Friday, December 30, 2005

Quote of the Week (# 1)

It is not those who can inflict the most, but those that can suffer the most who will conquer —Terence MacSwiney


Impeachment, impeachment, impeachment.


84 POWs Now on Hunger Strike at Gitmo

Guantanamo hunger strike escalates

Held captive for over four years, completely denied due process, many surviving torture, most never charged with any crime (only nine of the estimated 500 Gitmo POWs have actually been charged), and all facing what appears to be a life sentence without any legal recourse, "detainees" at Camp X-ray have escalated their hunger strike. 84 are now refusing food.
"You are talking about a prison population of hundreds who have decided that with no conceivable change in their future that they just don't care to live anymore, or they are going to make a statement in dying," (Amnesty International's Jumana Musa) said.
Guantanamo spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jeremy Martin dismisses the hunger strike as a publicity stunt.
This is consistent with al-Qaeda training and reflects detainee attempts to elicit media attention and bring pressure on the United States government.
Well, we're certainly not paying much attention to human rights at Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, Bagram and elsewhere even with reports of torture, are we? Of course a protest like this is supposed to call attention to US policy. It appears to be US policy (and the policy of the mainstream US media) to ignore it.

In 1981, ten Irishmen died in British prisons on hunger strike against similar conditions as those faced by "detainees" in Guantanamo.

In 1920, Terence MacSwiney became the first Irishman in modern history to die in a hunger strike against British subjugation of the Irish nation.

Of course a hunger strike is meant to call attention to something.

Something wrong.

Spiegel (Germany) : US Set to Attack Iran in 2006

Via Watching America

In 2003, Iran went public with its program of uranium enrichment, a program it claims is meant only to provide an energy source for nuclear reactors, providing it with industrial power. In late 2004, Iran signed an agreement with Germany, France, and Britain to stop uranium enrichment, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), after inspecting the enrichment sites, confirmed that those sites were unsuitable for producing weapons-grade uranium. However, the IAEA could not confirm that there was not some other secret enrichment program whose aim was the production of nuclear weapons.

Just a few weeks ago, in early December 2005, Israeli military sources claimed that the government of Israel was planning a set of airstrikes against Iranian enrichment sites next March, 2006, a "point of no return" after which, it is claimed, Iran will have the expertise and sufficient weapons-grade enriched uranium to produce nuclear weapons.

Some experts argue, however, that the pace of change in Iran since the Islamic revolution in 1979 has led it to a place where it concedes it must not be isolated from the world community. Rather than attempting to export Islamic principles through violence, the arguments claim, Iran is on a course of industrial development and engagement with the world.

Meanwhile, the view from Turkey confirms that the result of the US invasion and recent elections is Iraq have put that nation not in the US sphere of influence, but in Iran's.

Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Iraqis March to Protest Election Fraud

BBC NEWS Middle East Iraqis condemn 'election fraud'

With Sunnis increasingly politically alienated in the aftermath of the December 15th Parliamentary elections, an estimated 10,000 Iraqis marched in Baghdad today to protest what they see as election fraud, and to call for a power sharing, "unity government." Some called for civil disobedience if their demands are not met.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Gledelig Jul to the Norwegian University Of Science And Technology

Please consider leaving a comment and letting me know of your interest in IN THE DARK. We've been seeing a lot of you folks lately. WELCOME!!!

A Christmas E-mail Exchange With Howie (My Right-Wing Friend From NY)

Peter, may you and Mary Pat have a Merry Christmas, Love you both. Howie

Howie, thanks for your Christmas wishes, and right back atcha. I love ya, bro. And MP sends her love. So when are you coming out to Chi-town?

Of course, I can't let the little piece of fiction that you sent me with your wishes go by without comment (did you think you were going to send this and hear nothing from me?).

This, of course, as you know, never happened. This is some e-mailer's fictional account of what s/he wished would happen. Something very much like this has probably happened many times in the last fifty years--years that have seen a blasphemous commercialization of Christmas.

Here's a critical reading, a "textual anaysis" of the story (bear with me--I don't do this for everyone):

A woman was Christmas shopping with her two children.

Already you feel sympathy for her.

After many hours of walking down row after row of toys and after hours of hearing both her children asking for everything they saw on those many shelves, she finally made it to the store elevator with her two children in hand. She was feeling what so many of us feel during the holiday season time of the year, getting that perfect gift for every single person on our shopping list
Here's the real message of this first paragraph. It is a willful ackowledgment of the pressures Americans feel at Christmas time. Please note that the author does NOT deny this pressure, and does not deny the artificiality of it. The author presents it, though, as a GIVEN; a normal piece of American life, and a normal piece of Christmas.

overwhelming pressure to go to every party, every housewarming, taste all the holiday food and treats
The author slipped this one in to create (or recreate) what today is an artificial atmosphere of community. The fact is that, beyond the "holiday party" at work, most people don't throw parties, housewarmings, etc., nor do they have time to home-cook feasts. Grandmothers/mothers-in-law still do this, of course. But young mothers? Working...

making sure we don't forget anyone on our card list, and the pressure of making sure we respond to everyone who sent us a card.
This, of course, goes hand-in-hand with the commercialization.

Finally the elevator doors opened revealing a crowd in the car. She pushed her way in and dragged her two kids and all her bags of stuff in with her. As the doors closed she couldn't take it anymore and blurted out, "Whoever started this whole Christmas thing should be found, strung up, and shot."
Here, the author shows his/her (clumsy) hand. Do you honestly believe ANYONE--no matter how stressed--could make a public announcement as stupid as this? (Well, you're a repuglycan, so you naturally think people are stupid) First of all, these days NO ONE makes remarks in public about shooting, bombing, violence of any sort (except for the GOP). But the author is just trying to get the reader in a position of sympathy with this character, who, faced with all this shopping, planning, buying, and kid-tending, is stretched to the end of her rope. Who has NOT felt that way? The character has lost it, and, as the author is about to tell us, has lost sight of the "real meaning" of Christmas.

From the back of the car, a quiet calm voice responded, "Don't worry, we've already crucified Him." The rest of the trip down was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop.
OF COURSE it was a "quiet, calm voice." I'm surprised it was not also a "strong and wise" voice too, but I guess the author didn't want to push his/her luck. The "christian" is quiet and calm, not like Jerry Falwell, who thinks that 9/11 and Katrina are God's revenge on gays; not like Pat Robertson, who calls for the assassination of a foreign leader. The person who SUPPOSEDLY is a "christian" is quiet and calm. I'll talk more about this in a second.

The author is a making another point in this sentence. It is a response to the woman's plaintive and desperate cry that "Whoever started this whole Christmas thing should be found, strung up, and shot." The answer, coming from a "quiet. calm voice," is that Jesus started "this whole Christmas thing."

Nonsense. Jesus is no more responsible for the commercialization of Christmas than Martin Luther King Jr. is rersponsible for the (paradoxical) "white sale." Commerce is responsible for the commercialization of Christmas. NOT Jesus. Commerce is responsible for all the pressure we feel, the cards we have to write, the list of presents we have to buy (or worse--the person on the list for whom we can think of nothing to buy!!!).

We have one small piece of the Gospels that shows how Jesus felt about the commercialization of religion (His religion, by the way, was Judaism, NOT Christianity). At a time of great prosperity in Jerusalem, the "leaders" (that is to say, the most prominent and vocal) of Judaism preached conformity to the letter of Jewish law. At the same time, they ignored much of the Torah that had nothing to do with "the law." The prophets, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekial, had all denounced conspicuous "religiosity" (animal sacrifices, public prayer, etc.) at the expense of caring for the poor. They prophesied that this conspicuous religiosity would blind them to the coming of the Messiah. But this was not "law." So these warnings went largely unheeded by the Jews of the time, who looked on the books of the prophets as little more than literature,

Jesus agreed with the prophets, and he quoted Ezekial when he came into the temple and found a market and money-changers.

"When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the Temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords and drove all from the Temple, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said: 'Get out of here.' (John 2:13-16)

"Jesus entered the Temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 'It is written,' he said to them, 'My house will be called a house of prayer but you are making it a den of robbers.'" (Matthew 21:12-13)

To say that Jesus would approve of how Christmas is "celebrated" today is absurd. I think it kills Him over and over again.

Don't forget this year to keep the One who started this whole Christmas thing in
your every thought, deed, purchase, and word. If we all would, just think how
much better this world would be.

This literally puts my stomach in knots. Can't you see how evil a work of propaganda this is, Howie? Keep Jesus in your every purchase? In the same breath as "keep Jesus in your every thought, deed, and word," the author chooses (CHOOSES!!!) to advise us to keep Jesus in our every purchase!!! Do you think Jesus really wants us to be consumers? Do you REALLY think Jesus is a Republican? Do you NOT think that, if Jesus were to return today, there would not be revolution in the world? Do you NOT think that Jesus would lower the mighty and raise the weak? (It's in the bible, look it up) Do you NOT think that Jesus would rather have us take ALL the money we spend on plastic Wal-mart CRAP every year and give it to the poor? Do you NOT think (while I'm at it), that Jesus would NOT shake the USA out of its paranoid fantasies, and take all the money we spend as a nation every year on things that go "BOOM" and redirect that to the poor?

Exactly which Bible are YOU reading, Howie?
Jesus is the reason for the season.
This is true. Don't blaspheme against Him. Don't remake Him into your image. Don't try to fantsize Him as a Republican, or as a pro-war hawk. Or as a "Christian."

Wise men still seek Him.
Yes. And Christians follow Him. And if you see someone who calls himself a "christian," but ignores the true Christ, he is probably neither a wise man nor a Christian.
May you have a blessed and holy Christmas season, not a "happy holidays season".
May you have, Howard Raymond, whatever you want. May you always want what is right in God's eyes, in Jesus's name.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Evidence of Plot Against Chavez?

First, for backgdound check out this story here.

Now, it appears that Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has admitted that dissident Venezuelan officers actually met with Colombian military leaders in a government office in Bogota.

Iraqi Troops's "Battle-Readiness" Questionable Iraqis March, Say Elections Were Rigged

You have to read down through the second half of this story on Sunni protests against the results of last week's Parliamentary elections in Iraq, but when you do, you find this:

Meanwhile, gunmen Friday attacked an Iraqi army checkpoint in the city of Adhaim, in religiously and ethnically mixed Diyala province, killing eight soldiers and wounding seventeen, an Iraqi army officer said on condition he not be identified for fear of reprisal.

"There were too many to count," said Akid, a 20-year-old soldier from Diwanayah being treated for gunshot wounds to both thighs. "They tried to kill everybody." Akid, who would only give his first name for fear of reprisal, said his battalion of about 600 men had already suffered over 250 desertions after a Dec. 3 ambush in Adhaim killed 19 Iraqi soldiers.

"They gave up," he said. "They said, 'The hell with this.'"

Is this the same army Bush was speaking about last week? Is this the army that is going to allow our troops to come home?

God help us.

Iraqi "Democracy" Crumbling Before It Begins

There are cries of "election fraud" across Iraq as the fundamentalist Shiite United Iraqi Alliance garners a bigger majority than anyone expected--in cities like Baghdad that are overwhelmingly Sunni. 10,000 Sunnis marched through Baghdad today chanting "No to America!" and calling for a re-vote.

More than 60 political parties have called for a new election, threatened to boycott the new Parliament, and have warned of the possibility of violence if new elections don't take place.

But a UN advisor to the Iraqi electoral commission says he doesn't think there will be a new election.

"The decision on a rerun rests with the Electoral Commission but I'd be very surprised if there was one," (UN Advisor Craig) Jenness said.

Howie, I'm sure, will say that everything's A-OK. Mission accomplished. We've turned a corner. Insurgency in its death throes. Plan for victory.

Yada, yada, yada. What a mess.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Democrats Must Become the Party of Old Ideas, Part II

In a previous post, I made the following observation:
The Democratic party has been gulled into believing--because the American people seem to believe--that the "old ways" of the New Deal, New Frontier, and Great Society are somehow no longer germane in an era of globalisation. But if an idea is good, it is good no matter what era it occurs in. And this is where our short-sightedness has hurt us.
Howie (my right-wing friend in NY) objected:

You know that (the assertion that if an idea is good, it is always good) is not always true. The idea of communicating using a telegraph was great 100 (give or take) years ago. Now, its not even a thought.

No, Howie, that is always true. Being a right-winger, you can't recognize the obvious difference between an idea and a thing. We need new technologies or methods all the time. Good ideas are always good, no matter how old they are.

You really believe that over 75 years, society can't come up with better ideas than the old social programs, old retirement programs, etc.

After 200 years, you can't come up with a better economic system than capitalism? I don't see you looking to trade THAT in, Howie. And unlike social security, capitalism is actually BROKEN!!!

Or is it the need of the democrats to keep these old ideas, because they were great ideas of great democrats.

No. The Democrats need to become the party of old ideas, and we shouldn't be concerned where the ideas came from, as long as they are good ideas.
Civil rights was (WAS) a Republican idea. Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation and the slow movement to full enfranchisement of African Americans, achieved by Republican legislation and the passing of the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments, were all Republican ideas. The Democrats have used that idea effectively for the last 75 years.

Now we have a Justice Department that is no longer interested in civil rights. In the first Bush administration, John Ashcroft's Justice Department was more interested in fighting pornography, fighting physician-assisted suicide, fighting the legalization of medical marijuana, and defending the use of torture than in prosecuting US civil rights violations. And Justice under Alberto Gonzales has seen racial and gender discrimination cases decrease by 40%.

It's time to give the idea of civil rights another chance, and the Democratic Party must be the party to stand for this old idea.

Trust-busting was a Republican idea, and a good one. President Theodore Roosevelt considered himself a "steward of the people."
While in office, Roosevelt became a "trust buster" by forcing the great railroad combination in the Northwest to break apart. As President, Roosevelt saw himself a representative of all the people, including farmers, laborers, white collar workers, and businessmen. Roosevelt therefore was focused on bringing big business under stronger regulation so that he could effectively serve all the people he represented. He sought to regulate, rather than dissolve, most trusts. Efforts continued over the next several years, to reduce the control of "big business" over the U.S. economy and workers.

What would TR make of today's Republican Party? Government responsibility for fundamental fairness in business, for protecting the people from predatory business practices, and for protecting the overall integrity of the American economy is a good idea. The Democratic Party must be the one to stand for this old idea.

Mistrust of power concentrated in a military-industrial complex was a Republican idea. That's an incredibly important idea that your party of "new ideas" has destroyed. The incestuous relationship between government, the military, and the defense industries (illustrated by the rise to political prominence of a group few Americans have still ever heard of--the Project for a New American Century) is responsible for our exploding federal deficits, as well as for our involvement in a war based entirely on lies.

The best ideas are rarely new, Howie. Like government of the people, by the people, for the people. That's an old idea I pray we come back to.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Election the US Media Are NOT Talking About, Continued

While the US media have been desperately banging the "freedom on the march" drum in response to Iraq's US-sponsored Potemkin election, Evo Morales has won a resounding victory in Bolivia's Presidential election.

With about 92% of the vote counted, Morales holds a lead of more than 54%. 85% of Bolivia's registered voters turned out to cast their ballots, which indicates that at this moment Bolivians take Democracy more seriously than either Iraqis (70% turnout for last week's parliamentary elections) or Americans (60% turnout for last year's Presidential election).

Bolivia now has a Socialist President. Bolivia has struck a blow against un-regulated, laissez faire, free-market capitalism and the inequalities it creates and supports. Democracy works, and it is working in Bolivia. But you don't hear good news like that in the defeatist, doom-and-gloom mainstream media.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

GOP to Poor Americans : Go to Hell!!!

While the number (and percent) of Americans living below the poverty rate continues to rise, along with the number of Americans living without health care insurance, the GOP-controlled House has passed a budget bill that will demand that the poorest Americans pay even more for their health care.

No medicine? Let 'em eat cake.

Federal Judge Rules Intelligent Design is NOT Science

Can't be taught in classrooms.

Thank God.

Bush : Constitution "Just a Goddamned Piece of Paper"

I have written several times in the past that I believe George W. Bush holds the Constitution--and the values enshrined in it--in utter contempt. This story from Capitol Hill Blue, if true, proves the point.

Howie, theoretically speaking : if this were true, would you be pissed off? Or is there NOTHING this guy can do that you would disagree with?

Monday, December 19, 2005

SCROOGES!!! (continued)

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This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy,for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it.' cried the Spirit, stretching out its hand towards the city. 'Slander those who tell it ye. Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse. And abide the end.'

'Have they no refuge or resource?' cried Scrooge.

'Are there no prisons?' said the Spirit, turning on him for the last time with his own words. 'Are there no workhouses?'"

- A Christmas Carol, Stave 3: The Second of the Three Spirits


The least generous of all working-age Americans in 2003, the latest year for which Internal Revenue Service data is available, were among the young and prosperous - the 285 taxpayers age 35 and under who made more than $10 million - and the 18,600 taxpayers making $500,000 to $1 million. The top group had on average $101 million of investment assets while the other group had on average $2.4 million of investment assets.

On average these two groups made charitable gifts equal to 0.4 percent of their assets, while people the same age who made $50,000 to $100,000 gave gifts equal to more than 2.5 percent of their investment assets, six times that of their far wealthier peers.

Miserable bastards.


the percentage of the population living in poverty in America is 50% higher than in Britain, and more than twice as high as in Germany, Holland, Italy or France, according to the widely respected Luxembourg Income Study. That gap translates, of course, into a host of drearily familiar social gaps, from a shockingly higher infant mortality rate to shorter life expectancy.

Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?

Quote of the Week

And if your brother becomes poor, and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall maintain him; as a stranger and a sojourner he shall live with you. Take no interest from him or increase, but fear your God; that your brother may live beside you. You shall not lend him your money at interest, nor give him your food for profit. I am the Lord your God, who brought you forth out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan, and to be your God. --Leviticus 25:35-38

Bush and Rove: Collaborators in the Theater of the Moral Lie

A good read: cogent, logical, and sensible.

Howie will hate it.

Morales Wins "Stunning, Historic" Victory in Bolivia

Another new addition to the "New Axis of Evil"?TM

Evo Morales appears to have won 51% of the vote in yesterdays Bolivian Presidential poll, a number that makes his victory decisive, obviates the necessity to share power, and makes Morales the first President since Bolivia's democratic era began in 1983 to win an outright majority of the votes.

Bolivia is now set to step into the "New Axis of Evil" that has been developing in Latin America over the last two decades. Paying homage to Cuba's Fidel Castro, and led--perhaps--by Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, the "axis" includes Brazil, Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay, all nations that have elected--democratically--governments that lean toward socialism or socially responsible policies. They ain't "un-regulated, laissez faire, free-market capitalism." Just the kind of thing that's going to get you in the soup with the good folks at the Project for a New American Century.

We'll be watching intently and with great interest to see what Morales's first official move will be. He is under a great deal of pressure to nationalize the oil industry, and to bring relief to the (nearly) 60% of Bolivians who are unemployed.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Signs of the Times (And It's About Time)

After nearly four years of craven toadyism, Congress is getting some backbone.

Republican Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, announced yesterday his committee will holding hearings on President Bush's domestic spying as soon as possible. Specter said Bush's approval of National Security Agency wiretaps on US citizens is "wrong, and it can't be condoned at all." Bush has responded to the revelations by claiming that whatever he does to protect the American people is "within the law."

Meanwhile, the majority of Senate Democrats and a handful of Senate Republicans effectively blocked passage of a new Patriot Act yesterday. This is a slap in the face of Bush, his administration, the Project for a New American Century, and everyone else who wants America to surrender its fundamental rights in the name of "fighting terror."

All this comes on the heels of a White House defeat at the hands of John McCain (five years too late). Under pressure from McCain (to say nothing of the rest of the Senate and the American people), Bush dropped his opposition to a ban on torture appended to a military spending bill. The Senate had passed the amendment in October, 90-9 (who was that missing Senator, and where exactly was s/he?). The House passed its version on Wednesday, 308-122 (five missing Representatives).

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Election the US Media Are NOT Talking About

An update on the "New Axis of Evil"TM

Bolivia, a nation of only nine million people, is giving Washington (and the fine folks at PNAC) conniptions. They are getting ready to elect--democratically--their first President of indigenous Indian background. Sounds pretty democratic to me. Pretty egalitarian. The people are voting against a history of colonialism and North American influence. Kind of like Iraq. Who could find fault with this?

Well, the Bush administration for one. You'll notice they are not trumpeting the upcoming elections--which heavily favor former coca farmer and labor leader Evo Morales--as a "milestone" (although it is as much, if not more, of a milestone than yesterday's election in Iraq) in the history of democracy. in fact, they are doing everything they can to make it appear to be a symptom of dangerous chaos. The US State Department has sent our advisories that Sunday's election has created a "climate of potential violence."

Current Bolivian President Eduardo Rodriguez said yesterday that he "deplored" the insinuations that this particular election would somehow be marred by violence.

This is, of course, a CYA operation for the US State Department, a first step in delegitimizing the election should Morales win. Since Morales has a strong ally in Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, since he opposes free trade agreements with the US, since he supported a bill in the Bolivian Senate that increased taxes on foreign-owned oil companies ten times and is likely to follow Chavez's lead in nationalizing the oil industry, we may need to have some "intelligence" that rationalizes an invasion someday.

NSA Taps Phones Without Warrants Since 2002

Unbelievable. Only in Bush's "America."

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Mayor Gutierrez?

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) has decided to run for only one more term in Congress as he explores a bid for mayor of Chicago. And he is a prime House sponsor of a major immigration bill the Senate is poised to consider--introduced in that chamber by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.).

Gutierrez is the first Hispanic lawmaker Illinois sent to Washington, initially elected in 1992 to represent the 4th Congressional District.

So we'll see what happens.

Mayor Gutierrez rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?

Immigrants a many

There are 35.2 million foreign-born people living in the United States -- about 12.1 percent of the population, according to a report Monday by the Center for Immigration Studies.

And the Associated Press reports that if the trend continues, immigrants will soon make up an even larger portion of the population than they did during the last immigration boom, at the beginning of the 20th century, the report said.

Check out these photos

According to the Associated Press, immigration reform groups are frustrated by the federal government's response to illegal immigration and worried that undocumented workers are depressing wages. So what are they doing? Going to workplaces throughout the United States --in Southern California, Texas, Chicago, and Virginia -- to take photos of construction bosses and anyone else picking up day laborers. Then what do the groups do? Post the photos on Web sites (like and And, at times, the groups even include home addresses and license plate numbers. They also turn their footage into immigration officials. But how do these groups know who's illegal or not? Just because they speak Spanish doesn't mean they're illegal! The system is broken and needs some fixin'.

Rumsfeld's Pentagon Spies on Anti-War Americans

A secret, 400-page database obtained by NBC News indicates that Donald Rumsfeld's Defense Department has been collecting and and organizing information about US citizens engaged in peaceful protest against the Bush administration and its war in Iraq.

The objects of surveillance appear overwhelmingly to be private US citizens and organizations exercizing their first amendment rights in peaceful protest. Evidence demonstrates that the DoD has indeed been following and collecting information on individual US citizens.
One DOD briefing document stamped “secret” concludes: “[W]e have noted increased communication and encouragement between protest groups using the [I]nternet,” but no “significant connection” between incidents, such as “reoccurring instigators at protests” or “vehicle descriptions.”
NBC military analyst Bill Arkin finds this disturbing.
“It means that they’re actually collecting information about who’s at those protests, the descriptions of vehicles at those protests,” says Arkin. “On the domestic level, this is unprecedented,” he says. “I think it's the beginning of enormous problems and enormous mischief for the military.”
NBC posts an edited excerpt of the 400-page document that runs from November 2004 through May 2005. I would certainly be curious to know if my name or image is in a Defense Department file somewhere by virtue of my participation in non-violent, peaceful protest against US Government policies.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Bush : 30,000 Iraqis Are Dead

Whoa. What is this? A new tactic? Acknowledging reality? Will it work?

Let's not forget that a 2004 study published by an international group of scientists in Britain's Lancet claimed that the civilian death toll in Iraq is probably closer to 100,000.

US Supremes Eye Gerrymandered Texas

While I see this as a good sign--generally--I am not entirely encouraged by the Supreme Court's agreement to review the shady congressional gerrymandering of Texas engineered by then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay two years ago.. The redistricting assured the Texas GOP a 2-1 majority of Representatives in the House.

Four seperate groups, including Democratic, African-American, and Hispanic groups, have brought appeals to the Supreme Court. Among the arguments against the redistricting (aside from the fact that it has taken once black and Hispanic areas and made them artificially white and republican) is that the predominantly Republican Texas state legislature was created illegally by the infusion of corporate dollars by Tom DeLay in violation of Federal campaign laws.

In America, this one would be a slam dunk. But this isn't America anymore. And the last time this Supreme Court decided the constitutionality of a political dispute was Gore v. Bush in 2000.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Hungary to USA : Hypocrites!!!

From the Index (Hungary), an editorial on US hypocrisy and human rights. The US State Department's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices notes that Hungary is not yet a model of respect for civil rights. Police sometimes use excessive force, especially with the minority Roma population. Sounds like Los Angeles. So writer M. Arpad Tota is understandably upset by what he sees as a double standard for human rights--one imposed on the world, and another for the United States.
I'm not saying that police brutality isn't an ugly thing, and a state-assigned lawyer is certainly worse than a well paid one. There's room for error in the building of a democracy. But let's also point out that Hungary does not keep concentration camps on its territory or on that of any other state. It does not build secret torture chambers in which people are kicked around without any charges against them.
Tota doesn't believe in mincing words.

Concentration camps (and lets drop this phony expression "secret prison"; they're secret because they're really concentration camps) are the ultimate in state crookedness. Not only do they beat and kick, but the sadistic personnel there do whatever they want, and it's a not a matter of substandard legal defense, but no legal defense. People can be thrown in there without charge or trial, and there are no footprints leading out. These are neither prisoners of war nor convicts, because if they were, they'd have rights. They are not people but livestock. They can't be innocent, because then they wouldn't be there, so if they're there they're beaten until they admit to being spies or saboteurs.

Like the late Pontiff John Paul II (in his 1987 encyclical Solicitudo Rei Socialis), Tota makes a direct comparison between the United States and the Soviet Union, and sees a moral equivalence.
Placing concentration camps in Europe is a level of brashness that not even the Soviet Union achieved. This matter of outsourcing gulags could be a watershed in European-American relations: do we forgive this, because we've seen concentration camps before, or do we make a worldwide scandal for exactly that reason?
The great (and bombastic) NY journalist Sidney Zion once said of the United Kingdom, "If it weren't for the double standard, Britain would have no standards at all." More and more, I'm afraid, this is becoming true of the United States.
America shouldn't write reports about what horrible things happen in some countries, especially when they're doing them themselves. Do we shit on the doormat, and then get up in arms because the doormat is dirty?

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Colombia : Our "Friendship" With America is a Sham

Watching America

The editors of Colombian newspaper El Tiempo ponder the level of reciprocity in its "friendship" with the United States and conclude that Colombia is getting the short end of the deal.
The only things we have gotten are extreme positions, indifference to our poverty, and unilateral and arrogant demands that sooner or later, we are going to have to accept. This is because in order to negotiate equitably with the United States, we are to be required to adopt economic institutions and practices that we are very far from having...Is our "friend" a government whose only interest is for us to help them resolve their problems of drug consumption, with no concern for our future?
I have written here before of the dysfunctional relationship between the United States and many of its "allies," both in the developed and developing worlds. The decades-old "war on drugs" has proven to be a tremendous waste of money and manpower--if it was ever sincerely undertaken in the first place. It seems as though where ever the US takes on some new ally in the less developed world, drugs follow. We overthrow the Taliban, Afghanistan becomes the world's leader in poppy production (opium and herion). We take out Saddam, Iraq becomes a stopping-point, a way station in international drug trafficking. Our only real ally in Latin America (for the moment at least) is Colombia, and Colombia remains the biggest producer of coca (for manufacturing cocaine) in the world.

Just under a year ago, Gary Webb died. Webb was an investigative reporter for the San Jose (CA) Mercury News who reported on CIA complicity and cover-up in Latin American drug trafficking, especially as it involved the Reagan administration-supported "contra war" in Nicaragua. Webb was ridiculed for his stories. He was politically hounded out of journalism and died in disgrace. But most of what he wrote about was proven true.

Could it be that the US has a strategic interest in the free-flow of drugs around the developed world?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Morales's Lead in Bolivian Presidential Campaign Strong

The prospect of "freedom on the march" and democracy at work in Bolivia gives the Bush administration and their PNAC bedfellows nightmares.

Evo Morales is an indigenous socialist former labor leader and Bolivian congressman who wants to nationalize the oil companies and legalize the growing of coca (although he wants to legalize it only for the manufacture of legal products, like teas and soft drinks), and who would cultivate strong ties with Fidel Castro's Cuba.

Anyone giving odds on an invasion timetable?

Monday, December 05, 2005

Anti-War Democratic Challenger to Face Hillary in '06 Senate Primary

An anti-war writer and labor leader from NY is set to challenge Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for the Senate in 2006. Reports say that Jonathan Tasini, former president of the National Writers Union, and an outspoken activist for US labor, will make an announcement Tuesday morning at a press conference.

As a former (until very recently) NYer, I know how much disappointment NYers share over Sen. Clinton's unquestioning support for the US invasion--and occupation--of Iraq. Tasini puts that frustration into words.
Senator Clinton is out of step with the values of a majority of New Yorkers. While a majority of New Yorkers support an end to the war, Senator Clinton has repeatedly voiced her support for a war that continues to accumulate unacceptable costs, in terms of American and Iraqi lives and our own government spending.
On Tasini's website, he gets a "non-endorsement endorsement" from Gold Star mom Cindy Sheehan.

I am so pleased that Jonathan Tasini has stepped forward to challenge Senator Clinton and to take her on as an anti-war candidate.

I encourage the people of New York to take a hard look at Mrs. Clinton's dismal record on the illegal and immoral invasion and occupation of Iraq. Then take a hard look at what Jonathan is saying....I fully endorse the idea of peace with justice and support the message that Jonathan is espousing, but I cannot endorse candidates because of my organization’s tax-exempt status.

She is also unsure of her ultimate support for Tasini, since a second anti-war Democratic candidate for Hillary's Senate seat has recently arisen. Steve Greenfield, a firefighter from New Paltz, will make his announcement Monday at Columbia University.

Friday, December 02, 2005