Sunday, January 30, 2005

Another Day Older...

I've not posted for a few days because I had a birthday and felt it was a great excuse for a short vacation. A few days of thinking, as little as possible about politics and the state of the world, is not a bad thing.

Nothing has actually changed in the last week. America is still at war in its quest to control the worlds oil supply while making a mockery of the democracy it pretends to be spreading.

Prisoners in American control are still being abused and tortured. American forces and intelligence services are still using "cruel and inhumane" methods which the new attorney general says are not unconstitutional.

One thing I did learn this week is that many of the detainees being systematically abused were arrested for looting, theft, and other minor crimes or merely scooped up out of a crowd of protesters. These people have little or no information of use to anyone. But, we torture the hell out of everyone in the chance that maybe one of them knows something of interest. Ah, the smell of democracy and the scream of liberation.

The coming war against Iran moves ahead. Special ops troops have been operating inside Iran for some time and more operations are planned. The administration pushes ahead in its war plans as though Iraq were already a great victory rather than the grinding defeat it is becoming.

The Christian Right is still preaching its message of hate, ignorance, and discrimination. Bush no longer seems inclined to push the anti-gay marriage amendment, now that he is safely back in office. Some of his most virulent Christian supporters are right upset about that. Finally, it begins to dawn on them that George is just another lying quadra-faced politician, interested only in himself. Welcome to the reality based world.

Americans still live in a non-stop wash of print, broadcast, and cable propaganda . A huge percentage are still in the dream time created by the murmur of wealth, power, safety, and cheap commodity goods that is ever present. They continue to dream that their interests are represented by corporate interests.

Many Americans still believe that George Bush, our Fearless Leader, is a regular guy, just like them. And he would be if they had been born into a family of billionaires. Had they been coddled, protected, and endlessly promoted on a pillow of money and privilege, then he would be just like them, perhaps. If they had golfed their way thru Yale and Harvard on daddy's money and had grown up knowing only other rich people, then he would have something in common with them.

I notice Iraqis and US soldiers are still dieing in ever increasing numbers. US troops in armoured vehicles are touring the country urging people without armour to come out and vote. The ballots have no names because there is no semblance of order and public safety under the 'protection' of the American liberators.

Great numbers of recently wounded Iraq vets are being booted out of army hospitals and told the VA will take care of them and their new medical needs. Meanwhile, the VA is overwhelmed with sick and wounded vets that the VA can not care for. Vets in some VA hospitals are being charged extra for their meals. Bush wants to pull more money away from the VA at the same time that the military is unloading responsibility for wounded soldiers.

Yes, and the Pentagon is warning us that Veterans benefits are now a "burden on national security". The "use them and throw them away" attitude, is unforgivable for a government that asks, no demands, so much of it's men and women in service. From a government that has blatantly lied to it's soldiers and citizens from day one.

Young fellows giving thought to or being pressed to join the military, heads up, if you get all fucked up like so many thousands have, so far, you are on your own when you come back with half your face missing, both hands, most of your intestines, or your legs, etc. You are on your own. The graphic language is necessary because the afore mentioned wounds are coming home by the plane load.

Explosives and high energy bullets make very nasty and massive injuries. Greatly improved trauma techniques mean a large number of seriously wounded soldiers will survive their initial wounds , to need months, years, or a life time of treatment and assistance.

If we as a nation, can rationalize using the very troops we laud so loudly on the way to war, in such a cheap, disrespectful, and inhumane fashion, then we must ask, what kind of people we have become? What kind of nation are we? The answers are not pleasant.

Social Security is still on the chopping block. Today's and tomorrows seniors shoved aside and no longer a burden to national security, one presumes.

So, that is the big set up for Bush's Raw Deal domestic agenda. Persons no longer able to support the corporate good are merely shoved aside into an ever growing underclass of those that no longer count. With the new powers of the so-called Patriot Act, anyone who doesn't like it can be dealt with, in secret if need be.

Little has changed over the preceding week. The debt climbs higher, bankrupting the future for generations to come.

And much of befuddled America supported the war, dismantling Social Security, massive debt, and on going animosity to wards the world. Voted for it because they were so busy besmirching the name of their God with their blind consuming hatred of gays and anyone who isn't one of them.

Your Jesus did not hate sinners nor did he separate one kind of sinner from another. The contemporary Christian Right does all these things, proudly, in the name of the same Jesus.
So, there you have it. A week goes by an nothing changes except to get worse.

Ten more tons of explosives and what to you get?
Another day older and your deeper in debt..

Monday, January 24, 2005

Crime Figures, Great and Small

Spc. Sabrina Harman, one of the participants in the tortures carried out at Abu Ghraib, has chosen to be interviewed on ABC's 20/20. A little positive PR before the trial.

Spc. Charles Graner, another MP charged in the abuse scandal, has just received a ten year sentence for his part in the abuse.

It appears that one thing weighing very heavily against Spc. Graner, was evidence that he took great pleasure from the abuses he and other guards perpetrated. Spc. Harmon whose smiling face appears in some of the most damaging of the photos is bringing her serious face to television to say " she wishes she could apologize to the Iraqi people, but doesn't think she did any thing wrong".

She wishes she could apologize. Doesn't that make you feel all warm inside? She says that she didn't hurt anybody. Presumably, Iraqis are nobodies.

She was part of the party that created the now famous picture of the Iraqi man in the hood with the electrodes secured to his body. The human Christmas tree in the eyes of some.
She was smiling a lot in those days but she isn't smiling now.

She wants you to know that children love her and she was kind and generous to an Iraqi family that cooked hot meals for her. Touched?

I think we can believe that Harman will get a lighter sentence than Spc. Graner. We can be just about 100 percent certain that no one who gave the orders will be mentioned, much less held accountable.

At Graner's trial, the defense lawyers attempted to bring the orders he and other defendants were following, as evidence to the trial. The media did not report that the defendants attempted to compel the testimony of officers such as LTC Jordan and COL Pappas. The court refused to grant immunity to the officers so there was no testimony from the officers. It is cool to be an officer, no? Big scoop for the media too, eh? Alas, the media somehow missed that part.

It is quite remarkable that no one above a Staff Sargent has been charged with a crime. Yet, it is obvious to everyone who cares to look, that these MPs were following directives from civilian and Military intelligence people, at the prison. In this interesting background piece about the 372 Military Police Company, the unit the accused belonged to at the time of the crimes, some interesting things are said about strange changes that took place in the prison after the 'spooks' moved in. Only one low ranking military intelligence soldier has been charged with anything.

It started with Bush sending Gonzalez to get a legal memo that allowed him to redefine torture in a way that makes the term meaningless. The memo was requested by the CIA, according to Mr. Gonzalez.'s testimony during the confirmation formality.

Now Bush can give the CIA the good news that they can torture as long as they are not trying to kill the victim. Such mercy from Fearless Leader. Protecting the lives of even his enemies.

The Prez tells the CIA to play rough and dirty with detainees. The intelligence spooks move into Abu Ghraib and suddenly, terrible things start to happen. What are we supposed to believe? That those MPs suddenly went weird, all at the same time? And the events only coincidently occurred after the spooks moved in?

That is what the White House and the military would have you believe. The court says there is some responsibility higher up the chain of command, yet, no charges, and damned little truth revealed.

One cheery note for crime watchers: Our beloved Secretary of Defense, Mr. Rumsfeld, has been charged with war crimes in Germany. For the time being, at least, Mr. "Go with the Army you've got" can not go to Germany without facing possible arrest. When is the last time an American Secretary of State was threatened with arrest by a non hostile nation? A long time ally.

While I do not believe the German charges will stand for long or be brought to trial any time soon, I do believe they are but a taste of what is to come.

At this time, it is difficult to imagine that those in power and those that gave the top level orders will ever be truly held accountable for their actions. It appears that America is at the zenith of it's power and can not be touched by anything as feeble as international law.

Truly, it looks like the Empire has already reached near its zenith. It has certainly inflated and over reached itself so early in its conquest stage, it could well be that we are already witnessing the beginning of the trip down.

That sounds imaginative and naïve today but I wonder if future historians will not view this and the next couple of years as the beginning of the end of this self proclaimed empire.

The US still has a potent military but most of it is in Iraq, strained to the limit, in a fight they are destined to lose. The Bush administration is running up the debt like a drug addict with a stolen credit card. With no end in sight.

The dollar is plunging and any small export gains made have already been spent. The long term ramifications are just beginning to be felt.

I keep wondering, what happens when the government of the United States has borrowed more than it can possibly pay? What will the terms be and who will make those terms?
On whose behalf and for whose benefit are America's resources being spent? And who is going to foot this massive bill?

American citizens need to be asking themselves these questions. We need to be asking these questions at every opportunity and we should be demanding some real answers before the real price of this president's ambitions rises any higher.

There are reasons why this president operates in such secrecy while creating an impenetrable wall of yes-men around himself. There are too many important questions not being asked of this group of extremists who have taken control of America and are turning it into something that serves the interests of very, very few Americans.

The corporate media is not going to ask those questions for us. Meaning it is up to us to be asking those questions at every opportunity.

Friday, January 21, 2005



So what? I did not listen to or watch anything about the fantasy style coronation of our Fearless Leader. Not even the critics did I give ear to today.

I did however read the headlines on a few news sites to find out if there had been any unexpected happenings of note. Like maybe Condi forgetting herself and exclaiming, "Oh Daddy!" and planting a big wet one on the Imperial kisser. That would have been interesting.

Or maybe if a new Secret Service guy mistook Gonzalez's tan complexion and shifty eyes for those of a would be terrorist and zapped the Attorney General with a stun gun, acting upon the better safe than sorry principle, as endorsed by Mr. Gonzalez. That would have been a cheery human interest story.

Or if some one had spiked the near beer with LSD and the President had suddenly felt a need to speak the absolute truth. No telling what he might reveal before Cheney realizes something is amiss with the puppet and has the Secret Service wrestle the President to the floor (for his own safety) and carry him to the White House for a Thorazine drip. That would have been real news.

Maybe there is hope for the unexpected yet. After all the coronation balls, perhaps it will be discovered that one of the Royal Twins spent the night with a 76 year old, big time, corporate supporter and contributor. Daddy's hopping Texas mad but finds himself in a political/moral dilemma he's not equipped to handle. Condi and Gonzalez determine that it's OK to call air strikes on any media outlet that runs the story. Gonzalez becomes the first Attorney General to serve as a supreme court justice during his term as Attorney General.

But, sadly, none of that has happened, so far. So, who cares. The Fairy King throws a god awful expensive party for himself , happily paid for by the other Royals, the corporate persons and their directors. A huge glitzy "We Got the World by the Balls" ball. A well planned, carefully choreographed, and orchestrated ritual of Imperial Ascension. So what?

Most of the world mourns to see this power obsessed little man with his destructive dreams being elevated to such power. The world is watching and old specter rising on the skyline again.

I have no desire to watch this celebration of the ghouls.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

A Letter From Baghdad Buddy

Back on November 15/04, I posted an article titled Annex Canada?. Near the end of the article I made a short blurb about the propaganda wash that Americans live in, using a sound clip found on the web site for a Mussel Shoals, Alabama radio station, WQLT.

The sound clip is of 'reports', phoned in from Iraq to the station by an Army Major who calls himself 'Baghdad Buddy'.

Here is what I said on November 15: On a different note: A bit of home cooking in the form of an interview on a Mussel Shoals, Alabama radio station. Baghdad Buddy, is an Army Reserve Major stationed in Iraq, this is his last 'show' before returning to Alabama, on leave. Go there, click on "Baghdad Buddy" on their home page.For Canadians and others not familiar with the feel of local media in American cities, check this out. This is mainstream small town radio, all over America. No questions, no doubts, just wave the flag and god bless us lucky folks who are free to buy anything we can afford.The Major who understands his political responsibilities does a good job of painting the Bush correct image but does have a slip of the tongue when he describes the events in Iraq as an insurgent war. He quickly covers himself by calling opposition fighters "ex-surgents", as "they mostly come from outside the country."The Iraqi people love us, of course.

Buddy did a google search for "Baghdad Buddy" and found seven or so pages of entries, mostly about some Air Force Major who was referred to as Baghdad Buddy. But he also spied what could be construed as negative comment from what he took to be a Canadian.

A day or so ago I received an email from Buddy. Buddy is his real name. He doesn't say so, but, given his Army job of training Iraqi soldiers I would hazard a guess that Buddy is an intelligence officer. I did ask but Buddy did not reply.

Check out the WQLT web site for Baghdad Buddy clips and a blurb about him that seems to support my assumption.

For the sake of this piece, I am going to display portions of Major Buddy's email, for response. I will post the entire contents in the comments section. I have removed his email addy from his post as I've not heard back from him since informing him that I would post his email.

As I read it, Buddy's main point is that he isn't spouting the official line but just telling an observed proof. My contention is that whether the lies are believed or not, he is playing the role of a Military Intelligence/information officer. Per the restrictions, beliefs, and interests of his class and role, he spouts disingenuous propaganda as part of his job.

This isn't about Buddy, it is about the role he plays in the ceaseless propaganda wash that the American people are subject to. Good old buddy is just a small cog in the machine.

Thus we begin.

I am the Baghdad Buddy that was mentioned on one of your postings. Interesting that you somehow acquired the radio show in Canada. It is a shame you missed the show where one of my interpreters went on the air with me and thanked "the President and the American People on behalf of millions of Iraqi women because now they have hope". I could probably get you a copy if you would like. I am curious as to how you came across it.

Well Buddy, hit the link above and you will come across it the same way I did. I'm not sure why you think I should have heard the clip you mentioned. George Bush has been spouting the same empty rhetoric. No one can seem to find the millions of Iraqi women who now "have hope". Hope is one of the things in scant supply among the Iraqi people right now.

The only hope that millions of Iraqi people, in the rubble you created, is the hope that the destroyers will leave.

Buddy continues: I wasn't playing the party line. You must understand my mission was to live with and train the Iraqi Army. I spent the entire time living, eating, patrolling, convoying with these people. This was my personal experience with them…

What is being clearly said is that Buddy believes in the party line. He believes that Americans should see the situation the way he describes. He spent his time training and indoctrinating unemployed Iraqis, who desperately need the money.

The hope, the jobs, business, schools, hospitals, sewers, phones, and electricity are all destroyed by the 'liberators'.

Back To Buddy: ... For whatever reasons you or all others believe we went into Iraq, the end result is I saw many people who are starving not just for food, but information, new ideas etc. Not so unlike you in Canada and I in America. We have always been able to speak our mind, they have not. They can now, those that are brave will. Those that are not will wait to see who the winner is before they get off the fence

So, we will just drop the reasons for going in now that they have all been prov-en lies and concentrate on the fact that you saw people who seek freedom of information and the right to speak.

How do you get all that new free flow of information to people who have no electricity or phones and little contact with the outside world? All of that was destroyed.

In recognition of these simple facts, the insurgency now represents more people than the entire US Army. And you are right, only the brave speak up, no matter what they believe because some one, likely a Marine, maybe an insurgent, is going to have an armed opinion of their own. Is that the democracy that is being spoiled by a few trouble makers? Or the one that is being rejected by the Iraqi people in very large numbers?

Now we get to where Buddy is really coming from: usually much less than 10% of the a country's population does the fighting for the freedoms that the rest of the country enjoys. That same group of complainers are the same ones that use those freedoms to talk bad about the ones that have the stomach to fight for what they believe. By fight I don't mean stand behind a protest sign in a free country. I mean put their lives on the line. Not their attitude. Soldiers are citizens too they just earn it and cherish it. Others are recipients born into it.

You see, Buddy is a special guy representing special citizens. Those who have earned freedom as opposed to those who are mere recipients. This thinking is often at the core of the political logic of the army mind. In the modern context it is bullshit and a dishonest claim for special status.

It starts with the most important and most egregious lie. that the soldiers of America are representing or fighting for anyone's freedoms. The people you claim to have liberated have never experienced the level of violence and oppression brought to them by the 'liberators'.

To fight for corporate domination of the world and then pretend that odious work makes you one of the few Americans who have 'earned' their freedom is irrational, at best, and intentionally deceptive at its worst.

America's freedoms have been served not one whit by this ruinous, hideously destructive war. Americans have fewer freedoms and fewer constitutional protections than ever before. Those freedoms are being taken by the political and economic elite of America. Not by Iraqis trying to push a brutal foreign army out of it's home.

Saddam had lights, water, and sewage fixed in two months after first Gulf War. The rich smart American military and corporations such as Haliburton have spent billions, that's billions, of American tax dollars and have done nothing but continue to destroy the country, killing over a hundred and fifty thousand civilians in the process.

The current insurrection grew directly out of the chaos created by our 'freedom warriors'.
We created the chaos and have refused to fix any of it. The insurrection grew out of the despair America created and then ignored as not important.

You are not fighting for freedom Major Buddy. You are quite the opposite of the image you attempt to paint and a lovely example of your ilk.

In Buddy's world view, those who resist and speak against this on going slaughter of innocents are just complainers and cowards, perhaps unworthy of what freedoms the government and it's army and police choose to allow.

In Americas' revolutionary war, Buddy's ilk wore red uniforms.

The entire email is posted in the comments section. You may find it informative. Some Canadian readers may find it a bit bizarre. It is more of the same and it still reads like a script.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The Matrons of War and One of Bush's Better Lies

Reading comments to my last article, The Everyday Cost of Treachery, I find a note from Ian McGibboney of Not Right About Anything fame.

Quoted below is part of his comment.

Probably the worst thing I'd read on the subject came soon after the Iraq War had begun. A letter in Newsweek berated Anna Quindlen's previous column about her kids going off to Spring Break. This woman's response was that all of that was a waste of time, because "our young people should be doing everything they can to pitch in and support this war and fight for freedom" or something approximating that.

The righteous lady paraphrased above is a type I have some experience with. As a young male draft prospect, in Alabama, I tagged them the "matrons of war". Although, I hasten to add, they come in all age categories, the attitude is matronly in the most unpleasant sense.

I remember a comment once made by a girl friend of short duration. I was griping about being draft fodder for the dumb ass war when she piped up with, "Well, I think the Army makes a man out of a boy". She was all of eighteen.

It came from the same self satisfied, pampered, moralistic vantage point as the woman Ian mentioned. The attitude of someone with little to loose, often with something to gain, bearing a real sense of entitlement and complete confidence in her feminine wisdom.

I recall a Republican couple interviewed during the RNC in New York. Real American beef cake they were. Tall blond haired blue eyed Texans. He wore a business suit and a big white Texas cowboy hat and she was dressed for the prom. Actually, they were both dressed for the bloody prom. Texas wedding cake decorations that spoke.

He spoke with great confidence and the usual Republican hubris about how great America is and how George Bush was bringing us into a new era of strength and prosperity and God ain't it great to be a rich, politically connected white Texan. She smiled demurely and said, "I'm with him." every time the interviewer asked her a question about the convention.

Finally a question was asked about John Kerry and Miss Texas knew this was something she was well qualified to answer.

"Well, I'm sorry, she said with a smirk that said she was the expert on this subject,' but John Kerry is a wimp." In the end, the smirk betrayed a hint of embarrassment for poor dickless John. Penetrating analysis from daddy's pretty blond princess. You got the distinct impression you had just heard her one and only political thought.

They smiled and waved goodbye and with great cheer they marched like proud, brave, free Americans down the secure, fenced off sidewalks of Republican central.

In Alabama, I knew a lot of these matrons of war. Hair dressers, church ladies, tax collectors, school teachers, cheer leaders, home coming queens, aunts, girl friends and dear old mom.

I'm yet to meet one in Canada but I'm sure they are here. The characters show up in European and Russian novels often enough to imply that they exist every where. Someone has to marry and give birth to the male version. And keep them in line.

In America they are churned out in factories and delivered to middle and upper class neighborhoods and some working class homes, all over the country. Ann Coulter is probably queen bee of the war matrons. Arrogant, authoritarian, with a head full of gas and a sharp memory for self serving cliché's. Determined that someone should pay the price for the decadence she lives in and equally determined that it should be someone else. Someone less deserving. Someone less special.

It is a familiar theme these days. Almost every one who supported this war with their vote, is waiting for some one else to do the dirty, dangerous, costly stuff. Waiting for some one else to shoulder the responsibility and eventually to take the blame for the ruinous path they have chosen to be led down.

On a different and slightly cheerier note, Christian Right types all over the country are expressing their dismay that the President is not pushing forward with the constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

George has bigger, more important, more lucrative fish to fry and has no plan to bring up such a side tracking amendment until it suits his agenda. Like maybe just before the next election, when brother Jeb can use all the help he can get.

Now that the evangelical right has helped put him back in power, George is suddenly less concerned about the fools that got so side tracked by their ignorant homophobia, that they appeared in record numbers to vote for the corporate rape of Iraq, years of war, record deficit spending and the abandoning of the constitution. Hey, did God tell them to do that? I gotta' wonder.

Well praise the lord brothers and sisters, and open your crusty eyes to a fact well known by half of America and most of the world. George Bush is a great big liar. A politician, who like all his breed, worships money and power.

Now ask yourselves again, seriously. Was it really God that told you to trust and vote for the party boy oil baron and his big business cronies? Was it really?

I would really like to know. Do you still think God has his hand on this liar, this promise breaker? This privileged rich war lover who walked away from service when it was his turn and who immediately put your precious amendment on the back burner when he was securely returned to office.

Once you realize he has lied to you too, go back and rethink some of the other lies the President of the USA has given life to. The ones you didn't care about as long as George was against queers ruining the sanctity of your marriages.

Sometimes, waking up is hard to do.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

The Everyday Cost of Treachery

My Brother Died in Vain is the title of an article I read today (click here). The title almost says it all. The White House has at long last made official, what the world has know for years. There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Except the ones recently brought there by the Americans.

It's a story about the real cost of this greed driven waste of so many lives in Iraq. An examination of cost versus result. The cost of proving what was already know to be a lie.
Another drop of blood on our new American dream cum nightmare.

Again and again ordinary American families will be left with that cold unanswerable question. Why? To what real purpose was this life expended?

There will never be a real answer to that question. That is the real horror of it. To each person who actually cared about this young man, it is the beginning of pondering a question to which there is no satisfactory answer.

This is not the price of liberty, it is the destruction of liberty both at home and abroad. Liberty does not send young men, with potential yet unfulfilled, to be sacrificed for the greed and the power lust of elitists and their demagogues.

Liberty does not destroy a country and violate and oppress its entire population, for greed or any other reason.

Liberty does not torture, abuse, or incarcerate people, perhaps for life, without provable charges.

Liberty does not burden the families of the working class and working poor with the price and responsibility for the reckless decisions and actions of the ruling class.

Totalitarian governments do all of those things.

A quote from the article:
At home, the sidelines are overcrowded with patriots. These Americans cower from the fight they instigated in Iraq. In a time of war and record budget deficits, many are loath to even pay their taxes. In the end, however, it is not their family members who are at risk, and they do not sit up at night pleading with fate to spare them.

The writer alludes to one of the most puzzling aspects of America's abdication to authoritarian government. Specifically that so many Americans have been convinced they can support such policies and actions, without paying a real price. As though someone else will pay the bills and do the fighting.

That much is obvious. Why else would all branches of the military be undershooting their enlistment quotas? In spite of massive recruitment drives. One is forced to ask; Where are all the men who voted for the war? They are still waving flags and writing stupid brave things on the net but they are not signing up for their war. They are waiting for some one else to do the hard parts of their new style patriotism.

It would seem they are expecting that class of Americans who traditionally escape unemployment via the army, to join up and fight the dirty Arabs for them. They love the idea of killing and dieing for 'freedom', they just want some one else to do the dieing part.
The getting wounded part, the going mad from stress part. They prefer to change the channel or have a beer when it gets too heavy.

Sadly, for the National Guard and Reserve and Regular Army units being ground to a nub in the desert, the President is determined not to burst the bubble for his supporters, by reintroducing the draft. He knows how quickly his popular support would melt in that eventuality. When enough Americans begin to realize the price they must pay for the mad excesses of this government.

I don't believe the draft will start again until Bush and cronies are sure they have complete control of the state's repressive apparatus. The Attorney General's office, the CIA, the DHS, the FBI, the politically motivated Judges, need to be controlled by Bush appointees whose major and often only qualification for their jobs are that they are politically 'on side' with Bush and his prescription for a new America that nobody voted for. A cheery view, I know, but that is how it looks.

Chertoff, our new head of Homeland Security, is a much more reliable political bag man than Kerik could have been, for all his willingness. The most cursory look at Chertoff''s record of achievements do not bode well for democratically minded (note small 'd') Americans. Check here for a few details.

Reading the article by Dante Zappala, regarding the loss of his brother in Iraq, I can not deny that we are all responsible for what is happening in America's name. And that each of us has a responsibility to find it within ourselves to speak, to resist in some way the dark human cloud that is forming.

Are you looking for your voice, your part to play in what's to come? In the long run, there is no safe choice, not even for the bumber sticker God fearin' Republicans. The Angel of Mercy is very unpredictable.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

It's Too Quiet On the Front

I believe the confirmation of Gonzalez to the post of Attorney General may some day be thought of as the turning point in the administration's domestic security agenda.

Bush has elevated his private counsel to Attorney General, the chief law enforcement officer of the nation. A man with no commitment to the constitution, whose only qualification is his ability to foster legal interpretations in accordance to the wishes of George Bush.

The mute surrender of Democrats is a part of the story I do not yet claim to understand. It as though the entire Congress and Senate were afraid to speak. Living in a more democratic country, I am genuinely astonished at such feeble murmurs of dissent from the Democratic members of both houses.

In Canada, I can remember no time when minority opposition Members of Parliament were silent in the house for more than a few hours at a time. I believe that on any given day there are more questions asked and statements made about Bush policies, in the Canadian Parliament, than from all the Democratic seat warmers in Washington. I gotta' ask; What's with that??

It makes me nervous. I'm giving you a link to an article by Thom Hartmann that explains better and more eloquently than I can, just why this confirmation makes me so nervous. Hartmann article.

The Democratic surrender, some would say sell out, will be a notable part of the story as it unfolds and to future historians who study this halcyon era.

The question that bothers me, right now, is, if the Patriot Act with its secret courts and suspension of basic rights, contains nothing that 'ordinary citizens' should need to fear, (as some apologists will tell you), Why is everyone so bloody obviously afraid? Why is that?

It appears to me that people who aren't at least nervous about these developments, come in two broad categories: Those who are, for what ever reason, oblivious and those who believe they will be immune. Passed over, as it were.

The shadow of totalitarianism sits over everyone. That is why it is called total-itarianism. Not only a show of allegiance but real sacrifice is expected and in the long run, all but a privileged few will pay their portion and more, of the sacrifice for power and wealth. Not your wealth, of course. The starving bankers and the homeless corporations need every dime they can get.

Let's see; The people and corpos at the top no longer pay taxes. Someone has to make it up. Guess who?
Whose jobs are being shipped over seas by the same tax less corporations?

Haliburton, Bechtel and other well represented Corporations know that they could make a quadrillion dollars if they can control Iraq. Whose sons have to fill those beleaguered boots on the ground?

And who is going to pay for the open ended government borrowing, already at record heights and bound to rise? What happens when we borrow more than we can pay? What ever the cost, guess who pays?

When you have finally had enough. When the taxes hit home. When your sons and friends and young relatives continue to be sacrificed, when you are sick, of all but the shitty jobs disappearing, while the 'American' corporations grow richer than ever before. Remember, before you say a word, that when you demand to not be cheated, not used and economically trashed, you will be stepping into the category of those for whom these unconstitutional laws were made.

The laws and the new interpretations are there, in place. These kind of laws have a power of their own, very much like powerful weapons. The weapons always get used.

Thom Hartmann article

Hartmann site

Monday, January 10, 2005

Edgar Ray Killen, a Morality Tale for Mr. Gonzalez

I've recently read about what for most of us is very good news. The arrest of the prime suspect in the 1964 execution murders of three young civil rights workers, in Mississippi.

Edgar Ray Killen, a fundamentalist preacher and proud member of the local KKK 'Klavern', has been arrested and charged with murder in connection with the deaths.

Killen, who is perhaps a devotee of nominative determinism, was the lead suspect from very early in the strange investigation carried out after the murders. Killen, known as 'Preacher' by his Klan buddies was charged with conspiracy to commit murder back in 1965 but a lone juror held out against conviction saying she could not convict a preacher.

Based on old and newly collected evidence, the now 79 year old Preacher has been charged with murder in connection with the 1964 slayings. The families of the slain have expressed great relief that there will finally be a real day in court for the crimes committed so long ago.

After reading Tim Shorrock's blog, I did a bit of research regarding this case and a related crime committed in Birmingham, Alabama, the same year. The infamous 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, in which three little girls, changing into their choir robes, were killed. Approximately ten sticks of dynamite were used.

I remember the day of the church bombing. A cloudy, thunder stormy day. Everybody was tense. We lived in an unincorporated, mostly working class area called Fairfield Highlands, Alabama. The area was noted for the number of Klan members reputed to live there.

Klan membership was always publicly denied but some families were very obvious in spite of their vows. The bumper stickers, the numerous Confederate flags, and the acts of casual violence attributed to them, sort of gave them away.

There was real talk of open rebellion among the most extreme. The talk was rampant among the young male population, always the shock troops and cannon fodder for such revolts.

The civil rights movement and the Federal enforcement of Supreme Court Judgments, as well as the 1964 Civil Rights Act had created a states rights fervor among marginalized workers, and working and lower middle class people, whose rhetoric was as angry and outraged as those who supported it.

The mind set of the majority community could accept the murders carried out in Mississippi and in Birmingham, as well as numerous other atrocities against citizens and the Constitution itself. In fact, a majority just did not care. Many actually claimed the bombings were the work of radical Black groups that were trying to start a race war. Nine of the earliest police suspects were Nation of Islam members.

I was a product of the time and place and was as callous and war like in my view as anyone but… a day after the bombing, sitting alone watching the TV for coverage of the on-going riots, I chanced a look at the photographs on the cover of my fathers copy of the Birmingham News.

The photos of the three little girls were on the front page and just for an instant I really looked at them, and in that instant I was struck by the utter innocence and tiny flower like beauty of them. In that unguarded second, I received my first sharp sliver of conscience.

For a breadth of time small too short for a name, I saw myself and my own guilt and responsibility, staring back from the paper. It was only an instant quickly forgotten but a tiny wormy embryo of doubt was planted in my young redneck heart. An un-noted change had begun.

Now, so many years later, a life time away in some respects, murder charges have finally been laid against the accused ring leader of the two carloads of Klansmen that lay in wait for and brutally beat and murdered those three young men.

In the Birmingham Church bombing, the case was closed and opened five times over the years. In 1977, one of the bombers received a life sentence. In 2000 another was convicted and in May, 2002, Bobby Cherry, the dynamite supplier and leader, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

Years of cover ups and political interference had been overcome. These men hid in plain view in a culture whose mind set they once represented. Today, there is a political will to bring these criminals to justice.

The moral to this cautionary tale is for those who have put the issue of torture on the world table in such a big way lately, from George, thru Gonzalez and Rummy, and down to the smiling lady MPs and their mates.

Right now, the country is torn. Most folks are at least queasy about torture just as most Alabamians were queasy about murder and bombing churches.
But just as then, the above mentioned future defendants represent the mind set of enough Americans, that they walk free.

That is the current reality of the American body politic. While the current regime will likely use every means at its disposal, under its new totalitarian laws, they can only postpone their inevitable decline.

International law and the crimes committed will not go away. The hearts and minds of people will change. The requirements of justice will remain.

Friday, January 07, 2005

American Morality. Liars, Murderers, and Torturers

America has come to a place and become a thing that most Americans once thought could not happen. But, the writing has been on the wall since shortly after the second World War. When even conservatives such as President Dwight Eisenhower, while leaving office, warned the American public to be wary of what he called the Industrial Military complex. Eisenhower neatly forgot to mention growing power that corporate lobbyists had in government.

The writing on the wall is written in flames now. Yet, most Americans seem unable or unwilling to read it or even admit its existence. As if things will be ok if we just close our eyes and stay the course. But then, with your eyes shut, you don't see when the course is inexorably leading to disaster of phenomenal proportions.

The American ship of state is headed for the rocks and nothing will save it now. With Fearless Leaders' blind hand at the wheel, the proverbial ship of state may even sink.
America is entering into a place so dark and chaotic that even these dark days will be remembered, with regret, as the end of the 'good old days'.

Those are terrible words and it gives me no pleasure to say them. It isn't a hope or a threat, it is an expression of the natural, historical outcome for despotic regimes that use torture, arbitrary mass detentions, and whole sale retaliatory punishments against civilians. Such as carried out by the Germans, who often destroyed entire villages and their occupants, as punishment for insurgent activity in the area. A serious war crime. Like Falluja.

Leaving aside the blatant intentional lies that Bush, Rumsfeld, and later Colin Powel, told to the United Nations and to world leaders. All to excuse inexcusable aggression against a country no longer capable of being a real danger to the United States. A country that had absolutely nothing to do with the events of 9/11. The original excuse for this so called war against terrorism.

Leaving aside the intolerable murder of over a hundred and fifty thousand, or more, Iraqi citizens. Civilians, mostly women, children, and the elderly. Most of whom were trying to hide from both the Americans and the insurgent fighters. Forget for just a moment, about the destruction of Falluja, where many more women and children were killed than insurgents. Let us briefly deal with the issue of torture.

Spear headed by Gonzales, Bush's' personal attorney, the White House has sought to get the President legal authority to use torture. A move that much of the defense department, minus Rumsfeld, and most of the top military brass strongly disapproved of. Knowing that it would have terrible consequences for American service personnel. Something that our "bring it on" Fearless Leader doesn't seem to mind. Since he doesn't realize his clackers are headed for the chopper, as well.

Gonzales pushed for and helped write a legal memo that redefined torture in a manner that is essentially meaningless. Under the new definition anything that does not kill the prisoner is not torture. If it does kill the prisoner, a prosecutor would have to prove the death was intentional to get a conviction. Imagine trying to prosecute such a charge.

"No sir, I did not intend to kill that man by hanging him upside down in a barrel of water while zapping his testicles with a fifty thousand volt stun gun. He must have had a bad heart. Not my fault. Nope, never intended to kill him, sir."

However Gonzales and Bush want to twist the rule of law to get what they want, the world has laws not subject to American veto. Torture is not only illegal in much of the world, it is looked upon as the lowest form of cruelty and perversion by much of the population of the planet. There will be a reckoning.

In the eyes of the world, America, it's soldiers, politicians, and even its citizens have become monsters. Your monstrousness grows daily.

There are high ranking officials in the present government that may end their days in prison. Possibly even George Bush himself. Cheney and Rumsfeld will likely die of natural causes before that comes to pass. But Gonzales is a relatively young man who may still be around for that day of reckoning. We can only hope. Once again, this is not a threat but a picture of where we are likely headed.

America will become a room in hell before this happens. When it becomes apparent that they are doomed to failure and redress, this government and their neocon allies will use the Patriot Act and their new detention powers and their new interpretation of torture, on American citizens, in a big way.

Can't happen here? If you still believe it can't happen here, you have not been paying attention to what is going on in America. Lots of things are happening in America, right now, that I and most Americans did not believe could happen, in America. But here it is.

Under the Patriot act, any citizen can be arrested and be incarcerated for an indefinite period of time, with out charges being laid. Persons arrested under the Patriot act have no access to lawyers or anyone else who can help them. Who will ever know what happens in those secret incarcerations. Beatings, electro shock torture, rape and sexual tortures and simulated drowning are all being carried out by CIA and military intelligence 'interrogators'. Professional torturers in common language. People whom I hope will end their days in prison.

We are in for a time of hell but this regime will fall and it will fall hard.

A note to those MPs and other soldiers whose smiling faces appeared, grinning, while abusing those people. You are marked. When this government collapses, you better be prepared to run and hide because every one of you is going to be on an international fugitive list. You will only be small cards in the deck but you are the ones easiest to get. Your trials will be test cases for the trials of the big fish. The time very well may come when you will once more face your victims, but then, it will be in a court of law. Something Fearless Leader and his cronies don't believe in. But, it is waiting for them.

An up date: A very good video report re Gonzalez and his role and the white house role in creating the new definition of torture. Please note that his most determined questioner was was a conservative Republican Senator. The Gonzalez Evasion tape.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Good Morning, 2005, So long Bill Moyers

Bill Moyers has recently retired from his PBS "Now, with Bill Moyers", after more than 30 years in journalism.

I have just listened, for the second time, to a speech made by Bill Moyers. A keynote address to the founding National Conference on Media Reform. I find it both moving and informing. And more than a little bit discomforting. What follows is not about Moyers but a personal response to some of the ideas he expressed.

When I was young, I was very taken by the words and the stories of people like Tom Paine, Ben Harris, Daniel Webster, etc. I had a strong belief in the ideas and ideals of the American revolution. The country that I learned to love and its revolutionary ideas and ideals, simply does not exist and hasn't for a very long time. Certainly not since the 40's.

That great revolutionary era is the America and Americans that Moyers represents. I feel like the American revolution is being fought again and the forces arrayed against liberty are bigger, richer, and stronger than ever before.

I think about that little bunch of merchants and farmers and printers, who stood together at Lexington bridge and at Concorde, with squirrel guns and fowling pieces, against what at the time was one of the worlds most fearsome military machines.

Every one of those men must have been conflicted as hell. They didn't know what would happen. They had every reason to believe they would all be killed for their defiant gesture. They had wives, kids, parents who counted on them, businesses, etc. None of them could see the future anymore than any of us can. They were, to a man, scared shitless when they walked out of their houses to stand on that bridge to say "Thou shall not pass!", to those heavily armed, trained and experienced Redcoats.

Much of Tom Paine's most celebrated writings were dispatches written while he was fighting with Washington's army. He was, by all accounts, a brave soldier. What ever courage he had on the field of battle, it was with his pen that he recruited an army and a nation to support it. His little paper, Common Sense, and his dispatches from the front, did more damage to the Imperial cause than he ever did with sword or musket.

Not only him but that other dozen or so of the independent weekly papers that supported the cause of independence from the Empire.

Moyers talks about a courageous American spirit, held it would appear, by only a small minority of Americans. A lot of Americans disagree with what is happening. Patriotic Americans were once obsessed with genuine liberty. Now they are fat, submissive, and want someone else to defend their American freedom to buy anything they can afford and to not really give a shit about anything else. To paraphrase Tom Paine: Things too easily attained are too lightly valued.

Moyers makes me want to buck up, do more, be more productive and strive to do it honestly. Makes me want to drag out my squirrel gun to stand at the fucking bridge. My squirrel gun being this bloody computer and internet connection.

It is a slightly sad and ironic thing. After all this time and all I hate about what America has become, in my heart, I'm still an American. A variety that has gone way out of fashion. Somehow, taking Canadian citizenship feels like a final turning away from what ever good the place once represented in the world. Something I must do to get a passport. I won't be giving up my American citizenship but it still represents a shift in my perception of myself.

I have no reason to believe I will live there, ever again. Yet, I still feel like a patriot, by my own definition. It has been a long time since America was worthy of that sort of patriotism. The worlds first successful colonial democratic revolution. Created against terrible odds. A small nation whose writers, thinkers, leaders, and citizens inspired their ilk, all over the world.

Now, that little country has become an imperial giant that thrives on the exploitation of and out right control of an economic colonial empire, the likes of which has never been seen before. An empire built more by corruption, greed, and financial and legal slight of hand, than with raw military power. Although the threat and use of force is always present.

By every standard, American democracy is in crises. Those of us who still believe in human liberty and justice and equality, in the right to freely express opinion contrary to that of either the State or the 'majority', those virtues that inspired and drove our revolution, are now labeled as unpatriotic, disloyal, terrorist sympatizers and worse.
By a jingoistic corporate media that marches in lock step to the drum of the corporate business agenda.

I strongly urge you to watch and or listen to the speech Moyers made at the founding conference of Journalists for Media Reform. He presents a view of patriotism that does not include blind allegiance to one man or one Party ideology