To the Victors Belongs Impunity

By Jason Miller

Of Incorrigible Transgressors, Tacit Complicity, and Lady Justice’s Conspicuous Absence 

“The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer.”

---Henry Kissinger, New York Times, October 28, 1973


Baghdad’s kangaroo court has issued a verdict that virtually guarantees that Saddam Hussein will launch his journey into the hereafter from the platform of a gallows. Convicted of “revenge killings of 148 people, deportation of 400, and razing of orchards,” (1), and still facing a charge of genocide that resulted in the deaths of 180,000 Kurds, Hussein is undoubtedly a malevolent individual.
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First Real Test for Democrats: The Lame Duck Session of Congress

by Dave Lindorff

Forget all the talk about civility and compromise.

It's clear that President Bush and his aiders and abettors in the Congress are going to do their damndest to cover their tracks over the next few weeks, using their "lame duck" majorities in House and Senate to pass legislation, while they still can, protecting them as much as possible from future investigation and retaliation.

Bush clearly wants a bill granting him retroactive immunity for his crime of violating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act--probably the surest path to his impeachment in a growing list of some dozen crimes against law and Constitution. He may push other actions insulating himself and his cohorts from future prosecution too, as he already did just before the election in ramming through a bill immunizing him against prosecution for authorizing torture.

While the Democrats won't have a majority in either branch of Congress until early January, when newly elected Democrats are sworn in and replace some 30 Republican members of the House and six members of the Senate, they have plenty of members already in place to perform a blocking action--particularly in the Senate, where the Democrats can fillibuster to death any bill they want by just keeping 40 of their 45 caucus members together.

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Will the real Dr. King please stand up?

by Mickey Z.

There was no shortage of opportunists present as they broke ground the other day for the $100 million Martin Luther King memorial in Washington, DC. Charlatans from Oprah to Hilfiger lined up in the hope a little of Dr. King's integrity might rub off on them. But the most out of place speaker was, of course, President George W. Bush, who told the crowd, "our journey to justice is not complete. There are still people in our society who hurt, neighborhoods that are too poor ... there's still prejudice that holds citizens back." That whirring noise heard in the background...well, you know the rest.

As Dubya spoke about "the promise of America," I had to wonder what he'd think of the Dr. King who said: "A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom ... Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men." Surely, today's America would have an orange jumpsuit all ready for the MLK that believed, "The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be" and "When you are right, you cannot be too radical."
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Yo Ho Ho and an Embottled Rummy

by Walter Brasch

The ressignation of Donald Rumsfeld doesn't change the problem of a President who is incompetent and malevolent, nor is it likely to bring about a significant change in the Iraq policy.


The forced resignation of Donald Rumsfeld the day after the midterm elections says as much about the Secretary of Defense as it does about the President of the United States.

Almost seven months before the elections, six retired generals, including two who commanded divisions in Iraq, called for Rumsfeld’s resignation. In response, President Bush said that Rumsfeld was “doing a fine job.”

Two months before the midterm elections, Josh Bolten, the President’s chief of staff, told the Democratic leadership, who had demanded Rumsfeld’s resignation, “We strongly disagree.” By the President’s direction, he told the opposition party that Rumsfeld “is an honorable and able public servant [who] retains the full confidence of the President.”

One week before the midterm elections, President Bush said that Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney “are doing fantastic jobs and I strongly support them.” Lying through his ever-present smirk, he said he planned to keep Rumsfeld until the end of his term; with Cheney, a constitutionally-elected politician, he had no choice. The only comment the President hadn’t made the previous few weeks was, “Rummy, you’re doing a heckuva job.”
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So the Democrats Won – What About the American Empire?

by Shepherd Bliss


The Democratic Party prevailed in the Nov. 7 midterm elections. "We’ve just moved out of a straightjacket," a friend commented. Many celebrated. But after that, lets think carefully about the larger picture of the current state of the American Empire. Signs exists that its power is declining. Little in the post-election coverage has considered this issue.

"Defeat is not an option," Bush again insisted in his press conference the day after his resounding defeat, referring to the Iraq War. Yet it is precisely defeat in Iraq that stares him in the face, as even many American generals have admitted. This defeat is not just in Iraq, not just of the Republican Party, not just of Bush, and not just on Nov. 7. It plunges deeper into the Empire itself. On Nov. 8 Bush once again attempted to mount his Victory horse, though with a changed tone of less arrogance.

Bush and company seemed amazingly conciliatory toward the Democrats in the first few days after their stunning defeat. But let’s not trust them. They are surely conniving and remain poised to attack when ready. Elections can open up the space for change, but deeper changes result from not only celebrations but also from vigilance and continuing campaigns for liberty. Let’s not be lulled into complacency.s." Add a comment
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Rumsfeld’s long walk into Political Oblivion

by Mike Whitney

Donald Rumsfeld never really understood the war he was fighting in Iraq. That’s why the results have been so terrible. He liked to say that “the war in Iraq is a test of wills”, but that just showsthat he had no idea what he was doing and was in way over his head.

War shouldn’t be personalized; that just makes it a battle of egoswhich inevitably clouds one’s judgment. War is a means of using organized violence to achieve political objectives. Period. Rumsfeld never really grasped that point, so it was impossible for him to prevail. His statement just shows the shortsightedness of a man who is incapable of thinking politically and therefore wasn't able to appreciate the larger strategic goals.

For people like Rumsfeld, violence and deception are the natural corollaries of their distorted views; they become an end in themselves. That is not only tragic, but it also ensures failure. According to the recently released Lancet report, over 650,000 Iraqis have been killed in the conflict so far. This proves that Rumsfeld didn’t know what he was doing so he simply ratcheted up the violence to conceal his ignorance. He had no plan for occupation, reconstruction, security, or victory. The whole thing was a sham predicated on his unflagging belief in over-whelming force. The outcome was not only predictable; it was predicted! Now, the country in a shambles, the society is irretrievably ripped apart, and the entire project is in ruins.

In his parting statement, Rumsfeld reiterated his belief that we are facing a “new kind of enemy” in a “new kind of war”. But this is just more buck-passing from a guy who wouldn’t listen to his subordinates and was thoroughly convinced of his own genius. Anyone who has seen the pictures from Abu Ghraib and Falluja are already familiar with Rumsfeld’s genius and his insatiable appetite for violence. They also know that, to great extent, he is fully responsible for the unspeakable tragedy that is currently unfolding in Iraq.

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Democrats and 'Energy Independence'

by James Kunstler

The day after the impressive Democratic election victory, Senate Majority Leader-to-Be Harry Reid declared that a top priority for the new congress would be policy leading to "energy independence" for America. The time of jubilee will certainly come, but not in the way Harry Reid thinks it will - nor in the way the rest of the country imagines this idea.

When politicians flog the term around - "energy independence" - they invariably mean that we will continue enjoying the happy motoring utopia by other means than imported oil (which makes up 70 percent of all the oil we burn). Get this: the day is not far off when, for one reason or another, the flow of imported oil to the US will cease. But when that day comes, we will not be running our shit the way we have been running it. That day will be the end of the interstate highways, Walt Disney World, and WalMart - in short, the way of life we are fond of calling "non-negotiable."

We are not going to run that shit on coal liquids or tar sand byproducts or oil shale distillates or ethanol or biodiesel, or second-hand french-fry oil. Nor on solar, wind, nuclear, or hydrogen. You can run things on that stuff, but not the biggies we run at their current scale. If the Democrats really want to get serious and act responsibly, they'd better not squander whatever is left of our credit and collective confidence in a futile campaign to keep this racket going. They'd better prepare the public to start living differently.
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Rumor Club (Gossip as Direct Action)

by Mickey Z.

"A rumor without a leg to stand on will get around some other way."

- John Tudor


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Did you know there are alligators-discarded pets flushed down urban toilets-living in the NYC subway...getting fat and edgy on a steady diet of rats and the coffee runoff from all those Starbucks franchises?
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Long before Al Gore invented the Internet, Winston Churchill declared:

"A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on."

WMDs ... the Saddam/Osama connection ... we will be greeted as liberators ... mission accomplished...

The power of suggestion vs. reality. Gossip vs. guns. Rumors instead of demonstrations. Could this be a viable tool for dissent? Ani DiFranco sez:

"Every tool is a weapon if you hold it right" (but don't let Alberto Gonzalez hear you say that).

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Elvis is alive and well; he's sharing a summerhouse in the Hamptons with Marilyn Monroe, Bruce Lee, and Jim Morrison.
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With Ani in mind, I thought I'd resurrect an old idea of mine: What would happen if as many people as possible - I'm talking a potential for millions - were to log onto chat rooms, comment boards, etc. and engage in a little wishful thinking? Instead of all those hoaxes about missing children, imagine a steady supply of rumors that George W. Bush is about to propose universal health care.

Picture hundreds of thousands of e-mails crisscrossing the Web claiming to know that Oregon is about secede from the U.S. and name Ralph Nader as its president.

Dick Cheney has shot another lawyer. Hillary Clinton has joined the Green Party. Henry Kissinger and Donald Rumsfeld were arrested for war crimes on a visit to Paris. Michael Moore turned vegan. Bill O'Reilly has the human form of Mad Cow Disease. The Pope has come out of the closet. Pick any one you like and there could be postings at every Craig's List in every city-every minute of every day.

Performance art as protest. Gossip as direct action.

What if word flooded media outlets of a secret plan by the U.S. government to return some land to the indigenous population? It would have to reported at some point and thus, the concept of America as "occupied territory" would have its fifteen minutes...at least.

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Jack Ruby was the mastermind behind 9/11.
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The Situationists urged: "Trade your boredom for chaos." Could chaos be created if millions in America and tens of millions worldwide spread the rumor that Leonard Peltier was to be pardoned on December 31, 2006? I'm talking about relentless, hourly rumors...day after day. Letters to the editor. E-mails to CNN and the White House. Posters, stickers, fliers...billboards? Whatever means at our disposal. "From each according to his/her abilities," I believe it goes.

Hey, did you hear? Leonard Peltier will be free by the end of the year? Yeah, Bush is trying to appease all those who voted Democrat and show that he's not such a hardass. Tell everyone you know. This is amazing news. Well, that's what the Rumor Club is saying. What's the Rumor Club? Well, the first rule of Rumor Club is...well, you know.

Spread the word: a little chaos could go a long, long way.

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Waging Battle, Building Peace: The Paradox Confronting the Democrats

by Andrew Bard Schmookler


Confronting the Paradox
 

The goal is no less than to defeat the evil that, in recent years, has risen to ascendancy in America. Finding the optimal strategy for achieving this is no small challenge.

In part, it’s a challenge because, in matters of the spirit, the reality is always so complex and many layered that it is beyond our capabilities to understand fully. In part, it’s because when a cultural system has been so swept up into pathology as ours has lately in America, the disease is likely to have infiltrated even the thoughts and feelings of those who wish to cure the system. It behooves us, therefore, not to be driven by our impulses but to think and proceed with care.


One of the complexities of the present challenge is that we are now called upon to accomplish two things simultaneously which are in contradiction with each other. On the one hand, we must wage and win the battle against the Bushite forces, taking away their power, discrediting them in the eyes of the public, driving the evil spirit they represent back into the recesses of the American cultural system. On the other hand, we must erase the deep and destructive imprint these forces have left on America, and an important part of that imprint is the pervasiveness of conflict and division in our social and political processes.

We must, that is, both wage war and build peace.

On the one hand, there is good reason for the passion that many of us feel about going after these Bushites to bring them low. We are rightly enraged at their lies, their crimes, their arrogance, their wanton disregard of any value other than sating their lust for power and wealth without limits. It is doubtful that any holders of the highest offices of the land have ever, in the course of more than two centuries of American history, been more deserving of impeachment. And so lawless has this administration been that even impeachment may not satisfy all the rightful demands of justice.

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New Faces, Same Agenda

by Stephen Lendman

The political firmament shook briefly post-November 7 raising hopes change would follow the Republican's drubbing at the polls and the Democrats regaining control of both houses of Congress for the first time since the GOP sweep in 1994. Presumed new House speaker Nancy Pelosi stopped the tremors making it clear no substantive change will be on the table when when the 110th Congress convenes on January 3. Instead, she announced to those paying attention it'll be business as usual (as it always is) as she intends to work with the president in a spirit of bipartisanship and not be "obstructionist" even though Republicans for past 12 years never returned that courtesy or even made a pretense of doing it.

Pelosi made it clear the Democrat victory will be just another betrayal of the electorate that sent her and the Democrats a strong message it voted for a mandated populist anti-Bush, anti-war agenda it won't get. It's always for the same reason - because those controlling the political process in Washington owe their allegiance to the interests of wealth and power that select and fund them and of which these officials are a part. The Democrat (anti-populist) Leadership Council (DLC) made that position clear when it participated in a November 10 post-election made-for-television spectacle in the Oval Office so the whole world could watch their new congressional leadership line up in a shameless public display of partnering with a criminal enterprise in the White House posing as a legitimate government they've been complicit with all along. Should anyone understanding how things work in Washington have expected anything else?
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No Arab, Palestinian Cheers for U.S. Democrats

By Nicola Nasser

Arabs, at least at the non-official level, were quick to hail President George W. Bush’s mid-term electoral defeat and the humiliating downfall of his war architect Donald Rumsfeld, but cheering the Democrats’ victory has yet to wait and may not be voiced at all.

Why hailing Bush’s defeat? Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist, Jim Hoagland, of The Washington Post had part of the answer:

“Bush lost more than a midterm election and a cantankerous defense secretary on Tuesday. He also abandoned any lingering chance of remaking U.S. foreign policy into a radical force for democratic change in the Middle East and elsewhere,”

... thus dumping his “new” and “greater” Middle East plans as well as regime change schemes for the region to the dust pins of history at a high cost for Arab and American lives and billions of wasted dollars of U.S. taxpayers.

Another part of the answer has a lot to do with the Arab hopes that a change in the U.S. administration may lead to ending the U.S.-British occupation of Iraq and to a more balanced policy vis-à-vis the Arab-Israeli conflict; but Washington gave Arabs no time even to hope.

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We The People: An Open Letter to Congress

By Tom Chartier

Dear Members of the 110th Congress:

May I offer my congratulations to those of you who are newly elected.

To those of you who were re-elected or whose seat was not contested in this election, my best wishes.

Herewith, let me serve notice on behalf of the American people: you are no longer a rubber stamp.

You live and work in a world far removed from that of the American citizen. Yours is a world filled with wheel-greasing lobbyists, back-stabbing cohorts, more legal mumbo jumbo than Jarndyce v. Jarndyce And always in the background there’s that droning noise from your hard to please but easy to fool… some of the time… constituency.

Well, the rules have changed. In the legendary words of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, “I put a spell on you, because you are mine.” We The People of the United States of America are mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore! And you, members of Congress, have been elected to do our bidding. We pay your wages.
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