14 04 2019

just imagine that long-eared critter is a Democratic donkey instead of a Wiley Coyote…..

First off, I have to confess that I did not expect what seems to be Robert Mueller’s core assessment: that he could find no evidence of collusion between the Russian government and the Turnip campaign. From my understanding of Mueller’s record, he has always been a “good soldier,” willing to do whatever The Empire needed him to do, even if it involved shady behavior. Much of it even looks like misbehavior, except that Mueller was promoted, not fired or prosecuted, after doing what he did.  That seems to indicate that somebody upstairs approved, and when I say “somebody upstairs,” no, I don’t mean God.

Mueller let Boston mobster Whitey Bulger get away with murder, and then get away completely. Bulger became a fugitive, and lived under an assumed name for a decade before finally being discovered. Mueller was willing to round up and imprison about a thousand Muslim men in New York City right after 9-11, some for as long as a year, without charging any of them with any crime, in what has been described as “an American Abu Ghraib.” Our court system decreed that his victims could not sue him or the US government for their mistreatment and disrupted lives. As FBI director, Mueller had no problem with torture of “terror suspects,” mass surveillance of US citizens, or with infiltrating anti-war groups looking for terrorists. He was willing to lie under oath and tell Congress there was no question about the Iraqis having “weapons of mass destruction.”

There’s lots more where those highlights came from, but the upshot is that I expected that Mueller, sent in to find Turnip guilty of colluding with the Russians, would find a way to charge Turnip with collusion, even though it was fairly clear to me from the outset that the whole thing was a sham. So, when Mueller’s “no collusion” assessment came out, I was as flabbergasted as any Democrat. Unlike a great many Democrats, i did not roar back with anger and denial. Instead, I did my best to find a perspective from which this turn of events makes sense. That turned out to be not so difficult. All I had to do was determine what has changed as a result of the Mueller investigation and the Russian collusion/interference publicity blitzkrieg that accompanied it, and look at what Mueller did or did not investigate, who he indicted, and what happened as a result of those indictments, and it all made sense. Read the rest of this entry »


18 04 2008

A couple of years ago, my friend Ginny Welsch ran for US Congress here in the 5th District, which, unlike many bizarrely gerrymandered districts in this state, neatly encompasses Nashville and its near suburbs, and is known as an island of Democratic Party dominance in a sea of rural, redneck Republicanism. Ginny thought she would get a lot of traction with her left-wing challenge to our blue dog Democrat congressman, Jim Cooper, who is widely known as a strong supporter of the Iraq war and the Bush administration, but Ginny couldn’t get no respect. She tried renouncing her Green Party endorsement, she tried pointing out that Cooper’s nominal Republican opponent was a flat-earth type who was way out of the mainstream and couldn’t possibly win a serious three-way race, but nothing seemed to work for her. She got little media coverage and financial support, and precious few votes, considering the growing depth of antiwar sentiment even two years ago. She reported that even the most seemingly liberal people were strongly defensive of Cooper, as a nominal Democrat.

This year, the Green Party’s John Miglietta is preparing to take up the David-and-Goliath task of challenging Jim Cooper, so when I stumbled across the Friends Committee on National Legislation’s page on Cooper, I was delighted to discover a massive cache of pebbles for John’s slingshot.

Here”s the executive summary: out of 65 legislative proposals that the FCNL supports, Cooper has been willing to co-sponsor only three. One of those supports punitive sanctions against Iran. Another proposes measures against illegal immigrants, and is supported by more Republicans than Democrats. I don’t pretend to understand or support everything FCNL does, but overall I think they’re a good standard for the more liberal wing of the Democratic party, and Cooper flunks it big time.

Here’s a partial list of the proposals he doesn’t support:

He doesn’t support habeas corpus for prisoners at Guantanamo.

Not only does he support continuing US aggression in Iraq, he is against insisting on Congressional oversight of the war effort, and wants to give the NSA a pass to go around the FISA courts. Guess he just trusts the Cheny-Bush junta to do the right thing. He’s not willing to allow more Iraqis who have worked for the US to seek asylum in this country. That’s just plain mean. Meaner still, he has refused to support any additional aid for Iraq’s four million refugees, who would not be refugees if the US had not invaded their country. Well, they shouldn’t take it personally. Jim doesn’t want to take better care of formerly interned Japanese-Americans, either. I guess it’s a compassion thing–he doesn’t have any.

He has refused to support efforts to find a diplomatic solution to this conflict.

He has refused to support legislation that would hold mercenaries (aka “contractors”) to the same standards of conduct expected of American soldiers. Considering how many wrist slaps have been issued for serious crimes, and how some low level soldiers have been severely punished for following the illegal orders of their superiors (who were not held accountable) that’s not even asking much, but hey, it’s something–but Jim ain’t buying it.

He has refused to push for a ban on cluster bomb use in the vicinity of civilians. Hey, with the planet this crowded, civilians are everywhere, and that would practically mean we couldn’t use cluster bombs at all. Can’t have that, now, can we, Jim? Just leave enough o’ them cluster bomblets laying around populated areas, and it’ll thin the population down some–is that it? Can we try it in your neighborhood, Jim?

He has refused to sign on to legislation that would investigate and probably reign in WHINSEC, the US government’s notorious training school for torturers and terrorists. We ain’t even talking banning it, here, just shining a light on it…not for Jimbo. Ignorance is bliss, eh?

He has refused to support the “Restoring the Constitution Act of 2007,” which would make “significant changes to provisions of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 by restoring the writ of habeas corpus for individuals held under U.S. jurisdiction, narrowing the definition of an unlawful enemy combatant, preventing the use of evidence gained through torture and coercion, and requiring the U.S. to live up to its Geneva Convention obligations.” Our Congressman, Jim Cooper, has declined to sign on to legislation that requires the US to live up to the Geneva Conventions. Got that? I’m going to get back to it in a minute.

He won’t support legislation to close Guantanamo, a bill that was introduced by Jane Harman, who I have characterized elsewhere in this chronicle as a lapdog of the CIA. The CIA wants to close it, the junta wants to keep it open, and lookie where Jim Cooper stands. What loyalty!

He won’t support legislation that would ban the so-called “outsourcing” of torture. Helping preserve American jobs, Jim? Nor will he act to preserve habeas corpus for American citizens, and he’s not interested in repealing the so-called “Real ID” act. In case you hadn’t heard, “Real ID” is a neocon job that was slipped through without debate a few years ago. It gives states a very expensive unfunded mandate to create a national ID card, and many privacy experts see the data base it is supposed to create as an invitation to snooping and identity theft.

And don’t get me started on his apparent support for an attack on Iran, or his lack of support for strong environmental measures–and that’s “strong” by Congressional standards, not even by the standard of what needs to happen to prevent catastrophe.

Now, about those Geneva Convention violations that our boy Jim supports. The last time a Western democracy suspended habeas corpus and allowed the executive branch to rule without oversight or input from the legislative branch was in 1933 when the Reichstag passed “The Enabling Act” that turned the government over to Cheney and Bush…excuse me, I mean Hitler. Hitler, of course, went on to violate the Geneva Conventions and kill millions of civilians. In part because they abdicated responsibility so early in the history of the Nazi regime, members of the Reichstag were not held responsible for war crimes and tried at Nuremburg.

Here in the US, however, we have a different situation. Congress has, at least technically, retained its power, and has passed legislation to fund US aggression in Iraq, as well as declined to investigate its excesses or whether it was warranted at all. This suggests to me that, unlike members of the Reichstag, members of the US Congress who have been actively complicit in the war effort are culpable in the event of some Nuremburg-type trial convened to punish those responsible for the widespread, unprovoked devastation that has resulted from US aggression in the Middle East. That means you, Jim Cooper, not to mention you, Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer and Hillary Clinton and all the other Democrats who have failed in their sworn duty to protect the Constitution, uphold international treaties, and enforce the law, even if it means impeaching the President.

As for all the “good Americans” who have kept Jim “War Criminal” Cooper in office with their votes and their blind allegiance to his party label, all I can say is, “Wake up! It’s almost midnight! Do you know where your conscience is?”

music: James McMurtry, “God Bless America”


10 11 2007

Our truth in strange places award this month goes to Senator Christopher Dodd, of Connecticut, one of the long-shot contenders for the 2008 Democratic nomination, who said in the course of the Oct. 30 debate, in defense of his call for decriminalization of marijuana,

We’re locking up too many people in our system here today. We’ve got mandatory minimum sentences, they are filling our jails with people that don’t belong there.

“My idea is to decriminalize this, reduce that problem here. We’ve gone from 800,000 to 2 million people in our penal institutions in this country. We’ve got to get a lot smarter about this issue than we are. And as president, I’d try and achieve that. “

The only other candidate who agreed with him was Dennis Kucinich. Hey, these two guys are so far behind they have nothing to lose. Former Senator John Edwards spoke for the front-runners when he said he opposed decriminalization because “I think it sends the wrong signal to young people.” The conversation quickly turned to what Sen. Obama was going to wear for a Halloween costume. Over eight hundred thousand arrests a year, over five hundred thousand in prison and countless others hung up in the probation/parole system, swept under the rug just like that. Somehow, one of America’s biggest legal disasters has become just part of the cost of doing business. What a message to send to young people. What a comment on the vibrancy of our democracy.

So remember this, all you pot smokers who are preparing to vote for Hillary, or Barak, or John—you are voting for someone who wants to put you in jail, take your children away, and confiscate your property. Kafka couldn’t have invented anything better. And if you aren’t a marijuana user, but some of your friends are, you’re voting for somebody who wants to suck your friends into the American gulag. You may think you don’t know anybody who smokes pot, but you can just about bet you do. With schoolkids encouraged to tell on their parents, it’s more and more peoples’ secret practice. Hey, a friend of mine, a ranting, raving, pot-growing, totally out-of-the closet hippie, has had to quit smoking in his house because his daughter is going through a teenage rebellion phase and knows she’s got a major hammer over his head with the issue.

And the issue is not “addiction,” the issue is control—the ability of the government to control peoples’ inner lives and personal decisions. Public acceptance of “the war on drugs” is what allows the further erosions of our freedom that are occurring as “the war on terror.” The corporatocracy has put across the Big Lie that marijuana is bad for you. That’s baloney. Using marijuana is of no more consequence than drinking beer, wine or coffee—actually, coffee is much more addictive than grass. Smokers do without just fine, but we all know what happens when people don’t get their morning cup of java!

In the same way, the abortion issue is about control over women, not the sanctity of babies’ lives. While Democrats are willing to support womens’ right to abortion, at least so far, that is about the only sop they are throwing us. Iraq? “No way out,” the big three all say. Bomb Iran? “Why not?” they all say. Get rid of treaties like NAFTA and the WTO that have destroyed America’s middle class and sent waves of Central Americans here, fleeing their own ”free trade”-savaged economies? Not a sound about that. Take down the insurance and pharmaceutical vampires that are sucking Americans dry in the name of health care? “They’re too big. We can’t do that.” C’mon, guys, they’re smaller than Iran—or at least weaker militarily. Financially, they might be bigger than Iran, come to think of it….talk about “sending the wrong message to young people”–the message here seems to be to kowtow to power and big money, no matter how morally repugnant…and that is definitely the wrong message to send to young people, but it’s the one the Democratic front runners are parroting. Hey, it’s what their corporatist masters want to hear.

”C’mon,” you may argue—all the major Democratic candidates have come out for medical marijuana—that’s progress!” That’s knowing which way the wind is blowing, nothing more. If their support survives the election campaign, you can bet they will devise a system in which the state has a monopoly on growing and distribution, and there’s mandatory testing for the families of marijuana patients to insure that the “medicine” is only going to the “proper” person. None of this sloppy, do-it-yourself stuff like what we’re seeing in California and Oregon these days. It’s all about control. Marijuana use encourages people to think for themselves, and we can’t have a lot of strong individuals in the anthill corporatist society that is the ultimate vision of both Democrats and Republicans.

Which is not to say that you have to be a toker to be a Green—certainly not—but you have to understand the significance of the issue. You have to understand how it is a “wedge issue” that opens the door to all kinds of other government intrusion into peoples’ private lives. It is a fundamental precept of the Green Party that people are basically trustworthy, just as it is a fundamental, unspoken precept of the corporatist parties that people are not trustworthy. And, from their point of view, the corporatists are justified in not trusting the people, because nobody in their right mind would go along with the corporatist agenda. That’s why they work to keep so many people hypnotized with television and other mind-control drugs, such as alcohol, Ritalin and Prozac. It’s only a war on some drugs. What kind of reality do you want to live in?

music: Richard and Linda Thompson, “Justice in the Streets


10 11 2007

The Democrats gave the Bush administration another pass on war crimes this week, as Senate Judiciary committee members Diane Feinstein and Chuck Schumer, plus 5 other fascist sympathizers, broke with the rest of the Democrats to approve Michael “Waterboard” Mukasey as our country’s new attorney general, in spite of Mukasey’s equivocal stance on whether waterboarding, which was prosecuted as a crime by this country when the Japanese did it to us, is a crime when Americans do it to Muslims. Mukasey generously allowed that if Congress passed a new law specifically outlawing waterboarding, he would enforce that law. This was an easy offer to make, considering that Mr. Cheney, excuse me, I mean Mr. Bush, would certainly veto such a bill if Congress could pass it, and that there is enough Congressional complicity in war crimes that a veto almost certainly wouldn’t be overridden. They can’t stop a war criminal from becoming attorney general. They can’t stop funding the war. They can’t impeach Dick Cheney. They can’t even pass childrens’ health insurance, but they can by God slap down Moveon and Dennis Kucinich!

Meanwhile, a well-known terrorist sympathizer organization—ABC news—revealed that, in 2004, in an effort to determine whether it was illegal torture or not, then-Assistant Attorney General Daniel Levin had himself waterboarded, and reported that, to quote Keith Olberman,

”even though he knew those doing it meant him no harm, and he knew they would rescue him at the instant of the slightest distress, and he knew he would not die – still, with all that reassurance, he could not stop the terror screaming from inside of him, could not quell the horror, could not convince that which is at the core of each of us, the entity who exists behind all the embellishments we strap to ourselves, like purpose and name and family and love, he could not convince his being that he wasn’t drowning.

”Waterboarding, he said, is torture. Legally, it is torture! Practically, it is torture! Ethically, it is torture! And he wrote it down.’

And here’s a couple more Kafkaesque turns of the screw: Levin didn’t even say the US shouldn’t do it. He just said it should be timed very carefully and done under a physician’s supervision. That was too soft for the Bush junta; he was fired when Alberto Gonzalez took control of the DOJ, but not before Gonzalez appended a note to Levin’s report, saying ”Just because we embraced illegal techniques before doesn’t mean we were wrong.” War is peace, freedom is slavery, you get it….

Here’s my suggestion: anybody that has been willing to say in public that they think waterboarding isn’t torture, or might not be torture, or they just don’t know, should be waterboarded, and then asked their opinion…Mr. Mukasey? Mr. Bush? Mr. Cheney?

In other news of the ongoing crackdown, Code Pink activist Ann Wright, a 29-year US Army veteran, was banned from Canada for a year for her anti-war arrest record in this country. She had been turned away from Canada earlier in the month, and was trying again on Oct. 25, having been invited by 6 Canadian M.P.s (that’s Members of Parliament, not Military Police!) to appear for a panel discussion on US-Canadian border security measures. She got quite an education in those security measures—her cell phone was confiscated for four hours while she was interrogated, and at the end of the interrogation she was told she was barred from entering Canada for a year due to

”failure to provide appropriate documents that would overcome the exclusion order I had been given in early October because of conviction of misdemeanors (all payable by fines) in the United States. The officer said that to apply for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) for entry for a specific event on a specific date, I must provide to a Canadian Embassy or consulate the arresting officer’s report, court transcripts and court documents for each of the convictions and an official document describing the termination of sentences, a police certificate issued within the last three months by the FBI, police certificates from places I have lived in the past ten years (that includes Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia), a letter acknowledging my convictions from three respected members of the community (the respected members that I will ask to write a letter all been convicted of similar ‘offenses’) and a completed 18 page “criminal rehabilitation” packet.


”Additionally, besides obtaining the Temporary Resident Permit, since I was being banned for a year from Canada, I would have to obtain a ‘Canadian Government Minister’s consent.’ The officer said that the TRP and the Minister’s consent normally took from 8-10 months to obtain. In the distant future, to be able to enter Canada without a TRP, I would have to have to be ‘criminally rehabilitated’ and be free for five years of conviction of any offense, including for peaceful protest.”

So…you were thinking that if things get too bad down here, you can just slip over the border?

OK, a little good news…I reported last summer on the election of Nicholas Sarkozy to the Presidency of France, and opined that, although he was called ”Sarko l’Americain” (Sarko the American, for you non-Francophones) and compared to George Bush, he was actually much smarter and hipper than Bush. Recent news from France confirms my assessment…sort of. Sarkozy has pulled out almost all the stops the environmentalists have been asking for. Appearing on the same stage with Al Gore at an environmental forum in Paris, Sarko said,

We need to profoundly revise all of our taxes… to tax pollution more, including fossil fuels, and to tax labour less.”

He went on to call for a freeze on the building of new highways and airports, moving freight traffic from road to rail, cutting pesticide use by half within 10 years, and the banning of GMO crops in France, which is Europe’s largest agricultural producer. He further pledged to expand local light rail and long distance high speed rail travel, and to create incentives for the purchase of more efficient automobiles and penalties for gas guzzlers. He also promised to improve the energy efficiency of all new and existing buildings, and proposed import taxes on goods from countries that have not signed on to the Kyoto protocol—like the US and China. Some conservative bloggers claim Al Gore wet his pants during Sarko’s speech.

And, while Sarkozy pledged to increase the role of renewable energy in France, the elephant in the room that he didn’t talk about was nuclear power. France generates 80% of its electricity from nuclear power, and they don’t know what to do with the waste either. It’s slowly contaiminating the whole country. They’re going to need that wonderful health care system Michael Moore says they have. It’s piling up at their nuke plants and leaking, except for the fraction they reprocess, which is leaking into the English Channel, some parts they have buried, which are polluting the groundwater, a chunk of it that they’re entombing in concrete, above ground, which will be full in sixty years…which seems like a long time, except that it will remain lethally radioactive for about another 24,000 years. Twenty-four thousand years ago, the last ice age was just beginning, and our cave-dwelling ancestors had to retreat out of most of Europe, including France. Oh, yeah, and the French send some of their nuclear waste to Russia, and it’s a Franco-Russian state secret just what they do with it there. Doesn’t that make you feel better? Have a nice holiday!

music: James McMurtry, ”Holiday” 6:30

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