by Chris Floyd
Ordinarily, the elevation of a gaggle of corporate bagmen, spine-free time-servers and craven accomplices of tyranny and aggression to the control of Congress would not be a cause for rejoicing. With a few notable exceptions, the Democratic Party has displayed nothing but cowardice and cluelessness over the past five years, betraying the interests of the American people at every single gut-check point in the long march to the self-proclaimed "Unitary Executive" dictatorship of George W. Bush. Whenever it really counted â€“ Supreme Court nominations, tax cuts for the rich, the class-warfare nuclear bomb of the Bankruptcy Bill, the appointment of sleazy, third-rate officials such as torture-enabler and Constitution-gutter Alberto Gonzales to high office, and of course, the eager goose-stepping into the war crime of Iraq (which was, let us remember, approved by a Democratic-controlled Senate) â€“ the Democrats folded, would not even go down fighting.
Is there any greater example of this than the vote, just a few weeks ago, on the "Military Commissions Act," the republic-killing measure that gave the president virtually unlimited, unchecked, unappealable powers over the life and liberty of every citizen? The Democratic "leadership" â€“ now suddenly basking in media lionization â€“ would not even mount a filibuster to defend the Constitution (not to mention the Magna Carta). Many Democrats actually voted in favor of ending the American Republic. (Harold Ford Jr. of Tennessee was one of these â€“ and now he has reaped his reward: defeat. That's how it goes, Harold; you can make a deal with the devil, but he'll always cheat you in the end. You sold out the nation for nothing â€“ and now Bob Corker, yet another feckless, faceless, money-grubbing tycoon will pollute the Senate chamber.) The MCA debacle was the last full measure of fear and servility from a group whose collective record is one long tissue of shame.
And yet, and yetâ€¦this is indeed a time â€“ a brief, brief time â€“ for celebration. For the fact remains that the Republican Congress is â€“ as Matt Taibbi has detailed so forcefully â€“ the worst in American history: corrupt, incompetent, dysfunctional, lazy, and ignorant almost beyond measuring. As often mentioned here, they are the very picture of the Roman Senate described by Tiberius, after they'd voted him yet another grovelling set of honors and powers: "Men fit to be slaves." The damage they have done to the nation, and the world, as the bootlicking handmaidens of George W. Bush and his militarist mafia is incalculable, and will go on producing foul repercussions for years, perhaps generations.
By Norman Solomon
Saddam Hussein has received a death sentence for crimes he committed more than a year before Donald Rumsfeld shook his hand in Baghdad. Letâ€™s reach back into history and extract these facts:
* On Dec. 20, 1983, the Washington Post reported that Rumsfeld â€œvisited Iraq in what U.S. officials said was an attempt to bolster the already improving U.S. relations with that country.â€
* Two days later, the New York Times cited a â€œsenior American officialâ€ who â€œsaid that the United States remained ready to establish full diplomatic relations with Iraq and that it was up to the Iraqis.â€
* On March 29, 1984, the Times reported: â€œAmerican diplomats pronounce themselves satisfied with relations between Iraq and the United States and suggest that normal diplomatic ties have been restored in all but name.â€ Washington had some goodies for Saddamâ€™s regime, the Times account noted, including â€œagricultural-commodity credits totaling $840 million.â€ And while â€œno results of the talks have been announcedâ€ after the Rumsfeld visit to Baghdad three months earlier, â€œWestern European diplomats assume that the United States now exchanges some intelligence on Iran with Iraq.â€
â€œJust a few days ago the US Treasury rported that the net capital inflows from the rest of the world into the US fell for a 6th month in a row. Private from abroad fell to $34.7 billion in August and from $72.9 billion in July. Asian central banks made up for the shortfall. If they hadnâ€™t the current account deficit would have exploded. The NY Times quoted Ashraf Laidi, a currency analyst at MG Financial Group as saying, â€œforeign central banks saved the dollar from disaster. The stability of the bond market is at thee mercy of Asian purchases of US Treasuries.â€Add a comment
by Dave Lindorff
Here's the way to look at the Election Day outcome: If the U.S. were a parliamentary democracy, Bush would be history. Our self-proclaimed "war president" has lost a vote of confidence, not by the members of his party, but by the people of the United States.
Of course, we don't live in a parliamentary democracy, so weâ€™re still stuck with the same megalomaniacal leader, even though the control of the Congress appears to be passing to the opposition party. (As of this writing, the new House will be firmly in the hands of the Democrats by a bigger margin than the current House is in the hands of Republicans, and the Senate appears headed towards Democratic control also, albeit by the narrowest of margins: 1 Lieberman.)
So the question is: what next?
By Shepherd Bliss
I try not to think about torture. Then I read the following: Vice-President Dick Cheney apparently defends it, a U.S. soldier who objects to interrogation techniques commits suicide, articles with titles like â€œTortureâ€™s Not So Bad, If Itâ€™s Done for a War Worth Fighting,â€ and Chilean Gen. Augusto Pinochet was recently arrested and charged with torture.
Feelings about close friends tortured over thirty years ago in Chile rush in. Unfortunately, my experiences with U.S.-supported torture have been quite direct and specific.
To most people, torture is just an idea, probably abstract and distant. Not to me. Hearing the word, I feel, rather than think. I rememberâ€¦a sharp pain rises in my stomach.
by Mickey Z
The coast-to-coast mall known as America just loves to sing the praises of its revolutionary heroes-the land-owning white slaveholders affectionately called "Founding Fathers." But America, the land of denial, would rather ignore the revolutionary roots and spirit behind its birth. In other words, if pamphleteer Tom Paine were around today, well, he might not be around today. Can you say "enemy combatant"?
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We are often told actions speak louder than words but the life of Thomas Paine (1737-1809) tells a different story. Born in England, Paine eventually found a home as resident radical in the Colonies. His mutinous pamphlet, "Common Sense," was written anonymously, published in January 1776, and promptly read by every single member of Congress.
Time out: Every member of Congress read "Common Sense" (Insert your own punch line here).
As the dominant corporate media in the US made sure
everyone in the country would know just ahead of the
mid-term congressional elections here, Saddam Hussein
was convicted of crimes against humanity on November 5
for his involvement in the killing of 148 Shia men in
al-Dujail village after a failed assassination attempt
against him there in 1982. The Supreme Iraqi Criminal
(Hanging Court) Tribunal (SICT) sentenced him to death
by hanging, subject to appeal that's automatic and pro
forma. It won't save him from a very sore neck as
long as the Bush administration has the final say,
which it does despite international law or whatever
passes for it in Iraq where the law is what the US
occupier says it is. The sentence must be carried out
within 30 days after all appeals are exhausted and the
death sentence is ratified by Iraq's nominal president
and two vice-presidents who have no authority and take
their orders from US Ambassador and proconsul Zalmay
Khalilzad who takes his orders from Washington.
While few villains are more worthy than the man called the Butcher of Baghdad for whatever fate might befall him, not even a former dictator of his "stature" should have to answer for his crimes before an illegal tribunal established by an occupying power that has no authority under international law. The fact that the trial proceeded this way delegitimized the entire judicial process and in the eyes of independent jurists renders the verdict void and unrecognized.
by Stephen Lendman
Agitprop, electoral fraud and dirty tricks may not have been invented in the US, but they certainly were perfected in "the land of the free and home of the brave" that no longer is except in the mind's eye of a diminishing number of diehards, true-believers and others still unaware of the real state of things in America. The clearest evidence was the theft of the last two presidential elections through a process of massive voter disenfranchisement, black and Latino intimidation in the inner cities, assorted other dirty tricks and rigged electronic voting machines programmed and operated by major corporations to assure the final count gave their man, George Bush, a manipulated electoral victory both times, with a little help from five corrupted Supreme Court justices who decided their votes counted more than those of the public they annulled.
The same fraud was also rampant in recent congressional elections guaranteeing both houses of Congress stayed in Republican hands allowing the interests of capital their divine right to rule the world with their political partner of choice. On the eve of another US election on November 7, the manipulators of electoral mischief are at it again, and it hardly matters how things turn out. Systemic corruption is so entrenched in Washington, it'll be business as usual on Capital Hill no matter how many end up on either side of the isle. Little will change when members of the 110th Congress are sworn in on January 3, 2007, assuring only disappointment for those believing otherwise.
It's called democracy, American-style that's now a staple at home but doesn't stop at the border. For many years, whatever administration's been in power, the US believes it has a prerogative to decide who holds office anywhere in the developing world where it routinely meddles in the electoral process through intimidation, bribery, black propaganda and direct funding of the candidates of its choice. Those activities are illegal in the US, and it's unimaginable how loud the wails of protest and outrage would be if it was learned another country or foreign corporation funded political candidates at any level here or interfered in any way in this country's electoral process.
by Jason Miller
â€œWhat shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?â€
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Yet it is not too late for the â€œcradle of democratic civilizationâ€ to fulfill the dream of a nation governed by We the People. Our ancestors overcame seemingly insurmountable odds by defying a tyrant. What is preventing us from following their lead? Humanity and the Earth desperately need for us to end the Corporatocracyâ€™s destructive rampage and direct our unparalleled resources, wealth, and technology toward the betterment of the world.
We the People need to recapture the Zeitgeist of 1776 and initiate a revolt. To overcome a ruling class that maintains its power through the manipulation and enslavement of our psyches, we need a spiritual revolution. Since reactionary forces have assassinated the influential spiritual leaders whom have arisen in recent history, it appears we will need to resurrect one in the abstract.
by James Kunstler
If an American political party was ever in for an ass-kicking, it's
the current incarnation of the Republicans. Everyone has finally turned
on them, even their neo-con war strategists -- Richard Perle and
Company -- who told a Vanity Fair reporter last week that George Bush
didn't know how to run a war that seemed like a good idea before they
handed it over to him. Meanwhile, just days before the
election, televangelist Republican cheerleader Ted Haggard gets nailed
for consorting with a male prostitute while on crystal meth -- taking
up the baton in the GOP relay-race of grifters and pervert-hypocrits,
Tom Delay, Jack Abramoff, Duke Cunningham, Bob Ney, Mark Foley, David
Safavian, et al -- and the mid-term vote begins to look a little gnarly
for the family values crowd.
Let's say the Democrats win control of at least one house of congress and possibly two. Are they going to shut down the project in Iraq? I doubt it. Badly as it has worked out, the alternative of withdrawing the US military presence there may be worse. Anyway, we'd still be sticking around the Middle East -- in Qatar and Kuwait and a few other places -- and we'd have to stand on the sidelines and watch Iran gobble up the substantial oil resources around the Tigris / Euphrates delta region. What would be the remedy for that? Invade Iraq all over again?
I confess, what bugs me about my Democrats is that they seem to think we can just duck out of the contest for Middle East oil and keep enjoying the happy motoring fiesta -- which, by the way, is not just the way we live in this country but also the basis of our economy, when you sweep aside all the bullshit. Contrary to what a lot of utopian Democrats wish, it will never be prime-time for ethanol, bio-diesel, hydrogen, or twenty other nominees as replacements for gasoline -- at least not the way we run things now. Driving a Prius might induce raptures of eco-moral superiority, but changing the zoning laws would produce a better outcome -- and that's just too hard.
by Richard Marsden
Sunday's announcement of the verdict in the trial of Saddam Hussein and his seven co-defendants was, of course, timed to occur on the eve of the mid-term elections to the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.
To what end?
Clearly, to mobilise and motivate U.S. citizens to vote Republican. But how will this work?
It will work the same way that the invasion and occupation workedâ€”emotionally, as the concluding act of a White House scripted morality play.
I argued in June (Pleasure-in-cruelty: Bush, Nietzsche and Haditha) that the Anglo-American invasion and occupation of Iraq was a collective emotive response to 9/11. The link between 9/11 and Iraq is the moral and emotive connection between suffering an injury and inflicting pain to relieve it. This connection is felt, not thought; it involves all of the body, not just the head.
This logic of equivalence lies at the heart of Judeo-Christian morality. When America experienced great injury and loss of face, President Bush, as a "born-again Christian", felt morally entitled to inflict great pain and humiliation.
On whom did not matter. But preferably a defenceless, Arab nation. It is an understandable impulse (equivalent to kicking the dog because your wife's left you), but one that could and should have been resisted.
Bush and Blair made love to this basest of impulses.
by Mickey Z.
Each fall, even the most nature-oblivious humans can't help but notice-and likely marvel-as the leaves turn. Here in New York City, many folks will go as far as driving up north to New England solely to witness the spectacular shades of ginger, auburn, gold, and crimson. This annual phase of nature presages both the colder weather and the shopping day countdown that lurk in our not so distant future"
Speaking of rampant holiday season consumerism, as you try to remember where you parked your SUV in that crowded shopping mall parking lot, gaze upward.
Take a good long look at the leaves that have changed color and are now breaking from the trees and wafting slowly downward to finish their life's mission...on the friggin' pavement. Imagine the shock those nutrient laden leaves experience when they land not on sodden, inviting soil but instead on the unforgiving, oil stained asphalt we all know and loathe.
Central Park, NYC
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More than two million acres of parks, farms, and open space are destroyed each year in the name of a little something called sprawl. During the twentieth century, an area equal to all the arable land in Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania was paved in the United States. This swath of terra firma requires maintenance costing over $200 million a day and the surreptitious cost of our car culture totals nearly $500 billion a year in the U.S. alone (much of that going to the sustentation of waging perpetual war to keep the world safe for petroleum).
Written by Chris Floyd
This story is appearing today at Truthout.org.
"The Bush Faction's remaining claim to political power â€“ that they are the "party of national security" â€“ is a gargantuan lie. Those who believe them, those who support them, those who vote for them are tying a noose around their own necks, and the necks of all their fellow Americans."
Last Friday, just hours after the New York Times revealed that the Bush Administration had posted advanced plans for building nuclear weapons on a public website for months, six Arab nations formally announced they were launching nuclear programs of their own. The potential for disaster posed by this development is almost immeasurable: everything from Chernobyl-style accidents to the theft or transfer of nuclear material to terrorists to the near-certainty of new atomic arsenals appearing in the powder-keg of the Middle East.
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The announcement also signals the final and utter failure of the Bush Administration's demented "non-proliferation" strategy, which has been centered around a relentless, deliberate drive to gut existing nuclear arms treaties in order to free the United States to enhance its own arsenal. This open denigration of legal strictures on the development of the most dangerous technology on earth has been accompanied by a cynical inconsistency. Bush has heaped monetary and military rewards on India and Pakistan for their illegally developed nuclear arsenals, while threatening war on Iran for what has so far been a peaceful nuclear power program carried out in accordance with international treaties â€“ and doing nothing at all to head off North Korea's now apparently successful bid for atomic weapon capability.
It is a record of astonishing recklessness and incompetence, one that has plunged the world into a new abyss of instability, insecurity and the ever-increasing likelihood of mass death and horror on an unfathomable scale. And the criminal negligence of Bush and his Congressional rubberstamps in dumping plans from Iraq's almost-complete, pre-1991 nuclear weapons program on the Internet â€“ solely for partisan political advantage â€“ has exacerbated these dangers by several magnitudes.
On Friday, the International Atomic Energy Agency announced that six nations had given notification of their intention to pursue nuclear programs, The Times (UK) reports: Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt, which had revealed its nuclear ambitions last month, but had not given official notice to the IAEA. As the Times notes, arms experts view the announcement as "a stunning reversal of policy" in the Arab world, which has long called for a nuclear-free Middle East â€“ a stance aimed at dismantling Israel's large if nominally secret nuclear arsenal and preventing Iran from acquiring atomic weaponry.
But ill winds are blowing through the Middle East from all directions, and the six nations are seeking shelter from the storm â€“ a "security hedge," as proliferation analyst Mark Fitzpatrick of the International Institute for Strategic Studies told the Times. One of the major factors behind the turnaround is certainly Bush's wanton destruction of Iraq, the Arab world's traditional bulwark against Persian Iran. Not only has the American blunderbuss cleared the way for unprecedented Iranian influence in the region â€“ not least in Baghdad itself â€“ it is also enflaming sectarian, political, ethnic and social tensions across the Arab lands.
And in the case of Saudi Arabia and Egypt, there is also the desire to avoid becoming yet another target of "regime change" from the "full spectrum dominance" gang that is still, well, dominant in the White House under Dick Cheney. In Cairo and Riyadh they will not have forgotten how in 2002, top Pentagon adviser Richard Perle â€“ then chairman of the Defense Policy Board, now a rather fat rat leaving the sinking ship of Bushism â€“ sponsored a presentation calling for the American conquest of Saudi oil fields on the way to capturing the strategic "prize" of Egypt: one of the many presentations and papers of the Bush Faction and its neocon outriders in which the Arab world is regarded as so much raw meat to be processed and repackaged as the Beltway poobahs see fit.
But the radioactive core of these concerns is Israel's outlaw nuclear arsenal, hundreds of missiles strong, capable of wiping any and every country in the region "off the map," to quote the widespread misquote of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in one of his rabble-rousing fulminations. The Israeli arsenal serves as a veritable breeder reactor, generating the fear and strategic necessity that drive surrounding nations to follow suit. These anxieties have of course been elevated by the intensified bellicosity and reckless disregard for Arab lives displayed by the hardline Israeli government against Lebanon this summer â€“ and day after day in Gaza.
It's true that the six Arab nations told the IAEA they wanted nuclear capability solely for peaceful purposes: to run desalinization plants, for example, or to provide cheap, abundant energy for their economies. (Perhaps the supposedly oil-glutted Saudis, who trotted out the latter rationale, know something they're not telling us about "peak oil" and such.) But it's also true that this technology can always be weaponized â€“ as the Bush Administration never ceases to remind us when lambasting Iran for its nuclear program.
Of course, converting a peaceful, public energy program into a covert weapons development scheme is much easier if you have a "cookbook" showing you how to do it. And that's exactly how the Bush Administration's Iraqi data dump was described by European experts. With six new entrants in the nuclear sweepstakes â€“ just a fraction of the 30 nations that IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei says "have the capacity to develop nuclear weapons in a short time" â€“ the ramifications of the Administration's nuke blogging are far more serious than the near-total media and political silence that has followed the revelations would indicate. How could this have happened? And more importantly, why did it happen and what does it really mean? Here's how the deal went down.
(Continued after the jump.)
Written by Chris Floyd
From the Guardian: The Sandinista leader and former Marxist revolutionary Daniel Ortega appeared to have mounted a spectacular political comeback last night after preliminary results showed he had won Nicaragua's presidential election in the first round. Mr Ortega led by a margin which seemed wide enough to avoid a run-off and to deliver a stinging rebuke to Washington, which had openly campaigned against him...Roberto Rivas, the head of Nicaragua's top electoral body, said the vote was clean and transparent. An army of 17,000 observers, including the former US president Jimmy Carter and EU officials, was expected largely to endorse that view.Ortega ran and won with the backing of several prominent ex-Contras, including Jamie Morales, his own running mate. Morales had been the Contras' spokesman in Washington during the Reagan years when, with the direct involvement of VP George Bush, the Administration joined hands with the mullahs of Iran and the druglords of Central and South America to fund, arm and train a terrorist army to overthrow the Sandinista government. Although this exercise in mass state terrorism failed on the battlefield, the Reagan-Bush policy of economic terror managed to reduce Nicaragua to dire poverty, with the open threat that the stranglehold would go on until the Sandinistas were gone.
by Andrew Bard Schmookler
On Election Night of 2004, as I lay in bed much of the night awake and miserable, I found myself teetering on the edge of deep despair. By dawn, however, I discovered that I had turned back from that abyss and committed myself instead to a new mission. Actually, it was a new phase of the anti-Bushite mission in which Iâ€™d been passionately for the two months leading up to the Election: a mission of combatting the pervasive falsehoods of this evil regime; more particularly, a mission of speaking moral truth to amoral power.
In other words, a â€œpropheticâ€ mission.
By January, I was on my local NPR station delivering a series of commentaries to convey my vision of the nature of what was happening in America, and of the nature of the path by which this country might be saved.
Key among those commentaries was one called â€œProphetic Opposition.â€ Some months later, on the very day that I launched my main vehicle for presenting my vision â€“my new website NoneSoBlind.orgâ€“ I published on Common Dreams a new version of that piece under the title, â€œWhat America Needs Nowâ€“A Prophetic Social Movement.â€
I had chosen that piece to trumpet my arrival into the â€œblogosphereâ€ because I felt that this essay, more than any other, captured simply and accessibly and dramatically what I hoped to convey to my countrymen.
Here, now, a year later, I am going to post this essay once again.