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December 2004 Articles

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December 31, 2004

Wishes for 2005
by Mina Hamilton

(A) That Americans will set aside issues of color, nationality, religion, and political beliefs and truly care as much about the staggering number of Tsunami-catastrophe victims as they do about the victims of 9/11.  And, in light of this caring, that the US's 277 billionaires will leap into the breach left by President Bush's inadequate offering of $35 million dollars of aid (which was a full $33 million short of the $68 million offered by the considerably poorer nation of Spain). That each of the said billionaires will give 10% of their total assets to relief and reconstruction efforts in India, Southeast Asia and East Africa. Since this still would leave about ½ of US billionaires with a generous $900,000,000 each in assets (surely enough for even the most rapacious of individuals) it seems an eminently reasonable and fair proposition. Given that the remaining ½ of US billionaires are not billionaires, but, in fact, multi-billionaires, with assets ranging from 5 billion, 8 billion, 11 billion and up to 48 billion dollars, a 20% gift of each one's total assets would also be nice.  (Credit is due to Bill Gates for having already coughed up $3 million for this effort, though arguably it's a modest donation for someone worth $48 billion.)....(full wish list)

The Aftermath in Aceh
by Sylvia Tiwon and Ben Terrall

Thousands missing, refugee camps lacking food and water, mass graves: in the aftermath of the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami that hit the Indian Ocean basin on December 26, 2004, these images have come to identify Aceh in the world’s eyes. As of this writing, more than 80,000 Acehnese are reported killed by the disaster; hundreds of thousands are displaced, facing disease and starvation. Data from Aceh’s southwestern coast, nearest the epicenter, is only beginning to emerge due to destruction of already poor infrastructure in those isolated communities. As the area suffering the most direct hit from the great quake and the colossal waves, Aceh was strangely missing from early reports of the catastrophe, although we quickly learned that Exxon’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants were safe. Only part of this can be blamed on the international media penchant to zoom in on English-speaking tourists and celebrities at exclusive resorts, for the province has been virtually closed to international press and humanitarian agencies since the Indonesian military occupation of the region began....
(full article)

Stingy? Not With WMD and War
by Heather Woksuch

As the body count from the tsunami rises, America’s international reputation plummets to new depths, thanks to the Bush administration’s smugly incompetent response....(full article)

The Compassionate Leader
In a Time of Crisis
by Jack Random

As the magnitude of the catastrophe begins to sink in, there is a danger that we will grow numb to the growing death toll, the massive destruction, and the daunting need that must be fulfilled if we are to avoid a health crisis that will surpass the initial damage. Four days after the cruelest full moon in recorded history, the dead and wounded of the Sumatra quake has surpassed the casualties of the Iraq war and December 26, 2004 has supplanted September 11, 2001 as the date of the new millennium that will live in infamy. Future generations will ask:  How did we respond in the hour of need?  Inescapably, they will judge us by our answer....(full article)

New Year Bageantry
The Richard Oxman-Joe Bageant (Rich/Joe Interview)
by Richard Oxman

Richard Oxman interviews Joe Bageant, whose evocative essays are among the finest anywhere, and a real American treasure....(full interview)

Academic Witch-Hunt in Israel
by Neve Gordon

Are you a donor to Israeli universities?” the anonymous writer asks. “Learn what is happening on Israeli campuses. Be informed about what is being done with your gifts and generosity.” These are the opening lines to a preposterous and dangerous new website called Israel Academia Monitor. Presenting itself as a human rights movement of sorts, it declares that its aim is to bring to light abuses of academic freedom. Its nameless perpetrators consider themselves to be not only defenders of free speech but anti-McCarthyist campaigners. The McCarthyists here are Israeli professors like myself who are critical of Israel’s rights-abusive policies while being inspired by a deep concern for Israel’s population and the occupied Palestinians. Apparently, our offence against free speech is that we do not allow zealous nationalists to voice their views – an absurd allegation considering that for some years now the balance of power within Israel has been tilted firmly towards the right....(full article)

US-Installed Regime in Haiti Compensates Former Brutal Military
by Haiti Information Project

Port au Prince, Haiti  (HIP)- The US-installed regime of Gerard Latortue has begun making compensation payments to Haiti’s former brutal military in an apparent move to reward them for their role in overthrowing the democratically elected government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide....
(full article)

December 30

Globalizing Homeland Security
Part II: Before and After Tuesday
by Lee Hall

Two newspaper vendors flew out of Newark Airport on 11 September 2001. Gul Mohammed Shah and Mohammed Azmath were apprehended the next day on a train, allegedly with box cutters. They reported facing numerous abuses while detained in New York and New Jersey, including being slammed, shackled, into walls. Prompted by the media, a government investigation found videos of guards doing essentially what these detainees recounted. Federal officials would later clear the pair of terrorism ties and charge them with credit card fraud. Within weeks of the fatal Tuesday, Long Island convenience store clerk Javaid Iqbal (originally of Pakistan) and Times Square restaurateur Ehab Elmaghraby (of Egypt) arrived at New York’s Metropolitan Detention Center. They sued, charging that guards had kicked them, dragged them, slammed them into walls, cursed them as “terrorists” and “Muslim bastards,” and subjected them to needless strip-searches, including one during which guards pushed a flashlight into Elmaghraby’s rectum, then denied him medical help. Elmaghraby was taken from his Queens flat when agents were investigating the building’s owner, who had once applied for flight lessons. Iqbal was arrested by agents apparently following a tip about false identification cards. In his apartment they found a Time magazine showing the trade towers in flames and an immigration receipt indicating that Iqbal was in Manhattan on the 11th of September. Elmaghraby and Iqbal eventually pleaded guilty to minor criminal charges unrelated to terrorism, they maintain, only to escape the torment they endured for the better part of a year. They were then deported....(full article)

President Bush’s “Appropriate” Response
by Walter Brasch

On Sunday, Dec. 26, an earthquake-triggered tsunami with an effect of 1,000 miles from its epicenter in the Indian Ocean near Sumatra devastated 12 countries. Within hours, numerous countries and private social service agencies had begun massive relief operations. President George W. Bush, vacationing on his ranch in Crawford, Texas, made no public statements. His press office, however, released a 121-word press expressing the President’s “condolences,” and that the Bush Administration would provide all “appropriate assistance” to the affected nations. The statement did not directly quote the President. In contrast, German chancellor Gerhard Schröder cut short his vacation to return to Berlin. On Monday, Bush’s deputy press secretary indicated that Bush “received a special briefing” about the tragedy,” that the administration’s “thoughts and prayers are with all those who are suffering,” and that the U.S. “will be a leading partner” in relief operations. On Tuesday, the President bicycled and continued to clear brush from his ranch. He said nothing to the American public, to the media, or to the international community. However, the deputy press secretary did say that the President was “saddened and has extended his condolences for this terrible tragedy.” When challenged as to why the public silence, a White House official bluntly stated, “The President wanted to be fully briefed on our efforts. He didn’t want to make a symbolic statement about, ‘We feel your pain.’” It was an excuse for why the man who believes he is a “compassionate conservative” once again failed to speak out during yet another extended vacation.....(full article)

by John Chuckman (c) 2004

The Christian Right's Compassion Deficit
More than 100,000 dead in south Asia, but it's business as usual
at the web sites of America's Christian right organizations
by Bill Berkowitz

It took President Bush three days to ready himself to go before the television cameras and make a public statement about Sunday's devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck southern Asia. Even though he was late, and much more money will be needed, the president pledged at least $35 million in aid to the victims of the disaster. But, as of December 30, some of the president's major family-values constituents have yet to be heard from: It's business as usual at the web sites of the American Family Association, the Family Research Council, the Christian Coalition, Focus on the Family, Concerned Women for America, and the Coral Ridge Ministries. These powerful and well-funded political Christian fundamentalist organizations appear to be suffering from a compassion deficit. Organizations which are amazingly quick to organize to fight against same-sex marriage, a woman's right to choose, and embryonic stem cell research are missing in action when it comes to responding to the disaster in southern Asia. None of their web sites are actively soliciting aid for the victims of the earthquake/tsunami....(full article)

A Wave of Questions: Putting a Disaster in Context
by Mickey Z.

How does one comprehend the magnitude, impact, and context of a disaster that may claim more than 100,000 lives? But enough about the U.S. occupation of Iraq. The recent earthquake/tsunami in Asia raises more questions than answers. Here's a start:....(full article)

Tsunami Disaster Highlights Corporate Media Hypocrisy
by Peter Phillips

The terrible earthquake/tsunami disaster, along coastlines of the Indian Ocean, left tens of thousands dead and many times more people homeless and weakened. Front pages news stories swept the US corporate media -- 12,000 dead, 40,000, 60,000 and 100,000 made progressive day by day headlines. Twenty-four hour TV news provided minute by minute updates with added photos and live aerial shots of the effected regions. As the days after unfolded, personal stories of survival and loss were added to the overall coverage. Unique stories such as the 20 day old miracle baby found floating on a mattress, and the eight year old who lost both parents and later found by her uncle, were human interest features. Individualized reports from Americans caught in the catastrophe made national news and numbers of Europeans, and North Americans involved were a key part of the continuing story. US embassies set up hotlines for relatives of possible victims to seek information. Quickly added into the corporate media mix was coverage on how the US was responding with relief aid and dollars. In Crawford, Texas President Bush announced that he had formed an international coalition to respond to the massive tsunami disaster....(full article)

Labor and the Anti-War Movement
by Joanne Landy

Harry Kelber's "Did AFL-CIO's Total Silence on War in Iraq Hurt Kerry's Chances to Win Presidency?" (Portside, December 24, 2004) is an illogical piece. Kelber is of course quite right to point out that the AFL-CIO's virtual silence on the war on Iraq during the election campaign was disastrous. But how can he possibly maintain, as he does in his article, that "Kerry would have received a lot more than his 65% share of the labor vote, if the AFL-CIO had tapped into the anti-war movement, where polls showed that about half of the American people believed the war in Iraq was a mistake and were critical of the Bush administration for not having an exit plan." In fact, the AFL-CIO's silence on Iraq was the perfect companion to its enthusiastic support for John Kerry, since he was totally incapable of tapping into and building popular anti-war sentiment because of his vote to give Bush a blank check to invade Iraq, his repeated intonations that once the invasion took place the U.S. couldn't just "cut and run," and his call for a suppose "exit strategy" based on the vain (and reactionary) hope that other wealthy countries would join in the American imperial venture in Iraq....(full article)

Reflections on the 2004 Election: An Interview with Ralph Nader
by Merlin Chowkwanyun

Ralph Nader ran as an independent candidate in 2004 for US President. Unlike both John Kerry and George W. Bush, Nader unequivocally opposed the US invasion of Iraq. During his candidacy, Nader embraced single-payer health care and tackled numerous issues ignored by the two major parties' candidates, including the proliferation of the racist prison-industrial complex, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and increasing concentration of corporate power. If the Democrats continued to adopt "Bush-lite" policies, argued Nader, they might well lose the election by alienating their traditional base. Nader's run earned harsh scorn from Democrats and many of his former supporters in 2000, such as Medea Benjamin, Norman Solomon, and Jeff Cohen. Yet in light of emerging post-election commentary partially attributing the Democrats' loss to the party's tepid economic policies, many of Nader's campaign arguments now seem utterly prophetic in hindsight. In a recent article blasting John Kerry's hasty election concession, Harper's Magazine publisher Rick MacArthur expressed regret over not voting for Nader. This is one of Nader's first in-depth interviews since the election. In it, he offers his insights on the election outcome and the future of American politics....
(full interview)

Kerry Swoops In To Help... Or Something
by Max Ward

By now you've seen the headline: Kerry Files Motion to Protect Ohio Vote Evidence. Excuse me while I ... I would have said "puke", but there's nothing left to come up. Everyone who is not inside the Kerry/ABB tent who has been following the Kerry campaign and the Ohio recount effort, has already been dry heaving for months. When are all those good, honest-to-a-fault people going to climb out of the trenches of democracy and admit they've been hosed? (full article)

Adventures in American Theocracy
(Part 1) The Pequot War

by Mark W. Bradley

As a California public school teacher, I have witnessed, over the past decade, a gradual evolution in the content standards that govern the teaching of social studies in our state’s middle schools. I use the term “evolution” advisedly here, for no matter how diligently I search these standards, I find in them no evidence of “intelligent design,” human or celestial. There is abundant evidence of something else, however, namely an attempt by state legislators to pack these standards so tightly with historical minutia, as to necessitate the abandonment of broader historical issues, largely due to time constraints. This trend is, I suspect, not entirely accidental....(full article)

December 28-29


R.I.P. Susan Sontag (1933-2004)
by Doug Ireland
(external link -- Direland)

I was quite pained to learn just now of the death of Susan Sontag, who left us this morning at 7:00 AM in New York. I first encountered Susan on the page when I was a teenager, through her groundbreaking essays in the Partisan Review--where she helped introduce Americans to European intellectuals of the first rank. . . . We became friends, and I passed many agreeable hours in her company in the years before I left for France. On several occasions we shared a joint together--although I felt rather guilty about giving one to her, as she had already had lung problems and bouts of cancer. Most of the obituaries will undoubtedly speak of Susan's brilliance. But I also remember her humor and wit, her love of gossip, her openness to the new, her capacity for lucid self-analysis, her ravishing smile, and her distinctive laugh....(external link)

Globalizing Homeland Security
Part I: Doing Time for the Towers

by Lee Hall

By the winter of 2001, hundreds of dark-haired men became immigration detainees, prisoners doing time for a hideous crime that none of them had committed. The domestic roundup was linked to a broader hunt, one of international proportions. Congress hadn’t declared war. “But we are at war with an enemy that has flagrantly violated the laws of war,” the Bush administration responded. “They do not wear uniforms. They hide in caves abroad, and among us here at home.” Thus, George W. Bush issued an order proclaiming that non-citizens, including legal residents, may be taken into military custody to be judged without public trial or jury, but by military commissions that may issue death sentences through a two-thirds vote. Bush’s administration later posited that even a citizen may be classified as a combatant and detained without access to a lawyer or the courts. According to a Newsweek report, Bush administration officials considered dubbing other citizens enemy combatants -- including an Ohio truck driver and a group of people from Oregon. In the summer of 2004, Yaser Hamdi was freed from prolonged detention without being charged with terror-related activity, but through this case the Supreme Court gave backhanded support to Bush’s military order. Most startling of all, Hamdi was obliged to give up U.S. citizenship. Those without citizenship were kept -- pun oddly appropriate -- at bay. It was January of 2002 when U.S. authorities began transporting captives from abroad to a military base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to cage them in wire mesh. People from around 40 countries would linger indefinitely; some of them children and teens. The base still holds some 550 captives; only four have been charged with crimes. Former hostage Terry Waite stated:  “This continued detention of people in Guantánamo Bay is doing fundamental harm to the image of America overseas, and in fact, in my opinion, ... is likely to increase terrorism by sending more people to the extreme edges.”....(full article)

Tsunamic Calamity: A Natural Selection of Victims
by Mathew Maavak

Chennai, India -- It was my last afternoon in Goa when fellow vacationer Ashwin Sivakumar -- who swapped an arctic Helsinki for family and sunshine -- stumbled upon news of a "hurricane" on the net. I didn't pay much attention and was thinking of the long, intolerable bus trip back. In my case there would be two. In retrospect, it was incredibly surreal that both of us were sitting there at the net café, enjoying the soothing sounds of the rolling waves. Western tourists could be seen browsing for traditional souvenirs. Others were flocking to the famous Calangute-Baga beach yards away for another round of sunshine. A tsunami had already claimed tens of thousands that morning, a large number of them in Chennai, situated right across on the Southeastern coast of India. No one we spoke to in Goa was aware of the incident yet. One of the net operators was confident that the patron saint of Goa, St Francis Xavier, whose mummified body I had peered at on Christmas day, would save Goa yet again....(full article)

Ten New Year's Resolutions for Progressives
by Carl J. Mayer

1) I will never, ever, let so-called progressive leaders and corporate Democrats tell me I have to vote for a pro-war candidate to end a war and achieve peace....(full resolutions list)

Love Motivates Us to Kill the Enemy:
From the Evangelical Church of the New Fascism
by Paul Street

I suspect that many Americans who outwardly support “their” government’s mass-murderous, illegal and immoral invasion and occupation of Iraq do so with a certain degree of ethical uncertainty.  They line up with the imperial Bush war-crime family only with real limits and ambivalence. In some cases their assent to the imperial state crimes in question are rooted in a fatalistic sense that the “war” on Iraq is a terrible operation we “have no choice” but to continue.  Many in this broad category are within some measure of reach for useful dialogue with people who are on the side of peace, democracy, and justice and an end to the occupation of Iraq.  But for some Americans of proto-fascist and messianic inclination, things are very different.  For them, the criminal U.S. war and the American war crimes currently being carried out in the name of “freedom,” “peace,” and “democracy” in Iraq are part of God’s good and glorious plan to liberate the world from the “spiritually bankrupt” and “ignorant” forces of Islamic, secular, and Marxist evil (i.e. the Devil)....(full article)

Civilization Versus Barbarism? An Interview with Noam Chomsky
by M. Junaid Alam

On December 17th Left Hook co-editor M. Junaid Alam met with Professor Noam Chomsky at his MIT office to get his thoughts on the ideological justifications and historical realities behind America’s “war on terror.” Professor Chomsky spent a half-hour taking apart the framework of “civilization” versus “barbarism,” pointing to Western and particularly US state-sponsored atrocities, laying out the grave nature of war crimes committed in Iraq, attacking the intellectual culture which sanctions massive suffering, and explaining the elite’s knowledge of the roots of terrorism....
(full interview)

Immoral Values
by Frank Scott

A few years ago, the term “family values” was used to describe decent, caring folk, as opposed to the degenerate values allegedly held by those deemed “other”. More recently, political religion has given us “moral values”, said to motivate those repelled by cultural aspects seen as indecent or debased. But regardless of the partisan nature of such labels, our political economic system demands the practice of socially “immoral values”, however it may program us to observe personal behaviors that contradict social reality. If morality has to do with honesty, respect, consideration for others, and neighborly human relations, our entire way of life is a diseased spit in the face of such notions. The social truth of capitalism is smothered in a blanket of lies to promote individual confusion; people are to act personally responsible, while supporting a social order that is, by its nature, socially irresponsible, and murderously so....(full article)

Holiday Season, 2004
by Mina Hamilton

A moving essay on the holiday "spirit", American atrocities in Fallujah and Panama, and the rot here at home....(full article)

Cities Becoming Meaner to Homeless, Study Shows
by Matthew Cardinale

Cities across the U.S. are increasingly turning to criminalization tactics towards homeless people, according to “Illegal to Be Homeless: Criminalization of Homelessness in the United States,” written by the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH). The report is the 2004 edition of an annual series produced by NCH. The research for the report was conducted by a task force convened by NCH called the National Homeless Civil Rights Organizing Project (NHCROP)....(full article)

Santa Claus, Jesus, and the Solstice
by Lee Salisbury

Santa Claus, Jesus’ birthday, and the Solstice each occur every December as a holiday gestalt. Is Santa the main attraction, is Jesus the “reason for the season,” or is the winter Solstice, meaning “sun standing still” most deserving of our mindfulness? Is there really any difference among the three or are they of equal significance? (full article)

Interfaith Relations, JFK, Dante's Inferno,
and Brutal Religiosity in Public Life
by Michael Gillespie

Efforts to encourage a vital, inclusive, and healthy discussion among the various communities of faith have never been an especially popular field of endeavor among the clerics of any religion. That partially explains why, today, much of the truly useful work in interfaith relations is done at the grassroots level by volunteers, with only the tacit approval and involvement of religious organizations, and sometimes despite the interference of organized religion. It is a field in which success is seldom as noteworthy, newsworthy, or abundant as the demoralizing evidence of abject failure by the leaders of organized religion to engage in serious and systematic efforts to promote interfaith dialog and improve interfaith relations. Among the three Abrahamic faiths, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, interfaith conversation has long been a game of odd man out, with most Jewish and Christian clerics viewing interfaith relations as a more or less exclusive Jewish-Christian dialog. Much Christian theology and many Christian leaders being thoroughly steeped in the Judeo-Christian tradition, a truly inclusive conversation among the representatives of the various religious groups that make up America's religious tapestry has never really been an option. The very term "Judeo-Christian" is increasingly seen by many to imply a rejection of Islam, the third major monotheistic religion, and to imply a rejection of other religions as well.....(full article)

Best Way to "Support the Troops" is to Bring Them Home
by Sheila Samples

George W. Bush, their commander-in-chief, calls them "the troops." He says they're on a "noble 'n vital" mission in Iraq. When asked about them, Bush says his "thoughts 'n prayers" go out to them. When shrapnel shreds their limbs or they are blown to bits by bombs, he says he "grieves 'n mourns" for them. Because of the troops, Bush says "America and the world are a safer place (sic)." Their boss, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, says although "the troops" might not have been the ones he wished for when he went to war, they were all he had. Recently, when asked about a draft, he even said he'd continue to work with what he had. "God bless ‘em -- because they volunteered," he said. "They want to be doing what it is they're doing."....(full article)

Free as in Freedom (Part One): GNU/Linux
by Adam Engel

Unless you paid for every piece of software on your proprietary operating system, or received it as a gift for your personal use only, or are using it for work under a license purchased by your employer, you are a criminal.  You stole hundreds, perhaps thousands of dollars -- it's their call, they can charge whatever they want and that price becomes the "market value" -- from some of the richest, most powerful people on earth, and for this you must pay dearly.  Heavy fines.  Jail time.  A criminal record. Unless... you're running the GNU/Linux operating system and any combination of its literally thousands of free software programs and applications available for free download off hundreds of websites around the world.  Then there's no problem.  You're free. But still....(full article)

Elections Without Democracy
by Sam Bahour and Prof. Todd May

During the 1970's, the apartheid government of South Africa sought to bolster its claims to legitimacy by allowing elections in the Bantustans -- the equivalent to today's walled in Palestinian communities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.  The thought was that if people elected local officials, even to hold largely ceremonial offices, then the rest of the world would stop whining about how undemocratic and illegal apartheid was. There were two problems with this strategy.  First, the world understood that ceremonial elections do not make a democracy.  Second, the major candidate in any election that would be endorsed by black South Africans-Nelson Mandela-was being held in a South African prison.  Instead, black South Africans were being offered collaborator candidates that were chosen by the white South African government. Through its policy of "constructive engagement," however, the Reagan administration tacitly endorsed this strategy, even when Congress resisted by passing the Anti-Apartheid Act in 1986. How little has changed.  Except for the lack of Congressional resistance, the situation in the Israeli-occupied territories mirrors that of apartheid South Africa....(full article)

On the Death of Seymour Melman (1917-2004)
by The Glorious Revolutionary Federation of Fortune 500 Killers

The brilliant octogenarian intellectual powerhouse and activist Seymour Melman died last week at the age of 86. He was an emeritus professor of industrial engineering and operations research at power-elite factory Columbia University.  During the last years of his life, he was more or less shunned by the Columbia University establishment, relegated to a basement in the Mudd building and rejected by five departments to whom he proposed a semester-long course entitled “The Permanent War Economy” after his famous 1974 book of the same name.  Those interested in self-teaching the course can do so by downloading a syllabus from Prof. Melman's website, In The Permanent War Economy and other works like Pentagon Capitalism, Melman argued that the supposedly inextricable relationship between economic growth and military spending is in fact only temporary (if it exists at all), and that such spending has abominable long-term effects for social services and domestic infrastructure.  He argued further that endless military spending resulted in a self-rationalizing and perpetual “permanent war economy” that he spent his life combating....
(full obituary)

Democrats and Abortion
by The Glorious Revolutionary Federation of Fortune 500 Killers

Following recent articles in the mainstream press on the Democratic National Committee's two top nominees, if any doubt still exists within the minds of deluded liberal-bourgeois reformists concerning the moral bankruptcy of the Democratic Party, one wonders how much more evidence is going to be necessary. Last week, the Los Angeles Times reported that the two leading candidates for the DNC Chairmanship are phony “anti-war” candidate Howard Dean and former Indiana Congressman and reactionary Tim Roemer. . . . Thus our attention ought focus on Roemer and the implications of a Roemer chairmanship. As the Times article notes further, Roemer is staunchly anti-choice, in their words, “an abortion foe who argues that the party cannot rebound from its losses in the November election unless it shows more tolerance on one of society's most emotional conflicts.”....
(full article)

America and Islam: Seeking Parallels
by M. Shahid Alam

On September 11, 2001, nineteen Arab hijackers too demonstrated their willingness to die – and to kill – for their dream. They died so that their people might live, free and in dignity. The manner of their death – and the destruction it wreaked – is not merely a testament to the vulnerabilities that modern technology has created to clandestine attacks. After all, skyscrapers and airplanes have co-existed peacefully for many decades. The attacks of 9-11 were in many ways a work of daring and imagination too; if one can think objectively of such horrors. They were a cataclysmic summation of the history of Western depredations in the Middle East: the history of a unity dismembered, of societies manipulated by surrogates, of development derailed and disrupted, of a people dispossessed. The explosion of 9-11 was indeed a “shot heard ‘round the world.”....(full article)

Forty Faxes & A Whisper: Texas Election Scandal
by Greg Moses

As I look back over the General Election held on Nov. 2, 2004, I know that voting is a ‘right’ that is being taken away everyday,” writes Brenda Denson-Prince.  But she is not writing about far away places like Ohio or Florida.  She is writing about her own attempt to become the first woman in Kaufman County, Texas to sit on the County Commissioners Court.  On the day after Christmas, Denson-Prince faxes me forty pages. For the past three years the 50-year-old Texas native studied up for the position of County Commissioner by going to meetings.  And she recruited the outgoing Commissioner, Ivan Johnson, to be her campaign manager.  In the Democratic primary, she won handily.  And right up to ten o'clock on election night, she felt pretty good about her chances.  That's about the time she says she left Democratic Party headquarters in the town of Kaufman to return home to Terrell.  With virtually all nine voting boxes counted, she was about 200 votes ahead....(full article)

Tailgated by Media Technology
by Norman Solomon

The year’s end is a good time to pause and reflect. For many of us, at least for a few days, the usual treadmill of clocked obligations has receded. There may be more time to think. And that might involve becoming more dismissive of news media. People who want to keep up with “the news” are apt to become overloaded with too much input and scant insight. Meanwhile, technology doesn’t necessarily supply any solution. For most Americans, checking for the latest on the Web is apt to mean navigating a continually expansive – yet corporately circumscribed -- universe of hyperlinks. A visit to a heavily trafficked site like CNN is scarcely more adventurous than tuning in to the cable network counterpart. The limited content and political outlooks of mainstream media are huge ongoing problems. So are the information -- or, if you prefer, “disinformation” -- overloads. This is not a Luddite complaint. It’s no surprise that many who disclaim interest in utilizing modern technology still end up choosing to rely on it. (One back-to-the-land advocate, a well-known poet, extols the virtues of writing with a pencil. It turns out that his wife types his verses and essays.) That’s our “techno-future,” and most people want to be part of it....(full article)

The Chopping Bloch
Running amuck as head of the Office of Special Counsel,
Scott Bloch is charged with assembling his own "palace guard"

by Bill Berkowitz

When Scott Bloch took over at the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) in January of this year, he was a relatively unknown figure brought over by the Bush Administration from the Justice Department's Office of Faith-Based Initiatives. Few could have suspected that the agency would spend a good part of the year embroiled in, and responding to, a series of controversies involving charges of discrimination against gays and lesbians in the federal workplace, allegations of cronyism in the agency's hiring practices, and charges that the OSC wasn't paying enough attention to a number of whistleblower reports of waste, fraud and abuse under President Bush....
(full article)

Ship of Fools
by Carl Doerner

The season of resolution-making is upon us but, in the view of many in our community, little is about to be resolved. Not since the 1930s has the world seen such threats to peace and economic security, and we must now add to this imbalance the depletion of the earth’s resources, unraveling of our Constitution, failure of our electoral process, genocide in Africa, and the possibility of extinction of life in portions of the planet through global warming. The delusion in British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s declaration upon his return from Munich in 1938 that conferees with Hitler had achieved "peace in our time" is dwarfed by the present Bush Administration and media distortions of reality. Hitler had made his intentions for conquest and elimination of Jews as clear to the world as Osama bin Laden’s promise to destroy the US economy, should our government not alter its course in the Mideast....(full article)

David Stern's Hoop Schemes
by Seth Sandronsky

As the U.S. military was blowing Fallujah, Iraq, to bits to make it safe for elections in January, some pro basketball players fought with some fans who heckled and harassed them in Michigan on November 19. The brawl was shown on TV nationwide. Later, prosecutors filed criminal charges against five Indiana Pacers players and seven fans involved in the melee at the Pacers game against the Detroit Pistons. Mass media generally showered attention on this example of sports violence. In contrast, there was scant information from the same media outlets on U.S. military violence in the streets of Fallujah. U.S. reporters embedded with the American military had few chances to show and tell readers and viewers what really happened in Fallujah. Thus Iraqis – kids, women and men – killed and wounded by the U.S. military were largely hidden from Americans’ view....(full article)

Bush Abandons Salmon Restoration
by Daniel Bacher

At a meeting in Sacramento this fall, Zeke Grader, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, jokingly renamed NOAA Fisheries as “No Fisheries” to describe the damage done to this federal agency by the Bush administration. NOAA Fisheries, a federal agency supposedly “dedicated to providing and preserving the nation’s living marine resources and their habitat,” definitely lived up to its new nickname recently when it released a proposal that would slash habitat protection for endangered and threatened salmon stocks in California and the Northwest. The proposals could reduce up to 90 percent of “critical habitat” set aside for the fish in California and as much as 80 percent of the habitat in the Pacific Northwest, according to Jim Lecky, the assistant regional manager for the Southwest Region of the agency....(full article)

December 24-26

Have Yourself a Moral Little Christmas!
by Leslie Sheridan

Dear Fellow Humans:
At this time of year, more than any other, we are reminded of some of the better characteristics associated with being human: acceptance, charity, compassion, love, selflessness, etc.  This year, we have been especially reminded of “morality” and “family values.”  However, “morality” and “family values” it seems, have been hijacked from what I remember them being as a kid.  
Webster's defines “moral” as: ethical, right behavior, sanctioned or operative of one’s conscience, virtuous and noble.  Mmm ... If Santa and/or God are making a list and checking it twice, the US did not do well last year, and is certainly not doing well on moral values this year either....(full article)

AIDS Action Jumps Into Bed With Bush and the AIDS-Phobic Republicans
by Doug Ireland

It's mind-boggling: Marsha Martin, the executive director of AIDS Action--the AIDS community's largest, most visible, and wealthiest Washington lobby, with a multi-million dollar budget--has jumped into bed with the Bush-Rove Republicans with both feet. In a perfectly scandalous act of betrayal of the AIDS community, Martin is one of a small committee sponsoring a pricey celebration of Bush's November victory, and that of the Republicans in Congress. And guess who gets the money from this orgy of felicitations to the GOP? A front group for Big Pharma that crusades against giving cheap, generic AIDS-fighting meds to the world's poorest victims of the AIDS pandemic....(full article)

The Democrats Debate a Sellout on Abortion
by Doug Ireland

The December 23 Los Angeles Times reports -- under the headline "Democratic Leadership Rethinking Abortion" -- that the national Democrats are seriously debating a shift in their all-out commitment to a woman's right to choose to have an abortion. Both of the Democrats' Congressional leaders -- Nancy Pelosi in the House and Harry Reid in the Senate -- are backing a candidate for Democratic National Committee chair, Tim Roemer, "an abortion foe who argues that the party cannot rebound from its losses in the November election unless it shows more tolerance on one of society's most emotional conflicts." And Roemer "said he would encourage the party to eliminate its 'moral blind spot' when it comes to late-term abortions."....(full article)

A Stain Upon the Sea: Profit Over Wild Salmon
by Kim Petersen

Kim Petersen reviews the important new book, A Stain Upon the Sea: West Coast Salmon Farming by Hume et al, on the dangers of salmon farming and the environmental destruction that accompanies it....(full article)

Cherry Picking the Bible
by Paul Jeter

The practice of choosing only those facts, often out of context, that supports a personal view while blatantly disregarding information contradictory to your position constitutes “cherry picking.” Many Republicans practice this to the extreme when it comes to moral values.  Many fundamentalist Christians practice “cherry picking”, as well.  In the recent presidential election President Bush received numerous votes cast on the basis of “moral value”, and many of these votes came from the Religious Right.  Gay marriage and abortion serve as the two most divisive issues comprising the “moral values” stance.  So, let us visit the “cherry tree” and take a Biblical look at these issues, and several others, including the war in Iraq....(full article)

Bill Donohue's Jewish Problem
by Bill Berkowitz

Promoting Mel Gibson's 'Passion of the Christ,' Catholic League head claims secular Jews run Hollywood and 'Hollywood likes anal sex.'....(full article)

God, Fear, and George W. Bush
by Steven Hass

Although it pains me to no end, I may finally have to give George W. Bush (or at least his handlers) some positive credit for the first time in his presidency. Call me slow, but I just realized why he plays the "religion" card so often, and how he plays it so effectively. To echo a popular slogan: it's the fear factor, stupid....(full article)

Prince Neil Bush -- I am Not a Crook
(Once Upon A Time In The Bush Family Series)

by Evelyn J. Pringle

Once upon a time, Prince Neil Bush took up with Asian Hookers, caught a venereal disease, stole the wife of a business associate, and sent an email to his wife of 23 years saying he wanted a divorce. I will never understand why the Prince sought a divorce; being married certainly never cramped his style.  Neil filed the suit on Aug 26 2002 and cited 'discord or conflict of personalities' as the reason for the divorce.  I wonder if that means that Sharon got crabby and unreasonable when she found out about the hookers and VD? During the divorce proceedings, many of Neil’s past business dealings came under intense public scrutiny after he was forced to testify in a deposition on March 3, 2003.  For instance, he testified that on July 19, 1999, he made over $171,000 in a single day, by buying and selling shares of stock in Kopin Corp, a small Massachusetts company where he had previously been a consultant. According to the Prince, his good fortune began while he was a consultant for Telecom Holdings, which is part of the Charoen Pokphand Group (CP Group), and the firm wanted him to find US companies to invest in. "We searched for a viable fit and found Kopin Corporation," Neil claimed. In a more detailed explanation, he said, "We made introduction of the Asian group to Kopin and they ended up investing a significant amount of money in Kopin," Neil said. "I believe it was in excess of $20 million. They're in Hong Kong and Thailand."  Well, actually the deal that Neil arranged was for a tad more than $20 million, it was for $27 million.  But then what’s $7 million here or there to a Prince....(full article)

Exchange On David Cobb and the Ohio Recount
by Blair Bobier, Joshua Frank and Sunil K. Sharma

To the Editor: Joshua Frank's article about the Ohio recount is rife with lies, innuendo and inaccuracies. This should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Frank's smear tactics, sloppy "reporting" and his personal vendetta against the 2004 Green Party presidential campaign. Frank writes that "something is fishy in the air in Ohio" and that Greens "should be outraged" over the Cobb-LaMarche campaign's fundraising for the recount....(full exchange)

December 22-23

An Open Letter to Our Leaders From a Concerned Iraq War Soldier
by Monica Benderman

I am writing to you because you have been elected to serve the people. I am one of those people, my family is one family in America. We are just a family, we care about each other, we work hard and we believe in good things. We have a modest income, not much, but enough to give us what we need. Like most American families, we struggle with the way things are these days. We try to justify that our votes have mattered, our voices are heard, our opinions count, all the while watching decisions being made, unable to recognize the “voice of the people” in the final outcome. I have worked for years serving those whom I felt called to serve, our elderly. I have fought hard for them, to ensure that they receive the respect they deserve, not only from family, but from community as well.  But now, I have left my fight for the elderly, to do what I can to help in a more significant effort. My husband works with an equal amount of passion.  Everything that he has been asked to do by his employer, he has done. Everywhere he has had to go, he has gone with the trust that the words of his employer are honest, and committed to his needs and the needs of his fellow workers. Lies. My husband has had faith in an employer who cares more about the American lifestyle than its people. My husband is an American Soldier. My husband deserves so much more than what he has been given in return by his country. I deserve more, my children do. The families of all the soldiers who have VOLUNTEERED to serve and now are asked to fight in a war that is not about defending this country deserve more. This country has disrespected them at every turn. This country has and is failing them. It is failing all who have given with faith, who have fought for the right thing, who have been led in their commitment with the false promises and empty words of our leadership. This is the fight I take on now, and my husband joins me.  Now, I write to show you some of the specifics of the last year of disrespect that my husband and I have seen, as his unit has prepared for a possible return deployment to Iraq....(full letter)

Topsy Turvy World Gone Mad:
War crimes, war criminals, dead US soldiers, slaughtered
Iraqi civilians, and Presidential Medals of Freedom 
by Bill Berkowitz

The same day news came that President Bush had been named Time Magazine's "Person of the Year," Reuters reported that "suicide car bombers struck Iraq's two main Shi'ite holy cities of Najaf and Kerbala... killing at least 62 people and wounding nearly 130, in coordinated attacks," six weeks before elections are scheduled to take place. The other evening, I finally got to see "The Fog of War," last year's academy award-winning documentary. At one point, former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara admits that the firebombing of Tokyo toward the end of World War II -- which killed nearly 100,000 civilians -- was a war crime. That wasn't the only war crime that McNamara was involved in during his career. As one of the chief architects of President Lyndon Johnson's escalation of the Vietnam War, McNamara came to know war crimes up close and personal. Nevertheless, seeing him ruminate about those days, and thinking about the more than one million Vietnamese that were killed as well as more than 50,000 US troops killed and hundreds of thousands wounded, put a reality-based face on this holiday season. In that spirit, here's an end of the year inventory of the "Person of the Year's" Iraq War....(full article)

The Attack on Science
by Marjorie Heins

From environmental hazards to sex education, the federal government in the past several years has been twisting science to political ends. The ends are sometimes ideological -- as in the suppression of information about condoms and sexual safety -- and sometimes simply take the form of favors to business interests that would like to see less environmental, public health, or workplace safety regulation. But the pattern has become so pervasive that much of the scientific community is up in arms. The question is, what can be done to stop it? (full article)

Zionist Propaganda in Progressive Wool
by Kim Petersen

Long-time journalist Jonathan Power recently expounded on whether a Palestinian or Israeli state is justifiable. From the title of his piece -- “History does not justify either Israel or Palestine” -- one would assume not. This begs the question of what state -- granting that states established by colonial power are legitimate -- is justifiable in this region? Power did not answer this question. Power began, “To be blunt, there is no Israel and no Palestine. At least not in a continuous historical sense, as there is a France or an Egypt, a China or a Thailand. Without the British there would be neither a modern Israel nor Palestine.” This is not only pure speculation, but also a post-imperialist project aimed at re-interpreting history from a very narrow ideological prism. Likeliest, without Britain, the mandate power over Palestine, Israel would never have come to be, and Palestine would have remained inside Greater Syria as a province. Furthermore, had the British kept their promise to restore sovereignty to the Arabs after World War I, instead of imperialistically imposing a European Jewish immigration upon them, who is to say that a Palestinian state would not have emerged by now? (full article)

The Iraq War -- A Catastrophic Success
by Robert Higgs

On the campaign trail last October, Vice President Dick Cheney created a small stir when, speaking of the Iraq war, he declared: “I think it has been a remarkable success story to date when you look at what has been accomplished overall.” In view of the rampant violence raging in Iraq, the widespread devastation of the country’s human and material resources, and the dim prospects for its future peace and prosperity, Cheney’s statement seemed bizarre, and the Democrats seized on it as still another example of the disconnect between the Bush administration and reality. Yet, on closer inspection, we can see that the war has indeed been a huge success, though not exactly in the way that the vice president intended to claim....(full article)

Minimum Wage America
by Elizabeth Schulte

Behind the brightly colored Christmas decorations and overflowing shelves of marked-down merchandise at the local Kmart, you could see the desperation on people’s faces. “It seems like all I do is work, and I don’t get anywhere,” said one employee at a Chicago-area store. Maria was shopping with her daughter -- and scrambling to take advantage of the store’s huge 50 percent-off sale. Still, she said, “It gets harder every year.” Elizabeth Schulte reports on the face of minimum-wage America, just scraping by during the holiday season....(full article)

Generals, and War Criminals, Die in Bed
by Derrick O'Keefe

Augusto Pinochet, the 89-year-old retired general and dictator of Chile, will face a trial for human rights abuses. Maybe. He may yet evade a conviction -- he has been deemed unfit to face trial on several previous occasions, and this week he apparently suffered another stroke. But Pinochet long ago evaded justice for the thousands exiled, tortured or murdered under his rule, and for the hopes and aspirations he helped to drown in blood. And his arrest is a bitter reminder that war criminals, unlike those they help to strike down in their prime, die in bed....(full article)

Prince Neil Bush Strikes Again
(Once Upon A Time In The Bush Family Series)

by Evelyn J. Pringle

Once upon a time, Prince Neil Bush and his business partners from the JNB oil company caused the collapse of the Silverado Savings & Loan by ripping off $200 million.  When all was said and done, a bill totaling $1.3 billion was left for taxpayers to pay. Because Neil's father George was the Vice-King of the Kingdom he was able to conceal the news of Silverado's collapse, and its cost to taxpayers, until after he became a full-fledged King in the1988 election. The only thing that Neil seemed to learn from the whole Silverado-JNB fiasco was that taxpayers were easy prey.  Being that the scam worked so well the first time around, he decided to give it another shot with a new oil company, Apex Energy....(full article)

An Interview with Stan Goff
by M. Junaid Alam

Recently, Left Hook co-editor M. Junaid Alam was able to fire off some questions to Stan Goff, a former US Special Forces Master Sergeant with more than two decades of military experience who is now heavily involved in anti-war work with Military Families Speak Out and the Bring Them Home Now campaign, and is also the author of Full Spectrum Disorder and Hideous Dream. Below, he offers his sharp insights on recent tactical, military, and political developments taking place in Iraq, discusses the very real growing signs of discontent within the armed forces, and what the anti-war movement should do about it....(full article)

Year End Review 2004
by Peter Kurth

What?  You mean something could go wrong?  With a war?  “Holy Rumsfeld, Batman!”  Let’s give everyone the Medal of Freedom, since the worst people already have theirs -- George Tenet, Paul Bremer, General Tommy Franks, even Barbara and Jenna, for all I know.  Just wait:  Bush’s disgraced nominee for Homeland Security director, Bernard Kerik, will be next on the list. Why not?  Time magazine has just named Ding-Dong its Man of the Year, for ''reshaping the rules of politics to fit his 10-gallon-hat leadership style, for sharpening the debate until the choices bled, for reframing reality to match his design, for gambling his fortunes — and ours — on his faith in the power of leadership.''  This criminal incompetent, this thief of democracy and authentic American values, this mass killer of both people and ideas, is actually described as “a straight-shooter.”  But, for all of that, he seems to get an awful lot of other people to do his shooting for him.  Please, don’t ask me to be “orderly” or “coherent” about the year just past, 2004, because I can’t do it.  I wouldn’t try.  A worse or more bizarre 12 months never passed in my lifetime, and that’s saying something.  As Paul Harris wrote not long ago on MONUC -- which stands, should you care, for “Mission de l'Organisation des Nations-Unies en République Démocratique du Congo” – George W. Bush “poses the familiar problem of the optimist/pessimist conundrum … is [his] head half empty, or is he half full of it?” (full article)

The Mother of All Reports
by Mark Drolette

Thank goodness for the “Defense Science Board” (DSB).  According to Associated Press reporter Robert Burns, the “Pentagon advisory panel” recently released a report concluding, among other things, “the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq have created a shared anti-American cause among otherwise-divided Muslim extremists...” and that “the root of the problem…is a fundamental misunderstanding of why many Muslims are hostile toward the United States.  They ‘hate our policies,’ not our freedom…” I think this same group also produced a paper determining that, on average, fish live longer in water than on land....(full article)

Dear Santa Bush
by Mikel Weisser

Dear Santa Bush,
I am writing you to thank you for the wonderful presents you’ve given me so far this year and get in my wish list for next year. I hope that you don’t think I have been naughty just because I spent the whole year trying to get you thrown out of office and indicted for war crimes....(full letter)

Deficits Our Children Will Pay
by Marty Jezer

There is nothing inherently wrong with budget deficits. From the 1930s to the 1990s, the federal government embraced deficit spending and much good came of it. It all depends upon the size of the deficit, what programs and projects it pays for, and who finances the debt. There is currently a lot of political hypocrisy involving deficit spending. Many of the same Republicans who embrace the Bush administration’s record-breaking deficits assailed the Democrats when they were running far more modest shortfalls....(full article)

The Danger of Cell Phones
by Doug Ireland

A dispatch from Reuters yesterday reports on a new European Union-funded study showing that radio waves from mobile phones harm body cells and damage DNA in laboratory conditions. Mutated DNA cells of the kind reported in the study are seen as a possible cause of cancer. According to Reuters, the study's director, Dr. Franz Adlkofer of Germany, "advised against the use of a mobile phone when an alternative fixed line phone was available." This is not the first such study of mobile phone dangers....(full article)

Struggles Explode Throughout China
by David Whitehouse

Growing inequality and social displacement in China have fueled a string of protests, riots and strikes since August. Unlike the 1989 protests centered around Tiananmen Square, which brought out mostly state-employed industrial workers in support of students in the major cities, the current unrest comes from all sectors of the workforce. Peasants in the interior, veteran employees of state enterprises and young workers in the booming coastal “export zones” have all been involved in major confrontations that display a high degree of class solidarity. The explosions of struggle reflect long-simmering anger at the arrogance of China’s rulers --including the Communist Party bureaucrats who routinely cash in their political clout for personal gain....(full article)

Rumsfeld's Defense
by Gary Corseri

When my 12-year old nephew brought home an “F” on a Math quiz the other day,  his mother demanded an explanation. Johnny scratched his head and shrugged his shoulders.  His mother tapped her foot, folded her arms, scowled.  “Well?”
“Now, settle down, settle down,” Johnny stalled.  “I’m just a kid, it’s cold,  and I’m trying to gather my thoughts.”
His mother thrust the “F” in his squinched face.  “You better up-armour this grade, buster—and soon!”
“You go to school with the brain you’ve got,” he offered, “not with the brain you want.”
The very next day I was pulled over by an officer who wanted to notify me about my AWOL tail-light.  When he asked to see my license and insurance papers, I said I didn’t have any.  “You go for a drive with the papers you have,” I explained, “not the ones you want.”....(full lesson)

December 20

Over 100,000 Dead? The Likely Death Toll in Iraq
by Milan Rai

The Lancet, the world’s leading medical journal, has published an estimate that 98,000 Iraqis have died because of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. This estimate (usually approximated to 100,000 deaths) includes Iraqi civilians and insurgents, and includes all causes of death, both violent and nonviolent. The 100,000 figure is likely to be an under-estimate....(full article)

Crumbs from Our Table: Direct Action for Third World Misery
by Mickey Z.

Charles Bukowski once said: “As we go on with our lives we tend to forget that the jails and the hospitals and the madhouses and the graveyards are packed.” To that list, we can add how we tend to forget how privileged we are. As we walk around consumed with our typically self-imposed problems, how often do we consider those born without a hint of hope? (full article)

The Single Girl's Guide to Dating Donald Rumsfeld
by Leilla Matsui

If Jolly Rummy has a seasonal message to his amputee elves this year, it's “put up and shut up.” “You go to war with the army you have, not the one you want.”  That was the flustered and Defens(ive) Secretary's admonition to the mostly National Guard and Reserve soldiers he recently addressed in Kuwait after being asked by one disloyal grunt why the soldiers themselves had to resort to dumpster diving for scrap parts in order to safeguard their own ill-equipped vehicles.  It should be pointed out that approximately half the U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq might have had their lives spared if their humvees had been adequately armored against the relatively low-tech explosive devices planted along Iraq's liberated highways.  If current casualty trends continue, soldiers' family members will likely receive their “present” in a body bag this year. Curiously, the same advice (“put up and shut up”) is now the basis of a bestselling dating guide which applies to single women similarly ill-equipped to deal with the social landmines planted beneath their strappy, Manolo Blahnik stilettos. He's Just Not That Into You make the compelling argument that disinterested men, (like the alluringly aloof Defense Secretary himself) just don't have your best interests at heart, so wouldn't it be better if you just planted your ugly-ass carcass in front of someone who at least cares? (full article)

(The Anti-Empire Report) Empire and Frivolity
by William Blum

William Blum on American meddling in the elections in Ukraine, why terrorists terrorize, religion and morality, the hidden intellectual side of President Bush, Princess Di and conspiracy theories, social security privatization, cheerful predictions for the New Year, and more....(full article)

Dominionist Dementia: What's Jesus Got to Do With It?
by Carolyn Baker

As we navigate the religious holiday season and attempt to psychologically and spiritually prepare ourselves for the “second” (or third or fourth or fifth) term of the current regime, I thought it might be appropriate to examine this fellow Jesus whom the Dominionists of the religious right claim to follow. In doing so, one will notice that the historical Jesus bears almost no resemblance to the Jesus of Dominionism....(full article)

WANTED: Middle East Mediator

by Sam Bahour

What is urgently needed is a restructuring of the international mediation addressing the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.  Shuttle diplomacy by world powers unable or unwilling to commit to international and humanitarian law as a foundation for Palestinian and Israeli reconciliation is a waste of time, money and Palestinian and Israeli lives. The US has proved beyond a reasonable doubt that its historic alliance with Israel, an Unholy Alliance as it has often been called, prohibits it from being a fair and impartial mediator.  Over the years, the Israeli agenda has become a domestic US issue and is integrally linked to US elections, US foreign policy and aid, and the US's military-industrial complex.  The infamous Oslo Peace Process gave the US a historic chance to clean its slate of its historically blind support to Israel.  It chose not to do so and thus has lost all creditability as a potential impartial mediator....(full article)

Attacking Wal-Mart's Supply Chain
by Yoshie Furuhasi

While workers abroad have reined in WalMart, can the American labor movement do the same with the $259 billion retail behemoth? (full article)

Scrutinizing and Specterizing Mike Leavitt
Religious right questions credentials of Bush's conservative
nominee to head the Dept. of Health and Human Services
by Bill Berkowitz

Last month, the religious right went after Sen. Arlen Specter and made him cry uncle. While they didn't succeed in stopping the so-called moderate Pennsylvania Republican from taking the helm of the Senate Judiciary Committee come January, there's no doubt now about who's his "daddy." The Christian right's no-holds-barred campaign forced the Senator to pledge not to allow his personal beliefs to block any of President Bush's judicial nominees. While lashing out at Sen. Specter has been a multi-year project for religious right groups unhappy about his pro-choice and pro-gay views, what's up with their criticism of Mike Leavitt, the former governor of Utah who has headed up the Environmental Protection Agency over the past year and was recently nominated to succeed Tommy Thompson as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services? (full article)

The Formaldehyde Vision
by Baruch Kimmerling

There is no doubt that the maneuverability and survivability of the veteran politician Ariel Sharon deserves our astonishment, whereas the pitifulness of Shimon Peres, his partner to recycle the "unity" government, barely deserves our pity. To understand Sharon's success, we have to examine a phenomenon that is odd in itself: That significant segments of the mainstream, on both the right and the left, support the disengagement plan, or at least do not strenuously oppose it. In comparison with the Oslo era, even the reactions by the extreme right are moderate at this stage, even though Sharon's rhetoric in favor of a Palestinian state and his intention to evacuate whole areas of settlement seem at the moment no less far-reaching than the declared intentions and the rhetoric of those who were at the forefront of the Oslo agreement....(full article)

December 13

R.I.P. Gary Webb -- Unembedded Reporter  
by Jeff Cohen

Gary Webb, a courageous investigative journalist who was the target of one of the most ferocious media attacks on any reporter in recent history, was found dead Friday after an apparent suicide. In August 1996, Webb wrote one of the first pieces of journalism that reached a massive audience thanks to the Internet: an explosive 20,000 word, three-part series documenting links between cocaine traffickers, the crack epidemic of the 1980s and the CIA-organized right-wing Nicaraguan Contra army of that era.  The series sparked major interest in the social justice and African-American communities, leading to street protests, constant discussion on black-oriented talk radio and demands by Congressional Black Caucus members for a federal investigation.  But weeks later, Webb suffered a furious backlash at the hands of national media unaccustomed to seeing their role as gatekeepers diminished by the emerging medium known as the WorldWideWeb....(full article)

Related External Links

* America's Debt to Journalist Gary Webb by Robert Parry
* Trashed by the CIA's Claque by CounterPunch
* Gary Webb Who Linked CIA to Crack Sales Found Dead by Democracy Now!
* Gary Webb's "Dark Alliance" Ignored by Dailies by Cory Zurowski
* Establishment's Papers Do Damage Control for the CIA by Norman Solomon

December 10-11

Interview With God: God Returns! America Saved!
Supports Bush 100 Percent
by John Stanton

God has returned to America. His interest in this nation and its people is the subject of much discussion here in this country mainly from those disgruntled Americans who, in the 2004 national elections, lost to God's choice, President George W. Bush. Anyway, the losers can't figure out why God cares about this place. After all, they say, Earth is located in the outer realm of the Milky Way galaxy-the Orion Arm to be exact---along with the 100 billion stars and billions of other objects that make up the Milky Way. The Milky Way is one of at least 125 billion other galaxies that are known at the present time. All of which is to wonder why God bothers with Americans and, more interestingly, how God covers the unfathomable distances between galaxies. God consented to an interview on this matter and visited me at my home in Virginia.....(full article)

Voter Fraud as Fundraiser: David Cobb and the Ohio Recount 
by Joshua Frank

Something fishy is in the air out in Ohio, where the presidential vote recount in being led by the Green Party’s ex-presidential candidate, David Cobb, with minimal support from the Libertarian Party. However well-intentioned Cobb’s pains to make every vote count seem, he may well be pulling a fast one on his supporters and Democrats, who have been battling denial since John Kerry’s loss to George W. Bush last month....(full article)

He's Out! Bernie Kerik's Plea Bargain 
by Doug Ireland

Like one of those punk drug dealers Bernie "the Bully" Kerik used to manhandle when he was a tough-talking drug cop with a badge and a gun, Kerik took a plea bargain because he didn't have the guts to put his fate in the hands of the jury. The jury, in his case, was the United States Senate, and--rather than face the discordant music of his extraordinarily checkered past--Bernie the Bully copped a plea and withdrew his name from consideration Friday night....(full article)

Listen to Sharon’s Little Helpers
by Paul de Rooij

Ariel Sharon is surrounded by a coterie of “advisors” who step in to develop, perfect and sell plans for the continued and inexorable dispossession of the Palestinians. What is surprising is that these advisors, the intellectual progenitors of continuing mass crimes, are an outspoken bunch; they don't shy away from revealing their latest fiendish plans or their true intent. There is no need for conspiracy theories; their intent and plans are out in the open. Despite lame denials by the Israeli government or their media surrogates, the public pronouncements of these latter day Dr. Strangeloves reveal the plans they have in store for the Palestinians, Iraqis, and for that matter, the United States. It is therefore instructive to analyze their latest statements....
(full article)

Are We There Yet? 
by Mark Drolette

Question: How many people does it take to fill a mass grave? No, this is not joke, because although I don’t know the “official” answer, the one thing I do know about mass extermination is that it’s typically not a subject that lends itself well to humor. The question stems not from some ghoulish curiosity but rather from the ongoing slaughter in Iraq, and the reply is also crucial to answering the following (and, really, main) query: Since the Bush administration has reminded us many times that Iraqis no longer need fear being used as filler for Saddam Hussein’s mass graves, might the U.S., by virtue of the number of civilians it’s killed, be in danger of replicating Hussein’s dark deeds? (full article)

Open Letter from Ralph Nader to President Bush:
Regarding the Destruction of Fallujah Mosques
by Ralph Nader

Dear President Bush: Reading the news accounts of the recurring destruction of many mosques in Iraq, I recall the words of your own former counterterrorism chief, Richard Clarke, who wrote earlier this year:  "Far from addressing the popular appeal of the enemy that attacked us, Bush handed that enemy precisely what it wanted and needed, proof that America was at war with Islam, that we were the new crusaders to come to occupy Muslim land".  Clarke was referring to your "unprovoked invasion of an oil-rich Arab country", namely Iraq....(full letter)

How Silent are the “Humanitarian” Invaders of Kosovo 
by John Pilger

Muted by the evidence of the Anglo-American catastrophe in Iraq, the international "humanitarian" war party ought to be called to account for its largely forgotten crusade in Kosovo, the model for Tony Blair's "onward march of liberation." Just as Iraq is being torn apart by the forces of empire, so was Yugoslavia, the multi-ethnic state that uniquely rejected both sides in the cold war....(full article)

Elections as Ideology 
by Asad Haider

The elections are over, and it is time to move on to the many pressing issues humanity faces these days; but it is always important that we learn from our setbacks and mistakes. I attended a “town hall meeting” of local liberals and was utterly astounded by their unwillingness to accept the impotence of electoral politics and the Democratic party. There was much self-congratulation for fruitless voter registration drives, and plans were made for electing Democrats in the next elections. Unmentioned were issues of central importance like the occupation of Iraq, “moral values” and job loss, much less the issues that do not receive attention in the mainstream media. As I listened to this shallow and useless chatter it occurred to me that the election had had one major effect: it had destroyed any hope of actually talking about politics. The drama of the election, the tension between Democrats and Republicans, had pushed issues of genuine importance aside. The liberal might look at this state of affairs and lament that the system isn’t working. The radical, however, would say that the system is working very well; that the system of electoral politics is designed to suppress real political discourse. The critique of ideology advanced within the Marxist tradition is one useful tool to understand the way in which elections reinforce the status quo. The reasons for John Kerry’s loss are complex; but one major reason is the inability of American liberals and even sectors of the left to see outside of the ideology of elections....(full article)

Rumseld to Troops in Iraq: “Fight Naked...Life’s a Bitch and Then YOU Die” 
by Paul Street

Having been a mildly politically cognizant American since at least the late 1970s, I've seen no small number of despicable, dangerous know-it-all rich-boy politicians and policymakers. But I'm not sure I've ever seen a more loathsome such character than the openly Orwellian Donald Rumsfeld, the former Princeton wrestler who likes to quote his fellow Chicagoan Al Capone to the effect that "a smile with a gun" will get you further in life than "a smile alone."  The enormously wealthy and legendarily abrasive bully boy Rumsfeld is about as responsible as anyone for the criminal, racist, and failed occupation of Iraq, which he has insisted on executing in accordance with neoliberal principles that sacrifice US (among a much larger total number of) lives on the altar of corporate efficiency. How gratifying, then to see Donny Pentagon get humiliated by the mostly working-class National Guard and Reserve soldiers he was attempting to charge up for the war in Iraq.....
(full article)

Ask Not Who Bankrolled Falluja: War Tax Resisters Opt Out 
by Greg Moses

For three weeks beginning October 14, say sources at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, the assault on Falluja was pure PSYOPS, a mere announcement of assault, designed to provoke "the opposition" into premature response. The lie worked pretty well. "The opposition" abandoned their so-called safe havens and "melted into the night." For this reason, many residents of the city expected the PSYOPS theater to let out early, too. One hapless doctor, Hakim Mirzoev, says he expected the Americans to surround the city, fire a few shots, and declare victory. He didn't realize that a greater PSYOPS scheme was in the making, a plan to flatten Falluja under boot and mortar so that the City of Mosques could be rebuilt by Christian Soldiers into a Model City-a Pasadena by the Euphrates. With this world-historical Crusade in mind, Falluja was crushed, thousands were killed and wounded, hundreds of thousands displaced, so that America could perceive itself great in the gaze of the world. So who made Falluja possible? Who enabled budgets to be filled with imperial plans? American taxpayers did. The moral tracer on this funding leads to me and you, the co-investors who backed this pre-holiday discount on the lives of Fallujans, thousands of lives, forever lost and unlived. To pay for this moral bankruptcy, we got up in the morning, worked all day, and sent money to the war machine. Ask not who bankrolled Falluja....
(full article)

Open Letter From Ralph Nader to President Bush
Regarding the Full Casualty Toll in Iraq 
by Ralph Nader

Dear President Bush: On June 30, 2004, I wrote you an open letter urging that your Administration include, in the U.S. casualty toll, in Iraq: (1) injuries in non-combat situations; (2) personnel who have come down with disabling diseases; and (3) cases of mental trauma requiring evacuation from Iraq. You did not respond, nor did Senator John Kerry, who received a copy of the letter....(full letter)

Social Security Privatization is a Trojan Horse 
by Allen W. Smith, Ph.D.

The Bush administration is gearing up to pull off one of the greatest frauds ever perpetrated against the American people. Under the guise of a plan to save Social Security, Karl Rove and company are pushing a scam to destroy Social Security, as we now know it.  Although there are multiple motives behind the attack on Social Security, the prime motive appears to be an effort to cover up the theft of $1.5 trillion of Social Security money by the federal government over the past two decades, more than one-third of which has occurred under George W. Bush....(full article)

An Alternative India: Neo-Gandhian Resistance To Hindutva, Jihad, and
the Politics of Indo-Globalization
by William H. Thornton

William Thornton assesses the prospects for democracy in India in an era of unfettered corporate globalization, extremist religious currents, Western imperialism and the "war on terror."....(full article)

The One-Two Punch of Racism: Whitewashing the Voter Fraud Issue 
by Greg Moses

Racism is best known among white folks for the overt ways that bigotry chooses to abuse.  This is what allows white liberals to excuse themselves from charges that they are racist, because (God bless 'em) they don't set out to hurt anybody.  But Ralph Ellison titled his classic novel Invisible Man, because racism is a grim problem also of what white folks do not see. And this problem persists insufferably, right down to this morning's news. On the day after the election-fraud hearings led by John Conyers and his Democratic colleagues at the Judiciary Committee, I am beginning to feel the effects of racism's one-two punch.  On the overt side, we have the written testimony of Judith A. Browne, acting co-director of the Advancement Project in Washington, D.C....(full article)

Voting Rights Groups 'Block' Talk of Machine-Free Elections
by Lynn Landes

So much for a free and fair exchange of ideas.  At conferences and hearings across the country, traditional voting rights organizations have successfully blocked any serious debate on machine-free, paper-only elections.  It appears that our well-entrenched so-called 'voting rights' organizations, including the NAACP and ACLU, haven't absorbed the lesson from America's election debacles.  They would rather invite the industry-funded National Association of State Election Directors (NASED) to speak at their conferences, than invite researchers and activists who will argue that the machines must go....(full article)

No Apology for Dissent: Truth and Cowardice 
by Paul Street

My November 25th Dissident Voice article, “Loves, Hates, Kills, Dies,” about fawning imperial war journalism at Time Magazine, continues to evoke angry response from militarist quarters.  In the essay, I provided extensive quotes from a Time article that spoke in glowing terms about the military heroics of Army Staff Seargent David Bellavia (DB).  The chilling Time piece showed Bellavia in the glorious act of killing a handful of Iraqi “insurgents,” portraying Bellavia in practically hero-worshipping terms as a warrior prince who is ready to discuss the Renaissance during breaks in imperial violence. . . . Many of the letters I received come from people with friends and/or relatives in the military. I am going to refer people who write these notes to the following response letter, posted here for whatever literary and anti-war merit it may possess and to save me from having to cut and paste this letter again and again.....(full article)

Colombia and Venezuela: Labor in Canada Builds Solidarity  
by Derrick O'Keefe

At the recent British Columbia Federation of Labour convention in Vancouver, an international solidarity evening was held, highlighting the situations in Venezuela and Colombia, neighbouring countries in the heart of Latin America and representative of the political turmoil in the world today. Where the situation in Colombia fills us with pain and indignation, the Bolivarian Revolution unfolding next door in Venezuela fills us with hope and anticipation. The message of the November 30 labour event, chaired by BC Hospital Employees Union President Fred Muzin, was that both countries urgently need the solidarity of working people and their organizations in the North. Two exiled Colombian labour leaders spoke of the need for strengthened international solidarity to put an end to the pervasive climate of violent repression and impunity for paramilitary groups. Their presentations were a stark reminder that Colombia remains the most dangerous place in the world to be a trade unionist, with thousands of labour activists having been tortured, murdered or ‘disappeared’ over the past decade....(full article)

Discovery Network to Launch The Military Channel
Startup will “attract new viewers and sponsors,” DCI prez gushes 
by Bill Berkowitz

Shortly after US bombs started dropping on Baghdad in late March 2003, Tim Goodman, the San Francisco Chronicle's television critic, quoted Paul Saffo, a "technology forecaster," who predicted that "It's just a matter of time before we have the War Channel." It took nearly twenty months, but an enterprising network has finally warmed to the idea: Recognizing that the war against terrorism is, as Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld put it over a year ago, a "long, hard slog," Discovery Communications International (DCI) will give the American public a front row seat by re-launching its six-year-old Discovery Wings Channel as the Military Channel....(full article)

Mr. President” de la Mancha 
by Sheila Samples

The US media long ago abdicated their charter, that of being vigilant watchdogs over those in power, and of serving as honest brokers and trustees of the public interest.   Walter Williams, University of Missouri's first Journalism Dean, addressed this a century ago in his Journalist's Creed wherein he wrote, "Acceptance of a lesser service than the public service is betrayal of this trust." Unfortunately, Williams did not foresee a need for having a watchdog over the watchdog.  He believed -- as did so many of us who emerged from Journalism classes wide-eyed and bristling with determination to fall on our ethical swords to protect the U.S. Constitution against all comers -- that journalists inherently had the integrity to police themselves, and any imposed control would be an insult to the profession. But while we weren't looking, the watchdogs over those in power somehow became those in power.  To today's media Goliaths, "public service" is whatever it takes to ramp up ratings and corporate profits.  They apparently have no qualms about circling their wagons around such a woeful failure as George Bush because he brings home their bacon -- or he fronts for the guys who do.  To those CEOs who now own the mainstream media, biting the hand that feeds them would be the ultimate betrayal....
(full article)

The Limits of “Man Bites Dog” Stories 
by Norman Solomon

The usual notion of big news is the unusual. Journalists are taught to look for “man bites dog” stories -- the events that raise eyebrows and make us think, “Wow!” News of the ordinary also makes the cut in media outlets, of course, but it’s not what sizzles, and it’s not apt to get onto front pages or prime-time broadcasts. A simple rejoinder to the media status quo is that what we really need are more “dog bites man” and “dog bites woman” stories. For every spectacular event, there are many others -- just as terrible or just as wonderful -- that barely register on the media Richter scale because they’re happening all the time. What’s earthshaking in people’s lives is often barely visible to the hype-hungry media eye. But journalism has the challenge of simultaneously tracking what’s usual and unusual. One complication is that important ongoing realities may occasionally receive a lot of attention as a result of media whim. A certain social ill might suddenly get a burst of national publicity because editors at the New York Times decided to make it a page-one news feature....(full article)

Don't Be Left Behind 
by Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman

Have you heard of the Left Behind books? They are books about the end times. They are written by two evangelical Christians -- Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. Go into any Wal-Mart, or Costco or any of the big box stores, and you will see them piled up in the book section. (Don't look in Wal-Mart for Jon Stewart's best-selling America (The Book) or George Carlin's When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops? -- the giant retailer deems them too offensive.) As soon as a new "Left Behind" book is released, it climbs the New York Times bestseller list. Number 12 is just out. It's called Glorious Appearing, in which Jesus returns to earth. It's the Second Coming. The Left Behind books have sold more than 60 million copies. And here's the story as we understand it....(full article)

Announcing the P.U.-litzer Prizes for 2004
by Norman Solomon

The P.U.-litzer Prizes were established a dozen years ago to provide special recognition for truly smelly media performances. As usual, I’ve conferred with Jeff Cohen, founder of the media watch group FAIR, to sift through the large volume of entries. And now, the thirteenth annual P.U.-litzer Prizes, for the foulest media performances of 2004....(full article)

December 6, 2004

Dining With the Rhinos
by Joe Bageant

Given the sort of university graduates states such as Virginia grind out, they tend to equate socialism with Joseph Stalin and the Democratic Party with “urban liberals.” Urban liberal is of course one of those conservative code words for “taking everything away from working white people and giving it to non-working welfare niggers and porto-rikkins up nawth in the big cities.” Which is why it really frosts my ass to hear the Democratic leadership saying that in the next presidential election they will need a candidate from the South, a Clinton or an Edwards, in order to win. A Southern Democrat is simply a free trade capitalist Republican who has renounced lynching and comes carrying an armload of southern charm. (Any readers who think Clinton was a real liberal can bail out here.) We Southerners learn early how to cover our darkness with Southern smarm. Erudition with a Southern accent works on nearly everybody…sort of a Shelby Foote, William Faulkner, southern gentleman mythology game we run on Yankees and each other. The whole world actually. But underneath it is sheer conservative meanness in most cases, something Southerners by no measure have a franchise on, but do better than most people. Southern meanness has experienced a renaissance in the last few decades because of the unholy alliance of GOP corporatist America with fundamentalist Christianity, and the sheer bald-faced aggression of neo-conservatism these days. Urban liberals just do not understand how absolutely mean Republican heartlanders, under the tutelage of Southerners, have become over the years. Northern and coastal liberal failure to grasp this is understandable. For reasons of diversity, this sort of aggregate meanness is not as common in big urban centers. It requires a certain critical mass of repressed homophobic, Christian white people who feel threatened by everything, plus gobs of money and guns to make it manifest. We’ve got it all here honey, and there is no rhino meaner than the Southern rhino....(full article)

Kinsey: You Never Know Where the Visionaries Will Appear
by T. Patrick Donovan

The recent film about Dr. Alfred Kinsey (starring Liam Neeson and Laura Linney) could not have arrived at a more perfect political moment. With all the post-election day hand wringing, all the scurrying around about vote fraud, and all the furrowed brows planning Election 2006/2008, it is so refreshing to see the story of a 20th century visionary depicted on the big screen. Yes, visionary. The heart of the movie “Kinsey” lies in the powerful cultural-political confrontation between the good doctor and his research institute and the forces of reactionary moral values and conservative renormalization. It is a rather disturbing parallel to the post-election climate that is so awash in “moral values” that more than a few progressives are getting onboard this reactionary vessel. Will “moral values,” and “Democrats learning to speak the language” of moral values be our next version of “Anybody But Bush”? (full article)

In Iraq, the US Does Eliminate Those Who Dare to Count the Dead
by Naomi Klein

David T Johnson,
Acting ambassador,
US Embassy, London

Dear Mr Johnson, On November 26, your press counselor sent a letter to the Guardian taking strong exception to a sentence in my column of the same day. The sentence read: "In Iraq, US forces and their Iraqi surrogates are no longer bothering to conceal attacks on civilian targets and are openly eliminating anyone -- doctors, clerics, journalists -- who dares to count the bodies." Of particular concern was the word "eliminating". The letter suggested that my charge was "baseless" and asked the Guardian either to withdraw it, or provide "evidence of this extremely grave accusation". It is quite rare for US embassy officials to openly involve themselves in the free press of a foreign country, so I took the letter extremely seriously. But while I agree that the accusation is grave, I have no intention of withdrawing it. Here, instead, is the evidence you requested....(full article)

Support our War Criminals . . . err um, brave American boys?

US Navy seals torture Iraqi detainee, circa May 2003. See more photos, recently discovered by an AP reporter

Fallujah Refugees Tell of Life and Death in the Kill Zone
by Dahr Jamail

Men now seeking refuge in the Baghdad area are telling horrific stories of indiscriminate killings by US forces during the peak of fighting last month in the largely annihilated city of Fallujah....(full article)

(Dispatches from Iraq) Trophy Hunting?
by Dahr Jamail

Yesterday [December 2], before the usual morning gunfire in the streets which has become my morning alarm clock, Abu Talat phones me. There is very heavy fighting over in al-Adhamiya. Two giant explosions occurred around 6:15am, followed by mortar blasts, then constant, heavy gun battles that went on into late morning. The Hamid al-Alwan mosque, a small Shia mosque in the predominantly Sunni area of Adhamiya had been hit with a car bomb....(full article)

Letter from a GI in Falluja: “This Wasn’t a War, It Was a Massacre”
by hEkLe

The following letter from a U.S. soldier stationed in Iraq, known as hEkLe, powerfully conveys the terror of the U.S. assault on Falluja: These are ugly times for the U.S. military in Iraq. It seems everywhere you turn, more and more troops are being killed and maimed in vicious encounters with determined rebel fighters. The insurgency is mounting incredibly in such places as Baghdad, Mosul and Baquba, using more advanced techniques and weaponry associated with a well-organized guerilla campaign. Even in the massively destroyed city of Falluja, rebel forces are starting to reappear with a callous determination to win or die trying. Many critics and political pundits are starting to realize that this war is, in many aspects, un-winnable....
(full article)

Patrick Cockburn on Iraq After Falluja: Will the US Win the Occupation?
by Alan Maass

From the execution of unarmed civilians, to U.S. snipers planted in mosques, to raids on hospitals, the horrors of the U.S. invasion of Falluja continue to emerge in the media. The international media, that is. It’s almost impossible to learn the real story of the U.S. assault from America’s corporate media--which has reverted to the same uncritical, cheerleading attitude it had during the weeks after the invasion of Iraq began. But accounts of what actually took place when the U.S. attacked what it claimed was a small force of “terrorists” in Falluja describe a high-tech slaughter. The leveling of Falluja will only add to the fury of ordinary Iraqis--ultimately fueling opposition and resistance, whether in the so-called “Sunni triangle” in central Iraq, or among the majority Shias in the south, or in northern cities like Mosul once thought relatively stable. Patrick Cockburn has been an invaluable source of information for anyone wanting to know what is going on in Iraq. As a correspondent for Britain’s Independent newspaper, he has written regular reports from Iraq throughout the occupation. Many of these reports have appeared on the CounterPunch Web site. With his brother Andrew, he wrote Out of the Ashes: The Resurrection of Saddam Hussein--one of the best books on Iraq under Saddam’s Baath Party regime. Last month, in the aftermath of the invasion, he talked to Socialist Worker’s Alan Maass about what really happened in Falluja--and why Washington’s “victory” in this battle won’t help it win the war....(full article)

An Interview with an Anti-War Veteran from the Iraq War
Jim Talib HM3 (FMF/PJ)

by Derek Seidman

Jim Talib is an antiwar vet who served in Iraq earlier this year for nearly seven months. He has recently begun speaking out against the war and occupation. Derek Seidman (co-editor of, was able to catch up with Jim Talib and ask him some questions about the war and occupation, his personal experiences in Iraq, and issues concerning the relationship between antiwar soldiers and the broader antiwar movement....(full article)

America's Imperial Wizard Visits Canada
by John Chuckman

We are getting stories about increasing anti-Americanism in Canada, mainly coming from sources that are the Canadian equivalent of the Voice of America. They are pretty much the same people who told us we must support a friend who goes to war, neglecting to distinguish the case of a friend who has gone stark raving mad and decided to burn down someone else's house. I think you can only have anti-Americanism if you first have Americanism, which is certainly not the same thing as simple love of country. Americanism is a cult centered on a belief in national exceptionalism. In modern times, there has been no better representative of the cult than George Bush, its current Imperial Wizard. Everywhere he goes, he projects the self-satisfied image of an America happy to dump its untreated effluent into the world's supply of drinking water so long as Americans themselves feel they are doing the right thing. If you want to understand why George Bush is responsible for any increase in the world's stock of anti-Americanism, here is a brief summary of his recent visit to Canada....(full article)

Securing Canadian Political Obeisance: Halifax Greets Bush
by Kim Petersen

On Tuesday, 30 November, approximately 800 people gathered in a downtown Canadian park in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to hold a mock trial of US President George W. Bush. Following the proceeding, Bush was pronounced guilty of crimes against humanity and crimes against the earth. The next morning, 1 December, Bush arrived in Halifax, cynically guised to deliver belated thanks for the role of Maritime Canadians in assisting stranded US passengers during the trauma of 9-11. Shortly after 9-11, Bush expressed appreciation to a list of countries excluding Canada. A number of Canadians felt slighted by the omission. Though he intended to atone for this omission, many Haligonians were not pleased that Bush was visiting their small coastal city. With a metropolitan population of approximately 350,000 and a large portion employed by the military, an impressive number of demonstrators, estimated at between 3,000 and 7,000 [my estimate would be 4,000 to 5,000], turned out to derisively greet Bush -- this despite an arrival on a working day morning with rain in the forecast....(full article)

How the New York Times Misreports: An Interview with Howard Friel
by Joshua Frank

Howard Friel is the author of Dogs of War: The Wall Street Journal Editorial Page and the Right-Wing Campaign Against International Law, to be published in 2005. His most recent book is The Record of the Paper: How the New York Times Misreports US Foreign Policy, co-authored with Richard Falk, published by Verso in November 2004. He recently spoke to Joshua Frank about the book....(full article)

Know Your Enemy: Political Contradictions of the Right
by M. Junaid Alam

As right-wing forces consolidate their control over the commanding heights of national power, reaping the fruits of both their mobilization and liberals’ demobilization, it has become increasingly urgent for serious progressives to examine the outstanding contradictions which mark many of the Right’s main political positions. For as conservatism gains more power and prominence, it becomes increasingly difficult for it to sustain momentum by merely blaming its favorite boogeyman -- the now marginalized “left” -- as causing all America’s ills. Stripped of this crucial crutch, conservatism’s bold advance regresses into a limping gait -- a fact of some consequence -- but only if we are willing to expose and attack the Right’s weaknesses and inconsistencies....(full article)

Liberalism and Its Bounds: Election 2004, an Epic Betrayal
by Joshua Frank and Merlin Chowkwanyun

The amount of insult and betrayal those on the liberal-to-left spectrum will take seems to have few limits, if any. Below, we survey one election's worth of pre- and post-election betrayal from the Democratic Party. By the end, we hope that rank-and-file Democrats and their Anybody But Bush (ABB) election year sympathizers agree that the time has arrived for all those that abandoned their movements in 2004 to root for John Kerry, to now abandon the Democrats on the national level and join radical reformers and others working outside of the Party’s stifling structure. Change will not come within this corrupt political entity....(full article)

Destroying Social Security To Save It
by Seth Sandronsky

Officially, the people of Fallujah, Iraq, are being “saved” with bombs and bullets by the Bush White House. The flattened city roughly the size of Sacramento is proof of that. Meanwhile, the administration is pressing forward to save the Social Security system for Main Street America....
(full article)

I'm a Torture Survivor In a Country Where Torturers are Still Free
by Tito Tricot

No one can really understand what being tortured means until that fateful moment when you find yourself naked, blindfolded and tied up at the mercy of your captors. Your entire life is confined to that fragile moment when darkness becomes your enemy, yet at the same time, is your only ally, a refuge from madness. There is neither past nor future, only the present of screams, fury and impotence when you find yourself defenseless at the mercy of the torturer’s rage and coldness. You never know when he is going to hit, shout, kick, hang, electrocute or kill you. . . . Unfortunately today, 30 years later, I’m not sure this will never happen again in my homeland. Because, although for the first time in three decades it has been officially recognized that thousands of Chileans were tortured by the military dictatorship, not a word has been said about bringing those torturers to justice. So, what will prevent them from doing it again? After a year’s work, a special commission set up by the Chilean government, after pressure from human rights organizations, issued a report about Torture and Political Prison in Chile during the dictatorship that ruled the country between 1973 and 1990. The truth is that it was an open secret that at least 300 thousand Chileans had been detained and tortured during that period, the report only makes official such a reality, although only 35 thousand people came forward to testify before the commission. Many of those who did not testify are still afraid of their memories or simply did not believe in the commission’s work...(full article)

Hawk Engagement: A Dangerous Turn in US Plans for North Korea
by Gregory Elich

The recent appointment of Victor Cha as Asia Director in the National Security Council portends a more aggressive approach towards North Korea during President Bush’s second term.  Long an advisor to the Administration, as Asia Director, Cha will hold responsibility for developing U.S. policy towards North Korea, and it will be he who maps out the approach to the Democratic Republic of Korea (DPRK – North Korea) in the coming months....(full article)

Ukraine’s Election Crisis: Standoff Between US-Backed
and Russian-Backed Candidates
by Lee Sustar

The election standoff in Ukraine is portrayed in the U.S. media as a battle between pro-Washington democrats and pro-Moscow authoritarians. But it’s really a scramble for power within a ruling class dominated by corrupt politicians and their wealthy backers....(full article)

The Indian Enron Case Might End in Token Settlement
by Yudy Chen

The Indian Trust suit (Cobell v. Norton) is a class-action lawsuit filed in 1996 against the Federal Government, demanding billions of dollars belonging to over half a million Native Americans, held in trust since 1887. Estimates of the total of mismanaged funds range from 10 to 140 billion dollars, outranking the Enron scandal in scale. This case is huge and should be all over the front pages of the mainstream media. As if massacres, genocide, rape, and 116 years of robbery weren’t enough, the past eight years of trials have been met with disgraceful actions by the administration. The HR 2961 Interior Spending Bill (passed just over a year ago) which provided 3 billion dollars for fighting the California wildfires included a midnight rider, or “stealth legislation”, barring the Interior Department for a year from starting the court-ordered accounting task which would determine how much the Government owes Native American landowners. This last minute language was in neither the Senate nor the House bills in their original forms, and lawmakers have accused the administration of unconstitutional interference. Meanwhile, the Indian people are impoverished....(full article)

In Defense of Barry Bonds
by Jack Random

Despite the feeding frenzy, spurred on by a burgeoning industry of a rabid sportscasters, analysts and beat reporters with a chip the size of Montana on their shoulders, there is no compelling evidence that Barry Bonds ever knowingly or unknowingly took illegal or banned substances to enhance his performance. The eagerness of the sports culture to discard any presumption of innocence in order to shred the reputation of baseball’s greatest player belies something rotten to its core. A defense of Barry Bonds is by no means a defense of steroid abuse. There is ample evidence of the harmful, long-term effects of such abuse on the human body. It is for this reason and this reason alone that baseball should clean up its own house – without the invective and without the pathetic posturing of opportunistic politicians....(full article)

Media in the Winter of Our “Disremorse”
by Norman Solomon

Early in the coldest season, optimists think of the day after solstice. It’s predictable: the hemisphere will start tilting toward more light and warmth. But in the politics of human societies, there’s no reliable way to tell how long a bone-rattling chill will last -- or how far it might go. A government’s harsher policies could provoke kinetic revulsion and progressive resurgence. Or the dominant political atmosphere might have an overall effect of strengthening and perpetuating itself. By now, the 2004 electorate has been spliced and diced to the culinary standard of American punditry. Countless journalists have joined with other analysts to explain what it all really means. But the news media still don’t tell us much about underlying aspects of mood that can’t be broken out with poll numbers. Wooden questions yield data about stiff answers. Fact-based reporters may not offer much more human truth than a fact-based phone book....(full article)

The War in Iraq as Imperfectly Envisioned by George Romero
by Richard Estes

Night of the Living Dead, released in the late 1960s by George Romero, is still rightly recognized as a seminal event in the history of American movies. Revolutionary for its cheap production, gritty black and white visuals and harsh juxtaposition of nerve wracking anxiety with gruesome eruptions of unsanitized violence, convincingly conveyed by an unknown group of naive, amateurish performers, the film played a central role in eliminating much of the censorship of movies in this country. Less understood is the allegorical ending, when the remaining survivor is shot dead after being mistaken by the arriving police as one of the "living dead" that eat the flesh of humans. In this abrupt, electrifying moment, Romero captured the insanity of the war in Vietnam, surgically exposing the logic by which American troops indiscriminately killed Vietnamese because it was impossible to distinguish civilians from Viet Cong. But this is not only aspect of the ending subject to provocative allegorical interpretation. As they approach the remaining survivor, moments before mistakenly killing him, the police shoot and kill the legion of living dead disoriented by the dawn. And, of course, why shouldn't they? After all, the living dead are insatiable cannibals, bent upon devouring everyone else. Any kind of violence can, and should, be used to eliminate them. A more "just war" is impossible to imagine....(full article)

Late 60s Early 70s Vietnam Déjà Vu
by R. Miles Mendenhall

or someone who was a teenager during the last seven years of the Vietnam War, excuse me “Police Action,” the news from Iraq has an eerie resonance. Especially the pronouncements from U.S. military officers in the field who reassure the American public that with just a little more effort, the corner will be turned and there is, “light at the end of the tunnel.” With only a few more troops, some more money and one last big push; we’ll have a final victory. Been there, heard that....(full article)

The Fallen Footsoldiers
by Mikel Weisser

On Friday November 3rd, another bombshell went off as another of Bush’s foot soldiers for faux freedom fell: Tommy Thompson was gone. The Secretary of Health and Human Services who’d called himself the director of “America’s Department of Compassion” had waged the good fight for four years. He’d originally been tapped by Bush in hope that Thompson could do the same thing for our national social service network that he’d done for Wisconsin’s social service network while governor: in other words wreck it. He may not have fit into the flight suit, but by the time he departed, Thompson too could’ve waved the banner proclaiming “Mission Accomplished.”....(full article)

Goldwater Greens, A Populism for the Future?
(Or, a Dead Planet Supports Nobody)

by Rev. José M. Tirado

In 1964, the Republican Party nominee for President, Senator Barry Goldwater from Arizona, lost the election to then-President Lyndon Johnson by a whopping 61% to 38.4%.  He took only his home state of Arizona and five states in the deep south.  But Goldwater affected a change so profound as to literally wrench the Republican Party from its former base and transformed not only our country in the process, but the world as well.  Partly because of Goldwater's uncompromising stands and visceral style, the Republicans now dominate American life like never before.  Ronald Reagan, Phyllis Schlafly, and countless others of the "new Right" were emboldened by his run, his style and his brand of politics and they worked almost 20 years to completely take over not only the Republican Party, but our national debate on countless issues as well.  From race to welfare, from war to Social Security, from crime to collective bargaining, the Republicans lead the public debate while the hapless Democrats, desperately milking the same corporate teat for their money (but losing their souls in the bargain), lose elections and members time and time again. The "war of ideas," firmly confirmed by this year's Presidential race, has already been won by Republicans, who are seen (quite wrongly, in my opinion) as more like the average American, better protectors of our collective safety, less elitist, more sensitive to "our" cultural values and more in the mold of the rugged-individual-who-makes-good image we have burned into our minds as quintessentially American.  It wasn't that a revitalized Left failed to mobilize their people and new voters, youth and their traditional constituencies.  In fact, more people did vote, and in record numbers, and guess what, they VOTED REPUBLICAN! Why? Partly because Americans believed what they were told, from CNN, FOX and the endless bombardment from right wing talk radio-about their safety, about terrorists and about Bush's "values."  (But not, interestingly enough, about the environment, or the economy)  They also believed Kerry was out of touch, a Republican-lite, unable to connect, and not responsive to their values.  Whether we like it or not, if we as Greens wish to really help our country and win those battles that will expand our democracy and clean up our environment for the future, then we had better admit this and think long and hard about the Goldwater example....(full article)

Say Cheese!
by Peter Kurth

It is with great and humble thanks to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, that I’m able to write anything this week, having been utterly confounded, up till now, by the “moral values” issue that’s possessed our country since the reappointment of George W. Bush to the presidency on November 2. “Moral values,” you see, are the thing -- things? -- that apparently carried Bush to victory over John Kerry, by one to three per cent of the popular vote, depending on which of the “Gosh, we don’t really know!” polls you may consult. . . . ut never mind. It’s morality we’re talking about here. Specifically, the Virgin Mother, whose unmistakable features, miraculously impressed on a 10-year-old grilled-cheese sandwich, with a bite out of one corner, recently sold on E-bay for $35,814.79, and is now going “on tour” across the country – well, through the South, anyway, where these kinds of miracles are fully appreciated and understood....(full article)

Wal-Mart Heiress' Cultural Coarsening
Elizabeth Paige Laurie, granddaughter of Wal-Mart co-founder,
opens big box of trouble
by Bill Berkowitz

EPL wanted it all, and she must have figured it out early on in her life that she could have it all. Now, she wanted a degree from a well-known private university, but she had more important things to do than perform the routine academic chores necessary to get that degree. Her parents had even bigger plans: By virtue of a $25 million donation to the University of Missouri, they received the naming rights -- and a bushel full of other perks -- to the University's brand new basketball arena, and they intended to name the arena after their daughter. But, let's not get ahead of ourselves. EPL's dilemma? How to get her degree in communications without expending too much time and effort....(full article)

Sex, Lies and Ken Mehlman
The chair of Bush's reelection team and newly appointed head of the
RNC isn't talking about his sexual orientation, but lots of other folks are
by Bill Berkowitz

While the GOP's latest wunderkind, Ken Mehlman, is having the time of his life addressing the Republican Governor's conference, sitting down with reporters and editors of several daily newspapers and basking in the afterglow of President Bush's November 2nd victory, the Internet is abuzz with rumors, innuendo, chitchat, and plain old Page-Six-type gossip about his sexual orientation. What if Ken Mehlman is gay? Would he be sitting down with the editors of the Washington Times? Would GOP governors still think he is the sharpest young strategist to come along since the late Lee Atwater? Would his sexual preference disqualify him from heading up the RNC in the minds of the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins, and the American Family Association's Rev. Donald Wildmon? (full article)

The Lust for Glory Can Only Lead to Destruction
by Michael Payne

Review of Steven Weinberg's book, Glory and Terror: The Growing Nuclear Danger, with a Preface by Anthony Lewis (New York Review of Books, 2004). The heart of Weinberg's argument is this: During the last half-century since nuclear weapons were used by the U.S. in war, "there has developed a healthy conviction that these weapons should not be used again for anything but deterrence." Thus in 1970 a number of countries reached the remarkable agreement (the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) that they would not develop nuclear weapons at all in exchange for the pledge by the U.S. and the other nuclear powers that they would work toward the elimination of all nuclear weapons. But now the Bush administration "has turned its back on the non-Proliferation Treaty by calling for work on a new generation of low-yield nuclear weapons. This would add nothing to our nuclear deterrent, but might actually be used in fighting wars."....(full review)

Shark Finning is Caused by Longline Fishing
by Robert Ovetz, PhD

On a recent trip to Bangkok, I make a visit to the Shark Fin Soup restaurant to take a look look at my first bowl. There wasn’t much to see. The spacious restaurant, situated in the midst of a bustling market, was completely empty and the wait staff greeted me half-bored in their chairs outside the front door. We can only hope that recent efforts by the United Nations, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) and the US to ban the shameful practice of cutting off shark fins to feed wealthy patrons of this high priced and nutritionally empty luxury will keep many more such restaurants empty. Using data supplied by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency, we recently reported that shallow longline fishing captures and kills about 4.4 million sharks, seabirds, billfish, marine mammals and sea turtles each year in the Pacific Ocean. Sharks make up more than two-thirds of this total....(full article)

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