Saturday, September 6, 2003

Rush, Newspeak and Fascism: An exegesis

Something I just happened upon, and am starting to read. Thought I'd highlight it for anyone who might be interested in understanding fascism.

Rumsfeld gives Iraq occupation a thumbs up

From Kos: A "wonderful start"? Like I always say, these guys just make shit up.





Rummy may give the occupation a "thumbs up" but personally, I give the occupation "the finger".

The Boys in the Burn Ward

A terse reminder of the troops who get to look forward to a lifetime of pain, disfigurement, and disability thanks to Bush's war based on lies.



“Indeed, the number of troops wounded in action in Iraq is now more than twice that of the Persian Gulf War in 1991. The total increased more than 35 percent in August — with an average of almost ten troops a day injured last month. "

Today's Fave Quote

From a commentary in the Guardian, Hey, let's call in the UN.



If the United Nations really wants to do something for the world it should leave George Bush to clear up the mess he created in Iraq and let him suffer the electoral consequences at the polls next year. This is a win-win situation; don't deploy any troops and help bring about regime change in the rogue state of America.



Poll Examines Saddam, 9-11 Link

Talk about a persistent sleeper effect. Apparently, close to 70% of Americans polled still believe that Saddam Hussein's regime was involved in the 9-11 WTC & Pentagon bombings. That in spite of the fact that no evidence of such a link has ever been demonstrated.



What is a sleeper effect? It's something that occurs when people come to accept as factual previously discredited information. Usually what happens is that individuals forget the source of the discredited or unsubstantiated information, and then figure that since they recall reading or hearing the message earlier that it must have happened.

Friday, September 5, 2003

Triumph of a Bush

The new docudrama of our "heroic" misleader on that fateful day in September 2001, playing on a television set near you. The crew at guerilla news do a fantastic job of critiquing this piece of propaganda, and pointing readers in the direction of the truth of how our misleader handled the crisis.

Thursday, September 4, 2003

And with the Specter of 9-11 Once Again Upon Us

Have You Forgotten? is a very powerful post that I think puts the tragedy in perspective. Some excerpts:



September 11 was a tragedy. Not because 3,000 Americans died… but because 3,000 humans died. I was reading about the recorded telephone conversations of victims and their families on September 11. I thought it was… awful, and perfectly timed. Just when people are starting to question the results and incentives behind this occupation, they are immediately bombarded with reminders of September 11. Never mind Iraq had nothing to do with it.



I get emails constantly reminding me of the tragedy of September 11 and telling me how the “Arabs” brought all of this upon themselves. Never mind it was originally blamed on Afghanistan (who, for your information, aren’t Arabs).



I am constantly reminded of the 3,000 Americans who died that day… and asked to put behind me the 8,000 worthless Iraqis we lost to missiles, tanks and guns.





I remember February 13, 1991. I remember the missiles dropped on Al-Amriyah shelter- a civilian bomb shelter in a populated, residential area in Baghdad. Bombs so sophisticated, that the first one drilled through to the heart of the shelter and the second one exploded inside. The shelter was full of women and children ... I remember watching them drag out bodies so charred, you couldn’t tell they were human. I remember frantic people, running from corpse to corpse, trying to identify a loved-one… I remember seeing Iraqi aid workers, cleaning out the shelter, fainting with the unbearable scenes inside. I remember the whole area reeked with the smell of burnt flesh for weeks and weeks after... I remember the day the Pentagon, after making various excuses, claimed it had been a ‘mistake’.



I remember 13 years of sanctions, backed firmly by the US and UK, in the name of WMD nobody ever found. Sanctions so rigid, we had basic necessities, like medicine, on waiting lists for months and months, before they were refused...I remember wasted, little bodies in huge hospital beds- dying of hunger and of disease; diseases that could easily be treated with medications that were ‘forbidden’...



I remember the depleted uranium. How many have heard of depleted uranium? Those are household words to Iraqi people. The depleted uranium weapons used in 1991 (and possibly this time too) have resulted in a damaged environment and an astronomical rise in the cancer rate in Iraq. I remember seeing babies born with a single eye, 3 legs or no face- a result of DU poisoning...



American long-term memory is exclusive to American traumas. The rest of the world should simply ‘put the past behind’, ‘move forward’, ‘be pragmatic’ and ‘get over it’.



Someone asked me whether it was true that the ‘Iraqi people were dancing in the streets of Baghdad’ when the World Trade Center fell. Of course it’s not true. I was watching the tv screen in disbelief- looking at the reactions of the horrified people. I wasn’t dancing because the terrified faces on the screen, could have been the same faces in front of the Amiriyah shelter on February 13… it’s strange how horror obliterates ethnic differences- all faces look the same when they are witnessing the death of loved ones.




Very well put and very moving; and worth keeping in mind as the jingoists rear their ugly heads once again this September.

Read "Escalating Nonviolence" by Natasha of Pacific Views.

Then, if you haven't already done so, allow me to suggest some additional reading:



Fighting Fair: A Nonviolent Strategy for Resolving Everyday Conflicts by Mark Juergensmeyer. It's out of print, but used copies can be found fairly readily. The book is a nice primer on Gandhian conflict resolution applied to everyday life.



The Politics of Nonviolent Action, Volume 1, Volume 2, and Volume 3, is a must-read multi-volume work by Gene Sharp. The first volume deals with theory and history of nonviolent action, whereas the subsequent volumes outline the tactical and practical issues involved in carrying out nonviolent action.



Finally, Bob Altemeyer has a fairly recent book, The Authoritarian Specter, which is a continuation of his research on the psychology of right-wing authoritarianism.



Feed your mind.

The Postmodern President

Noticed this one from Skeptical Notion's blog. Both the article referenced by Skeptical Notion by Joshua Marshall and Skeptical Notion's analysis and commentary of said article are worth the effort.

"Freedom Fries" will haunt administration

If you read just one blog post today, check out this one by Kos with regard to the difficulties the Bush Cabal will have in getting the UN to clean up the mess made in Iraq. Lots of interesting quotes from a variety of publications to peruse.

Arnold With Egg On His Face?

Well, not quite, but apparently according to my wife Arnold was egged by someone apparently while on the campaign trail. I'll add a link as soon as I can find the story on the web.



Update: here's the link: Schwarzenegger Hit by Egg, Avoids Debate . Apparently happened yesterday while at Long Beach State University. Oh well, just some more California recall silliness.

Bush Defends Economic Policy and His Service Cuts

(Euphemistically referred to as tax cuts)

U.S. Infrastructure Needs Seen at $1.6 Trillion

Or put another way: Bush and the Republicans fiddle while the U.S. literally crumbles around them. Our government's handling of the nation's infrastructure earned a grade of D+, which is not particularly encouraging. At my university, any grade less than a C means that the course does not count toward the major; it is effectively a failing grade, and for any core requirements in the major means that the student must repeat the course. To me, maintenance of the nation's infrastructure is a core requirement of our federal and state governments. If they are earning a D grade for their efforts, they are essentially failing those of us whose taxes pay their salaries.

Daily Mojo: A Lost War

Worth a read. Ah, to go back to those halcyon days when the neocons had conned themselves into believing that the world was truly their oyster. The times they are a' changin'.

Tuesday, September 2, 2003

So George, how do you feel about your mom and dad?

I haven't quite decided what to make of this particular attempt at armchair analysis of Dubya. The main thrust of the column is that Dubya's reckless behavior and embracement of authoritarian political and religious beliefs stem from his upbringing: 1) living in the shadow of his dad during his formative years and being unable to live up to his dad's reputation, and 2) an excessively strict and potentially abusive mom (at least as presented in this column) when it came to discipline. The former has led to a deep-seated hostility toward Poppy and what Poppy stands for, and in his younger days led to rebellious and reckless behaviors (including his alcohol & cocaine abuse, his DWI arrest, and his going AWOL during his national guard service). The latter factor seems to have led him to embrace a rigid form of Christianity that is exceedingly harsh and unforgiving (just like mom), and a punitive approach to handling dissidents both at home and abroad. There may be something to the analysis. My main complaint was the author's love of Freudian terminology, which I found entirely unnecessary, and certainly unrepresentative of how psychologists approach human behavior. Otherwise, an interesting thought piece.

Facing the truth about Iraq

By James Carroll, 9/2/2003, Boston Globe



THE WAR IS LOST. By most measures of what the Bush administration forecast for its adventure in Iraq, it is already a failure. The war was going to make the Middle East a more peaceful place. It was going to undercut terrorism. It was going to show the evil dictators of the world that American power is not to be resisted. It was going to improve the lives of ordinary Iraqis. It was going to stabilize oil markets. The American army was going to be greeted with flowers. None of that happened. The most radical elements of various fascist movements in the Arab world have been energized by the invasion of Iraq. The American occupation is a rallying point for terrorists. Instead of undermining extremism, Washington has sponsored its next phase, and now moderates in every Arab society are more on the defensive than ever.



Before the war, the threat of America's overwhelming military dominance could intimidate, but now such force has been shown to be extremely limited in what it can actually accomplish. For the sake of "regime change," the United States brought a sledge hammer down on Iraq, only to profess surprise that, even as Saddam Hussein remains at large, the structures of the nation's civil society are in ruins. The humanitarian agencies necessary to the rebuilding of those structures are fleeing Iraq.



The question for Americans is, Now what? Democrats and Republicans alike want to send in more US soldiers. Some voices are raised in the hope that the occupation can be more fully "internationalized," which remains unlikely while Washington retains absolute control. But those who would rush belligerent reinforcements to Iraq are making the age-old mistake.



When brutal force generates resistance, the first impulse is to increase force levels. But, as the history of conflicts like this shows, that will result only in increased resistance. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has rejected the option of more troops for now, but, in the name of force-protection, the pressures for escalation will build as US casualties mount. The present heartbreak of one or two GI deaths a day will seem benign when suicide bombers, mortar shells, or even heavier missile fire find their ways into barracks and mess halls.



Either reinforcements will be sent to the occupation, or present forces will loosen the restraints with which they reply to provocation. Both responses will generate more bloodshed and only postpone the day when the United States must face the truth of its situation.



The Bush administration's hubristic foreign policy has been efficiently exposed as based on nothing more than hallucination. High-tech weaponry can kill unwilling human beings, but it cannot force them to embrace an unwanted idea. As rekindled North Korean and Iranian nuclear programs prove, Washington's rhetoric of "evil" is as self-defeating as it is self-delusional. No one could have predicted a year ago that the fall from the Bush high horse of American Empire would come so hard and so quickly. Where are the comparisons with Rome now? The rise and fall of imperial Washington took not hundreds of years, but a few hundred days.



Sooner or later, the United States must admit that it has made a terrible mistake in Iraq, and it must move quickly to undo it. That means the United States must yield not only command of the occupation force, but participation in it. The United States must renounce any claim to power or even influence over Iraq, including Iraqi oil. The United States must accept the humiliation that would surely accompany its being replaced in Iraq by the very nations it denigrated in the build-up to the war.



With the United States thus removed from the Iraqi crucible, those who have rallied to oppose the great Satan will loose their raison d'etre, and the Iraqi people themselves can take responsibility for rebuilding their wrecked nation.



All of this might seem terribly unlikely today, but something like it is inevitable. The only question is whether it happens over the short term, as the result of responsible decision-making by politicians in Washington, or over the long term, as the result of a bloody and unending horror.



The so-called "lessons" of Vietnam are often invoked by hawks and doves alike, but here is one that applies across the political spectrum. The American people saw that that war was lost in January 1968, even as the Tet Offensive was heralded as a victory by the Pentagon and the White House. But for five more years, Washington refused to face the truth of its situation, until at last it had no choice.



Because American leaders could not admit the nation's mistake, and move to undo it, hundreds of thousands of people died, or was it millions? The war in Iraq is lost. What will it take to face that truth this time? James Carroll's column appears regularly in the Globe.

Monday, September 1, 2003

The Heat is On

Not just warmer: it's the hottest for 2,000 years.

Another Labor Day Roundup

Rural towns feel chill of shutdowns, and may be in for a long economic winter. That's not all: this Labor Day, it is estimated that 9,000,000 people are without work in the US. You read it right: nine million! Here's a message for you if you're unemployed: Happy Labor Day -- Now Get a Job. Assuming you do manage to get a job or have a job already, plan on working more hours or losing that job -- another legacy of the Bush cartel. But while we're here struggling to get by from paycheck to paycheck, it is always nice to know that CEOs Profit from Layoffs, Pension Shortfalls, and Tax Dodges. We wouldn't want those CEOs to go hungry now, would we.



And when Dubya isn't dropping the pooch at his ranch or screwing the pooch with regard to the economy, he's making empty promises regarding manufacturing jobs!. Well, if he's serious (and I sincerely doubt he is), he damn well better Protect Workers' Rights, beginning with an examination of the economic policies that are harming workers and their ability to earn an honest wage. Dubya might want to start with NAFTA's negative numbers. But since that isn't about to happen, our best bet is a regime change next November.



Let's close this post with a nice Dickensian Tale of Two Countries.



Hope Labor Day was a good one, in spite of the dark period in which we live.

George W. Bush and "What Jesus Would Do"

An interesting compare/contrast between Dubya's approach to governing and the approach that his "favorite philosopher" Jesus would have used. Props to Natasha at Pacific Views for turning us on to this one.



Check out also, Dangerous Religion: George W. Bush's theology of empire by Jim Wallis.

A new meme for progressives

Try this the next time you hear talk of tax cuts: replace "tax" with "service". Try it out in the blogosphere, in your encounters in daily life and so on. Heck, that's what a "tax cut" really translates to -- a "service cut."



Note: this idea comes from a friend of mine who shall remain nameless.



Time to end the paralyzing force of fear in America

I found this to be an interesting and thought-provoking editorial.

TEN REASONS TO END THE OCCUPATION

ONE: THE OCCUPATION IS AN ILLEGAL CONTINUATION OF AN ILLEGAL WAR

The lies which George Bush and Tony Blair told to justify the war -

now fully exposed by the Hutton inquiry - have been replaced by

another fraud. George Bush says the occupation of Iraq is to

bring "liberation" and democracy to its people. In reality it is to

colonise Iraq and seize its assets, particularly its massive oil

reserves. Tony Blair's own attorney general says in a leaked memo

that the complete absence of weapons of mass destruction makes

it "difficult&to justify the lawfulness of the occupation".



TWO: HUNDREDS ARE DYING, MANY MORE WILL DIE

The occupation is really a continuation of the war under another

name. Added to the tens of thousands killed during the war are the

hundreds of Iraqi civilians who have died since George Bush declared

the war was over. Dozens have died as a result of the "shoot first,

ask questions afterwards" policy of the US army. Many more have died

following the collapse of basic services due to the devastating

bombing in the war. US soldiers are being killed at the rate of one a

day and there are regular attacks on anyone regarded as serving the

interests of the occupiers.



THREE: THE OCCUPATION HAS BROUGHT CHAOS TO IRAQ

Much of Iraq has little electricity and insufficient water. There is

a general lack of security, communication systems have broken down,

few people have jobs, the education service barely functions and the

health service has virtually collapsed. There is widespread disease

and death due to the damage to the country's infrastructure caused by

the war. The US/UK occupying forces are failing to meet their

obligations under the Geneva Convention to provide for the basic

needs of the Iraqi people.



FOUR: THE OCCUPATION HINDERS THE RELIEF EFFORT

The aid organisations working in Iraq have stated repeatedly that the

main obstacle to providing food, medicine and aid is the occupation.

The US insists on military control of all humanitarian aid. As a

result, numerous aid workers and United Nations staff have been

killed or injured and the horrific bombing of the UN headquarters in

Baghdad has shown that no one who is seen as being linked to the

occupation is safe.



FIVE: IRAQIS WANT TO GOVERN THEMSELVES

Of course Iraqis are pleased to see the end of Saddam Hussein's

regime but that does not mean they support the colonisation of their

country. As with all colonial occupations there is widespread

resistance to the occupying armies. There are almost daily

demonstrations in Iraq's cities and towns against the US/UK

occupation. Hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets to demand

that the occupation ends immediately. Every day the US army faces

numerous attacks, its soldiers are being killed regularly and since

the war was declared over hundreds have suffered serious - and

largely unreported - injuries.



SIX: WAR AND OCCUPATION WILL NOT BRING DEMOCRACY

The US government is intent on installing a puppet regime which will

serve America's economic and military interests. The occupation of

Iraq is illegal and yet the US has proclaimed that it will determine

all economic, political and social arrangements. There has been no

consultation with any representative Iraqi organisations. Instead the

US has created a governing council which has only an advisory role

and which is made up largely of Iraqi exiles, some of whom in the

past have been employed directly by the CIA. The US has no intention

of allowing free and open elections. The same promises were made when

the US attacked Afghanistan in another completely illegal war. Over

two years later there is no democracy in that country, only chaos and

lawlessness.



SEVEN: US COMPANIES ARE STEALING IRAQ'S ASSETS

The US intends to carry out the privatisation of a whole country.

Iraqis suffered extreme political repression under Saddam Hussein but

before the crippling UN sanctions were imposed his government did use

oil revenues to ensure relatively high levels of public health,

housing, employment and social services. None of these social and

economic rights will be protected in "free Iraq". The US government

is auctioning Iraq's national assets to US corporations, including

its oil and utility companies and its air and sea ports. The profits

will go into the coffers of private US companies, many of which have

close ties to George Bush.



EIGHT: THE OCCUPATION WILL PRODUCE MORE TERRORISM

The whole Arab world is incensed by the illegal invasion of Iraq.

There is a widespread feeling of powerlessness faced with the US

military juggernaut. In its unstinting support for dictatorial

regimes in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Turkey and many other

countries, the US is seen as responsible for the systematic trampling

of human rights throughout the region, and not least in its support

for Israel's brutal and illegal occupation of Palestinian lands. This

is the seed bed for the growth of extremist organisations, which see

desperate acts of terrorism as the only means of countering US

domination.



NINE: THE COST OF THE WAR AND OCCUPATION IS ASTRONOMICAL

The war and the occupation have already cost the US over 75 billion

dollars, equivalent to $4,000 for every man, woman and child in Iraq.

In the USA there is now growing criticism that at the same time these

astounding sums are available to fund an illegal war and occupation

George Bush is slashing public services across the board and handing

out unprecedented tax breaks to the super-rich. In the UK, Tony Blair

has already spent over A3 billion supporting George Bush and the

occupation is costing millions every week which could be used for our

under resourced health, education and transport systems.



TEN: THERE IS ANOTHER WAY

The global anti-war movement, which involved tens of millions of

protestors, has been completely vindicated in its prediction that the

war on Iraq would be disastrous for the people of Iraq and further

destabilise an already highly dangerous world. The same is true of

the US/UK occupation. History tells us that the longer an invading

force occupies another country the more chaos and resistance is

created, whether it be the British in India, the French in Algeria,

the US in Vietnam or the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. The only

solution is for all foreign troops to leave and free elections to

take place immediately in Iraq so that its people can choose their

own leaders. And to help Iraqis reconstruct their own country,

instead of spending billions to occupy Iraq and seize its resources,

the US and UK governments should pay reparations for the death and

destruction they caused in an illegal, immoral and unjustified war.




Courtesy Brian at Palestine Lives and Haringey Stop the War Coalition .

Celebrate Labor Day

Let's give props to the unions! We wouldn't be enjoying this day without the blood sweat and tears of organized labor.



Here's a round-up of some Labor Day headlines:



On Labor Day 2003, a dispirited workforce , and Democrats Compare Bush to Hoover on Jobs.



Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Bush ushers in a new era of indentured servitude, whileadding insult to labor's injury, by among other things pushing to weaken OSHA standards. Don't forget that this is the same Bush administration that intends to eliminate overtime pay for some 8 million workers (this is an older article, but one worth highlighting).

Sunday, August 31, 2003

Unfree in America

Another to add to the editorial round-up. Let's stop the incarceration madness. Prisons have become repositories for those committing nonviolent, often petty crimes. Draconian laws such as the Three Strikes laws (California comes to mind here) have created a situation in which the punishment often is far greater than the crime, and in which prison over-crowding has become a serious human-rights issue. Add to this madness Ashcroft's dictatorial approach to judges who issue lighter-than recommended sentences, which will only make the situation worse. Not only will our prison population increase further (to the extent that judges feel intimidated by Herr Ashcroft's tactics), but the Justice Department now has attempted to take the role of sentencing out of the hands of those who have traditionally had that role and assume that role for itself.

Dean Moves to Lead Democrats Against Bush

It's been an interesting campaign to watch these last few months. I'm quite pleased to see Howard Dean running as strongly as he is. He certainly has demonstrated an ability to energize the Democrat party's rank and file. Let's hope it continues for him. The stakes in 2004 are high indeed.

An editorial worth reading:

Patriot Act Con: Feds Use Fear To Grab Power Of A Police State

Oh, The Irony!

The GOP, which has so persistently wrapped itself in the American flag, outsources its fundraising to India.

An Aldous Huxley Quote

"No people that passes abruptly from a state of subservience under the rule of a despot to the completely unfamiliar state of political independence can be said to have a fair chance of making democratic institutions work." Brave New World Revisited



Iraq, anyone? If the Bushies even remotely believed their own rhetoric, the whole notion that the US can invade a nation governed by a Stalinist despot for several decades and have instant democracy is absurd given the above quote. I'm of course cynical enough to expect that the Bushies understand this, and really don't care about democratic institutions working there.