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Wed

25

Oct

2006

Selling Satan: Iraqi War Dead and the Collateral Damage to America's Soul

by Phil Rockstroh

Headline
(Reuters): "United States numb to Iraq troop deaths: experts"

 

"O Nature, and O soul of man! how far beyond all utterance are your linked analogies! not the smallest atom stirs or lives in matter, but has its cunning duplicate in mind." —Herman Melville, Moby Dick

All human beings have a talent for the denial of the more unpalatable aspects of ourselves, but we Americans have turned denial into a form of collective genius. There is no need to burn books, if the public is too ignorant to know they exist -- or too benumbed to resonate with their content.

Regarding the death of well over half-a-million Iraqis, the majority of the citizenry of The Corporatists States of America have experienced a comparable degree of regret and remorse that their oligarchic overlords experience when topping-off the tanks of their corporate jets with fuel purchased with money plundered from their employee's retirement accounts ... Sans conscience above -- sans conscience below.


 

Sun

01

Oct

2006

Trick and Treat: HP Sauce for Congressional Hypocrites

Eager, as always, to make both first call at the bar and an early getaway, the bicameral two ring circus of embezzlers, extortionists, buffoons, car dealers, and lawyers known as the US Congress stirred itself last week to raise its right arm and wield its mighty rubber stamp.

With Sunday football, Halloween, and elections dangling in front of its nose/trunk like a carrot in front of the proverbial elephant's ass, the 109th convention of bozo millionaires passed the Bush administration's military tribunal proposal-- finally bringing bourgeois theory finally into line with bourgeois practice by abrogating the "principle" of habeas corpus.

 

Mon

13

Nov

2006

Rumor Club (Gossip as Direct Action)

by Mickey Z.

"A rumor without a leg to stand on will get around some other way."

- John Tudor


-----
Did you know there are alligators-discarded pets flushed down urban toilets-living in the NYC subway...getting fat and edgy on a steady diet of rats and the coffee runoff from all those Starbucks franchises?
-----

Long before Al Gore invented the Internet, Winston Churchill declared:

"A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on."

WMDs ... the Saddam/Osama connection ... we will be greeted as liberators ... mission accomplished...

The power of suggestion vs. reality. Gossip vs. guns. Rumors instead of demonstrations. Could this be a viable tool for dissent? Ani DiFranco sez:

"Every tool is a weapon if you hold it right" (but don't let Alberto Gonzalez hear you say that).

-----
Elvis is alive and well; he's sharing a summerhouse in the Hamptons with Marilyn Monroe, Bruce Lee, and Jim Morrison.
-----

With Ani in mind, I thought I'd resurrect an old idea of mine: What would happen if as many people as possible - I'm talking a potential for millions - were to log onto chat rooms, comment boards, etc. and engage in a little wishful thinking? Instead of all those hoaxes about missing children, imagine a steady supply of rumors that George W. Bush is about to propose universal health care.

Picture hundreds of thousands of e-mails crisscrossing the Web claiming to know that Oregon is about secede from the U.S. and name Ralph Nader as its president.

Dick Cheney has shot another lawyer. Hillary Clinton has joined the Green Party. Henry Kissinger and Donald Rumsfeld were arrested for war crimes on a visit to Paris. Michael Moore turned vegan. Bill O'Reilly has the human form of Mad Cow Disease. The Pope has come out of the closet. Pick any one you like and there could be postings at every Craig's List in every city-every minute of every day.

Performance art as protest. Gossip as direct action.

What if word flooded media outlets of a secret plan by the U.S. government to return some land to the indigenous population? It would have to reported at some point and thus, the concept of America as "occupied territory" would have its fifteen minutes...at least.

-----
Jack Ruby was the mastermind behind 9/11.
-----

The Situationists urged: "Trade your boredom for chaos." Could chaos be created if millions in America and tens of millions worldwide spread the rumor that Leonard Peltier was to be pardoned on December 31, 2006? I'm talking about relentless, hourly rumors...day after day. Letters to the editor. E-mails to CNN and the White House. Posters, stickers, fliers...billboards? Whatever means at our disposal. "From each according to his/her abilities," I believe it goes.

Hey, did you hear? Leonard Peltier will be free by the end of the year? Yeah, Bush is trying to appease all those who voted Democrat and show that he's not such a hardass. Tell everyone you know. This is amazing news. Well, that's what the Rumor Club is saying. What's the Rumor Club? Well, the first rule of Rumor Club is...well, you know.

Spread the word: a little chaos could go a long, long way.

 

Mon

06

Nov

2006

All you need is love (...and a small, well-trained army)

by Mickey Z.


Warning: This article has not been approved by the Department of Homeland Security. Read at your own risk
.

Thomas Jefferson sez: "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

In his most recent book, a two-volume set called 'Endgame,' author Derrick Jensen tells of a discussion he had with a longtime activist. "She told me of a campaign she participated in a few years ago to try to stop the government and transnational timber corporations from spraying Agent Orange, a potent defoliant and teratogen, in the forests of Oregon," Jensen writes.

All too predictably, the dedicated demonstrators assembled to protest the toxic spraying were, "like clockwork," ignored by the helicopter pilots.

Both humans and landscape ended up thoroughly doused with Agent Orange-time and time again. The protest campaign obviously had no effect, so a different approach was taken. "A bunch of Vietnam vets lived in those hills," the activist told Jensen, "and they sent messages to the Bureau of Land Management and to Weyerhauser, Boise Cascade, and the other timber companies saying, 'We know the names of your helicopter pilots, and we know their addresses' "You know what happened next?" she asked.

 

 


 

Wed

25

Oct

2006

A Daily Reflection of War... Thoughts from a Vietnam Vet

by Arthur James

I remember the horror of death. On a darkening evening, three soldiers encountered me on a jungle trail. Our meeting startled us. The soldiers braced to shoot me. Shaking, I wedged myself and my M-16 rifle against a tree. I shot two of them. The third person dropped to the Earth on that dusk eve, crawled into dense bushes, and thankfully fled away. "Oh God." I groaned deeply. "What have I done? Why am I here?"

 



War unites humanity to feel madness, horror, and insanity. There must exist an enclave of peace, meditation, solace, and a quiet place to step back from this insanity. To be able to find and touch the Self's reserve of tranquility of Being is a difficult spiritual struggle. The Word one searches for to be descriptive and speak, fails. Words are all we have to work with. Words lack the power and often we people feel diminished with hardly the capacity to communicate. I represent myself guilty of this fact.

Before I digressed into the second paragraph, I began to mention that portraits were found on the limp, lifeless, lacerated forms. In long moments immediately after their death, I began wondering about those rummaged pictures my fellow squad members found. I wondered about their mothers, fathers, children, and their extended families of friends. Being stricken with a truth I had always known: These Vietnamese were people, distinguished and unique individuals. They were fellow humans, not my enemy.


 

Mon

02

Oct

2006

Why Bush wants immunity from prosecution for war crimes

Although not as widely remarked as the elimination of habeas rights and the consecration of torture, the recently passed Senate torture legislation includes provisions that would immunize the Bush administration and other US personnel from prosecution under the War Crimes Act of 1973, not just looking forward but retroactively as well, going back to 1996.

Why 1996? Because the War Crimes Act of 1996, signed into law by Bill Clinton on August 21 of that year, makes violations of several Geneva Convention protocols by any US national or member of the US military, here or abroad, a crime.

Bush is a US national, and he has acknowledged violating Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, including but not limited to:

  • (a) Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture
  • (c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment.
  •  

    Mon

    13

    Nov

    2006

    Impeach for Change Kicks off National Campaign

    by Dave Lindorff

    The kick-off session of the new national movement for impeachment of President Bush (and Vice President Dick Cheney), Impeach for Change, held in Philadelphia's new Constitution Center just a block away from Independence Hall where the Constitution was written, was a huge success.

     

    Surprisingly, for a meeting of progressives, there was no dissention. Instead, there was a broad acceptance of the notion that impeachment of this president should not be a matter of partisan strategy, but rather an imperative for defense of the U.S. Constitution.

    As former Representative Elizabeth Holtzman, who served on the House impeachment panel that voted out three articles of impeachment against President Richard Nixon, put it at the forum, the Constitution is being gravely threatened by Bush's abuses of power and his constitutional crimes, and the American public is "way ahead" of a Democratic leadership that is counseling caution and that is saying impeachment is "off the table."

     

    Sun

    05

    Nov

    2006

    Is Another Recession Looming? Growth Slows, Housing Fizzles

    By Seth Sandronsky
     

    U.S. economic growth rose at an annual rate of 1.6 percent in July–September, the slowest in more than three years, the Commerce Department recently reported.  By way of comparison, the nation’s rate of growth was 2.6 percent in the second quarter.  What is happening to nearly slice the growth rate by half in an $11 trillion economy?

    In brief, growth in residential housing dropped 17.4 percent in the third quarter.  Housing’s fall was 11.1 percent in the second quarter.  This downward trend has been underway for the past 12 months in the U.S. economy.

    Economists have a word for two straight quarters of declining growth: recession.  Is the housing dip forecasting a 2007 recession?  That is unclear.

    Clearly though, a recession is very bad news for the U.S. working class.  On that note, housing has been a motor for employment in the building, financing and furnishing of existing and new homes.  “Last year, housing could be credited for creating over 15 percent of the year's new jobs”; reports the Economic Policy Institute, “this year housing-related jobs will account for less than 5 percent of the economy's new jobs.”


     

    Mon

    06

    Nov

    2006

    Rough Justice; prowling Baghdad with a sidearm and a defective bulletproof-vest
    by Mike Whitney

    On Monday, an editorial is scheduled to appear in the “Army Times” which will call for Donald Rumsfeld’s resignation as Secretary of Defense. The article will run simultaneously in the “Air Force Times”, “Navy Times” and “Marine Corps Times” and will be available to every active member in the United States Military.

    The editorial “Time for Rumsfeld to go” provides a brief summary of Rumsfeld’s role in engineering the greatest strategic defeat in American history. It says that the “rosy reassurances” made by the administration (like “Mission accomplished” and that the insurgency “was in its last throes”) were in stark contrast to the military’s “misgivings about the war’s planning, execution and prospects for success”.

    Note: The “Army Times” has traditionally been about as critical of the government as their Soviet equivalent, Pravda. They have never publicly bashed the civilian leadership even in the worst days of the Vietnam War. This is entirely unprecedented. The military has clearly lost its faith in Rumsfeld’s ability to lead.

    Rumsfeld’s inability to learn from his mistakes or follow the advice of his subordinates has caused him to underestimate the challenges of military occupation or “the problem of molding a viciously sectarian population into anything resembling a force for national unity.”


     

    Sat

    30

    Sep

    2006

    Magna Carta Tested: Revenging the Legacy of Robin of Loxley

     I’m a big fan of Robin Hood, the 12th century noble highwayman who, from his lurk in Sherwood Forest would prey upon the fatted courtiers of an evil, usurper king and bedevil acolytes of the pretender’s enablers, Guy of Gisbourne and the wicked Sheriff of Nottingham; all in the name of good King Richard Coeur de Lion, engaged as he was in crusading to free and defend the distant Holy land. So it was with heavy heart I heard this week of the death of all Robin engendered, and the end to the dreams he and his merry men held for an eternal abolishment of the tyranny and despotism King John represented.

     

    Sun

    05

    Nov

    2006

    Baghdad is Surrounded: “The American Era in the Middle East has ended”

    by Mike Whitney

     

    Don Rumsfeld is not a good leader. In fact, he is a very bad leader. Leadership is predicated on three basic factors: Strong moral character, sound judgment, and the ability to learn from one’s mistakes. None of these apply to Rumsfeld. As a result, every major decision that has been made in Iraq has been wrong and has cost the lives of countless Iraqis and American servicemen. This pattern will undoubtedly continue as long as Rumsfeld is the Secretary of Defense.

    Here’s a simple test: Name one part of the occupation of which has succeeded?

    Security? Reconstruction? De-Ba’athification? Dismantling the Iraqi military? Protecting Saddam’s ammo-dumps? Stopping the looting? Body armor? Coalition government? Abu Ghraib? Falluja? Even oil production has been slashed in half.

    Every facet of the occupation has been an unmitigated disaster. Nothing has succeeded. Everything has failed.

    Everything.

     

     

     

    Tue

    24

    Oct

    2006

    Brutality and Reality: The American-Israeli Arrangement

    by Chris Floyd

    Israel admits it used phosphorus weapons (Guardian)

    Israel Adds Far-Right Party to Coalition (NY Times)


    The good news just keeps rolling in from Israel, where the "light unto the nations" plows on in its relentless self-exile into outer darkness. That epithet of "light" once had the tang of truth, in the great line of thinkers, artists, activists, theologians, healers, humorists, and diviners of the natural world, largely in the Diaspora, from Maimonides to Mendelssohn, from Judah Ha-Levi to Boris Pasternak and Bob Dylan, from the Baal Shem Tov to Martin Buber, from Spinoza to Einstein, and on and on in every field of worthy endeavor. But the political inheritors of this matchless legacy seem hellbent on squandering what once seemed an inexhaustible storehouse of the human spirit.

    Every week seems to bring some new brutality, some new degradation, some further coarsening – and some new parallel with the Bush Regime and the brutal, coarse and degraded currents in American society that it so amply embodies and represents.

    As a side note – or maybe even a main note – I'm not one of those who subscribe to the "Israel made us do it" meme that seems to loom large in the dissident blogosphere. I just can't buy the idea that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the gang are somehow being jerked around by wily Zionists – as if they wouldn't be following their "unitary executive"-global domination-war profiteering agenda even if Israel didn't exist. I think this shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the American ruling class – and yes, Virginia, there is an American ruling class and a pretty vicious, voracious, self-serving lot they are, too. The idea that these factions of gargantuan wealth and privilege – much of it, as with the Bushes, going back for generations – could be induced to act against their own narrowly defined but passionately held interests by the arguments of third-rate hacks like Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, or Douglas Feith seems fairly risible.

    Yes, they are happy to make use of the neo-cons, the Likudniks, AIPAC, etc. etc., especially as the hard-right in Israel dovetails neatly with the American elite's own harsh, bellicose vision of the world. And yes, the Israel lobby has a broad and pernicious influence on the workings of American politics – just as, say, the Turkish lobby does (ask Denny Hastert about those suitcases stuffed with Turkish cash; Foleygate is nothing compared to the yet-untold story of Treasongate), or the Saudi lobby, which has spread infinitely more baksheesh through the American system than the Israeli lobby could ever hope to match . But when the American elite go to war, they go to war for themselves, for their own benefit, not for anyone else. Despite various contretemps over the years (that little spot of bother about the USS Liberty, for example), Israel has ultimately served the American elite's purposes. If it didn't, then the untold billions of dollars in American cash and arms that have propped up Israel for decades would disappear overnight, and the country would be left to its fate.
     

    Mon

    02

    Oct

    2006

    Barking Mad
    There’s nothing more disturbing than knowing that an alcohol-addled megalomaniac has his sweaty fingers on the Big Red Switch and that with one little tug he could ignite the world like a Roman candle.

    It’s not a comforting thought, but it’s the truth.

    As the situation in Iraq continues to deteriorate and the feckless congress concedes more power to the president; Bush’s grasp of reality seems to grow increasing threadbare. How much more pressure his fragile psyche can take?

    Regrettably, there are signs that Bush is losing ground to an invasive form of delirium praecox; the steady erosion of his already circumscribed mental faculties.

    This can’t be good for the country...or the planet.

     


     

    Sat

    30

    Sep

    2006

    The Breaking Point

    It was another bad week in Iraq. While bodies were piling up in the Baghdad morgue and the militia fighting steadily intensified, the Bush administration was hit with a rash of PR scandals that are bound to erode public support for the war. The worst of these is the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) which was leaked to the New York Times and which stated that “the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the 9-11 attacks.”

     

    Mon

    13

    Nov

    2006

    Direct Democracy Lost in Florida and Colorado
    by Joel S. Hirschhorn

    With all the hoopla about the big Democratic win, little attention has been given to the assault on direct democracy. Sadly, Florida voters caved in and passed Amendment 3 that requires 60 percent to pass ballot initiatives instead of the present simple majority. What should be viewed as one of the great ironies of all times is that this amendment passed by a statewide vote of 57.8 percent to 42.2 percent. That’s right; this terrible amendment would not have passed under the new rule that now has become law!

    Michael Mayo, writing in the Sun-Sentinel before the election, noted: “Florida's amendment system has its faults, but it provides a necessary and powerful counterbalance to an aloof, insulated Legislature. Raising the amendment bar would only make it harder for citizens to flex their muscle. And that's exactly what the politicians and big businesses want. This amendment was put on the ballot by the Legislature, not a petition drive. … If [Amendment 3] passes, democracy in Florida loses.”

    Libertarian, liberal and conservative groups and the Democratic and Republican candidates for governor opposed the amendment, but were no match for corporate money.
     

    Fri

    03

    Nov

    2006

    Botched or Not, the Joke's on Us

    by Mickey Z.

    Every now and then, a series of events (and the reaction to those events) converge to effectively illustrate just how deeply the indoctrination runs in the home of the brave/land of the free. Senator John F. Kerry was the catalyst for the most recent such convergence. His "botched joke" laid bare the passionate cult of the soldier, America's enduring military fetish.

     

     

     

    It has been and remains career suicide for any public figure to even hint at criticizing the men and women in uniform. Consider Kerry's apology: "I sincerely regret that my words were misinterpreted to wrongly imply anything negative about those in uniform." It's not even an issue of actually being critical of the military. Among a war-loving people, you must be cautious to not even "wrongly imply anything negative about those in uniform." Kerry himself said people were "crazy" to think he would denigrate America's military. As profound as this may be, the realities exposed by the "stuck in Iraq" affair go much deeper than that.

     
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