Pacific Free Press

Opinion

The Republic’s Barn is full of Broken Pottery.

by Art James

The geese heard the barbarians scaling the gate-wall while the guard-dogs slept.
…it offended his conscience to make a little money by sending to the slaughter-house an ox which had long been in his service.

-Plutarch, Life of Cato.


(This is a reluctant continuation from my last Studebaker classified post. An anonymous phone caller requested my address)*

To be the recipient of an insult is disgraceful; to return one is honorable. The contempt, cruelties, and prevarication of our day—rival any argument I know. There are many reproachable traits we observe in wartime which is abominable. Once, for instance, in our more innocent daily land-lover affairs, we may have been kicked black, red, and blue by a beast mule. That kind of assault is accepted without feeling serious insult.   If we consider the source of the brunt-kick; healing will come with time. Avenging insult of certain kinds, it’s wise to ignore.  When human-tyrants use base and beastly powers to butcher, destroy cities where innocent citizens dwell, and defile written words, such as: democracy, freedom, and justice…to horde capital, it’s best to Address it.
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  • Written by Winter Patriot

Happy 65th Birthday -- Now Will You Please Retire?

Sixty-five years ago today, on December 7th, 1941, Japanese pilots bombed the American naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.


World War II had started more than two years earlier. But -- prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor -- America was having none of it. Remembering World War I, most Americans were anxious to avoid a repeat performance.

 

Having cracked the Japanese codes, American "leaders" knew the attack was coming, but they had no interest in preventing it.

Instead they moved all their carriers out to sea, left a few rusty old battleships in port, and manned those ships with thousands of sailors -- whose lives would be sacrificed for policy considerations. The aim was to produce a catalyzing event, after which it would be easy to lead the American people into another foreign war.

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  • Written by Mike Whitney

The Rumsfeld Memo: “I was just about to change everything….Really!?!”

by Mike Whitney

By now, everyone has heard about Rumsfeld’s memo. It was leaked to the New York Times supposedly without Rumsfeld’s knowledge. It makes the case that Rumsfeld was just about to make major changes in Iraq because he could see that the strategy wasfailing and hadcreateda disaster.

Everything about the memo reeks of deception. In fact, the Times even admits that, “Rumsfeld may have been trying to shape the coming discussion and present himself as open to ‘change’”.

Why?

Because, according to the article, “President Bush interviewed Texas A&M University President Robert Gates as a potential successor to Rumsfeld a day before the midterm elections.”
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Voices Carry: Metaphysics as a Guide to Murder

by Chris Floyd

Below is a reprise from June 2003, which appeared on CounterPunch and in my Moscow Times column, a piece that was not included in the Empire Burlesque book. It is a general argument that tries, briefly, to get at some of the deeper issues underlying the bedevilments of the age, which, as noted below, are by no means exclusive to our modern times.


We meant no offense to any Christian readers with our recent blast at the crude fundamentalism now riding herd on the American government and large swathes of American society as well ("Devil's Advocate," Counterpunch, May 31, 2003). We realize that it is not the fault of Jesus Christ or even the Apostle Paul – that seminal master of marketing who repackaged Jesus' harsh and quirky parochial ascetism into a handy one-size-fits-all panacea for existential ills – that fanatics like Bush and Company believe there is only one immutable Truth about reality, which they just happen to possess.

It is, of course, the fault of Plato, whose poetic fantasy of a changeless Perfection behind the messiness of physical existence infected the Western mind with the germ of ideological intolerance. For if Perfect Truth exists, then it can be known, and once known, it must necessarily be acknowledged as the sole measure, explanation and arbiter of "all of life and all of history," as Mr. Bush likes to say.

With Plato begins the slow death of the old gods: those powerful evocations who in their conflicts and contradictions, their lusts and doubts, their recklessness, sorrows, tempers – and manifold imperfections – surely embodied the seething chaos of human reality far better than the degraded Platonic idealism adopted by the Pauline Christians. We leave aside here Jesus' ethical teachings, which despite millennia of lip service have never been adopted or even taken seriously by any society throughout history – although a few of Paul's more cranky notions about sex and obedience (especially his ever-popular injunction, "Slaves, obey your masters!") have been enthusiastically embraced by Western rulers since the days of the murderous Constantine the Great down to our present age, presided over by the warmongering Christian Coalition of Bush and Blair. Add a comment

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  • Written by Dave Lindorff

Abu-Jamal Case at Third Circuit, Prosecutor Admits He Had No "True Defense"

by Dave Lindorff
It's been 25 years now since Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner was shot dead in a Center City, Philadelphia red-light district. Since then, Faulkner has become a rallying point for the nation's death penalty advocates. It's been 25 years, too, since the man convicted of killing Faulkner, Philadelphia radio journalist and former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal, was arrested for the crime at the scene. Since July 1982, Abu-Jamal has been in solitary confinement on Philadelphia's death row, from hich lonely spot he has become a world-famous prison journalist, and a rallying point for those opposed to capital punishment.

The debates over Abu-Jamal's guilt or innocence have raged now for an astonishing quarter of a century, through the presidencies of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Battles have raged, too, within the loose-knit group of people who have backed Abu-Jamal, between those who argue that he is an innocent man, a political prisoner condemned for his politics, and those who simply argue that he never received a fair trial. Politicians at the local, state and even federal level, many without any real knowledge about this complex case, have prostituted themselves by pressing for Abu-Jamal's execution, while others, sometimes equally ignorant of the facts, have lionized him and honored him with honorary citizenships and street names.

Whatever one's views on this case, however, the reality is that it for the first time in 25 years, Abu-Jamal is finally going to get a chance in the second highest court in the land to make the case that his 1982 trial was fatally tainted by unconstitutional error, judicial bias, race-based jury selection and prosecutorial misconduct. The reality also is that the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which will be hearing arguments on Abu-Jamal's appeal early next year (barring any unanticipated delays), could conceivably end up ordering a new trial for Abu-Jamal--a trial that, because of better defense counsel, a changed political climate, shifting demographics, the deaths of some witnesses, and the likelihood of new defense witnesses, would most likely end up setting him free, or having him released for time served. At the same time, the same three-judge panel hearing this appeal will also be considering a counter appeal by the Philadelphia District Attorney's office, which seeks to overturn a lower Federal District Court decision which five years ago tossed out Abu-Jamal's death sentence. So at the same time that the Third Circuit could end up giving Abu-Jamal a new chance to prove his innocence, or at least to leave prison a free man, it could ironically also end up sending him back onto death row and to a date with the needle.
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  • Written by Mickey Z

Don't expect U.S. to create democracy in Iraq (lessons from Greece)

by Mickey Z.

It would be nice to believe that the U.S./British invasion of Iraq may have been horribly mishandled but the motivation behind it was sincere. After all, it's a timeless classic: toss out a depot and introduce democracy. However, even the most perfunctory glance at previous U.S./British ventures would promptly expose the lies. An excellent example is post-WWII Greece.

Before the (so-called) Good War, Greece was a right-wing monarchy and dictatorship, but German occupation gave birth to a civil war. The National Liberation Front (EAM), an extremely popular left-wing group, and the People's Liberation Army, the guerilla resistance wing of EAM, gained the support of the masses and were largely responsible for Greece being relatively Nazi-free by the time the British army arrived in late 1944. Viewing EAM's early support by the Greek Communist Party and its tendency towards unrealistic slogans like education for the illiterate and welcoming women as soldiers as a precursor of what post-war Greece may be like, a British army of intervention promptly stepped in to restore the right-wing dictatorship.

In response to the inevitable jailing and repression of regime opponents and trade union leaders, a left-wing guerilla movement sprang forth. By the fall of 1946, this friction led to civil war. Great Britain, no longer able to extend itself globally, was unable to handle the rebellion and called on the U.S. for help. "Thus it was," explains author William Blum, "that the historic task of preserving all that is decent and good in Western Civilization passed into the hands of the United States."
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  • Written by William A. Cook

An Open Letter to the New Congress - Investing in Hate: America’s Support of Israel

by William A. Cook

“[It] is wrong to suggest that the Jewish people would support a government in Israel or anywhere else that institutionalizes ethnically based suppression, and Democrats reject that allegation vigorously.”

Nancy Pelosi


One might hope that the newly elected Democrats that constitute the majority in both houses would be able to think for themselves on the issue of Israeli apartheid and not be led by the prejudicial opinion of their presumed House leader. Pelosi’s statement denies the reality that exists in Israel now on two counts: first, she denies the reality of the present government in Israel because with Olmert’s acceptance of Avigdor Lieberman and his Yisrael Beiteinu party into his government, he, and therefore his government, has acknowledged what this man and his party endorse, the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their land and the denial of citizenship of Palestinians living in Israel; secondly, she denies the reality of the Jewish state’s “Declaration of Independence,” as noted by Dr. Uri Davis in his work, Apartheid Israel, “The Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel – known as Israel’s Declaration of Independence – does not declare Israel an independent State, nor does it declare Israel a sovereign State, it rather declares Israel a Jewish State … the Jewish State in the political Zionist sense of the term was to be an apartheid state.” Dr. Davis’ work records the acts of “ethnic cleansing of the majority of the native indigenous Palestinian Arab people from the territories that came under the control of the Israeli army and razing some 400 Palestinian rural and urban localities to the ground …” and the plantation of Jewish settlements and subsequent annexation by the State in “violation of both the UN Charter and of international law.” Add a comment

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  • Written by Tom Engelhardt

Tomgram: Biking with Donald Rumsfeld - Rumsfeld's Last Stand

by Tom Engelhardt

Last week, someone slipped New York Times reporters Michael R. Gordon and David S. Cloud the secret memo finished by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld just two days before he "resigned." It was the last in a flurry of famed Rumsfeldian "snowflakes" that have fluttered down upon the Pentagon these past years. This one, though, was "submitted" to the White House and clearly meant for the President's eyes. In it, the Secretary of Defense offered a veritable laundry list of possible policy adjustments in Iraq, adding up to what, according to Gordon and Cloud, is both an acknowledgement of failure and "a major course correction."

Think of this last zany, only semi-coherent Rumsfeldian document -- part of Washington's grim ongoing silly season over Iraq -- as Rumsfeld's last stand. In it, he quite literally cycles (as in bicycles) back to the origins of the Bush administration's shredded Iraq policy. It is, in a pathetic sense, that policy stripped bare.

Here are just three last-stand aspects of the memo that have been largely or totally overlooked in most reporting:

1. "Begin modest withdrawals of U.S. and Coalition forces (start ‘taking our hand off the bicycle seat'), so Iraqis know they have to pull up their socks, step up and take responsibility for their country."


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  • Written by William Bowles

Capitalism first – climate last

by William Bowles

I think it should be pretty clear to all by now that regardless that the ruling elites of the planet know what’s in store for humanity, they do not intend to take the necessary steps to reverse the slide toward chaos. Yeah sure, lots of hot air to add to an already over-heated atmosphere but no steps of any consequence.

In fact, the actions of our ruling elites over the past decades have been the major contributor to the increasing immiseration and desperation of much of the world’s population, let alone the on-going destruction of our ecosphere. And the two conditions are inextricably intertwined, for it is only because of the increased exploitation of people and planet through the misnamed globalisation that we have arrived at our current predicament.

Yet in spite of what we now know is the inevitable end-product of out-of-control production and consumption, they still maintain that we can have our cake and eat it, or more precisely, that they can.

So what does this tell us about the gangsters who control our economies? There are only two conclusions one can come to:

One, they think they can survive using their wealth and technological power to survive relatively intact as a class or two, they don’t give a damn as long as they can continue to make a profit, today.
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  • Written by Mickey Z

Don't let Dick Cheney read your palm

by Mickey Z.

As predictions go, it wasn't exactly Broadway Joe Namath guaranteeing victory before Super Bowl III. Vice President Dick Cheney, on the March 16, 2003 edition of Meet the Press, famously declared:

"From the standpoint of the Iraqi people, my belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators."

Earlier this year, Cheney announced on Face the Nation:

"I'm not in the business of making predictions,"

but the Veep was once again showing off his problematic prognostication skills on Meet the Press by September.

"I don't expect that Nancy Pelosi will be speaker," he prophesied. "I think we're doing very well out there. I feel better about the election now than I did three months ago ... I-if I had to bet today, I'd bet that-well, I can bet you a dinner that we hold both houses."
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  • Written by Norman Solomon

Media Sham for Iraq War -- It’s Happening Again

By Norman Solomon

The lead-up to the invasion of Iraq has become notorious in the annals of American journalism. Even many reporters, editors and commentators who fueled the drive to war in 2002 and early 2003 now acknowledge that major media routinely tossed real journalism out the window in favor of boosting war.

But it’s happening again.

The current media travesty is a drumbeat for the idea that the U.S. war effort must keep going. And again, in its news coverage, the New York Times is a bellwether for the latest media parade to the cadence of the warfare state.

During the run-up to the invasion, news stories repeatedly told about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction while the Times and other key media outlets insisted that their coverage was factually reliable. Now the same media outlets insist that their coverage is analytically reliable.

Instead of authoritative media information about aluminum tubes and mobile weapons labs, we’re now getting authoritative media illumination of why a swift pullout of U.S. troops isn’t realistic or desirable. The result is similar to what was happening four years ago -- a huge betrayal of journalistic responsibility.
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  • Written by Mike Whitney

Another Bloodbath in Lebanon?

by Mike Whitney

 â€œThe Lebanese government has nearly doubled the size of its security forces in recent months by adding about 11,000 mostly Sunnis and Christian troops, and has armed them with weapons and vehicles donated by the UAE, a Sunni state.”

(Lebanon Builds Up Security Forces, Megan Stack, LA Times)


“The army’s conclusion is that a war in the near future is a reasonable possibility….the IDF’s operative assumption is that during the coming summer months, a war will break out against Hezbollah and perhaps against Syria as well.” Ha’aretz editorial

When Hezbollah puts a million people on the streets of Beirut, it doesn’t appear on the front page of the New York Times. That spot is reserved for Bush’s “made-in-Washington” extravaganzas like the Cedar, Orange or Rose revolutions. Those bogus revolutions were cooked up in American think tanks and engineered by US NGOs; that’s why they got headline coverage in the Times. The Beirut demonstrations don’t promote the political agenda of the America’s ruling elite, so they’re stuck on page 8 where they’ll be ignored.

Some things never change. Add a comment

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  • Written by Andrew Bard Schmookler

The Democrats and the Anti-Bushite Movement: How This Important Alliance Should Work

by Andrew Bard Schmookler


The most important task facing America now, after the election, is the same as it was before the election: it is to discredit the Bushite forces in the eyes of the American people, to drive the Bushites from power, and to repair the damage that those dark forces have done to America and to the world.

For the achievement of these goals, the Democrats in Congress and the anti-Bushite movement are natural allies. And how well both sides of this alliance manage their relationship, and perform their complementary roles, will be one important determinant of how successfully this task is accomplished. Add a comment

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  • Written by Joel S. Hirschhorn

Honest Centrism for Populist Democracy

by Joel S. Hirschhorn

The United States has lost its center through destructive centrifugal politics. America seems spinning out of control. It has become a non-populist, dollar-driven, elitist democracy. Centrism can be a powerful metaphor and tool for national renewal, if it is also populist. In the world of politics, language is used to deceive, distract and divide. Some words become so abused that they lose meaning. In recent years, enormous numbers of liberals and Democrats decided to hide under the label of “progressive.” Many politicians want to be seen as “moderates.” A newer subterfuge is “centrist.”

Manipulative Centrism


Someone wrote this on a blog discussion: “Centrism is an empty, contentless label that by its very nature is without substance or ideology. What is the centrist position on heathcare reform, half way between the left and right? What is its position on defense spending, ditto? Someone, please, tell me what centrism is?” It was a good point and question.

Centrism sounds reasonable. But it has been abused. Many people see centrism as some middle ground between the liberal-Democratic and conservative-Republican ends of the political spectrum, some way to achieve balance and avoid extremes. By shunning these polarizing positions it is hoped that a moderate, middle of the road or “third way” stance is created. But centrism may be nothing more than empty compromises of positions from each of the two major parties. It too easily becomes a diffuse, ambiguous mishmash of positions that say little about where someone stands in terms of absolute principles. Indeed, many find centrism attractive because it is malleable and flexible, allowing whatever seems pragmatic at the time. This makes centrism vulnerable to abuse by those seeking a popular political brand that is not burdened by adherence to clear principles. For the most part, centrism has been empty political rhetoric, but it can be re-powered.  Add a comment

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  • Written by Rod Amis

GLOBAL*BEAT

by Rod Amis

Philippe Diaz's "The Empire in Africa" (trailer), which premieres in theatres across in the United States on 8 December, is a troubling, highly graphic and enlightening film about the civil wars that ravaged Sierra Leone for over a decade. "The Empire in Africa" serves as a poignant counterpoint to the Hollywood vehicle "Blood Diamond" which will be released in US theatres the same day. Diaz's film, a documentary, is so powerful that after its French language version was played during Critic's Week at the Cannes Film Festival, India - the country contributing the second largest contingent of "peace-keeping" forces in Sierra Leone – withdrew its participation in the effort.

Unlike "Blood Diamond," an action film and garnering Oscar buzz because it features Leonardo DiCaprio, "The Empire in Africa" puts the onus for the bloodletting, the near-genocide, in Sierra Leone squarely at the feet of the United Nations and the "international community" led by the United States and the United Kingdom. The film is a co-production of Sceneries Europe Production in association with Action Against Hunger and Cinema Libre Studio. It is produced, directed and edited by Philippe Diaz and narrated by musician and activist Richie Havens. Among the awards already received by the film are:
  • Grand Jury Prize, Best Documentary – Slamdance Film Festival, Park City, Utah, USA
  • Grand Prize – African Film Festival, Montreal, CANADA
  • Most Powerful Film – One World Film Festival, CZECHOSLOVAKIA
  • Best Documentary – Hollywood Film Festival, Los Angeles, CA, USA
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  • Written by Tom Engelhardt

Tomgram: De la Vega, A Predisposition to Invade

by Tom Engelhardt

[Note: For those in the Santa Barbara area in California, Elizabeth de la Vega will be speaking on December 10th at a rally, one of many events being organized around the country for Human Rights (and Impeachment) Day. She'll be on stage with Ann Wright, Dennis Loo, and David Swanson (who also writes for Tomdispatch.com) among others. For more on this event and others that day visit Swanson's AfterDowningStreet.org website.]


With the presentation of the first day of grand jury testimony from former federal prosecutor Elizabeth de la Vega's new book, United States v. George W. Bush et al., the case against the top officials of the Bush administration for defrauding the American people into war in Iraq comes to a provisional end at Tomdispatch. What the Bush administration did, De la Vega argued in "A Fraud Worse than Enron", Part 1 of her series at this site, was a crime, conceptually similar to the Enron case and should be treated as such. It was, in fact, nothing less than the Enronization of American foreign policy. It was also a crime for which there should be actual legal culpability and so, in part 2 of her series, she produced a hypothetical indictment for fraud against the main actors in the case, just as she had, over her career, presented numerous fraud indictments to grand juries.

Today, "FBI Special Agent Linda Campbell" begins to lay out that case for fraud by discussing the administration's "predisposition to invade Iraq." Those of you who want to read De la Vega's brilliantly argued full case against George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, and Colin Powell should promptly purchase a copy of her book either at Amazon, at the website of the independent publisher, Seven Stories Press, or at your local independent bookstore.

De la Vega's superb book, like the testimony of "FBI Special Agent Linda Campbell" below, is fiction of a high order, based on a deep knowledge of exactly what the Bush administration did to us and how they did it. What happens next is, in truth, in the hands of the same American people who were scammed by this administration. Only history will tell us the results.

Tom


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  • Written by Mel Seesholtz

When religion loses its credibility,” dogmatic sophistry is sure to follow

By Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D.

“When religion loses its credibility” was the title of a USA Today article by Christian writer Oliver Thomas. The article’s lead posed the question: “Galileo was persecuted for revealing what we now know to be the truth regarding Earth’s place in our solar system. Today, the issue is homosexuality, and the persecution is not of one man but of millions. Will Christian leaders once again be on the wrong side of history?”

Mr. Thomas rephrased and answered the question:

What if Christian leaders are wrong about homosexuality? I suppose, much as a newspaper maintains its credibility by setting the record straight, church leaders would need to do the same:

Correction: Despite what you might have read, heard or been taught throughout your churchgoing life, homosexuality is, in fact, determined at birth and is not to be condemned by God's followers.

Based on a few recent headlines, we won’t be seeing that admission anytime soon…
Religion’s only real commodity, after all, is its moral authority. Lose that, and we lose our credibility. Lose credibility, and we might as well close up shop.
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