by Chris Floyd
This is my latest piece for Truthout.org.
For centuries in Britain, each sentence of death was accompanied by a strange ritual. Before handing down the verdict, the judge would first take a piece of black silk cloth and put it on his head. With this rather bizarre and ancient drapery covering his powdered wig â€“ itself a relic, a cultural fossil carried into modern times â€“ he would then render the prisoner into the hangman's care.
In such a guise, the black cloth once represented the full, dread measure of state power. Today, however, a cloth of similar size, shape and color â€“ worn across the faces of a small number of some of the most vulnerable members of British society â€“ has become a target of that same dread power, after Britain's high and mighty unleashed a sudden, thunderous sneak attack on the nation's Muslim minority, centering the campaign around the tabloid-ready symbol of the veil.
But although the carefully orchestrated furor over this seldom-seen scrap of material has been so ludicrously disproportionate that even the Blair-fawning New York Times cried foul in a recent editorial, the campaign â€“ and its disturbing implications â€“ go far beyond the issue of religious vestments. Indeed, the veil row is just a covering for what appears to be a deliberate, wide-ranging program of diversion and division, aimed at creating a scapegoat â€“ "strangers in our midst," "the enemy within" â€“ to bear the blame for the sins of the Blair government: the fear, repression, guilt, lies and rancor produced by the abomination in Iraq.
The anti-Muslim campaign is not merely rhetorical â€“ although the heated rhetoric from Tony Blair and many of his ministers has certainly been bad enough, giving a patina of respectability to more extremist viewpoints, now seen as a legitimate part of the "national debate. (Much as the button-pushing imbroglio over immigration in the United States has transformed fringe white-power advocates into respectable media figures, lauded by the likes of Lou Dobbs and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and welcomed in the halls of Congress.) No, Blair's Islamophobia-fest has bite with its bark: not only the on-going evisceration of civil liberties, which has fallen almost entirely on British Muslims, but new measures as well â€“ such as the Stasi-like plan to induce university professors and staff to spy on Muslim students and report all "suspicious" behavior to the security organs.
By Dr. Paul J. Balles
If the world will be gulled, let it be gulled.Americans refuse to end the reign of the National Rifle Association's (NRA) gun control lobby. The lobby has insisted for 125 years that the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution guarantees the right of every American to own a gun.
Buy the hype in that position and then listen to the same NRA Americans and supporters calling for Hezbollah to give up their weapons. The Lebanese Hezbollah used their guns in the way that Americans never had to--to defend against an invasion.
The American position on gun control hasn't changed. Yet they want Lebanese citizens controlled, meaning no private ownership of guns for defense.
If that's not perfidy, duplicity and deceit, what is?
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by Dave Lindorff
Forget her "Pledge," She Took an Oath: Why Pelosi is Wrong on Impeachment
House minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), in an interview with Lesley Stahl of CBS News, said impeachment would be "off the table" if Democrats take over the House of Representatives in November, calling it a "waste of time."
She couldn't be more wrong, and most Americans know it.
While Pelosi was responding to a loaded question from Stahl, who couched impeachment in terms of Democrats' supposed desire to seek revenge if they retake Congress, Pelosi, who would become majority leader in a Democratic House, bought into Stahl's argument, saying that she'd be "satisfied" to see the president and vice president spending the remaining two years of their second term as "lame ducks."
What Stahl should have asked Pelosi was whether she thought that President Bush had violated the law and the Constitution, and whether she believed he has committed impeachable offenses.
The answer to that is clearly yes.
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by Phil Rockstroh
"O Nature, and O soul of man! how far beyond all utterance are your linked analogies! not the smallest atom stirs or lives in matter, but has its cunning duplicate in mind." â€”Herman Melville, Moby Dick
All human beings have a talent for the denial of the more unpalatable aspects of ourselves, but we Americans have turned denial into a form of collective genius. There is no need to burn books, if the public is too ignorant to know they exist -- or too benumbed to resonate with their content.
Regarding the death of well over half-a-million Iraqis, the majority of the citizenry of The Corporatists States of America have experienced a comparable degree of regret and remorse that their oligarchic overlords experience when topping-off the tanks of their corporate jets with fuel purchased with money plundered from their employee's retirement accounts ... Sans conscience above -- sans conscience below.
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by Arthur James
I remember the horror of death. On a darkening evening, three soldiers encountered me on a jungle trail. Our meeting startled us. The soldiers braced to shoot me. Shaking, I wedged myself and my M-16 rifle against a tree. I shot two of them. The third person dropped to the Earth on that dusk eve, crawled into dense bushes, and thankfully fled away. "Oh God." I groaned deeply. "What have I done? Why am I here?"
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War unites humanity to feel madness, horror, and insanity. There must exist an enclave of peace, meditation, solace, and a quiet place to step back from this insanity. To be able to find and touch the Self's reserve of tranquility of Being is a difficult spiritual struggle. The Word one searches for to be descriptive and speak, fails. Words are all we have to work with. Words lack the power and often we people feel diminished with hardly the capacity to communicate. I represent myself guilty of this fact.
Before I digressed into the second paragraph, I began to mention that portraits were found on the limp, lifeless, lacerated forms. In long moments immediately after their death, I began wondering about those rummaged pictures my fellow squad members found. I wondered about their mothers, fathers, children, and their extended families of friends. Being stricken with a truth I had always known: These Vietnamese were people, distinguished and unique individuals. They were fellow humans, not my enemy.
by Mike Whitney
â€œThe masses have never thirsted after truth. Whoever can supply them with illusions is easily their master; whoever attempts to destroy their illusions is always their victimâ€.
Gustave Le Bon - "The Crowd"
Karl Rove is not Harry Houdini. He canâ€™t change the fact that the Democrats could take up to 40 seats in the House and that the Republicans may lose the Senate as well. He canâ€™t change the national polling-data which favors the Democrats by a considerable margin, or the exit polling which is predicted to show substantial Democratic gains too. And, thereâ€™s nothing Rove can do to stop the perception that the elections are now expected to be a Democratic landslide extending from sea to shining sea. The only thing that Rove can do to win the midterms is to purge the voting rolls in key states and crank up the voting machines to â€œfull-tiltâ€.
But even that wonâ€™t be enough this time.
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by Manuel Valenzuela
The creators of American reality, those propagators of charades and mirages who dwell inside the hallways of the Ministry of Truth â€“ otherwise known as the Corporate Media â€“ continue their dance of deception and whitewash, festering in their offices of propaganda, directing the narratives and the epics hundreds of millions of Americans consider truth. Much like the disappearance of warmth giving way to the crispness of cold arrives with each annual changing of leaves, so the remarketing of American reality is altered by the changing faces of circumstance.
Today, this change is the complete disaster that is the occupation of Iraq, an endeavor whose initial fruition could not have taken shape without the blitzkrieg marketed incessantly into every home and mind in America by the Department of Propaganda, the Ministry of Truth and its army of pseudo-journalists.
by Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D.
â€œLetâ€™s vote on it.â€ To most people
that sounds like the ideal way to solve any issue. But it can also be
one of the most dangerous.
In 1967 the U.S. Supreme Court struck down laws prohibiting interracial marriage. Loving v. Virginia was a landmark civil rights decision. But a 1968 Gallup poll documented that 72 percent of Americans opposed interracial marriage. Had America voted on the issue in 1968, civil rights would undoubtedly have been defeated.
On November 7, 2006 Americans in several
states will vote on ballot initiatives concocted and promoted by the
leaders of the evangelical Christian Right and their Republican sycophants.
Increasingly, their incestuous relationship is being exposed at the same time their so-called
â€œvalues votersâ€ are fading into history. The Christian Right
is slowly but surely dying, and for good reasons. But apparently they want to kill an independent
judiciary before they go.
Examples were provided in an October
17, 2006 article titled â€œJudicial Activism
Prompts Citizen Efforts to Restrain Judgesâ€
Pete Winn, associate editor of Citizenlink.com, a propaganda organ for James Dobsonâ€™s Focus on the Family theo-political empire:
South Dakotaâ€™s Amendment E is the most ambitious measure â€“ it would allow residents to sue judges over their decisions. Grand juries would be convened, and judges would face removal from the bench if they were found guilty of an infraction.
Montana voters, meanwhile, must decide if they want â€¦ the right to have recall elections if they should become â€œdissatisfiedâ€ with a judge.
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by Mickey Z.
In a recent National Football League game, Tampa Bay Buccaneer quarterback
Chris Simms suffered a ruptured spleen. Simms was rushed to the hospital, his spleen was removed, and he is now on the road to recovery. This much talked about injury inspired Robert N. Jenkins of the St. Petersburg Times to declare that Simms, in reality, "didn't need his spleen." In an article called "Humans have body parts to spare," Jenkins went on to pronounce that we also do not need our appendix, gall bladder, tonsils, esophagus, stomach, and adrenal glands because those organs, according to conventional wisdom, are "vestigial."
I'm not here to debate what - if any - human organs are superfluous. What interests me more is the fact that most folks would read Jenkins' article and accept the premises therein without question... and this includes the most cynical lefties you'll ever meet. I know people skeptical enough to think the Foley sex scandal was leaked by Republicans to distract the public from the fiasco in Iraq. But tell those same people that some scientist has declared their spleen obsolete and they're not likely to rush off to post a rebuttal on their blog.
by Dave Lindorff
I'm going to go out on a limb here and predict that, barring some incredible act of criminal cynicism such as the bombardment of Iran by the president, the Democrats are going to take over the House of Representatives.
That being the case, I propose that it's time all those patriots and lovers of liberty, all those who oppose the administration's mad imperial military policies, all those who recognize the so-called War on Terror for what it is--a War on America, all those whose stomachs turned at the sight of the fatal drowning of New Orleans, all those who are outraged at a president who claims the right to violate laws at will, to ignore acts of Congress and to snub rulings of the Supreme Court, all those who are sick of seeing their government function like a whorehouse for corporate Johns, all those who are angry at having a government that tortures and kidnaps people, including children, in our name, all those who know that there are dark secrets about 9-11 being buried by traitors in the White House, all those who despair at seeing the Bill of Rights ripped out of the Constitution article by article, begin a mass campaign to make impeachment of President Bush item one on the agenda of the next Congress.
By Tom Chartier
Are you worried about fraud at the polls? Ahâ€¦ you must live where electronic voting machines are being used. Are they the ones made by Diebold? If so, that is all the more reason to be uneasy.
If you are a staunch Republican Bush supporter fear not! I have no doubt your party line Republican vote will be correctly counted as you wish. Of course, if you are a Democrat or, God forbid, a Libertarian, or even a member of the Bull Moose Party, you might have cause for concern.
Electronic voting machines are, in the words of my hard-core Midwestern Republican, Information Technologies expert buddy, a â€œformula for disaster.â€ Indeed they are. They can be easily hacked as some researchers at Princeton University recently proved.
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by Chris Floyd
Israel admits it used phosphorus weapons (Guardian)
Israel Adds Far-Right Party to Coalition (NY Times)
The good news just keeps rolling in from Israel, where the "light unto the nations" plows on in its relentless self-exile into outer darkness. That epithet of "light" once had the tang of truth, in the great line of thinkers, artists, activists, theologians, healers, humorists, and diviners of the natural world, largely in the Diaspora, from Maimonides to Mendelssohn, from Judah Ha-Levi to Boris Pasternak and Bob Dylan, from the Baal Shem Tov to Martin Buber, from Spinoza to Einstein, and on and on in every field of worthy endeavor. But the political inheritors of this matchless legacy seem hellbent on squandering what once seemed an inexhaustible storehouse of the human spirit.
Every week seems to bring some new brutality, some new degradation, some further coarsening â€“ and some new parallel with the Bush Regime and the brutal, coarse and degraded currents in American society that it so amply embodies and represents.
As a side note â€“ or maybe even a main note â€“ I'm not one of those who subscribe to the "Israel made us do it" meme that seems to loom large in the dissident blogosphere. I just can't buy the idea that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the gang are somehow being jerked around by wily Zionists â€“ as if they wouldn't be following their "unitary executive"-global domination-war profiteering agenda even if Israel didn't exist. I think this shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the American ruling class â€“ and yes, Virginia, there is an American ruling class and a pretty vicious, voracious, self-serving lot they are, too. The idea that these factions of gargantuan wealth and privilege â€“ much of it, as with the Bushes, going back for generations â€“ could be induced to act against their own narrowly defined but passionately held interests by the arguments of third-rate hacks like Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, or Douglas Feith seems fairly risible.
Yes, they are happy to make use of the neo-cons, the Likudniks, AIPAC, etc. etc., especially as the hard-right in Israel dovetails neatly with the American elite's own harsh, bellicose vision of the world. And yes, the Israel lobby has a broad and pernicious influence on the workings of American politics â€“ just as, say, the Turkish lobby does (ask Denny Hastert about those suitcases stuffed with Turkish cash; Foleygate is nothing compared to the yet-untold story of Treasongate), or the Saudi lobby, which has spread infinitely more baksheesh through the American system than the Israeli lobby could ever hope to match . But when the American elite go to war, they go to war for themselves, for their own benefit, not for anyone else. Despite various contretemps over the years (that little spot of bother about the USS Liberty, for example), Israel has ultimately served the American elite's purposes. If it didn't, then the untold billions of dollars in American cash and arms that have propped up Israel for decades would disappear overnight, and the country would be left to its fate.
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