by Chris Floyd
Excerpt: President Bush formally launched a sweeping internal review of Iraq policy yesterday, pulling together studies underway by various government agencies, according to U.S. officials. The initiativeâ€¦ parallels the effort by the bipartisan Iraq Study Group to salvage U.S. policy in Iraq, develop an exit strategy and protect long-term U.S. interests in the regionâ€¦The White House's decision changes the dynamics of what happens next to U.S. policy deliberations. The administration will have its own working document as well as recommendations from an independent bipartisan commission to consider as it struggles to prevent further deterioration in Iraq.
When I saw the Newsweek cover featuring Big Daddy Bush muscling toward the front with a diminished little Dubya skulking in the background, my first thought was: How is Junior going to react to this? Bush II's resentment toward his father is well-known -- a resentment no doubt compounded by his lifelong, abject dependence on Daddy's financial and political pull -- and I knew that Little Bush would not simply accept this media humiliation and move on.
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I don't know that much about Jim Webb. I don't know how he will actually vote when lobbyist push comes to corporate shove in the Senate. And I certainly don't buy into the propensity of so many in the blogosphere (not to mention the mainstream media) to fall into swoons of hero worship over this or that politician.
But I will say this: Webb's recent opinion column â€“ in the Wall Street Journal, no less â€“ put the facts about the elitist rapine of the American people about as squarely as you could hope for from an elected official writing in an Establishment paper. If Webb backs up these insights with political guts, he could serve as a formidable champion for economic justice â€“ or at least (and more likely, given the near-total corporate-elite control of Congress) an outspoken gadfly, in the Proxmire mold, who by stating bald truth draws constant attention to the hypocrisy and servility of his colleagues.
What I found especially interesting was Webb's insider exposÃ© of the true attitudes of the corporate elite â€“ their overwhelming sense of entitlement, their utterly callous dismissal of the rabble they squeeze their riches from. Let us have more of this, Senator Webb.
The most important--and unfortunately the least debated--issue in politics today is our society's steady drift toward a class-based system, the likes of which we have not seen since the 19th century. America's top tier has grown infinitely richer and more removed over the past 25 years. It is not unfair to say that they are literally living in a different country. Few among them send their children to public schools; fewer still send their loved ones to fight our wars. They own most of our stocks, making the stock market an unreliable indicator of the economic health of working people. The top 1% now takes in an astounding 16% of national income, up from 8% in 1980. The tax codes protect them, just as they protect corporate America, through a vast system of loopholes.Add a comment
â€œGod is greater than Israel and America,â€ was the echoing cry of tens of thousands of Palestinians, who descended into the graveyard in grief stricken Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip. They congregated in yet another familiar scene to bury their loved ones, killed by Israelâ€™s brutal war against the Palestinians.
This time, the loss was too great to bear, even by the standards of the people of Gaza: eighteen ambulances lined up, carrying the mutilated bodies of eighteen members of the same extended family, the majority of whom were women and children; all civilians.
â€œI will avenge; I will avenge,â€ screamed a relative of one of those who died in the Israeli artillery attack on Beit Hanoun, on November 8. A man initiated the burial ceremony by stepping forward carrying the lifeless body of his one-year-old baby. The tough posture Gazaâ€™s men often wish to exhibit was overshadowed by incomprehensive grief; relatives and friends were collapsing in droves; others reached to the sky, in despair.
Only God could hear them now. Two more tiny bodies swaddled in white made their way through the crowd; more followed.
The total number of those killed in the Israeli bombing of the civilian neighborhood rose to 20, adding to over 50 others killed earlier in the same Israeli military assault dubbed â€œClouds of Autumnâ€, which converged mainly on Beit Hanoun. The latest two figures are to be included in the overall count of 350 Palestinians killed since last June, in the wider military operation carried out in Gaza and dubbed â€œSummer Rainsâ€.
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If the Democratic Party were a real opposition party--a party of principle filled with fighters--I'd say maintaining control of the Senate, even with by a margin of a single, fragile vote, would be important and valuable.
But that's not what we have.
The Democratic Party, particularly the actual elected congressional delegation and the leadership of the party in the two houses, is so washed out, so gutless, so calculating, and so self-serving, that it hardly rates as a second party.
Because of this, the role of Sen. Joseph Lieberman, recently re-elected by the voters of Connecticut while running as an independent after losing his own party's nomination to an upstart anti-war candidate, Ned Lamont, is dangerous in the extreme.
Lieberman, who won re-election by stealing the votes of Connecticut's Republicans from the GOP's official candidate (Lieberman only won about a third of the Democratic vote), has been a closet Republican for years. He was a Republican in all but name when he ran as Al Gore's vice presidential partner in 2000, and since helping that campaign go down in flames has been one of George Bush's most stalwart supporters in Congress.
Let's look at the Lieberman record:
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by Mickey Z.
Nobody walks in the subway anymore. I say this to myself but even in my own head, my voice sounds weary this early in the morning
Look down in the New York City subway and you'll see feet. Lots and lots of feet. In high heels, sneakers, work boots, dress shoes, and casual loafers, the feet pounding on the filthy, century-old floor have one thing in common: they are moving quickly. If it's not an all-out sprint, it's at least a two-steps-at-a-time, get-the-hell-out-of-my-way stride. In the middle of it all, I try to maintain a more reasonable pace amidst enough jostling and bumping to please even the most diehard roller derby fanatic
The prehistoric subway system of New York City was obviously designed well before anyone could have ever have dreamed of millions of riders each day Still, in general, that imposing amount of straphangers could theoretically all fit without much fuss if humanity was further along in its glacially gradual evolutionary process. But, since we're stuck in the primitive confines of the early twenty-first century, illogic reigns supreme and the trains are a daily-but essentially unfunny-replay of the infamous (and over-rated) stateroom scene in the Marx Brothers' classic 1936 film, "A Night At The Opera." I say "over-rated," because the Marxsters did infinitely more comical work but somehow, it is the stateroom that has become synonymous with their genius thanks to myriad film critics afraid to buck the system and be original
The similarities between Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, and a character in a new spy series are uncanny. So why is the BBC denying it?
Now determined to turn western public opinion against Usman. And to force both the UK and US administrations into withdrawing their support for him." Now, if you substitute the very real Uzbekistan of President Karimov for the fictional Tyrgyzstan, you get a description of me precise in every detail. Uniquely so; there is nobody else that description remotely fits. There are other coincidences. When I was ambassador, the Uzbek prime minister was named Usmanov. James Sinclair is an anglicised Scot like me. I live in Sinclair Gardens. Sinclair's wife has the common Uzbek name of Saida. I have an Uzbek partner. Like me, his tipple is neat scotch (not as common as you might think). Both "Tyrgyzstan" and Uzbekistan are in Central Asia; both have major US airbases threatened by a change of allegiance of the dictator. Both are described by the US and UK as "an ally in the war on terror" and "a backdoor to Afghanistan". Both have perpetrated a large-scale massacre of pro-democracy demonstrators.
Fine by me. I like the series, and Sinclair is well played (by Alex Jennings). I have received scores of emails from viewers, mostly complete strangers, commenting on the series, often asking me about its accuracy. So I was surprised to hear the BBC was not just denying the character was based on me, but denying it vehemently, as though it were an appalling accusation. A journalist had inquired on my behalf, and received rebuttals from both the press department and a producer.
Lyndon Johnson was a conflicted man about Vietnam almost from the time he took office. As early as May, 1964, he confessed his doubts about the conflict to his good friend Senator Richard Russell in one of the many phone calls he taped in the Oval Office. That was three months before the fateful Gulf of Tonkin Resolution gave him congressional authorization for military action in Southeast Asia without needing a formal declaration of war for it. Later that year, he privately acknowledged the Tonkin Gulf incident never happened and told Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara "we concluded maybe they hadn't fired at all." He was referring to the claimed attacks by North Vietnamese torpedo boats on two US destroyers which, on its face, seemed preposterous but which propelled this country deeply into the Vietnam conflict that didn't end until President Gerald Ford evacuated the last of the US forces and a few South Vietnamese collaborators in humiliation from the rooftop of the US Embassy in Saigon 11 years later in April, 1975.
They left behind a nation in ruins, its landscape devastated and chemically poisoned that remains so today, and a few million dead Southeast Asians in three countries showing the kind of men Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon were - imperial war lords who never had to answer for their war crimes as they never do under a system of victor's justice. The only compensation the victims got was their freedom from US aggression when realizing it couldn't win it decided to give up a futile fight and pull out.
Long before he left office, Johnson knew the war was unwinnable, and in 1965 told Secretary McNamara "I don't believe they're ever going to quit. And I don't see....that we have any....plan for victory - militarily or diplomatically" - spoken as he was about to escalate the conflict dramatically by shipping over many thousands more US forces that would eventually exceed a half million before things began to be scaled down in preparation for the final exodus in disgrace and defeat. Johnson did it even while confiding to his closest Senate friend, Richard Russell, that he was on the horns of his greatest dilemma. He had to find a way out of the Vietnam mess he felt was pointless but said he couldn't do it without being impeached - for Johnson, a classic Hobson's choice or in his own words "I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't." He asked his savvy friend for advice, but Russell told him he had none. Johnson felt trapped, and in May, 1964, (when the US commitment stood at a 16,000 troop strength level) he told Russell "We're in quicksand up to our necks, and I just don't know what the hell to do about it."
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by Chris Floyd
How did Tony Blair react to his American partner's humiliation at the polls last week? By racheting up the "War on Terror" to new heights of fear and division, with panic-mongering speeches, more draconian security measures â€“ and a shocking "blood libel" against British Muslims. (This is my latest piece for Truthout.org.)
I. The Waters Ran Red
They say the fountain in London's Trafalgar Square turned the color of blood on Armistice Day last weekend, as Britons in their hundreds of thousands trudged out in the November gloom to comm emorate the end of the First World War, and lament the dead in all the wars thereafter.
But the turning of the water was no miracle, no divine judgment on the leader whose fateful partnership with George W. Bush is producing â€“ week after week, month after month, year after year â€“ fresh cause for future mourning. The color came from the thousands of fake poppies tossed into the fountain in what The Observer called "a spontaneous act of remembrance": an offering of the ubiquitous charity emblems worn by most of the population in the week leading up to the memorials.
In any case, Tony Blair never saw the vision of blood in the Square; he was in Hyde Park, with the Queen and other worthies, conducting formal ceremonies where no free action or unscripted word from the public was allowed to intrude. These offices of the dead were a fitting end to a week which saw Blair and his ministers launch a massive new fearmongering campaign, promising a "generation" of terror, war and tyrannical security measures in a "long and deep struggle" against his own nation's Muslim minority.
The American media establishment has launched a major offensive against the option of withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq.
In the latest media assault, right-wing outfits like Fox News and the Wall Street Journal editorial page are secondary. The heaviest firepower is now coming from the most valuable square inches of media real estate in the USA -- the front page of the New York Times.
The present situation is grimly instructive for anyone who might wonder how the Vietnam War could continue for years while opinion polls showed that most Americans were against it. Now, in the wake of midterm elections widely seen as a rebuke to the Iraq war, powerful media institutions are feverishly spinning against a pullout of U.S. troops.
Under the headline â€œGet Out of Iraq Now? Not So Fast, Experts Say,â€ the Nov. 15 front page of the New York Times prominently featured a â€œMilitary Analysisâ€ by Michael Gordon. The piece reported that -- while some congressional Democrats are saying withdrawal of U.S. troops â€œshould begin within four to six monthsâ€ -- â€œthis argument is being challenged by a number of military officers, experts and former generals, including some who have been among the most vehement critics of the Bush administrationâ€™s Iraq policies.â€
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Until the notorious federal penitentiary was closed in 1963, Alcatraz Island was a place most folks tried to leave.On November 20, 1969, the island's image underwent a rather drastic makeover. That was the day thousands of American Indians refused to leave thus beginning an occupation that would last until June 11, 1971.
The 1973 armed occupation of Wounded Knee along with the siege at the Pine Ridge Reservation one year later (which led directly to the incarceration of the still imprisoned Leonard Peltier) are etched deeper in the public consciousness in terms of recent Indian history, but is was the Alcatraz Island occupation that ushered in a brave new era of Native American activism.
"The occupiers," writes Ben Winton in the Fall 1999 issue of Native Peoples magazine, "were an unlikely mix of Indian college activists, families with children fresh off reservations and urban dwellers disenchanted with what they called the U.S. government's economic, social and political neglect."
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It looked unstoppable. In 2004, the draft EU Constitution contained a little noticed provision for a citizen's petition where a million signatures would force the EU commission to take action.
My colleague Gisela Stuart, MP for Edgbaston, and I were excited by the potential for the first such petition to have great symbolic importance and generate significant political momentum.
We couldn't think of a better target for Europe's first citizen's petition than to tackle the devastation caused by HIV/ AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa which has created over ten million orphans already. Tackling this terrible pandemic is one of the most urgent moral imperatives facing the world. Five billion euros a year would fund generic anti-retroviral drugs and support for the millions of people in Africa living with AIDS. The funding would help end a human catastrophe -- what the World Bank has called a development crisis.
We thought that this money could be found most easily and fairly by reforming one of the key reasons for public scepticism about the EU. Of all the idiocies I came across as a government minister, the most glaringly unforgivable was the Common Agricultural Policy. This European boondoggle puts Â£8 a week on the food bill of the average family of four in Britain, but because poorer families spend a higher proportion of their budgets on food, it costs them proportionately more. And the World Bank estimates such agricultural protection costs poor countries around Â£40 billion a year by shutting them out of rich country markets, when food is often the only thing they can produce competitively to sell! And it doesn't even help the European farmers most in need of help. Although it gobbles up nearly half of the EU budget, around a quarter of it goes to the 2% richest farmers.
(That's right. You read that correctly. 2% OF EUROPE'S RICHEST FARMERS GET OVER 10 BILLION EUROS A YEAR IN HAND-OUTS FROM TAXPAYERS.)Add a comment
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