A Review of How Race is Made: Slavery, Segregation, and the Senses, by Mark M. Smith (University of North Carolina Press, 2006, 200 pp.)
A few years ago, in exasperation over pre-invasion polls indicating that a large majority of Americans erroneously believed that Saddam Hussein was involved in al Qaeda's terrorist attacks on 9/11, I was forced to return to Walter Lippmann's classics about Public Opinion and The Phantom Public, along with other books explaining why Americans were so highly susceptible to political manipulation. Ultimately, that reading led to the article, "Democracy or dominion?" written for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists [ Jan/Feb. 2004]
Although the general response to that article was quite positive, a highly esteemed professor insisted that I overlooked the obvious: "Most Americans are incapable of deep and rigorous thought." True, the article never directly addressed that point. Nevertheless, I thought it was implied, when I wrote about Chapter 2, titled "The Barbarians," of Robert H. Wiebe's exceptionally insightful book, Self Rule: A Cultural History of American Democracy.
Wiebe's Chapter 2 explains the shock of mid-19th century European visitors to America as they witnessed white Americans subdue both Native Americans and the frontier in the course of establishing their low-class self-rule. Alexis de Tocqueville, for example, complained that Americans leave no trace of their past, because "no one cares for what occurred before his time." To which Weibe added: "So it always was with savages." [p, 48]
Other European visitors belittled Americans for ignoring "the necessity of disciplining the mindâ€¦which lays the foundation for self-control" [p.47], for "the extremely superficial nature of their moral qualities," and for their astonishing "insensitivity to death" [p. 49]. Most unsettling to these Europeans, however, was "America's edge of violence, its creation of society at the border of jungle terror." [p. 51
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by Linda Milazzo
Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney has introduced articles of impeachment [PDF] against George Bush, Dick Cheney, and Condoleezza Rice. In doing so, she alone has spoken for the 51 percent of Americans who Newsweek says want Bush impeached. A considerably higher percentage of Americans would, if asked, almost certainly acknowledge that the abuses with which McKinney charges Bush et al. have, in fact, been committed by them and are impeachable offenses. That is to say, there are those who recognize the grounds for impeachment but don't want to see them pursued. There are even those who want impeachment pursued but wish it were not being pursued by McKinney
McKinney charges that Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld manipulated intelligence and lied to justify war, and that Bush has engaged in illegal domestic spying. The former charge has been extremely well documented, and the latter proudly confessed to. The former charge was central to the concern of those who included impeachment in the U.S. Constitution. The latter charge is one of openly violating a law that was established in response to President Richard Nixon's impeachable offenses. Add a comment
As far as I'm concerned, we can't put forward enough reminders of how the U.S. government and the corporations that own it do business. Platitudes about peace, freedom, justice, etc. aside, the land of the free is not even remotely interested in spreading democracy. There is an abundance of evidence to back up this assertion. For now, I offer the example of post-World War II Italy. Mussolini was gone but the U.S. elites had no intention of letting Italy slip through the cracks.
When the war-weary Italian people went to the polls in 1946, the Italian Communist Party and the Socialist Party combined to gain more votes and more seats in the Constituent Assembly election than the U.S.-favored Christian Democrats. This was not surprising, considering that a worker- and peasant-based movement fought off six German divisions during the liberation of northern Italy...with the invaluable aid of the Communist party. As a 1948 election loomed on the horizon, however, the U.S. realized that certain perceptions of reality needed to be seriously altered. "It was at this point that the U.S. began to train its big economic and political guns upon the Italian people," William Blum explains in Killing Hope. "All the good ol' Yankee know-how, all the Madison Avenue savvy in the art of swaying public opinion, all the Hollywood razzmatazz would be brought to bear on the 'target market'." Add a comment
The New York Times today gives a glimpse of the systematic destruction of a human being as they describe the routine treatment of U.S. citizen Jose Padilla, held for years without charges as an â€œenemy combatantâ€ until the government, on the eve of a crucial court hearing challenging their ability to hold him without charges, decided to charge him after all.
The Times article describes the total isolation he was held in for three and a half years, before being charged:
One spring day during his three and a half years as an enemy combatant, Jose Padilla experienced a break from the monotony of his solitary confinement in a bare cell in the brig at the Naval Weapons Station in Charleston, S.C. Add a comment
An Illinois man has been charged with two terrorism-related charges after allegedly planning to set off hand grenades in garbage cans at a mall in Rockford, about 90 miles west of Chicago, federal officials announced today.Apparently a hand grenade is now a weapon of mass destruction. Well, what do you know?
Derrick Shareef, 22, of Rockford was arrested Wednesday after meeting with an undercover federal agent at a store parking lot to trade a set of stereo speakers for four hand grenades and a handgun, according to the FBI and U.S. Attorney's offices in Chicago.
In a complaint filed today in U.S. District Court in Chicago, Shareef was charged with attempting to damage or destroy a building by fire or explosion and attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction.
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" I died for freedom, this I know,
For those who bade me fight have told me so." -
- Lines from a poem published in England during the early months of WW1.
Can you smell it too? For a moment I thought it was the mangrove swamp.
Time to find out whatâ€™s polluting the shades of America. Itâ€™s been stinking up the U.Sâ€¦. and the worldâ€¦ for six years now. How could anybody miss it? Itâ€™s reeking to high Heaven. Behold: a monstrous Rodentia Giganticus that chews glass and eats its young.
Folks, what we have here is a massive scam thatâ€™s just like all the others our government has been pulling on the taxpayers sinceâ€¦ well, letâ€™s just go back as far as 2000 when our Dear Leader, Bush 43 (George W. Bush), was handed the presidency by Bush 41â€™s (that would be Bush The First, George H.W.) supreme court.
We have been â€” and are still being â€” scammed.
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How pathetic can it get?
140,000 American troops are stuck in the mess that a lying and endlessly deceitful president has made in Iraq, over half a million innocent Iraqis have been killed since the politically-motivated 2003 US invasion, a group of very Establishment, middle-of-the-road politicians of both parties has declared the war an unmitigated disaster and called for a pullout of troops, the president has nixed their call for withdrawal and regional negotiations, and what is Congress doing about it?
The House just voted by an overwhelming 368-31 (thatâ€™s only 36 abstentions), not to impeach the president, not to cut off funding for the war, not even to endorse the findings of the Iraq Study Group, butâ€¦to condemn the naming of a street in France after Pennsylvania death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal!
This craven rush to line up and be counted in the condemnation of a man who has never had a fair trial to establish his guilt in the 1981 shooting death of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner was joined in even by most liberal Democrats in the House. It was primarily only black members of Congress who had the courage to vote no on the resolution that was submitted by Michael Fitzpatrick, a lame-duck Republican congressman from the Philadelphia area (Fitzpatrick was defeated by Democrat Patrick Murphy).
Ironically, as this group of political hucksters and moral cowards were casting their votes of allegedly righteous condemnation at the naming of a minor street in France, Abu-Jamalâ€™s case was heading for a dramatic hearing in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, where judges with a better understanding of law and constitution had recently agreed to hear three separate arguments by Abu-Jamal on claims that his 1982 trial had been unconstitutionally compromised--among them that the prosecutor told jurors they didnâ€™t need to worry about proof of guilt being "beyond a reasonable doubt" because there would be "appeal after appeal," that the same prosecutor deliberately removed 11 qualified black jurors from the jury pool because of their race despite their having confirmed they could vote for a death penalty, and that the trial judge had been overheard, on the first day of the trial, telling his clerk that he would "help them fry the nigger."
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"Today we gave another lesson in dignity to the imperialists, it is another defeat for the empire of Mr. Danger....another defeat for the devil. We will never be a colony of the US again....Long live the socialist revolution....Destiny has been written....Socialism is human. Socialism is love."
This is how Hugo Chavez Frias characterized his smashing electoral victory on December 3 when he appeared on the balcony of the Palacio de Miraflores (the official presidential palace residence) and addressed a huge gathering of his followers below that evening telling them of his victory for the people and that he now has an even stronger mandate to pursue his Bolivarian Project to do more for them ahead than he's already accomplished so far which is considerable.
He told his loyal, cheering supporters his impressive landslide electoral victory is one more blow to George Bush, and it follows on the others won by populist candidates in the region in the past six weeks by Inacio Lula da Silva in Brazil on October 29, Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua on November 7, and Rafael Correa in Equador on November 26. Chavez will serve for another six year term that will run until December, 2012.
Earlier in the day, Hugo Chavez showed he's indeed a man of the people by casting his own vote the same way ordinary people do. Unlike George Bush who goes everywhere in an entourage of limousine, helicopter, or Air Force One luxury accompanied by a phalanx of security needed to protect him from the people he was elected to serve, Chavez drove himself in his aging red-colored Volkswagon to his assigned polling station accompanied by his young grandson in the back seat, voted, and then left the same unaccompanied way he came. That's how a man of the people does it - no bells, whistles or extravagant trappings of power that's a hallmark of how things are done to excess in the US calling itself a model democracy but one only for the few with wealth and power and that behaves like a rogue state that's only a model for despots and tyrants.
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Political questions are tricky and complicated. Sometimes causes that are just and good must take a backseat to other priorities or long-term strategies. Setting all such perfectly reasonable considerations aside for a moment, I'd like you to ask yourself a simple yes or no question: Do you think President Bush has committed one or more impeachable offenses?
If you said no, I want to talk to you for a second. If you said yes, let's talk in just a minute â€“ but stick around for this first, you'll enjoy it.
"Bush has not committed perjury."
Among those who believe Bush has not committed any impeachable offenses, the most common reason is that he has not lied under oath. But impeachment is a political, not a legal, process â€“ Congress is not obliged to let Bush off on any such technicality. And, in any case, it's a technicality that makes no sense, because perjury is one crime among many. Impeachment is the penalty for treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors. The Constitution says nothing about perjury as a ground for impeachment. And it is a crime to mislead or to defraud Congress, whether or not you do so under oath. When Diane Sawyer asked Bush on television why he had made the claims he had about Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction, he replied:
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[Note from Larry Johnson: A CIA buddy forwarded this article. It is a must read. It is consistent with what I saw on the ground in Iraq when I was there in June. I discovered that the our focus on counter terrorism--i.e. kicking in doors and killing suspected terrorists--was counterproductive and not diminishing the violence in Iraq. Sometimes we were right but sometimes we were wrong. When we were wrong we ended up creating new enemies. John McCain's mantra about more troops is off base. We don't just need more troops, we need more of the right kind of troops. We need more special forces troops like Bill Edmonds. Unfortunately, we call them "Special Forces" for a reason. Not everyone can do the job and it takes years to train these men and women. Without the right kind of forces we are just digging a deeper hole.]
For just a minute or two, step into my life. I am an American soldier in the Army Special Forces. I have just returned from a one-year tour of duty in Iraq, where I lived, shared meals, slept and fought beside my Iraqi counterpart as we battled insurgents in the center of a thousand-year-old city. I am a conflicted man, and I want you to read the story of that experience as I lived it. In the interest of security, I have omitted some identifying details, but every word is true.
I wake in the cold and dark of each morning to the sound of a hundred different muezzins calling Muslim men and women to prayer. These calls reverberate five times per day throughout a city the size of San Francisco. Above this sound I also hear two American helicopters making their steady patrol over the rooftops of the city and the blaring horns of armored vehicles as they swerve through dense city traffic. As a combat adviser and interrogator, I find these contrasts very appropriate for the life that I now lead.
Routine and Ritual
This morning, on the Iraqi base in which I live, I walk 100 feet from my bedroom to work and back again. These are the same 100 feet I will travel month after month for one year. During every trip I smile, put a hand to my heart, sometimes a hand to my head, and say to every passing Iraqi the religious and cultural words that are expected from a fellow human being. In Iraq, one cannot separate Islamic culture from the individual. They are intrinsically woven into the fabric of daily life, but for most Westerners, they seem abnormal. I sit in smoke-filled rooms and drink sugar-laden tea in small crystal glasses. I spray tobacco-scented air freshener, kiss cheeks three times or more, allow the Iraqi on the right to pass through the doorway first. I know never to inquire on the health of a wife or elder daughter.
I even hold hands with other men.
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by Faisal Kutty
Fifty-eight years after the universal declaration of human rights was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, the debate continues as to whether the document is truly universal.
Upon its adoption on Dec. 10, 1948, former U.S. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, chair of the commission on human rights, expressed her hope it would become "the Magna Carta of all mankind." Ironically, as was the fate with the "great charter" of 1215, the declaration has not fully lived up to its name.
The declaration was challenged from its very inception. The commission's first draft attracted 168 amendments from various countries. However, the final document was almost unchanged from the initial draft tabled by the commission. Forty-eight countries voted in favour, while eight countries â€” Poland, Byelorussia, Czechoslovakia, the Ukraine, Yugoslavia, South Africa, Saudi Arabia and the Soviet Union â€” abstained and expressed reservations.
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