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!

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