Pacific Free Press


  • 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


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 among others. For more on this event and others that day visit Swanson's 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.


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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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  • Written by Stephen Lendman

The End of the Bush Dynasty

by Stephen Lendman

The Bush family has been characterized in various ways including the Bush dynasty, crime family or syndicate. George Bush is just the latest in a line of unsavory characters but clearly the bad or worst seed and, in the eyes of most honest observers, the least worthy of an unworthy lot. He was supposed to be the latest in the Bush family line chosen to lay another golden egg for the dynasty but turned out instead to be an ugly duckling who's just been an embarrassment and much worse because of the course he chose and his rigid ideological obstinacy to change even in the face of failure.

The Bush family considers itself among the special chosen ones if based only on its royal heritage. The family is connected by blood to every European monarch on and off the throne including every member of the British House of Windsor. That relationship is more than familial and extends to the president's father having close business dealings with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip who themselves are connected to the notorious Carlyle Group that also employs GHW Bush as a "senior consultant" and master-rainmaker/fixer-arranger at a very high price for his services. Add a comment

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The Spy Who Nuked Me

by Copy Dude

Austin_PowersSuddenly the whole Litvinenko business is looking more like Austin Powers than James Bond.

Aha. ‘The Trail of Poison Leads To Moscow’ deduced the Spiegel yesterday, as a number of BA flights were grounded. What kind of secret agents leave their dabs everywhere they go? It’s like sticking up a bank while posing in front of a CCTV camera not wearing a mask.

Back at London’s Millenium hotel, traces were found on the floor of a room and on the light switch. A source told the Telegraph, ‘ . . looks like they dropped the stuff on the floor‘.

For sure the ‘bungling amateurs‘ dropped it all over several aircraft, too. How is this possible? Polonium 210 emits only a few centimetres and won’t pass through a paper bag. Did they carry a big lump in a string bag? But what do I know. Especially when newspapers quote ‘Experts’ and ‘Security Sources’. Add a comment

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  • Written by Tom Engelhardt

How to Stay in Iraq

by Tom Engelhardt

The Iraq Study Group Rides to the Rescue

Finally, the President and the New York Times agree. In a news conference with the Iraqi Prime Minister last week, George W. Bush insisted that there would be no "graceful exit" or withdrawal from Iraq; that this was not "realism." The next day the Times, in a front page piece (as well as "analysis" inside the paper) pointed out that, "despite a Democratic election victory this month that was strongly based on antiwar sentiment, the idea of a major and rapid withdrawal seems to be fading as a viable option."

In fact, in the media, as in the counsels of James A. Baker's Iraq Study Group, withdrawal without an adjective or qualifying descriptor never arrived as a "viable option." In fact, withdrawal, aka "cut and run," has never been more than a passing foil, one useful "extreme" guaranteed to make the consensus-to-come more comforting.

On Wednesday, at the end of a gestation period nearly long enough to produce a human baby, the Baker committee -- by now, according to the Washington Post's Robin Wright, practically "a parallel policy establishment" -- will hand over to the President its eagerly anticipated "consensus" report, its "compromise" plan that takes the "middle road," that occupies a piece of inside-the-Beltway "middle ground," and that will almost certainly be the policy equivalent of a still birth.
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  • Written by Will Durst


by Will Durst

I startled some guy in the next lane at a red light when I shouted at my radio today. A semi famous network newscaster had come on opining how former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack could easily take the 2008 Iowa caucuses as a favorite son, resulting in a subsequent focus on South Carolina, which is John Edwards territory and this might all work out to upset the Hillary Clinton Applecart Express. AAIIIIEEEE! The guy next to me barely missed a covey of walkers as he peeled out.

I mean, okay, I know, political projection is as predictable as a spilt glass of milk before nap time at a day care center for hyperactive four year olds. But for crum’s sake, a little common human decency por favor. We’ve barely finished showering off the crap flung in the midterms and need a moment or so to send our clothes and our souls out to the dry cleaners. Or burn and bury them then buy new ones.

You’d think these pundits could use a bit of time off themselves. Enough slack to recycle a few lame sports analogies and plant a couple of specious rumors. At least until the New Direction Congress is inaugurated. The 110th doesn’t even start work for more than a month. Shouldn’t they be able to break the seal on their stack of monogrammed Post- It notes before we start talking about an event occurring at the very end of their term? I’ve seen jailhouse marriages with longer honeymoons. Just ask Duke Cunningham. Or Bob Ney. Ør Mark Foley.
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  • Written by James Petras

The US and the Middle East: A “Grand Settlement” Versus the Jewish Lobby

by James Petras

Chances for a change in the direction of US Middle East policy are extremely unlikely. The reason is the growing power of the Jewish Lobby in Congress, the massive Zionist propaganda campaign in all the mass media, Olmert’s ‘nose leading’ of Bush, and a host of related activities. The end result is that Congress will not withdraw or reduce US troops and war funding for the Iraq War. Bush, with the support of McCain and Clinton, Liebermann, Reid and Hoyer, will push for more troops in pursuit of an all-out blood bath in Baghdad. The Baker Iraq Study Group under siege from the Zioncons and Zionlibs will be unable to deal with Israeli violence against Palestinians or enter into a dialogue with Syria and Iran on any but the most narrow and unpromising terms.

Baker’s Iraq Study Group and the Lobby’s Preventive War

Ehud Olmert, Israel’s Prime Minister, firmly imposed the party-line for the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations (CPMAJO) and related pro-Israel groups during his November 13 visit to Washington in which he stated his categorical support for Bush’s Iraq War policy and confrontational strategy with Iran. According to the Israeli daily Haaretz (November 14, 2006):

    “Olmert said Israel and other countries in the area should be thankful to the United States and Bush. He said the Iraq war had a dramatic positive effect on security and stability in the Middle East as well as strategic importance from Israel’s perspective (my emphasis) and of moderate Arab states. Olmert said he was satisfied with the position Bush took on Iran which went further (my emphasis) than in their previous meeting in May. “Iran’s role in the conversation was quite clear, very serious and very significant and I left the meeting with an outstanding feeling,” said Olmert.”

Nothing expresses the power of the Jewish Lobby over US politics as the cowardly silence of the leading Democrats before this gross intervention by a foreign ruler into the internal politics of the US: Democratic Congressional leader Pelosi swallowed the frog in silence. The only congressional critics complained about Olmert’s ‘partisanship’ – taking sides with Bush, tacitly accepting that Olmert was impinging on US sovereignty, a widely accepted principal by the fifty odd Jewish Senators and Congress-people, and their numerous Gentile pro-Zionist camp followers.
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  • Written by David Swanson

Honesty in Iraq

By David Swanson

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune recently published an editorial that said of Bush: "His pronouncements now bear no resemblance to reality." Now? Oh, never mind.

Marc Sandalow, the Washington Bureau Chief for the San Francisco Chronicle, recently wrote: "There is mounting evidence that the world of public Bush-speak -- from his vigorous support for al-Maliki and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to his rejection of direct diplomacy with Syria and Iran -- bears little relation to what goes on behind the scenes." Mounting? Forget it.

Robert Fisk recently asked about George W. Bush: "How does he do it? How does he persuade himself - as he apparently did in Amman yesterday - that the United States will stay in Iraq 'until the job is complete'?" Persuade himself? I give up.

Frank Rich writes that Bush "is completely untethered from reality. It's not that he can't handle the truth about Iraq. He doesn't know what the truth is." He doesn't? Look at a couple of well-known Bush quotes again: "What's the difference? The possibility that [Saddam] could acquire weapons, if he were to acquire weapons, he would be the danger." (Bush on why he lied about weapons of mass destruction.) "I didn't want to inject a major decision about this war in the final days of a campaign. And so the only way to answer that question and to get you on to another question was to give you that answer." (Bush on why he lied about keeping Rumsfeld on.)
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  • Written by Mickey Z

What we're up against (lessons from Guatemala)

by Mickey Z.

There are many battles being fought in the name of social justice...some more pitched than others. In general, however, these struggles do not result in victory thanks to a petition, a candlelight vigil, or a ballot pull. In other words, those seeking peace, justice, and solidarity should never underestimate the relentless and brutal power of what they are up against. I am reminded of this every time I re-read "Bridge of Courage: Life Stories of the Guatemalan Compañeros and Compañeras," (Common Courage Press, 1995) an amazing book by Jennifer Harbury.

Guatemala (a nation perched on the border of Chiapas, Mexico) is an easy place to overlook. Therefore, if we were to trust the corporate media, our knowledge would be limited to ill-informed, racist diatribes like this from Clifford Krauss of The New York Times (April 9, 1995): "Guatemala required neither Karl Marx nor the Central Intelligence Agency to be consumed by class and ethnic war, and ... The Guatemalan army, currently in the news because some of its officers received secret CIA payments, is essentially finishing the job that the conquistadors started. The cross and the sword may have been replaced by modern counterinsurgency tactics, but the essential driving forces of Guatemalan history remain the same ... the fact remains that Guatemalans do not need prompting to kill one another."

Krauss went on to tell of chickens " gods" and "bizarre" religious cults (Krauss' tactics are indeed for those seeking to absolve the U.S. from any culpability in the wanton destruction of a people). While admitting CIA complicity in the 1954 coup that saw the end of Jacobo Arbenz, Krauss is quick to remind us "modern Guatemalan political history began not with the coup of 1954."

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  • Written by Jeremy R. Hammond

Iran and the Violation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty

by Jeremy R. Hammond

Iran, an op-ed in the The New York Times reported yesterday, began operation of a group of uranium enrichment centrifuges, thus
violating a legally binding demand by the United Nations Security Council that Iran suspend such activities until the international community is confident that the country’s nuclear program “is for exclusively peaceful purposes.” Iran’s response was that a suspension would abrogate its rights under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty – even though under international law, it has temporarily surrendered these rights by violating the obligations that condition them.[1]
Apparently, the “obligations” in question are compliance with the Security Council resolution calling on it to suspend uranium enrichment activities. Complying with the resolution is a “condition” of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT Treaty), according to the Times.

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Pale Fire and London Fog: Illuminating Outliers in the Death of Alexander Litvinenko

  by Chris Floyd

I. The Baron and the Billionaire

Everyone knows that Russian exile Alexander Litvinenko was killed by radiation poisoning in London last month. But beyond that bare fact, almost nothing is clear about the case. The truth has disappeared, probably forever, into the shadowlands – that murky confluence of crime, violence, money and politics where so much of the real business of the world is conducted. However, an examination of some of the curiously overlooked aspects of the affair might send at least a few shafts of light into the cloud of unknowing that has enveloped Litvinenko's death.

Of course, one of the chief obstacles in assessing the situation is the fact that almost everything we knew about the case for weeks was spoonfed to the media by the most elite PR operation in Britain. Almost from the moment that Litvinenko fell ill, he disappeared behind a phalanx of handlers paid for by his patron, Boris Berezovsky, the fugitive Russian billionaire and shadowlands operator par excellence. To handle – and generate – the publicity surrounding the incident, Berezovsky called on his old friend, Baron Bell of Belgravia, who, back when he was just plain old Tim Bell, served as the private propaganda chief for Margaret Thatcher, as Sourcewatch reports. The baron has also flacked for disgraced media mogul Conrad Black, disgraceful media mogul Rupert Murdoch, and the Coalition Provisional Authority, the mechanism set up by the Bush Administration to eviscerate Iraq.

(Speaking of the CPA, UK investigators now say they've found traces of Polonium 201, the radioactive isotope believed to have killed Litvinenko, in the London offices of Erinys, a private security company. As I noted in CounterPunch back in December 2003, Bush's CPA gave Erinys' Iraqi branch – formed as a joint venture with business cronies and family members of bigtime shadowlander Ahmad Chalabi – $40 million to guard oil pipelines in the conquered land. This has grown into a much larger stashn, not to mention an armed force of 16,000 men – something of a militia, one might say. The freebooters also bagged big money riding shotgun for Halliburton and Bechtel in those palmy CPA days of yore. And as the Guardian reports, Erinys is also active in Russia. You pull at one string in the shadowlands, and a whole tangled nest of other dark business starts shaking somewhere else.)

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  • Written by Jason Miller

O Come Let Us Adore Them: Treasuring our American Values of Greed, Self-Interest, and Enlightened Oppression

By Ragnar Redbeard III

“What kind of a society isn't structured on greed? The problem of social organization is how to set up an arrangement under which greed will do the least harm; capitalism is that system.”

---Milton Friedman

What kind indeed? Certainly not a prodigious society such as ours. Thanks to Capitalism, the United States is replete with opulence, might, and benevolence.

Guided by the brilliant foresight of Hamilton, manacled by men like Keynes, Galbraith, and FDR, and ultimately granted a refreshing degree of freedom by the heroic intellectual efforts of Rand and Friedman, Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” has wrought a citadel for those wishing to pursue healthy greed, self-interest, and enlightened oppression. While Capitalism in the United States is still afflicted with the diseases of a mixed economy, government regulation and socialistic tendencies, America’s socioeconomic system is far superior to any rival, past or present.
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  • Written by Paul William Roberts

The Road Less Traveled

By Paul William Roberts

On Saturday, December 02, the Washington Post wrote:

“The emerging plan by the Iraq Study Group tries to find a middle road between President Bush's adamant refusal to leave Iraq until the job is done and Democratic demands to pull out U.S. troops. But in achieving unanimity among its Republican and Democratic members, the commission has outlined a strategy with its own political and military risks.”

The reason this road is less traveled is that it just doesn’t exist.

One expected more from James Baker and his expensive commission, but perhaps we will yet have cause to thank him. For the uselessness of the ISG underscores a deeper uselessness in American politics generally when it comes foreign policies in which the public (read “the media”) have developed a level of interest that already has, and will continue to cost votes. In managing to arrive at a “plan” upon which all its members could agree, the ISG has merely wasted paper – not to mention taxpayers’ money (a commodity more disposable than toilet paper in Washington). Like so much the long-suffering taxpayer finds himself and herself funding these days, this bi-partisan circle jerk can satisfy only the overpaid and bloated egos participating in the couple of long lunches that were surely all it took to assess the facts and then devise a course of action ignoring them. To the cash whores and corporate crooks whose fingers are always in the till and whose snouts rarely leave the Beltway trough, of course, this latest wasteful disgrace is just another drop of fecal matter in a septic tank the size of the Pacific Ocean.

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  • Written by Larry C. Johnson

Swearing on the Quran?

by Larry C Johnson

Normally I ignore religious controversy, but the latest flap surrounding incoming Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison, a muslim who intends to take the oath of office with his hand on the Quran, demands comment. If you're not muslim then mind your own business. Here's the bottomline--the Christians who are in an uproar over Ellison's plan and who insist that the oath can only be taken with the Bible probably ought to read the damn Bible. Why? Because the Bible, specifically the New Testament, contains clear instruction about taking oaths. According to James 5:12 (Whole Chapter):

But above all, [James 1:16] my brethren, [Matt 5:34-37] do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but your yes is to be yes, and your no, no, so that you may not fall under judgment.
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  • Written by Stephen Lendman

The Spirit of Resistance in Mexico City

by Stephen Lendman
National Action Party (PAN) candidate Felipe Calderon had center stage at 12:01 AM, December 1 at the presidential residence of Los Pinos as Mexico's new president addressed the country on national television after a brief stealth swearing-in ceremony for him to the office he didn't win and will now assume illegitimately because of the fraud-laden electoral coup d'etat that gave it to him.  He then had to be slipped in a back door of the Congress later that morning to take the oath of office there, as constitutionally required, in a second "lightning-fast" chaotic ceremony preceded by a brawl between lawmakers for and against the new president who then left as fast as he entered and is now off to a rocky start. 

At the same time, outside in Mexico City's streets, hundreds of thousands of people assembled early in the morning in the vast Zocalo square supporting opposition Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who changed his earlier plans to march on Congress and instead held a peaceful mass-protest march of his supporters through the city center to avoid clashes with the police that might have turned violent.  It went as far as Chapultepec Park, the entrance to the secured area, to demonstrate opposition to Mr. Calderon and to support Lopez Obrador who was denied the presidency he won now handed over illegitimately to Mr. Calderon.  Obrador told the crowd his fight will continue because "it is not possible that there are no democratic elections in Mexico.  We are not rebels without a cause, like the media want to portray us.  Sometimes they forget the real issue at hand, they forget that we were robbed of the presidential election."
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