Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Lieberman? Rahm Israel Emanuel? Democrats?

Change? We can believe?

The American electorate, in numbers too large to ignore, voted for Barack Hussein Obama II and his slogan, “Change We Can Believe In”. So far, the Obama pre-administration has shown little if any change from the staid and rancid ways of Washington.

Yesterday the Senate Democratic Caucus, with the encouragement of Barack Obama, voted to allow the former Democratic, now Independent Senator, Joseph Lieberman, to retain his Chairmanship of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. This after the “Independent” Senator Joseph Lieberman (2000 Democratic Vice Presidential candidate) deserted “his” party (Lieberman caucuses with the Democrats) to campaign vigorously for the Republican Presidential candidate, Senator John S. McCain and other Republican candidates in various other races!

In the meantime, Barack Obama has appointed Rahm Israel Emanuel (remember, Israel is my middle name!) to act as Obama's White House Chief of Staff. It would be well to remember that Emanuel was Bill Clinton's senior advisor in the White House from 1993 to 1998. After resigning his position as Clinton's advisor, Emanuel became an investment banker earning $16.2 million in 2½ years which provided the wherewithal for his bid for the 5th District U.S. House seat. (Wikipedia)

Sigh! This is change? We can believe?

The Democrats have remained true to form. At the very least, the form they have shown for the duration of Bush the Lesser's administration and especially since their victories of 2006 and 2008. Just a day after the 2006 elections in which Democrats regained control of the House of Representatives, new Speaker of the House, Rep. Nancy Pelosi

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi promised Wednesday that when her party takes over, the new majority will not attempt to remove President Bush from office, despite earlier pledges to the contrary from others in the caucus.” ~ NYTimes

And, let us remember, Nancy Pelosi has stood by her pledge to keep “impeachment off the table” despite vigorous agitation by the progressives who were instrumental in helping the Democrats regain the House.

Democrats? Change? To use these words in a single sentence seems to be an oxymoron, much like the idea of “military intelligence”! Granted and acknowledged, it was of utmost importance to remove the Republicans from Washington's levers of power. However, the “hope” of “change” the people are investing in Barack Obama and the Democrats would seem sadly misplaced.

As I noted in a piece I wrote immediately following the 2006 elections:

Granted, it is vitally important that the incoming Democrats do not immediately institute comity and the sense of bipartisanship. It is vitally important that the Republicans be treated under the very rules they themselves promulgated and instituted against the minority Democrats, not so much in the spirit of vindictiveness but as an object lesson of why comity and bipartisanship are irreplaceable and necessary facets of proper and fair legislation. It is fit and proper for the Republicans to toil in basement meeting rooms; that they suffer the indignity of having their lights and microphones arbitrarily cut off; that they not be notified of hearings on bills and are forced to search Capitol Hill for the location of the hearings…from which they will be summarily excluded.” ~ “Which way you goin' Billy? Can I go too?

The Democrats did nothing to make the Republicans pay any price whatsoever for the egregiously uncivil and undemocratic behavior they demonstrated toward the opposition when they were in power. Now, that the Democrats have increased their margin of majority in the House and are within a loud shout of 60 votes in the Senate, the Republicans (and the great reichwing Wurlitzer) are bleating piteously that the Democrats are bound to demonstrate “tolerance” and “bipartisanship”. Bipartisanship? Just how much more “bipartisanship” do the Republicans want? The Democrats have been shameless in repudiating their own constituencies and seconded virtually every demand of the Bush (mal)administration and the Republicans! The Democrats have backed every Bush era ravaging of the Constitution, from the gutting of FISA and retroactive immunity for the telecoms to “enhanced” interrogations. Just how much more “bipartisan” do they want the Democrats to be? The only possible increase in “bipartisanship” the Democrats could demonstrate would be for all the Democrats to simply become Republicans.

All I can say is: "Place not your faith in princes."!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Crash and Burn
(or, the ruinous end of the Empire of Dunces)

Though it is to be expected, the pandering For Profit Media is leaving the American people a thoroughly uninformed and, even worse, a hoodwinked one. This will lead to horrendous results with the present and upcoming Crash of the American Empire.

Even now, as the end of the reign of the American Empire swiftly encroaches, most Americans remain cocooned in their comforting blankets of ignorance. This is easily seen in the espoused world views of such as “Joe the Plumber” as well as the vile howls issued by various attendees of many McCain/Palin rallies. Their videotaped inanities show various degrees of: misinformation, brainwashing, illogic, ignorance, hatred and simple stupidity raised to the nth degree. Though the amateur reporters/videographers sometimes attempt to correct the misinformation espoused by the shrieking Know Nothings, rather than reflect for even one moment on such information, these obviously hateful knuckle draggers simply spew more bile and vitriol.

How does this all connect to the topic of the crash and burn of the American Empire? Most of what these benighted dunces spew are outworn paeans to American “exceptionalism” and reflect their completely distorted view of America's present condition and position in the world. These dunces still see America as the undisputed “leader of the world”, a “beacon unto the world”, an “example to the world”. It is past high time that we, as Americans, come to grips with the fact that we are not now, if we may well have been, any of these.

Since 1971, when Nixon scuttled the Bretton Woods System (which had been specifically crafted to give the U.S. unquestioned financial dominance in the post W.W. II world), by severing the dollar's convertibility to gold, Nixon essentially simultaneously opened the door to turning the dollar into the world's “reserve” currency while turning the dollar itself into a fiat currency. As long as the underlying economy of the U.S. was sound, this was a quite advantageous situation for the country. As long as the U.S.'s real economy was relatively sound, this was a wonderful idea; the dollar's status as reserve currency created a huge demand for dollars essentially acted as a massive subsidy and support for the U.S. economy.

However, over at least the last 30 years, “conservatives” and Republicans (far too often with major support of many “Democrats”) have been busily at work, hacking away at the very essence of America's “real” economy. As they steered America further and further away from a “real” economy and toward a financialized economy, through a wide variety of Randian, “free market” manipulations, more and more of America's real economy, actual manufacturing, has been increasingly offshored to low cost labor markets. What this has meant is that America's productive economy has been hollowed out, those higher paid jobs going offshore, replaced by much lower paying service jobs. In tandem with those losses we have had a shift into “financial” jobs, i.e., non-productive speculation.

With the rise of the financial sector the “Whiz Kids” on Wall Street have created a myriad of “financial innovations”, such as the now evident vaporware such as CDOs, SIVs, etc. In addition to creating these vehicles of their now revealed Ponzi scheme, the Wall Street sharpies went around the world, selling what they knew to be worthless scraps of paper as “solid” investment vehicles. As the underlying bad loans started to sour, the Ponzi scheme was exposed and the entire financial deck of cards began to crumble.

With exposure of the underhanded double dealing of the fat cats and speculators on Wall Street, the U.S. has lost what vestiges of legitimacy it had. The U.S. now stands naked before the world, the world's biggest debtor nation, it's financial markets shown to be all flash and no cash. The situation has become so bad that there is serious talk in international financial markets of abandoning the dollar as the reserve currency and turning the yuan into the new reserve currency. Before you scoff at the idea, it would be good to remember that China now has the largest reserves followed by Japan. Again, it is good to remember that the U.S. is now the world's largest debtor nation. To put it bluntly, we are bankrupt and China and Japan are our biggest creditors.

There is a very good reason why snake oil and patent medicine peddlers were “traveling” operations; you had to peddle your nostrums quickly and be off...before the local yokels either became sickened from the garbage you peddled them or found out that the “medicine” was worthless! Wall Street and the U.S. have peddled their sickness inducing products and now that the world economy has fallen deathly ill from this financial toxic waste, they are looking accusingly at the peddler and are quite irate. The pitchforks and torches are out and the tar and feathers are being brought to the fore.

It will be a quick, inglorious and disastrous fall!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

On the economy...

No, I'm not an economist...and I don't even play one on TV, however, I have had a few economics courses and I still maintain an ability to reason and face facts and reality head-on. Hence, the following observations.

1. Though it would be pleasing to do so, one simply cannot lay ALL of the blame on Bush the Lesser's (mal)administration. Granted and agreed, this (mal)administration has removed what few restraints and regulations were still in place holding back the tidal wave that has crashed about us in the last few days. However, even when the current (mal)administration took office, most of the restrictions and regulations that were developed and implemented following the last economic cataclysm (oddly enough, arising from many analogous causes as the current disaster) had been dissolved.

2. Although the causes for the current financial and economic tsunami can be almost directly traced to the Reagan/Bush I (mal)administrations, Bubba Clinton and his (mal)administration are hardly blameless. Though often painted by the right wing as “liberals” and looked back at today by many “liberals” and Democrats as a “Golden Era”, Clinton was, in no wise, a liberal. Clinton (and Al Gore) were there at the founding of the DLC (Democratic Leadership Council) which served as one of those fabled devices of “triangulation”. What “triangulation” meant, in essence, was to push the Democratic Party away from its traditional base (workers, small business, minorities of all stripes, etc.) and toward more of the traditional Republican base (F.I.R.E.1 Sector, Wall St., etc.). The DLC reasoned (erroneously it would seem) that the traditional Democratic base had nowhere to go so they could be ignored while the traditional Republican base could be wooed and won by adopting more (big) “business friendly” policies. Additionally, Clinton surrounded himself with such Wall St. fixtures as Robert Rubin (Goldman Sachs chairman) and Lawrence Summers (Goldman Sachs chairman). As has proven to be the case with the current Secretary of Treasury, Hank Paulson (yet another Goldman Sachs alum), though they may accede to offices of public trust, they never forget from whence they came and hold the interests of the Wall St. entities close to heart.

3. The unseemly, unbecoming and inappropriate spectacle of the “Millionaires Club” aka the U.S. Senate crafting and voting on a Wall St., “bailout” bill (inappropriate inasmuch as ALL revenue bills are supposed to originate in the House) was truly nauseating. Nauseating because by far the vast majority of communications from their constituents was solidly against any bailout of the Wall St. fat cats that had made millions of dollars by essentially engineering the very situation they needed to be bailed out from! Isn't it interesting, when the question came to the common folk who were victims of the schemes of the Wall St. banksters and needed some help to maintain a roof over their heads, the Senators, Congress critters, and banksters almost uniformly shrieked “Moral hazard!”, “Moral hazard!” And yet, when it comes to bailing out the very people most responsible for creating the situation and circumstances that have led to the current disaster...”Listen to the sounds...of silence.”

This was unseemly and unbecoming because, without any shadow of doubt, all of the Senators and Congress critters are far wealthier than the average American and many are heavily invested in Wall St. and were, therefore, voting their own interests rather than acting as “representatives of their constituents”. Were this in the judicial arena, virtually the entirety of the Senate and House would have to recuse themselves for “conflict of interest”!

What has been shown by these last two weeks, to any who had any doubts, that the current system of government is broken; totally, completely and irremediably broken! What I find terribly disturbing was a comment from Brooke Gladstone on PBS's “Bill Moyers Journal”:

BROOKE GLADSTONE: Rather than trusting the leaders to make the decisions that we elected them to make.” (emphasis mine)

And, though it doesn't come out from the transcript, Gladstone seems disturbed that the people aren't trusting their “leaders”! As I recall, this country was established as a “representative democracy”. The reason it was established as a representative democracy and the citizens had to “trust” our “leaders” “ makes the decisions that we elected them to make.” is because communications were limited to the speed of a horse and even the original 13 colonies covered a large enough territory that communications between constituents and representatives were not feasible in any sort of timely manner. Today, in the era of instant communications, the “peoples' representatives” need to be much more responsive and attuned to the sentiments of their putative “bosses”, their constituents. As it is, these last two weeks have dramatically shown that the “peoples' representatives”, both Republican and Democratic, take their marching orders from their true bosses, the F.I.R.E. Sector and Wall St. and to Hell with the desires of those that actually put them in office!

At this point all I can suggest is that each and every one of the Senators and Congress critters who voted for the “bailout” and is vulnerable to election should be summarily removed in the upcoming election and replaced by someone who understands who the true bosses in a representative democracy really are!

1 F.I.R.E. Sector = Finance, Insurance and Real Estate.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Le Roi est mort! Vive le Roi!

(Updated below)

Well, according to the latest news, the trillion dollar bailout has ground to a halt. Now, the Fools on the Hill (i.e., the Democrats) are laboring mightily to resurrect the stinking, rotting corpse. To that I say, “Le Roi est mort! Vive le Roi!”

It is more than middling odd to see Sellout Pelosi prancing and preening for the cameras, promising that the bailout WILL be finalized before the end of the weekend. I say more than middling odd inasmuch as both congresspersons and senators, both Democratic and Republican, are reporting that they have received an avalanche of e-mails and faxes in the past few days. And, according to these representatives and senators, that avalanche of correspondence is running 100 to 1 AGAINST the bailout. And yet, here is Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Congressman Barney Frank, Senator Dodd et al., all strutting around, pleased as Punch that they are crafting a bailout package that their constituents are adamantly against! And people wonder why Congress has a disapproval rating between 73-78%?!

This is supposed to be a “representative democracy”, right? So, just who are the Congress critters and senators representing? It is most obvious that they are not representing the people who voted them into office! Perhaps they are representing their true constituency, the mega-wealthy and the FIRE sector, the people who have bought and paid for their representatives (both Congressional and Senatorial) and by God, their bought and paid for shills had better produce!

We hear, repeatedly, just put the Democrats back in charge and all will be well. What a crock! In 2006 the voting public massively voted against the Republicans and, by default, for the Democrats. Have they ended the occupation of Iraq? No! Have they dismantled the so-called “Homeland Security” apparatus whose prime concern seems to be the persecution of domestic dissent? No! Have they ended the disgrace that is Guantánamo? No! How about holding the telecommunications giants as well as the Bush (mal)administration to book for the blatantly illegal spying on the American public! Hah! The Democrats bent over backwards to bend over backwards! Even though on that issue as well, the public was clamoring NOT to grant blanket retroactive immunity, our “representatives” discarded any appearance of representing their voters.

We are told by the Pelosis and Immanuels that the most important thing is “to elect more Democrats”. To what end? When the positions held by the Democratic establishment are virtually indistinguishable from the positions of the putative opposition, the Republican establishment, why bother to “vote Democrat”?

As The Who said so well back in 1971:

I'll tip my hat to the new constitution

Take a bow for the new revolution

Smile and grin at the change all around me

Pick up my guitar and play

Just like yesterday

Then I'll get on my knees and pray

We don't get fooled again

Don't get fooled again

No, no!


Meet the new boss

Same as the old boss

Smile; we've been so fooled again!


Shock! Seems some of the Fools on the Hill may not be as foolish as I thought. In response to a veritable flood of e-mails and faxes the “bipartisan” bailout of Wall Street as gone down in flames.

As Speaker Pelosi pointed out, "The legislation may have failed; the crisis is still with us." This is true, but, that being the case, I would offer the following as a basis to rectifying that crisis.

  1. Scrap the Paulson plan, period. From its inception, the Paulson plan has been of Goldman Sachs, by Goldman Sachs, for Goldman Sachs. There is every good reason to believe that Paulson's rushing to the rescue of AIG was owing to the fact that, had AIG folded, Goldman Sachs would have gotten pennies on the dollar. Nuff said.

  2. Any bailout plan for Wall Street MUST include a rollback of personal bankruptcy protections to the status quo ante of the punitive Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005. Or, going one better, analogous provisions of that Act should now be imposed on the CEOs and executives of any Wall Street entity seeking a government bailout.

  3. Provide for at least a foreclosure moratorium for homeowners earnestly attempting to retain their homes and attempting good faith efforts to continue to pay at least payments with which they were enticed into purchasing/refinancing their homes.

  4. As part and parcel of any government bailout, executives of any entity being bailed out must return to the Treasury any monies in excess of $1,000,000 per annum in pay or compensation received for each of the preceding 7 years. If that means they must divest themselves of that “cute” ski chalet in Steamboat Springs or their summer “cottage” in Gstadt, so be it.

  5. For the duration of the bailout, all CEOs and executives of any of these entities would be required to work for minimum wage until that entity is stabilized. If it's good enough for California's public servants, per Herr Schwarzenegger, why then, it should be fine and dandy for the high flyers who, through their own actions, caused the mess from which they now beg to be bailed out.

  6. Start a pool to which Wall Street firms will “voluntarily” donate contributions to aid in the bailout. As we are so often told, our taxes are “voluntary” payments to fund the government; let Wall Street “voluntarily” aid themselves.

The above is far from a comprehensive list, however, it does provide a basis from which the Congress can start crafting some semblance of a viable bailout which will not favor the same gimlet eyed gamblers who benefited so handsomely while driving the economy off the cliff while further impoverishing the already stressed and strained taxpayer.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

American Politics as Dr. Feelgood

You've been feeling down, seem to have a mass in your abdomen, and are having problems with defecation. So, you go to one doctor who examines you and tells you you have a tumor and must undergo serious, perhaps life-threatening surgery. So, you go to a second doctor who, after examining you, tells you it is nothing to be worried about, gives you a laxative and some pain pills and tells you to come back in 2 weeks if things don't get better.

If you are like the typical American, you accept the second diagnosis without further question, take the laxative and load up on pain pills. The American electorate hates nothing more than being told any “inconvenient truths”. We, the electorate, want to be told that, as in Lake Wobegon, “...all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.” We certainly don't want to hear that we have been serially lied to and misled by both parties. We don't want to hear that, through our profligate lifestyle, we may well have fatally damaged our biosphere, that to even think about remedying that damage we will have to seriously change our evil ways. This obvious obliviousness is best demonstrated by the chant of “Drill! Drill everywhere! Drill offshore! Drill in ANWR! Drill! Drill! Drill!” As has been perhaps best illustrated by Sarah Palin who, like most of her Alaskan neighbors, is 4 square behind drilling in ANWR, ignore the fact that, at best, this would only temporarily and slightly ease the problem of gasoline prices, if at all. Even more distressing, that drilling and the continued and increased use of hydrocarbons will only worsen the climatic problems that are already being evidenced. Palin has no problem whatsoever in dooming the polar bears to extinction, as a matter of fact, she has been a solid supporter of mounting legal challenges to the designation of polar bears as endangered species. Additionally, she has offered up a bounty of $150 per wolf killed (they tend to prey upon the moose and caribou she so loves to hunt).

Americans love to have their egos stroked, especially by their political “leaders” by being told that they are “exceptional” as in “American exceptionalism”. It would be useful if we actually looked at the definition of the word first:



\ik-ˈsep-shnəl, -shə-nəl\

1: forming an exception : rare

2: better than average : superior

3: deviating from the norm: as a: having above or below average intelligence b: physically disabled~ Merriam-Webster

Of course, we like to believe that we fall into the first 2 definitions of the word, however, we should realize that “exceptional” also means:

Synonyms: aberrant, abnormal, atypical...

We always want to hear our politicians sing paeans to the “exceptional” America where “...God shed his grace on thee, And crown thy good with brotherhood, From sea to shining sea!” and damn all those who would bring up such “minor” aberrations as the genocide and ethnic cleansing of the Native population, chattel slavery, manufactured wars (Mexican-American and Spanish-American) to facilitate land theft, etc. We certainly don't want to be told that any of our actions in our entire history have been anything other than beneficent. Of course, all of our wars, military incursions, sponsored coups, assassinations and other actions have always been for the benefit of others; never for the benefit of ourselves or the real owners of the political system, the wealthy and mega-corporations.

On those rare occasions when a politician does tell the American people the inconvenient truth, the American electorate immediately turns their back on that politician and raptly follows the current Pied Piper who will tickle their ego; even if this consists of pandering to the very basest of our predilections. And, like the patient who goes doctor shopping to find one who will tell them everything is OK, just take these pills and call me back later, we will be terminally surprised when we find ourselves dead on a slab because the “inconvenient” diagnosis of a tumor was correct all along.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Georgian Riff

I have just about reached the end of my patience with the mindless propaganda regurgitations about the Russian-Georgian conflict. Enough!

Virtually every expostulation from the vaunted Western media, even the more even handed ones, has "cute" little phrases like, "We still don't know who fired the first shots that led to the Georgian military moving into South Ossetia Friday...". Hello! Isn't the very phrase "...the Georgian military moving into South Ossetia..." rather a telling one? Could it be the joint NATO-Georgian war games completed just prior to the Georgian blitzkrieg may have had something to do with it? Could it be that the main Georgian assault on Tskhinvali, which made NO distinction between military and civilian targets, have had something to do with things? And, as for the "brutal Russian counterattack on Georgia", when viewed from the perspective of targets attacked, was far more selective than the Georgian assault which ignited the instant conflict. Among all the tales of horror emanating from the multiple paps of the Western house organs, we are told of the "taking of Gori" and the "civilians fleeing in terror" from the advancing Russian horde. What we are definitely NOT told is that there was a major military base at Gori (as well as a good number of NATO and American military advisors). We are NOT told that much of the fleeing was done by the 'crack Georgian military' when Saakashvili's all or nothing bet came up a cropper.

Much of the Western "coverage", such as it is, portrays the "scrappy, spunky Western oriented" Georgia as a "democratic bulwark" based on a grassroots Western style democracy which sprang from the so-called "Rose Revolution" which catapulted the Harvard educated Saakashvili to power. What essentially all the Western coverage elides is the fact that the "Rose Revolution" was stage managed, fomented and funded by the West. It also neglects the fact that Saakashvili has been, from the outset, nothing more nor less than a Western sock puppet, bought and paid for by the West specifically to be a thorn in the side of Russia. And, by gosh, Georgia has been dutifully playing its part as such. Much like the snotty little kid who acts the bully on the schoolyard and, when challenged, calls on the services of a much older, much larger brute to act as his enforcer. In the case of Georgia, we, "the West" are that enforcer.

Also, I'm really impressed at the feigned horror of the Western propaganda organs at Russia's daring to "attack targets deep in Georgia, far from South Ossetia". Odd, when the US/NATO combine illegally attacked Yugoslavia in 1999, the very first attacks that opened that 79 day bombing campaign were aimed, not at targets in Kosovo but at Belgrade...hundreds of miles from Kosovo, I certainly didn't see any shock or horror evinced from the Western media. Quite the contrary, all the Western media, "liberal" and neoconservative, were howling for more blood. From the very outset many of the very same "pundits", "opinion makers", "foreign policy experts" who are now decrying Russia's quite legitimate actions were at the forefront in demanding more carnage, more lethality, just MORE in terms of aggression against Yugoslavia. The vast majority of Russia's attacks have been aimed at military targets in Georgia and were carried out with an eye to degrading Georgia's military capability. Have there been mistakes, collateral damage? Of course. But let us not forget, every time the US/NATO hit schools, hospitals, residential areas, trains, bridges, etc. in Yugoslavia, that too was "collateral damage" (even though the "collateral damage" in Yugoslavia was far and away more disproportionate to the military damage wrought). Not so with the Russians in Georgia to date. Though the Russians have struck Georgia proper, its targets have been military with the occasional stray ordnance, hardly the situation that applied to the US/NATO and their gang rape of Serbia in 1999. Hardly like the intentional bombing by NATO of hospitals (cluster bombing of the Niš hospital and its environs, for example), embassies (the very precise bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Beograd, for example), the bombing of Slobodan Milošević's private residence (with the admitted aim of assassinating him), etc. ad nauseam.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Have we looked in the mirror lately?

“Your enemy is never a villain in his own eyes. Keep this in mind; it may offer a way to make him your friend. If not, you can kill him without hate--and quickly.” ~ Lazarus Long from “TIME ENOUGH FOR LOVE”, By: Robert Heinlein

The above quote from Robert Heinlein came to mind recently while vaguely listening to TV news. The story was about the 'heroes' returning from Iraq. It caused me to recall reading news stories and watching German newsreels about the Wehrmacht 'heroes' returning from the occupation of the Soviet Union. I recalled how all the Russians who were fighting against the Nazi occupiers were referred to as either 'bandits' or 'terrorists'. Odd, isn't that the same way we refer to the Iraqis who are fighting our 'heroes' in their country? Even more odd, I recalled the story of one of the Afghan detainees now in Guantánamo who is being held as a terrorist because he threw a hand grenade at the invading U.S. troops. As I seem to recall, those wascawy revolutionaries (Americans) were doing exactly the same thing to the British troops during the Revolutionary War. Oh, and BTW, the Brits were calling our Founding Fathers and the American Revolutionaries 'bandits' and 'terrorists' as well.

Though Thom Hartmann, among others, has made the point more than once, it needs to be repeated; what is going on in Iraq and Afghanistan is in no wise a war, it is occupation, pure and simple. By all rules of civilized war (what an oxymoronic expression!) defending yourself, your family and your country from invaders is sanctioned under the Geneva conventions. And, to make matters worse, what we, America, have visited upon Afghanistan and Iraq is the prime war crime of 'waging a war of aggression'. Neither Afghanistan nor Iraq threatened nor could realistically be called an existential threat to the United States, and that would be the only legal justification for waging war without UNSC imprimatur, which we did not have. Not that that makes any difference to us, it counted for absolutely nothing when the U.S. (NATO) engaged in a 79 day bombing war against Yugoslavia. The U.S. is now raising all kinds of accusations against the Russians for rushing troops in to South Ossetia to defend their own countrymen (cca. 90% of the population of South Ossetia are ethnic Russians), decrying Russia's intervention on it's own border (oh BTW, riddle me this, why do we never hear of North Ossetia? Maybe because it is part of Russia?). The intervention of the Russians was asked for by the leaders of the “breakaway Georgian province of South Ossetia”. Yet, somehow, while the Americans are decrying Russia's intervention in South Ossetia (after 10 Russian peacekeepers had been killed by the Georgian military), they can't seem to see the utter hypocrisy of this position, especially while America is engaged in illegal occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan stemming from illegal invasions. Odd, isn't it?

We 'love' the Iraqis (and Afghanis) so much that we call them “towel heads”, “hadjiis”, “camel jockeys”, etc. ad nauseam. Of course, to make it easier to murder fellow human beings, it helps to denigrate them and make them less than human. After all, didn't we call the American Indians “redskins”, “savages”, “beasts”? Didn't we call the Germans “Huns”, the Japanese “Nips”, “slant eyed devils”, the Vietnamese “gooks”?

I recall in my youth how Americans were puzzled how so cultured, educated and civil a people as the Germans could have possibly backed a regime as murderous and monstrous as the Nazis. Have we really looked in the mirror lately?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Hopelessness of Lesser Evilism

“I'd rather vote for something I want and not get it than vote for something I don't want, and get it.” ~ Eugene V. Debs

Eugene Debs said it all in the statement above. Election cycle after election cycle we are faced with a choice of bad or worse. Obamamania aside, what real “change” does his “Change we can believe in” offer? That certainly is not to suggest that John S. McCain would offer any more or any better change either. So, what are we left with? “Your execution is tomorrow morning. Would you rather be shot or hanged?” Quel choix!

One of the worst facets of our present predicament is that all the major sectors of our society; the political, the for profit media, the blogosphere and social norms, all push for the inevitability of the current duopoly. We are constantly told, “There is no other choice! You either back the Democrats or the Republicans; any other choice is a waste of your vote!” This is the device used, time and again, to neuter and emasculate any true populist movement, any progressive movement, any movement which is considered to be “outside the box”. “Well, I'm often told, “if the Democrats don't win (especially the Presidency) what will be of the Supreme Court! Just imagine what the Republican candidate would do to the Supreme Court!” True enough, but...what wonderful justices has the last Democratic president, William Jefferson Clinton, left us? Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer? Both are jurists whose outlook and opinions are quite corporate friendly. In Kelo v. City of New London, both Ginsburg and Breyer concurred in the extension of eminent domain in favor of corporations and to the detriment of private citizens or small stakeholders. My, isn't that just so 'progressive'?

“But, I'm told, “if we have McCain as president, then Roe v. Wade is history! What of a woman's right to choose?” Well, for those that haven't noticed, the several states, in the main, have been nibbling (sometimes gobbling) away at Roe v. Wade so there truly is little to lose at this point. What will happen if Roe goes the way of the dodo, is that we'll go back to the status ante, i.e., in more progressive states women with means will be able to get abortions; those without won't. That really isn't much of a change of the status quo, truth be told. Will there be states where a woman won't be able to get a legal abortion? Certainly. However, that is more or less the situation today. In many places in the United States as of this writing, women have to travel hundreds of miles, sometimes across state borders to get a legal abortion.

Also I hear, “But with the current make up of the court we at least have had some minor victories! After all, the present court reinstated habeas corpus!” True enough and, certainly, were more conservative jurists to be placed on the Supreme Court even these minor 'victories' might well be lost. However, it must be remembered, starting from the Reagan presidency, through Bush the Elder, Clinton and, especially Bush the Lesser, the lower courts have been seriously skewed to the right. There are now so many 'conservative' jurists serving that it is extraordinarily difficult to even get a case before the Supreme Court. Certainly, there are laudable exceptions, even among the reich wing coterie now infesting the benchs at the Circuit and Appellate levels. This is cold comfort though for the many that are turned away from the courthouse and the Democratic Congress has only made the situation much worse with their ill begotten FISA 'reform' legislation, granting retroactive (read: ex post facto) immunity to telecommunications companies who blatantly and with full foreknowledge, violated the existing FISA laws. And here I thought that “I was only following the orders of my superiors!” had been discredited at Nuremberg! Silly me.

We are all constantly told, “But, those that voted for Nader in Florida in 2000 gave Bush the presidency!” Oddly enough, many of these are the same people who, rightly IMHO, argue that, if all the votes had been counted in Florida in 2000, Gore would have won. To those “Democrats” (yes, I'm looking at you Eric Alterman, among others) who go into apoplectic fits when attacking the very concept of Ralph Nader, all I have to say is, “Pick ONE!” Either Gore actually would have won the election (had the Reich wing of the court not given the chosen one the election) OR the fraction of the voters that voted for Nader rather than Gore cost Gore the election (an extremely doubtful proposition). It is EITHER one or the other; you can't have both! The fact that Gore ran a rather bland and centrist campaign, with the misbegotten Lieberman as his running mate, doesn't seem to enter the equation.

Then there is the stolen election of 2004. Again, we had a rather bland campaign, run ineptly, with ABB (Anybody But Bush) as the mantra. The Democratic Party spent enormous time and money specifically to exclude Ralph Nader from as many states as possible BECAUSE the election was ABB. Well, they managed to narrow the choices, as John F. Kerry's campaign managed to narrow the differences between Republican and Democrat. In the end, even though AT THE TIME OF THE VOTE COUNT it was rather obvious that there had been egregious shenanigans executed, this time in Ohio as opposed to Florida. And we had the embarrassing spectacle of the very early capitulation, without any opposition on the part of Kerry (though even his running mate, Edwards, was livid at the campaign not challenging the obviously stolen election).

These are the fruits of 'lesser evilism'. We are constantly forced, by the rigged and managed primary and electoral process, to weed out any truly progressive voice from the campaign (the Democrats went so far as to field a primary challenger for Dennis Kucinich's House seat as well as numerous and various chicanery to exclude him early on from the primary race). After Kucinich was eliminated from the primaries, the attention of the Democratic machine turned on John Edwards, the next most progressive and possibly 'outside the box' candidate. What we, the populace, were left with were “a woman and a black” as candidates. Neither of the two remaining candidates was in any wise progressive (both are almost equally in thrall to the same corporate and financial task masters). In reality, there was very little difference between the 2 of them, in any substantive way. In the final analysis, we have a greater choice when in a Chinese restaurant and choosing “One from column 'A' or one from column 'B'!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

What's wrong with the Democrats?

Are the Democrats really progressive?

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." ~ Thomas Jefferson

Perhaps the very worst problem afflicting the Democrats (of course, the same and worse bedevils the Republicans), is mindless acceptance of any orthodoxy put forth by the Democratic hierarchy. These are myriad and multiple and they hobble the thought pattern of the vast majority of those who style themselves as 'liberal' or 'progressive' Democrats.

Among these orthodoxies are:

  1. The overriding insistence on 'gun control'. Quite simply, the Democratic Party has long insisted on, what is in essence, unilateral disarmament of the populace in the face of increased militarization of the various federal, state and local police agencies. The simplistic dual arguments are, a) what good is an armed populace when faced with the overwhelming power of the state and b) guns in the hands of the people are the basis for crime, school shootings, domestic violence, etc.

    Quite simply, both these arguments are bosh. If, as the commonly expounded thesis is framed, an armed populace can muster no resistance to overwhelming armed force, why are both the Iraqi and Afghani insurgencies proving to be such a massive problem to the world's sole remaining hyperpower? You mean we, the U.S., with the largest nuclear stockpiles, the most advanced military in the world, undeniable air, land and sea dominance, can't gain control of a society armed primarily with small arms and homemade weapons? Where does that leave that argument?

    The common Democratic meme is that "guns are evil!" According to this argument, it is the mere presence of guns that make society 'dangerous'. Of course, this neglects the fact that there are societies which are even more heavily armed, per capita, than the United States. Switzerland, for example, has virtually every home stocked with military weapons. Virtually every home has a military (i.e., fully automatic) rifle. Every 3rd house has an operating machine gun, every 5th house has an RPG (with ammunition). Canadians are as well armed, in terms of handguns and long guns, as the United States. Oddly enough, neither of these 2 heavily armed countries have anywhere near the level of gun violence as the United States. What the Democrats (and other gun grabbers) refuse to face is the fact that perhaps, just perhaps, there are social factors in the United States that lead to the high level of violent crime that we experience. The main reason, IMHO, for this is well encapsulated in a quote from Shakespeare:

    “The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars, but in ourselves if we are underlings.” ~ William Shakespeare quotes

  2. The idiotic idea of 'political correctness' (which, BTW, is also embraced by the Republicans, on the other side of the spectrum). The government cannot, no matter what, force people to accept groups 'not like them'. This is not to say that the government doesn't have every right, even a positive duty, to withhold any semblance of government support (tax credits, tax rebates, special legislation, etc.) from any individual, group or entity that discriminates on the basis of age, race, sex, sexual orientation, etc. What it does say is that the government goes beyond the pale when it attempts to 'legislate' tolerance or even acceptance of people of different practices, no matter what those practices are. The Right has its demands for say, 'prayer in school'. Fine, you then legislate 'prayer in school', now on whose religion will that prayer be based? In areas where you have relatively homogenous religious communities, this may actually work. However, in any diverse area (virtually any town or city of any appreciable size) you will have a diversity of religions and religious practices. By favoring any particular religion or religious practice you will, automatically, be slighting others. So, you see the problem.

    On the left you have the demand that people 'accept' say people from the GLBT community. First and foremost, it is of NO concern (or should be of no concern) to any but the individuals involved what any person's sexual orientation is. It certainly should never be allowed to be the basis of any kind of discrimination (whether housing, employment or any other activity or social benefit). Certainly, you will have those who insist that if they are say, renting a property, they should be able to discriminate on any basis they choose. If this is the case then, again, should any discrimination on any basis (race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, etc.) occur, then the individuals/organizations so discriminating should be disallowed any federal, state or local benefit (tax breaks, etc.). As I said earlier, one cannot force tolerance or affection upon an individual, however, social pressure (especially by peers, co-congregants, relatives) can well modify social behavior.

  3. The repeated acceptance of the 'lesser evil' argument in terms of Democratic candidates. The Democratic process, as has been seen in at least the last several election cycles, always tends to exclude truly progressive and independent candidates and favor 'Establishment friendly' candidates. This means that true progressives and progressive policies get short shrift from the Democratic Party as it increasingly panders to its most 'Establishment' (read: corporate friendly) candidates. In this way, the progressive wing of the Democratic Party (one could argue, the most energized and solid base of the party) has been increasingly disenfranchised and the policies championed by most true liberals and progressives fall by the wayside or are so dramatically emasculated as to render them meaningless. For example, in this presidential race we are faced with Tweedle Dee (war criminal John McCrazy) and Tweedle Dum (Barrack Obama). Both are solidly enmeshed in the concerns and affairs of their corporate backers (though the outcome would have been the same had it been McCrazy and HR Clinton). Early on in the contest, both by For Profit Media's not-so-benign neglect as well as their outright derision, truly progressive candidates such as Dennis Kucinich and, to a lesser degree, John Edwards, were sidelined and forced from the race. This is a recurring pattern that is seriously, if not fatally, undermining the so-called progressive Democratic Party. Today, the Democratic Party is in most particulars, barely distinguishable from the Republican Party.

If there is to be any semblance of hope for truly progressive and liberal Americans (more than likely, a solid majority of the populace) all the above will have to be overcome by a revolution from within the ranks of the Democratic Party itself.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

"Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is" (h/t CTA)

(P)resident Bush, while on an official visit to Israel and addressing the Knesset, violated a couple of longstanding taboos. First, the injunction that 'politics ends at the water's edge', i.e., that domestic politics (dirty laundry) should cease once one leaves the confines of the United States. Obviously, making blatantly political statements in the legislature of a foreign land, even that of an ally, violates this injunction.

Second, the (P)resident also egregiously violated a corollary to 'Godwin's Law'. For those that have forgotten, Godwin's Law basically states:

"Godwin's Law applies especially to inappropriate, inordinate, or hyperbolic comparisons of other situations (or one's opponent) with Hitler or Nazis or their actions." (Wikipedia)

For the record, here is the statement in question:

"Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along," Bush said. "We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: 'Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.' We have an obligation to call this what it is -- the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history."

A couple of points worth note. The “American senator” to whom Bush refers just happened to be Sen. William E. Borah, Republican senator from Idaho. Odd, isn't it, that Bush refuses to name the senator, eh? Further, it is most odd that G.W. Bush should even dare to mention any favorable connection to the Nazis, especially inasmuch as G.W. Bush's own grandfather, Prescott Bush, was deeply involved in the extreme right wing plot to topple FDR and install a fascist government in his stead in 1933. Moreover, Prescott Bush was one of Nazi Germany's primary financiers and was even convicted of 'trading with the enemy' for his financing of Nazi Germany. And yet, and yet, G.W. Bush has the temerity to even dare to try to tar Barack Obama with the Nazi brush? How outrageous is that?

“Does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care?” Here we have the sootiest of kettles calling a relatively clean pot black and his spokesperson, Dana Peritonitis trying to say that, of course, the Nazi 'appeaser' barb was not intended to tar either Obama or the Democrats. Oh really? Then, who was it intended to defame? The Republican Party (a senator of the party who made the statement referred to by Bush)? The Bush family (remember, Prescott Bush was a nasty piece of work who attempted to overthrow his own government and replace it with a fascist regime and, further, was a prime funder of Hitler's Germany)?

In any vaguely sane and honest society, with a truly independent and free media, the airwaves and print media would be blaring forth the above facts and drawing the requisite conclusions. Other than very few commentators and the internets, what one mainly hears are the Sounds of Silence.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Need we learn from the Iraqis?

I know. The title of this piece is a bit odd, isn't it? However, mayhap, the Iraqis are pointing to something that we have forgotten or simply grown inured to.

In interview after interview, discussion after discussion, perhaps the premier complaint of the Iraqi civilians are the practices of the American military in Iraq. And what, pray tell, are these practices that raise the ire of the Iraqis? Well, excepting (but only to a slight degree) the fact that American troops have a nasty habit of casually shooting Iraqi civilians without cause, those practices are, by and large, standard operating procedure for most American police departments. The practice of (barely) announcing their presence and then battering or blowing the door off the hinges is standard operating procedure. Then, once the door is demolished, troops rush into the home, screaming at the shocked inhabitants of the dwelling, frequently cursing, forcing everyone to the floor, usually forcible and mandatory shackling of everyone in the household.

What is so disquieting is the fact that virtually all of the above have become so much S.O.P. (standard operating procedure) here, in the 'homeland', that they hardly raise an eyebrow anymore. Is it that we have become desensitized through watching endless hours of 'COPS'? Is it because we have repeatedly been instructed that the police are only 'ensuring our safety' hence we must unquestioningly follow orders automatically?

It doesn't seem to matter that, each year, more civilians by far die at the hands of the police than police at the hands of 'criminals'. Though much is made of each and every law enforcement death (the yearly memorials to those police who have fallen; the funerals of slain police that rival in pomp the funerals of Chicago mobsters in the 20s), very, very little is made, especially in the mainstream media, of the many, many deaths of innocent civilians at the hands of law enforcement. Only because they are so well known, we have the incidents in NYC of Amadou Diallo (41 shots) and Shawn Bell (50 shots). That is NYC. Then there was the incident in 2006 where police shot and killed 92 year old Kathryn Johnson during a late night 'no knock' raid. Johnson wounded 3 police officers, Johnson herself was shot and killed. From a 2006 Christian Science Monitor story about the Johnson raid,

“The number of no-knock raids has increased from 3,000 in 1981 to more than 50,000 last year, according to Peter Kraska, a criminologist at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond.

Botched raids are relatively rare, but since the early 1980s, 40 bystanders have been killed, according to the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank in Washington.” ~ After Atlanta raid tragedy, new scrutiny of police tactics

These are the very practices that, applied in Iraq, have caused that populace to rise in resistance and riot. Granted, Iraq is being oppressed under the heel of an onerous, vicious and violent occupation. However, is it really that much different from what is happening increasingly here, in the 'homeland' or, more appropriately, the 'heimatland'? Here is a link to a very recent (May 7, 2008) occurrence in Philadelphia where 3 men were dragged from their car; beaten, kicked and abused. This is the same Philadelphia (different mayor, different police commissioner, same attitude) which framed and is dead set on executing Mumia Abu-Jamal. Rodney King is alive and well and living in Philadelphia, it seems!

Do the Iraqis have the right idea? Perhaps we should ask ourselves that pivotal question.

Friday, March 28, 2008

On the one hand…then on the other hand…

According to Thom Hartmann, there is an increasingly greater probability that the Democrats will lose the Presidency in November. On the one hand, I find this to be highly problematical inasmuch as I truly do fear the competency, mental and moral, of the Republican contender, John ‘Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Iran’ McCain. On the other hand, with the very real and deep sense of foreboding I have about myriad events I now see as unavoidable i.e., the serious probability of an economic crash, severe and prolonged economic depression, possible or even probable military engagements which will end badly, I feel it may not be such a bad idea for a Republican to inherit a Republican’s hash of a government. Should McCain accede to the Presidency and the above mentioned events I have mentioned above and others materialize, I believe that the Republicans will repeat the condition that maintained after the reign of Herbert Hoover, and bar the Republicans from the White House for a generation, if not more.

However, the reason for the loss of the White House to the Democrats this fall, if such should be the case, gives lie to the oft repeated Democratic line of “We have 2 equally good candidates for the Presidency.” It should be noted that there are not ‘2 equally good candidates’, this fact is self-demonstrating. Ms. Clinton (and her wretched cabal) from the start have been operating from the position that she, somehow, has a legitimate claim to the Presidency. She (and her cabal and enablers) have demonstrated that they truly could care less for the Democratic Party, especially the liberal and progressive members of that party, and that her ambitions take precedence over the good of the party, the country and the American public. She has shown that she is a shameless, serial liar. She (and her myriad supporters) continue to claim that she ‘misspoke’ or had a lapse in memory. If this is any indication of her mental capabilities this, in and of itself would and should disqualify her from the Presidency (just as it should McCain). However, as is the case with her self-glorifying ‘memories’ of her Bosnia junket, she misspeaks not once, not twice, but time and time again, each time ‘misspeaking’ in such a way as to better burnish her (non-existent) bona fides for ‘bravery’. She lies, repeatedly, when she claims “35 years of experience” which will “enable her to lead from Day One.”! The vast majority of those “35 years of experience” were either as the wife of a governor or president, hardly what one could credibly call ‘relevant experience’! If I were to apply for a position as a micro-biologist and the sole ‘experience’ I could cite was that I was married to a micro-biologist, I’d be laughed out of the office! Most of the rest of those ‘35 years experience’ were as a corporate lawyer for the likes of Tyson and Wal-Mart. Surely, a true champion for the ‘common man’…NOT!

Please don’t get me wrong, this is certainly NOT a paean in favor of Barack Obama. To my untutored eye he is every bit as much a ‘political animal’ (in all the worst ways possible), controlled by many of the same corporate interests and lobbyists as are Hillary Clinton and John McCain and the vast majority of those, of both parties, that ran or regularly run for office. The best outcome of a monumental failure of the Democratic Party to take the White House this cycle, is the final and total collapse of the Democratic Party. This is good inasmuch as it will allow the Blue Dog Democrats (Republicans in donkey garb), the Rahm Emanuels and the rest of the DLC, right wing ‘members’ of the Democratic Party to migrate to their true home, the party of entrenched power and money, the Republicans. With the collapse of the presently constructed Democratic Party, from the rubble a more truly democratic party i.e., “relating to, appealing to, or available to the broad masses of the people” (Merriam-Webster) might emerge. A party that would be attentive to the concerns and plight of “broad masses of the people” as opposed to catering to and groveling before the 1/10 of 1% of the ultra wealthy, the mega-corporations and true special interests. A party that would be dedicated to

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” (Preamble to the U.S. Constitution).

It’s about time, don’t you think?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Cons say: Praise Welfare! (as long as it is for the Corporations!)

Here is a one-two punch for y'all.

Here is an excellent article on It's a Welfare State ... If You're Rich by Walter Brasch.

In the same vein, I offer you the video commentary of Jim Hightower, a Texan in the Molly Ivins mold:

Read well and ponder on the 'morals' of the mega-wealthy. They are all for privatizing their profits (keeping all the wealth for themselves) all the while socializing the costs (all failures and bailouts are to be paid for by we, the peons...err, people.)

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Lest we delude ourselves with nostalgia…

Much has been made, and rightly so, of the myriad abuses by the Bush (mal)administration of domestic, Constitutional and international law. However, we must keep firmly in mind that the path to many, many of these abuses had been laid by previous administrations, at least some of them Democratic ones.

Bush and others of his cabal have stated repeatedly that the U.S. "does not torture" and much has been made by Bush apologists about various practices and whether or not they fall under the definition of ‘torture’. William Blum has turned an excellent phrase in this regard, "Like pornography, torture doesn't require a definition; you know it when you see it or feel it." Albeit Michael McConnell has stated that he would find waterboarding to be torture if done to him, our oh so independent Attorney General, Michael Mukasey just can’t find it in him to declare waterboarding (or, for that matter, any other ‘coercive’ questioning techniques approved by the WH) as being torture. For, to do so, he would then be forced to start legal proceedings to determine who has sanctioned, permitted or approved of these procedures and then to prosecute them for it.

However, even before we get to our own instances of torture, horrendous as it is, we must examine the practice of "extraordinary rendition" of persons to states where it is fairly certain that they will be tortured. Why this, you ask? Well, it so happens that the practice of "extraordinary rendition" did not begin with the Bush (mal)administration. No, on the contrary, it was during the "liberal" Clinton administration that the practice was begun. I refer you all to several articles in "Mother Jones" that lay out the ugly genesis and development of this heinous practice. First, there is "Disappearing Act: Rendition by the Numbers", by Peter Bergen and Katherine Tiedemann. Now, prior to the ascendancy of the Bush cabal, there were an even dozen such "extraordinary renditions". This means that the "liberal" Clinton administration violated "…the United Nations Convention Against Torture, which prohibits delivering someone to a country where there are "substantial grounds" to assume that he might be tortured." And, according to Michael Scheuer, the original "extraordinary rendition" program was not even to collect information.

"The extraordinary rendition program was not primarily intended to yield information, according to Michael Scheuer, the cia official whom the Clinton White House tasked with implementing it. "It came from an improvisation to dismantle these terrorist cells overseas. We wanted to get suspects off the streets and grab their papers," Scheuer explains. "The interrogation part wasn't important." - "I Was Kidnapped by the CIA", by Peter Bergen

Yes, I know, it’s not "liberally correct" to speak ill of a former Democratic reign. The problem is, it is true and it needs to be addressed for, without knowing where we have been we cannot hope to know where we are nor just how we got here. Granted, with the coming to power of the Bush cabal, and especially after 9/11, the "extraordinary rendition" process has been thrown into high gear but, we must remember it was Bubba Clinton and his administration that started it.

Further, those that decry Bush’s Iraq attack (even if they hold that the equally illegal assault on Afghanistan had some legitimacy), let’s all remember what was wrong with it.

    1. The "Authorization for the Use of Military Force" (AUMF) is NOT a declaration of war and, even though we’ve been rather lackadaisical in declaring war since WWII, that is the sole Constitutional means by which the U.S. can actually go to war;

    2. Both the Afghanistan and Iraq misadventures were launched without UN Security Council imprimatur. Barring an imminent attack, the ONLY internationally sanctioned way to go to war is to be sanctioned to do so by the UNSC; and

    3. The U.S. has engaged in myriad blatant war crimes in these instances (use of disproportionate force, use of illegal weapons, intentional targeting of civilian populations, intentional and needless destruction of civilian infrastructure, etc. ad nauseam).
Oddly enough, the three charges above are exactly the same as those that can be leveled against the Clinton administration and its ‘use of force’ against the Serbs in Bosnia in 1995 and against Yugoslavia in 1999.

    1. Clinton and his cabal did not secure a declaration of war from the Congress.

    2. They also, just as Bush II did after them, did NOT secure a UN Security Council Resolution permitting the U.S. (or NATO as we insist) to attack the Bosnian Serbs or Yugoslavia.

    3. Further, the U.S. committed myriad war crimes during the 78 day and night bombing of Yugoslavia. They used illegal weapons (Depleted Uranium), intentionally targeted civilian populations, intentionally and needlessly destroyed civilian infrastructure to cause needless suffering to the civilian population.
Any of us with even ½ a grain of intelligence know that Bush’s fabled maxim of "They hate us for our freedom" as the "explanation" for 9/11 is garbage, pure and simple. However, those that dared suggest that it could possibly be blowback were derided as "Hate America Firsters". Oddly enough, the real explanation, or at least part of it, was made public in 1998. In an interview with "Le Nouvel Observateur, Paris, 15-21 January 1998, Zbigniew Brzezinski made some rather revealing comments:

"Question: The former director of the CIA, Robert Gates, stated in his memoirs ["From the Shadows"], that American intelligence services began to aid the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan 6 months before the Soviet intervention. In this period you were the national security adviser to President Carter. You therefore played a role in this affair. Is that correct?

Brzezinski: Yes. According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.

Q: Despite this risk, you were an advocate of this covert action. But perhaps you yourself desired this Soviet entry into war and looked to provoke it?

B: It isn't quite that. We didn't push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.

Q: When the Soviets justified their intervention by asserting that they intended to fight against a secret involvement of the United States in Afghanistan, people didn't believe them. However, there was a basis of truth. You don't regret anything today?

B: Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter. We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.

Q: And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic fundamentalism, having given arms and advice to future terrorists?

B: What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?

Q: Some stirred-up Moslems? But it has been said and repeated Islamic fundamentalism represents a world menace today.

B: Nonsense! It is said that the West had a global policy in regard to Islam. That is stupid. There isn't a global Islam. Look at Islam in a rational manner and without demagoguery or emotion. It is the leading religion of the world with 1.5 billion followers. But what is there in common among Saudi Arabian fundamentalism, moderate Morocco, Pakistan militarism, Egyptian pro-Western or Central Asian secularism? Nothing more than what unites the Christian countries."

That question, Mr. Brzezinski, should be asked of the people of New York City, the Pentagon, the friends and families of those on those hijacked planes. Think that, maybe, "some stirred-up Moslems" could be a bit of a problem?

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Ain’t it amazing?

Here is a quick dissection of a portion of a news article from “Civil Georgia”, entitled “U.S Rules Out Recognising S.Ossetia”.

“…A journalist asked the U.S. secretary of state whether she thought the appeal was "a provocation" from Moscow, “or do you think it’s something inevitable?”
Rice responded: “I don’t want to try to judge the motives, but we’ve been very clear that Kosovo is sui generis and that that is because of the special circumstances out of which the breakup of Yugoslavia came. The special circumstances of the aggression of the Milosevic forces against Kosovars, particularly Albanian Kosovars, and it’s a special circumstance.””

“…but we’ve been very clear that Kosovo is sui generis and that that is because of the special circumstances out of which the breakup of Yugoslavia came.
Hmmmm, “…we’ve been very clear that Kosovo is sui generis…”. OK, Ms. Rice, you’ve made clear that you (U.S.) consider the Kosovo situation to be sui generis, that’s fine. However, it is much like the quote by Abraham Lincoln,

“How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg.” - Abraham Lincoln
Just as Madeline Albright before her, Condoleezza Rice calls many a tail a leg, which is their option, of course. However, the problem lies in the fact that they (and we, U.S.) then proceed to act as though by simply calling a tail a leg has made it so.

The Clinton cabal in the 90s resorted to this tactic early and often. A little known fact is that the Clinton’s were in contact with the Saudis and other radical Muslim regimes even before coming to power and floating the idea of supporting the then illegal Muslim breakaway province of Bosnia as a means of garnering Muslim support. Very early in the Bosnian phase of the Wars of Yugoslav Dissolution, even though there was a standing arms embargo against all parties, the Clinton cabal was deeply enmeshed and involved in illegally and clandestinely providing arms to the Bosniak(sic) Muslim government of Alija Izetbegović (and the Croatian and Croatian Bosnian forces). Additionally, it was with the active cooperation (or, at the very least, tacit approval and knowledge) of the Clinton cabal that mujahideen, veterans of the Afghanistan and Chechnya campaigns (many former acolytes and colleagues of Usama bin Laden), were filtered into Bosnia also to aid the Izetbegović regime. Interestingly enough, during this entire period the U.S. and its compliant, subservient mainline media (and even large portions of the ‘liberal’ media) were 4-square behind the continual bashing of the Serbs, Serbia and Milošević for, purportedly, supplying the Bosnian Serbs with arms to defend themselves against Izetbegović’s forces, including the foreign mujahideen. I say ‘purportedly’ because there is little if any evidence that this was so. Certainly, undeniably, there were Serb paramilitary groups fighting in Bosnia on the side of the Bosnian Serbs. However, these paramilitary formations did not answer either to Milošević or the Yugoslav government. This is quite different from the situation of many Croatian paramilitary as well as official Croatian military formations fighting in Bosnia on behalf of Croatian Bosnians. This is not even to mention, again, the foreign mujahideen fighters. It would be good to note here that David Hicks, the Australian kangaroo skinner who was imprisoned in Guantánamo until his conditional release to Australia, was a veteran from Afghanistan who was imported into Bosnia and was photographed with the severed heads of Bosnian Serb civilians he had murdered. So, foreign (Muslim) “freedom fighters” and literally hundreds of tons of military equipment, weapons and munitions being covertly supplied by the U.S. and their willing minions, in violation of an international embargo, is totally OK; the participation of volunteer Serb paramilitary formations, without any government imprimatur are bad and evidence of Milošević’s and/or Serbian “illegal involvement” in the conflict in Bosnia. Tail meet leg.

With regard to Rice and her proclamation that:

“…that is because of the special circumstances out of which the breakup of Yugoslavia came. The special circumstances of the aggression of the Milosevic forces against Kosovars, particularly Albanian Kosovars, and it’s a special circumstance.”
…the special circumstances out of which the breakup of Yugoslavia came.” Gee, could she possibly mean the “special circumstances” evinced at the 1991 Maastericht meeting at which the EC morphed into the EU? That same meeting where, in blatant violation of the UN Charter, the Helsinki Final Act and even the entire premise of the Westphalian order since 1648, Germany blackmailed the U.S. and the rest of Europe into unilaterally dismembering a founding member of the UN? Could those “special circumstances” refer to US policy since Reagan to dissolve Socialist Yugoslavia into its constituent components…and beyond? Or could it be the “special circumstances” that permitted all the “indiscretions” cited above, as well as the planning, provisioning, and aiding of the Croatian “Operation Storm” which led to the largest “ethnic cleansing” in Europe since WWII? Or, perhaps it refers to the “special circumstances” which led U.S. envoy to perceive a “massacre” at Racak…even before any forensic personnel had even arrived at the scene? Well, one cannot say that William Walker was unfamiliar with massacres, after all it was this same William Walker who ‘happened’ to be present at many a massacre in Central America during the Reagan Administration. It was William Walker who pronounced the rightist El Salvador government blameless in the massacre of 6 Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her 15 year old daughter. Yes, William Walker has a long record of ‘exemplary service’ to the empire, regardless of the party in power.

“…The special circumstances of the aggression of the Milosevic forces against Kosovars, particularly Albanian Kosovars, and it’s a special circumstance.

Hmmmm, oddly enough, the “special circumstances” of “aggression” seem to be especially selective in the case of the U.S. When Suharto supplanted Sukarno in Indonesia and liquidated upwards of ½ a million Indonesians (on lists provided Suharto by the U.S.) labeled “Communists” or “Leftists” or “liberals”, we said he was doing an exemplary job. When Indonesia invaded and decimated East Timor in 1975, “U.S. political and military support for Indonesia was vital to its ability to invade East Timor in December 1975 and to sustain a brutal 24-year occupation that cost the lives of at least 100,000 people, parts of a Timorese inquiry made public Tuesday show.” (U.S. Arms Helped Indonesia Attack East Timor, By Colum Lynch, Washington Post Staff Writer, Wednesday, January 25, 2006; Page A15). So, one must assume that that aggression was also Washington approved. Contemporaneous with the Wars of Yugoslav Dissolution, when the Turks set about razing villages, murdering 10s of 1,000s of Turkish Kurds “…seldom is heard a discouraging word…”. This even though the magnitude of death and destruction visited upon the Turkish Kurds never qualified as “special circumstances” that forever severed Turkey’s right to its Kurdish provinces. On the contrary, as we have seen in recent days, Turkey is allowed to engage in what would normally be considered ‘acts of war’ by striking at Kurdish settlements and villages deep inside Iraq. But, of course, since Turkey is an important NATO ally and we (U.S.) de facto control Iraq (all talk of any Iraqi sovereignty is just that, talk), this certainly doesn’t qualify as a “special circumstance”.

And, in terms of “aggression” against a people and ethnic cleansing, the displacement of the Native American population doesn’t even merit a passing mention! So much for calling a tail a leg and having it be one!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Back to the bloody Balkans…again

Well, as predicted, on February 17, 2008 (another day that will live in infamy in the Serbian heart and mind) the illegal puppet Kosovar(sic) Albanian regime in Priština declared it’s “independence” (considering that the Serbian province of Kosovo has been governed the last 9 years by UNMIK with no connection to Serbia, it is unclear just what independence and from whom this declaration was made).

Again, as in 1999, various ‘pundits’ are banging on about how “Belgrade lost any right over Kosovo due to their brutal treatment of the Albanian majority.” Odd. Virtually contemporaneous with NATO’s gang rape of Yugoslavia, Turkey was deeply involved in bloodily putting down their own insurgency by the Kurds. In brutality, bloodiness and numbers of innocent civilian casualties, the Turkish suppression of the Kurds was orders of magnitude worse than the Serbian operations against the KLA in Kosovo in 1998-1999. Yet, somehow, it was not even suggested that the Kurdish region of Turkey be forcibly separated from Turkey nor that, due to the heavy handedness of the Turks, that Turkey had lost any right over the predominantly Kurdish populated section of Turkey.

I well recall how in the period immediately subsequent to NATO’s gang rape of Serbia (June 1999 onwards) there were myriad attacks by members of the KLA and Kosovar Albanians on non-Albanian Kosovars (primarily Serbs but also Kosovar Jews, Roma, Gorani, etc.). In less than a year following the cessation of the NATO bombings, over 1,000 Serbs had been brutally murdered while another more than 1,000 Serbs had been ’disappeared’ and presumed dead. ALL these attacks were ’justified’ by the ’pundits’ and reporters as ’revenge’ attacks. This on the basis of the insanely inflated casualty numbers bruited about by the Western press (“100,000 Kosovar Albanians missing and probably dead”, “mass killings of Kosovar Albanians, at least 50,000”, “mass graves containing the remains of 10,000 murdered Albanians”), all these claims were proven to be endless recitations of Clinton administration propaganda and totally and completely baseless. After NATO forces occupied the province and searched it with a fine tooth comb, less than 3,000 bodies could be turned up, Albanian and Serb, who had been primarily killed in the NATO bombing itself or in armed conflict with Serbian forces.

Now we are enduring the spectacle of Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, waxing apoplectic about "They had an obligation to protect diplomatic missions, and, from what we can tell, the police presence was either inadequate or unresponsive at the time.", while the U.S. (and its major toadies and ‘allies’) continence the explicit abrogation of UNSC Resolution 1244, the Helsinki Final Act and the entire Westphalian order! What cheek! What effrontery! What chutzpah! What Ms. Rice fails to address is the fact that the police have found serious evidence that the firing of the U.S. Embassy was, in all likelihood, the work of agent provocateurs, very likely in the pay and under the control of foreign (dare we say, “Western”?) intelligence agencies! What better way to distract attention from peaceful demonstrations in Belgrade of over ½ million Serbs than to have a small handful of ’drunk soccer hooligans’ setting the U.S. Embassy alight and provide an arguable casus belli for the U.S. and its miserable minions to once again assail the Serbs and their government?
Byzantine Blog