Green Means \”Impeach\”


Black Friday and the Shame of Wall Street… and Congress

Giving Wall Street $800 Billion in taxpayer’s money — over $2000 for every man, woman and child in America — was supposed to free up credit markets and stabilize the economy, right? Yeah, right!

Perhaps the most shocking political episode in my lifetime has been the completely cynical and corrupt surrender of the Democratically-controlled Congress to the Wall Street speculators (aka, thieves), whose almost unbelievably reckless policies brought this gigantic mess upon us. And the punchline of this sick joke is that this criminal act of base thievery has not brought us economic security as advertised, but utter chaos. An entire country, Iceland, is on the verge of going under! From Britain to Australia, all is turmoil, confusion, FEAR. And everyone is saying or thinking: this can’t go on, the market’s going to bottom out soon… isn’t it?

I’m convinced that this has happened because the Left doesn’t exist in America as a political force. Progressive people meeting, talking, demonstrating, writing blogs (like this one)… all that means nothing. All the talk and good intentions of good people can be cancelled literally at the stroke of Bush’s pen, or at the whim of the utterly cynical Nancy Pelosi, whose only thought is not, “How can we public servants help the people?” but “How can we political hacks avoid damage and gain power?” The only reason the bailout took a week to get through Congress was because of the resistance of wingnut Ayn Rand Republicans! The Democratic leadership were completely okay with giving away the people’s money to their buddies in the financial services industry. The Party that refused to impeach the sociopath George Bush and the truly evil Dick Cheney, ostensibly on the grounds that they were lame ducks and couldn’t do any more harm, have now allowed those two criminals to start one last war: the war against the  American taxpayer!

Have Bush/Pelosi gone too far? Will the American people stand for this? I was coming home on the subway tonight and all I saw around me were people napping, reading bad newspapers, nodding out… oblivious. Yet the events of the past few weeks might ultimately cause more misery — more starvation, more homelessness, more hopelessness — than America has seen since the Great Depression. 

Who wins the election almost doesn’t matter. (Yes, McCain/Palin might attack Iran, and that does matter.) President Obama is not going to pull us out of this mess. (Somebody has rightly written that, if Barack wins, his new slogan might well be, “No, we can’t,” as in “no, we can’t have any more social services because there’s no more money.”) President McCain definitely won’t pull us out of it. Only We the People can pull us out of this.

If Cynthia McKinney of the Green Party gets 5% of the national vote, that would at least be a beginning, because it would raise the Greens to major party status and give Progressives a voice in government. But whether McKinney succeeds or not, it’s up to the people to get mad and fight back, by doing direct action, by organizing strikes, by never letting our lying, traitorous “representatives” off the hook. As Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young once sang, “We’re finally on our own.”

THE BAILOUT BILL FAILS! THE PEOPLE WIN!

They’re calling it “Black Monday,” but this historic day, September 29, 2008, represents a bright victory for the People. The leadership of both the Republican and Democratic Parties ¾ particularly the latter ¾ with Bush right behind them, tried to ram the Wall Street Charlatans Relief Act into law this afternoon. But a funny thing happened. The People suddenly woke up and at long last realized they’re in a class war. They shouted “NO” with one voice ¾ and I mean that literally: according to one report I heard, emails and phone calls coming in to legislators were running 100 to 1 against the bailout bill as it stands. Whether any such bill can pass the Congress now is open to question. But the People certainly will not tolerate a measure that rescues the arrogant masters of the financial world ¾ who contribute little or nothing of value to the real world ¾ yet does nothing for ordinary folk and their increasingly terrifying problems.

One of the few positive provisions originally proposed for the bill ¾ but later rejected ¾ was one that gave bankruptcy judges the right to alter the terms of mortgages for homeowners facing foreclosure. And just this morning, in this interview, by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now of Congressman Dennis Kucinich, he revealed that he had been informed that his party’s presidential candidate, Barack Obama, during negotiations on the bailout at the White House last week, had specifically requested that the bankruptcy proposal mentioned above be excluded from the bill. So not only was Obama an eyewitness to this screwing of the average homeowner, he was actively complicit in the process.

In fact, both Obama and McCain (as well as Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank and the whole Democratic leadership) were playing it dumb today, casting blame on their opponents for the death of the bill. If they had any real political savvy, they would take credit for the bill’s failure, so hateful is that piece of legislation to most Americans!

I will have more to talk about on this in a future posting. Suffice it to say that this was a very bad day for Wall Street, which means that it was a very good day for the rest of us.

Bailout Madness!

According to this story in The New York Times, Washington was in a state of utter chaos on Thursday ¾ or, as Sean O’Casey would have said, “a state o’ chassis¾ over the proposed bailout, using taxpayer money, of the thieves and frauds of Wall Street. Actually the Times piece reads more like a Monty Python skit (see my post on Michael Palin, below), so full of demented dialogue and comic bits of business was the account (given by an eyewitness and several people briefed later) of the negotiations that went on in the White House, as both Democrats and Republicans tried to make up their minds how best to steal the people’s hard-earned cash. The POTUS, George W. Bush, was actually quoted as saying, “If money isn’t loosened up, this sucker could go down.” Apparently, the “sucker” to which Bush was referring was the American financial system as a whole, not John Q. Citizen… but I suppose that interpretation might also make sense.

Who put a stop to what had originally been planned as the biggest, fastest swindle on record? Was it Barack Obama or House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who declared that this act of highway robbery would not stand? Of course not. Exactly as occurred during the failed Supreme Court nomination of Harriet Myers, it was Bush’s own party that balked ¾ to the Democrats’ shame. No less a right-wing bigwig than House GOP Leader John Boehner came out publicly against the bailout, putting forth his own cockamamie plan that involved the use of government-backed insurance to purchase the failed banks’ mortgage-based securities. According to the article, for several days conservative Republicans on the Hill had fretted that a government intervention of such magnitude would serve as “a step down the path to socialism.” (If only…)

Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson (who, contrary to popular opinion, is unrelated to the late comedian and presidential candidate Pat Paulsen) made a desperate attempt to save his $700 billion bailout plan. His zeal was understandable, since the proposal, which eliminates all possibility of Congressional or judicial oversight, would have made the Secretary, whose lax supervision of the markets helped bring about the mess in the first place, a kind of tsar of the American economy. In the heat of the moment, Paulson in the Roosevelt Room actually got down on one knee before Pelosi, not to propose marriage but to beg her not to “blow it all up” by withdrawing her support for the bailout. To this, Pelosi was reported to have quipped, “I didn’t know you were Catholic.” (I’m not making this stuff up!) Then she added, all too accurately: “It’s not me blowing this up, it’s the Republicans.”

The real comic relief, though, was supplied by John McCain. Big John suddenly decided that he was so indispensable to the process that he suspended his campaign ¾ canceling and then uncanceling his scheduled appearance at Friday’s televised debate with Obama, with the McCain campaign stupidly declaring victory in an ad in the Wall Street Journal before the debate even took place ¾ and speeded to Washington to save the day, like a political superhero. When he got to the Big Meeting in the Cabinet Room, however, he had practically nothing to say, which is not surprising, as he apparently did not bother to read Secretary Paulson’s plan, which is all of three pages long and widely published on the Internet. Obama ¾ the smart imperialist to McCain’s buffoonish one ¾ reportedly “peppered” Paulson with questions without committing himself, and after this seasoning lambasted his opponent at a news conference for kibitzing where he wasn’t wanted. What is truly revolting, however, is what the Times article revealed in passing: that (if the Republican leadership is to be believed) the Democrats cynically tried and failed to “jam through” an agreement on Thursday morning ¾ one that would have cost every man, woman, teenager and toddler in America over $2000 ¾ just to deny McCain the opportunity to participate in the negotiations later on and possibly gain some political capital. 

The Times itself is clearly in favor of the biggest possible bailout as quickly as possible, ostensibly to avert a recession ¾ I thought we were already in one ¾ without taking into account such perils as inflation, or even hyperinflation. (That $700 billion has to come from somewhere, and since no sane politician is going to advocate the raising of that much money in new taxes, the cash would have to be produced by the government simply printing more money, devaluing the dollar yet further.) The prospect of America repeating the history of Germany in the 1920s, when ordinary people had to trundle their wildly inflated wages home in wheelbarrows, has now become by no means an improbable one. By throwing a monkey wrench into the bipartisan deal, Representative Boehner may have committed an inadvertently patriotic act.

By contrast, Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney has come up with an eminently reasonable proposal, one that favors ordinary Americans, not the masters of Wall Street. In her essay, Seize the Time, McKinney proposed the following list of steps (by no means exhaustive) to deal with the crisis:

  1. Enactment of a foreclosure moratorium now before the next phase of ARM interest rate increases take effect;
  2. Elimination of all ARM mortgages and their renegotiation into 30- or 40-year loans;
  3. Establishment of new mortgage lending practices to end predatory and discriminatory practices;
  4. Establishment of criteria and construction goals for affordable housing;
  5. Redefinition of credit and regulation of the credit industry so that discriminatory practices are completely eliminated;
  6. Full funding for initiatives that eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in home ownership;
  7. Recognition of shelter as a right according to the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, to which the U.S. is a signatory, so that no one sleeps on U.S. streets;
  8. Full funding of a fund designed to cushion the job loss and provide for retraining of those at the bottom of the income scale as the economy transitions;
  9. Close all tax loopholes and repeal of the Bush tax cuts for the top 1% of income earners;
  10. Fairly tax corporations, denying federal subsidies to those who relocate jobs overseas; repeal NAFTA.

So progressives have a critical choice this year. They will have to decide whether they want to give their vote and support to Cynthia McKinney, a candidate with fresh ideas who is not beholden to the money men (and if McKinney receives just five percent of the total vote on Election Day, the Green Party would then become a major force in U.S. politics), or an intelligent yet empty agent of the corporate state like Barack Obama. If they don’t choose correctly, the “sucker” may indeed “go down.”

Thank you, Doctor Paul!

We all know the old dance: it’s a very ancient and corrupt American custom. In an election year, two candidates of the same mainstream party bitterly contest the primaries. Each tries to make the case that to vote for the other guy or gal would be tantamount to destroying the country. To attain the Holy Grail of the party’s nomination, each candidate puts her/his opponent through a process seemingly designed not only to make him or her lose, but to sully that candidate’s professional and personal reputation beyond repair. And when the dust settles and one candidate emerges victorious, the defeated candidate suddenly forgets that the opponent is Evil Incarnate and for the sake of something called Party Unity casts aside all pretense of consistency, integrity and self-respect, shifting the axis of evil to the standard bearer of the other political party and embracing the new nominee and former enemy as a long lost buddy, with whom he/she has never had any ideological differences worth talking about (this last part, sadly, is almost always true).

But one major party candidate this year refused to perform this insane dance. Texas Congressman Ron Paul fought hard against John McCain during the Republican primaries, disagreed with him on practically every issue, and was ultimately buried by the McCain juggernaut. But he refused to play the game. He was much too principled, too committed to his core beliefs — of which McCain is the very antithesis — to compromise. So when the call came from his fellow Texan, Phil Gramm (by the way, isn’t Gramm not supposed to be working for the McCain campaign anymore?), with the message, “You need to endorse John McCain,” Ron Paul politely but firmly said No.

As the good doctor later described it, the demand was not quite as bullying as it may sound. Knowing well his colleague’s stubbornness, Gramm tried to make the argument in terms of his, Paul’s, self-interest. McCain, Gramm claimed, was going to cut taxes more than Obama, so logically the Republican candidate would do “less harm” than the Democratic one. But the congressman knew that to cave in now to GOP pressure would be to betray everything he’d worked and voted for in his career. Besides, as he would later remark, “I don’t like the idea of getting two or three million people angry at me.” The decision was not a difficult one.

But his next decision may well have been. Instead of fading into the night as the glare of the media spotlight moved on to McBama, Dr. Paul chose to be a beacon of true democracy. No longer a candidate himself, Paul called a press conference at the National Press Club on September 10th to bring attention to third-party candidates and thus shine a light not only on all the crucial issues that the two frontrunners refuse to tackle, but on the extent to which our democracy itself has been snuffed out by the single corporate party with two heads and its media lapdogs.

He invited to the press conference Independent candidate Ralph Nader, Constitution Party candidate Chuck Baldwin, Libertarian candidate Bob Barr (who for reasons of his own declined to appear) and my own candidate, Cynthia McKinney of the Green Party. Amazingly, the three politicians who showed up and Dr. Paul — despite their numerous and strong ideological differences — agreed on a four-point statement of principles, opposing:

  1. A foreign policy that commits the US to disastrous foreign wars like the one in Iraq, which destroys lives and depletes our treasury;
  2. The erosion of our constitutionally-protected civil liberties, including the Patriot Act, the approval of torture and the FISA bill;
  3. The runaway growth of the national debt, which creates an intolerable burden for future generations; and
  4. Corporate bailouts and the untrammeled power of the Federal Reserve system.  

Dr. Paul in his presentation was gracious, modest, eminently reasonable. He deplored the “lesser of two evils” psychology which leads citizens to vote for people of whom they do not approve. He urged people not to waste their vote on politicians and policies in which they don’t believe. He also deplored the mainstream media and its obsession with “lipstickgate” and other nonsensical “issues.”

Then the candidates each got up to speak.  Though they are united in their conviction that the system must be changed, each presented a different point-of-view. My candidate, Cynthia McKinney, reminded people of the Four Pillars of the Green Party: Peace, Social Justice, Ecological Wisdom and Grassroots Democracy. She remarked that when she left the Democratic Party, she “declared [her] independence” from an unjust system, a “politics of conformity and control.” She added that we engage in politics “so we can have power over public policy.” Politics is, after all, the “authoritative allocation of values in a society,” and that only a tiny minority of Americans now have their values affirmed in this society, wheras most of us have our values affirmed “practically none of the time.” She urged voters to “declare [their] independence” from the current system.   

It must be said in truth that I disagree, and in some cases strongly disagree, with some of Ron Paul’s views. But I cannot help but admire his patriotism and integrity, as well as a virtue almost unheard of in politicians today: courage. Thank you, Dr. Paul!

Conference on Prosecuting High-Level American War Criminals

In Andover, Massachusetts on the weekend of September 13-14, there will be a conference exploring means to obtain prosecutions of Bush and high-level members of his administration for war crimes. It is being organized by Lawrence Velvel, the Dean of the Massachusetts School of Law. Though not the first such event (the World Tribunal on Iraq, a worldwide series of tribunals which explored the legal culpability of Bush and Blair for their actions before, during and after the invasion, held a session in New York City in May, 2004), the conference is a step in the direction of holding the Bushies legally accountable for their crimes.

The link to the conference home page can be found here.  

The following is their press release:

A two-day conference on obtaining prosecutions of high level American war criminals will open September 13th, in Andover, Mass.   The conference will explore the legal grounds for, and plan for, obtaining prosecutions of President Bush and top officials of his Administration for war crimes.

In the tradition of America’s Chief Prosecutor at the Nuremburg War Crimes Trials after World War II, Justice Robert Jackson, the Conference’s purpose is “to hold high U.S. officials accountable in courts of law and, if guilt is found, to obtain appropriate punishments. Otherwise,” said the Conference’s convener, Lawrence Velvel, “the future will be threatened by additional examples of Executive lawlessness by leaders who need fear no personal consequences” for their actions, leading to “the possibility of more Viet Nams, more Iraqs, and more repression.”

Velvel emphasized,  “This is intended to be a planning conference, one at which plans will be laid, and necessary organizational structures will be set up, to seek prosecutions to determine guilt and, if guilt is found, appropriate punishments.”

Attendees will hear from prominent authorities on international law, criminal prosecutions, and constitutional rights who are determined to give meaning to Justice Jackson’s words: “The common sense of mankind demands that law shall not stop with the punishment of petty crimes by little people. It must also reach men who possess themselves of great power and make deliberate and concerted use of it to set in motion evils which leave no home in the world untouched.”

Topics to be discussed, Velvel said, include:

  • What international and domestic crimes were committed, which facts show crimes under which laws, and what punishments are possible.
  • Which high level Executive officials — and Federal judges and legislators as well, if any — are chargeable with crimes.
  • Which international tribunals, foreign tribunals and domestic tribunals (if any) can be used and how to begin cases and/or obtain prosecutions before them.
  • The possibility of establishing a Chief Prosecutor’s Office such as the one at Nuremburg.
  • An examination of cases already brought and their outcomes.
  • Creating an umbrella Coordinating Committee with representatives from the increasing number of organizations involved in war crimes cases.
  • Creating a Center to keep track of and organize compilations of relevant briefs, articles, books, opinions, and facts, etc., on war crimes and prosecutions of war criminals.

Scheduled to address the Conference include:

  • Famed former Los Angeles prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi, author of the best-selling “The Prosecution of George W. Bush For Murder”(Vanguard).
  • Phillippe Sands, Professor of Law and Director of the Centre of International Courts and Tribunals at University College, London . He is the author of “Torture Team: Rumsfeld’s Memo and the Betrayal of American Values” (Penguin/Palgrave Macmillan), among other works.
  • Jordan Paust, Professor of Law at the University of Houston and author of “Beyond The Law.”
  • Ann Wright, a former U.S. Army colonel and U.S. Foreign Service official who holds a State Department Award for Heroism and who taught the Geneva Conventions and the Law of Land Warfare at the Special Warfare Center at Ft. Bragg, N.C.  She is the coauthor of “Dissent:  Voices of Conscience.”
  • Peter Weiss, Vice President of the Center For Constitutional Rights, which was recently involved with war crimes complaints filed in Germany and France against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and others.
  • Benjamin Davis, Associate Professor at the University of Toledo College of Law and former American Legal Counsel for the Secretariat of the International Court of Arbitration.
  • David Lindorff, journalist and co-author with Barbara Olshansky of “The Case for Impeachment: Legal Arguments for Removing President George W. Bush from Office”(St. Martin ’s Press).
  • Francis Boyle, Professor of International Law at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, responsible for drafting the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989, and the U.S. implementing legislation for the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention.
  • Lawrence Velvel, a leader in the field of law school education reform, has written numerous internet articles on issues relevant to the conference.

Legal authorities, media representatives, and the general public are invited to attend the conference. Attendees will receive a special hotel rate of $99 per night.

Andover is nearly equidistant from both Boston’s Logan Airport , served by all major airlines, and the Manchester , N.H. , Airport, served by Southwest Airlines and USAir.

(Further Information: Jeff Demers (see above) or Sherwood Ross, Ross Associates, Suite 403, 102 S.W. 6th Ave., Miami, FL 33130 or sherwoodr1@yahoo.com)

The Juno Factor 2 – What If It Were Obama’s Kid Who Got Pregant?

In my last post, I pointed out that when teen pregnancy (or some other problematical social phenomenon) happens to others — particularly minorities — Republicans invariably consider it to be a moral plague, caused not by out-of-control hormones, but by out-of-their-minds liberals and their damnable liberal policies. However, when such a thing happens to one of their own — like Bristol Palin, the “Juno from Juneau” — then, of course, it becomes, using the same catchphrases of those same hated liberals, a “private matter” and “a family affair.” In this case, it may even be (glory hallelluia!) a cause for religious pride, due to the mother-to-be’s rejection of abortion and embrace of the venerable tradition of the shotgun wedding. (Never mind that, by any sane standard, neither Bristol nor her beau are anywhere near ready for Holy Matrimony.)

But let’s flip the script. Obama’s daughters are a tad too young to make Bristol’s mistake (they are about ten and seven, respectively). But what if they weren’t? I have a feeling that the Obama household keep a much tighter rein on their daughters than the Palins did. Yet these things occur in the best of families. So what would happen next?

The headlines would scream, “Obama’s daughter pregnant!” The news would sweep like wildfire through the blogosphere. Pundits would pontificate about this terrible blow to the campaign of the first black presidential nominee from a mainstream party, while hypocritically insisting that, of course, it shouldn’t matter. But of course it would matter, to white (and some black) voters of both parties. A pregnant Obama child would conjure up, in the imaginations of white people, images of countless black and Hispanic welfare mothers, parasitically draining the public treasury by their callous lack of self-control (though most welfare recipients, in fact, are white). Obama’s poll numbers would plummet approximately five times as fast as Bush’s did. McCain would publicly deplore the brouhaha, pretend to maintain focus on the “issues,” and swagger easily, smirking all the way, into the White House in January.

Why is this nightmare vision plausible? Because Americans, more even than most people around the world, tend to feel much more than they think — and feeling is essentially irrational. Symbol, myth and gesture, more than good sense —  or even common sense — rule our politics.

Americans might well take caution from a famous historical case of emotional prejudice triumphing over reason, to the detriment of all. In 19th Century Ireland, the parliamentarian Charles Stewart Parnell, through his tremendous political gifts and sheer charisma, became tremendously effective, far more than any Irish politican before or since, in bringing England around to the idea of respecting the Irish — and giving them a bit of freedom into the bargain. He was smeared by numerous scandals, including one which linked his name (through forged letters) to the infamous Phoenix Park murders, in which terrorists murdered two officials in that famous park in Dublin. Parnell survived all these tribulations and became in fact what he was commonly called by all: “the uncrowned king of Ireland.”

Then a fellow Irish MP named Captain O’Shea divorced his wife, Katherine O’Shea — and had the tactlessness to name Parnell as correspondent. Parnell, he claimed, had been his wife’s lover for years. Many assumed (and no doubt hoped) that this was just another smear. Unfortunately for Ireland, it wasn’t: its “king” was an adulterer. It didn’t matter a jot that he and Mrs. O’Shea were not casual sex partners (like so many of his fellow MPs and their mistresses), but hopelessly, devotedly and passionately in love; nor that she had been separated from Captain O’Shea even before she met Parnell; nor that, after her divorce became final, he did the honorable thing and married the lady immediately. The church hierarchy were furious, scandalized! And so were many humble and pious Catholic citizens — even some who owed their livelihoods to Parnell’s reforms.

From king, Parnell descended to renegade. Former allies now became bitter enemies. Ill but undaunted, our hero fought to bring himself and his cause back into his countrymen’s good graces. At one campaign stop, an enemy threw quicklime in his face. Manfully, he continued to make speeches, a bandana covering his injured eye, looking for all the world like a pirate. At last his body gave out. He died of pneumonia, age 45, and his cause died with him. It has been claimed that almost all Ireland’s political troubles for the next hundred years or so were caused directly or indirectly from the tragedy of Parnell’s fall — because the Irish preferred their puritanical morality to freedom.

Obama is no Parnell, of course. He is not a visionary (despite his visionary rhetoric), but a very clever and skillful politician, promising change with a militarist program that makes true change impossible. You should definitely vote against him, but not for the wrong reasons, particularly reasons of race — the issue which, when mixed with sex, is the real third rail of American politics. Nor for that matter, should you vote against McCain/Palin just because the daughter of the latter is in the family way. You should vote against them for their smugness, their hypocrisy, their double standard, their lack of humanity. That leaves only the third parties. If you’re a right-wing guy/gal, you should look into Bob Barr and the Libertarian Party. And if you’re a left-wing guy/gal, check out either Ralph Nader, running on the Independent Party line, or Cynthia McKinney of the Green Party. (Obviously, I’m biased toward the latter!)

Is the Bush Administration a Crime Against Nature?

In my previous post, I quoted the Green Party presidential candidate, Cynthia McKinney, in her Denver speech at Recreate ’68, talking about how the Democratic Party leadership took impeachment off the table, despite the Bush Administration’s many crimes, even those “against Nature itself.” So the question of the day is, Is the Bush Administration, by its very existence, a crime against nature? If we recognize that human beings live in a delicate balance with the rest of the natural world, and that we are, at our peril, fatally upsetting that balance, we can say without question that George Walker Bush and Richard Bruce Cheney are the two biggest criminals against nature on the planet, in their slavish whoring (and warring) on behalf of Big Oil and their obscene raping of environmental legislation and enforcement for the benefit of their corporate buddies and the great god Profit. Future generations will surely curse their names.

But it must be remembered that this regime did not inaugurate the destruction of Planet Earth. That has been a bipartisan project for some time. And when we look at the Democratic nominee and the presumptive Republican nominee, and listen to their statements about energy, it’s not hard to see that they have, to a greater or lesser degree, every intention of carrying on the Bush criminal tradition. That is because both are beholden to the Profit god and neither will blaspheme against it by declaring that America should, instead of drilling for oil or building nuclear power plants or exploiting “clean” coal (whatever that is), rethink the whole issue, with the recognition that only by tapping sustainable energy sources will we make human survival possible in the long run.

So we need a Cynthia McKinney — who (like all Greens) does not accept corporate money, who sees the Profit god as a false idol, and who has focused all her energies solely on helping her countrymen and the whole planet survive — to tell the truth and to bring morality back into politics. Because what the politicians of the mainstream parties (both of them) are doing to us is far nastier than anything Monica did to that good ol’ boy, Bill Clinton.

CYNTHIA SPEAKS TRUTH TO POWER AT THE DENVER CONVENTION!

Posted in Blogroll,Bush,Cheney,Cynthia McKinney,Iraq,Politics,War by dylanfreak on August 25, 2008

Go Cynthia McKinney! She is practically the only politician to tell the truth, to speak against the destruction of our nation, even when perpetrated by the leadership of her own former party, the Democrats. Here she is at the Denver Democratic Convention, at the Recreate ’68 rally, showing that there are still great Americans with the courage to speak out.

Here is what she has to say about impeachment at this link – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPxgcjOjUEc :

“… and when the people, hurting from the financial mismanagement of this country, called for accountability for the crimes that have been committed against the people here, against the global community, against Nature itself, the Democratic leadership took Impeachment off the table!”

Vote your hopes instead of your fears. Vote the Green Party in November! Vote McKinney/Clemente for President/Vice President!

The Fall of the Rovan Empire: Why the Exit of Bush’s Evil “Genius” is Terrible News for the Left

Posted in Bush,Cheney,Iraq,Politics,Rove,War by dylanfreak on August 18, 2007

The Reaction 

Both the mainstream media and Washington insiders professed astonishment at the departure of Karl Rove from the White House this week. This is very curious, since no one in the political world would have been surprised if he had announced his resignation in January or February. After all, he “lost” — or rather failed this time to steal — the 2006 election for the Republicans. In that election year, the Democrats proved themselves the equals of Rove in slimeballiness, promising their liberal base to end the war (a vow they never had any intention of fulfilling), while reaching out to the “center” (that is, the moderate Right) on other issues.

So it’s not Rove’s fall that surprises people, but its timing. And actually it’s not at all surprising to us, given what the White House is now contemplating. In fact, it makes perfect sense. But we’ll get back to that later, after we briefly summarize the implications of Rove’s vile career.

The Hack as Warrior

Rove had the dubious distinction, more than any other modern public figure, of making the concept of “politics as war” literal. His conviction that liberals in general and Democrats in particular were not merely misguided or wrong, but absolutely evil motivated his every move. His scorched earth strategies against the Dems (including two stolen Presidential elections) led many of his opponents to label him a political genius. This was, of course, entirely self-serving: if you allow yourself to lose time and time again without a fight, it’s tremendously soothing to your ego to imagine that the person you deem responsible for your defeat is some kind of mastermind.

To our shame, we, too, once bought into this bogus theory. For we’re now convinced that Rove’s reputation as an Evil Genius is (as he himself has often remarked) a myth. He was evil, but not at all a genius. Instead, he was a rather ordinary, though quite clever, fascist with a knack for perceiving the stupidity of his foes and exploiting it… and then covering his tracks.

The Elections That Fell Off the Truck

When it became clear that Bush had lost Florida to Gore in 2000, Rove (and Jim Baker, who had previously served as Dubya’s daddy’s “Rove”) took the risk that they could win anyway by running out the clock with legal maneuvering… and that the Dems so disliked Gore that they would not challenge the theft. With a little help from the Supreme Court, the gamble paid off. The lesser-known story is how he and his henchman pulled off much the same trick in 2004. When Green Party Presidential candidate David Cobb and Libertarian Party candidate Michael Badnarik challenged the Ohio vote, they and their supporters uncovered a hotbed of election scandal: intimidation and deception, tampered machines, spoiled ballots and the ridiculously partisan Republican Secretary of State, J. Kenneth Blackwell, the honorary co-chair of the Bush reelection committee.

Among the most tragic revelations was the fact that the GOP mob deliberately saw to it that polling places in minority (and traditionally strongly Democratic) neighborhoods in Ohio would lack sufficient voting machines to function effectively. This was de facto Jim Crow segregation. Fewer machines meant longer lines, making it impossible for many minority voters — many of whom had jobs to get to on Election Day — to stay long enough to cast their ballot.

Just before Election Day, Kerry’s people were boasting that, after having personally contacted virtually every Democratic voter in the state, there was no way they could lose Ohio, and I believe them. But, almost as if scripted, the cowardly Kerry caved.  The candidate quickly conceded, and then refused to make any but the feeblest gestures to challenge the crime… and only under direct and relentless pressure from his betrayed supporters.

As in all such cases, Rove was somehow able to cover his ass: his campaign style was all over the Ohio fraud, but direct evidence of personal wrongdoing was lacking. However, he was the mastermind of the campaign, so if crimes were committed – even if he did not directly order them – he remains responsible. And what Rove has completely failed to perceive in the fervor of his Machiavellian machinations is that the party he so hates has by now become so nearly identical to his own that his scheming resembles nothing so much as a mad plot by Tweedledum to destroy Tweedledee.

The False Center

There’s been a curious reaction following Rove’s departure by some non-right-wing commentators to the effect that to despise Rove is somehow to become like Rove. Their bizarre conclusion is that to condemn such a hack demonstrates the same lack of civility that Rove and his supporters showed to their adversaries.

This is an excellent example of what I call “the false center” in American political discourse. There is a tendency in our political thought to distrust all extremes – even “extremes” of basic justice and honor — and cling to some safe middle ground, even if no such middle ground exists. The Founding Fathers did not flail about seeking some illusory compromise between the tyranny of a mad monarch and independence. Yet Americans crave so strongly the mellow “middle way” that it warps their ability to perceive what’s in front of their faces.

I would like to ask these commentators the following: “Did you like it when Southern bigots in the 1950s and 1960s did everything in their power to prevent blacks from exercising their rights as citizens to vote? So why can’t you see that what Rove did to black voters in Florida in 2000 and again in Ohio in 2004 was every bit as bad… no, worse, because of Rove’s closeness to the most powerful man in the land?” For in the last analysis, Rove’s crimes were not offenses against a political party, or even an ideology, but against the nation.

The Kingmaker is Dead, Long Live… Cheney?

So one would think that the departure of the man without whom Bush could never have seized the reigns of power would be cause for rejoicing for all progressives. But in fact Rove, awful as he was, represented the only effective counterforce to the real evil Emperor, Dick Cheney. For it’s been reported that, though Rove had been one of the loudest cheerleaders for the Iraq War, he strongly opposes expanding the war into Iran. This is not as odd as it sounds. He was a big risk taker, yes, but he was not suicidal. He was smart enough to see that, the morality of another war aside (and he had seldom been deterred by such considerations), the Iranians, if attacked, possess retaliatory options Saddam lacked. For example, if the U.S. or Israel bombed Iran, the mullahs could block the Strait of Hormuz, through which, according to Wikipedia, approximately 40 percent of the world’s petroleum passes, thus precipitating a world economic crisis.

Pushing this war on Bush was left to someone so drunk with power (perhaps literally) and with the desire to serve his oil industry paymasters, that he could and would defy Reason itself. And ominously, virtually the first act of this Administration after Turd Blossom’s departure was to seek to declare Iran’s Republican Guard a terrorist organization, a clear provocation on the path to war. It’s not hard to guess Bush’s “thought” processes in this matter: “If Karl couldn’t even win a stinking election for me, what good is his foreign policy advice? I’m sticking with Cheney from now on.” (So much for Bush’s legendary loyalty to his friends.)

There are only two options left now to stop a new, far more destructive war: get Congress to cut off all funds to Bush’s war machine, or toss both him and Cheney out of office. Both are long shots, and both depend upon the diligence and courage of the citizenry, not the Democratic machine. We’ll keep you posted in future messages on this blog as to what actions you, dear citizen, can take to stop the madness.

No More Bleeding Heart (Or, Don’t Cry for Yourself, Pappy Bush)

Posted in Bush,Cheney,Iraq,Politics,Uncategorized by dylanfreak on August 12, 2007

People on the Left are routinely ridiculed or even despised for displaying what their adversaries perceive as an excess of compassion. Ironically, a lot of this sneering emanates from right-wing Christians, who claim to subscribe to a faith based upon the moral imperatives of forgiveness and love. Thus, whenever we progressives advocate peace and social welfare, or — God forbid — oppose the death penalty, the Right and its media sycophants revile us as soft, weak, cowardly. Lily-livered liberals. Bleeding hearts.

But even for Lefties, empathy has its limits. There exist some institutions, some systems, some humans, for which we can honestly concede no fellow feeling. They evoke none of the sober commiseration granted to those who have tried and failed to meet some exacting ethical standard, nor the mellow philosophical relativism implied by the famous quote from Jean Renoir’s film, Rules of the Game: “everyone has his reasons.” The actions of such entities and individuals extend so far beyond the moral pale that they can turn the most enlightened among us, at least temporarily, into emotional neocons.

Such a person is President Bush… the former President Bush, that is. (To avoid confusion between George Herbert Bush and the current misleader, we will henceforth refer to the former by his middle initial, and to the latter, of course, by the initial “W.”) What prompts these reflections is a piece published in Thursday’s (8/9/07) New York Times, by Sheryl Gay Stolberg, about the dark curse blighting H’s sunset years: the long shadow of his appalling son.

In January 2001, no dad could have been prouder than was H of his newly-selected eldest boy, hanging chads be damned. As the sentimental story went, father and son even promised each other to avoid eye contact during the swearing-in, for fear that, in the elder Bush’s words, both men might be “overcome by the enormity of the moment.” (Though, as Village Voice critic Tom Carson pointed out at the time, the dictionary definition of “enormity” is “a great wickedness.”) That initial euphoria has long faded, replaced by a nightmare reality in which H is haunted literally everywhere he goes by well-meaning strangers who ever-so-tactfully skewer his unpopular son. It gives H no satisfaction, apparently, that these critiques of W are almost always prefaced by approval for his own, briefer presidency. (It seems he has never been confronted by anyone who has ever repeated the merry chant often heard at protest marches: “Hey Bush! / We know you: / Your father was a killer, too!”) Rather, such backhanded praise, according to The Times, is pure agony for the old man. But what is most astonishing about the article is what it reveals about the egotism and smallness of soul displayed by this once powerful man and his whole rotten family.

Often,” Stolberg asserts, “he likens himself to a Little League father whose kid is having a rough game. And like the proud and angry Little League dad who cannot help but yell at the umpire, sometimes he just cannot help getting involved.” 

Little League! Now, a strong case could be made that W is the most powerful individual who has ever lived. After all, the office of the president, for the past fifty or so years, has wielded more influence — because of the wealth and prestige of the United States, as well as our stockpile of nuclear weapons — than any king or emperor has ever known, and Bush Junior’s personal power, thanks to 9/11 and his own actions, exceeds that of any previous chief executive. Yet here is this morally purblind old geezer talking Little League! George W. Bush is a man, dammit! Stealing an election (make that two elections) is not quite the same as a little kid stealing home plate. Invading a sovereign nation and then smashing it to bits through greed and incompetence, destroying hundreds of thousands of innocent lives in the process, cannot be reduced, by the most grotesque imagination, to the embarrassment of striking out with the bases loaded. 

And it’s revealing, in a sick way, that H doesn’t even compare his son to an adult athlete. It’s as if W were still the spoiled, not-so-young brat who caroused, drove drunk and otherwise humiliated his prominent parents. And the father’s indulgent (and self-indulgent) fantasy of his son as an underdog on the baseball diamond goes a long way towards explaining why, beginning with his childhood, W has never once been held accountable, in any meaningful way, for a single misdeed he’s ever done. 

The message the article sends, and was intended to send, is bizarrely schizoid. According to “the official line,” the attitude shown by “41” (as H is coyly referred to, in recognition of his numerical position among the presidents) towards his son’s administration is strictly hands-off. But the testimony of those who spoke, off the record, to Stolberg tells a very different story:

“… he has privately expressed irritation with some of his son’s aides. At times, he has urged White House officials to seek outside advice, and he has passed on his own foreign policy wisdom to the president, even as he makes a point of saying his son’s administration is not his… sometimes the ex-president would raise a foreign policy question, or suggest the White House reach out to those ‘in his circle,’ like James A. Baker, the former secretary of state…”

Since H is definitely not the kibbitzer type — he surely would not be making his opinion felt so strongly if he thought his son’s administration wasn’t going terribly wrong — we must conclude that, whatever he may say publicly, the elder Bush is in reluctant agreement with those who walk up to him and slam his son’s administration to his face. But what is really peculiar about the Times piece was the candor with which Stolberg concedes that the son, rather than submitting dutifully to his father, has been going out of his way to humiliate him:

“Tensions between aides to 41 and 43 ran especially high when Mr. Baker was co-chairman of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group. When President Bush  rejected the group’s recommendations, some in the 41 camp viewed it as an outright rejection of the father. When Mr. Scowcroft spoke out against the war, some thought the father was sending a message to the son” – a message that W gleefully and spitefully ignored.

Junior’s oft-quoted statement to Bob Woodward to the effect that, when seeking inner strength, he ignores his weak, earthly father in favor of his mighty, heavenly one, is trotted out one more time by Stolberg, and she also produces the following nugget:

“The rivalry theory flared up again last year, at the christening of the Navy’s newest Nimitz aircraft carrier, the George H. W. Bush. The president joked that given the ship’s qualities — ‘she is unrelenting, she is unshakeable, she is unyielding’ — it should have been named for his mother. The line brought a laugh, but some close to the elder Mr. Bush winced at what seemed a subtle dig.”

Subtle? What’s subtle about W saying that his mother is tougher than his father (a devastasting put-down indeed, from the point-of-view of the male chauvinist Bush clan)? Such incidents are not isolated examples of W’s insensitivity, either. At every opportunity, the son has systematically rejected — indeed, smashed like a rampaging bull — the father’s ostensible legacy.

Shakespeare was fascinated by such fraught relationships among kings and princes, in which the fates of proud families dangerously intertwine with those of great nations. And the anguish, both pathetic and ludicrous, that H is enduring now has all the earmarks of a Shakespearean curse/prophecy come to pass. For the tragedy in Iraq that a horrified world is now witnessing had its prologue in the actions of none other than George Bush Senior.

In late July 1990, Saddam Hussein demanded an interview with US Ambassador to Iraq April Glaspie, essentially requesting permission to conquer his neighbor, Kuwait. The pathologically selfish and stupid Sabah family had been making life tough for the Iraqi dictator by refusing to renegotiate the $10 billion debt Saddam owed them for their financial support in the war against Iran; the Saudis had already forgiven Iraq their debts. (Also, the Kuwaitis were busy “slant drilling,” from wells on their side of the border, into oil deposits that lay beneath Iraqi territory, in effect picking Hussein’s pocket.) With sixteen infamous words – “… but we have no opinon on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait” – Glaspie gave the green light (or so Hussein believed) to the tyrant’s plan, sealing Kuwait’s fate… and Iraq’s. On August 2, Saddam went ahead and launched his illegal and immoral invasion of Kuwait.

At first, H seemed to have no intention of responding with military force. After all, it could be argued that, prior to 8/2/90, he was the best friend Saddam Hussein had ever had, inside or outside Iraq. Whenever Congress, in one of its ethical moods, had wanted to punish Iraq for human rights violations, H had always blocked such efforts. And according to George Bush’s War, by Jean Edward Smith, soon after he got word of what had happened, he promised Jordan’s King Hussein and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak that he would say nothing publicly for forty-eight hours, in the hope that those leaders might be able to privately talk Saddam into reversing his decision.

But then H flew to a previously scheduled conference in Aspen, Colorado, and had his head turned around by the Iron Lady of Britain, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. (Ironically, Bush had gone to Colorado to speak about the domestic “peace dividend” following the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe.) Thatcher was adamant that Bush needed to respond in stiff-upper-lip, Churchillian fashion to Hussein’s heinous act. After this “successful backbone transplant” (in the words of one British official), Bush publicly pronounced “this will not stand,” thereby smashing King Hussein’s and Mubarak’s backstage attempt to resolve the crisis peacefully.

Bush’s behavior throughout the buildup to Gulf War One repeated this pattern. Whenever the possibility of peace reared its ugly head, H would brutally crush it by, say, publicly comparing Saddam to Hitler, or sneering at the dictator’s intransigence and ignoring his own. Indeed, in the weeks immediately prior to the war, the prospect of a sudden and unexpected withdrawal from Kuwait by Hussein’s forces became the administration’s worst-case scenario: retreat, they believed, would leave Iraq unpunished and still strong. Bush and his cronies were definitely looking to give war a chance.

According to Desert Mirage, an important, little-known book by journalist Martin Yant, Saddam offered, for weeks before the 1991 US air assault on Iraq, the perfect face-saving deal. He would withdraw Iraqi forces from Kuwait, on the condition that this be linked to serious talks, involving the US, to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. In this way, Hussein would shore up his image as a hero to the Palestinians. And Bush would have emerged as a double peacemaker – averting a confrontation with Iraq and reviving the stalled peace process. Though H agreed with UN Secretary-General Perez de Cuellar that a solution to the Palestinian problem was necessary, he refused Saddam’s olive branch. (He also rejected a last-minute French plan for Iraqi withdrawal in exchange for an overall Mideast peace conference.) Nothing was going to stop the United States in the New World Order, which turned out to be identical to the “order” that has existed since the beginning of the world: the exercise, by the powerful, of blind force for its own sake.

The peace movement at that time argued that going to war to save the dictatorial emirate of Kuwait was not justified under any circumstances. But even if one does not accept the movement’s position and argues that Hussein’s aggression had to be opposed, it cannot possibly be claimed that H did everything possible to avert war: quite the contrary. Indeed, though conventional wisdom claims that Bush the First’s response to the “threat” of Iraq was diammetrically opposite to that of Bush the Second, it is remarkable how similar the actions of the two men were.

Though H wore the fig leaf of international support to cover his naked aggression (thereby gaining a false reputation as a leader who avoided major decisions until he received multilateral consensus), essentially the slaughter in the Gulf was, as Professor Smith rightly claims, “George Bush’s war.” From the beginning, only H’s opinion, not that of any other head of state, or of any military leader or regional expert, ever really mattered. Defense Secretary Dick Cheney strong-armed Saudi Arabia into agreeing to host American military forces on their border with Iraq, ostensibly to defend against Hussein’s (nonexistent) plans to invade that country, while lying to the media that the troops were there at the Saudis’ request. H made dirty deals with the other tyrants in the area – in Syria, Turkey and Morocco, particularly – to support his coalition, often at the expense of the human rights of the victims of those regimes (just as his son would later do with Pakistan). Finally, and again like W, when all else failed, H opened his checkbook to get other nations to knuckle under. This included a bribe to the UN, in the form of payment of a portion of the US’s long-outstanding debt to the organization. Indeed, the UN violated its own charter, and brought infamy upon itself, by green-lighting both Gulf Wars… except that the world body gave its imprimatur to Junior’s more deadly aggression after the fact, essentially washing its hands, Pontius Pilate-like, of all responsibility to the Iraqi people.

Yes, the double tragedy of the Persian Gulf Wars is truly Shakespearean in scope. The only problem is that George Herbert Bush, in his infuriating narcissism and parochialism, is utterly inadequate as a Shakespearean character. Henry IV and Henry V, as portrayed by the Bard, may not have been very nice guys, but at least they possessed self-awareness: they knew that their actions impacted upon the fate of England and the rest of Europe — they held no illusions that the world revolved around the Bolingbroke family. There is no doubt in my mind that neither H nor W has ever lost a minute of sleep, in guilt or even grief, about the US casualties of either conflict, never mind the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi dead. What is breaking the elder Bush’s heart is not the wreckage of a once-proud and prosperous Mideast nation or of America’s reputation in the world, but the utter destruction of the bogus Bush image: good Christian soldiers, noble warriors for peace and democracy.

So don’t cry for Pappy Bush: in the end, he deserves everything that is happening to him. And if we don’t do everything in our power to try to remove his son from office — even if the effort be futile — we will deserve everything he and Cheney do to us in the next seventeen critical months.

Next Page »