Now, we almost all agree that Bush and Cheney have done bad things. But have they actually committed crimes? If you know anyone who has any doubts on this topic, may I recommend a brilliant little book for you to stick in their stocking next month?
In her new book, "United States v. George W. Bush et al.," former federal prosecutor Elizabeth de la Vega presents the case, as if to a grand jury, for an indictment of Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, and Powell. De la Vega does not address over a dozen clear criminal acts, including some openly confessed to â€” such as spying in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Instead she focuses on the area where the most significant harm has been done, but where the legal issues have seemed to many people complex and unclear.
De la Vega charges that Bush, Cheney, et al., "did knowingly and intentionally conspire to defraud the United States by using deceit, craft, trickery, dishonest means, false and fraudulent representations, including ones made without a reasonable basis and with reckless indifference to their truth or falsity, and omitting to state material facts necessary to make their representations truthful, fair and accurate, while knowing and intending that their false and fraudulent representations would influence the public and the deliberations of Congress with regard to authorization of a preventive war against Iraq, thereby defeating, obstructing, impairing, and interfering with Congress' lawful functions of overseeing foreign affairs and making appropriations."
That may sound like a longwinded and legalistic way of saying "Bush lied. People died." And more or less it is. But in some important ways it is not. De la Vega is arguing, as John Bonifaz did in this letter to Congressman John Conyers in May of 2005 , that there is probable cause to believe that the President and others have violated Title 18, United States Code, Section 371. This law makes it a felony "to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purposeâ€¦." The Congress is one such agency. To defraud the Congress is not the same thing as to lie to it.
by Art James
THE FIRST PRECEPT.
In Book One (1.37â€”40) of the Odyssey...
â€œAh, how shamelessâ€”the way these mortals blame the gods. From us alone, they say, come all their miseries, yes, but they themselves, with their own wicked ways, compound their pains, beyond their proper share.â€
Thirty-five years ago on the twenty-fourth day of November I was certain war ended forever. Suffering had reached the maximum endurance level. This â€˜certaintyâ€™ was not reality, of course, but my impression was based on an experience. If anyone read my first AFP article they were introduced to a suppressed, but nonetheless, seething anger in my heartâ€™s belly. A certain people who wield official power do not live in accordance with a dimension of the Greek word themis. Themis is a word that embodies the capacity to know and do â€œwhatâ€™s right.â€
The epic texts attributed to the poet Homer are best understood if readers consider many performers provide these two epics. The Iliad makes it plain to see brains can be bashed and flung across the floor in war. The Odyssey is narrated in a forceful style, not much different, somewhat parallel, to Old Testament biblical characters who try to weasel out of responsibility and blame. We are all flawed humans. On the allegorical path of life, travels can be viewed from a transcendent distance, though the pathway is parallel, many go the opposite direction. We are observers of self. We observe others. We instruct. Learn?
I sure donâ€™t want to tackle diverse scholarship opinion, hitch up with tense arguers, or deny a fact that all handed down ancient texts are tampered with by high-level committees, and open to discussions and reproof. I am not wishing to shun criticism of my personal views. What is interesting to me is these written down descriptive taunts in past literature are aimed at warmongers. Ancients became a sort of â€˜religiousâ€™ instructor and guide, and universal truisms were read for centuries at rural festive celebrations.
Recently, we've been plied and pummeled with the absurd proclamation that "the system worked" â€” that our congressional representatives listened and took note of the collective, antiwar fulmination of the people, registered in our faux republic's latest, sham plebisciteâ€¦ Yes, I suspect, the political classes of Washington did hear the people's thunder â€” and then went running for cover within the comfort zones of their sheltering smugness, constructed of the brick and mortar of arrogant power and inequitable privilege. Just ask Joe Lieberman: He's the self-satisfied fellow seated comfortably upon the large, plush lounge chair, stuffed with campaign dollars, nearest the door with access to K Street.
But we must not let ourselves â€” the true beneficiaries of empire â€” off so easily: Our national tragedies (from all the corpses amassed, buried and forgotten in our imperial wars â€” to our intransigence and denial regarding Global Warming) are a collaborative effort with our leaders: A joint and living lie of the mind â€” made manifest by collective desire and remorseless pursuit.
Upon the occasion of our cultural confabulation of colonial hagiography dubbed "Thanksgiving," a tradition when we stuff our overweight bellies by devouring big, growth hormone-injected, flightless birds in order to celebrate, what in truth was, a Thanks-taking of this land by our ancestors from its original inhabitants â€” (but a hearty salutation of "Happy Genocide Day" doesn't exactly stimulate the appetite, does it?) â€” I will address the following missive to you â€” my fellow unindicted (perhaps even unconscious) co-conspirators in the crimes of our country.
Let's begin with the things nearest to us: The structures and objects we see before us, everyday. And it's not a beautiful sight to behold.
Due to the banality, blandness, and flat-out ugliness of the stripmall/big box store/fast food outlet, prefab nowhereland of our contemporary landscape, life in the US under corporatism is as seductive as the glare of florescent tube lighting in a convenience store.
The architecture of the US looks as if Aldophe Eichmann grew bored endlessly calculating the human weigh capacity of death camp bound boxcars â€” rose from Hell â€” and went into the prefab structure design business.
Now, donâ€™t get ugly, you admonish.
Add a comment
Paul J. Balles considers the psychopathic phenomenon of the "superiority complex" as an explanation of dysfunctional behaviour among individuals and states, such as Israel and the US.
When I was living in Kuwait, I found it disturbing that a number of Kuwaiti drivers behaved arrogantly. These drivers ruled the roads. Everyone else was a paltry nuisance.
They flashed lights behind you when it was impossible to get out of their way. They cut in front of you with total disregard for safety or the driver they offended. They ignored right-of-way rules. They literally stole spaces you were manoeuvring to park in, and they double parked blocking you from leaving when it suited them.
What made matters worse: they became irritated when you complained about any of this behaviour. I don't want to generalize as only a minority acted as I've described; but they amounted to enough to irritate many others.
What these arrogant drivers displayed certainly seemed like they felt superior to others. I thought that their actions might have resulted from a superiority complex. To understand the behaviour, I decided to do some research.
I discovered that a "superiority complex refers to a subconscious neurotic mechanism of compensation developed by the individual as a result of feelings of inferiority". That definition, by psychologist Alfred Adler, made sense since the offenders had no good reason to feel superior.
Add a comment
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, former Canadian Supreme Court Justice, Louise Arbour received a barrage of criticism in Israel a day after her comments regarding Israel's continuing atrocities commited against the civilian population of Palestine.
Yesterday, Louise Arbour toured the battered town of Beit Hanoun. Residents took the U.N. High Commissioner through houses destroyed by Israeli artillary fire; fire that has claimed the lives of at least 19, wounding more than fifty others. It was for Arbour the beginning of a five day visit to the area,planned to culminate in an audience with Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Omert.
After hearing survivor's stories, and walking through the rubble of destroyed houses, Arbour decried the attacks, saying; "The call for protection [of civilians] has to be answered. We cannot see civilians, who are not the authors of their own misfortune, suffer to the extent of what I see here." Add a comment
By Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D.
You remember Kent Hovind, aka â€œDr. Dino,â€ although his claim to the â€œDr.â€ and academic credentials is questionable, at best. Heâ€™s the founder of Florida-based Creation Science Evangelism which, among its other quaint novelties, offers Dinosaur Adventure Land and this hokey promo on its homepage:
Hey families! Dinosaur Adventure Land has got so many wonderful events coming up that you may want to stop in sometime! Since the success of our Home school Appreciation Day of 2006, we have decided to do more themed-events at Dinosaur Adventure Land. To start things off, we have decided to make April foolâ€™s Day (April 1st) â€œDarwin Dayâ€. We will have tons of great rides, puzzles, treasure hunts, and prizes to fill out the day. We sure hope to see all of you here at Dinosaur Adventure land, where Dinosaurs and the Bible meet!
Creation Science Evangelism and Dinosaur Adventure Land are dedicated to Young Earth Creationism at its most ludicrous: human children playing with dinosaurs in Eden, Mr. and Mrs. Tyrannosaurus Rex among the passengers on Noahâ€™s ark.
Add a comment
by Dave Lindorff
Forget Nancy Pelosi's "100 Hours" agenda for the new Democratic Congress.
The first thing Democrats need to do when they walk into the Senate and House chambers this January is to vote out a joint resolution repealing the September 18, 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), which was the authorization for the U.S. attack Al Qaeda forces and the Taliban government of Afghanistan.
That AUMF has been used, wholly inappropriately and wantonly, by President Bush as the justification for his assault on the US Constitution, for his willful violation of laws domestic and international, and for his unconstitutional usurpation of legislative and judicial power.
The president has claimed that the AUMF, far from simply being an authorization to go to war against Afghanistan and against the Al Qaeda organization there, was an open-ended authorization for him to initiate an unending "War on Terror," which he has subsequently claimed has no boundaries, and will be fought around the globe and within the U.S.
Bush has further claimed, without a shred of Constitutional authority, that this AUMF makes him commander in chief in that never-ending global conflict, and that as commander in chief, he is not bound by either law or Constitution. It is this spurious and sweeping claim of dictatorial power that the president has used to justify his signing statements, which he has used to render inoperative in whole or in part some 850 or more acts passed by Congress since 9-11. It is this same claim that the president has used to justify his deliberate violation of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act-a felony and violation of the Fourth Amendment.
WHERE CHICKENS COME TO ROOST
The Democrats need to achieve two things with respect to the mess in Iraq: 1) They need to help move the U.S. toward the best possible policy to deal with this mess; and 2) They need to make sure that the responsibility for the mess attaches to the people who made it.
The second task is not less important than the first. Thatâ€™s because the disaster the Bushites have created in Iraq is only one part of the serious damage they have done to America and to the world. And if the Democratsâ€™ handling of Iraq enables the Bushite forces to maintain power after their present public faces leave office, this serious damage â€“to our Constitution, to our political discourse, to the environment, to the just distribution of power and wealthâ€“ will continue.
This issue of the politics of responsibility arises because â€“at least so it seems clear to me, but of course not only to meâ€“ the â€œbest possibleâ€ outcome in Iraq will not be anything good.
Despite Wâ€™s continuing use of the word â€œvictory,â€ the chances of anything like victory are â€“ evidently â€“ negligible to nil. Despite the Bushitesâ€™ talk of â€œsuccess,â€ it is â€“ apparently â€“ unlikely in the extreme that the outcome will look to the American people anything like success. Despite the rhetoric about wanting the sacrifice of American troops not to have been in vain, there would seem to be virtually no chance whatever that the â€œbest possibleâ€ outcome will have achieved anything remotely worth the many costs paid by Americans, let alone the suffering Iraqi people.
Add a comment
A great democracy offers citizens sharp political choices. Thatâ€™s what gives political freedom meaning. With two-party control of Americaâ€™s political system, political options and discourse are stifled. We badly need more visible third-parties that can fully participate and reach the public with information about their platforms and candidates. In a nation that so worships competition it is hypocritical that there is so little political competition.
In truth, the Democratic-Republican partnership opposes competition. They have convinced Americans that votes for third party candidates are â€œwasted.â€ Yet the biggest wasted vote is for a Democrat or Republican that is almost certain to win or lose, and takes your vote for granted. This year, even in the face of enormous public dissatisfaction with the two major parties, and a widespread belief that both are hopelessly corrupted by big money from corporate and other special interests, too many voters sheepishly picked from column D or R, even for sure winners or losers.
In this remarkable year of attention to many hot issues, especially political corruption and the Iraq war, voter turnout was just over 40 percent, no better than the previous midterm election. One valid view of why 60 percent of eligible voters did not vote is that they saw little difference between the two major parties and, therefore, that their votes do not matter. Itâ€™s â€œtheyâ€™re all a bunch of crooks and liarsâ€ belief, bolstered this year with so much evidence of crooks in congress and liars in the Bush administration. Where supporters of Republicans or Democrats see different positions on issues, cynical citizens see nothing but campaign propaganda and civic distraction through divisive issues. So they do not vote their conscience or for lesser-evil candidates. Most have too little information about third party candidates to vote for them.
Add a comment
by Robert Jensen
In a world of spin, no one expects truth from corporate executives or the politicians who serve them, but many of us hold out hope that in the classroom and sanctuary we can engage one another honestly in the struggle to understand the world and our place in it. So, while Iâ€™ve had my share of squabbles with schools and churches over the years, I remain committed to them as important truth-seeking institutions.
As a university professor who has recently returned to church membership, I have a lot riding on those hopes, which is why it was particularly disappointing in recent weeks to be scheduled for speaking engagements and then abruptly canceled by a Catholic diocese and a private high school in Texas. In both cases, some people in the institutions were eager to have me share my knowledge and experiences, only to have the leadership give in to complaints from conservatives.
My disappointment wasnâ€™t personal -- Iâ€™ve been rejected enough to be able to roll with these punches -- but about a concern for the future if the institutions we count on to create space for dialogue are so easily cowed. The problem isnâ€™t that I lost chances to speak, but that everyone lost a chance for engagement.
The first cancellation came from the Diocese of Victoria in September. Staff members organizing the annual â€œConference for Catechesis and Ministryâ€ asked if I would lead one session on media coverage of the Middle East and another on strategies for speaking with children about war. I signed on immediately, grateful for the opportunity to discuss these important issues.
I was going to write about the recent "revelations" that leaders in Colombia's American-backed ruling party were hip-deep in blood and corruption with the right-wing militias that have murdered a nd terrorized thousands of innocent people. But I see that Jonathan Schwarz already has it well covered, with a sharp personal angle thrown in as well.
Schwarz is always worth reading -- as we've often said here, if you're not checking him out every day, then you've got rocks in the head, dad -- but he has been a man on fire recently. Hie yourself over there now, after a taste of these excerpts.
Why Do "They" Hate Us? Is It Somehow Connected To The Way We Cut Off Their Limbs With Chainsaws?Add a comment
Before the 9/11 attacks came along, I used to work with groups trying to get the U.S. to stop funding Colombia's right-wing paramilitaries. The pretense, of course, was we were funding the Colombian military in their heroic struggle in the War on Drugs. The reality, that the paramilitaries were run by the Colombian government to murder anyone to the left of Elliot Abrams, is finally being acknowledged....
It's difficult to overstate the level of human depravity exhibited by the paramilitaries. One of their favorite techniques is to kill people with chainsaws:
"The Chainsaw Massacre is not a film in Colombia," said government ombudsman Eduardo Cifuentes, referring to the April 12  paramilitary massacre in Alto Naya, 650 kilometers (404 miles) southeast of [Bogota]...
It left some 128 people dead, including 40 in Alto Naya, according to official reports quoted by Cifuentes in an interview with AFP...
Around 400 paramilitaries took part in this "caravan of death" against civilians accused of supporting leftist guerrillas, Cifuentes said in his Bogota office.
"The remains of a woman were exhumed. Her abdomen was cut open with a chainsaw. A 17-year-old girl had her throat cut and both hands also amputated," said the ombudsman...
"A neighbor pounced upon a paramilitary that was ready to shoot him and took his weapon, but unfortunately he didn't know how to fire a rifle. They dragged him away, cut him open with a chainsaw and chopped him up," a witness of the massacre told El Espectador daily.
I once attended a lunch with a Colombian union official. He said the paramilitaries would generally warn people like him of their intentions, by visiting them and cutting their sleeves or pants where they would later cut off their arms and legs if they didn't flee the area. Less important people didn't get warnings.
This year we're giving Colombia approximately 600 million dollars for these appealing activities. The biggest upswing in aid came during the last years of the Clinton administration. What's really neat is the paramilitaries are actually the ones controlling most of the cocaine trade in Colombia. In other words, as part of the War on Drugs, we're giving massive aid to some of the world's biggest drug dealers.
If past experience is any guide, the people mentioned in the above article as investigating this (e.g., Colombian Senator Gustavo Petro) have maybe four weeks to live.
SPECIAL BONUS DEPRAVITY: I once worked for a right-wing corporate lawyer who had (1) a massive cocaine addiction and (2) a Colombian maid who'd been a kindergarten teacher until she fled. I often felt he should have made the connection explicit by telling her, "Look at me! I can destroy your country and your life using only MY NOSE!!!"
Of course, in the long human tradition of utter indifference to those less powerful than you, he knew neither that she'd been a kindergarten teacher nor even that she was Colombian.
More Articles ...
Page 1230 of 1247