent, in part because the Bush administration refused to waive the requirement that local governments put up matching funds for recovery projects — an impossible burden for communities whose tax bases have literally been washed away. On the other hand, generous investment tax breaks, supposedly designed to spur recovery in the disaster area, have been used to build luxury condominiums near the University of Alabama’s football stadium in Tuscaloosa, 200 miles inland.

But why should we be surprised by any of this? The Bush administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina — the mixture of neglect of those in need, obliviousness to their plight, and self-congratulation in the face of abject failure — has become standard operating procedure. These days, it’s Katrina all the time. Consider the White House reaction to new Census data on income, poverty and health insurance. By any normal standard, this week’s report was a devastating indictment of the administration’s policies. After all, last year the administration insisted that the economy was booming — and whined that it wasn’t getting enough credit. What the data show, however, is that 2006, while a good year for the wealthy, brought only a slight decline in the poverty rate and a modest rise in median income, with most Americans still considerably worse off than they were before President Bush took office.

Most disturbing of all, the number of Americans without health insurance jumped. At this point, there are 47 million uninsured people in this country, 8.5 million more than there were in 2000. Mr. Bush may think that being uninsured is no big deal — “you just go to an emergency room” — but the reality is that if you’re uninsured every illness is a catastrophe, your own private Katrina. Yet the White House press release on the report declared that President Bush was “pleased” with the new numbers. Heckuva job, economy!

Mr. Bush’s only concession that something might be amiss was to say that “challenges remain in reducing the number of uninsured Americans” — a statement reminiscent of Emperor Hirohito’s famous admission, in his surrender broadcast, that “the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan’s advantage.” And Mr. Bush’s solution — more tax cuts, of course — has about as much relevance to the real needs of the uninsured as subsidies for luxury condos in Tuscaloosa have to the needs of New Orleans’s Ninth Ward.

The question is whether any of this will change when Mr. Bush leaves office.

There’s a powerful political faction in this country that’s determined to draw exactly the wrong lesson from the Katrina debacle — namely, that the government always fails when it attempts to help people in need, so it shouldn’t even try. “I don’t want the people who ran the Katrina cleanup to manage our health care system,” says Mitt Romney, as if the Bush administration’s practice of appointing incompetent cronies to key positions and refusing to hold them accountable no matter how badly they perform — did I mention that Mr. Chertoff still has his job? — were the way government always works.

And I’m not sure that faction is losing the argument. The thing about conservative governance is that it can succeed by failing: when conservative politicians mess up, they foster a cynicism about government that may actually help their cause. Future historians will, without doubt, see Katrina as a turning point. The question is whether it will be seen as the moment when America remembered the importance of good government, or the moment when neglect and obliviousness to the needs of others became the new American way.


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