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Thu

26

Oct

2006

Long Black Veil: Tony Blair's Deadly Game of Muslim-Bashing

by Chris Floyd

 

This is my latest piece for Truthout.org.

I.
For centuries in Britain, each sentence of death was accompanied by a strange ritual. Before handing down the verdict, the judge would first take a piece of black silk cloth and put it on his head.  With this rather bizarre and ancient drapery covering his powdered wig – itself a relic, a cultural fossil carried into modern times – he would then render the prisoner into the hangman's care.

In such a guise, the black cloth once represented the full, dread measure of state power. Today, however, a cloth of similar size, shape and color – worn across the faces of a small number of some of the most vulnerable members of British society – has become a target of that same dread power, after Britain's high and mighty unleashed a sudden, thunderous sneak attack on the nation's Muslim minority, centering the campaign around the tabloid-ready symbol of the veil.

But although the carefully orchestrated furor over this seldom-seen scrap of material has been so ludicrously disproportionate that even the Blair-fawning New York Times cried foul in a recent editorial, the campaign – and its disturbing implications – go far beyond the issue of religious vestments. Indeed, the veil row is just a covering for what appears to be a deliberate, wide-ranging program of diversion and division, aimed at creating a scapegoat – "strangers in our midst," "the enemy within" – to bear the blame for the sins of the Blair government: the fear, repression, guilt, lies and rancor produced by the abomination in Iraq.

The anti-Muslim campaign is not merely rhetorical – although the heated rhetoric from Tony Blair and many of his ministers has certainly been bad enough, giving a patina of respectability to more extremist viewpoints, now seen as a legitimate part of the "national debate. (Much as the button-pushing imbroglio over immigration in the United States has transformed fringe white-power advocates into respectable media figures, lauded by the likes of Lou Dobbs and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and welcomed in the halls of Congress.) No, Blair's Islamophobia-fest has bite with its bark: not only the on-going evisceration of civil liberties, which has fallen almost entirely on British Muslims, but new measures as well – such as the Stasi-like plan to induce university professors and staff to spy on Muslim students and report all "suspicious" behavior to the security organs.


 

Mon

06

Nov

2006

It's Election Eve, Do You Know Where Your Country Is?

by Frank Lindorff


When you go into the voting booth tomorrow, here are a few things you need to think about.
First of all, this is not a local election, whatever your candidates for Congress and even for statehouse have been telling you. We have just lived through six years of one-party government, and we've seen the damage that can do. Congress under Republican leadership has ceased to function as an independent branch challenging and investigating the actions of the president, and has instead become an enabler of presidential abuse of power and of the undermining of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. That means we have to restore at least some measure of opposition in the Congress for the sake of saving the country from a slide into one-party dictatorship, and that means voting for the Democrats, even Democrats who are worse than their Republican opponent. I'd say different if your district had a third-party candidate with a chance of winning, since that person could be expected to vote against Republican rule too, once in office, but aside from Vermont's Bernie Sanders, I don't know of any such cases, such is the sad condition of third party politics in America.

It's equally important to vote Democratic for state legislative candidates and for governor, because the legislatures, in almost all states, are where congressional district lines get drawn up. We saw last year how the Republicans have used their power in state legislatures, particularly in Texas, to eliminate Democratic districts and replace them with Republican ones. In that state, such gerrymandering gave the Republicans five extra House seats before an election was even held.


 

Sat

07

Oct

2006

You and What Army? Bush Legions Starting to "Unravel"
Is it possible the largest and most advanced military in the history of the universe is ready to bust? According to General Barry McCaffrey (ret.) the U.S. military machine is "stumbling toward the edge of a cliff."

Not exactly your nervous Nellie type, the former head of U.S. Southern Command, McCaffrey says, given the current course of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the army can't be sustained more than 24 months. Citing growing tensions in Korea, or a possible conflict between China and Taiwan, he warns, should "the other shoe drop" the military will be unable to react.
 

Wed

15

Nov

2006

Will the real Dr. King please stand up?
by Mickey Z.

There was no shortage of opportunists present as they broke ground the other day for the $100 million Martin Luther King memorial in Washington, DC. Charlatans from Oprah to Hilfiger lined up in the hope a little of Dr. King's integrity might rub off on them. But the most out of place speaker was, of course, President George W. Bush, who told the crowd, "our journey to justice is not complete. There are still people in our society who hurt, neighborhoods that are too poor ... there's still prejudice that holds citizens back." That whirring noise heard in the background...well, you know the rest.

As Dubya spoke about "the promise of America," I had to wonder what he'd think of the Dr. King who said: "A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom ... Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men." Surely, today's America would have an orange jumpsuit all ready for the MLK that believed, "The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be" and "When you are right, you cannot be too radical."
 

Wed

25

Oct

2006

Why Nancy Pelosi Has it Wrong on Impeachment

by Dave Lindorff

 

Forget her "Pledge," She Took an Oath: Why Pelosi is Wrong on Impeachment


House minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), in an interview with Lesley Stahl of CBS News, said impeachment would be "off the table" if Democrats take over the House of Representatives in November, calling it a "waste of time."

She couldn't be more wrong, and most Americans know it.

While Pelosi was responding to a loaded question from Stahl, who couched impeachment in terms of Democrats' supposed desire to seek revenge if they retake Congress, Pelosi, who would become majority leader in a Democratic House, bought into Stahl's argument, saying that she'd be "satisfied" to see the president and vice president spending the remaining two years of their second term as "lame ducks."

What Stahl should have asked Pelosi was whether she thought that President Bush had violated the law and the Constitution, and whether she believed he has committed impeachable offenses.

The answer to that is clearly yes.


 

Mon

09

Oct

2006

Sex, Lies, and Family Values

The parents of a 16-year-old Congressional page contacted their congressman, Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-La.).

Alexander says he contacted both Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-N.Y.), chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, and Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) who oversees the page program.

Reps. Shimkus, Reynolds, and House Majority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) admit they knew about it in 2005.


Kirk Fordham, Reynolds’ former chief of staff, told the Associated Press that three years ago, he had “more than one conversation with senior staff at the highest level of the House of Representatives to intervene.”

Reynolds and Boehner say they told Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), speaker of the house.

Hastert says Reynolds may have told him about it, but he doesn’t remember.

 

Tue

14

Nov

2006

So the Democrats Won – What About the American Empire?

by Shepherd Bliss


The Democratic Party prevailed in the Nov. 7 midterm elections. "We’ve just moved out of a straightjacket," a friend commented. Many celebrated. But after that, lets think carefully about the larger picture of the current state of the American Empire. Signs exists that its power is declining. Little in the post-election coverage has considered this issue.

"Defeat is not an option," Bush again insisted in his press conference the day after his resounding defeat, referring to the Iraq War. Yet it is precisely defeat in Iraq that stares him in the face, as even many American generals have admitted. This defeat is not just in Iraq, not just of the Republican Party, not just of Bush, and not just on Nov. 7. It plunges deeper into the Empire itself. On Nov. 8 Bush once again attempted to mount his Victory horse, though with a changed tone of less arrogance.

Bush and company seemed amazingly conciliatory toward the Democrats in the first few days after their stunning defeat. But let’s not trust them. They are surely conniving and remain poised to attack when ready. Elections can open up the space for change, but deeper changes result from not only celebrations but also from vigilance and continuing campaigns for liberty. Let’s not be lulled into complacency.s."
 

Mon

06

Nov

2006

Rev. Ted Haggard: “A deceiver and a liar,” exposed

By Mel Sheesholtz Ph.D.

Once again a self-appointed spokesman for “God” and the leader of a politically active (and lucrative) faith-based empire has been exposed as a hypocritical fraud. Rev. Ted Haggard, former head of the National Association of Evangelicals and a well-known anti-gay moral crusader, recently joined an infamous group with several illustrious members: 

– Rev. Henry J. Lyons was forced out as leader of the National Baptist Convention after his then-wife set fire to a waterfront mansion the reverend secretly owned with his mistress. He was convicted in 1999 of swindling millions of dollars from companies that wanted to do business with members of the denomination. Lyons was sentenced to five years in prison. 

– Archbishop Eugene Marino, a Roman Catholic prelate from Atlanta, resigned in 1990 after a two-year affair with a woman half his age. The woman claimed Marino had performed a marriage ceremony for them in which the two exchanged rings. 

– Rev. Terry Hornbuckle, founder of the Agape Christian Fellowship in Arlington, Texas, was sentenced in August 2006 to 15 years in prison for sexually assaulting two female parishioners, as well as a third woman. Two of the victims said the minister had drugged them. 

– Self-proclaimed prophet Pastor Leonard Ray Owens of Fort Worth, Texas, told a young woman 

that a sex spirit and lesbian demon were inside her and needed to be cast out, police said. The pastor then asked her to lie on the floor and began yelling at her as if she were a demon, saying, “Loose her in the name of Jesus,” according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

The woman told police that Owens pulled down her pants as he called for the demons to come out. When she tried to get up, he pushed her down, the affidavit said. The pastor then began to fight with her as if she were a demon before climbing on top of her, pinning her down, and raping her, police said. 

Then Owens . . . ordered her to wash her face in the name of Jesus and to read Psalm 105:15, which says to do no harm to prophets… 


 

Sat

28

Oct

2006

James Petras' New Book: The Power of Israel in the United States - Book Review by Stephen Lendman

by Stephen Lendman

James Petras is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York. He's a noted academic figure on the US Left and a well-respected Latin American expert and longtime chronicler of the region's popular struggles. He's also an advisor to the landless workers in Brazil and the unemployed workers movement in Argentina. Along the way, he managed to find time to write many hundreds of articles and 62 books published in 29 languages including his latest one in which he discusses another vital world region he has extensive knowledge of and has written frequently about - the Middle East and specifically the state of Israel and its relations with its neighbors, the Palestinians and, most importantly and the subject of this book, the US.

Petras' powerful new book is titled The Power of Israel in the United States. It's a work of epic writing and essential reading documenting the enormous influence of the Jewish Lobby on US policy in the Middle East. It focuses like a laser to assure that policy conforms with Israel's long-term goal for regional hegemony. The Lobby's influence is broad and deep enough to include officials at the highest levels of government, the business community, academia, the clergy (especially the dominant Christian fundamentalists/Christian Zionists) and the mass media. Petras shows how together they're able to assure the full and unconditional US support for all elements of Israel's agenda going back decades even when that agenda harms our interests such as the unwinnable war in Iraq, any future one against Iran if it's undertaken, and the appalling and brutal subjugation and colonization of the Palestinian people that serves no US interest whatever. In spite of it, the Lobby is able to get the US to go along with Israel unconditionally with no serious opposition to it tolerated.

 

Fri

06

Oct

2006

America the Tyranny

Behold and bear witness to what has become of America, in this era of uncertainty and bewilderment, in this time of fear and intimidation, that since towers were brought down and demolished has methodically fallen into the viper pit of neocon decadence, becoming, as it stands today, an authoritarian’s heaven and a corporatist’s promised land, its people ignorant, as always, to the barrage of waves systemically eroding centuries of rights, freedoms and liberties. From sea to shining sea, despotism is what today those who pay attention see. 


 

Mon

13

Nov

2006

Rumsfeld’s long walk into Political Oblivion

by Mike Whitney

Donald Rumsfeld never really understood the war he was fighting in Iraq. That’s why the results have been so terrible. He liked to say that “the war in Iraq is a test of wills”, but that just showsthat he had no idea what he was doing and was in way over his head.

War shouldn’t be personalized; that just makes it a battle of egoswhich inevitably clouds one’s judgment. War is a means of using organized violence to achieve political objectives. Period. Rumsfeld never really grasped that point, so it was impossible for him to prevail. His statement just shows the shortsightedness of a man who is incapable of thinking politically and therefore wasn't able to appreciate the larger strategic goals.

For people like Rumsfeld, violence and deception are the natural corollaries of their distorted views; they become an end in themselves. That is not only tragic, but it also ensures failure. According to the recently released Lancet report, over 650,000 Iraqis have been killed in the conflict so far. This proves that Rumsfeld didn’t know what he was doing so he simply ratcheted up the violence to conceal his ignorance. He had no plan for occupation, reconstruction, security, or victory. The whole thing was a sham predicated on his unflagging belief in over-whelming force. The outcome was not only predictable; it was predicted! Now, the country in a shambles, the society is irretrievably ripped apart, and the entire project is in ruins.

In his parting statement, Rumsfeld reiterated his belief that we are facing a “new kind of enemy” in a “new kind of war”. But this is just more buck-passing from a guy who wouldn’t listen to his subordinates and was thoroughly convinced of his own genius. Anyone who has seen the pictures from Abu Ghraib and Falluja are already familiar with Rumsfeld’s genius and his insatiable appetite for violence. They also know that, to great extent, he is fully responsible for the unspeakable tragedy that is currently unfolding in Iraq.

 

Mon

06

Nov

2006

The sentencing of Saddam Hussein

by Craig Murray

I hold no brief for Saddam Hussein. He is a gruesome dictator who is much better out of power, and a dangerous man who is much better in captivity. I am nonetheless sorry he will be murdered by the State. Iraq has seen quite enough death already, and like so many of the others, this will merely engender more. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died already due to the Bush/Blair invasion. The vast majority of them were totally innocent. If you kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people, you are bound to kill the odd guilty one from time to time, whether by accident or design. That is the measure of the Bush/Blair achievement.

This death, just like that of al-Zaqarwi, will be hailed as a "Turning-point" by the invaders, their leaders, puppets and media spokesmen. So was the capture of Saddam, so were the elections, so was the formation of the government, so was the disbanding of the army. It is unsurprising that there have been so many - a downward spiral is just an unending circle of turning points, and Iraq has been embarked on a helter-skelter ride to Hell. Given what came after him, Bush/Blair have achieved the near impossible feat of making Saddam Hussein look like a comparatively better leader for the Iraqi people.

The trial itself was a political charade with the Americans as puppeteers. Judges were repeatedly changed if they showed any sign of independent thought. Defence lawyers who looked too effective were simply murdered. The TV cameras were turned off on the show trial if it got sticky for the US - with an American hand on the button. And the ultimate in stage management, the verdict was handed down two days before the US mid-term elections. Who honestly does not believe that timing was contrived?

I am all in favour of Dictators and War Criminals being punished. I wish Saddam had received a fair trial, and think the Hague would have been much better - he would have been seen to get a fair trial, and I am pretty sure a fair guilty verdict. We should not lose sight of the need to hold justice over the mighty. Bush and Blair are responsible for the unprovoked invasion of a sovereign state, against the wishes of the UN Security Council. They have on their hands the blood of hundreds of thousands of people. I live hope that I will see the day when they are in the dock.

I will still be against the death penalty.

 

Wed

25

Oct

2006

Collaborators of Catastrophe: Inside the Ministry of Truth

by Manuel Valenzuela

 

The creators of American reality, those propagators of charades and mirages who dwell inside the hallways of the Ministry of Truth – otherwise known as the Corporate Media – continue their dance of deception and whitewash, festering in their offices of propaganda, directing the narratives and the epics hundreds of millions of Americans consider truth. Much like the disappearance of warmth giving way to the crispness of cold arrives with each annual changing of leaves, so the remarketing of American reality is altered by the changing faces of circumstance.

 

 

 

Today, this change is the complete disaster that is the occupation of Iraq, an endeavor whose initial fruition could not have taken shape without the blitzkrieg marketed incessantly into every home and mind in America by the Department of Propaganda, the Ministry of Truth and its army of pseudo-journalists.

 

Fri

06

Oct

2006

Jurisprudence in the "Leader-State": Then – and Now
Washington – Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who is defending President Bush's anti-terrorism tactics in multiple court battles, said Friday that federal judges should not substitute their personal views for the president's judgments in wartime. – Washington Post, Sept. 29, 2006.
History repeats itself. Welcome to Berlin, 1933.

Alberto Gonzales is a lot like Franz Gurtner, another conservative nationalist lawyer and judge – who was appointed by Hitler to head the Reich Ministry of Justice, and who got along very well with the Nazis despite not being a Nazi himself. How did the German Legal system change as a result of Nazi 'leadership'?

Fear-mongering was the main tool used to change the law, and to undermine civil liberties. So where the constitution was changed, the code of criminal procedure was also changed, extraordinary powers were vested in the Executive, including extensive police powers; and the powers of an independent judiciary were destroyed.
 

Mon

13

Nov

2006

Democrats and 'Energy Independence'
by James Kunstler

The day after the impressive Democratic election victory, Senate Majority Leader-to-Be Harry Reid declared that a top priority for the new congress would be policy leading to "energy independence" for America. The time of jubilee will certainly come, but not in the way Harry Reid thinks it will - nor in the way the rest of the country imagines this idea.

When politicians flog the term around - "energy independence" - they invariably mean that we will continue enjoying the happy motoring utopia by other means than imported oil (which makes up 70 percent of all the oil we burn). Get this: the day is not far off when, for one reason or another, the flow of imported oil to the US will cease. But when that day comes, we will not be running our shit the way we have been running it. That day will be the end of the interstate highways, Walt Disney World, and WalMart - in short, the way of life we are fond of calling "non-negotiable."

We are not going to run that shit on coal liquids or tar sand byproducts or oil shale distillates or ethanol or biodiesel, or second-hand french-fry oil. Nor on solar, wind, nuclear, or hydrogen. You can run things on that stuff, but not the biggies we run at their current scale. If the Democrats really want to get serious and act responsibly, they'd better not squander whatever is left of our credit and collective confidence in a futile campaign to keep this racket going. They'd better prepare the public to start living differently.
 

Mon

06

Nov

2006

Paper Trail:Turning the Corner With a Timely Verdict

by Chris Floyd
 

Well, Karl Rove got the banner headline he wanted for all the final Sunday papers before the ele ction: Saddam Hussein Is Sentenced to Death.

The political impact of the story will probably be neglible. Saddam has been a dead man walking for three years;  and the fate of this former Bush Family protégé has nothing to do with the anti-war sentiment across the country.

However, in regard to the Iraqi insurgency as a whole, I think we can safely say that Saddam' s conviction will prove to be a major turning point, every bit as momentous and transformative as all the other major turning points, such as the death of al-Zaqarwi, the various Iraqi elections, the destruction of Fallujah, the capture of Saddam, the killing of his two sons, or Bush's glorious announcement of "Mission Accomplished" on that golden day in May 2003.

Yep, there's no doubt about it: we've definitely turned the corner now. Why, in six months' time…..

(Robert Fisk has more on the verdict -- especially the fact that some of the Saddam's chief co-conspirators somehow escaped justice: This was a Guilty Verdict on America as Well.  Not sure how long the article will remain freely available from The Independent, so copious excerpts are provided here after the jump.

 

 
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