FEELING LIKE CASSANDRA

10 11 2012

One of the most popular archetypes depicted in The Iliad is that of Cassandra, daughter of Priam, the King of Troy, who was gifted by Apollo with the ability to see the future clearly.  She accepted his gift but rejected his advances, and so he added a little something to that gift:  she could forecast the future accurately, but nobody would believe her.  And that, my friends, seems to be the fate of the Green Party.

I said two weeks ago that I would be here tonight, “either crowing or eating crow,” and I’m sad to report that I have a well-baked crow on my plate tonight–and I’m a vegetarian!  Yeow!  Despite the best-financed and organized national Green Party campaign since Ralph Nader ran in 2000, Dr. Stein received only about 400,000 votes nationwide–by far the best Green Party showing since Nader’s 2.8 million total, but far short of our hopes and expectations. Her showing in Tennessee–6500 votes, about 0.26% of the total–was typical of her nationwide showing, which was about 0.3% of the national total.  Well, at least we weren’t  way behind the curve here.  But there are other peculiarities about that total, which I’ll explain a little later.

Martin Pleasant’s Senate campaign was our other statewide race.  We had hoped that the fact that the Democrat Party had renounced their elected candidate would result in a big bounce for Marty, but it was not to be.   Either there are a lot of Tennesseans who think Bob Corker is way too tame, or there are a lot of people who just aren’t paying enough attention to know anything more about who they’re voting for than whether there’s a “D” or an “R” after the person’s name.  “G”?  Does not compute!  Putative Democrat Mark Clayton pulled in 700,000 votes, a hundred thousand of them right here in Davidson County, where he nearly beat Bob Corker, while our man Martin Pleasant only got the attention of about 8,000 voters. Clayton actually won Shelby County. Maybe his strong anti-gay stance resonates with socially conservative African-Americans?  According to the Washington Post, Clayton raised less than $300 for his campaign.  A twentieth of a penny per vote.  I’m jealous.  Bob Tuke, the last “real” Democrat to run a serious Senate campaign in Tennessee, raised around a hundred thousand dollars and only got a few more votes than Clayton.

But hey, the Green Party seems to be everybody’s unwanted stepchild.  The Tennessean left Martin Pleasant out of their voters’ guide.  The Nashville Scene left him out, too, just as, nationally, Dr. Stein got nowhere near the level of attention the mainstream media paid to Ralph Nader.  Can’t let that happen again!

Here in Tennessee, we did a little better on our local races.  Read the rest of this entry »





F-BOMBING AMERICAN POLITICS

8 01 2012

Please note:  I’m going to drop a lot of f-bombs in this segment and the next.  In politics, however, the f-word that is not spoken in polite society has nothing to do with plowing or the union of male and female.  In politics, the f-word that should never be uttered is “fascism.”  I’m going to utter it frequently over the next couple of segments, so don’t say I didn’t warn you.

For the first time in a while, I’ve got a “truth in strange places” award to mention,  but first, I want to give a “truth tellers in strange places” award–to Bradley Manning, for showing the world the dirty linen of the American Empire, sowing the seeds of Arab Spring, and spawning the “Occupy” movement here in America, a movement that has only begun to come into its stride.  The mills of the gods grind slow, but exceeding fine, and have only just barely caught the shirt-tails of the elite in their inexorable grasp.  As William Kunstler likes to say, “it’s going to be a great show from the cheap seats.” And here we are, and no wonder the gummint is so mad at the man.

So yes, Bradley Manning gets the “Truth-Tellers in Strange Places” award.  Corporal Manning should be up for a Nobel Peace Prize, but instead, he has spent nearly a year and a half in prison before even having any charges brought against him.  During this time, he has been repeatedly humiliated, kept in solitary confinement, and probably drugged .  Two thoughts come to mind:  one is that if this is what our government will do without the recent detention provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act, what will it feel emboldened to do with that permission?

The other thought is that the government wants to make damn sure nobody else gets any noble ideas about following the path blazed by Daniel Ellsburg, who became a folk hero for leaking “The Pentagon Papers,” which, like Mr. Manning’s alleged gifts to Wikileaks, gave the lie to America’s loudly proclaimed noble intentions. Sibel Edmonds is another great American whistle blower, but, unlike Ellsberg and Manning’s cases, her revelations were largely ignored by the complacent mass media of the early aughts.  Since then, the internet’s ability to spread a story widely without benefit of the so-called mainstream media has grown exponentially, so that, even though the U.S. can hobble Wikileaks financially, it has been unable to shut it down or stop the truth from being told. For all his campaign promises about hope, change, and openness, Obama has been even harsher than his predecessors when it comes to prosecuting whistle blowers instead of listening to them.

Here’s hoping 2012 is the year when Bradley Manning soon receives the hero’s welcome he deserves.

Our “Truth in Strange Places” award goes to Dr. Ron Paul, who should need no introduction.  No matter what you think of the full spectrum of his politics, no matter whether or not you trust that he has moved beyond the simple-minded racism published in his name twenty years ago, he is the only Presidential candidate who actually challenges the status quo in any way.  His ad asking people to imagine the American response to a Chinese or Russian military base in Texas puts the shoe on the other foot in a way that nobody else in the race had the vision, brains, or nerve to do, and it’s too bad that it, and the warning it carries about blowback from American imperialism, will likely not be appreciated until foreign drones cruise American skies and Americans are “specially rendered” for crimes against the Chinese or Russian state. Paul’s willingness to admit that the “War on Drugs” is an extremely costly failure is another breath of fresh air, but, beyond that, Paul actually turns out to be cut from the same cloth as the rest of the Republican pack, whom he joins in calling for the radical downsizing of the U.S. government and the unleashing of corporate power.

Downsizing and muzzling the U.S. government is not actually an issue between the Dems and Repubs, although both like to pretend it is.  The Democratic leadership, just as much as the Republicans, is committed to serving corporate interests first, and the public second.  That is why nobody central has been prosecuted for the Wall Street meltdown, why banks have gotten trillions in relief while foreclosed homeowners and the unemployed have received only table scraps, why, instead of a genuine overhaul of our so-called health care system, we got a law mandating that we buy health insurance from the companies who have helped make the U.S. health care system the most expensive and dysfunctional in the world, not to mention one of the chief conduits for channeling the wealth of the American middle class into corporate coffers.  Corporatism is the latest evolution of the political “F-word”: fascism.  In a corporatist/ fascist political system, the government exists to serve the needs of corporations, to encourage the people to be submissive, because, “What is good for General Motors” (or any other “too-big-to-fail” corporation) is good for America.”  You know, “the trickle-down theory.”

So, what is the likely choice the Democrats and Republicans will give American voters this year?  In the words of Glenn Greenwald, an Obama supporter will have to think:

Yes, I’m willing to continue to have Muslim children slaughtered by covert drones and cluster bombs, and America’s minorities imprisoned by the hundreds of thousands for no good reason, and the CIA able to run rampant with no checks or transparency, and privacy eroded further by the unchecked Surveillance State, and American citizens targeted by the President for assassination with no due process, and whistleblowers threatened with life imprisonment for “espionage,” and the Fed able to dole out trillions to bankers in secret, and a substantially higher risk of war with Iran (fought by the U.S. or by Israel with U.S. support) in exchange for less severe cuts to Social Security, Medicare and other entitlement programs, the preservation of the Education and Energy Departments, more stringent environmental regulations, broader health care coverage, defense of reproductive rights for women, stronger enforcement of civil rights for America’s minorities, a President with no associations with racist views in a newsletter, and a more progressive Supreme Court.

We can choose the lesser of two evils–or refuse to choose evil at all.  That’s why the Green Party runs Presidential candidates, at this point–not because we have any hope of winning, but to give people of conscience a real choice.  I have many friends who tell me it is pragmatic, even principled, to vote for the lesser of two evils.  Maybe it’s right for them.  I just know that I couldn’t look myself in the mirror if I knew I had voluntarily supported evil, lesser or not.

The Clash, “Spanish Bombs

Let’s have an “Alice in Wonderland” moment:

When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”
    “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
    “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master      that’s all.”

Now, let’s jump about a hundred and thirty years closer to the present with this quote from political writer Ron Suskind.  Formerly a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, he is certainly no flaming radical, and unlikely to have made this up:

The aide(probably Karl Rove) said that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” … “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.” 

Am I alone in seeing a parallel between the words of Humpty Dumpty and the words of Karl Rove?

Let’s talk for a while about this business of shrinking the government and letting private industry grow, to which the Dems and Repubs both seem committed. It ties in with the Republican assault on labor unions.  The purpose of unions and the purpose of democratic government are the same—a way for people to join together to deal with something bigger than an individual human, whether the bigger thing is an invasion, a natural disaster, a need to maintain the commons—or a large, possibly multi-national, corporation. Those who call for the shrinking of the state and the destruction of labor unions, but do not at the same time call for diminishing the power of the corporate sector, are not populists, as they like to style themselves. They are fascists.  Fascism always seeks, in the name of the people, to shrink the power of the people and grow the power of the elite.

In the words of FDR,

“The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism — ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.”

As I understand Roosevelt’s words, and as I understand what’s going on in America today, we have slid far down the road to fascism.

Another front on which the GOP has pushed inequality has been their sometimes successful attempts to disempower women by limiting their access to health care, contraception, and abortion, even in the context of rape and incest.  I don’t have enough time tonight to give you the nasty details of this, but you can read the whole rap sheet at this link.  This is a rich subject, and I may do a whole story on in next month.

Here’s my take on the contest for the Republican nomination:  The GOP’s kingmakers will never, ever let Ron Paul anywhere near the Presidency, and, indeed, most Republicans are far too hypnotized to ever accept him.  Mitt Romney will likely be the nominee.  Because Romney’s Mormon faith is so distasteful to the party’s evangelical wing, who largely consider Mormonism a pagan religion, Rick Santorum or someone like him will get the VP slot, so as to bring in the faithful, just as Sarah Palin served John McCain in the last round.

This ticket is still extremely problematic.  First of all, Romney carries the baggage of having designed the program Republicans now revile as “Obamacare,” and it will be funny to watch him try and shake that one off.  Second, for all the GOP’s touting of the uber-wealthy as “job creators,” Romney made a whole lot of his uber-wealth in the 80’s running a firm, Bain Capital,  that bought American companies and slimmed or shut them down, or moved them overseas, reaping enormous benefits for CEO’s and investors, and disaster for working Americans.

And Santorum?  Back in the 1930’s, Sinclair Lewis said, ” “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”  Rick Santorum is the guy wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.  In his own words:

We have laws in states, like the one at the Supreme Court right now, that has sodomy laws and they were there for a purpose. Because, again, I would argue, they undermine the basic tenets of our society and the family. And if the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything. Does that undermine the fabric of our society? I would argue yes, it does. It all comes from, I would argue, this right to privacy that doesn’t exist in my opinion in the United States Constitution, this right that was created, it was created in Griswold—Griswold was the contraceptive case—and abortion. And now we’re just extending it out. And the further you extend it out, the more you—this freedom actually intervenes and affects the family. You say, well, it’s my individual freedom. Yes, but it destroys the basic unit of our society because it condones behavior that’s antithetical to strong healthy families. Whether it’s polygamy, whether it’s adultery, where it’s sodomy, all of those things, are antithetical to a healthy, stable, traditional family….. society is based on the future of the society. And that’s what? Children. Monogamous relationships. In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That’s not to pick on homosexuality. It’s not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be.

Another example of Rick’s rhetoric:

“One of the things I will talk about, that no president has talked about before, is, I think, the dangers of contraception in this country.  Many of the Christian faith have said, ‘Well, that’s okay. Contraception is okay.’ It’s not okay. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”

Folks, this kind of talk is straight out of the Nazi playbook.  He wants to put the government in your bedroom to make sure you don’t use birth control or do anything he thinks is kinky, because sex is for reproductive purposes only, dammit.  Why is it so much fun, then?  That’s the Devil tempting you to self -indulgence!

bUT….while Santorum makes pronouncements that warm the hearts of conservative evangelical Christians, he himself is actually a Catholic.  Will evangelicals give it up for a pagan and a papist?  Or dredge up the just-as-batshit-crazy/sexually repressed. but thoroughly Protestant, Michelle Bachman?  Or find some other Stepford wife/husband?

So that’s the choice America faces in 2012–between Obama, a whore for the corporatists, and Romney/Santorum or his equivalent, a corporatist pimp and a narrow-minded, repressed bigot.  Or, there’s kicking over the table, which may become more and more likely as more and more Americans realize, with Tim DeChristopher,

Once I realized that there was no hope in any sort of normal future, there’s no hope for me to have anything my parents or grandparents would have considered a normal future—of a career and a retirement and all that stuff—I realized that I have absolutely nothing to lose by fighting back. Because it was all going to be lost anyway.

But he worked through his despair:

“How the hell could people accept this? This is outrageous.” And I think that’s one of the things that the wilderness does for us, you know, it allows us to live the way we actually want to live for a while. It puts things in the perspective of, “Wait, this isn’t inevitable. It doesn’t actually have to be this way. And this isn’t the way I want to live. It’s not okay.” I think activism at its best is refusing to accept things. Saying that this is unacceptable.

With or without access to the wilderness that healed and nurtured Tim DeChristopher, he is far from the only person coming to the twin realizations that the current situation is totally unacceptable, and he has nothing to lose in opposing the corporatocracy–or creating something different that meets genuine human–and planetary–needs.

You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.





SHARIA, AMERICAN STYLE

8 10 2010

The opposition to building Muslim community centers and mosques around the country has generated a new fear buzzword for Americans:  Sharia.  People are freaking out about the possibility that they will have to obey some other religion’s do’s and don’ts.  What they don’t realize is that we already live under American Sharia.  These are laws that we grew up with, so we tend not to notice them or their religious basis, but these proscriptions and directives are based on irrational religious beliefs and not on common sense.

The situation is complicated by the fact that we actually have two dominant religions in this country, religions that sometimes contradict each other and sometimes feed into each other, and one of them is so deeply embedded in everybody’s upbringing that it’s rarely even recognized as a religion.

The two are Christianity, especially Protestantism, and….Economics.

Economics?

The Random House Dictionary defines religion, in part, thusly:

a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe…and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

If you look at what happens in this country, most decisions are made based on economic, not “Christian,” values–i.e., will it make money for me in the short run?  Even self-styled “Christians” make economic decisions, if only because economics is so deep in our bones that most of us don’t think twice about its influence.

One good example here in Nashville is the likelihood that WRVU, Vanderbilt University’s radio station, will sell its broadcast license to the highest bidder, who is unlikely to continue the station’s tradition of edgy, non-mainstream music and community participation.  If economics were not such a dominant religion, there would be no question about transferring the license to an entity that would continue the station’s current service to the community, regardless of that entity’s ability to pay top dollar for the airspace.

Here in Nashville, too, just as in most of the rest of the country, we have seen thousands of acres of woods and farms that made a huge contribution to our quality of life turn into suburban homes and strip malls because that was the way to maximize financial profit in a belief system that places a low value on open land and a high value on development.  In the same spirit, moving factories overseas to take advantage of a cheaper workforce is only a rational decision from a very narrow economic standpoint, as is the decision that the degradation of the environment is an “externality” that does not have to be factored in to the cost of production.  These are beliefs, not facts.

One point where Economic and Protestant Sharia intersect is that both accord more respect to the wealthy than to the poor.  Consider the recent Supreme Court decision granting corporations the same free speech rights as “natural persons.”  If corporations were not fantastically wealthy, they would never have gotten this recognition.

A lower court recently made corporate persons even more equal than us natural persons when it ruled that the Alien Tort Act, under which a number of aggrieved foreigners were suing US corporations for human rights abuses and environmental degradation overseas, applies only to natural, not corporate persons.  So, corporate persons have the right to spend unlimited amounts of money to freely express themselves, but cannot be held liable for harm they cause.  Pretty neat, huh?  I submit that this distinction, this free pass, was granted, at least subconsciously, in recognition of the corporations’ superior wealth and earning power.

Gee….if corporations have all the rights of natural persons, and then some, shouldn’t conservatives demand that they demonstrate that they’re of different sexes to merge, also known as–marry?

And that question brings us to this month’s “truth in strange places” award, which goes out, a few months after the fact , to Judge Vaughn R. Walker, chief judge of the US district court of northern California.  The judge was initially appointed by Ronald Reagan, blocked by Democrats who feared he would be insensitive to gay and low-income issues, then finally appointed to the bench by George Bush the First.  Asked to rule on the Constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage, he struck down the measure, saying:

the Court asked whether a majority of citizens could use the power of the state to enforce “profound and deep convictions accepted as ethical and moral principles” through the criminal code. The question here is whether California voters can enforce those same principles through regulation of marriage licenses.  They cannot.

He stated further that “the state has no compelling interest” in the sex or sexual orientation of individuals applying for a marriage license, concluding:

Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license.  Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples.  Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.

The judge didn’t come out and call Proposition 8 what it really is, but I will:  American Sharia.  Our homegrown Sharia is also responsible for laws against abortion, marijuana and other drugs, laws limiting or prohibiting alcohol sales, limits on public assistance, the push for prayer and Bible classes in public schools, discouraging the teaching of sexuality and birth control in public schools, laws against nude bathing, attempts to limit unmarried individuals’ access to birth control and other anti-sexual attitudes and legal restraints, calls for censorship of the arts, and probably other things that I am so used to looking at that I can’t even see them.

When I was a kid there were “blue laws” that prohibited stores from being open on Sundays, the Christian sabbath…in a way I miss that, it was kinda nice to have a recognized non-commercial day of the week (tho I was brought up Jewish!). But, in modern America, it’s commerce, commerce, über alles!

All this is by way of pointing out that what makes Islamic Sharia scary to people is that it’s somebody else’s church’s rules, not theirs. Most of those who oppose Islamic Sharia seem all too eager to impose their own, homegrown version on the rest of us.  No, thanks.

An America under conservative Christian law–no abortions, no overt homosexuality, wives subordinate to their husbands, is the pipe dream of the “Christian dominionists,” a group whose views have been widely ridiculed, most notably by the “Dear Dr. Laura” letter, which famously asks questions like,

I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness – Lev.15:19- 24. The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?

I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

Yes, friends, these are the kind of questions that “following Biblical law” leads us into.  There is currently an uneasy alliance between business conservatives and religious conservatives, each attempting to use the other to advance their own agenda.  If next month’s election proves to be as much of a disaster for the Democratic Party as many predict, we can look forward to a clash of the Titans as Karl Rove’s crew and the Christian dominionists battle for hegemony.

My prediction?  Neither will be successful, and the country will fall into ruin around them as they struggle.  You think there have been some wild drops on this roller coaster ride?  You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Jackson Browne:  “Before the Deluge





THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES

7 08 2010

President Obama gets our truth in strange places award this month for his comment on Wikileaks’ release of tens of thousands of “secret” documents relating to the US war on Afghanistan:  “these documents don’t reveal any issues that haven’t already informed our public debate on Afghanistan.”

Unfortunately, that’s where his truth train left the track.   Well, not exactly…he also said the document release  “could potentially jeopardize individuals or operations,” and it could, but not because it released inside knowledge to the Taliban.  The information released by Wikileaks “jeopardizes” the war effort by revealing its rickety nature, and by  showing the American empire’s naked ass flapping in the Afghan breeze.  The emperor has no clothes.

One of the most embarrassing facts to be confirmed by the Wikileaks release is the level of co-operation between Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI, and the Taliban.  This makes perfect sense, from the Pakistani point of view:  the US is just passing through, but the Taliban are going to be Pakistan’s neighbors for a long time to come.  Other embarrassments validated by the Wiki release are the total corruption of the Afghan “government” the US is trying to install, and the way US money keeps ending up in Taliban hands.

What the leak reveals is often evidence of war crimes:  civilian deaths,whether  by “accident” or by deliberate assassination of selected civilians, or, as with the Iraq helicopter video that prefaced the full release, the random, intentional slaughter of obviously unarmed civilians.

Considering the exposure of such tactics, it is hypocritical, if not downright schizophrenic, for various US government spokespeople and conservative talking heads to say that Wikileaks “has blood on its hands.”  Wikileaks did not set up the Taliban–America’s CIA and Pakistan’s ISI did that, to defeat the Soviets when they attempted to occupy Afghanistan.  Wikileaks does not conduct assassinations of reputed resistance leaders.  It has no drones, no jet fighters, no tanks, no artillery.  Wikileaks is not the source of hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan.  In fact, Wikileaks has been careful to censor the documents it is releasing so that they do not give away the identities of any Afghans who might be put further in harm’s way by disclosure of their collaboration with US forces.

But the government spin machine, like the right-wing spin machine that hopes to replace it in the next couple of elections, has never let facts stand in the way of putting its point across, and the parrots are squawking “Arwak–blood on his hands–blood on his hands.”  The precedent has long been set in this administration, like the Bush administration before it:  whistle blowers will be punished, but the crimes they blow the whistle on will be ignored, or even rewarded.  You know, Tim Geithner….

Meanwhile, the right-wing spin machine is doing its best to out-spin the government with its storm of indignation.  GOP Congressman Mike Rogers, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, has called for execution of the alleged leaker, Bradley Manning, for “treason during time of war.”  One problem, Congressman:  the US never declared war on Afghanistan, and “The Global War on Terror” has no legal standing as a “declared war.”  Not that that will necessarily stop anybody.

Marc Thiessen, a former speech writer for George W. Bush, claimed recently in the Washington Post that Wikileaks is “a criminal enterprise” and said, further

the government has a wide range of options for dealing with him. It can employ not only law enforcement but also intelligence and military assets to bring Assange to justice and put his criminal syndicate out of business.

The first step is for the Justice Department to indict Assange. Such an indictment could be sealed to prevent him from knowing that the United States is seeking his arrest. The United States should then work with its international law enforcement partners to apprehend and extradite him.

In other words, “shoot the messenger.”

Talk about hypocrisy and schizophrenia…conservatives were not nearly so concerned when Dick Cheney and Karl Rove outed Valerie Plame, an “act of treason” that didn’t just confirm what everybody knew already, but destroyed the US’s clandestine efforts to keep tabs on nuclear weapons proliferation–how’s that for “treason,” Congressman Rogers and Mr. Thiessen?  Are you ready to hang Dick Cheney?

I didn’t think so.  Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, eh?

As our President said, Wikileaks publication of the US government’s “top-secret” Afghan war log didn’t really tell us anything we hadn’t suspected, but it certainly does confirm our worst suspicions.  The leak does make one thing very clear:   Afghanistan is just as much a “quagmire” as Vietnam ever was.  Attempts to “surge” and “win” will just kill more people, create more animosity, and waste more money and other resources that would be better spent fixing real problems like climate change, hunger, and the destruction of the natural world.  Bradley Manning deserves a medal, not a trial.  It’s time to grow up as a country, drop our fantasies of world domination,  and re-direct our national attention to what’s really important.

music:  Richard Thompson, “Dad’s Gonna Kill Me”





ROVE-ING EYE

24 07 2005

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any more outrageous, it got more outrageous. It’s not enough to believe three impossible things before dinner, it’s got to be six. Or ten. Karl Rove and the Bush gang are spinning and blowing smoke as hard as they can, but there are some facts that just won’t go away, no matter who they nominate for the supreme court—which is an audacious move to make,since the questions and answers involved in the Valerie Plame affair should be enough to remove Mr. Bush and his gang of slime from office and preclude them from nominating anyone to the supreme court. How many criminals get to appoint their own judges? In any parliamentary democracy they would have had to resign or risk being shouted down. In the tin-horn countries of the world, their own military would have taken them out by now. Up against the wall, Mr. President!

Here are the facts

1. Valerie Plame was an undercover CIA operative, in charge of the worldwide U.S. effort to keep rogue nations from creating weapons of mass destruction. Her unmasking has virtually destroyed that effort, put the lives of many of her associates in danger, and made life less safe for everyone on the planet. The CIA does have its good causes, and this was one of them, but no more.

2. Karl Rove is subject to Executive Order 12958, which specifically forbids those privy to classified information from disclosing it directly or confirming that someone without security clearance knows something that is technically classified. This executive order was revised and updated by George W. Bush on March 25, 2003,

3. Mr. Rove learned about Valerie Plame’s CIA cover at a White House briefing before he talked to anybody in the press about it. This happened in late June or early July of 2003, not that long after EO 12958.

4. Rove, at very least by a nod and a wink, which is still a violation of Executive Order 12958 , let several reporters know that Valerie Plame’ worked secretly for the CIA and encouraged them to publish this information.

5. Penalties for violations are not optional. EO 12958 specifically says “Officers and employees of the United States Government … shall be subject to appropriate sanctions if they knowingly, willfully, or negligently … disclose to unauthorized persons information properly classified.”

6. Mr. Bush is stepping back from his constitutionally mandated duty to enforce his own executive order.

So the question gets to be, what does the Bush junta think they have to gain by all this?

Let’s step back and check into the action in the natural world. On the Pacific Coast of the U.S., coastal water temperatures are running 3-5 degrees warmer than normal. Tropical species are appearing in water where they have never been seen before. Mortality of some seabird species is up by a factor of 50. On the Atlantic coast, the ocean off St. John’s, Newfoundland, is the warmest it’s ever been, and the sea ice last winter was the thinnest, although the Labrador Current is running colder than normal—possibly as a result of increased ice-cold meltwater flowing into it from the Greenland icecap. In the Caribbean, we have had two major hurricanes in JULY and the water is, again 2-5 degrees warmer than normal.

On another front, Peter Raven, curator of the Missouri Botannical Garden and a recognized expert on ecology, said recently in an interview in England’s Guardian newspaper, that he believes we will see half to two-thirds of all species on the planet go extinct in the next hundred years.

What this mean to me, folks, is that the disaster snowball has started rolling and picking up speed.

The Bush junta, of course, officially denies all this, but I think they’re lying about what they think about climate change just as surely as they’re lying about just about anything else you’d care to mention. You see, if they deny it, they don’t have to do anything about it. If they cut all the safety nets, throw out all the safeguards, and grab all the resources they can for themselves, they figure they’ve got a better chance of making it through the impending disaster, and you and I are more likely to die, and then they won’t have to deal with us and our annoying questions.

Bush’s ranch is set up to be solar powered. Frist is building a bunker in his new house in Nashville. No telling what else they are doing in undisclosed locations around the country. They know there’s a storm coming, and they want to be the ones to survive. That’s why they don’t care a rat’s behind about conscience, integrity, fairness, or compassion: they think we’re standing at the end of history, the beginning of a new dark age in which they can be the lords and write the history. Meanwhile, they figure, you’ve got to break a few eggs to make an omlet.

Are they insane? Quite possibly. I believe that it is still possible to reorganize society along sane lines, to create a world in which concerned neighbors and not the devil will see to the hindmost. The same Jesus they love to flaunt said, “Howsoever ye treat the least of mine, is how ye treat me,” and I believe that is the standard to which we need to hold ourselves. George, Karl, Dick, and their ilk can run, they can even hide for a while, but ultimately they cannot escape their fundamental miscalculation: the stability of a society is not based on its material resources but on the morality and sanity of its members: and when it comes to morality and sanity, the Bushies haven’t got a clue. They are as doomed to failure as the Third Reich. I just pray we can get these bad actors off stage without the catastrophic conclusion that it took to end Mr. Hitler’s little morality play.

May God have mercy on your soul, Karl. You may be able to B.S. the American people but you can’t B.S. Nature.

Much thanks to Truthout.org for many of the facts and quotes in this story.

P.S. (added in September) Since I wrote this, all that warm water in the Gulf of Mexico has parlayed into two more major hurricanes….and who’s in charge of the reconstruction effort? Karl Rove!








%d bloggers like this: