Friday, October 28, 2005
I CAN HEAR THE CELL DOORS A CLINGING. ONCE MORE, THIS TIME WITH MORE FEELING, MERRY FITZMAS, MERRY MERRY FITZMAS, MERRY FITZMAS, MERRY, MERRY, MERRY. ME SO HAPPY.
And sad. For all my fellow Humans that have been murdered, maimed, tortured and sent to kill others all based on a big fat bloody lie.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
I've been stating this for a while -
by Patricia Goldsmith
Capitalism for Dummies
Last week I caught a glimpse of a local TV news promo warning that the FDA is poised to OK a new drug for diabetes that also sharply increases the risk of “heart problems, strokes and death.” It was the night’s big scare story, very reminiscent of the scandals over Vioxx, Celebrex and Bextra. You’ll remember that the FDA allowed Vioxx back on the market, even though studies show it may be responsible for as many as 55,000 deaths. It looks like the diabetes drug will win approval too.
But rest assured, there’s no danger of easy access to the Plan B morning-after contraceptive. In fact, there’s actually been a crackdown on medical doctors’ latitude in prescribing narcotics for pain relief. The use of medical marijuana, in states that have voted to allow it, is avidly prosecuted, SWAT teams and all.
Behold, life in the post-New Deal, neocon era, with one spectacular regulatory failure after another—accompanied by one intrusive, fearmongering initiative after another to make sure we don’t ever connect the dots or see the big picture. Big picture? Even with the unprecedented level of corruption, lawlessness, and moral depravity we see all around us, we have to keep coming back to the economics.
The scandals at the FDA highlight the success the Bushitters have had in dismantling the New Deal system of regulated capitalism. Ironically, it was that system of regulations that saved capitalism in the thirties and allowed our mixed economy to thrive over most of the last fifty years. New Deal/Progressive Era regulations kept the system in balance, with workers earning enough to be consumers. It kept the market’s playing field somewhat level. Above all, it allowed for constitutional democracy, which was placed at a higher value than mere economics.
But all that has changed. The New Deal is dead. Wealthy transnational economic interests are firmly in control. The New Deal has given way to neo-liberal globalization.
Benito Mussolini said, “Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power.” If that is true—and Mussolini ought to know—then globalization is nothing less than fascism on a planetary scale.
Consider the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), which passed at the end of July, in spite of strong public opposition. Lori Wallach, of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch explained what the vote meant:
. . . for people in Central America, this is devastating. Right? I mean, the provisions are very clear: People with HIV and AIDS who need medicine, who use generic drugs will die now, because they will not get generic drugs, because this agreement takes away the ability to produce generic drugs. People in Central America who rely on essential public services, their drinking water, electricity, education, or for instance in Costa Rica, the whole telecommunications system, government guaranteed access, has to be privatized and deregulated under this agreement. People’s difficult lives will be made much hard, or as Oxfam and the World Bank reported, millions of Central American campesinos, small farmers, who are hanging on by their fingernails as it is, are going to get flattened by this agreement, and there are going to be millions of displaced and hungry people. Talk about instability. I mean, if it takes military killing people to get the thing passed, and you know the results are going to be devastating, destabilizing, economically and socially, as a national security matter, but as a human, moral matter, what this is going to do to Central America is godawful.
And now it’s happening here. In fact, we’re well into the process.
A new book, Off Center: The Republican Revolution and the Erosion of American Democracy, details some of the strong-arm strategies we see at work, including enacting laws that deliberately ignore or exacerbate problems in order to create crises that justify drastic solutions. That one’s called a time-bomb. I would say the time-bomb technique is, in fact, the essence of the Bushitters’ approach to governance.
Hurricane Katrina is a good example. By ignoring the problem and then making it as bad as possible, the White House group running the disaster operation insured a huge reconstruction operation to benefit corporate cronies. At the same time, they claim that the money required is causing a budget crisis. The budget crisis, in turn, justifies the creation of a so-called Gulf Coast Opportunity Zone.
In spite—or perhaps because—of increasing public opposition, recent weeks have seen a staggering succession of corporate sweetheart deals passed through Congress, bills that not only give away billions of dollars but shield companies from legal obligations. One law, subsidizing the building of domestic oil refineries, in spite of historic oil company profits, actually calls for citizens who sue oil companies to pay the companies’ legal fees, win or lose—virtually placing oil companies outside the reach of tort law. These are the items that have been on corporations’ Christmas lists for many, many years; Santa has finally arrived.
I look at Tom DeLay’s grinning (s)mug shot and I see the fatuous contempt of a Mussolini. He proves that evil is not only banal, it’s literally an exterminator: DeLay developed a passion for politics when tree-hugging laws put limits on the kinds of poisons he could use in his cockroach business. Personally, I think he’s on the insects’ payroll; they’re the ones who really stand to benefit from his leadership.
With the phenomenon of peak oil, we are at a point where survival demands planning and prioritizing with the needs of the common good in mind. If we don’t allocate and protect demonstrably dwindling resources, given our society’s total dependence on oil-based products and technology, we are headed for certain destruction. Burning all the remaining fossil fuel on the planet would also jeopardize our survival. Unregulated capitalism, or fascism, is totally unable to defend us against these dangers, because it is the source of the problem.
In that regard, Bush’s recent statements concerning the possibility of an avian flu pandemic are extremely disturbing. For an administration dedicated only to making money for its clients, a flu pandemic is a mouth-watering opportunity. Bush’s focus on military-enforced quarantines is hardly an appetizing prospect, post-Katrina.
According to Dr. James E. Maynard, a twenty-seven-year veteran of the Center for Disease Control, the last thing we need is a military quarantine. Anti-virals that control one of the common sequelae of the flu, pneumonia, will probably be able to bring mortality rates down relative to those experienced in the great pandemic of the First World War. Vaccinated workers wearing barrier clothing can be deployed to carefully cull domestic chicken populations. The government should also negotiate a bulk rate on the drug that can combat this disease.
Somehow, though, if Bush is still around when flu season blows in, I think he’ll stick with the army. As Condi Rice said in another context this week, with her characteristic unintentional honesty—the woman is plain stupid—“I don’t think the president ever takes any of his options off the table concerning anything to do with military force.”
Bush’s open preparation for yet another national disaster demonstrates as nothing else could the impossibility of going on with our capitalist system in its present form. We are running a race to the bottom of the oil barrel.
Raw capitalism’s solution to our present situation is being enacted in front of us: grab everything you can before it’s gone. If it doesn’t result in the physical destruction of our planet, it’s going to be the end of the middle class, and of anything worthy of being called civilization. We have to stop it before it destroys all of us.
FOR DUMMIES® is a registered trademark of Wiley Publishing, Inc.
Patricia Goldsmith is a member of Long Island Media Watch, a grassroots free media and democracy watchdog group. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
IN HONOR OF ONE WHO HAS TREAD BEFORE ME AND MADE THE TRAIL ALL THE MORE PLEASANT
Rosa Lee McCauley Parks
FEBUARY 4TH 1913 - OCTOBER 24TH 2005
On December 1, 1955, Rosa Lee Parks (nee McCauley; born 1913) refused to relinquish her seat to a white passenger on a racially segregated Montgomery, Alabama bus. She was arrested and fined but her action led to a successful boycott of the Montgomery buses by African American riders.
Born Rosa McCauley in Tuskegee, Alabama, on February 4, 1913, the young girl did not seem destined for fame. Her mother was a teacher and her father, a carpenter. When she was still young she moved with her mother and brother to Pine Level, Alabama, to live with her grandparents. A hard-working family, they were able to provide her with the necessities of life but few luxuries while attempting to shield her from the harsh realities of racial segregation. Rosa attended the Montgomery Industrial School for Girls, graduated from the all-African American Booker T. Washington High School in 1928, and attended Alabama State College in Montgomery for a short time.
She married Raymond Parks, a barber, in 1932. Both Rosa and her husband were active in various civil rights causes, such as voter registration. Parks worked with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Youth Council and in 1943 was elected to serve as the secretary of the Montgomery branch. This group worked to dismantle the barriers of racial segregation in education and public accommodations but made little progress during the 1940s and early 1950s. In the summer of 1955 white friends paid Parks' expenses for a two-week interracial seminar at Tennessee's Highlander Folk School, a program designed to help people to train for civil rights activism.
Parks worked at various jobs over the years--as a housekeeper, an insurance saleswoman, and a seamstress. In 1955, while working at Montgomery Fair department store as a tailor's assistant, she discovered her name in the headlines. On the fateful night of December 1st, she was very tired as she headed for her bus, but had no plans for initiating a protest. According to the segregation laws in Montgomery, white passengers were given the front seats on the bus. Even if no white riders boarded, African Americans were not allowed to sit in those seats. If white passengers filled their allotted seats, African American riders--who had to pay the same amount of bus fare--had to give their seats to the whites. All of the bus drivers were instructed to have African Americans who disobeyed the rules removed from the bus, arrested, and fined. Some of the bus drivers demanded that African Americans pay their fares up front, get off the bus, and reenter through the back doors so that they would not pass by the seats of white patrons.
On December 1, 1955, Parks, who had taken a seat directly behind the white section, was asked to yield her seat to white passengers. Parks recognized the driver as one who had evicted her from a bus 12 years before when she refused to reenter through the back door after paying her fare. The bus driver threatened to have her arrested but she remained where she was. He then stopped the bus, brought in some policemen, and had Parks taken to police headquarters.
Certainly her case was not a unique; African Americans had been arrested for disobeying the segregation laws many times before. However, in 1954 the Supreme Court had rendered an important decision in Brown vs. Board of Education, which held that educational segregation was inherently illegal. The decision encouraged African Americans to fight more boldly for the end of racial segregation in every area of American life. Thus, NAACP officials and Montgomery church leaders decided that Parks' arrest could provide the necessary impetus for a successful bus boycott. They asked Montgomery's African American riders--who comprised over 70 percent of the bus company's business--to stop riding the buses until the company was willing to revise its policies toward African American riders and hire African American bus drivers.
Meeting at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, the ministers and their congregations formed the Montgomery Improvement Association and elected the young Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. as president. The boycott was extremely successful, lasting over 380 days. When the case was taken to the Supreme Court, the Justices declared that segregation of the Montgomery buses was illegal and officially desegregated them on December 20, 1956.
Parks and some of her family members, fired by their employers or continually harassed by angry whites, decided in 1957 to move to Detroit, Michigan. There they had a great deal of difficulty finding jobs, but Parks was finally employed by John Conyers, an African American member of the U.S. House of Representatives. She served as his receptionist and then staff assistant for 25 years while continuing her work with the NAACP and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and serving as a deaconess at the Saint Matthew African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Parks received numerous awards, including an honorary degree from Shaw College in Detroit, the 1979 NAACP Spingarn Medal, and an annual Freedom Award presented in her honor by the SCLC. In 1980 she was awarded the Martin Luther King Jr. Nonviolent Peace Prize and in 1984 the Eleanor Roosevelt Women of Courage Award. In 1988 she founded the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development, to train African American youth for leadership roles, and began serving as the institute's president. In 1989 her accomplishments were honored at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. Parks was in demand as a public speaker and traveled extensively to discuss her role in the civil rights movement.
In September 1994 Parks was beaten and robbed in her Detroit home. She fully recovered from this incident and remained active in African American issues. In October 1995 she participated in the Million Man March in Washington D.C., giving an inspirational speech.
Fellow civil rights leaders, friends, and family of Parks, expressed concern about her demanding schedule and finances in September 1997. They were unable to get answers from Parks' attorney, Gregory Reed, and personal assistant, Elaine Steele, who together had formed The Parks Legacy, a corporation that controlled the public property rights to Parks' image. According to court records, the "selling" of Parks included fees for autographs and pictures of the civil rights legend, her appearance in a rock video, and her image on a phone-calling card. An article in the Detroit News noted, "Civil rights leaders and marketing experts fear the products cheapen Parks' image and legacy as the mother of the civil rights movement." In April 1999 Parks filed a lawsuit against the rap duo OutKast for using her name without her consent, asking for $25,000 in damages and removal of her name from all OutKast products. The song titled "Rosa Parks" appears on the act's third album. A federal judge ruled against Parks on November 18, 1999, stating that OutKast's right to use Parks' name is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution. The group was not required to pay damages.
In 1998 Parks was recognized with the first International Freedom Conductor Award given by the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. President Bill Clinton awarded Parks the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation's highest civilian honor, in July 1999.
SourcesVirtually no history of the modern civil rights movement in the United States fails to mention the role of Rosa Parks. She tells her own story in The Autobiography of Rosa Parks (1990). Others relate her history in a book entitled Don't Ride the Bus on Monday by Louise Meriwether (1973) and in two children's books, one by Eloise Greenfield, Rosa Parks (1973) and another by Kai Friese, Rosa Parks (1990). Among several interesting works specifically relating to the boycott is Jo Ann Robinson's The Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Women Who Started It (1987). Also see the Detroit News (August 29, 1997, and September 28, 1997).
Biography Resource Center
©2001, Gale Group, Inc.
Rosa Parks was born Rosa Louise McCauley in Tuskegee, Alabama to James McCauley, a carpenter, and Leona McCauley, a teacher. At the age of two she moved to her grandparents' farm in Pine Level, Alabama with her mother and younger brother, Sylvester. At the age of 11 she enrolled in the Montgomery Industrial School for Girls, a private school founded by liberal-minded women from the northern United States. The school's philosophy of self-worth was consistent with Leona McCauley's advice to "take advantage of the opportunities, no matter how few they were."
After attending Alabama State Teachers College, the young Rosa settled in Montgomery, with her husband, Raymond Parks. The couple joined the local chapter of the NAACP and worked quietly for many years to improve the lot of African-Americans in the segregated south.
The bus incident led to the formation of the Montgomery Improvement Association, led by the young pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The association called for a boycott of the city-owned bus company. The boycott lasted 382 days and brought Mrs. Parks, Dr. King, and their cause to the attention of the world. A Supreme Court Decision struck down the Montgomery ordinance under which Mrs. Parks had been fined, and outlawed racial segregation on public transportation.
After the death of her husband, Mrs. Parks founded the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development. The Institute sponsors an annual summer program for teenagers called Pathways to Freedom. The young people tour the country in buses, under adult supervision, learning the history of their country and of the civil rights movement.
"I do the very best I can to look upon life with optimism and hope and looking forward to a better day, but I don't think there is anything such as complete happiness. It pains me that there is still a lot of Klan activity and racism. I think when you say you're happy, you have everything that you need and everything that you want, and nothing more to wish for. I haven't reached that stage yet."Human says - I could not decide which bio to post. Such short Bios do not do Justice to any soul who has been graced with life on earth with even a couple years much less the full life Rosa Parks enjoyed. As a member of the Southern Poverty Law Center I ordered the tape "Mighty Times" which told the story of Rosa Parks stance. It is a very informative show. A lot of facts that are not often talked were taught to me. Did you know that Rosa Parks was sitting in the designated area for Blacks when a White man demanded her seat? The "Law" was that if the White section was full a White person had the right to take a seat in the Black section. She refused and the fight was on. Did you know, that an ensuing campaign of Boycotting White businesses was so effective that White businesses ended up demanding that Blacks be seated where they want? I sure didn't. There has not been an official memorial donation site designated. However I think Rosa and Raymond Parks would not mind so much if you gave something to the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development
65 Cadillac Square, Suite 2200
Detroit, MI 48226
Thank you Rosa.
Monday, October 24, 2005
Bush at Bay: Fitzgerald Looks at Niger Forgeries
By Martin Walker
Monday 24 October 2005
Washington - The CIA leak inquiry that threatens senior White House aides has now widened to include the forgery of documents on African uranium that started the investigation, according to NAT0 intelligence sources.
This suggests the inquiry by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald into the leaking of the identity of undercover CIA officer Valerie Plame has now widened to embrace part of the broader question about the way the Iraq war was justified by the Bush administration.
Fitzgerald's inquiry is expected to conclude this week and despite feverish speculation in Washington, there have been no leaks about his decision whether to issue indictments and against whom and on what charges.
Two facts are, however, now known and between them they do not bode well for the deputy chief of staff at the White House, Karl Rove, President George W Bush's senior political aide, not for Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby.
The first is that Fitzgerald last year sought and obtained from the Justice Department permission to widen his investigation from the leak itself to the possibility of cover-ups, perjury and obstruction of justice by witnesses. This has renewed the old saying from the days of the Watergate scandal, that the cover-up can be more legally and politically dangerous than the crime.
The second is that NATO sources have confirmed to United Press International that Fitzgerald's team of investigators has sought and obtained documentation on the forgeries from the Italian government.
Fitzgerald's team has been given the full, and as yet unpublished report of the Italian parliamentary inquiry into the affair, which started when an Italian journalist obtained documents that appeared to show officials of the government of Niger helping to supply the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein with Yellowcake uranium. This claim, which made its way into President Bush's State of the Union address in January, 2003, was based on falsified documents from Niger and was later withdrawn by the White House.
This opens the door to what has always been the most serious implication of the CIA leak case, that the Bush administration could face a brutally damaging and public inquiry into the case for war against Iraq being false or artificially exaggerated. This was the same charge that imperiled the government of Bush's closest ally, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, after a BBC Radio program claimed Blair's aides has "sexed up" the evidence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
There can be few more serious charges against a government than going to war on false pretences, or having deliberately inflated or suppressed the evidence that justified the war.
And since no WMD were found in Iraq after the 2003 war, despite the evidence from the U.N. inspections of the 1990s that demonstrated that Saddam Hussein had initiated both a nuclear and a biological weapons program, the strongest plank in the Bush administration's case for war has crumbled beneath its feet.
The reply of both the Bush and Blair administrations was that they made their assertions about Iraq's WMD in good faith, and that other intelligence agencies like the French and German were equally mistaken in their belief that Iraq retained chemical weapons, along with the ambition and some of technological basis to restart the nuclear and biological programs.
It is this central issue of good faith that the CIA leak affair brings into question. The initial claims Iraq was seeking raw uranium in the west African state of Niger aroused the interest of vice-president Cheney, who asked for more investigation. At a meeting of CIA and other officials, a CIA officer working under cover in the office that dealt with nuclear proliferation, Valerie Plame, suggested her husband, James Wilson, a former ambassador to several African states, enjoyed good contacts in Niger and could make a preliminary inquiry. He did so, and returned concluding that the claims were untrue. In July 2003, he wrote an article for The New York Times making his mission - and his disbelief - public.
But by then Elisabetta Burba, a journalist for the Italian magazine Panorama (owned by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi) had been contacted by a "security consultant" named Rocco Martoni, offering to sell documents that "proved" Iraq was obtaining uranium in Niger for $10,000. Rather than pay the money, Burba's editor passed photocopies of the documents to the U.S. Embassy, which forwarded them to Washington, where the forgery was later detected. Signatures were false, and the government ministers and officials who had signed them were no longer in office on the dates on which the documents were supposedly written.
Nonetheless, the forged documents appeared, on the face of it, to shore up the case for war, and to discredit Wilson. The origin of the forgeries is therefore of real importance, and any link between the forgeries and Bush administration aides would be highly damaging and almost certainly criminal.
The letterheads and official seals that appeared to authenticate the documents apparently came from a burglary at the Niger Embassy in Rome in 2001. At this point, the facts start dribbling away into conspiracy theories that involve membership of shadowy Masonic lodges, Iranian go-betweens, right-wing cabals inside Italian Intelligence and so on. It is not yet known how far Fitzgerald, in his two years of inquiries, has fished in these murky waters.
There is one line of inquiry with an American connection that Fitzgerald would have found it difficult to ignore. This is the claim that a mid-ranking Pentagon official, Larry Franklin, held talks with some Italian intelligence and defense officials in Rome in late 2001. Franklin has since been arrested on charges of passing classified information to staff of the pro-Israel lobby group, the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee. Franklin has reportedly reached a plea bargain with his prosecutor, Paul McNulty, and it would be odd if McNulty and Fitzgerald had not conferred to see if their inquiries connected.
Where all this leads will not be clear until Fitzgerald breaks his silence, widely expected to occur this week when the term of his grand jury expires.
If Fitzgerald issues indictments, then the hounds that are currently baying across the blogosphere will leap into the mainstream media and whole affair, Iranian go-betweens and Rome burglaries included, will come into the mainstream of the mass media and network news where Mr. and Mrs. America can see it.
If Fitzgerald issues no indictments, the matter will not simply die away, in part because the press is now hotly engaged, after the new embarrassment of the Times over the imprisonment of the paper's Judith Miller. There is also an uncomfortable sense that the press had given the Bush administration too easy a ride after 9/11. And the Bush team is now on the ropes and its internal discipline breaking down, making it an easier target.
Then there is a separate Senate Select Intelligence Committee inquiry under way, and while the Republican chairman Pat Roberts of Kansas seems to be dragging his feet, the ranking Democrat, Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, is now under growing Democratic Party pressure to pursue this question of falsifying the case for war.
And last week, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, introduced a resolution to require the president and secretary of state to furnish to Congress documents relating to the so-called White House Iraq Group. Chief of staff Andrew Card formed the WHIG task force in August 2002 - seven months before the invasion of Iraq, and Kucinich claims they were charged "with the mission of marketing a war in Iraq."
The group included: Rove, Libby, Condoleezza Rice, Karen Hughes, Mary Matalin and Stephen Hadley (now Bush's national security adviser) and produced white papers that put into dramatic form the intelligence on Iraq's supposed nuclear threat. WHIG launched its media blitz in September 2002, six months before the war. Rice memorably spoke of the prospect of "a mushroom cloud," and Card revealingly explained why he chose September, saying "From a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August."
The marketing is over but the war goes on. The press is baying and the law closes in. The team of Bush loyalists in the White House is demoralized and braced for disaster.
OH, THAT PARTITION
Denver Post Washington Bureau Chief
Washington - President Bush's goal of creating a united, peaceful Iraq that will serve as a beacon of democracy in the Middle East could take as long as a decade and cost thousands more Iraqi and American lives, administration officials say.
A more modest objective is emerging for the near term, in which the security forces of an Iraq partitioned along ethnic and religious lines take over the war against a stubborn insurgency, allowing the United States to withdraw its combat forces.
This scenario would leave a weakened central state apportioned into Kurdish, Sunni and Shiite districts and bears its own risk: the possibility of a civil war that could spread into region- wide conflicts, analysts and government officials say.
"When you talk about the longer-term goal of a stable, democratic, multiethnic, unitary Iraq, that's going to take a long time," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told a Senate committee last week.
"The short-term goal is to make Iraqi forces capable enough of holding their own territory against insurgents so that there is not ... a threat to the political stability of the Iraqi regime," Rice said.
In an exchange with Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., Rice declined to quarrel with his definition of the short-term scenario as "a Kurdish north, a Shia (or Shiite) south and a disgruntled Sunni center that constituted a loose federation and was not engaged in all-out civil war but wasn't practicing the sort of democracy we enjoy here in the United States."
"It's not conceivable that the Sunnis and the Shias are going to overcome hundreds of years of differences within a matter of a couple of years," Rice said later.
Her remarks contrasted with the rosy forecasts of postwar democracy made by the administration before the U.S. invasion on March 20, 2003.
Gen. George Casey, commander of coalition forces in Iraq, has warned the Senate in public and classified briefings in recent weeks that "the average counterinsurgency in the 20th century has lasted nine years."
Said Casey: "There's no reason that we should believe that the insurgency in Iraq will take any less time."
"We just signed up for nine years," one senator said to another as they left the closed-door briefing.
At her own Senate hearing last week, Rice declined the opportunity to predict that U.S. troops will be withdrawn from Iraq within 10 years.
The U.S. is caught in a vise, however. American commanders believe that their massive military presence is having a counterproductive effect, fueling the insurgency and inhibiting the development of national institutions in Iraq.
"Increased coalition presence feeds the notion of occupation. It contributes to the dependency of Iraqi security forces on the coalition," Casey said. "It extends the amount of time that it will take for Iraqi security forces to become self-reliant. And it exposes more coalition forces to attacks."
"Army ... in bad shape"
Military leaders also are concerned about the effect of the war on morale, recruiting, equipment - and public support.
"My army right now is truly in bad shape," says retired Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell. "Problems are brewing."
And so the U.S. is furiously trying, and with some success, to train Iraqi soldiers and police in the hope of withdrawing some American troops next year. At the same time, the United States is prodding Iraqi leaders to build a government that can lure alienated Sunnis away from violence.
"The Iraqis have consistently surprised us at every milestone," said Michael Rubin, an analyst at the American Enterprise Institute and supporter of the U.S. intervention.
"If we look at the bigger picture, what Iraq has now ... (is) very peaceful debates over the constitution - very, very passionate debates, very emotional debates, but nonetheless largely peaceful," Rubin said.
Yet U.S. officials can't even say if last weekend's referendum on a new constitution was a success because the alienated Sunni minority participated in the political process or a failure because the Sunnis overwhelmingly voted to reject the charter.
"We've looked for the constitution to be a national compact," Casey said. "The perception now is that it's not, particularly among the Sunni."
Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, warned that "the Kurds and the Shiites, who have dominated the drafting of the constitution, have opted for a weak central government structure that maximizes their autonomy in the regions where they predominate."
"Most Sunnis reject such an arrangement as leaving them with few resources and little power," Lugar said. "These perceived inequities fuel the insurgency by Sunni rejectionists and threaten civil conflicts which could mean the permanent division of Iraq."
"It's a terrible situation," said Leslie Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations. "The insurgents cannot win the war militarily as long as the U.S. stays there in force. And we can't win the war ... without there being a real political deal ... and that is getting unlikely."
If Iraq dissolves, or slides into civil war, it would be difficult for its Middle East neighbors - coveting Iraqi oil and fearing that violence might spread to their own countries - to refrain from intervening.
"What could tear things apart is a strong civil war," said Anthony Cordesman, a Middle East expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Under that scenario, there is a "natural tendency" for migration of ethnic groups into homogeneous regions "and ethnic cleansing," he said. Jon Alterman, a colleague at the center, said: "There is going to be regional involvement if an Iraqi civil war breaks out. ... The downsides of this could be absolutely catastrophic." Said Wilkerson: "I don't have too much problem envisioning the Turks taking over at least the top third of Iraq were we to leave a mess. I don't have a problem with (envisioning) the Syrians then becoming involved, the Iranians becoming involved." Iraq's economy remains in shambles, its government pla gued by inefficiency and misfeasance, and its people subject to assassination, kidnapping, bombings and other acts of violence. "National elections and elite political deals won't lead to stability ... as long as average Iraqis can't turn on the lights, can't drink the water, can't step out of their homes without stepping into raw sewage and can't let their daughters leave the house for fear of being kidnapped," said Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee. "We now have a de facto civil war, but we don't call it that. We pretend it isn't a civil war. We cover it up in all kinds of other ways," said Qubad Talabany, the representative of Iraq's Kurdish region to the U.S. Even if the Iraqis hold successful parliamentary elections in December and sink the roots of a true democracy, the Sunni rebellion could go on for years. "We cannot assume that the establishment of democratic institutions in Iraq in the short term will yield a corresponding diminishment of the insurgency," Lugar said. American military and civilian leaders offer few guarantees and acknowledge that the forces tearing at Iraq may force U.S. troops to stay in order to prevent civil war. The new constitution, which reserves many powers for ethnic- and sectarian-dominated regions, may add to the destructive forces. "To devolve power so quickly and so drastically from an already weak central government to regions that have no capacity except what is provided by militias is a recipe for even greater chaos," said Rend Rahim, a former Iraqi ambassador to the U.S. But the alternative, U.S. generals say, is even worse: to one day return and fight a cataclysmic war to save the region's oil fields and U.S. allies from the forces of Islamic extremism. "The implications of allowing the region to become dominated by the ideology of al-Qaeda are the same as the implication in the years previous to World War II of allowing fascism to become the ideology of Germany," said Gen. John Abizaid, chief of U.S. Central Command. "It will lead to a big war that none of us can stand." "If we leave precipitously, ... we will (have to) mobilize the nation, put 5 million men and women under arms and go back and take the Middle East within a decade," Wilkerson said. On this point, Democratic critics of the Bush administration's handling of the war agree. "We need to succeed in Iraq. If we don't, we will create a snake pit ... of terrorists," said Rep. Ike Skelton of Missouri, ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee. The sobering picture of Iraq presented by U.S. officials over the past three weeks is itself a gamble. With popular support for the war at a low in public opinion polls, military and civilian leaders are trying to reduce expectations and prepare Americans for a long and costly ordeal, while not fueling arguments for an immediate troop withdrawal. The war's supporters, however, fear that domestic political pressures are pushing the Bush administration toward premature concessions and abandonment of Iraqi democrats. The Iraqi constitution, "perhaps the most important document to come out of the modern Middle East, has been reduced to a benchmark on America's way out the door," said Danielle Pletka, an analyst at the American Enterprise Institute. "We were going to have a federal system that might have been inclusive and democratic," said Kanan Makiya, a leader among the Iraqi expatriates who opposed Saddam Hussein. "We are now inexorably moving, it seems to me, towards a tripartite federal structure that includes Kurdish, Shiite and Sunni regions ... perhaps even dealing a death blow to the idea of Iraq."
"A de facto civil war"
Jon Alterman, a colleague at the center, said: "There is going to be regional involvement if an Iraqi civil war breaks out. ... The downsides of this could be absolutely catastrophic."
Said Wilkerson: "I don't have too much problem envisioning the Turks taking over at least the top third of Iraq were we to leave a mess. I don't have a problem with (envisioning) the Syrians then becoming involved, the Iranians becoming involved."
Iraq's economy remains in shambles, its government pla gued by inefficiency and misfeasance, and its people subject to assassination, kidnapping, bombings and other acts of violence.
"National elections and elite political deals won't lead to stability ... as long as average Iraqis can't turn on the lights, can't drink the water, can't step out of their homes without stepping into raw sewage and can't let their daughters leave the house for fear of being kidnapped," said Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee.
"We now have a de facto civil war, but we don't call it that. We pretend it isn't a civil war. We cover it up in all kinds of other ways," said Qubad Talabany, the representative of Iraq's Kurdish region to the U.S.
Even if the Iraqis hold successful parliamentary elections in December and sink the roots of a true democracy, the Sunni rebellion could go on for years.
"We cannot assume that the establishment of democratic institutions in Iraq in the short term will yield a corresponding diminishment of the insurgency," Lugar said.
American military and civilian leaders offer few guarantees and acknowledge that the forces tearing at Iraq may force U.S. troops to stay in order to prevent civil war.
The new constitution, which reserves many powers for ethnic- and sectarian-dominated regions, may add to the destructive forces.
"To devolve power so quickly and so drastically from an already weak central government to regions that have no capacity except what is provided by militias is a recipe for even greater chaos," said Rend Rahim, a former Iraqi ambassador to the U.S.
But the alternative, U.S. generals say, is even worse: to one day return and fight a cataclysmic war to save the region's oil fields and U.S. allies from the forces of Islamic extremism.
"The implications of allowing the region to become dominated by the ideology of al-Qaeda are the same as the implication in the years previous to World War II of allowing fascism to become the ideology of Germany," said Gen. John Abizaid, chief of U.S. Central Command. "It will lead to a big war that none of us can stand."
"If we leave precipitously, ... we will (have to) mobilize the nation, put 5 million men and women under arms and go back and take the Middle East within a decade," Wilkerson said.
On this point, Democratic critics of the Bush administration's handling of the war agree.
"We need to succeed in Iraq. If we don't, we will create a snake pit ... of terrorists," said Rep. Ike Skelton of Missouri, ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee.
The sobering picture of Iraq presented by U.S. officials over the past three weeks is itself a gamble.
With popular support for the war at a low in public opinion polls, military and civilian leaders are trying to reduce expectations and prepare Americans for a long and costly ordeal, while not fueling arguments for an immediate troop withdrawal.
The war's supporters, however, fear that domestic political pressures are pushing the Bush administration toward premature concessions and abandonment of Iraqi democrats.
The Iraqi constitution, "perhaps the most important document to come out of the modern Middle East, has been reduced to a benchmark on America's way out the door," said Danielle Pletka, an analyst at the American Enterprise Institute.
"We were going to have a federal system that might have been inclusive and democratic," said Kanan Makiya, a leader among the Iraqi expatriates who opposed Saddam Hussein.
"We are now inexorably moving, it seems to me, towards a tripartite federal structure that includes Kurdish, Shiite and Sunni regions ... perhaps even dealing a death blow to the idea of Iraq."
Saturday, October 22, 2005
SUSPECTED CIA ASSASSINS GOING ON TRIAL
According to Venezuelan newspaper El Universal, the Venezuelan Attorney General, Isaiah Rodriguez, has announced that there is clear evidence that the Central Intelligence Agency advised a team of conspirators on how to assassinate Judge Danilo Anderson, who in 2002 was investigating the circumstances surrounding the attempted coup against President Hugo Chavez.
October 15, 2005Original Article (Spanish)
The Aftermath of the Blast that Killed Danilo Anderson in November 2002.
"The CIA advised, with all of its experience, the method for carrying out this terrorist act," said Attorney General of the Republic, Isaiah Rodriguez, in regard to the participation of the Central Intelligence Agency in the murder of Judge Danilo Anderson.
Judge Danilo Anderson
[Editor's Note: The Venezuelan authorities believe Anderson was killed by two charges of C4 plastic explosive fixed to his car and detonated remotely, apparently by cell phone].
Once again, he said that the criminal attack, committed on the 18th of November, 2004, was part of a conspiracy to carry out two assassinations: one against himself and another against President Hugo Chávez, but the original plan was never carried out because the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia and the CIA handlers warned of the risks such a plan involved.
"They then turned their attention to a person involved with the investigation that had less security and so was more vulnerable, and that person was [Judge] Danilo Anderson. For this reason, the CIA is involved with the death of
To be precise, the Attorney General said that the participation of the CIA consisted of the presence of its agents at meetings in
Venezuelan Attorney General Isaiah Rodriguez
[Editor's Note: The United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia is an umbrella group of right-wing paramilitary organizations created to protect the economic interests of landowners and to combat left-wing FARC and ELN insurgents in
In regard to this, the Attorney General exhorted the Government of the
Rodriguez is confident that on November 4th, a public trial under magistrate number 20, Luis Goatherd, will begin hearing oral arguments on the criminal responsibility of former police officials Juan Bautista, and Otoniel and Rolando Guevara, as key participants in
The Attorney General reiterated that authorities have identified two main authors of the crime, who were present at meetings in
GAG ORDER REMOVED ON CANADIEN TORTURE EVIDENCE
Gag Removed On Canadian Bush Torture Charges
Gag Order Lifted On Canadian Torture Charges Against Bush
by Lawyers against the War
October 19, 2005
Lawyers Against the War (LAW) is claiming a victory in its battle to have George W. Bush face charges in Canada for torture.
The charges stem from the notorious cases of torture practiced by U.S. forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. They were laid on the occasion of George W. Bush’s controversial visit to Canada in November 2004. The charges were laid under sections of the Canadian Criminal Code enacted pursuant to the United Nations Torture Convention which requires extra-territorial jurisdiction to be exercised against officials, even Heads of State, who authorize or are otherwise responsible for torture.
On Monday, the Supreme Court of BC quashed an order banning publication of everything having to do with the charges imposed when they were first laid. In a secret hearing, held December 6th 2004 in B.C. Provincial Court, the charges against Bush were rejected on the basis of arguments by the Attorney General of British Columbia that the visiting president was shielded from prosecution by diplomatic immunity. A ban on publication of anything to do with the proceedings was also imposed.
The secrecy, the immunity claim and the ban are vigorously opposed by LAW, who appealed all aspects of the decision.
On Monday, Justice Satanove of the Supreme Court of British Columbia quashed the ban on publication after government lawyers failed to come up with any argument to defend it. The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association had intervened on the side of LAW against the ban.
“This is a very important victory”, said Gail Davidson, who laid the charges and, along with Howard Rubin, argued the case for LAW, “because it ensures that the proceedings will be scrutinized by people in Canada and throughout the world, to make sure that the law is applied fairly and properly and, above all, to make sure that Bush doesn’t get away with torture.”
“The American legal system seems incapable of bringing him to justice and there are no international courts with jurisdiction. So it’s up to Canada to enforce the law that everybody has signed on to but nobody else seems willing to apply.”
The next hearing in the case will take place on November 25th 2005, at 10:00 a.m. at the B.C. Supreme Court, 800 Smithe Street, Vancouver, B.C., when government lawyers have said they will argue that the case is no longer “moot” because the Attorney General of Canada has not yet consented to the prosecution. Toronto law professor Michael Mandel, co-chair of LAW, calls this argument “bogus”: “He’s still guilty of torture, he’s still on the loose and we still have our obligations under the UN Convention to bring torturers to justice.”
Michael Mandel, Tel: +1 416 736-5039: Fax: +1 416-736-5736; MMandel@osgoode.yorku.ca
Gail Davidson, Tel: +1 604 738 0338; Fax: 604 736 1175; email@example.com
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Centre for Research on Globalization.
The Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG) at www.globalresearch.ca grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles in their entirety, or any portions thereof, on community internet sites, as long as the text & title are not modified. The source must be acknowledged and an active URL hyperlink address to the original CRG article must be indicated. The author's copyright note must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
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© Copyright Lawyers against the War, GlobalResearch.ca, 2005
As many of you know the Pentagon is suppressing photo evidence of that will have a much more horrendous effect on the American People than from the previous Abu Gharib pics that have been released.
I say send the evidence to the U.N. and the International Court. These Canadien pics, if released, along with Delay's indictment, and the very promising pending indictments against the Court at the White Palace, will topple the sick bastards. My worry is the Bush Crime Family or Allies will do something drastic and very violent, and if toppled, what will we replace it with?
Peace. Your Fellow Human
SHUCKING AND JIVING
DeLay Seeks New Judge for Texas Trial
Republican's Attorneys Allege Bias, Citing Contributions to Democratic Causes
Saturday, October 22, 2005; Page A04
HOUSTON OIL MAN CHARGED IN IRAQ OIL FOR FOOD PROGRAM
Here is da kink - http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/topstory2/3407592
Friday, October 21, 2005
"TRUST BUT VERIFY"
t r u t h o u t | Report Friday 21 October 2005
Rep. Waxman led twelve members of Congress today in releasing a new GAO report that found security and reliability flaws in the electronic voting process.
In a joint press release, Rep. Waxman said, "The GAO report indicates that we need to get serious and act quickly to improve the security of electronic voting machines. The report makes clear that there is a lack of transparency and accountability in electronic voting systems - from the day that contracts are signed with manufacturers to the counting of electronic votes on Election Day. State and local officials are spending a great deal of money on machines without concrete proof that they are secure and reliable."
The GAO report found flaws in security, access, and hardware controls, as well as weak security management practices by voting machine vendors. The report identified multiple examples of actual operational failures in real elections and found that while national initiatives to improve the security and reliability of electronic voting systems are underway, "it is unclear when these initiatives will be available to assist state and local election authorities."
Rep. Waxman also released a fact sheet summarizing the report's key findings.
In October 2005, the Government Accountability Office released a comprehensive analysis of the concerns raised by the increasing use of electronic voting machines.
Overall, GAO found that "significant concerns about the security and reliability of electronic voting systems" have been raised (p. 22).
GAO indicated that "some of these concerns have been realized and have caused problems with recent elections, resulting in the loss and miscount of votes" (p. 23).
According to GAO, "election officials, computer security experts, citizen advocacy groups, and others have raised significant concerns about the security and reliability of electronic voting systems, citing instances of weak security controls, system design flaws, inadequate system version control, inadequate security testing, incorrect system configuration, poor security management, and vague or incomplete standards, among other issues. ... The security and reliability concerns raised in recent reports merit the focused attention of federal, state, and local authorities responsible for election administration" (p. 22-23).
Specific Problems Identified by GAO
Based on reports from election experts, GAO compiled numerous examples of problems with electronic voting systems. These included:
Flaws in System Security Controls
Examples of problems reported by GAO include (1) computer systems that fail to encrypt data files containing cast votes, allowing them to be viewed or modified without detection by internal auditing systems; (2) systems that could allow individuals to alter ballot definition files so that votes cast for one candidate are counted for another; and (3) weak controls that allowed the alteration of memory cards used in optical scan machines, potentially impacting election results. GAO concluded that "these weaknesses could damage the integrity of ballots, votes, and voting system software by allowing unauthorized modifications (p. 25).
Flaws in Access Controls
Examples of problems reported by GAO include (1) the failure to password-protect files and functions; (2) the use of easily guessed passwords or identical passwords for numerous systems built by the same manufacturer; and (3) the failure to secure memory cards used to secure voting systems, potentially allowing individuals to vote multiple times, change vote totals, or produce false election reports.
According to GAO, "in the event of lax supervision, the ... flaws could allow unauthorized personnel to disrupt operations or modify data and programs that are crucial to the accuracy and integrity of the voting process" (p. 26).
Flaws in Physical Hardware Controls
In addition to identifying flaws in software and access controls, GAO identified basic problems with the physical hardware of electronic voting machines. Example of problems reported by GAO included locks that could be easily picked or were all controlled by the same keys, and unprotected switches used to turn machines on and off that could easily be used to disrupt the voting process (p. 27).
Weak Security Management Practices by Voting Machine Vendors
Experts contacted by GAO reported a number of concerns about the practices of voting machine vendors, including the failure to conduct background checks on programmers and system developers, the lack of internal security protocols during software development, and the failure to establish clear chain of custody procedures for handling and transporting software (p. 29).
Actual Examples of Voting System Failure
GAO found multiple examples of actual operational failures in real elections. These examples include the following incidents:
- In California, a county presented voters with an incorrect electronic ballot, meaning they could not vote in certain races (p. 29).
- In Pennsylvania, a county made a ballot error on an electronic voting system that resulted in the county's undervote percentage reaching 80% in some precincts (p. 29-30).
- In North Carolina, electronic voting machines continued to accept votes after their memories were full, causing over 4,000 votes to be lost (p. 31).
- In Florida, a county reported that touch screens took up to an hour to activate and had to be activated sequentially, resulting in long delays (p. 31).
Current Federal Standards and Initiatives Are Ineffective and Are Unlikely to Provide Solutions in a Timely Fashion
GAO reported that voluntary standards for electronic voting, adopted in 2002 by the Federal Election Commission, have been criticized for containing vague and incomplete security provisions, inadequate provisions for commercial products and networks, and inadequate documentation requirements (pp. 32-33).
GAO further reported that "security experts and some election officials have expressed concern that tests currently performed by independent testing authorities and state and local election officials do not adequately assess electronic voting system security and reliability," and that "these concerns are amplified by what some perceive as a lack of transparency in the testing process" (p. 34). The GAO report indicated that national initiatives to improve voting system security and reliability of electronic voting systems (such as updated standards from the Election Assistance Commission; federal accreditation of independent testing laboratories; and certification of voting systems to national standards) are underway, but " a majority of these efforts either lack specific plans for implementation in time to affect the 2006 general election or are not expected to be completed until after the 2006 election" (p. 43). As a result, GAO found that "it is unclear when these initiatives will be available to assist state and local election officials" (p. 43). According to GAO, "Until these efforts are completed, there is a risk that many state and local jurisdictions will rely on voting systems that were not developed, acquired, tested, operated, or managed in accordance with rigorous security and reliability standards - potentially affecting the reliability of future elections and voter confidence in the accuracy of the vote count" (p. 53).
GAO made several recommendations, primarily aimed at the federal Election Assistance Commission (p. 53). GAO recommended that the EAC should:
- Collaborate with appropriate technical experts to define specific tasks, outcomes, milestones, and resource needs required to improve voting system standards;
- Expeditiously establish documented policies, criteria, and procedures for certifying voting systems; and
- Improve support for state and local officials via improved information dissemination information on voting machine software, the problems and vulnerabilities of voting machines, and the "best practices" used by state and local officials to ensure the security of electronic voting machines.
To view the full report: http://www.democrats.reform.house.gov/Documents/20051021122225-53143.pdf.
Thursday, October 20, 2005
A SECRET CABAL
I have not seen any coverage by the MSM, save for Brit Hume's show on FAUX NEWS.
The round table "discussion" took a lot of time to smear the presenter depicted in the video.
ATTACKING ON ALL FRONTS
By Jason Miller
Desperate People are Dangerous People
The Bush regime knows that
They Have Done It Before, and They Can Do It Again
In the past, I have written that the
Consider the fact that the federal government and their corporate, moneyed allies have historically maintained control of the American public through psychological manipulation and economic domination. Until recently, their scheme has worked to near perfection. Interestingly, the power brokers in
Days of the “Soft Tyranny” Are Numbered
Even the freedoms we seem to enjoy have been carefully regulated from “on high”. Propaganda disguised as news in the mainstream media has manipulated the thoughts and opinions of many Americans for years. Corporations spend billions each year on advertising to ensure the perpetuation of Americans' obsession with gluttonous over-consumption, narcissistic worship of wealth and external beauty, and belief that amoral behemoths like Wal-Mart are benevolent pillars of "
Weigh the fact that the public education system provides a white-washed version of history, leaving many Americans with limited awareness of the imperialism, cruelty, genocide, and state terrorism perpetrated by our government for many years. This same educational system emphasizes rote learning over the development of critical thought. The abhorrent No Child Left Behind Act virtually forces teachers to abandon nurturing their students' analytical capacities as they drill them in preparation to do well on tests (for fear of the punitive measures imposed on schools whose students do not perform well). Automaton thinkers serve the American Empire quite well, and those skeptics who occasionally slip through are quickly discredited as "anti-American liberals", "Communists", or more recently, as "supporters of terrorists".
With the advent of the Internet, Americans have unprecedented access to information and a powerful means to network and communicate quickly. This has severely under-mined the "soft tyranny" the
We Know there is a Problem…..So Now What?
Having made the assertion that the United States is evolving into an overt tyranny, I will turn to a question many readers have asked me by email. What do we do about it?
I want to start by quoting Noam Chomsky from his latest book, Imperial Ambitions: Conversations on the Post 9/11 World:
“We have every option open to us, and have none of the problems that are faced by intellectuals in
Well-Armed but not Invulnerable….
Yes, we do have options, and it is time to exercise those options before the ruling elite severely limits them. As Chomsky indicated, there is no "magic key". Those of us who passionately desire social justice and peace need to commit to a prolonged effort, and prepare ourselves to endure strong resistance, threats, intimidation, ridicule, persecution and even punitive measures from the government once their "soft tyranny" mechanisms finish imploding.
Some readers have written to me that they are ready to engage in a violent revolution, and that this is the "only way" to supplant the avaricious, malevolent force we call a government. I would remind those individuals that they are suggesting that the American citizenry take up arms against the most powerful military machine in the history of man-kind. Besides the astronomical odds against victory, the notion of a violent revolution also begs the question: who or what would fill the political vacuum left if such a revolution was successful? The odds are that a tyranny imposed by the most powerful amongst the victors would arise. If a violent revolution did emerge, I would not stand in their way to help defend the abomination in DC, but I would not join them either.
I believe that we are running a marathon, not a sprint. Remember, the corrupt entity in
Fuel for my Passion
Fifteen years ago, I underwent a spiritual crisis. Along the path to rock bottom, I experienced homelessness, joblessness, severe emotional pain, and isolation. From the heights of being Valedictorian of my high school class (with a fully paid university scholarship), I plummeted to seven years of self-destruction and mostly self-inflicted pain. Drifting from menial job to menial job, abandoning my young twin boys to the care of their mother for a short time, suffering a severe industrial accident, and abandoning the use of my Higher Power-endowed gifts of tenacity, intellectual dissection and analysis, and capacity to articulate, I slipped into the abyss of my own private nightmare.
Realizing I was addicted to alcohol, I quit drinking and began a profound evolution. As I climbed the path back to spiritual health, my soul searching led me to deep existential wanderings. I read, studied, pondered, kept journals, and conversed with a wide array of people. My thirst for philosophical and spiritual knowledge grew logarithmically. I healed and I reclaimed my spiritual well-being. I became very active in my twins' lives again. I found employment which suited my strengths and paid me a decent wage. I returned to school and completed my degree by chipping away one course per semester (while I worked and parented my children). I met my current wife, who had a two year old boy. I have since adopted him. In 1997 I quit smoking and freed myself from the psychological chains of yet another product of avaricious corporations. In 2002 I began teaching myself Spanish, and am now proficient enough that I can converse with my numerous Hispanic immigrant customers in their first language. My wife and I both work to maintain a lower middle class income (no easy task under the Bush regime).
Having reclaimed my soul and embraced truly fulfilling spiritual values, it was only a matter of time before I awakened from my slumber and discovered the fetid odor of decay and corruption emanating from
Exposing the Lies and Turning the Tables on Them
One of the first things that those of us vigorously pursuing social justice need to do is to reframe the debate. Those in power have worked tenaciously to portray themselves as shining liberators in
Their prevarications are indeed both flagrant and obvious. In 2003, the
We who are struggling for social justice need to pierce the false image of benevolence projected by our government through the education system and corporate-controlled media. More Americans need to see our deviant and twisted leaders as they truly are. We need to deliver the message that what we are seeking is a society (and a government which reflects and represents that society) which treats all of its members with dignity, reveres human rights for all people, is militarily prepared to defend itself from a legitimate threat but not to engage in imperial expansion, limits the obscene power entrusted to corporations, is prepared to make the sacrifices necessary to protect our environment, seeks peaceful co-existence with the rest of the world, is prepared to abandon wanton over-consumption, respects international law and the treaties to which it is a part, promotes an education system which teaches a more honest view of history and critical thinking skills, and adheres to the US Constitution. We need to rally more people to our cause because it is just and humane, not because it is "left" or "right" or "Republican" or "Democrat". Partisanship is divisive and is another illusion created by the government to divide and conquer its "underlings". A moral and sane government is what we seek, and people need to understand our goal.
Purveyors of Porn are not the Only Beneficiaries….
As activists for social justice, the Internet is one of our most powerful tools. Thus far, the government and their corporate partners have not gained control of this invaluable means of communication. I know from my own experience that gathering news and information from the Internet (in a discerning manner so as to exclude the trash) is far more reliable than watching Fox or reading the New York Times. Besides the myriad of alternative media sites which are not compelled by corporate masters to maintain
Don’t Underestimate the Power of Simple Acts….
Few if any acts are too small to be of value to the advancement of true freedom and justice in the
Strength in Numbers and Concerted Efforts
We need to join groups like the ACLU and Amnesty International (or one of hundreds of other NGOs) which struggle for human rights, freedom, peace or equality. I cited the ACLU and Amnesty because I am a member of both. I have done volunteer work for the ACLU and participated in some of their meetings and activities. I utilize both organizations' Websites to glean information about civil and human rights violations, and to send letters to various members of governments around the world on behalf of the oppressed. With what little discretionary money my wife and I have, we donate regularly to theoe two entities and sporadically to various charities. Groups and organizations bring large numbers of similar-minded people together and garner significant resources needed to mount legal challenges to the criminal acts of our government, and to expose those committing egregiously unlawful and immoral acts to the glaring spot-light of public awareness. Charities help to fill the gap left by the diversion of our tax dollars to military funding.
Teach Your Children (and Yourselves) Well…
We need to educate ourselves. I recommend visiting alternative media Websites often to read articles by people like Norman Solomon, Ramzy Baroud, Charles Sullivan, Mike Whitney, Phil Rockstroh, Uri Avnery, Kim Petersen, Paul Craig Roberts, Mickey Z, and Jack Dalton. I suggest authors like Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, Tariq Ali, Thomas Frank, Scott Peck, John Bradshaw, Sam Keene, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Sinclair Lewis, Upton Sinclair, Henry David Thoreau, and Franz Kafka. Turn off the television and pick up a book or read an article on the Internet. The ruling elite has taken American's intellectual apathy to new heights through the medium of television. I work to avoid watching this "opiate to the masses”, which is nearly a perfect medium for propaganda delivery. I read as often as I can, often falling asleep at night with a book in my hands.
Children are the foundation of our future. It is crucial that we teach them to think critically and to approach situations with a healthy amount of skepticism. Helping them with their homework, staying involved with their studies, and giving them an education beyond their schooling are ways to prepare them to combat tyranny and support social justice as they grow older. I often encourage and challenge my three children to apply critical thinking strategies, and to question virtually everything with which they are presented. I encourage them to read often. I teach and model my core spiritual values to them. I want them to grow up to be independent thinkers, decent human beings, and people with the moral courage to act on their beliefs regardless of peer pressure or consequences.
They Will Work to Forge New Chains….
While the ruling elite possess great power through the military, the CIA, and domestic law enforcement agencies, their capacity to truly impose their will upon us is actually quite limited. Our minds and souls belong to us. Unfortunately, it is up to each individual to break the psychological strangle-hold the wealthy individuals, monolithic corporations, deeply conservative Christian churches, and various other entities have placed upon the American psyche through the propaganda they disseminate. As more individuals educate themselves, and break their intellectual and spiritual chains, the Bush regime, or its successor, will resort to overt tyranny and martial law. In their deeply narcissistic existence, the ruling elite worship money, success and power, and they will allow no moral or ethical boundary to stand between them and the objects of their devotion. As they see the sun setting on the American Empire, they are expending resources in an obscene manner, defying international and domestic law, committing egregious acts of state terror, sending American service people to die for their "nobility cause", and raping Mother Earth in their frantic attempts to preserve their imperialism, materialism and Social Darwinism. When enough Americans free themselves from its psychological grip, the US government will train its savage tendencies on its own citizens.
Symbolism and Acts of Solidarity Are Powerful
Protests and marches are viable means to express dissent and evoke change, even if it is incremental. On 9/24, over 300,000 demonstrators gathered in
To provide an example of an upcoming protest (which will be largely symbolic, yet will still hold power if large numbers participate to show support and commitment), I will be participating in a day of fasting on November 1. The purpose of the fast is to show support for the hunger strikers at
Look (Hard) for the Union Label
Unions once represented a powerful force in this nation which forged (and protected) rights, decent wages, and benefits for the working class. Since the Nixon era, when Social Darwinists began reasserting their hold on this nation, union membership has declined significantly. According to the latest US Census, union members comprise a meager 13% of the workforce. In 1954, the figure had peaked at 35% and by 1983 the number had declined to 20%. Corporate deregulation, outsourcing, massive layoffs, long-term temporary employees, a minimum wage which has not increased since 1997, and shrinking benefits are the order of the day for workers in the American economy. Corporate executives (making hundreds of times the salary their average employees take home) and their shareholders love it. Wal-mart (my wife and I have not shopped there in over a year), the largest employer in the nation, offers sub-standard wages and benefits while fighting tooth and nail to keep its employees from unionizing. I strongly urge you to join a union, or work to form one, if your work-place lends itself to unionization. US labor needs to become empowered once again.
Create a “Brain Drain”
One university student has out-lined a long term strategy for academia to cut its ties with the military industrial complex and is engaged in a long-term campaign to redirect US research efforts and technological development toward more peaceful ends. Brian Bogart’s project represents yet another means of creating a more peaceful and just society. If enough universities and highly educated individuals agree to stop supporting the military industrial complex, it will starve intellectually. Brian’s site is at http://www.strikeforpeace.org/index.htm. I recommend supporting his cause, or joining it if you are in academia.
Money Makes Their World Go Around….
Another viable non-violent weapon "We the People" have at our disposal in the struggle for a more just, free and humane society is a strike or boycott. With effective organization and mass participation, workers and consumers could cripple the system which perpetuates the flow of wealth and power to those living on the high end of the socio-economic spectrum. Ultimately, they need us more than we need them, and a massive strike and boycott, in which people stopped working and shopping for at least a day, would deal the ruling class a significant blow.
Similarly, a well-organized tax revolt with heavy participation by the poor and working class would put a severe gash in the artery supplying the pecuniary life-blood to the plutocracy ruling our nation. I am like many of you. I have a family which my wife and I support. I cringe with disgust when I think of the taxes we pay. I realize that some of that money goes to fund programs and departments of the federal government which benefit humanity, but increasingly, our tax money is going to fund the ruthless and malevolent military machine. At what point do "We the People" come together and agree that we are no longer willing to supply our hard-earned dollars to fill the coffers of the likes of the Carlyle Group to enable its stake-holders to buy another yacht while the streets of Najaf are filling with the co-mingled blood of Iraqis and Americans?
Obviously, to be effective, the massive strike and/or tax revolt which I suggest will need to be well-orchestrated and involve heavy participation. I am not suggesting that individuals engage in either on their own. One individual lacks the means to organize such an effort, or make a real impact by acting on their own. However, I believe that as more people awaken and network with others to fight for justice and human rights, the opportunity to effectively use one or both of these means to attack the deeply entrenched and corrupt system will present itself.
They Can’t Force us to Perpetrate Their Crimes
Acts of civil disobedience are the final measure I suggest we take in the quest for social justice. With families at stake, wisdom dictates engaging in such acts of open defiance with large groups, or to reserve such extreme dissent for grossly unjust directives, decrees, or laws issued by the authorities. Kevin Benderman has provided a powerful example to us all. He has my deep respect and admiration. Martin Luther King, Gandhi, and their followers represented the gold standard of civil disobedience as their actions and movements won significant gains for the causes of justice and human rights. I am not suggesting that each of us become a powerful leader or a martyr. With a family depending upon me, I consider engaging in a significant act of civil disobedience to be the nuclear option, but when circumstances warrant it, I will be ready to push the button. In the interim, as with the strikes, boycotts, and tax revolts, I suggest we continue networking and organizing until a massive act of civil disobedience of great magnitude can be orchestrated.
They are Looking Lonelier by the Day….
Our federal government may still preside over the world’s only remaining superpower, but the tide of public opinion here and abroad is rapidly turning against them. More people from the poor and working classes of the
Regardless of what happens, the millions of Americans seeking sanity, justice and peace need to disregard surrender as an option. We owe our unwavering perseverance to future generations, the rest of the world, and to ourselves.