Saturday, February 18, 2006

Bush as "Ultimate Leader" or "Führer": Same BS, Different Century

Bushhitlermorph_2Paul Craig Roberts writes:

Last week's annual Conservative Political Action Conference signaled the transformation of American conservatism into brownshirtism. A former Justice Department official named Viet Dinh got a standing ovation when he told the CPAC audience that the rule of law mustn't get in the way of President Bush protecting Americans from Osama bin Laden.

Former Republican congressman Bob Barr, who led the House impeachment of President Bill Clinton, reminded the CPAC audience that our first loyalty is to the U.S. Constitution, not to a leader. The question, Barr said, is not one of disloyalty to Bush, but whether America "will remain a nation subject to, and governed by, the rule of law or the whim of men."

The CPAC audience answered that they preferred to be governed by Bush. According to Dana Milbank, a member of the CPAC audience named Richard Sorcinelli loudly booed Barr, declaring: "I can't believe I'm in a conservative hall listening to him say Bush is off course trying to defend the United States." A woman in the audience told Barr that the Constitution placed Bush above the law and above non-elected federal judges.

These statements gallop beyond the merely partisan. They express the sentiments of brownshirtism. Our leader über alles.

Only a few years ago this same group saw Barr as a conservative hero for obtaining Clinton's impeachment in the House. Obviously, CPAC's praise for Barr did not derive from Barr's stand on conservative principle that a president must be held accountable if he violates the law. In Clinton's case, Barr's principles did not conflict with the blind emotions of the politically partisan conservatives demanding Clinton's impeachment.

In opposing Bush's illegal behavior, Barr is simply being consistent. But this time, Barr's principles are at odds with the emotions of the politically partisan CPAC audience. Rushing to the defense of Bush, the CPAC audience endorsed Viet Dinh's Fuhrer Principle over the rule of law.

Why do the media and the public allow partisan political hacks, like Viet Dinh, to define Bush's illegal actions as a national security issue? The purpose of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is to protect national security. FISA creates a secret court to which the president can apply for a warrant even after he has initiated spying. Complying with the law in no way handicaps spying for national security purposes. The only spying handicapped by the warrant requirement is spying for illegitimate purposes, such as spying on political opponents.

There are only two reasons for Bush to refuse to obey the law. One is that he is guilty of illegitimate spying for which no warrant would be issued by the FISA court. The other is that he is using "national security" to create unconstitutional powers for the executive.

Civil libertarian Harvey Silverglate writing in the Boston Phoenix says that Bush's grab for "sweeping, unchecked power in direct violation of a statute would open a Pandora's box of imperial possibilities." In short, it makes the president a dictator.

For years, the Republican Federalist Society has been agitating for concentrating more power in the executive. The members will say that they do not favor a dictator, just a check on the "imperial Congress" and "imperial judiciary." But they have not spelled out how the president can be higher than law and still be accountable, or, if he is only to be higher than some laws, but not other laws, and only in some circumstances, but not all circumstances, who draws the line through the law and defines the circumstances.

On Feb. 13, the American Bar Association passed a resolution belatedly asking President Bush to stop violating the law. "We cannot allow the U.S. Constitution and our rights to become a victim of terrorism," said bar association president Michael Grecco.

The siren call of "national security" is all the cover Bush needs to have the FISA law repealed, thus legally gaining the power to spy however he chooses, the protection of political opponents be damned. However, Bush and his Federalist Society Justice Department are not interested in having the law repealed. Their purpose has nothing to do with national security. The point on which the regime is insisting is that there are circumstances (undefined) in which the president does not have to obey laws. What those circumstances and laws are is for the regime to decide.

The Bush regime is asserting the Fuhrer Principle, and Americans are buying it, even as Bush declares that America is at war in order to bring democracy to the Middle East.

Nerdified Link. Hat tip to Earthside. As Jello Biafra sez, we've got a bigger problem now.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Some candidates:

In the Pennsylvania Senate primary, check out Chuck Pennacchio, who is challenging the Democrat party's annointed anti-choice Santorum lite candidate Bob Casey Jr. Pennacchio's main disadvantage is lack of name recognition and money, but is precisely the sort of candidate who would fit in with the American Solidarity approach.

Bill Scheurer is running in the Illinois 8th Congressional District as an independent, challenging a first-term Democrat incumbent who has a record of voting with Republicans on a number of key pieces of legislation (e.g., bankruptcy bill, CAFTA, the revised draconian Patriot Act, etc.). Scheurer is also one of those cats who is serious about bringing troops home from the Iraq debacle.

Ciro Rodriguez is running in the Texas 28th Congressional District Democrat primary against incumbent Henry Cuellar. Rodriguez has been in Congress before, and seems to have a solid record as an antiwar and pro-labor candidate. Cuellar narrowly beat Rodriguez in the 2004 primary in the newly gerrymandered 28th district - so Rodriguez has a decent shot with some campaign funds and grassroots volunteering. Cuellar has a habit of often voting like a Republican and is one of Bu$hCo's buddies. The other plus: there is no viable GOP candidate in the district - a Rodriguez victory would be a plus for progressives.

All three exemplify the sorts of politicians whom an American Solidarity coalition could readily get behind.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Solidarity Roundup

A few blog entries that caught my attention:

Cernig of Newshog - Hacked Off, But Finding a Way Forward:
But I also feel the same pain that "pessimist" at The Left Coaster feels:
It is time to abandon the Democratic Party and seek to establish a real opposition to Bu$hCo. It is clear that there is no other option. Every chance they have had to do something to halt the destruction of America, they have found some way to drop the ball. They don't want to win. they don't want to try.

They must want a one-party state.
However, I do have a way forward.

There is a way in which the "insurgent" left can pressure the establishment of the Democratic party and still walk seperately from that establishment when it feels the need. That way is by something akin to the old Polish Solidarity movement.

I wrote this back in October:
For the sake of the Left rather than the sake of the Dems we don't need a schism between those two opinions that would weaken our voice.

The objective, then, is not to convince the left to join the Democratic Party but to convince the Democratic Party to wholeheartedly join the left. The internet and advocates for the left such as bloggers will have a huge role to play in this effort. We must outreach to the unions, to interest groups, to smaller parties of the left and to Democrats and forge a true leftwing coalition. By not being part of the Democrat party apparatus we can advocate for fusion politics. We can convince Greens and Dems not to run against each other but instead to put up the best candidate and party in any given election, for instance. We can help workers unionize or at least organize in trade associations. We can aid the Coalition for Change to become stronger by backing their campaigns and by encouraging them to remain independent of party affiliation while aiding all parties of the left with funding and manpower in campaigns. We can form a fundraising base, a think tank and a possible pool for future staff and even elected officials who hold the interest of the people as paramount as well as being a voice to the media or in the absence of mainstream media coverage. We can be facillitators of communication and policy reform at every level.
The name for that coalition, independent of party and thus able to pressure Democrat leaders just by the possibility of backing others (think Pennacchio as an Indie in PA, or Bernie Sanders, as two for instances), is American Solidarity.

American Solidarity should not be a party or even affiliated to a single party but a communications, focus and fundraising umbrella for all kinds of lefties. Hells, even lefties who want to stick with the Dems can join (maybe they CAN convince the Demlicans to change) - just dont ask that American Solidarity restrict itself to supporting the Dems because it should be casting its net of support wider than a single party. Folks who don't like it don't have to join but the tent should be big enough for every Leftie.
I Cite - Kill! Kill! (discusses her differences with another blogger on the notion of solidarity):

One of the first major differences concerns the Levinasian injunction 'thou shalt not kill,' an injunction at the 'level of ethical debt to the Other' (Adam's words). Zizek's position is strictly opposed to this; in fact, he inverts the prohibition entirely: 'it is not permitted to us not to kill.' For Adam, the Levinasian injunction is one of accountability to a Third, an accountability that prevents one from treating killing perversely, that is, by making excuses for killing. In Zizek's version, the Levinasian injunction does not escape obscenity of the superego, however, precisely because of the inability to satisfy or even grasp the injunction under which we come under. To this extent, far from escaping the murderous dimension of Stalinism, the injunction not to kill devolves into kill, kill!

Additional differences appear, I think, when we consider the way that Adam's Levinasian position oscillates primarily between All and One: my accountability to all, becomes, ultimately, MY accountability. What is missing--the mediation of a collective, of a militant, solidarity group. Thus, Adam's examples involve the individual having to deal with getting up in the morning, contributing to charity, deciding whether or not to strike. These are already political, in Adam's view. To my mind, these are personal and ethical matters. They can be politicized. In fact, I don't think that the acts on their own are even ethical; they are meaningless until mediated, interpreted, made part of a collective political practice, or, until interpreted, reflected upon.

Thus, Adam wants to eliminate the partisan divide from his notion of solidarity; to my mind, this takes the notion away from class struggle, from the fundamental antagonism constitutive of the social. The only struggle discernible in Adam's account is that of the individual toward all (or, toward all humans, because division is unavoidable, Adam encounters the opposite of the human and the impulse toward dehumanization). There simply isn't the conceptual space for a partisan, solidary association of those engaged in political struggle. In fact, the Levinasian framework seems to foreclose the very possibility of such a politics insofar as it limits the political field in advance, precluding the possibility that these limitations have been and remain matters of political struggle and determination.
Attitude Adjustor - Remembering History:

Three years ago, February 15 ’03, uncountable millions around the world demonstrated against the impending U.S. invasion of Iraq. It was pretty exhilarating at the time, but three years later, it marks an anniversary that most of us can only ruefully acknowledge: It was the day that mass demonstrations per se were categorically repudiated by the U.S. government. In Nixon’s day, the million marchers on Vietnam Day are reputed to have dissuaded him from dropping a nuclear bomb on Hanoi. Three years down the road, the Cheney/Bush gang have shown repeatedly that they don’t care about public opinion, or simple human compassion, or anything but their own power and wealth. In Iran they seem to be preparing again to shoot first and forget the Geiger counters, though many think the military is stretched much too thin to embark on any further ‘adventures.’

On today’s Democracy Now, Institute for Policy Studies’ analyst and author Phyllis Bennis echoed the themes laid out earlier by Jonathan Schell in The Unconquerable World (and other thinkers elsewhere), that the mass demonstrations of 2/15/03 were a harbinger of the new ‘other’ superpower: the international public. I wish I really believed it, and when I heard Bennis today it only reminded me of how often progressive politics these days depends on wishful thinking and earnest exhortation.

I’ve been arguing lately here that the forms are the problem. Demonstrations make me feel weak and stupid, and anyway, they don’t even come close to achieving the instrumental goals set out by organizers, or fervently wished for by participants. I still think we have to seize public space, animate ourselves as a public, figure out how to have conversations and talk to each other in public better, and so on. But the tired old form of the mass march under monitors and microphones has clearly lost whatever political power it once may have had.

Nevertheless, it is crucial that we remember our own actions, our own accomplishments. Part of why we started Shaping San Francisco was to have a place where we can record our own lived histories, which would otherwise go down the memory hole with so much else. The Gulf War demonstrations of 1991 were huge here, but just a few months later I was in conversation with people who had been at the 100,000+ march in January ’91 and they claimed there hadn’t been an anti-war movement since Vietnam! Even earlier evidence for the sense of impotence most people are left with after attending even large demonstrations.

Jason Miller (The Uncapitalist Journal) - Shed Your Addiction: Beyond Mere Survival in the American Dystopia:
We the People have a choice. We can bend to the will of the hectors who have stolen the soul of our nation or we can follow the example of our predecessors and work vigorously to reclaim our humanity. Borrowing the words of a blue blood of American aristocrats, Nancy Reagan, I say it is time to “just say no” to Ameri-Soma. Actually, Lady Nancy’s statement was grossly over-simplified. In addition to saying no, one also needs to replace the behaviors associated with the addiction. Might I be so bold as to make some suggestions to counter the effects of withdrawal from this powerful drug, and to propose some means of coping with the loss of the false feeling of security it imbues?

Join or support an NGO like the Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International. Boycott dehumanizing corporations like Wal-Mart. Conserve resources, recycle, and drive as economical a car as you can afford. Support and vote for individuals who have genuine concern for humanity, like Lynn Woolsey, John Conyers, Ralph Nader and Dennis Kucinich (assuming they do not die under “mysterious circumstances” like Paul Wellstone). If you choose to support a specific political party, explore those outside the corrupt Duopoly, both of which represent the interests of the ruling class. Refuse to enable the ruling elite’s addiction to war by declining to join the military, hence depriving them of additional cannon fodder.

Embody the Golden Rule to the extent that it is humanly possible. Embrace cultural, racial, sexual, and religious diversity. Read some books by Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn to cleanse your mind of the elite’s polluted version of historical, social and political issues. Educate yourself and your children beyond the warped world perspective portrayed by the media and our public education system. Participate in your child’s education by teaching them to think critically and dig far beneath the surface. Live within your means and avoid credit card debt like the plague. Demand and support justice for the oppressed; peace will follow justice. Donate your time and money to truly compassionate and humane causes (as much and as often as you are able). Take personal responsibility and act as honestly as humanly possible in your affairs. Through non-violent action, press for social justice, human rights, dignity and peace.

In the end, the prognostications of martial law, “re-education” camps for dissidents, the collapse of the American economy triggered by crushing debt and the Iranian oil bourse, massive unemployment, the successful elimination of the remains of our Constitutional republic, and the relegation of the Great Beast in the United States to Third World conditions may ring true. So as you pour sugar in the tank of the engine powering the American Empire by refusing your daily dose of Ameri-Soma, do not relinquish your Second Amendment rights. Someday, the members of the Great Beast may need to exercise our inalienable right to self preservation. If it comes to this, there will be activity in the streets, but it will not be dancing.

In the future, I may be writing to you from behind concertina wire, or I might meet you there. Who can truly predict? However, if we happen to meet under those circumstances, at least our souls will be at rest knowing that we pursued social justice and human rights in the face of abject evil.
Don Santina (on Counterpunch) - DiFi and the Royal Democrats: The Curious Withdrawal of Cindy Sheehan:
Historically, the Democratic Party has been composed of two camps, the “People Democrats" and the “Royal Democrats." The present day Royal Democrats are not that much far removed from the old Jim Crow Democrats who became Republicans when the Democratic Party embraced civil rights legislation. They like Business; they like War; they like military/industrial dollars in their states. They’re lukewarm on social legislation.

[...]

From the beginning, the Royal Democrats have been foursquare supporters of the preemptive war on Iraq, a country that was not threatening us. Even now, facing growing popular opposition to the war and an increasingly sociopathic White House, they continue to brownnose the president, dragging their feet about withdrawing our troops from their ghastly mission.

In the 1990’s, the Royal Democrats “ended welfare as we know it" in the U.S. Then, along with the Republicans, they gave the world NAFTA and the WTO to further increase corporate profits that weren’t already running amok through the efforts of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The cries from the resulting worldwide destruction of sustainable communities and the cancerous growth of sweatshops, child labor, prison labor, and slave labor never reach the delicate and protected ears of the Royal Democrats.

[...]

There are approximately 6, 000 homeless people in San Francisco and 1,500 are children. Feinstein and her mega millionaire husband Richard Blum, just bought a 9,500 square foot house in Pacific Heights for $16.5 million. Why? Because, said the Senator, “we never had a view and this was an opportunity to get one."

The United States has the largest prison population in the world. Hey America, aren’t you embarrassed by that statistic? Most of the people in prison are poor non-violent and nonwhite drug offenders--not politically connected like the alcoholics stumbling around Congress who “don’t do drugs." How many prisoners on Death Row were released on account of new DNA evidence? For how many was the evidence too late? Statistics tell us that there is no crime wave, but the Royal Democrats and their Republican pals continue to build prisons in their new “Lockdown America."

Environmental protection has been shredded and there’s talk of scrapping the Endangered Species laws and selling the national parks, along with the flushing of the Kyoto Protocol.

The Royal Democrats remain mute if not collaborative, seemingly afraid to irritate their corporate sponsors. Feinstein’s plan to raise Shasta Dam a few feet to deliver more water to southern California for mass suburban development and giant agribusiness will wipe out forever the holy sites of the Winnemem Wintu native people. Her response to those who object to her plan? “The people (of Southern California) have a God-given right to water their lawns and gardens." Marie Antoinette couldn’t have put it better.

Exxon made five million dollars an hour in the fourth quarter of 2005. The silence in Congress is deafening. Meanwhile, rank and file Democrats protest, email, blog and groan “What’s wrong with the Democratic Party?” They don’t want to accept the fact that what’s wrong with the “Democratic Party,” i.e., the Royal Democrats, is that They’re On The Other Side!

It’s time for Democrats to stop whining and vote their conscience, resurface as Republicans or retire to corporate boards. A real opposition must be mounted against the White House madness.
Grist for the mill, in terms of theory, the nuts n' bolts politics, and forms of action that will be most effective in building a more effective leftist political front.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

More Abu Ghraib Photos Released




The only word that does justice to what has been done in our names is "Satanic." That was the first thought that crossed my mind tonight as I viewed the newly released Abu Ghraib photos. To be honest, I have quite a splitting headache from viewing them. As I've argued previously, seeing these photos that our government tried to block is important to the extent that they put a human face on a truly inhumane practice. My hope is that the photos, along with the research that has been conducted on the psychological aspects of torture can give us some insights into how to prevent this awful practice. From the article titled, The photos America doesn't want to see:
MORE photographs have been leaked of Iraqi citizens tortured by US soldiers at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison on the outskirts of Baghdad.

Tonight the SBS Dateline program plans to broadcast about 60 previously unpublished photographs that the US Government has been fighting to keep secret in a court case with the American Civil Liberties Union.

Although a US judge last year granted the union access to the photographs following a freedom-of-information request, the US Administration has appealed against the decision on the grounds their release would fuel anti-American sentiment.

Some of the photos are similar to those published in 2004, others are different. They include photographs of six corpses, although the circumstances of their deaths are not clear. There are also pictures of what appear to be burns and wounds from shotgun pellets.

The executive producer of Dateline, Mike Carey, said he was showing the pictures leaked to his program because it was important people understood what had happened at Abu Ghraib.
Click here to see the other pictures that have been released so far. Apparently, those, like the ones above, were the ones deemed "fit to print."

In a soon-to-be published paper in the National Social Science Journal, I note that the so-called "bad apple theory" is inadequate as an explanation for the abuses perpetrated at Abu Ghraib (and also Guantánamo Bay & Baghram). In fact, I've tried to note periodically news articles depicting the widespread practice of torture against not only adults but kids at Abu Ghraib. Rather, there are some strong situational factors that serve to foster widespread practice of torture:
In the case of Abu Ghraib, it is plain that the organizational culture was primed for human rights abuses. It appears that at every level of the US military organization there was an acceptance of cruel treatment. General Sanchez, for example, obviously had no problems with activities that were known violations of international law as recent news reports have shown (American Civil Liberties Union, 2005). He led by example. Of course we also know that the military was highly secretive about its treatment of POWs, as has been discussed in detail elsewhere (see the very excellent Guantánamo: What the World Should Know [Ratner & Ray, 2004] for more detail).
Of course there is much more to the story than that. In a post a few weeks ago, I mentioned some of the distal causative factors involved in producing torturers: cultural norms favoring violence, as well as pervasive media violence and propaganda. Those factors certainly seem present in social and cultural Zeitgeist of our torturers, just as they were for the Greek and Brazilian torturers that Haritos-Fatouros and Huggins have studied.

As I'm currently preparing a paper for an academic conference this spring, I will have more to say - at least from a social-psychological theoretical perspective. Stay tuned.

An Archetype of the Movement Conservatives

The best place to see the future of the conservative movement in America was in the ballroom of a Washington hotel last Friday, as Ann Coulter, the syndicated rightwing columnist, got up to speak.

To a chorus of "We love you, Ann", she launched into her trademark outrageous one-liners, denouncing moderate Republicans as "rats" and "Washington weenies". Libertarian Republicans fared little better. "If you are going to be a conservative in America, you can't be a pussy." Asked to describe her most difficult ethical dilemma, she gave a loud sigh. "There was one time I had a shot at [President Bill] Clinton."

Warning of the danger of Iran having nuclear weapons, she suggested: "Post-9/11 our philosophy should be: Raghead talks tough? Raghead faces consequences."

Her talk was the most enthusiastically received of the Conservative Political Action Conference. It was better attended than talks from Vice-President Dick Cheney, Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker who sees himself as the intellectual leader of the movement, or Lt Colonel Oliver North, a regular on the conservative speaking circuit.

Even so, there was some criticism. Challenged on her anti-Muslim remarks by Akir Khan, a young activist, she added: "OK, I make a few jokes. They killed 3,000 Americans."

Nerdified Link

Solidarity: A Meme Whose Time Has Come

In late September of last year, I came upon a post by Cernig (An Argument for a Coalition of the Left) in which he argues for some an American political movement, using Poland's Solidarity Union as a template. Over the next several days, he further fleshed out the concept (Dinosaur Democrats; American Solidarity - Time To Stand Up). Suffice it to say, I rather liked the idea (and expanded on some of my initial thoughts near the end of the first week of October). Other bloggers around the same time really dug the idea: Comments from Left Field, Shakespeare's Sister, P!, etc. We have an American Solidarity blogroll that weighs in at about a dozen bloggers from that initial spark. Not exactly huge, but memes take time to spread.

Well, it turns out that over in another corner of blogtopia, another bunch of bloggers have been discussing the Solidarity idea. A blog called I Cite has recently published a series of articles on the Solidarity idea: In Search of Solidarity -- In These Times; What the Hell is Wrong With Solidarity? (or "we are all of the rabble"); and Solidarity and the phenomenology of the picket line. Before the Law has also been riffing on the concept here and here. Long Sunday provides a Solidarity roundup of bloggers who've been discussing the concept:
And the beat goes on... And by author...
Some interesting stuff to check out. Hopefully we can get a cross-pollination of ideas going.

A Metaphor for the Bu$hCo/Cheney White House



Via There is No Blog:
It's because this story is a perfect metaphor for this administration's foreign and domestic policy. It says everything you need to know about Dick Cheney personally, and the way this entire administration operates.

[...]

In this case, Cheney and friends were killing innocent creatures who were trapped in a pen with no hope of escape.

Overeager, Cheney hunted with a shoot first, ask questions later mentality, and managed to strike his own partner, and send his friend to intensive care.

It later appears that Bush and his situation room (or so they said) had no idea what was going on on the ground there. They waited an entire day to even report the story, even though they obviously knew what happened. Hell, someone else had to force them to report the story, because they sure weren't going to unless they had to.

The official story then has Cheney blaming the victim, saying it was the victim's fault he got in Cheney's way.

It starts to become clear there was a pretty big hush-hush coverup job about it, but that the truth couldn't help but get leaked, despite the Administration's best wishes. There is even speculation that Cheney was possibly intoxicated, and not using his best intelligence before he started shooting.

And, of course, they couldn't afford to admit the truth, because the truth would probably be an impeachable offense.

Postscript to the Previous Entry

The scenario by Jack Graziano portrayed in the previous blog entry would make a good back story for a fiction writer looking for a new project. The scenario certainly has a good deal of plausibility given the current post 9/11 political climate - including the reckless criminal behavior of the current administration, the corruption and weakness found in the current Congressional leadership, and of course the cultishness displayed by Bu$hCo's followers.

Who would the protagonist or protagonists be who would dare to question the regime? What actions would that individual or individuals take, and what would lead them to act? What obstacles would they face (both external and psychological)? What means would they have at their disposal?

I imagine that a good dystopian story would leave the reader hanging. Whether the outcome for the protagonist(s) is tragic or provides some glimmer of triumph, the ending would leave the reader with more questions than answers. On the one hand, the usual formula for dystopian novels and films requires the social and political status quo to remain in place at the end. On the other hand, dystopian authors and film makers typically leave evidence of cracks in the system that point the way for an eventual overthrow.

Of course the reality is that our Constitutional republic (or what is left of it) is facing a real threat - one centered in the Oval Office and abetted by DC cronies. The potential exists in the near term for a US that is effectively a dictatorship, and one in which the government is in a state of perpetual war, in which the populace lives in a constant state of (largely free-floating) fear and anxiety, and in which the nation is in serious economic decline. Perhaps we're not there yet, but the warning signs are certainly present and have been for some time.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Shape of Things to Come?

Interesting piece from a Libertarian blog, From Reason to Freedom:

Dateline: September 12, 2008
Emergency Address and Press Conference by President George W. Bush
The Oval Office, White House

"My fellow Americans, ever since that terrible tragedy of September 11th, 2001 – we've been on the alert. Your government has taken every measure possible to secure the safety and security of all Americans – the safety and security of our Homeland.

But – as you well know – tragedy has struck again. America has suffered another terrorist attack. One unforeseen by even our best and concerted intelligence efforts. One made even more horrible by following on the anniversary of the first 9-11.

Two low grade nuclear devices were detonated yesterday in Los Angeles. Although the damage to infrastructure – roads, buildings, pipelines was minimal – the death toll was not. Seven years ago 3,000 Americans lost their lives. Twice that number of souls – 6,000 men, woman and children have perished in this heinous, cowardly and despicable attack. Thousands more are expected to follow.

We cannot – and will not - let this assault on our Homeland go unpunished. Those who have sown the wind shall now reap the wind whirl. I have ordered our Military Chiefs of Staff to draw up an appropriate but devastating response. We have credible intelligence about who the perpetrators are – but due to vital National Security concerns – I cannot share any specific information with you. That information will be shared at the appropriate time.

But, my fellow Americans, these are dark and drastic times. And drastic times demand drastic measures.

In order to combat this unprecedented threat against our great nation – unprecedented steps must be taken.

And so, effective immediately, I have issued Executive Order 1000 – General Martial Law.

Until this crisis passes – and make no mistake - pass it shall – the Constitution has been temporarily suspended. Again - make no mistake – we are still a Democracy – a Republic. But we must now be a Republic willing – and able - to defend itself.

Defend itself against enemies without conscious, without morals, without mercy.

Ruthless enemies – who have proven they will stop at nothing to bring down not only our country and our way of life – but an entire civilized society as well.

Enemies who are the personification of evil itself.

I have given authority to The Department of Homeland Security, The Department of Justice and FEMA – to coordinate with special military units and arrest and detain any and all terrorist suspects. Make no mistake - this will not be a witch hunt. We have identified those people most likely to further harm our nation – the evil doers - and we will make sure they don't get a third chance to inflict misery upon our people or our land.

Executive Order 1000 also mandates all firearms be surrendered to local, state and Federal authorities. We cannot risk these weapons falling into the hands of those whose intent is the absolute subjugation of the American people.

Further, until we are once again secure in our homes, in our streets, in our cities – a moratorium on general elections has been imposed. We cannot guarantee the safety of those exercising their right to vote. Do not be alarmed – this moratorium is just for the upcoming general election. I assure you that as soon as humanly possible – we will once again exercise our greatest franchise – the right to vote.

There are other areas covered by Executive Order 1000 – a full accounting has been given to the major news outlets. All Americans will be made aware of what to expect within the next few hours.

I have not taken these steps lightly. I have spent the better part of this day on my knees praying for Divine guidance. And I truly believe that God will lead us out of this desert of destruction and into a glorious time of peace and security.

I urge all Americans to stay calm and go about your daily business. Executive Order 1000 will have minimal effect upon the lives of most of you. Obey all legitimate orders from your local, state and Federal authorities. They are there to help - help us all find our way through these dark and tumultuous times.

I also ask every American to pray. Pray for the six thousand souls martyred for the sake of liberty. Pray for the sick and dying. Pray for our country – that we may arise from the ashes of Los Angeles better, stronger and more grateful for the blessing that God has bestowed upon our great nation. And please - pray for me – that I may have the wisdom and strength to continue my duties as your President.

Thank you – and may God Bless America!"

============================

Epilogue – Some Years Later:

Executive Order 1000 was never rescinded. The true perpetrators of the dirty bomb attack were never found. Rumors abound that it was not Islamic Terrorists – but to publicly say so is a violation of the new "Presumed Intent Laws." Statements presumed to intentionally cause harm to National Security are banned. Violations are brought before a Speech Tribunal and adjudicated without trial.

We are at constant war with Iran, Syria, North Korea, and Pakistan. Iraq is still "Occupied" and still a cause of constant concern, loss of life and financial drain.

Military conscription is mandatory. It now applies to both men and women up to the age of 40. Deferments are given only to pregnant women and mothers of young children.

Europe has essentially turned their backs on us. American embassies have been officially closed. The US Dollar trades at one fifth the Euro. The Yen trades at double the Euro.

China has annexed Taiwan. Stretched beyond their limits - the United States said little and did less. "Best not to anger a waking giant" was how it was put.

Mass detention centers have been established in Wyoming, Montana and Alaska. The right to a "fair and speedy trial" has been eliminated. Incarcerations are for the "duration at the pleasure of the government."

Owning a firearm is now a federal felony.

A new federal crime – Citizen Flight – carries the penalty of life in prison without parole. Too many of the best and brightest had packed up and moved to South America. (Which incidentally is enjoying a new renaissance of prosperity and freedom.)

Every citizen must have a valid Federal ID – presentable upon demand. Those caught without one are immediately sent to "Citizen Emergency Centers" until their identities can be ascertained.

Presidential elections have not been resumed. Congress is elected – but all candidates must first be vetted by the newly formed Executive Committee of Congressional Integrity, chaired by First Citizen Rove. Citizen Rove also oversees the inspection of all electronic voting devices – made mandatory by Executive Order.

Congress is essentially an advisory body. All laws must be approved by the Executive Branch, which now enjoys the right of final and absolute veto.

The Federal Courts exist to defend whatever edicts are pronounced from Washington. The Supreme Court no longer meets.

There's a new Cabinet Level Post – The Department of Information Control. Sean Hannity is its first Czar. All news must first pass through a complex and intensive verification process. This includes the Internet, which is now under Federal control. All ISP's must be licensed. All internet traffic is monitored. Every e-mail and web search carries a specific machine identifier, traceable to the user.

George W. Bush remains as President – but the office is now called The Unitary Executive.

The Constitution is officially what George W. called it back in 2005 – "nothing but a goddamned piece of paper."

Hail to the Chief!

I've been a huge fan of dystopian literature practically all of my literate life. Orwell's 1984 and Huxley's Brave New World are of course the classics in the genre. On film, Terry Gilliam's Brazil is top-notch. I've also really enjoyed the films Blade Runner and THX-1138.

Basically, dystopias are works of fiction that present possible alternative scenarios that contain elements of our current social and political situation, and which (hopefully) most of us would find undesirable. The lives of those portrayed in dystopian literature are often bleak and filled with terror. The models for the genre include the standard totalitarian regimes such as the former Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. Orwell's novel 1984 takes Soviet-styled society to its extreme,depicting what would have in the mid-20th century been futuristic technology as a means for maintaining control over the thought processes of the masses. Brave New World takes the eugenics movement (which was quite acceptable in "polite society" at the time Huxley wrote his book) to its logical conclusion. Dystopias, then, are a form of social commentary and serve as warnings of what might come to pass if we are not sufficiently vigilant in guarding our liberties.

Message to Hatians: Vote As You're Told & Shut Up Or Die

Via Lenin's Tomb:
11 February - The UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, hailed the election as a "significant step forward". The US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, called on all Haitian citizens to recognise the result.

Charles Arthur, director of the Haiti Support Group, said: "Despite the poor organisation of the voting process, it does seem as though most people were eventually able to cast their votes."

...

12 February - Thousands of chanting supporters of presidential candidate René Préval marched from a seaside slum past the national palace in a victory celebration Saturday as electoral officials continued counting ballots that have given Préval a wide lead. The former president had 50.3 percent of 1.3 million valid votes counted so far, with the other candidates far behind, Haiti's election council said. The winning candidate needs 50 percent plus one vote to avoid a March runoff with the second-place finisher. Nearly 1.8 million votes were cast, U.N. officials said.

...

12 February - In Cité Soleil, Haiti's largest slum and an Aristide stronghold, demonstrators ran through the streets past shanties and open sewers, waving tree branches and shouting, "Préval is our president!" They demanded a speedier vote count. Demonstrators complained about Préval's shrinking lead. He held 61 percent after the first results were released on Thursday and seemed headed toward a first-round victory. But his total dropped on Friday to 50.3 percent and to less than half on Saturday, leading some to believe elections officials were trying to fix the vote. About 7.6 percent of the ballots counted so far were rejected. In some places, the number was much higher. In the southern Nippes department, for example, 14.1 percent of ballots were spoiled, and in the Centre department, 12.9 percent. "It is suspect," said Patrick Fequière, an electoral council member who often finds himself at odds with other members. "It should be investigated."

...

12 February - According to the partial results published by the Provisional Electoral Council, Préval has obtained 49.10% of 75.81% of the valid votes cast and so far counted, and therefore does not at the moment have enough votes to be elected on the first round. His nearest challengers at present are Leslie Manigat of the Rassemblement des Démocrates Nationaux Progressistes (RDNP), who has 11.72%, and the independent candidate, Charles Baker, with 8.02%. (AlterPresse)

...

13 February - In results that critics slammed as fraudulent, René Préval, a former president and champion of the poor who is the front-runner in key presidential elections here, appeared last night to have lost the majority he needs to avoid a runoff with his closest rival. Thousands of enraged, slum-dwelling Préval supporters took to the streets of this capital city to blow horns and bang drums in protest as they shouted, "Préval on the first round!" Two members of the provisional electoral council overseeing the count from Tuesday's vote said they believed the results were being manipulated.
Some of those protesters were later shot and killed by UN "peacekeepers." Le Colonel Chabert has also been covering the unfolding electoral disaster. If the "wrong" person wins, the US would just have to engineer another coup I suppose. It's what we call "exporting democracy."

Beware of Weird Political Cult (i.e., Bu$hCo's True Believers)



Some thoughts from Glenn Greenwald:
It used to be the case that in order to be considered a "liberal" or someone "of the Left," one had to actually ascribe to liberal views on the important policy issues of the day – social spending, abortion, the death penalty, affirmative action, immigration, "judicial activism," hate speech laws, gay rights, utopian foreign policies, etc. etc. These days, to be a "liberal," such views are no longer necessary.

Now, in order to be considered a "liberal," only one thing is required – a failure to pledge blind loyalty to George W. Bush. The minute one criticizes him is the minute that one becomes a "liberal," regardless of the ground on which the criticism is based. And the more one criticizes him, by definition, the more "liberal" one is. Whether one is a "liberal" -- or, for that matter, a "conservative" -- is now no longer a function of one’s actual political views, but is a function purely of one’s personal loyalty to George Bush.

One can see this principle at work most illustratively in how Bush followers talk about Andrew Sullivan. In the couple of years after 9/11, Bush followers revered Sullivan, as he stood loyally behind Bush, providing the rhetorical justifications for almost every Bush action. And even prior to the Bush Administration, Sullivan was a fully accepted member of the conservative circle. Nobody questioned the bona fides of his conservative credentials because he ascribed to the conservative view on almost every significant political issue.

Despite not having changed his views on very many, if any, of those issues, Sullivan is now frequently called a "liberal" (at best) when he is talked about by Bush followers. What has changed are not his political views or ideological orientation. Instead, he no longer instinctively and blindly praises George Bush, but periodically, even frequently, criticizes Bush. By definition, then, he is no longer a "conservative."
Although I harbor no sympathy for Sullivan, it is quite interesting to watch the guy transformed magically into a "liberal" among the rabid right, even as his own views are no different than they were three years ago. Sully is hardly the only one to experience this treatment, as a number of other legit conservatives will attest (and as Greenwald goes on to illustrate).

And what is this new "conservatism" exactly? Greenwald characterizes it as follows:
Indeed, as many Bush followers themselves admit, the central belief of the Bush follower's "conservatism" is no longer one that ascribes to a limited federal government -- but is precisely that there ought to be no limits on the powers claimed by Bush precisely because we trust him, and we trust in him absolutely. He wants to protect us and do good. He is not our enemy but our protector. And there is no reason to entertain suspicions or distrust of him or his motives because he is Good.

[...]

The blind faith placed in the Federal Government, and particularly in our Commander-in-Chief, by the contemporary "conservative" is the very opposite of all that which conservatism has stood for for the last four decades. The anti-government ethos espoused by Barry Goldwater and even Ronald Reagan is wholly unrecognizable in Bush followers, who – at least thus far – have discovered no limits on the powers that ought to be vested in George Bush to enable him to do good on behalf of all of us.

And in that regard, people like Michelle Malkin, John Hinderaker, Jonah Goldberg and Hugh Hewitt are not conservatives. They are authoritarian cultists. Their allegiance is not to any principles of government but to strong authority through a single leader.

It is hard to describe just how extreme these individuals are. Michelle Malkin is the Heroine of the Right Blogosphere, and she believes in concentration camps. As an avid reader of Michelle’s blog, I really believe that she would be in favor of setting up camps for Muslim-Americans and/or Arab-Americans similar to the ones we had for Japanese-Americans which she praises. Has anyone ever asked her that? Could someone? I don’t mean that she would favor interning them indefinitely - just for the next few decades while the war on terrorism is resolved.

And as excessive as the Bush Administration’s measures have been thus far -- they overtly advocate the right to use war powers against American citizens on American soil even if Congress bans such measures by law -- I am quite certain that people like John Hinderaker, Jonah Goldberg and Jeff Goldstein, to name just a few, are prepared to support far, far more extreme measures than the ones which have been revealed thus far.

[...]

And the core emotions driving the Bush extremists are not hard to see. It is a driving rage and hatred – for liberals, for Muslims, for anyone who opposes George Bush. The rage and desire to destroy is palpable.

[...]

If it now places one "on the Left" to oppose unrestrained power and invasiveness asserted by the Federal Government along with lawlessness on the part of our highest government officials, so be it. The rage-based reverence for The President as Commander-in-Chief -- and the creepy, blind faith vested in his goodness -- is not a movement I recognize as being political, conservative or even American.

A movement which has as its shining lights a woman who advocates the death of her political opponents, another woman who is a proponent of concentration camps, a magazine which advocates the imprisonment of journalists who expose government actions of dubious legality, all topped off by a President who believes he has the power to secretly engage in activities which the American people, through their Congress, have made it a crime to engage in, is a movement motivated by lots of different things. Political ideology isn't one of them.
My parents are conservatives in a sort of "old school" sense - very no-nonsense, frugal, definitely conventional in their outlook. The sense I get from my conversations with them is that the GOP is no longer even recognizable to them, insofar as it has come to embrace a form of mindless leader worship at the expense of the sort of fiscally prudent limited government approach that would have once been correctly labeled conservative.

As someone of the political left, I've harbored no illusions about the Democrat party - its leadership stinks when it comes to the issues that are of importance to me. For old school conservatives (or paleocons as they seem to be known in contemporary parlance) who once identified the Republican party with their fiscal and governmental ideals, the cognitive dissonance which many must be experiencing has to be overwhelming. And while there is much on which conservatives and lefties like me would disagree, I suspect that we share plenty of common ground when it comes to the fundamentals of the Constitution, as well as a shared understanding of the importance of fiscal sustainability (I'm a lifelong deficit hawk, for example).

Today's movement "conservatives" strike me as fitting in much better with the old Soviet Union, or Chairman Mao's Cultural Revolution, or Benito Mussolini's fascism than with any form of conservatism that any of my generation would have grown up knowing.

Greenwald's follow-up post is also worth reading.

The NSA Scandal and Solidarity

Everyone -- or rather, every American -- who cares about their rights and wants to take responsibility for their own government ought to read this post by Glenn Greenwald. I agree with all of it, in principle and as a matter of strategy, but would underline the following in particular:

There are scores of prominent conservatives and conservative organizations vigorously opposed to the Administration’s actions, and every public event and campaign should include them in order to prevent this scandal from being (falsely) depicted as the by-product of liberal softness on terrorism or personal hostility towards the President. There are multiple ways to achieve this and several reasons why doing so is vitally important. . . . .

. . . . Opposition to the Administration’s law-breaking among conservatives is substantial and it is growing. And it is easy to understand why this is so – the Administration’s theories of presidential power are repugnant to many core principles of true conservatism, from the supremacy of the rule of law to the importance of restraining the powers of the Federal Government (as the Founders intended), particularly when it comes to those powers which can be wielded by the Government against American citizens.

Greenwald is also absolutely right that this is not just a marriage of convenience:

Importantly, this is not a case where liberals and conservatives arrive coincidentally at the same place despite beginning from radically different premises -- the way, say, Pat Buchanan’s isolationist theories just coincidentally lead him to the same anti-war views as certain pacifists on the Left. Here, the basis for opposition to the Administration’s action among liberals, conservatives and everyone in between comes from exactly the same set of principles and beliefs -- namely, that what is at stake in this scandal is whether America will continue to live under the principles of law and the system of government on which our country was founded and which has kept us both strong and free.

The current administration is not only advancing but acting on positions that are as close to fascism -- in the technical and not the rhetorical sense of that word -- as we have come in this country's history. There ought to be, and there can be, a popular front of people of good will from across the political spectrum to oppose it. That means we need to hold hands -- in good faith and without holding our noses -- with people with whom we otherwise vehemently disagree. It's the only hope, at least in the near term, to stop the political back-slide in which we find ourselves.
Bloggers Adam Thurschwell (of Before the Law) and Glenn Greenwald strike me as advocates of the sort of American Solidarity approach that some of us have been pushing since last fall. Image courtesy of Cernig, the cat who coined the term American Solidarity.

Stupid Quote of the Day

This one from the Washington Post:
Tomorrow it will fall to Mr. Bush to say where he stands on genocide.

Contrary to the WaPo's Editorial crew, we already know where Bush stands on genocide. In reality based on Lemkin's definition of genocide, the Bush regime's war against the Iraqis fits the bill. In fairness, of course, the current regime's actions are merely a continuation of his predecessors, Bush I and Clinton - whose efforts to disrupt the Iraqi economy, birthrate, etc. via warfare (1991) and economic sanctions were also genocidal.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Quotable: Lenin's Tomb on UK Freedom of Speech

It is just as well that this government, after forcing a woman to be jailed for the mere offense of protesting the war in the wrong place at the wrong time, has not tried to babble about 'free speech' of late. In a climate where the police have been allowed to smash up the Iqra Learning Centre bookshop in Leeds and purloin antiwar material, and where 80 year old John Catt was arrested under the Terrorism Act and handcuffed on the grounds that his t-shirt and placard contained "anti-Blair info", this government is least well-placed to mouth such vocables.

Nerdified Link

Storm Watch

The dark clouds are gathering on the horizon in DC, and the savvy weather forecaster would say it is time to be prepared for the worst. These must indeed be frightening times for those who maintain their grip on power in the White House and Congress. Bu$hCo's approval ratings are essentially Nixonian, thus making him a pariah for GOP Reps and Senators heading into the 2006 campaign season. The economic numbers are iffy at best as well, as national debt (reaching $8.2 trillion this month) and the trade deficit both continue to swell. The time when our nation's creditors will demand payment is coming, and we can all be rest assured that those creditors are increasingly impatient. Then of course there are the various scandals that have engulfed the White House and Congress. The NSA scandal has succeeded in angering Democrats and Republicans alike, suggesting the Bu$hCo regime is running into difficulty maintaining absolute control. The Abramoff lobbying scandal threatens to engulf the entire GOP. And of course the on-going Spygate investigation threatens to make its way into the headlines from time to time (including implicating Dick Cheney) - further illustrating the culture of corruption that poisons DC. Heaven forbid that we unwashed masses actually focus our attention on any of the above. Instead, it is imperative that our favorite neoconmen divert our attention.

What better way than another war? This time Iran is the target. Here's a roundup of some of the latest:

From the right-wing London Telegraph:

Strategists at the Pentagon are drawing up plans for devastating bombing raids backed by submarine-launched ballistic missile attacks against Iran's nuclear sites as a "last resort" to block Teheran's efforts to develop an atomic bomb. Central Command and Strategic Command planners are identifying targets, assessing weapon-loads and working on logistics for an operation, the Sunday Telegraph has learnt. They are reporting to the office of Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary, as America updates plans for action if the diplomatic offensive fails to thwart the Islamic republic's nuclear bomb ambitions. Teheran claims that it is developing only a civilian energy programme. "This is more than just the standard military contingency assessment," said a senior Pentagon adviser. "This has taken on much greater urgency in recent months."
From the London Times:

Neoconservatives in Washington are urging President George W Bush to drop diplomacy with Iran in favour of boosting internal dissent and opposition forces within the Islamic regime. In an open breach with White House policy, they argue the multilateral diplomacy pursued by Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state, is encouraging the Iranians to snub the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and develop a nuclear bomb under cover of a peaceful energy programme. Michael Rubin, a Middle East expert at the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute in Washington, said: "The United States doesn't have a policy on Iran. We should be looking for a way to address the people of the country."
From Kurt Nimmo:

As former CIA intelligence analyst Philip Giraldi told the American Conservative last July, the United States plans to nuke the be-jesus out of Iran. “The Pentagon, acting under instructions from Vice President Dick Cheney’s office, has tasked the United States Strategic Command (STRATCOM) with drawing up a contingency plan to be employed in response to another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United States. The plan includes a large-scale air assault on Iran employing both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons.” All of this despite the fact Iran is a non-nuclear country, a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and working with the IAEA, although the latter reported Iran to the UN Security Council last week. So itchy is the Pentagon to use nukes against non-nuke countries, they wrote the “policy” in their “Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations” (pdf doc).
“Senator Joe Lieberman, a Democrat, [said] Mr. Bush is expected to be faced by the decision [to criminally bomb Iran] within two years.” More balderdash—the United States plans to bomb Iran next month, or soon thereafter. It wants Iran wasted sooner before later. Last week Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of the Liberal Democrats in Russia, told the Ekho Moskvy radio station “that the Muslim [cartoon] riots were orchestrated by the US to garner European backing for the military strike” and the “war is inevitable because the Americans want this war. Any country claiming a leading position in the world will need to wage wars. Otherwise it will simply not be able to retain its leading position,” as well spelled out by the PNAC maniacs who have captured the flag in Washington.

Is the propaganda effort working? Apparently it is, as Jim Lobe notes (although our propagandists still have a way to go before they consider their efforts a complete success:
"Americans are telling us that they would prefer we pack our bags and leave Iraq now, and yet they appear ready to do some damage to Iran if it proceeds with its nuclear program," said John Zogby, president of the polling firm, Zogby International, which released a survey last week in which nearly half of the respondents (47 percent) said they favored military action, preferably along with European allies, to halt Iran's nuclear program.

[...]

Nonetheless, the latest poll, released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, found that some 27 percent of respondents cite Iran as Washington's greatest menace – three times the percentage who ranked it at the top of foreign threats just four months ago.
The same survey, which polled 1,500 adults during the first week of February, also found that nearly three in four (72 percent) believed Tehran was "likely" to launch attacks on Israel if it obtained nuclear weapons. An even higher percentage (82 percent) said they believed the Iranian government would likely transfer nuclear weapons to terrorists.
The latest results strongly suggest that the combination of belligerent declarations by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; Tehran's defiance of European appeals not to resume its uranium enrichment activities; and efforts by Israel and its allies here to mobilize international and U.S. opinion has moved the Islamic Republic to the center of the public's foreign-policy consciousness.
This shift in some ways echoes how the hawks in the administration of President George W. Bush focused the public's post-9/11 fears on former President Saddam Hussein in the yearlong run-up to the Iraq invasion in March 2003.
Out on the plains, experience teaches us that storms that appear distant often don't stay distant for long, and depending on the season we could be looking at an impending blizzard or tornadoes. Likewise, the atmosphere in DC is very unstable, and between now and November (if not sooner) much could happen. A hard rain's gonna fall - and it doesn't take a weatherman to tell you that.

On the asymmetry of freedom of speech

Riffing on some words by Mickey Z and Lenin's Tomb with regard to the issue of the racist Danish political cartoons and the aftermath:

The above writers effectively summarize an on-going phenomenon: some free speech is "more free" than others. Whether or not one's "freedom of speech" will be respected (or even heard) depends on what side of the social, economic, and cultural divide one happens to occupy. Those in the dominant culture are given primacy whereas those who are minorities or oppressed majorities are to be ignored.

One means of ignoring the discourse of those designated as Others is to simply prevent it from appearing in mainstream media - a simple enough solution that can be handled at the editorial level.

Or, in order to appear "fair and balanced," the Others' comments and complaints about the dominant group may be presented but in a distorted fashion. Although there are plenty of individuals who can and do voice rational concerns regarding the Israeli government's treatment of the Palestinians (as well as the legitimacy of the current Israeli state more generally), it better serves those in power to focus on the rantings of Holocaust deniers and those who threaten to "wipe Israel off the map." By limiting expose to Others' viewpoints in this manner, members of the mainstream are enabled to form and maintain stereotyped images of the Others.

When all else fails, of course, the individuals charged with maintaining the status quo can resort to patronizing and dismissive retorts to the Others' legitimate complaints. Whenever I read or hear the term "politically correct" (and its variants) as a means of describing the issues raised by those in minority and oppressed groups, I immediately recognize the term as code signifying that these groups' issues are not deemed "worthy" of discussion.

It should go without saying that those who belong to the privileged groups are not so constrained. Complaints, stereotypes, and threats of violence are all considered acceptable (or at in the case of my more "liberal-minded" peers tolerated) as long as the targets are on the other side of the social, economic, and cultural divide. Membership, it seems, has its advantages.

Yet even for those who belong to one of the privileged groups, there are limitations imposed upon freedom of speech. One who dares criticize the practices deemed mainstream or who makes an honest effort to understand and draw attention to the issues raised by those "savage" Others will experience largely the same treatment experienced by the Others. Even worse, that individual will be accused of being a traitor (to one's race, class, religion, country) for his or her efforts.

As much as I consider myself a strong free speech advocate, I think it is crucial that those benefiting from the privileges of membership in the so-called mainstream realize that the so-called market place of ideas is more of an oligarchy than a free market. Once one has that epiphany, one then has the responsibility of seeking out, listening to, and understanding those viewpoints that have been shut out.

The Banality of Evil in a Couple Sentences

"Transfer Tube"

That's the new Bush Administration euphemism for "body bag." Really.

Nerdified Link
Nothing terribly novel about that term...I've seen it used before over the last couple years. It is useful though to point this exemplar out as a way of demonstrating the lengths to which the regime will go to in order to sanitize the war's consequences. The use of jargon (such as "transfer tubes" instead of "body bags") is but one means to that end.

The Next War

For more than half a century, Britain and the US have menaced Iran. In 1953, the CIA and MI6 overthrew the democratic government of Muhammed Mossadeq, an inspired nationalist who believed that Iranian oil belonged to Iran. They installed the venal shah and, through a monstrous creation called Savak, built one of the most vicious police states of the modern era. The Islamic revolution in 1979 was inevitable and very nasty, yet it was not monolithic and, through popular pressure and movement from within the elite, Iran has begun to open to the outside world - in spite of having sustained an invasion by Saddam Hussein, who was encouraged and backed by the US and Britain.

At the same time, Iran has lived with the real threat of an Israeli attack, possibly with nuclear weapons, about which the "international community" has remained silent. Recently, one of Israel's leading military historians, Martin van Creveld, wrote: "Obviously, we don't want Iran to have nuclear weapons and I don't know if they're developing them, but if they're not developing them, they're crazy."

It is hardly surprising that the Tehran regime has drawn the "lesson" of how North Korea, which has nuclear weapons, has successfully seen off the American predator without firing a shot. During the cold war, British "nuclear deterrent" strategists argued the same justification for arming the nation with nuclear weapons; the Russians were coming, they said. As we are aware from declassified files, this was fiction, unlike the prospect of an American attack on Iran, which is very real and probably imminent.

Blair knows this. He also knows the real reasons for an attack and the part Britain is likely to play. Next month, Iran is scheduled to shift its petrodollars into a euro-based bourse. The effect on the value of the dollar will be significant, if not, in the long term, disastrous. At present the dollar is, on paper, a worthless currency bearing the burden of a national debt exceeding $8trn and a trade deficit of more than $600bn. The cost of the Iraq adventure alone, according to the Nobel Prizewinning economist Joseph Stiglitz, could be $2trn. America's military empire, with its wars and 700-plus bases and limitless intrigues, is funded by creditors in Asia, principally China.

That oil is traded in dollars is critical in maintaining the dollar as the world's reserve currency. What the Bush regime fears is not Iran's nuclear ambitions but the effect of the world's fourth-biggest oil producer and trader breaking the dollar monopoly. Will the world's central banks then begin to shift their reserve holdings and, in effect, dump the dollar? Saddam Hussein was threatening to do the same when he was attacked.

While the Pentagon has no plans to occupy all of Iran, it has in its sights a strip of land that runs along the border with Iraq. This is Khuzestan, home to 90 per cent of Iran's oil. "The first step taken by an invading force," reported Beirut's Daily Star, "would be to occupy Iran's oil-rich Khuzestan Province, securing the sensitive Straits of Hormuz and cutting off the Iranian military's oil supply." On 28 January the Iranian government said that it had evidence of British undercover attacks in Khuzestan, including bombings, over the past year. Will the newly emboldened Labor MPs pursue this? Will they ask what the British army based in nearby Basra - notably the SAS - will do if or when Bush begins bombing Iran? With control of the oil of Khuzestan and Iraq and, by proxy, Saudi Arabia, the US will have what Richard Nixon called "the greatest prize of all."

Nerdified Link
Keep this all in mind as the calls for some form of military action against Iran grow louder in the coming weeks & months.