Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Wreath Wrath, and the History of the Peace Sign

Bill, left; Lisa, right; wreath, center

By now everybody's heard the story about the lady in a Colorado suburb who got in trouble with her homeowners' association for hanging a Christmas wreath in the shape of a peace sign.

The homeowners' assoc president fired a five-member neighborhood panel that refused to cite Lisa Jensen for posting an offensive symbol, saying that the wreath was "anti-Iraq" and "anti-Christ." He levied a fine of $25 a day in an attempt to force her to take it down.

Jensen said she wouldn't pay the fine and wouldn't remove the offending symbol.Now she's been vindicated and has gotten an apology from this moron.

For the real meaning and history of the peace sign, see here.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Grime Time

The most important job the new Democratic Congress will undertake in late January, 2007 will be its investigations of the secret machinations and corruptions of the past six years.

One of the key players in these investigations will be Henry Waxman, Democrat of Beverly Hills and the new Chairman of the House Government Reform Committee.

Clearly, there's too much accumulated dirt to investigate everything that's happened since the Bush/Cheney cabal, backed by its Congressional Greek chorus ascended the throne. Waxman, Senator Patrick Leahy, and other new committee chairmen will have to pick and choose carefully among the many possible subjects they might look into.

Waxman has said he plans to "reassert congressional checks on the executive branch." His priorities are "government contracts: for Hurricane Katrina cleanup, homeland security and the Iraq war. "

The AP story on Waxman's plans also reveals that "Contrary to Republican portrayals, Waxman said he doesn't plan to issue scattershot subpoenas. He said he has little interest in revisiting Bush administration failures that are already well known, such as Iraq war intelligence."

It's a good decision. The lies leading to Iraq are already well-known sewage under the bridge, and investigating them would lead to little of pragmatic value. Investigating the cronyism involved in the letting of contracts should turn up some indictable offenses, and we can look forward to some of the culprits trading in their Armani suits for orange coveralls.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Sorrows of Empire

Nobody wants to see Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri locked up in an iron cage in Times Square more than I do.

About a year and a half ago Pakistan’s military dictator Musharrif said they were hiding in the mountains of his country’s North West Frontier Province, and there they remain. Catching them would require complex and difficult undercover work by skilled operatives fluent in several languages. They would need to neutralize and if necessary buy off the resistance of the tribesmen who rule that remote region. We’re talking very high-level police work – extremely tough, but doable.

But the Lords of the American Empire don’t like police work. They don’t like any relatively inexpensive solutions. Catching the masterminds of 9/11 wouldn’t give them a chance to use their armies, their stealth bombers, their tanks, or their naval armadas, not to mention their interactive computer maps and flow charts.

And most importantly of all, police work does not give the war machine’s enablers and feeders in the Fed a chance to let out no-bid contracts to their buddies (for a modest consideration, of course).

Militarism in the United States is a multi-trillion-dollar business (invest your son). I’ve been revisiting what may be the best book on this topic ever written, Chalmers Johnson’s “The Sorrows of Empire” (2004), a 312-page dead-center bulls-eye that strikes at the very center of the war machine.

Johnson observes that after the Cold War ended in 1989, the American government and military decided they could “not allow the equally virulent cold wars in East Asia and Latin America to come to an end. Instead of the Soviet Union, the ‘menace’ of China, Fidel Castro, drug lords, ‘instability,’ and more recently terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, and the ‘axis of evil’…would have to do as new enemies.”

Indeed, with the advent of the Bush dictatorship in 2001, the war machine grew even larger, more voracious, and more aggressive than it had been at the height of the Cold War. “By 2002…” Johnson observes, “The United States no longer had a ‘foreign policy.’ Instead it had a military empire.”

Despite the fall of our one significant enemy, the 400-billion-dollar-a-year-plus rip off rolled on. Johnson is right in insisting that it had to. He lists all the various groups and institutions whose fortune is linked to the war machine, including financial institutions, energy suppliers, “strategic thinkers” in “think tanks,” and arms suppliers and manufacturers, and concludes, “(I)t is hard to imagine the United States ever voluntarily getting out of the empire business.”

He’s right. But now that the pursuit of empire has brought us to grief, and we’ve been humiliated and bankrupted by an inexcusably stupid and clumsy attempt to subdue a land very far away from us both geographically and spiritually, and considering that this has happened not once, but twice in a generation, it’s time to begin to undermine and dismantle this war machine.

We can’t live with it, for obvious reasons. Chalmers Johnson notes dryly that the Roman Empire was finally brought down by the enemies it had created.

It will take generations of unrelenting effort to dismantle the war machine. But destroying it is a prerequisite of our survival. The most important thing we can do now is to keep the pressure on the Democrats to conduct full investigations of the war crimes of the last three years. We’ll need to keep the pressure on them because I’ve observed they have short memories.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Unperson's Protest-Suicide

Back on November 3, a 52-year-old Chicago man burned himself to death to protest the Iraq War. The reason you haven't heard about it is because the establishment media has ignored the story.

Malachi Ritscher set himself on fire near an off-ramp of Chicago's Kennedy Exprssway, next to a four-year-old abstract sculpture called "The Flame of the Millenium." Drivers passing by on the freeway looked up and saw that the statue seemed to be on fire. When police arrived they found an empty gas can, a video camera, and a body so thoroughly charred that its gender couldn't be determined.

Authorities later discovered Ritscher had left a note which said in part, "I too love God and Country, and feel called upon to serve. I can only hope my sacrifice is worth more than those brave lives thrown away when we attacked an Arab nation under the deception of 'Weapons of Mass Destruction.'"

There was scant mention of the event in Chicago-area local news and none in the national media. I picked up this story from the Rag Blog, and there's a well-researched account of the event and Ritscher's life by Pitchfork's Nitsuh Abebe at

Ritscher was a loner, a divorcee, and apparently had no close friends, although he had many acquaintances from Chicago's jazz and alternate music scene, in which he was well known as a video cameraman and sound engineer. Of course some will ask whether he was a martyr or a mentally troubled suicide. Nitsuh Abebe points out corectly that those are not mutually exclusive categories.

We could ask a similar question about the press coverage, or lack of it in this case. Did the media ignore this event because Ritscher was kind of a nobody, or were they hesitant to expose the public to the full measure of shame and disgrace this war has brought the nation? Is the United States truly evil and homicidal, or just nuts?

Friday, November 24, 2006

Bye Bye Unitary Executive

Despite all rumors to the contrary, there is such a thing as the United States Congress. It's back, and has laid to rest all spurious and anticonstitutional theories maintaining the existence of something called "the unitary executive."

Although the new Congress has not been sworn in yet, the Senate Judiciary Committee is already demanding the release of dozens of classified documents the Justice Department has tried to stonewall them on.

Time to pop open those coffin lids and see what's in there.

“I expect real answers, or we’ll have testimony under oath until we get them,” says chairman-to-be Patrick Leahy.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


A poll by the Research Opinion Corporation and broadcast by CNN shows that 58 percent of Americans now believe the Iraq War is turning out like Vietnam.

Gee, d'ya think?

Now that a majority of our citzens are belatedly willing to face facts, I suppose it would be rude to say that some of us could have told them that three and a half years ago, when a concerted effort to head off this disaster might have had some effect.

Sometimes I'm angry and frustrated with my fellow Americans because of their dim and persistent cluelessness. Other times I see them as victims of the blanket of propaganda relentlessly laid on by the corporate news media, who set nonsensical, government-approved parameters on any public debate.

In this case, as with Vietnam, the debate, besides being idiotic, is always about them: was Saddam planning to wipe us out? Did he have those weapons? Is "Islamofascism" a threat to what some jocularly refer to as "American civilization?"

It should be about us instead. Why do we want to turn other countries into clones of ourselves, sort of like mini-me's? I recall that before South Vietnam dissolved into a puddle, it had a President, a Congress, and a cute little Supreme Court -- institutions as relevant to that culture as balls on a duck.

It's time we came to terms with the real problem, which has nothing to do with Saddam Hussein or Islamofascism or Communist aggression from Hanoi. The real problem is this: the 400-plus billions we spend each year on "defense." And it's my understanding that this doesn't even include the 94 billion or so we've been spending each year since 2003 on the two wars we have going at the moment.

The war machine is Godzilla in the living room. Our continuing to think of it as normal, despite the prevalence of that opinion, is mass insanity. It's taken us into two idiotic, hubris-generated orgies of destruction in a generation. With over a million Vietnamese dead and now two-thirds of a million Iraqis, isn't it time we took a serious look at ourselves?

"And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar. And they said, 'Come, let us build us a city and a tower whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.'

"And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower...And said, 'Now nothing will be withheld from them which they have imagined to do.'" (Genesis 11)

We need a permanent anti-war movement in this country powerful enough to neutralize the corporate media, and to let people know that in maintaining this tower of destruction and carnage, we're not only destroying other parts of the world, we're destroying ourselves.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Pahrump Parliament

The town of Pahrump, Nevada, has passed an ordinance making the flying of foreign flags illegal.

In Pahrump, you can only fly the flag of Mexico, or the Philippines, or Liechtenstein if you display the U.S. flag above it.

According to USA Today, "The elected town board in the remote Mojave Desert community voted 3-2 on Tuesday to enact an ordinance making it illegal to fly a foreign nation's flag by itself.

"Flying another country's flag, whether it is a British Union Jack or the flag of Mexico, is punishable by a $50 fine and 30 hours' community service, unless it is flown below an American flag," the paper reported.

"Old Glory is sovereign," board member Paul Willis soberly intoned.

"People are nuts out there," muttered Lisa Rasmusson of the Nevada ACLU, "Totally nuts," and added that the ordinance violates the first amendment.

We tried to find a local second source for this story, but a web search for a site belonging to the town's newspaper, the Pahrump Titty Rump Titty Rump Rump Rump, returned no results.

The town board, whose official name is the Pahrump Parliament, passed the new law as part of a package that also declares English the official language of Pahrump and denies town benefits to illegal immigrants.

"We don't have any" benefits, town manager David Richards says, adding "If we ever have any, they'll be denied to illegal immigrants."

The fate of the town's Taco Bell restaurant remains unclear at this time.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Fat and Clueless

For those of us living in it, America tends to have a quality of unreality, as if the whole country were an extension of Disneyland/Anaheim's idealized and cutsiefied "Main Street." Happy suburbanites haul cornucopia loads of meat, produce, sugars, fats, and carbonated waters to their suburban McMansions from antiseptic mega-super-markets in their gigantic SAV's (suburban attack vehicles), or happily fetch piles of cheap, Chinese-made tchotchkes from Wal-Mart or one of the other big boxes. They work jobs which may or may not -- and usually don't -- support this lifestyle, but that's what credit cards and debt are for. If a few people are left out of this bright, smiley-faced, comfortable life, it's their own fault.

Other times, life in these United States has the surreal quality of a nightmare as when two rival gangs of overweight, impenetrably stupid parents duke it out on the field where their five- and six-year-old sons are playing peewee football.

Whether you're delighted or horrified by our way of life, the one thing about it that's certain is that it's not going to last, no matter whether Republicans or Democrats are at the helm of the ship. And this is the fact of life about which the overwhelming majority of Americans remain hopelessly clueless. It's the story of the century, and you can't get it from the corporate news media, which are institutionally locked into maintenance of the status quo. In order to get the real facts, you have to go to the blogs.

Despite their material opulence, Americans have been troubled and uneasy lately, especially by the interminable oil war going on in Iraq. Other, equally troubling problems are beginning to crop up, such as the fall in house prices and the consequent mortgage crunch. If we should lose access to that Mideast oil...if we end up owing more on that house than it's worth, and can't keep up the payments...

But on the horizon, we see Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats riding in to save us.

"Not so fast," says the ex-Ranger turned Marxist/feminist, Stan Goff, at his blog The Feral Scholar. Goff says of the two major parties: "(T)hey are all on the same cruise, headed for the same destination.

"That destination includes perserving American supremacy in the world, which allows us to live our profligate and completely unsustanable lifestyles here long enough to get through another business and election cycle… all at the direct expense of the poorer people in the world. Yes, I know this is an unpopular thing to say; but the manner to which we have become accustomed is paid for by a steady flow of value drained from the peripheral regions and sucked into this giant, wasteful, dangerous, and dirty technomass that will one day leave our children stranded on a toxic scrap heap wondering how we let this happen."

Goff's entire post, "The Bipartisan Ship," will appear on page three of the upcoming issue of the Los Angeles Free Press. It's a stunning indictment of both the American political system and the American way of life.

Less shrill, more analytical, but drawing the same conclusions is University of Texas at Austin journalism professor Robert Jensen, in a piece posted at Counterpunch, "Blood on the Tracks." Jensen identifies four major aspects of dysfunction in contemporary America.

"--Our deepest values concerning justice and solidarity will be undermined by the anti-human values of capitalism and empire.

"--Truly democratic politics, in which ordinary people have a meaningful role, will be subverted the concentration of wealth.

"--An increasingly fragile economy mired in self-indulgent deficit and debt, with an artificially inflated currency, will start to collapse when our military and political power are unable to keep the rest of the world in line.

"--The ability of a finite planet to sustain life as we know it will diminish dramatically in a system based on fantasies of unlimited growth marked by the glorification of domination."

Noting that "the vast majority of Democrats and virtually all Republicans avoid these realities," Jensen concludes that "If we don"t take radical action relatively soon, every ending we can imagine is likely to be brutal and violent, deadly not only for most of the world"s population but also for the non-human world. This isn"t irrational apocalypticism but a rational approach to the evidence in front of us. No one can predict how this will play out, but it will most certainly play out ugly unless we change the trajectory."

In drawing his runaway train metaphor, Jensen refers to an unattributed book title: "The Long Emergency." As it happens, no one has done better analysis of the coming train wreck than the author of that work, James Howard Kunstler, proprieter of the weekly blog "Clusterfuck Nation." I recently removed Kunstler's site from the list of recommended blogs because of his unconscionable and incoherent support of Israel's invasion and gang rape of Lebanon, but he's back to his old form and forte now, and in an essay entitled "Energy Indpendence" he reviews and synopsizes the anatomy of the coming disaster.

"The collapse of suburbia will be the Democrats chief inheritance from the 'free-market' economically neo-liberal Republicans who were too busy money grubbing at all levels to notice that there was such a thing as the future," Kunstler says, and "The tragedy of suburbia will finish off whatever is left of Reagan-Bush1-Bush2 Republicanism -- although the truth is that Bill Clinton did as much to promote this way of life, indeed, to turn suburban development into a new basis for the US economy when manufacturing crapped out.

"The nation as a whole -- however it reconfigures itself politically in the aftermath of this fiasco -- is going to have to come to grips with a lot of hard truths. One will be that 'energy independence' means a whole different scale and system for daily life, not just 'new and innovative' fuels for cars. As long as we are stuck in a foolish national wish-fest aimed at keeping all the cars running and propping up all the trappings of car-dependency, we will remain lost in a wilderness of our own making."

These blogging analysts are actually nothing more or less than what right-wing Republicans like to call themselves -- "hard-nosed realists." But the picture they draw of the present and the future is an impossibly difficult one for the vast majority of luxury-addicted Americans to comprehend, especially when you consider the degree to which they lack real political leadership or accurate information from the corporate media. My guess is a viable, progressive political movement capable of dealing with these realities will only coalesce after the hydra-headed disaster of the twenty-first century has begun.

As for what we can do right now, Robert Jensen suggests "Our political work should focus on connecting with people on common ground, and then working to shape a radically new vision of justice and sustainability. The time for that is now; the direction and speed of the train dictate that we not put it off any longer.

"This isn"t about who can be most radical for the sake of being radical -- it"s about whether we can be realistic. Such an approach cannot promise political transformation in the short-term, but I believe it is the only hope for our future."

Sunday, November 12, 2006

We'll Meet Again; Don't Know Where, Don't Know When...

Carrying a little more weight and a little less hair than he did in the eighties, Daniel Ortega reclaimed the presidency of Nicaragua this past week, just as one of his former adversaries was being tapped to replace Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense. Neither Ortega's chronic heart ailment nor his moderated, non-confrontational tone kept Nicaraguans from turning to him to lead them once more, after a nearly 20-year interregnum.

According to the Associated Press story covering Ortega's political rebirth, the former Sandinista revolutionary: "Balding, weakened by heart trouble and often appearing almost preaches reconciliation and stability, and promises to maintain close ties with the U.S. and the veterans of the Contra army it trained and armed against him." The story also says Ortega has renounced his Marxist-based atheism, replacing it with a traditional form of Latin Catholic piety.

Ortega has a tendency to send mixed messages. During his third, failed run for the presidency in 2001 he actually waved an American flag onstage during one of his speeches. Yet only a year and a half ago, celebrating May Day in Cuba, Ortega made a fiery speech in which he referred to Americans as "the enemies of humanity." The Iraq War has obviously not helped the reconciliation process.

He still promotes the most tried and trusted socialist ideals: free education and medical care for all, and welcomes the support of other leftist Latin leaders such as Venezuela's Chavez and the Castros in Cuba. He strongly opposes the U.S. intervention in Iraq, but then so do the majority of U.S. citizens.

But the most striking aspect of Ortega's return to power is his promise to maintain close ties with the U.S., and to reach out to veterans of the Contra army the Reagan administration trained and armed against him.

Like Sr. Ortega, Robert Gates is re-ascending the pinnacle of power after years of relative obscurity. Since retiring from the CIA in 1993, Gates has worked in the sedate ivory towers of academia, first as a lecturer at Harvard, Yale, Johns Hopkins and Georgetown among others, then as Dean of the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M, and since August, 2002 as President of Texas A&M, where he has led a placid and decidedly low-temperature existence along with the secret records the Iran-Contra affair, in which he played a central part. These are housed in the George Herbert Walker Bush Library at A&M, entrusted to Gates's care and held secret in perpetuity by an executive order of George Bush II from November, 2001.

According to Wayne Madsen Reports, Bush II's 2001 order "upended the 1978 Presidential Records Act and permits the Bush Iran-Contra papers to be kept secret...The executive order also affects 60,000 pages of papers from the Reagan Presidential Library that include details of then-Vice President George H. W. Bush's role in Iran-Contra."

Gates will probably be confirmed as Secretary of Defense easily by the Republican-dominated Senate, although he may face some tough questions from Democrats about his role in Iran-Contra, which has now been detailed in an important new book by John Prados, "Safe for Democracy: The Secret Wars of the CIA." Excerpts from the book, along with the full three volumes of Gates's confirmation hearings for CIA director in 1991 are posted on line at the website of the National Security Archive. The hearing records were the most detailed examination of U.S. intelligence practices since the Church and Pike investigations of the 1970s.

As Secretary of Defense, Gates will be multitasking. First, he will probably wind down the Iraq War to an "acceptable" level. The best guess is that "acceptable" means stationing 25-50,000 troops on four or five permanent bases in country, and generally keeping them clear of the street fighting.

Just as importantly, Gates will be operating the shredder full time. Important documents relating to the runup to the war and its subsequent prosecution will either be destroyed or spirited off to the vaults of the Texas A&M library system, to be locked in the deep freeze of information which cannot be revealed because of "national security."

The investigators of the war who are sure to begin work in January will probably not have access to many of the documents they need, and without the necessary documentation they'll get stonewalled by the witnesses they call, just as they were during the investigation of Iran-Contra.

Gates has been down this road before. Although never indicted, he was without doubt one of the key players in the sales of TOW missiles to Iran in the 80's, in exchange for the release of prisoners held in Lebanon by Hizbollah. Money from the missile sales was illegally diverted to the Contra army working to overthrow the elected government of Nicaragua.

Many of the papers relating to that earlier affair were never seen by Judge Lawrence Walsh, due to Gates spiriting them off to the George H.W. Bush Library at A&M, as detailed above.

Gates is a made man in the Bush family mafia. He'll do what he needs to do to protect the capos, past and present. It's what a good Secretary of Defense is supposed to do, and what the outgoing one didn't do.

Like Gates, Ortega is haunted by his past. The Associated Press story covering his re-election noted that "Leaders of the country's Miskito Indians have accused him of genocide for forcing thousands to relocate during the U.S.-backed Contra civil war. He has apologized for moving them, but denies genocide." The Permanent Commission on Human Rights, an independent Nicaraguan organization, has announced it will continue to push the Miskotos' case against Ortega.

In addition Ortega's stepdaughter, Zoilamerica Narvaez, claims he molested her for years, starting when she was 13. She often speaks against him publicly, but Ortega and his wife both deny the accusation. They say Narvaez is mentally unstable.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Cooler Days Ahead

Barbara Boxer of California will replace James Inhofe of Oklahoma as chair of the Senate Environmental Public Works Committee. She promises major shifts on global warming and air quality policy and toxic waste cleanup.

Inhofe, whose approach to the environment is faith-based, once called global warming "the greatest hoax perpetrated on the American people." He supported the administration's 2002 rules which rolled back parts of the Clean Air Act.

An environmental aide at the White House has indicated that the administration will work with Boxer.

This is a positive development for the most part, but Boxer needs to be schooled on a few issues, especially the future of the automobile. A few months ago I heard her talking about the promise of hydrogen as an alternative to gasoline, which is pie in the sky.

Even if hydrogen was safe (which it isn't) and economical (it costs more petroleum energy to produce than it saves), fuel cell cars in any numbers are at least 20 years away. We don't have 20 years. The only feasible alternative to gasoline is electricity.

If she's serious about greenhouse gases and global warming, she needs to seriously get behind the idea of abolishing the petroleum-powered car. Exxon and Chevron might have a few things to say about that.

During this honeymoon love fest of flowery bipartisanship, we need to keep in mind that a life-and-death struggle with the corporate power structure is inevitable and unavoidable, and in no area is this more obvious than in issues pertaining to the environment.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Exit Through the Gates

When Bush fired Don Rumsfeld and named his replacement yesterday he wasn't just changing changing suits. With his choice of Bob Gates, Bush has tipped his hand and revealed his Iraq exit strategy.

Gates is a member of the Iraq Study Group, the bipartisan committee headed by James Baker III and Lee Hamilton which Congress created last March to study the war and make recommendations.

The Group's report and recommendations haven't been made public yet (they were waiting until after the election to release them), but leaks have indicated they will call for a phased withdrawal and re-deployment of U.S. forces from Iraq, and the initiation of dialogue among the U.S., Iran, and Syria to determine the best policies for Iraq in particular and the Middle East in general.

Gates is currently president of Texas A&M and an old CIA hand. He was director of the agency under the first Bush, and was the first person who ever started at CIA in an entry-level position to rise to the top.

He was implicated in the Iran-Contra scandal during the Reagan administration but never charged with a crime.

"He'll provide this department with a fresh perspective and new ideas on how American can achieve our goals in Iraq," Bush said, although he did not indicate that the "goals" have now changed from "victory" to getting out.

The fact that Bush has appointed an Iraq Study Group member to head the "Defense" Department indicates a dramatic change of policy on the horizon. The Group's approach to the Iraq War is diametrically opposed to the outgoing secretary's uncompromising "victory" stance.

As he departed, Rumsfeld muttered that the Iraq conflict is a "little understood, unfamiliar war" that is "complex for people to comprehend."

Bush fired him a week after saying Rumsfeld would remain on the job until 2009. At the same time, he maintained that the only acceptable outcome in Iraq was victory, but apparently that policy is up for revision also.

Looks like we're doin' the old switchola.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Democrats and the War Machine

In the midst celebrating the end of overt dictatorship and one-branch government, we need to ask ourselves what a Democratic Congress is able and willing to do to prevent another fascist interlude. Are the Democrats willing to contemplate the structural changes which would deliver our political system from systemic corruption, executive usurpation, and habitual warfare? Sadly, no.

Thank God Donald Rumsfeld has already resigned. That's one bit of trivial fecalia the new Congress won't spend six wasted months agonizing about. Rumsfeld is not and never was the problem, any more than "poor execution" of the Iraq War is a problem. In fact, the war itself is not the problem, since, like the Vietnam debacle, it issues from the source of all our problems -- big money's control of the political system, and the plutocracy's crown jewel: history's largest, most lethal, and most out of control war machine.

If you look at the lists of the ten largest donors to the Republican and Democratic parties, you'll find that seven of the same corporations appear on both lists. And those are only the top tens; there are hundreds of companies and special interest groups such as the National Association of Realtors pouring money into this trough at which the members of both parties swill.

"Show me where a man gets his cornbread," Mark Twain said, "and I'll show you where he gets his politics." And the plutocracy supplies the same cornbread to both parties. And sitting astride the economy of this business-government merger like a diseased, corpulent demon is that abomination President Eisenhower christened "the military-industrial complex."

It gorges itself on half the federal budget and produces mountains of debt. It's the constellation of an enormous, standing military establishment combined with companies which produce that establishment's engines of destruction under contract. And even companies not directly integral to the wonderful Orwellian euphemism of "defense," such as General Electric and Halliburton, do a major share of their business under military contract.

The economy in which both parties have a stake cannot exist without being at war or preparing for war.

The Democrats, as deeply implicated as the party of fascism and the "unitary executive," in this state of affairs, are not going to rock the boat. They simply will refuse to address the underlying causes of our national malaise.

But, on the other hand, it's conceivable the Democrats will set in motion a set of circumstances that will render real, substantial, structural change unavoidable.


Speaking at a press conference today, President Bush was quick to embrace "bipartisanship" (by which he means "don't get in our way") and to express his hope there won't be any "witch hunts" (by which he means "Don't try to uncover or hold us accountable for our secret illegalities"). Unfortunately for him, there'll be little of the former and much of the latter.

Democrats have already indicated that there will be extensive investigations of all that has been kept secret for the past six years. Like the sorcerer's apprentice, Democratically-led investigative committees may set in motion a train of events that surpasses their ability to control them.

What will the public's reaction be when they finally see the transcript of Cheney's secret 2001 meetings with the heads of the energy companies, during which the participants decided to quash any serious moves toward developing alternative sources of energy (electricity is the big one), to distract the public with irrelevant non-alternatives like hydrogen and ethanol, and to prolong the country's petroleum dependency? Even the unschooled know that oil addiction and the need to import it is our paramount national security issue.

How will the American people respond to the information that lobbyists, such as the ones who represent the pharmaceuticals and insurance industries, paid the K-Street Republicans for the privilege of being able to write legislation that robs the taxpayers of billions, such as the prescription drug plan for seniors.

It's possible that a huge majority of Americans may finally awaken to the reality of "democracy" in their country, shake off their propaganda-induced narcosis and lethargy, and finally see an empty space and an oil spot in the driveway where the car used to be. They might at long last realize that their political system has been hijacked. And at that point, Democrats as well as Republicans will have what amounts to a real revolution on their hands, and may lose control of the game.

The world is changing, and we'll have to change along with it or get left behind, paying for ever-more-expensive gasoline to go out and shop at ever-more-meaningless malls and big box stores. And amidst all the brouhaha about the Democratic victory yesterday, we lost sight of something that caused the godfather of American fascism, Ronald Reagan, to turn over in his grave.

Daniel Ortega was returned to power in Nicaragua.

Viva Augusto Sandino!

Viva la revolucion!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Who's Kayo?

Kayo -- Keith Olbermann -- is still unknown to many of my fellow Americans. Maybe that's a good thing. A lot of my co-citizens just aren't ready for Kayo. He'd be too much for their cholesterol-laden pipes and delicate nervous systems.

The other day I was talking to another resident of the geriatric ghetto where I live and mentioned Olbermann. "Who's Keith Olbermann?" he asked.

"Well," says I, "imagine what the news would be like if it wasn't being read by Baghdad Bob. Or in the case of CBS, Baghdad Bim."

Here's what Olbermann had to say a couple days ago:

Yesterday at a fundraiser for an Arizona congressman, Mr. Bush claimed, quote, "177 of the opposition party said, ‘You know, we don’t think we ought to be listening to the conversations of terrorists.’"

The hell they did.

One hundred seventy-seven Democrats opposed the president’s seizure of another part of the Constitution.

Not even the White House press office could actually name a single Democrat who had ever said the government shouldn’t be listening to the conversations of terrorists.

It's called straight news. Baghdad Bob would never call his Beloved Leader a liar, much less point to one of his lies, even though the whole world (except for the faith-based one-third) knows it.

You can read Kayo's whole commentary here.